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Mary Sackbauer makes all-American again

Middlebury's Mary Sackbauer races to ninth place in the slalom during the NCAA championships last weekend to earn all-American status for the secnd time in three years.
Dennis Curran | Special to the Daily |

Life’s different in the east.

Mary Sackbauer, Vail Mountain School Class of 2010, has learned that in her years at Middlebury College.

“As much as I hate to say it, East Coast skiers can ski anything,” she said. “It’s true. It took me a full year to understand the ice.

“It didn’t go above freezing all winter. I think we had eight or 10 negative-15 (degree) days. And when the sun shines, it’s not warm. It’s just a little bit different.”

“As much as I hate to say it, East Coast skiers can ski anything. It’s true. It took me a full year to understand the ice.”Mary Sackbauer2010 graduate of Vail Mountain School

But Sackbauer adjusted well and will be leaving Middlebury as a two-time all-American. She finished ninth the NCAA giant slalom in 2013 and capped her college-racing career with a ninth-place finish in the slalom recently in White Face, N.Y.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a better way to finish.”

Not only did she transition from Colorado powder to eastern crunch, in the process, she overcame a left ACL injury on Dec. 26, 2013, right in between her all-American years.

“My trainers became my best friends,” she joked.

Getting Through Rehab

The rehab process was tough, and she didn’t feel quite comfortable with her left knee until January of this year.

Sackbauer found college racing to be quite competitive. To put things into perspective, she finished 4-hundredth’s behind University of New Mexico’s Mateja Robnik. It just happens that Robnik spent eight years on the World Cup, skiing for Slovenia before getting her education.

“It’s just as competitive as Nor-Am racing, but way, way more fun,” Sackbauer said. “The team aspect is great. I had 25 teammates, Nordic and alpine, cheering for me at the bottom. That’s way more awesome than any other type of racing.”

Off the slopes, the transition from the Vail Mountain School, a tiny high school, to Middlebury was interesting. VMS, kindergarten through the high school, has roughly 300 students. Middlebury, though a small and esteemed New England college, has 600 students in Sackbauer’s graduating class this spring.

Sackbauer will graduate with an American studies degree. She has already completed her thesis on special education during this past fall semester.

Her family includes her parents, Tim and Jan Sackbauer, and her siblings, Lucy and Tim.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.


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