Not only is Lake Tahoe one of the finest ski and snowboarding regions in the country, it also produces some of the nation’s top skiers and riders.
That’s evident as the 2014 Winter Olympics near. There will be nine skiers and riders from Lake Tahoe ski resorts competing in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, which run Feb. 7-23.
Here is a look at the Tahoe athletes competing for Olympic medals in February.
* Julia Mancuso: Now a four-time Olympian, Mancuso is the headliner of the Squaw group for obvious reasons. She was the gold medalist in the giant slalom at the 2006 Winter Olympics and silver medalist in both downhill and combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Mancuso started World Cup racing at age 15, was a champion at 16, and competed in the Olympics one year later.
Her three Olympic medals are the most ever for a female American alpine skier. Is she ready for what is likely her final Winter Olympics?
“Things are going in the right direction, and I know I have a lot more in me,” Mancuso said. “Training has been going really well and racing is getting better, so I’m getting there just in time for the Olympics.”
* Nate Holland: One of the oldest U.S. team members at age 35, Holland will be competing in his third Olympics. He finished 14th at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and took fourth in 2010.
A snowboarder cross specialist, he has seven X Games gold medals and defines the sport’s chaotic style by going all-out in every race.
* Travis Ganong: He launched his World Cup ski career in 2010 and has quickly become a bright star on the U.S. team.
Last year, Ganong posted top-30 finishes in all but two World Cup downhills, including a career-best seventh on the difficult Stelvio speed track in Bormio, Italy.
Perhaps the season’s best moment came when Ganong took the super G gold at the U.S. Alpine Championships held at Squaw.
* Marco Sullivan: He grew up in Lake Tahoe and reportedly was skiing down a snow-covered gravel hill in his back yard at age 3.
For Sullivan, the 2013 season proved to be his best since his first World Cup win in 2008. He enjoyed a season-opening downhill podium in Lake Louise, Canada, and he finished 14th in the season-long standings.
* Jamie Anderson: Look for Anderson to definitely be in contention for a medal in snowboard slopestyle, which is making its Olympic debut.
Anderson made her first X Games appearance at age 13, and quickly became a star, taking a bronze medal two years later. She has built a reputation as the most solid slopestyle rider in the business, thanks to her enormous talent, exceptional style and a bag full of tricks.
“I can imagine how humbling it’s going to be to just walk through the opening ceremonies in Sochi,” Anderson said. “I feel slopestyle is going to bring a new, fun energy to the Games. There’s a lot of amazing athletes, so it’s hard to say how I’m going to do.”
* Hannah Teter: She already possesses what all her U.S. teammates desire — a gold medal — which Teter won as a halfpipe snowboarder in 2006. She came back four years later to claim a silver medal in the same event in Vancouver.
Teter, 27, is from a family of snowboarders who grew up in Vermont. Two of her four older brothers (Elijah, Abe) competed on the U.S. snowboard team and oldest brother Amen acts as his sister’s manager.
* Maddie Bowman: She just turned 20 and is definitely another rising freestyle skiing star from Sierra-at-Tahoe. Last week, Bowman defended her title, taking first in the women’s Ski SuperPipe at the X Games in Aspen.
Bowman and Anderson both grew up in Meyers and were a part of the Rippers and Sierra-at-Tahoe team programs.
* David Wise: He is the only skier on the Northstar Pro Team, which features some of the world’s top snowboarders, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, Chas Guldemond, Elena Hight and Eero Ettala.
Wise grew up in Reno and has trained at Northstar the past decade. He credits some of his success, which includes the 2013 FIS World Champion title, to the design and builds of Northstar’s parks and pipes.
“I was never the most talented kid on the mountain, but I was determined to constantly improve,” Wise said. “Each season has been a little better than the last one. And here I am.”
* Chas Guldemond: He’s been snowboarding since 1996, competing since 1997 and turned pro in 2006.
Guldemond is another member of the first-ever U.S. Olympic slopestyle team. He’s in good company, joining heralded teammate White, who has also trained at Northstar the past two years, and Sage Kotsenburg of Park City.
“It’s been so much hard work and sacrifice to get to this point,” said Guldemond, who uses a double backside as one of his go-to tricks. “I’m exhausted from all these (Olympic) qualifying events.”
— Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his winter website at www.tahoeskiworld.com