Mounds View junior Juliana Damberg already has made a name for herself on Minnesota’s ski hills, but she might be only scratching the surface.
A lifelong downhill skier, Damberg is trying to reach her fifth consecutive state meet this season. She is among the leading contenders to take home an individual state title in February at Giants Ridge.
Damberg finished a career-best eighth place at the state meet last winter with a time of 1 minute, 20.57 seconds in the two-heat race, a little more than two seconds behind the championship time. She took 14th in 2013 and in 2012 and finished 23rd in 2011. As a team, Mounds View has qualified for the past three state meets, taking fourth in 2012, fifth in 2013 and eighth a year ago.
In the Suburban East Conference, Damberg been dominant this season, earning first place in all four of the conference meets she’s competed in. She also garnered a second-place individual finish at the 26-team Wild Mountain Invitational in mid-December, helping Mounds View earn fourth place as a team.
Before hitting the slopes for the final Suburban East meet of the year, Damberg spoke with reporter Patrick Johnson about her skiing past, present and future.
Q: How old were you when you started downhill skiing?
A: I started skiing when I was 2 years old. I began skiing at Wild Mountain. My parents have always enjoyed skiing so they wanted my brothers and me to learn to ski as well.
Q: Were you good right away?
A: You betcha.
Q: When did you start to take it seriously?
A: I started ski racing when I was about 6 with the Wild Mountain D-team. I then joined Team Afton at about 9, when I started to ski more competitively and more often.
Q: Do you play other sports?
A: I play soccer and run track competitively, and enjoy water sports in the summer just for fun. I played many other sports as a kid.
Q: What do you like about downhill skiing the most?
A: I love the speed, the freedom, the outdoors, the competition, and the people I have met through the sport.
Q: What are your favorite hills in Minnesota?
A: Wild Mountain and Afton Alps, because I learned how to ski at Wild, and I train regularly at Afton.
Q: What skiers do you look up to?
A: Ted Ligety because he skis for the U.S. ski team, and is especially good at giant slalom, which is my favorite event.
Q: What’s one of your favorite skiing memories, either competitively or recreationally?
A: Free skiing out West on powder days, ripping up the back bowls and tree skiing in Colorado.
Q: You finished eighth in the state last year and 14th the year before. What’s the goal this season?
A: My goal is to podium [finish in the top three] this year at state.
Q: How well are you skiing right now?
A: I’m skiing pretty well right now. I’ve had some great races and others that I haven’t done as well as I wanted.
Q: How good is your team? Can you battle for a state title this season?
A: We’ve been having a pretty good season so far, and hope to have another great experience at state again this year.
Q: What do you want to do with skiing in the future?
A: I plan on skiing as long as I am breathing. I hope to ski in college, whether continuing to race competitively, just skiing for fun, or coaching ski racing.