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Owen Snyder-Smith ’22 Wins PNSA NW Cup Championship

Photo of Seattle Academy Alumni Owen Snyder-Smith 22 Wins 2022 PNSA NW Cup Championship

“Winning the Pacific Northwest Ski Association’s (PNSA) NW Cup Championship feels like the payoff for dedication, hard work, and time,” says recent graduate Owen Snyder-Smith ’22, who now holds the famed title that many past U.S. Olympians and World Cup Champs have held during their high school careers. Tommy Ford (2022 Beijing Olympics), Scott McArtney (2002 Salt Lake City and 2006 Torino Olympics), Alan Lauba (U.S. World Cups 1981-1987) and Bill Johnson (1984 Gold Medal, Sarajevo) were all NW Cup Champs when they were in high school. 

The PNSA NW Cup Championship is a season-long race that uses the World Cup point system to determine the overall winner. These 100+ athletes competed in 13 individual events over the course of January through April, including 4 slaloms, 4 giant slaloms, 3 super Gs and 2 downhills. This year, races were held at Mt. Spokane, Schweitzer, Mt. Bachelor, Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass. 

Owen, a senior last year (and now a SAAS alumnus!) won the cup with 832 points. Not only did Owen win the championship, he also finished all but one race (which, we are told, is an accomplishment in itself in ski racing) and podiumed in all but one race that he finished. Owen’s team the Crystal Mountain Alpine Club also won the men’s and women’s overall title with a hefty contribution from his own points. 

Owen is currently ranked 61st in the US in both slalom and giant slalom for his birth year. “Slalom requires quick thinking and reaction time, explosive power and endurance, all of which makes it my favorite event,” says Owen. 

To put Owen’s success into perspective, he shares: “When I started racing, I was not an instant success like some athletes. I was at the back or middle of the pack at races for many years. But I stuck with it and over time I fought my way to a place where I started winning races, and ultimately this season, that meant that I won the NW Cup.” 

“Sticking with it” translates to a rigorous ski schedule for anyone, let alone a high school student. Owen says he skied every weekend during the winter and even raced frequently during the school week. He also completed three training camps in the summer (including one in Switzerland) and two more in the fall. 

This is nearly impossible without the support of SAAS teachers and curriculum, and indeed, as Owen reflects, his teachers played an enormous role. Owen knew he would be supported by faculty as long as he put in the work himself and held himself to high academic standards. 

I chose to come to SAAS for many reasons but an important one was that I knew at SAAS I would be able to pursue a strong education and also be supported in ski racing, which turned out to be entirely true. My teachers at SAAS absolutely enabled my ski career. Without them, I would not have been able to focus on skiing so thoroughly and still feel like I was learning what I needed to learn and more. 

The support Owen received extended to family and friends, and spanned decades. “I feel incredibly grateful for all the support I’ve received. Ski racing is not an easy sport for a parent to support, and my parents have had my back for my entire ski career taking me to mountains all over the county and supporting me through my highs and lows,” says Owen. 

Additionally, kudos to Owen’s friends on his ski racing team who were always supportive and without which the sport would not have been as fun. Owen also played Ultimate with SAAS, juggling both sports for two seasons and making it to State both years. Even after a torn AC ligament in his shoulder, Owen still attended every Ultimate practice and game supporting the team however he could and reaping the benefits of team camaraderie and sportsmanship. 

What’s next for Owen we all ask? Owen is attending Middlebury College starting in the fall. While not racing with the college team — as there are only 13 ski racing teams in the country, and thus, it is one of the more competitive college sports — he and some other Middlebury racers plan to start a club racing team so that they can continue to compete. 

Photo of Seattle Academy Alumni Owen Snyder-Smith 22 Wins PNSA NW Cup Championship

In Focus, Spring 2022

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