Westminster College's Professional Athletes Keep Blowing Away the Competition
Students Continue to Make a Name for Themselves all over the Globe
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Whether they shred, fly, ride or rip, students at Westminster College are making a name for themselves – and it’s often on the front of the sports pages.
Just in the past few weeks alone, Westminster students have been placing on the podium and blowing away the competition throughout the globe. On Feb. 22, sophomore Graham Watanabe (2006 Olympian) placed first in the FIS World Cup snowboardcross in Japan. Freeskier and sophomore Ashley Battersby placed first at both the U.S. Freeskiing Open in Copper Mountain, Colo. and the Nippon Freeskiing Open in Japan – the largest Freesking competitions in the world. Freshman Liz Stephen made history on Feb. 27 by taking the bronze in the women’s 15K mass start in the Under-23 Cross Country World Championships in Malles, Italy.
Continuing the winning streak, Westminster sophomore and U.S. Ski Team Aerialist Emily Cook picked up her first World Cup win in Moscow, Russia on March 1. Flying off a towering scaffold under challenging weather conditions, the former 2006 Olympian competed in front of a crowd of over 30,000 spectators, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"This is an incredible feeling," said a jubilant Cook in the finish. "I knew that someday my first World Cup win would happen. It's really rewarding to go out and perform your best and be on the top of the podium. I was shocked. Really and truly, you just focus on your jumps and take it one jump at a time. I was at the bottom and had no idea I had won."
Graham Watanabe Sophomore First Place, FIS World Cup SBX Japan
Ashley Battersby Sophomore First Place, U.S. Freeskiing Open & Nippon Freeskiing Open – U.S. & Japan
Liz Stephen Freshman Third Place, Under-23 Cross-Country World Championships - Italy
Emily Cook Sophomore First Place, FIS Freestyle World Cup Russia
Westminster College is home to more than 40 professional athletes - roughly two percent of the college’s undergraduate enrollment. Most schools have intercollegiate athletes, but not many (if any) can boast such a large percentage of professional and semi-professional athletes. From mogul skiing, to Nordic jumping, to motocross racing, and more, Westminster student pro-athletes are doing great things on the slopes and other terrain, as well as in the classroom.
“Our student pro-athletes are incredibly disciplined,” said Deb Vickery, Associate Director of Westminster’s START Center. “Balancing rigorous training schedules and academic commitments requires a lot of time management and dedication. These students averaged a 3.34 median G.P.A. for the Fall ’07 semester, which attests to the quality of athletic scholars that Westminster enrolls.”
Westminster students will continue to compete throughout the season, many hoping to earn a spot in the 2010 Olympics.
Westminster is partnered with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) which manages the athletes of the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding and provides tuition grants that allow national team athletes to pursue their Olympic dreams and their education aspirations at the same time.
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college distinguished by its unique environment for learning. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster prepares students for success with its emphasis on engaged learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. These are further enriched by the opportunities presented by Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake. For more information visit www.westminstercollege.edu.