WALLA WALLA, Wash. - The Whitman College men's snowboard team is off to the best possible start in pursuit of its fourth consecutive national title at the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association Championships.
Competing Thursday at the Sugarloaf/USA ski area in the heart of Maine's Carrabassett Valley, the Missionary men's team placed first in the parallel-giant slalom. Meanwhile, the Whitman women's team did almost as well in its event, placing second and missing first by a single point.
The Whitman men took first with 13 place points for its top three finishers. Western Michigan University was second with 19 points and Appalachian State was third with 33 points.
Alex Scherbatskoy, a freshman from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., sparked Whitman's team victory Thursday, surviving a series of races to win the parallel-giant slalom, edging senior teammate James Caron (Ketchum, Idaho) in the championship heat. The "parallel" form of giant slalom is based on a series of elimination heats, with each heat having two competitors ride simultaneously, side by side, on courses that are as identical as possible.
Others placing for the Whitman men Thursday were sophomore Hunter Benedict (Canby, Ore.), 10th; senior Sean Lee-Seibels (Littleton, Colo.), 19th; and junior Jon Heras (Tacoma, Wash.), 21st.
In the women's parallel-giant slalom, the University of California-Santa Barbara totaled 22 points for its top three finishers, edging Whitman by one vote and third-place University of Idaho by three points.
Jill DeVleming, a sophomore from Clarkston, Wash., placed fifth to lead the Missionaries. Juli Armstrong, a senior from Eastsound, Wash., was eighth, while Kirstin Fade, a first-year competitor from Medina, Wash., was 10th.
Lindsey Case, a sophomore from Port Angeles, Wash., placed 15th for Whitman. Kerri MacLaury, a sophomore from Weston, vt., sprained an ankle during training and wasn't able to compete.
The snowboarding portion of the USCSA championships concludes Friday with the halfpipe competition. The national team titles, for both men and women, are based on combined team results for the parallel-giant slalom and the halfpipe.