By Harley Nefe
The Lees-McRae men’s and women’s ski & snowboard team, under head coach Aaron Maas, captured National Championships in four team events, while senior Lili Bauer also won the Alpine Combined Women’s Snowboard Individual National Championship in an outstanding week at the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National Championships last week in Lake Placid, New York that ended last Saturday.
A surprise celebration for the team was held Thursday evening at the Banner Elk Cafe where family and friends gathered to cheer the athletics on their accomplishments.
Lees McRae Head Skiing & Snowboarding Coach Aaron Maas said in an email, “I’m happy to report Lees-McRae College now has a USCSA National Championship Snowboard team. We just got back Monday from Lake Placid, NY where the Lees-McRae Men’s and Women’s Snowboard teams competed in a week-long series of events. The men’s team is National Champions in Giant Slalom, and the ladies added three more with senior Lili Bauer earning an individual National Championship in Snowboard Alpine Combined.”
The team walked into the Tavern which was packed with supporters cheering and applauding. Coach Maas addressed the crowd thanking them for their support that has helped make the team successful.
“We’re not a varsity sport here at Lees McRae and so not fully funded,” Maas said. “These kids managed to raise more money for the program than we had in the operating budget for the whole year with your support.” Maas told how the athletes worked on numerous projects to help raise the funds to travel up to Lake Placid, New York for Nationals, where they spent a week competing. “It’s all their hard work and dedication that has now paid off,” Maas said.
Beech Mountain Resort serves as the home mountain for the team where practice takes place 3 and 4 days a week. The season begins the first of January with the team traveling most weekends for race competitions. “And now we get to celebrate,” Maas said. “All their hard work has paid off immeasurably!”
“It’s amazing, and highly improbable that a small school like Lees McRae would go up to the Nationals and battle and challenge against some of the largest schools across the country,” Maas said. “These were schools from out west and up in the northeast. And for us not just win, but dominate!”
Maas told the crowd how the Lees McRae was represented on the awards podium four out of the five days of competition. “We were up on that podium probably more than any other school for snowboarding,” Maas said. “So much so that when the event was over, the announcer who has been doing this event for years, came up to me afterwards and said, “if anyone here didn’t know of Lees McRae before, they certainly do now!”
“For me I was just hoping to win one National Championship someday,” Maas said. “And here we won four in the same season, and it’s absolutely remarkable!”
Coach Maas reminded the crowd that it wasn’t only the hard work and effort the team put on the snow, but after working with these kids all season, he knows the members of the team are great human beings off the snow as well.
“This is just the start,” Maas said. “It’s not like this is just some kinda fluke and we’re not going to win again. We’re going to continue to dominate, and it’s just a matter of how many of these national championships we will win.”
Here is a recap from from Lees McRae Sports Media:
MEET: U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National Championships
LOCATION: White Face Mountain – Lake Placid, New York
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Lees-McRae men’s and women’s ski & snowboard team opened the week on Tuesday with multiple events and continued daily through Saturday.
- The women’s snowboard team claimed the National Championship in the Slalom on Thursday with Bauer finishing in second place overall, followed by Lindsey Fletcher in fifth, Lily Kamp in seventh, and Sarah Streett in ninth.
- Both the Lees-McRae men’s and women’s snowboard team also swept the National Championships in the Giant Slalom on Saturday, while the women’s team picked up their third National Championship of the week by posting a first-place finish in the Alpine Team Combined standings on Saturday.
- Bauer closed out her senior year by clinching the Alpine Combined Women’s Snowboard Individual National Championship, while Streett was second, Fletcher was fifth, and Kamp was 11th.
- The men’s team finished in second in the Combined Alpine category with Alex Broussard finishing in second as an individual. Both the team and Broussard came in third overall for Combined Freestyle.
- Both the men’s and women’s teams were on the podium four out of the five days of competition with the men’s team getting second place in the Slalom/Boardercorss and third in Rail Jam, while the women’s team was second in Boardercross and third in Rail Jam.
- Streett, Kamp, Bauer, Aiden Gardner, Chance Markland, and Ty Kirssin all were named as USCSA Scholar All-Americans for their work in the classroom during the season.
- Lili Bauer (Alpine Combined Women’s Snowboard)
- Lees-McRae women’s snowboard team (Snowboard Slalom)
- Lees-McRae men’s snowboard team (Giant Slalom)
- Lees-McRae women’s snowboard team (Giant Slalom)
- Lees-McRae women’s snowboard team (Alpine Team Combined)
For more information on Lees-McRae Athletics, follow the Bobcats on Twitter (@LMCBobcats), on Facebook (Lees-McRae Athletics), and on Instagram (leesmcraeathletics).
Coach Aaron Maas with Lili Bauer and Alex Broussard with one of the National Championship awards.