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Cook earns fourth state title

Johanna Cook’s winter sports schedule can be pretty hectic.

The Parkland High School sophomore competes in two winter sports and recently finished successful seasons in both.

As a diver for the PHS swimming and diving team, Cook finish third at the District 11 Championships, which was one place away from earning a place in the state championship meet.

But Cook has also experienced great success outside the warm confines of natatoriums.

As a ski racer, she’s among the best in Pennsylvania. In her age group, no one has been better over the past four seasons.

Cook recently won the U16 overall state title at the Pennsylvania Alpine Racing Association Championships at Blue Mountain Ski Area, where she is a member of the Blue Mountain Racing team.

Cook took first place in super giant slalom, first place in giant slalom, and second place in slalom to earn the 2024 title, her fourth straight state title.

“Knowing I have maintained my ski level above my competitors for several years is very fulfilling,” said Cook, “because I like knowing that I have more of a drive to go fast and be more aggressive than the people that are attempting to beat me.”

During the 2023-24 season Cook won all but one race she entered in the U16, U18 and U21 age group.

Cook has been skiing for as long as she can remember. With parents who are both national ski patrollers, she was introduced to the sport before she had a choice.

“I have been skiing since before I could walk,” she said. “My dad used to bring me up on the chairlift and ski me down. At about age three, my parents were finally able to find ski boots that could fit me, and I was able to ski on my own.

“I have been skiing competitively for seven years, since I was eight years old. I had no choice but to enjoy skiing; we practically lived at the mountain since both of my parents were national ski patrollers, it was just a natural transition to skiing and being able to follow in my older brother’s footsteps made me an advanced skier at a very young age.”

Cook’s older brother Benjamin was also a state-title winning ski racer for the Blue Mountain team. A sophomore at Marist College in New York, Benjamin competes on his college team where he was Rookie of the Year as a freshman and more recently placed second in his conference championships.

For Johanna, the ski season runs for four months during the winter, which coincides with diving season.

A typical winter week has Cook practicing with the swim team five or six days for a couple hours per day, then some weight training after practice.

When skiing weather arrives, she adds four days of ski practice, which includes a pair of three-hour sessions during the week and longer practices both days of the weekend.

When competitions start, Cook travels all over the Northeast to race against the best competition in this part of the country.

She not only has had success against racers her own age, but she often beats the times of many U18 and U21 skiers.

Like a lot of successful athletes, Cook tried several sports before finding the ones she loved most.

She gave up gymnastics, soccer and pole vaulting to focus on skiing and diving. Although she didn’t like diving at first, she found a coach on her summer team at Kay Brook-Green Hills who helped make it enjoyable.

As the youngest diver in the 13 and over age group, Cook won the ABE League championship last summer.

She plans to start year-round diving training in the near future while continuing to compete at skiing in winter.

“I like skiing the best because I like feeling the exhilaration of flying down the racecourse at very high speeds,” said Cook “I like challenging myself to achieve a new top speed as often as I can. It is very challenging trying to work out a schedule accommodating both sports enough to keep improving every week.”

She enjoys both sports, but is hoping to dive in college in a few years. However, if skiing is an option, it’s one she will consider.

“I plan to continue on as a U18 racer and hopefully find success next season,” Cook said. “I am looking at colleges more specific to continue diving but if a college I like has a ski team I will not rule it out.”

Cook is coached at BMR by Carrie Scheetz, Billie Gueshue and Steve Sagnoletti. Amato DePaulo is race director for BMR.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Parkland sophomore Johanna Cook has won four straight state titles at the U16 level. She's also a District 11 medal-winning diver on the Trojans swimming and diving team.