The Bronco's have a new full time head coach to meet the challenge. His name is Chris Hendrickson. He comes from Sierra Nevada College, a small liberal arts school, on the shores of Lake Tahoe, at Incline Village, Nevada. He brings with him a history of success that may be unequaled in the history of modern collegiate athletics. Dynasty is a mild description.
A 2003 Pre-Season Coaches Poll said it all. "Chris Hendrickson's Sierra Nevada College men's and women's alpine teams were predicted to win the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) Nationals… again. The men's team has held the title for the past 12 years, and the women's team has won the title 10 years out of the past 12. Both the men's and women's teams won the USCSA National Title last year. "
During the fifteen years he was at SNC, he won twenty-six USCSA National Championships …fifteen men's, and eleven women's. He dominated more than two-hundred-and-twenty of the most famous university sports programs in the country. USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Navy, Army, Air Force, Penn State, Boston College, Colgate, Syracuse, Purdue, Wisconsin, Princeton, California, Stanford, UCLA, Duke, Tennessee…closer to home…Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Oregon State, Washington and Washington State, and…Boise State, a USCSA member prior to 2003.
As good as the USCSA programs are, none hold a candle to the upper echelon of alpine ski racing NCAA power teams. There are three NCAA conferences. In the East the power is Dartmouth and Vermont…national champs seven times. The Mid-West is primarily a mecca for Nordic. And in the West, the RMISA, the real powerhouse programs control. Four of the schools, Utah, Denver, Colorado, and New Mexico, have combined to win the championships forty-three times since the first was held in 1954. Nothing has changed for 2005. Ski Racing Magazine's top ten pre-season favorites include seven from the RMISA. Once again,Utah, Denver, New Mexico, and Colorado are picked to win and place in that order.
The Bronco's have a challenge ahead. Mostly, it's the same old story. The power schools have bigger everything, bigger budgets, eight man coaching staffs, trainers, and secretarial support. For the time being, Chris Hendrickson has a staff of one…himself.
This will be the Bronco's second year of competition at the elite level. Last year they finished last as a team. Two of the ladies finished 19th and 20th in giant slalom . This year looks to be tough as well. Hendrickson took over a team of three alpine skiers recruited from Europe, and one from Idaho, added two x-country skiers to meet NCAA rule-of-five, (a team must have no fewer than five members to count as an NCAA sport), and entered the first competitions in Utah the week of January 5. The Broncos finished last in both cross-country and alpine. But scored well in the slalom…tenth. In the giant slalom they placed fourteenth and twenty-third. Right now it's difficult. To be competitive the team needs at least five skiers in each discipline. The top three results count towards their team score. Others that finish, no matter how high, do not count. Keeping track of scoring is a task. If only two team members are entered, a zero is added to the tally. If one falls, two zeros are computed.
The Broncos can't win an over all NCAA team championship. That's a co-ed thing, a guy- gal thing. The national ski team championship is made up of men and women's combined results in the four disciplines. For now the Boise State ski team is one dimensional, ladies only. But the Bronco ladies have big time goals they can aim for. There are NCAA individual championships in each discipline, NCAA All American honors in each discipline, and the opportunity to represent Boise State University, at the World University Games, a international ski racing championships.
This year the games were held in Innsbruck, Austria in the middle of January.
Congratulations are in order! Bronco skiers, Margit Walters and Spela Bertoncelj were selected to compete in this year's Worlds. Is this another first, the first time Boise State was represented in an international collegiate world sports competition?