The nordic side of the NCAA skiing nationals got underway today in Stowe, Vermont with 10km and 5km individual-start classic races for the men and women respectively. After several days of steady snow and cold, the weather cleared up nicely; conditions were great with bright sun, cool temperatures, and firm tracks.
The men raced first on a two lap course which gave the large crowd of spectators and supportive teammates several chances to cheer on their favorite skiers. The entire field was extremely competitive, with only three athletes per university allowed to race. Even some of the lowest seeded skiers looked to be skiing at near-World-Cup level as they tore out of the start gate directly onto the first uphill.
Ethan Foster On the Huge Climb Before The Stadium
With the highest-ranked skiers starting last, it was difficult to know how things really stood during the middle of the race. And not surprisingly, it was one of the last skiers in who emerged with the fastest men's time of the day: Rene Reisshauer of Denver University completing the tough “10km” course in 30 minutes, 49.1 seconds.
Rene Reisshauer Celebrates With Teammates After Becoming An NCAA National Champion
Bryan Cook's 5th place for NMU was the best American result of the day amidst a slew of European racers. The only other American's to make the top ten were Zach Violett (8th – UAA) and Jed Kallen-Brown (10th – UAF.) Dissapointing for the host team UVM, Ethan Foster and Lowell Bailey had to settle for 11th and 13th despite some very gutsy racing from Foster in particular, who double-kick-poled all the way up the first steep climb. (Link to full men's results: http://www.ncaasports.com/skiing/championship-results/classical_10k_men )
Alison Crocker Storms The First Hill
Lindsay Williams Crests The Final Climb Before the Finish
Mandy Kaempf Dives For the Line Just Behind Martina Stursova (in red)
After this, nobody got inside the top three, although Dartmouth's Alison Crocker had a very close brush with the podium at only 1.9 seconds out of third. Laura Valaas of Whitman, Tara Hamilton of DU, Kristina Owen of Michigan Tech, and Lindsay Weier of NMU took care of the next four spots, pushing a lot of fast Europeans down lower on the result list. (Link to full women's results: http://www.ncaasports.com/skiing/championship-results/classical_5k_women )
Friday is the second and final day of alpine competition, after which it will be up to the nordic skiers to battle for the remaining points in the 20km and 15km mass-start skate races. Stay tuned for full coverage of some of the fastest racing on the continent.