Jerry Wolf calls them his “Lucky charms.”
But these lucky charms are too big to be worn around the neck or dangle from a key chain.
These lucky charms — Frida Svedberg and Andraz Reich-Pogladic — are best skiing down a mountain.
Svedberg and Reich-Pogladic hope to lead the Rocky Mountain men’s and women’s ski teams into uncharted territory this week at the USCSA Championships at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.
The Battlin’ Bear men are the defending national champions. They also won national titles in 2005, 2007 and 2011.
The Rocky women won their lone national title in 2014.
The Battlin’ Bear men have never won consecutive titles. “That’s kind of a big deal,” said Wolf, the program’s longtime coach.
And Rocky has never swept men’s and women’s team titles in the same year.
That could change this week. Both Battlin’ Bears teams are ranked No. 1 in the country.
“It’s not about the team,” said Wolf of the event. “It’s about who puts it together that day.”
Each team will ski five and count three in the standings. The competition begins with the women’s giant slalom on Tuesday.
Svedberg is the most dominant women’s skier in Rocky history. The senior has won every race she’s entered but one and has five national titles. She caught a tip of her ski in last year’s slalom competition in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Svedberg has been bothered by knee problems, having off-season surgery this past summer, according to Wolf.
“She’s a gamer,” said Wolf. “She takes herself to the next level.”
Reich-Pogladic, the defending overall national champion, has been equally dominant this year. He won the slalom competition at last week’s USCSA West Region Championships over teammate Erik Hogbom by almost a four full seconds.
“He’s a pretty skier. He makes it look easy,” said Wolf of the sophomore. “Andraz is a technician. He knows how to handle the different conditions of the course and knows what areas to pressure. He always finds the best way down the hill.
“We have good skiers. And then to add those two, who are so far ahead of everybody else … if those two ski well, we’re golden.”
The Rocky women will also count on Elsa Wilhelmsson, Emeline LaFarge, Susan Beks, Linnea Baysinger, Zoe Profit and Camille Virelaude. Along with Reich-Pogladic and Hogbom, the men will lean on Andrija Vukovic, Sean McCormick, Thomas Vandel and Nevada Kramer.
The Rocky men will battle Sierra Nevada for the top spot, with St. Olaf, Clarkston and Baston in contention. The Battlin’ Bear women will contend against Sierra Nevada and Brown.
“We’re going in with excellent teams,” said Wolf. “After Thanksgiving camp, we came back a little rusty at the beginning of the season. We struggled through some races. It took us a little while to find our groove. It’s good to be rising to the top this time of year.
“It’s nationals. Throw it down and make it to the finish.”