After a one-year hiatus, our Skier of the Year awards are back. We start with the collegiate category, where for the first time in FasterSkier’s history of giving such prizes Americans took both of the top honors: NCAA freestyle champions Miles Havlick (University of Utah) and Joanne Reid (University of Colorado).
Miles Havlick (USA/University of Utah)
When it came time to nominate athletes in the college division, Havlick was at the top of a very short list. There is no question he deserves the honor; in college skiing all roads lead to NCAA Championships and his performance there was the storybook ending to a stellar college career. Not only did the senior from Boulder, Colo., defend his 2012 20 k NCAA title this year, which is no easy feat, he did so against one of the most competitive fields the NCAA has ever seen. The freestyle race, with its dramatic sprint finish and Havlick’s six-tenths winning margin, is not one to be forgotten any time soon. And at an event that’s all about team, Havlick was the first of all three Utes in the top five in the mass start, which propelled Utah from fourth to second on the last day of the Championships. For Havlick, it was a “perfect” ending to his time in Utah’s black and red.
Leading up to NCAAs, the signs were all there that Havlick was bound for success in Vermont; he won six out of ten RMISA regional races and never once finished outside the top 10. At the Montana SuperTours prior to the beginning of the college season, he just missed out on a trip to Canmore, Alberta, as an American representative on the World Cup. He’s our 2013 award-winner because of his achievements in college skiing, but when Havlick makes the transition to racing professionally after graduation he’s bound to shake up the men’s field at the national level.
Joanne Reid (USA/University of Colorado)
The skier-of-the-year choice was also clear in the women’s collegiate category. Joanne Reid, in a ridiculously dominant senior season, won eight out of ten regional races leading up the final showdown in Ripton, Vt. At NCAAs, she added another ‘W’ to her resume in the 15 k mass start classic to lead CU to an improbable come-from-behind team win on the final day. It’s hard to call a team with 18 NCAA Championships in its trophy case (now 19) an underdog, but that’s what the Buffs were when they entered the last day of NCAAs 54 points down to the University of Vermont. Colorado relied on its nordic women for the lion’s share of the team score, and with the pressure on Reid delivered a 27-second victory over teammate Eliska Hajkova. Reid later said was unaware of her gap on the rest of the field until she realized the crowd would fall silent after she skied by.
A look back at Reid’s previous record demonstrates just how big a jump she made in the last year: though she’d already been on the NCAA podium as a sophomore in 2011, winning is quite a different thing. Illness plagued the Palo Alto, Calif., native midway through last season, and prior to this year she had only two collegiate wins to her name. What happened next, of course, is history: in the last few months Reid more than quadrupled her win record as she tore through the RMISA circuit like it was no big deal. Reid comes from an intimidating lineage of elite endurance athletes, but with her new individual NCAA title she’s on her way to creating a powerful reputation of her own.
David Norris (USA/Montana State University)
David Norris’ wide-reaching accomplishments this year are worth noting. He particularly didn’t stand in the college circuit, but that was because he skipped half the season to race internationally — first at a little thing called the World Cup in Canmore, then at U23 World Championships in the Czech Republic. In between he was third in the 30 k classic at U.S. Nationals to Torin Koos and Erik Bjornsen. Norris finished a respectable 11th and 12th in the NCAA races, and immediately thereafter he jumped on a plane to compete for the U.S. at OPA Cup Finals in Italy. When he returned, he continued racing at Spring Series. It’s been said that college and skiing are difficult to pursue at the same time, but Norris and his coaches proved this year that the logistics are doable.
Sam Tarling (USA/Dartmouth College)
Like Norris, Tarling put together solid performances both in and out of the college circuit this year. A repeat NCAA title remained elusive for the Mainer, but like Norris the Dartmouth senior accrued impressive results domestically and internationally. Tarling was fifth in the 30 k at U.S. Nationals, joined Norris in representing the U.S. at U23 World Championships, and despite having to miss the first two EISA carnivals he was the second-ranked Eastern qualifier to NCAAs, where he finished 10th and seventh in the 10 k and 20 k, respectively. He joined Norris again in Toblach, Italy, for OPA Cup Finals, where was the top American man in the mini-tour final standings. After SuperTour Finals Tarling announced he’s going pro, and if past results are any indication he’s headed for big things next year.
Maria Graefnings (SWE/UU)
Sam Tarling (USA/Dartmouth)
Antje Maempel (GER/DU)
Franz Bernstein (GER/UVM)
Antje Maempel (GER/DU)
Vegard Kjoelhamar (NOR/CU)
Maria Grevsgaard (CZE/CU)
Marius Korthauer (GER/UAF)
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.