While attention was on the SuperTour and Lake Placid this weekend, the Rock Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) and Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) had full race schedules underway at Bozeman, MT, and Duluth, MN. Here’s a summary of the weekend:
CCSA- St. Scholastica Hilltop Invitational
Day one: 5/10 k freestyle
While this is the first official weekend of racing for CCSA, member schools Northern Michigan University (NMU) and University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) already went head to head at U.S. Nationals. While the starting list was noticeably different- with top athletes David Norris and Alex Treinen (UAF) prepping for European racing and NMU’s top skiers sick- the Nanooks still came out on top by taking five out of six podium spots. Senior John Parry (UAF) took his first collegiate win for the Nanooks with a time of 30:25.0, with teammates Ray Sabo and Alex Morris rounding out the podium.
“It was a good day for us today,” Said Alaska head coach Scott Jerome. “I was really proud of John Parry, it’s great to see him on top of the podium. It was really fun to see him and Ray battling: it was really tight throughout the race.”
On the ladies side, it was Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman that broke the Alaskan stranglehold on the podium, making the top of the podium in a time of 17:32.5. She was followed by UAF skiers Raphael Sieber and Theresi Schnurr, who were back by 17.8 and 44.3 seconds respectively.
Day two: 5/10 k classic
Flying in from Fairbanks, AK, just to compete this weekend, junior Alex Morris (UAF) climbed a few steps up from yesterday’s race to be on top of the podium in a time of 31:00.1. His teammate senior John Parry was 34.7 seconds, good enough for second place. Gustavus’Anders Bowman rounded out the podium in what was his best collegiate finish so far with a time of 31:36.5.
Alaska earned the men’s team title with 77 points, followed by Michigan Tech with 63 and Gustavus (58 points) in third.
Raphael Sieber and Theresi Schnurr (UAF) once again went one-two on the podium with times of 17:34.9 and 18:02.5, as Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman showed her versatility in skiing, as she took third overall for the day with a time of 18:06.4. Freeman’s two podium finishes helped lift Green Bay to second place overall for the Invitational, behind the Nanooks.
Alaska- with two skiers taking four out of six podium spots- came out on top with 75 points, while Freeman’s performances over the two days helped lift Green Bay to second with 61. St. Olaf rounded out the podium with 51 points,
“I was really happy with the team from top to bottom today,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said. “Alex Morris was just on fire today. He got off to a really quick start and got faster every lap. Raphaela was a couple seconds behind early on, but then she stepped up. There’s a big hill in the middle of the course, and she was just ripping up it faster than everyone else.”
Racing continues next weekend, with CCSA skiers going head-to-head with the country’s best as the SuperTour makes a stop in Minneapolis, MN.
RMISA- Montana State University Invitational
Day one: 5/10k freestyle
Vegard Kjoelhamar of Colorado University- winner of the 2009 NCAA freestyle- showed top form as he was the fastest skier to cross the tape in a time of 24:25.6. University of Utah’s Miles Havlick was second in a time of 24:28.0. Kjoelhamar’s teammate Jesper Oestensen was third with a time of 25:00.3.
Bozeman, Montana native, and former US Ski Team member, Leif Zimmermann (BSF) raced as a guest placing third, 19.4 seconds back. Zimmermann obviously did not count in the collegiate rankings.
On the ladies side, it was Maria Graefnings of the University of Utah that was on top of the podium in a time of 13:09.1. Colorado University filled up the rest of the podium slots with skiers Eliska Hajkova and Joanne Reid finishing in 13:43.7 and 14:04.1 respectively.
Day two: 15/20 k classic
It was all about the Utes for the final day of racing, as the Utah’s top skiers Havlick and Grafning had stellar performances that earned them recognition as RMISA Nordic Skier of the Week. Havlick moved up to the top of the podium with a time of 58:37.4, as Grafning stayed in the number one position with a time of 48:23.3.
On the men’s side, Kjoelhamar (CU) was second, only 12.6 seconds back from Havlick. Martin Waaler Kaas of the University of New Mexico took the last podium spot in a time of 59:58.6.
Eliska Hajkova managed to repeat her performance from Saturday and finished 02:26.3 back from Grafning, while Grafning’s teammate Sarah MacCarthy rounded out the podium in a time of 51:02.5.
Colorado took team overall honors, finishing with a combined Nordic and alpine score of 921 points, nine points ahead of Utah, with New Mexico in third with 786 points.
“It`s good to have a victory under the belt, regardless of how tight it was,” said Coach Richard Rokos of Colorado University. “Utah came strong today, especially in Nordic women, but we maintained the lead and it`s good to go home with a victory.”
Racing continues next weekend with the Utah Invitational at Soldier Hollow in Midway, UT.
Thank you to Stuart Jennings for the excellent photos from the MSU Invitational.
Information from CCSA and University of Utah press releases were used in this report.
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Ben Theyerl was born into a family now three-generations into nordic ski racing in the US. He grew up skiing for Chippewa Valley Nordic in his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin, before spending four years racing for Colby College in Maine. He currently mixes writing and skiing while based out of Crested Butte, CO, where he coaches the best group of high schoolers one could hope to find.