NCAA Skiing Championships (Steamboat Springs, Colorado): 15/20 k freestyle mass starts
On the fourth and final day of NCAA Skiing Championships at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Katharine Ogden skied to her second-straight national title, Ian Torchia became an NCAA champion and the University of Denver (DU) won its 24th NCAA National Championship.
Ogden, a Dartmouth College freshman, raced to a 38.4-second victory in the women’s 15-kilometer mass start, finishing in 43:22.0 minutes for her second win in as many races at 2018 NCAA Championships. She won the 5 k classic on Thursday and with her win on Saturday, she became the first Dartmouth skier in 56 years to win two national titles in the same year, according to a Dartmouth press release.
On the second of three laps, Ogden broke away early with close to 10 k to go. According to the press release, she had a “quick fall” near the end of the second lap, but that didn’t derail her as she had time to grab sunglasses from Dartmouth men’s coach Brayton Osgood and a Dartmouth Lone Pine flag before the finish.
At this year’s championships, Ogden’s two titles are accompanied by victories from Dartmouth men’s alpine skiers Brian McLaughlin (who won the giant slalom) and Tanguy Nef (who won the slalom). This marked only the second time that Dartmouth’s Big Green won four individual titles in a single NCAA Championships; that also occurred 61 years ago.
“Katharine absolutely wanted this one, and she really likes to win,” Dartmouth Director of Skiing and Women’s Nordic Head Coach Cami Thompson Graves said in the press release. “She wasn’t about to let a fall slow her down, she has such a great competitive fire. But she also showed her playful side grabbing Brayton’s glasses and smiling all the way to the finish line!”
Hailey Swirbul of the University of Alaska Anchorage placed second and Linn Eriksen (DU) reached the podium in third (+46.3). Denver had three in the top 10 with Jasmi Joensuu in ninth and Taeler McCrerey in 10th. Also landing in the top 10 for All-American honors were Guro Jordheim of the University of Utah in fourth, Emma Tarbath (Montana State University) in fifth, Petra Hyncicova of the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) in sixth, Christina Rolandsen (CU) in seventh, and Lauren Jortberg (Dartmouth) in eighth.
Torchia, an Northern Michigan University (NMU) junior and U.S. Ski Team Development Team member, became the seventh NCAA champion in NMU Wildcats nordic skiing history, according to an NMU press release. Fredrick Schwenke was the Wildcats’ last nordic champion; he won the 2015 NCAA Championships 20 k classic.
Torchia drew bib 1 for Saturday’s 20 k freestyle mass start and crossed the finish line first in 54:21.0, just 2 seconds ahead of CU’s Alvar Alev. Eivind Kvaale (DU) finished just four seconds back in third, and Denver had three in the top seven with Dag Frode Trollebø in fourth and Lars Hannah in seventh. Darmouth’s Cal Deline placed fifth, Zane Fields of Colby College finished sixth, and the 20 k freestyle’s 2017 NCAA champion Martin Bergström (Utah), who also won Thursday’s 10 k classic, placed eighth. CU’s Petter Reistad and Sondre Bollum finished ninth and 10th, respectively.
In the team standings, Denver beat Colorado by 41 points for the overall win with a total of 604 points between the nordic and alpine events at this year’s championships. Dartmouth placed third, 114.5 points behind Colorado, and Utah was another 63 points back in fourth.
According to a DU press release, Denver has won at least one national championship in each of the last five athletic seasons (skiing: 2013/14, 2015/16, 2017/18; hockey: 2016-17; men’s lacrosse 2014/15), joining only Stanford on the list of schools that have done so in the last five seasons. (Oregon, West Virginia, Penn State, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Florida could potentially join that list later this year.)
“It feels incredible,” said DU head coach Andy LeRoy said in the press release. “I am so happy for all of our athletes, they’ve been training all week and all season and to do it in Steamboat in front of our crowd is special.”
FIS Cross Country World Cup (Oslo, Norway): Men’s 50 k freestyle mass start
A four-time Olympic champion, Dario Cologna of Switzerland won his first 50-kilometer World Cup race on Saturday, topping the podium in the famous Holmenkollen 50 k freestyle mass start after outlunging Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (who won the event last year) for the win in 2:01:48.1. Sundby finished one-hundredth of a second behind for second place, ahead of Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin, who was 1.1 seconds back in third in his first World Cup race since November of last year.
Norway’s Sjur Røthe came out on top in a race for fourth (+4.2), ahead of Russia’s Denis Spitsov in fifth (+4.4) and his Norwegian teammate Hans Christer Holund in sixth (+4.5). Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave followed in seventh (+15.1), Germany’s Florian Notz placed eighth (+25.9) and Canada’s Alex Harvey finished ninth (+32.4), ahead of France’s Robin Duvillard in 10th (+33.5).
Scott Patterson led the U.S. in 16th (+56.3) coming off an 11th place in the 50 k classic mass start at last month’s Olympics, and Canada’s Devon Kershaw finished in the points in 28th (+3:43.6). Just outside the top 30, Canada’s Graeme Killick finished 34th (+4:55.1).
Also for the U.S, David Norris placed 38th (+6:19.7), Paddy Caldwell was 46th (+8:12.3), Noah Hoffman 49th (+10:27.9), Kevin Bolger 52nd (+12:44.2), and Simi Hamilton did not finish.
Canada’s fourth man in the race, Andy Shields finished 47th (+8:13.6).
IBU World Cup (Kontiolahti, Finland): Single mixed relay & mixed relay
(Note: This rundown has been updated to include comments from Christian Gow and Sean Doherty.)
In the last single mixed relay and mixed relay of the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup season, France and Italy came out on top, with France winning the two-person single mixed relay and Italy taking first in the coed mixed relay.
France’s Anaïs Chevalier and Antonin Guigonnat combined for zero penalties and six spares to finish first in the single mixed relay in 33:29.1 minutes. Guigonnat as the team’s anchor secured the win by just 2.4 seconds over Austria’s Julian Eberhard while Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø finished 4.4 seconds back for third.
Chevalier put France in fifth after the first leg, 15.5 seconds behind Ukraine’s Iryna Varvynets in first. Guigonnat used just one spare on his first leg to move them into fourth, 9.2 seconds back while Norway led at the second exchange. On Chevalier’s second leg, she shot clean in both stages to lead through the final exchange, with Ukraine skiing just 6.2 seconds back in second.
On the final leg, Guigonnat used two spares and stayed out of the penalty lap, keeping the team in first through the finish. Eberhard skied the second-fastest course time on that leg to elevate Austria (with Lisa Theresa Hauser) from fourth at the tag to second place at the finish, and Bø skied all the way up from eighth to third place for Norway (with Marte Olsbu) with the fastest course time.
Ukraine’s Artem Tyschenko used just one spare but slipped to fourth with the 11th-ranked course time on that leg, as he finished 10.8 seconds behind Norway.
Behind Russia in fifth and Italy in sixth, Canada placed seventh (+23.8) with Rosanna Crawford and Christian Gow. The duo combined for zero penalties and six spares, and put themselves in third place early in the race. Crawford skied them into third on the first leg, using just two spares and tagging Gow 7.4 seconds out of first.
Gow went on to take the lead after cleaning prone without any spares, and he cleaned standing as well but slipped back to third while Bø took the lead. Gow tagged Crawford in third, 8.9 seconds behind Norway in first.
“I didn’t think too much about being tagged in third,” Gow recalled in an email to FasterSkier. “It was exciting for sure, but I let it fade to the background so that I could focus on my job both on the track and in the range. It was great to leave prone in first place! It was also surprising, but it was a good place to be in.
“My skiing was ok today,” he continued. “It is a really challenging and demanding race format that we don’t get a lot of practice with. I was sick after the Olympic Games and only finally coming around the past couple days. The Sprint race was horrendous for me, so today was much better than that. In the range I just focussed on myself and trusted my shooting. I tried my best not to get caught up in the race going on around me and it worked to my benefit.”
Crawford then slipped to seventh and 21 seconds back with three prone spares, but avoided the penalty lap, and Gow held onto seventh through the finish, using just one spare and skiing the eighth-fastest course time on that leg.
“We are both happy with this result,” Gow wrote. “I think that we are both looking at the 23 second gap to first and thinking that if things had worked out just a bit better we could be there. It can be both exciting and frustrating to be that close to the podium. We know we can do it, it’s just a matter of putting it together on the right day. We are happy with 7th, but hungry for more.”
Susan Dunklee and Lowell Bailey finished 14th for the U.S., 1:13.0 out of first with one penalty and 14 spares. The penalty came on Dunklee’s first leg during her standing stage, after she had cleaned prone without any spares. She tagged Bailey in 14th and he brought them up to 11th, using three spares on that leg, then Dunklee came through the final exchange in 13th after using four spares to clean. Bailey lost one place on the final leg, using four spares but staying out of the penalty lap.
Twenty-six teams competed in the single mixed relay, compared to 23 in the mixed relay that followed.
In Saturday’s 2 x 6 + 2 x 7.5 k mixed relay, Italy nabbed a 1.5-second victory over Ukraine in 1:15:08.3. Dorothea Wierer, Lisa Vittozzi, Dominik Windisch, and Lukas Hofer — the same Italian team that took bronze in the mixed relay at last month’s Olympics, although in a different order — combined for the win with one penalty and 13 spares.
Ukraine, with Anastasiya Merkushyna, Vita Semerenko, Artem Pryma, and Dmytro Pidruchnyi, had zero penalties and just three spares throughout the whole race. For the second-straight relay on Saturday, Norway placed third (+9.1) with Synnøve Solemdal, Tiril Eckhoff, Henrik L’Abée-Lund, and Tarjei Bø totaling zero penalties and nine spares.
Italy’s lone penalty came in Vittozzi’s second leg, but it didn’t derail the team as it improved from sixth to fifth with Vittozzi, who skied the third-fastest course time on that leg. She tagged Windisch 6.8 seconds out of first, and Windisch, who had anchored the team in the Olympics, took the lead by the final exchange after using two spares to clean. Hofer left the exchange just 3.3 seconds ahead of Norway’s Bø but used just one spare and skied the second-fastest anchor leg to finish first, beating his rivals up Kontiolahti’s infamous climb known as “The Wall”. Ukraine’s Pidruchnyi also shot clean with a single spare and clocked the fastest anchor leg to move his team from fourth to second place. Bø lost one place and finished third after using one spare as well and skiing the third-fastest anchor leg.
Russia followed in fourth, France fifth, Sweden sixth, Germany seventh, Austria eighth, and the U.S. ninth (+2:48.4). The U.S. team, with Clare Egan, Joanne Reid, Tim Burke, and Sean Doherty, had one penalty and 11 spares. Egan cleaned her first prone but had to ski a penalty lap after her standing stage, tagging Reid in 17th, 58.7 seconds out of first.
Reid used three spares on the second leg and moved up to 13th by the second exchange, and Burke used three spares as well to pick off one more place and tag Doherty in 12th. Doherty skied the eighth-fastest anchor leg and used two spares to clean to put the team in ninth at the finish.
“I don’t consider two spares to be anything special, but today it was enough to make up some ground,” Doherty wrote in an email to FasterSkier.”I felt strong skiing, more like myself which is fun even if it’s a little late in the season. We had very good skis which always helps. I have done quite a few laps on this course over the years so the lines and transitions are pretty refined, so that is where I made time on the course.
“I am happy with my leg. I enjoyed my little battle for 9th,” he continued. “I can’t speak too much for the other members of the relay tonight but I think 9th is a solid effort.”
Canada finished 17th (+4:34.9) with Emma Lunder, Julia Ransom, Scott Gow, and Brendan Green combining for one penalty and 13 spares. Lunder put them in 12th at the first exchange and Ransom skied up to 10th, but Scott Gow had a penalty on his standing stage to drop to 16th. Green lost one more place on the last leg despite only requiring two spares.