January 27, 2010

FORMER WILDCAT LEANNE SMITH NAMED TO 2010 U.S. OLYMPIC ALPINE SKI TEAM

PARK CITY, UtahLeanne Smith (Conway, N.H.), the 2006 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Female Rookie Skier of the Year and an All-East First Team selection as a freshman alpine skier at the University of New Hampshire, was named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team on Tuesday as announced by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).

It will be the first Olympics for Smith, who was one of 10 women selected to the Olympic Alpine Ski Team. She will compete alongside double World Champion Lindsey Vonn and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Julia Mancuso in the alpine events at Whistler Creekside, which is located north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Smith helped UNH to ninth place at the 2006 NCAA Ski Championship with an 11th-place finish in the giant slalom. Highlights of her only season at UNH included winning the giant slalom at the Dartmouth Winter Carnival and seven other top-10 finishes, including fourth place in the giant slalom and sixth in the slalom at the EISA Championship. Smith was the top Wildcat in both EISA races.

  Following the 2006 season, Smith left UNH to train with the U.S. Ski Team Development Group. At the time, then alpine head coach Kurt Simard stated, “We are all excited for Leanne and what she has accomplished here in her short time at UNH. This opportunity is a reflection of both Leanne’s hard work and determination. It also speaks to what our program has to offer.”

Smith is the eighth UNH skier to become an Olympian. Ed Blood was the first to achieve that accomplishment in 1932 and he competed again in ’36. Marty Hall was named to five Olympic teams (1972, ’76, ’84, ’88 and ’92) and Robel Teklemariam was the most recent Olympian (2006).

UNH’s other Olympians were Peter Dascoulias (1976), Kelly Milligan (1984), Patty Ross (1984) and Patrick Weaver (1998, 2002).

Following a series of three World Cup speed races next weekend in St. Moritz, Switzerland, women's speed will train at their European Base at Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria until Feb. 5 before arriving in Vancouver on Feb. 9, while the tech athletes will prepare in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

There are a total of five medal events with downhill, super G, super combined, giant slalom and slalom all on the Olympic calendar.

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