Last year, Kevin Sweeney, head coach of the University of Utah, had perhaps the greatest recruiting coup of the year, when he brought in Estonian Katrin Smigun for second semester. The former world cup skier and Olympian dominated the entire season, going undefeated and leading Utah to an NCAA team championship. This year there are not any teams that can report recruiting foreign Olympians, but there are some exciting new additions to the NCAA skiing scene.
Again, Utah has claimed one of the top recruits for 2004 in Park City native Casey Simons. Casey, a double gold medalist at the 2003 Junior Olympics, followed older brother Zack (a points scorer for Utah at the 2003 Championships) to Utah.
When they were runner-up for the team title in 2003, the University of Vermont was limited by a relatively weak women’s Nordic squad, but they may well have remedied that problem with this year’s recruiting class. In line with UVM’s tradition of providing collegiate skiing opportunities for top Vermonters, Head Coach Allan Serrano reports the addition of three females with connections to the state: Carina Hamel, Amelia DeMarchis, and Liz Parke. Hamel, a 2003 graduate of Burke Mountain Academy, was the bronze medalist in the OJ skate at Junior Olympics. DeMarchis is a top Vermont biathlete who spent the last year in Duluth training with the Junior National Biathlon Team. Liz Parke is a Mt. Mansfield, Vermont native who spent the last four years in Minnesota attending Carleton College. Unfortunately, Carleton disbanded its team in spring 2002, so Parke had no team as a senior. Now in graduate school at UVM, she has one year of eligibility remaining.
Third place in the team standings at last years NCAAs, University of Colorado reports just one new recruit: freshman Tim Damrow. Damrow, of Roseville, Minnesota and Saukko Ski Club had three top-15 results at Junior Olympics, including a sixth place finish in the JI sprint. Head Coach Bruce Cranmer says that CU is still recruiting for second semester. Even so, the team is in a good position having lost just one scoring athlete from last year’s team.
The University of Nevada-Reno has a new coach for 2003: Tav Streit, formerly coach at Montana State University, and before that assistant at Nevada. UNR can also boast of several talented new athletes. On the women’s side of things, the team adds Finnish skier Sari Tuovinen who earned a start in last year’s Lahti World Cup. The Alaskan pair of Paige Brady (siver medalist in Junior Olympics sprint) and Sally Johnson (7th in Junior Olympics classic) add depth to the talented squad. For men, Streit reports the addition of Donavan Walsh, bronze medalist in Junior Olympics sprint.
The talented University of New Mexico squad adds a whole contingent of newcomers to their squad. For the men, Norwegian transfer Geir Rogn boasts top-30 results in Norwegian Senior Cup races, and was 15th in the 2003 Norwegian Birkie. Joining him is German Dirk Grimm, a top rollerskier, who finished second in the 2002 Rollerskiing World Cup standings. Jakub Hamr, a member of the Czech Junior National Team will also join the team as a transfer. For the women, Norwegian Trine Lundamo has finished as high as 15th at Norwegian Senior Nationals.
Perennial powerhouse Denver University has only one new recruit for 2004: Courtney Dauwalter. This Minnesota State Champion and JI Scandinavian Trip participant won the JI skate at Junior Olympics. Head Coach Knut Nystad is still recruiting for second semester, even though the team retains all of its strongest skiers from 2003.