Michael Ankeny skis during the men’s combined at the 2016 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Sun Valley, Idaho.

Michael Ankeny broke onto the national skiing scene as a 19-year-old, thanks to a U.S. Alpine junior championship in the slalom at Sugarloaf in 2008.

Nine years later, Ankeny returns to the Western Maine mountain at a different point in his career — a point where he is looking to both repeat and redeem.

Ankeny was at Sugarloaf two years ago for the U.S. Alpine Championships, hoping to find success again in the slalom. Instead, he found himself out of the mix due to a DNF on his first run.

“I ended up straddling on the first run, after having a fast top portion of the course,” Ankeny said. “That definitely stays with you, and you want a bit of redemption coming back to a hill.”

While Ankeny did score a 10th-place finish in the giant slalom, not finishing in his signature event of the slalom left a sour taste in his mouth.


He rebounded with a third-place finish in slalom at last year’s Nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho, but Ankeny is striving for more this week when Sugarloaf hosts the U.S. Championships again.

“It’s hard to perform at championship races any time, and any time I’m on the podium I’m pretty happy,” Ankeny said. “Last year I was psyched to be third, and looking to maybe sneak in front of some of my teammates this year. As long as we’re all there competing together, though, it’s going to be a good day.”

Ankeny said it’s been a “roller coaster of a season” on the World Cup tour, one full of “ups and downs” for the 28-year-old native of Minnesota. There have been solid finishes, not-so-solid finishes, and no finishes at all. But heading back to the states for Nationals is “mentally … kind of refreshing,” according to Ankeny.

“U.S. Nationals is always a really fun event to get everyone in the country together, and you end up skiing with a lot of your friends that you haven’t seen in a while,” Ankeny said. “I’m always excited to come out and perform — hopefully — under the sun.”

Skiing in front of the crowd at Sugarloaf also has Ankeny excited.

“I like skiing on the East Coast, people get really fired up, so the crowds are always really good up here for the U.S. Nationals,” Ankeny said. “I do like Sugarloaf, I like racing here a lot.”


It helps, as well, that the slope at Sugarloaf fits Ankeny’s style.

“The slalom hill, you start out on a pretty steep pitch, and then you go steep to flat, and the flat and then the gradual finish is really what suits me,” Ankeny said. “I come from Minnesota, I grew up skiing in Minnesota on some pretty flat hills that transition from steep to flat, and then a nice gradual slope I can really generate a lot of speed, turn to turn.”

Ankeny and the course will have to be on the same page this weekend if he hopes to both rekindle his previous success and find redemption from his previous Nationals trip to Sugarloaf.

“It’s a really important weekend for me, for sure. It’s weird, when I was the junior champion here (nine) years ago, I was one of the young up-and-comers, and now I’m starting to become one of the seasoned veterans,” Ankeny said. “It’s definitely been a shift the last couple years and, you know, I need to start performing to continue doing what I love.”

Any goodwill Ankeny may have cultivated with the Sugarloaf crowds from his junior championship has faded away in nine years, Ankeny said. He hopes to get the crowds on his side by the end of the long weekend.

“There was quite a bit of time between my junior title and coming back here. So no loyal Sugarloaf fans yet, but I’ll try to sway them this coming week,” Ankeny said.

The U.S. World Cup “B” teamer also hopes to make a name for himself among the skiing ranks. A podium finish, maybe even at the top of the podium, would help his cause.

“Any time you can be a national champion you’re going to be pretty well known in the skiing community, I think,” Ankeny said.




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