We are the champions

Lorenzo Mecanccini (Middle) and Aksel Stroem-Hanson (Right) both receiving their All-American honors.

After a slushy finish atop Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks, the Castleton Alpine Ski Team saw two members walk up to stand in the first-place spot on the podium receiving the title of national champions.

Both Emilie Stene and Lorenzo Mencaccini became the fourth and fifth national champions that the Spartans have produced in program history.

“It has always been my goal since I was a freshman and several times I came close to winning a title but never the win. It is very satisfying and makes clear to understand that our group has worked well both on the slopes and in the gym,” Mencaccini said.

The race that gave Mencaccini the label of national champ consisted of one run due to the condition of the course being considered unsafe by officials.

However, even with the conditions being rough, all five Spartan skiers placed in the top-25 in their one heat.

Mencaccini lead the way with a 1:07.86 and had a substantial lead for his victory finishing 1.58 seconds ahead of second place. Raphael Fischer crossed the line five spots behind the national champ with a time of 1:11.21 and Filippo Collini was right behind him for the seventh spot. After those three, Aksel Stroem-Hansen placed 17th and Elliot Perretta finished in the 21 spot. 

“I have to say that I’m really pleased with everyone’s attitude in interpreting the race, which then led to the team’s first victory at the giant nationals, it’s a great satisfaction,” Mencaccini said. 

Lorenzo Mencaccini skiing down the Whiteface Mountain during his nationals run

Mencaccini also came out on top in the slalom to make him a champ in both events. His teammate Aksel Stroem-Hanson followed in right behind him taking the second-place spot giving the Spartans a one-two finish and grabbing the team crown for Castleton.

On the women’s side, Stene became the second women to become national champion in program history. She came in with a time of 2:15.85 in her second run allowing her to take the crown after being slightly behind by a half-second in her first run. 

“To be a national champion doesn’t feel any different than before I was, to be honest. I’ll say it’s more like great motivation for me and my teammates to continue the work we did this season. I think some of the factors that made me successful this season are a positive head space and being patient. Throughout the whole season and even before I got to this college, I have put in a lot of work and been patient with the result,” Stene said.

On top of Stene finishing as a national champion, the team also had a podium finish in the slalom race from Petra Veljkovic, who finished with a time of 1:46.24 which landed her second place. Behind her was Ginevra Trevisan, who placed fourth after finishing with a time of 1:47.19.

Aksel Stroem-Hanson skiing down Whiteface Mountain during his nationals run.

“Going in, we knew Lorenzo and Emilie both have the talent to win. In skiing, anything can happen, so a lot of things had to go right for both of them to take it home. It’s always good to see good things happen to good people. Although skiing is an individual sport it was awesome to see everyone work together as a team to bring home the hardware. I couldn’t be prouder of Lorenzo, Emilie, and the team as a whole,” said junior Kevin McDonough.

This concluded the Spartans ski season in which they will graduate two women and four men next year. Included in those graduating is newly crowned national champ Mencaccini and podium finisher Veljkovic. 

“I am so proud of our student-athletes and the success they have earned this week at the USCSA National Championships. Their hard work throughout the season has really paid off. To have so many of our student-athletes rise to the occasion is awesome. Words can’t explain how proud I am to be the coach of these student-athletes,” said 

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