Foreste Peterson at the 2013 Loveland NorAm. GEPA/Christian Walgram
Foreste Peterson racing at the 2013 Loveland NorAms. GEPA/Christian Walgram

Jeff Wattenmaker Jeff Wattenmaker was an avid Masters ski racer who supported the Far West Masters Scholarship Program and its ideals. Prior to his passing, he generously arranged to donate funds to expand the Far West Masters Scholarship Program and to thereby make available funding for a university education to members of the program. This year the quality of the athlete scholars who applied was deep and so evenly divided that it was virtually impossible to pick a single winner. In fact of the 10 athletes who applied, there were six separate athletes that received first place votes from the selection committee. A single winner could not be decided on and instead three $7000 scholarships were awarded.

The seven athletes who did not receive a scholarship were all outstanding and deserves praise. They are Alexa Wehsener from Mammoth Mountain, Jessica Tidd from Squaw Valley, Riley Plant from Sugar Bowl, Nico Monforte from Squaw Valley, Maddie Johnson from Lake Tahoe Racing, Hannah Johnson from Sugar Bowl, and Garret Driller from Squaw Valley.

This year’s winners are Claire DeAngeli, Foreste Peterson and Madeline Riffel.

Claire will graduate from Reno High School and will be attend St. Olaf College in Minnesota in the fall where she will ski race. She has been sponsored by the Masters Scholarship Program for the past two years. Claire is an active nationally-ranked FIS alpine ski racer on the Squaw Valley Ski Team. She is also an outstanding student who graduated at the top of her class and is an accomplished sailer and musician. She played in the violin section of the Reno Youth Philharmonic for four years and looks forward to continue playing in college. She was involved in leadership and community service projects at Reno High and was the student body Secretary her senior year. She will graduate with an honors diploma and as a part of the National Honor Society.

Foreste Peterson graduated from Berkeley High School and will be attending Dartmouth in the fall. She has been a member of the Far West Masters Scholarship Program since 2006 and was named to the U.S. Ski Team in 2010. She has always given back to the ski racing community by helping out with fundraising, participating in “clean up the yard” days and promoting ski racing in the community, with her motto being “give more than you take.” She continues to have extremely high aspirations with ski racing and intends to race most if not all of the NorAm Cup races and U.S. Nationals. Her goals for the next four years include winning NCAAs, winning a NorAm title, and qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Just because I am not on the U.S. Ski Team for the time being does not mean I am done with ski racing. So don’t count me out!” exclaimed Peterson. “I fully anticipate the challenge of juggling the many demands of a college education with elite level ski racing, and I am ready to take it all on. It’s been two years since I’ve been in school so I honestly cannot wait to use my brain again and put it to good use. Everything about my future at Dartmouth will be new and different from what I am used to, which I’ll admit is a little scary. However, change is good, and I am welcoming this change in my life with open arms.”

Madeline Riffel graduated from Mammoth High School and is a member of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team. She was a successful alpine ski racer that shifted her focus to ski cross as she was nationally ranked in that event and was on track to represent the U.S. at the Olympics this year. Unfortunately, she broke both her legs in a training accident this past fall and her dreams were crushed. Knowing she had to spend time rehabbing, she enrolled at UCLA where she will continue as a student.

The Far West Masters Scholarship Program is finishing its 22nd year of raising funds to benefit Far West Junior ski racers. They have raised over three quarters of a million dollars during that time. All money raised is distributed with no overhead to Far West junior athletes. Their goal is to promote academic scholarship, citizenship and leadership within the ski racing community and to keep athletes involved in ski racing that might not otherwise have a chance without financial support. A majority of sponsored athletes have gone on to college, many on ski and academic scholarships. The U.S. Ski Team currently has many scholarship alumni currently competing including Marco Sullivan, Stacey Cook, Tim Jitloff, Travis Ganong, Mark Engel and Lila Lapanja.

To be eligible for the Jeff Wattenmaker Scholarship, you must be a member of the Far West Masters Scholarship Program and be accepted to an accredited junior college, university or vocational school for the coming fall.

Release courtesy of Far West Masters Scholarship Program