UVM SkiCats still on top at NCAAs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

UVM SkiCats still on top at NCAAs

Friday, March 8th

HANCOCK, Vt. – Denver University's Kristine Haugen (Lommedalen, Norway) became the fifth woman to score an Alpine title sweep at the NCAA Skiing Championships on Friday, prevailing in the slalom on a wild day of competition at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.

New Mexico's Joonas Rasanen (Helsinki, Finland) claimed the men's title after a tough second run that saw a number of the leaders slip. That helped the Lobos post the day's second-best team score and close to within striking distance of a podium finish heading into Saturday's final events, the Nordic freestyle mass start races at Rikert Nordic Center.

Defending champion Vermont remains the team to beat after leading the overall scoring to push its three-day total to 564 points. Colorado is second, 54 points behind, while Denver (484 points), Utah (481) and New Mexico (449) round out the top five.

Haugen established a big lead after the first run of the women's slalom and held on for a victory of five hundredths of a second over Vermont's Kristina Riis-Johannessen (Oslo, Norway). The first-year, who dominated the giant slalom on Wednesday, joined Colorado's Lucie Zikova (2008) as the only women to prevail in both disciplines since 1990.

"I never thought I would come here and win," said Haugen, whose two-run time of 1:37.97 resulted in her 11th victory of the season and her fifth in slalom competition. "I knew there were a couple of girls who are so fast in slalom.  It's just great."

Denver's Tianda Carroll (Jasper, Albert) was the fastest skier in the second run, surging from ninth to join Haugen on the podium in third place. That helped the Pioneers post the best team score in the event, 101 points.

"I can't describe it. It's so much fun and I'm just super happy," Haugen said. "And my other teammate just came in third place – couldn't be better."

Dartmouth's Lizzie Kistler (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Utah's Ana Kobal (Ljubljana, Slovenia) become the other first-team All-Americans by placing fourth and fifth. Second-team All-America honors went to Vermont's Kate Ryley (Toronto, Ontario), Dartmouth's Sara Kikut (Burlington, Vt.), Williams' Geordie Lonza (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), New Mexico's Mateja Robnik (Luce, Slovenia) and New Hampshire's Randa Teschner (Petawawa, Ontario).

The second run of the men's slalom featured slips from many of the contenders and Rasanen took advantage, moving up from third after the first heat to win by 28 hundredths of a second.

"I knew I couldn't back off," the sophomore, a three-time slalom winner during the regular season, said of the second-run challenge. "I'm three tenths out first run so and I wanted to win. Our Nordic got a second place, Mats Resaland, and I decided he's not gonna be the best Lobo here, so we had to step it up at Alpine. We did pretty good today."

Led by runner-up David Donaldson (Toronto, Ontario) and sixth-place finisher Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), host Middlebury posted 103 points for the best men's slalom score – 12 more than New Mexico and Vermont.

New Hampshire's Sam Coffey (Snowmass, Colo.) and Vermont's Jonathan Nordbotten (Kolbotn, Norway) took advantages of the falls ahead of them to climb to third and fourth after starting the second run in 13th and 15th, respectively. They earned first-team All-America recognition along with fifth-place finisher Taylor Vest-Burton (Breckenridge, Colo.) of New Hampshire.

Roberts, Utah's Andy Trow (Canmore, Alberta), New Mexico's Christopher Acosta (Ashland, Wis.), Colorado's Kasper Hietanen (Helsinki, Finland) and Denver's Max Marno (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) completed the top 10 to claim second-team All-America laurels.

The NCAA Championships conclude Saturday with the Nordic freestyle mass start races at the Rikert Nordic Center. Competition is set to begin at 10 a.m.

--- Middlebury Sports Information

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