Since 1954, the country’s top collegiate ski racers have convened at season’s end to represent their schools at the NCAA Skiing Championships. Keeping with the tradition and excitement that constitutes collegiate ski racing, the University of New Hampshire hosts 148 student-athletes representing 22 teams from around the country, March 7-10th. Expect some gutsy displays of endurance as these athlete lay it on the line for their schools and write history at collegiate skiing’s most prestigious event.
On the nordic side, the University of Colorado Buffaloes defend their 2006 title facing stiff competition from all three divisions. The University of Colorado and Denver University each won two RMISA Invitationals this year, backed by strong results from Maria Grevsgaard (CU) and Rene Reisshauer (DU). Colorado also returns last year’s 20km freestyle winner, Kit Richmond with freshmen Matt Gelso looking to make an impression during his first NCAA races. Historically DU has won the overall championship 18 times since the races inception with CU winning 16 times. But Colorado state’s supremacy is far from untouchable. Five different men won skate races this year at RMISA Invitationals and Montana’s women are extremely strong, sweeping the podium at Utah’s Invitational. Plus, the University of Utah always sends a speedy core, this year qualifying a full squad led by Snorri Einarsson and Sara Schweiger. The University of New Mexico, meanwhile, is only 2 years removed from its national championship and was runner up in 2006.
Adding a powerful central division to the equation makes a Colorado repeat even tougher. The women NMU Wildcats, led by Olympian Lindsey Weier, have dominated the central division, qualifying 3 girls in the top 3 spots. The University of Alaska Fairbanks returns top qualifier Marius Korthauer who was runner up to John Stene (DU) at last year’s NCAA 10km classic race. And don’t count out Michigan Tech who will certainly improve over last years results, qualifying five skiers, led by a very fast Jesse Lang and Kristina Owen.
Could this be the year eastern schools gain the upper hand? The University of Vermont and Dartmouth College were 2 of only 4 teams to qualify full alpine and cross country squads this year (the University of Colorado and University of Utah being the other two) and both are full of potential. Dartmouth rides a hot streak into town after going 6-0 as a team on the eastern carnival circuit. All winter Elsa Sargent and Sara Studebaker battled with Carina Hamel (UVM) and Jenny Hamilton (MID) for top honors in the east. Meanwhile Dartmouth’s men, in combination with Juergen Uhl (UVM), nearly monopolized the 2007 EISA podium. Returning qualifier Sylvan Ellefson of Bates College and freshmen standout Simeon Hamilton of Middlebury have also produced great seasons and return to a course on which they placed 2nd and 4th in January.
Jackson XC, the site of the cross country venue is in top shape. With a plentiful base, and snow temperatures flirting with extra blue, conditions are primed for elite racing. The men’s and women’s cross country freestyle events get underway Wednesday, March 7th starting with the men’s 10km at 9am. The women’s 5km follows and should produce a flurry of excitement as the athletes lay it all out for their schools.
On Friday, March 9th the field turns to a 15km classic mass start for the women and a 20km mass start for the men. During the races fans will be able to catch the skiers in multiple places along the 5km loop, with updates provided by Olympic announcer Peter Graves.
With the conditions primed, athletes focused, and a championship at stake, these races will display the highest level of collegiate racing and skiing tradition. This may be the last collegiate races for some of these athletes so expect some inspired performances and surprising results. Hope to see you there!
Check out the host’s websites at:
Event updates will be available at:
Last year’s results are posted at:
NCAA skiing archive results:
2006 NCAA Champs skate race