The second annual FHC Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is Friday, May 13. One of this year’s inductees is former skier, Eric Van Tongeren.
VanTongeren was 2x MHSAA State Giant Slalom & Slalom (1997 & 1998), Mid-American Cup (Jr. Champion), and Rocky Mountain/Central Trophy Series (Jr. Champion). Van Tongeren answered a couple of questions for TCT on his skiing at FHC, and his skiing career overall.
Q: What is your best memory from your days in FHC athletics?
A: Heading home from Traverse City after wrapping up a long week of ski racing with my teammates, bringing the state championship trophy back to FHC.
Q: Would you have ever thought you’d be “coming back” to your skiing memories like this?
A: No, I was completely surprised! What a great way to get everyone back together and support the Rangers.
Q: How do you feel about receiving this award?
A: I am honored to be nominated for the HOF. I’m looking forward to celebrating with family and friends while supporting the future success of FHC athletes.
Q: How would you describe your experience with FHC Athletics?
A: FHC Athletics provided the right environment for me to succeed to my fullest potential. As a skier (a non-traditional sporting event), I was able to use the same facilities as every other athlete and was the recipient of the same amazing amount of support from FHC families.
Q: Did you have any coaches or people that you looked up to at FHC?
A: My father, Rick Van Tongeren, had been the ski coach at FHC for many years before I became part of the team. I looked up to him the most, and try to carry forward many of the same values he taught while working with the skiers I coach.
Q: What was your greatest accomplishment during high school sports?
A: Finishing out my senior year as the incumbent champion in all events at state finals.
Q: What was ski team like and what do you remember most about it?
A: Every practice was a challenge, which allowed us to drop the social tribulations of our day, and focus on supporting each other–skiing is hard enough, without trying to win a race. I became friends with everyone who was part of the ski team, and built many relationships that have held strong to this day.
Q: How long have you skied, and do you still ski?
A: I started skiing when I was very young, before I was two years old. I plan to ski until the end! My grandpa, Don Erickson, is 94 and still making turns. I hope to follow in his tracks.
Q: How many ski teams have you been on, and what were they?
A: Besides being a Ranger, I raced individually for Win Alpine Racing, achieving a spot in the US Ski Team Development Program, and also had the privilege of competing in NCAA Division I Alpine Skiing for Western State Colorado.