PARK CITY, Utah – The 2022 NCAA Skiing Championships got underway on Thursday at Park City Mountain Resort and Soldier Hollow in Midway. Cool temperatures in the mid-20’s and sunny skies welcomed the competitors on the first official day of competition.
Utah’s Novie McCabe claimed her first NCAA title by winning the women’s 5K classic at Soldier Hollow. Ben Ogden of Vermont was crowned a national champion for the second time in his career by winning the men’s 10K.
Colorado claimed the top spot on the podium in both giant slalom races at Park City Mountain Resort. Freshman Magdalena Luczak won gold on the women’s side while Filip Forejtek was the men’s winner.
With two days remaining in the championships, Utah has a 286.5-262.0 lead for first place over Colorado. The Utes had the top score in any of the four races with 102.5 points in women’s 5K classic and the best men’s GS total of 75 points.
Denver is in third place with 249.0 points as the Pioneers had the best men’s 10K classic score along with Alaska Fairbanks (76.0) and the top women’s GS score (69.0). Vermont is fourth (235.0) and Middlebury is fifth (131.5).
The championships conclude with the women’s 10 k and the men’s 20 k freestyle races on Saturday at Soldier Hollow at 9:30 a.m. MST. The forecast calls for sunshine both days with a high in the low 30’s on Friday and mid 40’s on Saturday.
WOMEN’S 5K CLASSIC
Novie McCabe of Utah became the first to earn an NCAA title, winning the women’s 5K classic in 13:22.8, crushing the field by more than 13 seconds. McCabe, a sophomore from Winthrop, Wash., won both of the women’s Nordic races at the RMISA Championships upon returning from the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she was part of the U.S. cross-country 4 x 5km relay team that took sixth.
Her Utah teammate, Sophia Laukli, tied for runner-up honors with Vermont’s Anna Bizyukova as both finished in 13:36.3. Anabel Needham of Michigan Tech (13:48.6) and Hanna Abrahamsson of Colorado (13:57.2) rounded out the top five to earn first team All-America honors.
Utah’s Sydney Palmer-Leger and Michigan Tech’s Nea Katajala tied for sixth place. Palmer-Leger won both the women’s classical and freestyle titles in 2021. Jasmie Lyons (New Hampshire), Hannah Ray (Denver) and Weronika Kaleta (Colorado) placed seventh through 10th to earn second team All-America.
MEN’S 10K CLASSIC
Vermont’s Ben Ogden edged out Andreas Kirkeng of Denver by 6.4 seconds for the men’s 10K classic championship. Ogden skated in with a time a 23:43.1 while Kirkeng came back in 23:49.5.
Ogden, a senior from Landrove, Vt., has won three consecutive races since returning from the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Ogden captured the 2022 EIS titles in the 20K freestyle and the 10K classic. Back in 2020, he took the men’s 10K freestyle to earn his first NCAA title.
Magnus Bøe of Colorado, who swept both men’s individual Nordic titles a year ago, placed third in 24:03.7. Christopher Kalev and Mike Ophoff both gave strong efforts for Alaska Fairbanks, coming in fifth and sixth, respectively, to earn first team All-America honors. Kalev was hot behind Boee with a time of 24:08.3
Second team All-America honors went to Jacob Nystedt (Vermont), Will Koch (Colorado), Peter Wolter (Middlebury), Epsen Persen (Alaska Anchorage), and Bernhard Flaschberger (Denver), who placed sixth through 10th.
Novie McCabe – Utah (Women’s 5 k Champion)
On how the race played out:
“It was a good race and it was fun. It was kind of icy but still really awesome skiing. You just had to make every second count and really push the corners and push the transitions to get those extra seconds because it was so tight.”
On her strategy:
“Everyone has their own way of skiing because it is your own race. I tried to take it out not really conservative but just tried to relax and ski smooth and have something left for the last lap. I think it went well for me. Sometimes you are just dialed in and it was good day for me.”
On Utah placing three in the top six:
“I’m super proud of everyone. We’ve worked hard together so it’s fun to see everyone succeed. We’re just stoked for the next race.”
Ben Ogden – Vermont (Men’s 10 k Champion)
On being a national champion for the second time:
“It feels good. This was a big goal of mine this year and I’m really proud to say that I delivered when it counted. It was awesome.”
On how the race played out:
“I’m not a man known for his strategy, and if you look at the times you’ll see that. I went out damn hard and it was sort of a hanging on game for the rest of the race. But I was lucky to make it to the finish line just in front of Mr. (Andreas) Kirkeng. I was psyched.
On coming back from the Olympics:
“A couple of us came back from the Olympics and we had to be smart and rest up. That was a long and exhausting experience. But the mental aspect of this sport is not to be slept on and all of us took a lot of confidence by being named to the U.S. Olympic team and being able to represent over in China. I think that makes a huge difference with your performances late in the season. You feel fast, so we are fast.”
Miles Havlick – Utah (Nordic Head Coach)
On the conditions:
“Perfect day for racing. The tracks were fast and firm. Blue sky, typical Utah day. It was awesome.”
On Novie McCabe and Sophia Laukli coming back so strong from the Olympics:
“I think both Sophia and Novie were really exposed to top-level racing, and Sydney (Palmer-Leger) as well on the World Cup. But Novie and Sophia spent a little more time over there and were able to make the Olympic team. So they just came back with guns blazing. I think it’s nice for them to be back home eating the food they’re used to and being with friends, so they’re having fun and skiing fast.”
On the women’s team:
“Really not surprising out of them. We knew that they were going to be duking it out for the win. I think Novie really carried her form from regionals. Just looked so sharp, especially up the last climb. She really paced it out well. Sophia was just a few seconds off. Very solid out of Sophia and those two have just been incredible all year. Sydney was just a few seconds behind them. Very solid day for her and I’m sure she’s going to be hungry for more on Saturday.”
On the men’s team:
“We gambled a little bit and went light on the kick so their skis would be a little faster. Maybe that wasn’t the best move but they fought hard all the way to the line and they were very solid. We’ll be looking for more out of them on Saturday. I think mass starts suit us better as a team.”