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      Lila Lapanja had just finished her first driving lesson when she got the call from the U.S. Ski Team in early 2011. "I was so excited. I've been working so hard for it, and it's just one step closer to my dream of being an Olympic ski racer," said Lapanja, who learned of her nomination at the summit of Mt. Rose Highway.

      Her career hasn’t slowed since, and she slammed on the gas pedal in 2014 when she finished sixth in the Junior Worlds slalom, nabbed the NorAm slalom title and finished seventh in the overall. She rode that momentum right into U.S. Champs at Squaw Valley, her home mountain, winning bronze in slalom. All in all, she took huge steps toward hopefully snagging some 2015 World Cup starts and a shot at competing in Beaver Creek during the “senior” World Championships when they roll into Colorado Feb. 2-15, 2015.

      Last year it was a huge goal of mine to get top 15 at World Juniors and I did accomplish that in the slalom and knew I had so much left. I got another year of training under my belt and to finish in the top 10 knowing that I have so much more left is really exciting. I’m so excited of my potential when I put it all down for two solid runs.

      There’s a great team vibe. We’ve been traveling, training and living with each other for almost three years, so we have a healthy relationship off snow. On snow we’re very competitive and we push each other to keep doing our best. We’re always really positive and supportive of each other, and I always wish the best for them.

      Alongside my NorAm slalom title goal I had written that I wanted to win the U.S. National slalom race. This is my best finish at a U.S. Nationals ever, so I’m super happy with how I skied. I put my whole heart out on the hill.

      U.S. born, but with dual citizenship with Slovenia, Lapanja inherited her love for skiing from dad and former Slovenian National Team skier Vojko Lapanja. After he moved to the U.S. in 1991, Lapanja was born and has had racing in her blood ever since. She cut her teeth at Diamond Peak and rapidly climbed the junior ranks before being called up to the U.S. Ski team in 2011.

      “I am very interested in nature and animals. I think it is very important to understand the lives of animals and find ways to preserve their habitat and appreciate their beauty. I love animals, especially the snow leopard (you can learn more about this magnificent creature at I also love to play other sports, especially tennis and ping-pong! My passions also include traveling and learning about other cultures and people. Since I grew up speaking Slovene with my father and his family, I am very interested in language and one day I will be fluent in Slovene and German! I also enjoy reading and writing too and have started writing poetry.”



      NorAm slalom champion, 2014
      3rd, SL, U.S. Alpine Championships, 2014 (top junior)
      6th, SL, Junior World Championships, Jasna, SVK, 2014
      15th, SL, Junior World Championships, Mont St. Anne, CAN, 2013
      Back-to-back U.S. Junior combined champion, 2012, 2013