Two New England ski racers topped the podiums in the downhill at the Junior World Ski Championships in Are, Sweden, on Wednesday.
Alice Merryweather of Hingham won the women’s downhill by just two-hundreths of a second over Katja Grossmann of Switzerland.
“This is my fourth time at Junior Worlds, and I watched girls go up on the podium the past three years, and I always wanted to be that person and hear the national anthem. It’s pretty unreal to actually be that person,” Merryweather, 20, told SkiRacing.com.
Merryweather grew up racing at Attitash in New Hampshire, attended the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, and is a member of the US ski team’s “C” level team. She made her World Cup debut in 2016, and was 32nd in a World Cup super-G earlier this season in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“I nailed it today. This was certainly my best run in three days. I was a bit hesitant in my training runs but this morning, I felt ready for this challenge. It’s just amazing to win,” Merryweather said.
Sam Morse of Sugarloaf, Maine, won the men’s downhill by 0.38 seconds over Alexander Prast of Italy. Morse, who trained at the Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine and is on the US ski team’s C team, is the second straight American to win the Junior Worlds men’s downhill. Erik Arvidsson won last year.
“To have this success early on takes the weight off my shoulders for the upcoming competitions. I have been working hard towards this and it now pays off,” Morse said. “Overall, it was a great day for the US team. It seems we really show up for big race days. In training we are a bit remote but on race days we are ready to roll.”
Morse, 20, has been a steady climber in the US ski team ranks.
“It’s a big step in the career. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. It hasn’t really hit me yet, honestly. It puts a target on your back in the future, but it makes you hungry for that next step. We all dream of going to the World Cup and hopefully this will launch me in that direction,” Morse said.
Chip Knight, the Alpine development director for the US ski team was thrilled with the results.
“The whole team worked together through training to dial in the key sections of the course. Alice and Sam stuck to their game plans and executed good skiing on race day. It’s awesome to see athletes perform to their abilities when it counts.” Knight said.
The Junior World Ski Championships continue through March 14.Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.