FIS Ski Junior World Ski Championships slalom silver medalist Ben Ritchie (Waitsfield, Vt.) and 2019 World Junior Ski Championships teammate Claire Thomas (Salt Lake City, Utah) have been chosen as the 2019 recipients of the Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award.
Each season the most promising male and female junior alpine racers in the Eastern U.S. have been recognized by the North American Snowsports Journalist Association—East (NASJA-E) with the Golden Ski Award. For the first time this year, the award will be presented by the New England Ski Museum at a reception at the Museum in Franconia Notch on Friday, June 21, from 5 to 7 pm.
This will be Ritchie's second Golden Ski Award. Ritchie has been a top performer in the Eastern Region for many seasons, highlighted by his last two seasons with the U.S. Ski Team where he progressed from the D team to the B team. He has raced his way to being ranked 67th in the world overall for slalom and first worldwide for his age. Ritchie went on to achieve a silver medal at the Junior World Ski Championships and was third overall in the NorAm slalom standings. Ritchie is an exciting skier to watch attack a course and his coaches are looking forward to seeing him take his skill and hard work to the next level.
Thomas had an amazing season for the Dartmouth College Ski Team that was highlighted with her trip to the Junior World Ski Championships in Pozza Di Fassa, Italy. Her collegiate season resulted in top six standings in both slalom and giant slalom on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) circuit; that speed translated to the NORAM circuit where she finished 11th in the giant slalom standings. Her success on the collegiate and NORAM circuit led to her being ranked in the top 100 in the world for giant slalom and 9th for her age. Thomas' career is on an exciting trajectory and she will be a fun skier to watch in seasons to come.
The Golden Ski Award was first presented to the top junior male and female skiers in the East in 1969, the year after the modern World Cup circuit started. The award was conceived by the Eastern Ski Writers’ Association that year and was exhibited in the offices of the U.S. Eastern Amateur Ski Association, then in Littleton, New Hampshire. After the presentation in 1975, the Golden Ski was somehow misplaced, likely as a result of a relocation of the USEASA headquarters. In 2007, a New England Ski Museum member came across the original Golden Ski trophy in a Lake Placid office and donated it to the Museum. The Eastern Ski Writers
Association, later renamed NASJA-East, revitalized the honor and presented it for a decade beginning in 2008 at the Museum’s spring exhibit opening reception. When NASJA-East voted to disband in 2018, the New England Ski Museum’s board of directors elected to continue awarding the Golden Ski rather than let it lapse a second time. The origin of the award will be remembered in the title ‘Eastern Ski Writers Golden Ski Award.’
“The Golden Ski Award is the oldest honor given to junior alpine ski racers that exist today,” says Jim Gregory, Chair of the New England Ski Museum’s Golden Ski Award Committee. “We are proud this year to honor two extraordinary athletes, Claire Thomas, and two-time winner Ben Ritchie, and we look forward to watching them pursue their goals and set the bar even higher in the sport we all love so much.”
Winners of the Golden Ski Award have gone on to World Cup podiums and even to Olympic gold, and now many of the names on the award, perhaps obscure when they were originally announced as juniors, are well-known in ski racing circles.
GOLDEN SKI AWARD RECIPIENTS:
- 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