Starting in 1975, the editorial board of Ski Racing  has come together each spring to choose one male and one female athlete deserving to hold the title of SkiRacing.com Junior of the Year.

Over the past 42 years, Ski Racing’s picks have gone on to earn 193 World Cup wins, 38 World Championship medals, and 13 Olympic medals. Past winners include 2017 Overall Women’s World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso, Tamara McKinney, and Steve Mahre, among many others.

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The athletes chosen by Ski Racing truly embody the spirit of the award and have not only achieved impressive success on the slopes this season, but have inspired countless racers across the country with their professional attitudes off of them.

The 2017 recipients of the Ski Racing Junior of the Year award are Alice Merryweather, Breezy Johnson, and Sam Morse.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Well, now we know how Steve Harvey and those people at the Academy Awards must have felt. In the original version of this announcement, we had the glaring omission of not including Breezy Johnson and her incredible breakout season on the World Cup. We made a mistake. We own up to it. We promise to do better!

 

Breezy Johnson

For 21-year-old Idaho native Breezy Johnson, her first full season on the World Cup was supposed to be a learning experience. Instead, Johnson turned convention on its head and blew the doors off everyone’s expectations from the get-go and cemented her place on the World Cup race after race with impressive performances.

JOHNSON Breezy“I don’t think I could have expected to be this consistently fast everywhere that I’ve been so far so I’m really happy with it and just hope to keep it going,” Johnson said at this season’s Cortina d’Ampezzo World Cups. “I try not to let any of it go to my head, I just try to keep executing my plan the way that I know best, keep working on my technique and keep working on my skiing.”

And keep it going she did. Johnson went on to make her first World Championship team, placing 15th in the downhill and 28th in the super-G in St. Moritz and even qualified for her first World Cup Finals in Aspen and finished the season ranked 18th in the world in downhill.

 

Alice Merryweather

The 20-year-old Massachusetts native chose to make her last year as a junior one to remember by locking down both the NorAm downhill title and World Junior downhill gold earlier this month in Are, Sweden.

KILLINGTON, VT - NOVEMBER 26: Alice Merryweather of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom on November 26, 2016 in Killington, Vermont. (Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
Photo by Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Although making her World Cup debut last season in Garmisch, Germany, Merryweather relished the opportunity to close out this year’s World Cup campaign on home soil at World Cup Finals in Aspen, finishing in 19th place in the downhill. If this season is any indication of what is to come, look for Merryweather to make her mark on the World Cup sooner rather than later as she now has downhill starting rights all to herself by virtue of her NorAm title.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I wanted to have this kind of season, but you never know how it’s going to turn out and to actually achieve a lot of my goals this year has been really cool. I’m really happy with it. It’s so fun to be at Sugarloaf because I spent so much time here growing up ski racing in the East and getting to end the season here is really, really fun.”

 

Sam Morse

The self-described ‘Moose on the Loose’ used built up experience at big events like World Juniors to finally break through on the international level and take the World Junior downhill win on the same day as Merryweather, giving the United States a rare double gold performance and stamping his ticket to race his World Cup debut in Aspen at World Cup finals, where he finished 21st in the downhill.

ASPEN,COLORADO,USA,14.MAR.17 - ALPINE SKIING - FIS World Cup Final, downhill training, men. Image shows Sam Morse (USA). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Andreas Pranter
Photo by GEPA pictures/ Andreas Pranter

Although Morse was not in contention for any NorAm titles this season, look for the big Mainer to build on his momentum and take the next step onto the World Cup in the coming years.

“It feels good, I’ve been kind of working towards this for a while,” he explained. “I’ve been to four World Juniors now and I’ve been incrementally getting better and better so it was nice to capitalize in the final one.”

Interestingly, Morse chose to run with bib 30 on race day at World Juniors, a carefully calculated decision between Morse and his coach, JJ Jonhson, who noticed some peculiar trends during the training runs. Needless to say, the decision turned more than a few heads at the team captain’s meeting but turned out just the way they wanted with Morse walking away with the gold.

“The snow was just heating up substantially on the top flats and getting faster right around those bib numbers. I had the first pick because I was number one ranked going into the race and we made the bold decision to pick 30 — no one ever picks 30. When we called that out at the meeting, all the Austrians and Swiss swung around like, ‘What is this kid doing? He’s an idiot!’ But, sure enough, the top flats were fast and I was able to put a good amount of time on the guys up there. It was really special when I came down with bib 30 with the green light.”

 

SkiRacing.com Juniors of the Year

1975 –  Leslie Leete Smith          Steve Mahre

1976 –  Christin Cooper              Eric Wilson

1977 –  Heidi Preuss                    David Stapleton

1978 –  Tamara McKinney         Scott Hoffman

1979 –  Tamara McKinney         Mike Farney

1980 –  Noel Lyons                      Mark Tache

1981 –  Brenda Buglione             Tiger Shaw

1982 –  Eva Twardokens             Steve Hegg

1983 –  Eva Twardokens             Jesse Hunt

1984 –  Diann Roffe                     Jesse Hunt

1985 –  Carter Payne                    Tim Curran

1986 –  Hilary Lindh/Krista Schmidinger

1987 –  Sally Knight                      Tommy Moe

1988 –  Heidi Voelker                  Jeremy Nobis

1989 –  Kim Schmidinger           Tommy Moe

1990 –  Julie Parisien                  Ryan North

1991 –  Kathrine Davenport       Paul Casey Puckett

1992 –  Kathrine Davenport      Michael Makar

1993 –  Kristina Koznick            Chip Knight

1994 –  Kjersti Bjorn-Roli          Forest Carey

1995 –  Sarah Schleper               Wisi Betschart

1996 –  Kirsten Clark                  Justin Johnson

1997 –  Jonna Mendes                John Minahan

1998 –  Jonna Mendes                Brad Hogan

1999 – Caroline Lalive                Marco Sullivan

2000 –  Julia Mancuso               Marco Sullivan

2001 –  Julia Mancuso                Jake Zamansky

2002 –  Julia Mancuso               Steven Nyman

2003 –  Julia Mancuso               Jeremy Transue

2004 – Lindsey Kildow              Ted Ligety

2005 –  Resi Stiegler                   Tim Jitloff

2006 –  Megan McJames          Christopher Beckmann

2007 –  Leanne Smith                Will Brandenburg

2008 – Kiley Staples                  Tommy Ford

2009 – Julia Ford                       Tommy Ford

2010 –  Mikaela Shiffrin            Will Gregorak

2011 –  Mikaela Shiffrin             Ryan Cochran-Siegle

2012 –  Mikaela Shiffrin            Ryan Cochran-Siegle

2013 –  Mikaela Shiffrin            Ryan Cochran-Siegle

2014 –  Mikeala Shiffrin

2015 –  Mikaela Shiffrin           AJ Ginnis

2016 –  Mikaela Shiffrin           Erik Arvidsson

2017 –  Alice Merryweather/Breezy Johnson     Sam Morse