Bergen is among state’s top skiers
At Parkland High School, Justin Bergen wears a number of faces: a senior set to graduate in a matter of weeks, Vice President of the Class of 2016 and future student at the University of Pittsburgh.
But one of his greatest accomplishments has likely gone unnoticed by most.
Bergen, who learned to ski before being enrolled in preschool, recently capped his racing career at Blue Mountain a few weeks ago. He finished the season ranked fifth in Pennsylvania out of approximately 100 athletes that ski in competition.
Because of his success at Blue Mountain, one of three main mountains that competitors race on in Pennsylvania, Bergen qualified for two premier championship events on the east coast. Skiers also compete at Elk Mountain Ski Resort and Seven Springs Mountain Resort.
“I qualified for two races, actually,” Bergen said. “The high school championships, which took place in New Hampshire in March. And I qualified for the eastern 19 and under championships which took place in New York.”
Bergen earned a spot in those two events by finishing as one of the top five racers in the state. He did so by achieving one of Pennsylvania’s highest scores in the combined eight cup races this season.
His season finished with placing 30th in the high school championships, followed by 20th-place finish at the U19 Championships in New York.
While being recognized as one of the top skiers in the state is a remarkable accomplishment in its own right, this isn’t anything new to Bergen. He’s been in that category for the past half decade, including being ranked No. 2 in the state three years ago in his final season in the U-16 division.
“I’ve been in the top five for the past five years,” Bergen said. “When I was 16 I qualified for the U16 team and represented Pennsylvania. I’ve been qualifying for U19 ever since I was 17.”
Much of that success can be credited to a training schedule that not only includes spending five days a week at Blue Mountain in the winter, but also traveling out of state in other seasons. He visits Oregon for a 10-day trip in July and travels to Colorado around Thanksgiving for training. It’s all a part of a routine to keep up with a sport he started enjoying very early in life.
“My parents just started us out when me and my brother were younger,” Bergen said. “Like I said, I was skiing before I was even in preschool, when I was like three. We just always loved it and continued to do it.”
The skiing tradition didn’t start with Justin, however. His older brother Trevor, a 21-year old at Penn State University, also started at Blue Mountain around the same age as Justin. Now he’s a member of the Nittany Lions’ team that qualified for nationals. Trevor was ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania at 16.
“He comes home and we train together,” Bergen said. “We go up to main over Christmas every year and we train up there…Since he’s been doing it in college, he knows more than I do, and I can learn from him.”
Trevor, too, plans to ski at the collegiate level. It will be on Pitt’s club team come next season, but it’s a new chapter he’s eager to start.
“I’m done until I move onto Pittsburgh,” Bergen said, “and I’ll continue skiing for their club team. They’ve been pretty successful. Their club team normally competes against the whole east coast. I’m hoping to do well there.”