Men’s and women’s giant slalom kicked off the 2013 NCAA Championships on Wednesday at the Snow Bowl in Middlebury, Vt. The University of Vermont leads the team scores after the first of four events; nordic races begin on Thursday with a 5/10 k individual classic. Here’s a taste of who to watch as the East vs. West showdown heats up at Rikert Touring Center.
University of Vermont:
The defending NCAA Champions will be bringing their A-game to the classic and freestyle events this week. Though they have a pretty young team — only one of six on the nordic squad has previous NCAA experience — youth didn’t seem to be a problem for the Catamounts in the regular season. Led by junior Scott Patterson’s undefeated freestyle record and Anja Gruber’s multiple podium appearances, UVM won all six carnivals this winter. Patterson in particular turned heads by winning a few mass start races by huge margins and is definitely a favorite for an individual title. The big question is how his carnival performances will stack up against the big guns from the West, as the last time he saw Miles Havlick (UU) was at U.S. Nationals. Patterson and his team will head to Rikert with close to a home-field advantage as they seek to be the best college team in the country for the second year in a row. Their alpine team already started off strong on Wednesday and lead the team scores after giant slalom.
University of Colorado:
UVM’s carnival record is impressive, but the Buffs come to Middlebury with a perfect regional winning streak, too, and though CU sits in third behind UVM and CU after Wednesday, once the nordic events get underway NCAAs could turn into a UVM-CU showdown. Their results from the RMISA season are staggering; on the women’s side, someone from the CU women’s team won every single race. Senior Joanne Reid tallied eight (eight!) individual victories and teammates Eliska Hajkova and Maria Nordstroem picked up the other two. On the men’s squad Rune Oedegaard led the way with three individual wins. The altitude to sea level factor could help the Buffs in Vermont — it certainly didn’t hurt them when they won at Stowe in 2011 — and the memory of their loss in 2012 will be a powerful motivator.
The Big Green came close to finally upsetting UVM at the EISA Championships this February but was thwarted on the last day by UVM’s strong alpine squad. Still, the depth on Dartmouth’s nordic team is formidable. Senior Sam Tarling claimed two classic wins this winter and will look to reclaim his 2011 NCAA title, and teammates Silas Talbot and Scott Lacy were each on the podium at regionals. The women are also podium threats: freshmen Mary O’Connell came on strong at the end of the season with two wins at Bates and junior Annie Hart will want to carry on the team’s momentum from the carnival season. It takes a competitive alpine and nordic squad to put together an NCAA title, of course, but on the cross-country trails Dartmouth has often put together the top nordic team scores.
University of Utah:
Senior Miles Havlick, the defending NCAA 20 k classic champion, will be hard to beat in Middlebury. He was named RMISA regional MVP for the second straight year based on the number of NCAA qualification points he accrued in four weekends: 388 out of a possible 400. He won five races in the first four invitationals and also claimed the 20 k freestyle at RMISA Championships. Teammate Einar Ulsund was usually right behind Havlick in results, and on the women’s side Rose Kemp was a regular top contender for the women. As a team the Utes were usually second to the Buffs on any given RMISA weekend, and after the giant slalom concluded on Wednesday the team is in fourth in the team standings.
Other athletes to watch:
Andrew Dougherty (University of Denver), David Norris (Montana State University), Lukas Ebner (University of Alaska, Anchorage), Logan Hanneman (University of Alaska, Fairbanks), Marine Dusser (UAA), Ben Lustgarten (Middlebury College), Annika Taylor (University of New Hampshire), Anya Caldwell Bean (UNH), Annie Pokorny (Middlebury).
Ways to follow the 2013 NCAA Championships:
Watch the NCAA Championships races live online at NCAA.com (Thursday, the men’s 10k is at 10:00 a.m. ET and the women’s 5 k starts at 12:00 p.m. ET).
Live timing available from Bart Timing.
NCAA Championship Standings after Alpine Day 1:
- University of Vermont (227.0)
- University of Denver (210.5)
- University of Colorado (175.5)
- University of New Hampshire (165.5)
- University of Utay (164.5)