Ava Sunshine Jemison from Edwards, Colo., and Burke Mountain Academy and Ben Ritchie from Waitsfield, Vt. and Green Mountain Valley School have been chosen as the 2021 winners of the Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award.
Each season the New England Ski Museum presents this award to the most promising male and female junior alpine racers in the Eastern U.S. The awards will be presented at a dinner reception on November 13, 2021, at The Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H.
Ava Sunshine Jemison
Ava, from Edwards, Colo., and Burke Mountain Academy, posted great results during this challenging Covid-19 pandemic season earning her a nomination for the 2021/2022 U.S. Ski Team’s Development Team. It all started with a third-place finish in slalom at Berchtesgaden-Jenner, Germany, and second and third-place finishes in both giant slalom races at Passo San Pellegrino, Italy. She continued by earning third place in alpine combined at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She then returned home to compete in the U.S. Nationals at Aspen, Colo. where she was second among juniors and fourth overall in the downhill. This was an amazing performance as it was her first-ever downhill. Ava continued with a third-place overall in the alpine combined.
This is Ben’s fourth Golden Ski Award. He navigated this very stressful, challenging Covid-19 season with great results starting with a Europa Cup victory in slalom at Meiringen Hasliberg, Switzerland, followed by the slalom gold medal at the prestigious World Juniors in Bansko, Bulgaria. He snagged himself a top-15 finish at his first FIS Ski World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, landing in 13th in the slalom. Ben then continued to win at the U.S. Nationals in Aspen, Colo. in slalom to take home the title. He has been nominated for the 2021-22 U.S. Ski Team B Team.
The Golden Ski Award has been presented to the top junior male and female skiers in the East since 1969, the year after the modern World Cup circuit started. Many of the Golden Ski winners have gone on to FIS Ski World Cup and Olympic gold as well. In 1975, the Golden Ski was "lost." In 2007, the New England Ski Museum was given some artifacts, and in that donation was the original Golden Ski. ESWA revitalized the honor, “The Golden Ski Award is the oldest honor given to junior alpine ski racers that exists today,” says Jim Gregory, Chair, of the New England Ski Museum’s Golden Ski Award Committee. “We are proud this year to honor Ava Sunshine Jemison and four-time winner, Ben Ritchie, two extraordinary athletes. We look forward to watching them pursue their goals and set the bar even higher in the sport we all love so much.”
Golden Ski Award Winners:
- 1969: Tyler Palmer, Karen Middleton
- 1970: Charles Bent, Karen Middleton
- 1971: Rod Taylor, Judy McNealus
- 1972: Laurent Gaudin, Jody Palmer
- 1973: Jerry McNealus, No female winner
- 1974: No award
- 1975: Scott Light, Holly Flanders
- 1976-2007: Award Lost
- 2008: Bump Heldman, Julia Ford
- 2009: Nolan Kasper, Julia Ford
- 2010: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Julia Ford
- 2011: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Mikaela Shiffrin
- 2012: Ryan Cochran-Siegle, Mikaela Shiffrin
- 2013: Kieffer Christianson, Mikaela Shiffrin
- 2014: Sam Morse, Alice Merryweather
- 2015: Drew Duffy, Nina O’Brien
- 2016: Ben Ritchie, Cecily Decker
- 2017: George Steffey, Patricia Mangan
- 2018: Jimmy Krupka, Abigail Jewett
- 2019: Ben Ritchie, Claire Thomas
- 2020: Ben Ritchie, Zoe Zimmermann