Ashland High senior Molly MacGraw is making her fifth trip to the Western Junior Alpine Championships.

Valley duo returns to regionals

The longtime Mt. Ashland Race Association careers of Michael Bansmer and Molly MacGraw will soon come to a close. But not before the two continue to rake in more honors.

Bansmer, a Crater High senior, and MacGraw, a senior at Ashland High, were each recently selected to represent the Pacific Northwest Ski Association at the Western Junior Alpine Championships held at Mt. Bachelor beginning Wednesday.

It will be the fifth straight year the duo will compete at the event.

"My first couple years there, I didn't do so well," said MacGraw. "But every year I've managed to move up a little in the standings. I'm hoping to do even better this time."

Bansmer has struggled in the speed events — the downhill and the super G — but has fared well in the technical events at the regional competition.

"Bachelor is like a second home to me," Bansmer said. "I look forward to this race. It should be fun."

Both Bansmer and MacGraw head into the Junior Alpine Championships as the top competitors from the Northwest Division.

"They are both extremely skilled and they both have very bright futures," said Ryan Pector, head coach of MARA. "We have two really high-level athletes in those two."

This season has been especially fruitful for Bansmer.

After recovering from surgery on both knees last year, Bansmer went on to finish 10th in the Canadian Junior Nationals, then took a fourth and a sixth place in slalom events at Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho.

"My knees seem to be much better than last season," said Bansmer, 18. "I think the big thing was giving them some time off to rehabilitate."

Bansmer and MacGraw have trained together since their start with MARA, and the two travel and compete together, as well.

"We're training buddies," said MacGraw. "It's been really fun to be able to do these things together."

"When she does great I try to be there and cheer for her," added Bansmer. "It's a cool thing that we are at the same level."

But time is winding down for Bansmer and MacGraw on their careers, which started 10 years ago, with MARA.

When high school graduation rolls around, the end of those long careers will too come to a close.

MacGraw will compete next year at Montana State University, while Bansmer has yet to render his final decision on college.

"The really sad thing will be saying goodbye," said MacGraw. "MARA has been amazing. The program, the coaches and the opportunities they provide for us is incredible. (Coaches) Ryan Rector and Stewart Warren have been amazing and so supportive.

"It will be hard to see this all end."

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail

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