Wednesday, March 6th
HANCOCK, Vt. – With men's winner Jonathan Nordbotten (Kolbotn, Norway) leading the way, the University of Vermont seized the lead as the 2013 NCAA Skiing Championships began with giant slalom races at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl on Wednesday.
Vermont has 227 points after the first of four days of competition. Behind women's champion Kristine Haugen (Lommedalen, Norway), Denver University stands in second with 210.5 points. Colorado (175.5), New Hampshire (165.5) and Utah (164.5) round out the top five entering Thursday's first Nordic events at Rikert Nordic Center.
The men's race featured a thrilling finish as Nordbotten tied the day's fastest time – 1 minute, 0.62 seconds – in his second run and had to watch five more contenders come down the hill before his victory was confirmed.
"That was nerve-wracking," said Nordbotten, a junior whose overall time of 2:03.12 gave him his fourth individual win of the season and first national title. "You're almost more nervous watching that than standing on the start because down here you don't know what to do."
Coley Oliver (Salt Lake City, Utah) of New Hampshire and Jeremy Elliot (Park City, Utah) of Utah tied for second, sixth hundredths of a second behind Nordbotten. Christopher Acosta (Ashland, Wis.) of New Mexico and Sean Higgins (Incline Village, Nev.) of Vermont were the other first-team All-Americans after finishing fourth and fifth.
Travis Dawson added a 14th-place finish as Vermont posted the highest GS score in the event, 115 points. New Hampshire was second with 106.
The men's second-team All-America honorees were: New Hampshire's Taylor Vest-Burton (Breckenridge, Colo.) in sixth, Alaska Anchorage's Andreas Adde (Osteras, Norway) in a tie for ninth, and the Denver trio of Trevor Philps (Calgary, Alberta), Max Marno (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Espen Lysdahl (Asker, Norway) – seventh, eighth and tied for ninth, respectively.
In the women's race, Haugen turned in a dominant two-run time of 2 minutes, 4.60 seconds to capture the title by 1.33 seconds. The result capped a perfect giant slalom season for the first year, who went 5-for-5 in the discipline on the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association circuit.
"I love it. It's so much fun, and I'm improving in the ski part, too," said Haugen of her first season in NCAA competition.
Haugen's showing helped Denver share the women's giant slalom team title with Vermont. Seventh-place finisher Devin Delaney (North Conway, N.H.) and No. 13 Tianda Carroll (Jasper, Alberta) also turned in strong showings as the Pioneers scored 112 points.
"It was super helpful," Haugen said of her teammates' report before her second run. "They told me to do what I usually do and told me that the course was fine and running super good."
Vermont put all three of its skiers in the top 11 for its share of first place while runner-up Brooke Wales (Sammamish, Wash.) helped Colorado (100.5 points) to third place in the event. A blistering second run allowed Wales move up from fifth after the first heat.
"I really kind of wanted to up my game a little bit just because first run I was pretty solid and I knew could make a good jump in that second run," said Wales, who matched her season-best finish.
Vermont's Kristina Riis-Johannessen (Oslo, Norway), Utah's Kristiina Rove (Espoo, Finland) and Vermont's Katie Ryley (Toronto, Ontario) also earned first-team All-America honors by finishing third, fourth and fifth. Utah's Ana Kobal (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Delaney, Williams' Geordie Lonza (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), Middlebury's Mary Sackbauer (Vail, Colo.) and Colorado's Thea Grosvold (Oslo, Norway) completed the top 10.
The NCAA championships continue Thursday with Nordic classic races at Rikert starting at 10 a.m. Alpine competition concludes with slalom races at the Snow Bowl on Friday while the team national champion will be crowned Saturday after the freestyle mass start races at Rikert.
--- Middlebury Sports Information
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