Graefnings, Tarling Win FS Collegiate Skier of the Year

Topher SabotMay 3, 20112

FasterSkier Collegiate Skier of the Year

Collegiate Skier of the Year (women):

Maria Graefnings (SWE/University of Utah) A senior at the University of Utah, and a native of Falun, Sweden, Graefnings dominated the RMISA circuit during the regular season, winning seven of eight starts.

Maria Graefnings (UU)

Graefnings transferred to Utah from the University of Nevada when that program was cut. In addition to her success in the western region, Graefnings won the NCAA national title in the 5km freestyle event, and placed second in the 15km classic mass start.

The 25-year-old also had plenty of success outside the collegiate ranks, finishing the year with three SuperTour podiums, including a victory in the Owl Creek Chase, and a second place finish in the US National Championship 30k.

Honorable Mention:

Eliska Hajkova (CZE/University of Colorado) Hajkova spent most of the 2010 seaosn in the shadow of Graefnings. In the first four races of the RMISA season, she placed second to the tall Utah star, and went on to place outside the top-3 just once – a fourth in the UNM Invitational classic race.

The trend continued in the first race of the NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vermont. Graefnings took the victory in the 5km skate, with Hajkova ten seconds back in second. But the 23-year-old former member of the Czech National Team saved her best for last, upsetting Graefnings in the 15km classic and earning her first NCAA title. Her effort helped propel CU to the national championship.

Caitlin Patterson (USA/University of Vermont) Patterson may have been hard-pressed to match the performances of Graefnings and Hajkova, but at just 21 years of age, Patterson gave up several years, and significant experience to her European competition.

The Alaskan native, in her junior year at the University of Vermont, won seven of eight regular season EISA starts, placing second in her one “off-day.”

She placed sixth in the 5km skate at the NCAA Championships, but struggled in the classic event, finishing 23rd.

Patterson also managed to squeeze in a trip to the U23 Championships in Otepaa, Estonia, where she skied to 20th in the 15km pursuit, and 26th in the 10km freestyle.

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Collegiate Skier of the Year (men):

Sam Tarling (USA/Dartmouth) The men’s collegiate field lacked the domination at the top that highlighted the season on the women’s side. Six different men won EISA races, and five took top honors in the RMISA, while the CCSA had several strong contenders as well.

Sam Tarling (DAR)

Ultimately, Tarling gets the nod over the likes of Miles Havlick (USA/UU) and Vegard Kjoelhamar (NOR/CU) on the strength of his NCAA National Championship title and consistency throughout the season.

Tarling won two regular season EISA races and finished in the top five in each of his eight starts – a strong campaign to say the least, but not even the best in the Eastern region. It was Tarling’s victory in the 10km skate that put him over the top. In an upset victory over Colorado’s Kjoelhamar, Tarling joined the relatively sparse ranks of American skiers to win an individual NCAA title in recent years.

He was unable to duplicate the performance, or even come close in the 20km classic two days later, placing 32nd in the 39 skier field, but with top challengers Havick and Kjoelhamar unable to claim a victory of their own, Tarling becomes the first American to win the FasterSkier Collegiate Skeir of the Year award.

Honorable Mention:

Vegard Kjoelhamar (NOR/University of Colorado) Kjoelhamar won two RMISA races and finished second two other times before placing second in the 10km skate at the NCAA Championships.

The 2009 winner of this award, Kjoelhamar ended a successful collegiate career with another podium, taking third in the NCAA Championship 20km classic.

Miles Havlick (USA/University of Utah) Havlick ended the 2011 season as the top ranked skier in the RMISA, edging Kjoelhamar by a single point. The sophomore won three races, finished second twice, and fifth once in his six starts.

At the NCAA Championships, he took the final podium spot behind Tarling and Kjoelhamar in the 10km skate, and placed sixth in the 20km classic.

Eric Packer (USA/Dartmouth) Packer deserves recognition as the top ranked EISA skier, besting Tarling, among others, and leading the circuit with three victories

He started all ten regular season races, never finishing outside the top five. At the NCAA Championships, he finished 5th in the 10km skate and 25th in the 20km classic.

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Previous Winners:

Antje Maempel (GER/DU)
Franz Bernstein (GER/UVM)

Antje Maempel (GER/DU)
Vegard Kjoelhamar (NOR/CU)

Maria Grevsgaard (CZE/CU)
Marius Korthauer (GER/UAF)

FasterSkier Awards 2011:

Rookie of the Year
Breakthrough Skier of the Year
Collegiate Skier of the Year
Adaptive Skier of the Year
Continental Skier of the Year
Biathlete of the Year
Nordic Combined Skier of the Year
Performance of the Year (cross-country, biathlon, nordic combined)
Cross-Country Skier of the Year

Topher Sabot

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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  • Mike Trecker

    May 4, 2011 at 7:55 am

    I would give the award to Vegard. He made the podium both days at NCAAs and also was a perfect teammate in the mass start classical which aided Reid Pletcher in victory, both individually and for the Buffs as team champ. You state that Sam was not even the best in the Eastern region but his win in the skate race gives him the edge over Kjoelhamer, however, American Pletcher is not even nominated while having won the classical, traditionally tougher than the skate races for Americans. The other factor that should be considered is Vegard and Reid scored these results in the East’s back yard, also not easy for Western racers.

  • FasterSkier

    May 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Reid’s victory at NCAA’s should not be overlooked – a very impressive race – as much so as Sam’s.

    He was definitely considered, and exclusion from the poll should not be seen as a lack of nomination.

    Reid’s regular season was not as strong as the winner or those with an Honorable Mention – he won a single race, and had only one other top-5.

    That said, in retrospect, his victory at NCAAs should have earned him an Honorable Mention.

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