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SkiCats halfway to NCAA repeat - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

SkiCats halfway to NCAA repeat

Thursday, March 7th

RIPTON, Vt. – University of Vermont junior Anja Gruber (Leutkrich, Germany) skied to victory in the women's 5-kilometer classic race at the Rikert Nordic Center on Thursday, helping the Catamounts retain the lead after the second day of the 2013 NCAA Skiing Championships hosted by Middlebury College.

Defending champion UVM has 389 points at the midpoint of the four-day competition at Rikert and the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. Powered by men's classic winner Rune Oedegaard (Molde, Norway), Colorado climbed into second with 368.5 points while Utah (350) and Denver (328) also stayed within striking distance.

Helping keep her team atop the standings provided extra motivation for Gruber in her NCAA Championships debut.

"With the Alpiners doing so well, really not only does it just matter for me but I also want to score ... and help the team," the junior said.

She did, finishing in 15:31.1 to prevail by 11.1 seconds and record her fifth win of the season.

"I was going out and I was telling myself, 'You feel good. … This is really good,'" Gruber said. "And we were going into the first hill and I did my first stride and I was like, 'My skis are working. This is good.'"

Dartmouth's Mary O'Connell (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) won a tight three-way battle for second, finishing in 15:42.2 to nip Alaska Anchorage's Marine Dusser (Villard de Lans, France) and Colorado's Joanne Reid (Palo Alto, Calif.). Utah's Sloane Storey (Hailey, Idaho) also took home first-team All-America honors by finishing fifth while Colorado's Maria Nordstoem (Gavle, Sweden), Dartmouth's Annie Hart (Stillwater, Minn.), Vermont's Linda Davind-Malm (Umea, Sweden), Denver's Silje Benum (Trondheim, Norway) and Utah's Anna Svendsen (Tromso, Norway) rounded out the top 10 with second-team honors.

Dartmouth and Colorado each scored 102 in the women's classic in a tight team race that also saw Utah score 98 and Vermont post 95.

In the men's 10-kilometer race, Oedegaard turned in a time of 26 minutes, 0.2 seconds to claim the title by more than five seconds. It was his fourth win of the season and his third in classic competition.

"Obviously, it was awesome for me," said Oedegaard, who placed fifth and seventh in last year's NCAA championship races. "It was just a big day. I've been working hard for this all season, all the training in the fall, thinking about this race. Perfect skis. … I was a hammer out there."

Oedegaard was impressed with the Rikert course.

"It's really cool because it's challenging all the way," the sophomore said. "There's a lot of high speed and some tough up hills. You've got to work all the way."

New Mexico's Mats Rudin Resaland (Kongsberg, Norway) was second in 26:05.4 and third-place finisher Viktor Brannmark (Alvsbyn, Sweden) led three Alaska Anchorage skiers in the top nine to help the Seawolves post the highest team score in the event – 108 points.

Middlebury's Benjamin Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) and Dartmouth's Silas Talbot (Anchorage, Ak.) were the other first-team All-Americans in fourth and fifth. Utah's Miles Havlick and Vermont's Scott Patterson (Anchorage, Ak.) tied for sixth, ahead of Alaska Anchorage teammates Lasse Molgaard-Nielsen (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Lukas Ebner (Futwangen, Germany). Northern Michigan's Erik Soderman (Njurunda, Sweden) completed the top 10 with second-team honors.

NCAA Championship Alpine competition concludes Friday with the slalom races at Middlebury Snow Bowl starting at 9:30 a.m. while the Nordic freestyle events concluded the competition Saturday at Rikert.

--- Middlebury Sports Information

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