By: Caleb Horsch
The NCAA Championships kicked off on Wednesday as the best of the EISA met the best of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. The race was a culmination of six weeks of intense head-to-head racing. With All-American honors and a national championship on the line, everything was to play for.
The EISA athletes benefited from the Saint Lawrence carnival a week prior on the same hill. However, the course for NCAA's started even higher up on the Thruway pitch and challenged all competitors. Still, the snow was solid, and it held up relatively well with such a small field.
Men's GS Top 7 - NCAA.com
The nerves from a few skiers were apparent, athletes describe collegiate competition as the most nervous they have ever been, forced to compete not just for themselves but for their teammates. However, some were able to conquer any anxiety and deliver in a big way.
Nobody could touch Maddison Hoffman from the University of Utah on the first run. She walloped the field on the first run to take a lead of well over a second. The best-positioned eastern skier was Allie Resnick from Dartmouth in fifth place. Also well in the mix was GS winner Helene Kristoffersen from Saint Michael's, Rookie of the Year Hanna Larsson Nathorst from Plymouth State in 9th, and Lydia Riddell from Colby in 10th.
The men pushed out of the gate as the course began to deteriorate and rattle skiers. Again one skier was well ahead of the rest, with Flip Forejtek from Colorado going into the lead by a second over his teammate Louis Gustav Fausa. Joachim Jagge Lindstoel from the University of Vermont was the top-placed EISA skier in third, but two eastern skiers sat just behind him. Oscar Zimmer from Dartmouth, who has shown lightning-fast speed but has struggled with consistency, sat in sixth, and Cole Palchack from UVM was in seventh. Palchack, who finished second in the Slalom standings, had not done better than 10th in a GS, which made his result even further surprising.
Some unfortunate DNFs hurt some team's points totals. The Dartmouth team had three skiers crash out, including two gnarly crashes from Carly Elsinger and Oliver Morgan. Still, it would be up to their teammates to step up to the plate.
The top 10 held about pat for the eastern skiers. Allie Resnick continued her superb season by finishing sixth, Kristoffersen held on for eight, and Riddell moved up to 9th. Unfortunately, Larson Nathhorst slipped to 11th, just missing out on All-American honors. Alexandra Cossette slotted in right behind her in 12th.
Lydia Riddell (Colby) - Stephen R Cloutier
Hunting for a podium in his final NCAA championships, Lindstoel came up just a bit short. He finished the day in fourth, followed by Zimmer and Strand in fifth and sixth. Kveno and Flanagan also grabbed top 10 results in eighth and ninth, respectively. Unfortunately, a mistake from Palchack took him out of the running, but he will get a chance to avenge himself in his best event, the Slalom.
It would be relatively difficult for Saint Michael's to have a better day than the one they did. All four of their skiers earned All-American honors. They were led by Strand in sixth and got fantastic days from Kveno, Flanagan, and Kristoffersen. The Purple Knights furthered what has already been a stellar season.
Gray Flanagan (Saint Michael's) - flyingpointroad.com
Speaking after the race, Allie Resnick spoke of the hunger she and her teammates still possess going into the Slalom, "I am happy with today, but am definitely looking forward to giving this hill another go in the slaloms on Friday." Asked about their goals, Resnick commented, "our goal is the same as always, just to ski fast." They will get a chance to do just that in the Slalom.
Battling against a top group of skiers from the western region, EISA finished the day with seven skiers earning All-American honors. Saint Michael's is the top eastern school in the team standings in sixth, followed closely by the University of Vermont and Dartmouth. The alpine skiers will get a day off while the Nordic teams battle it out at Mount Van Hoevenberg. They will return to action with the Slalom on Friday. That race can be streamed live at NCAA.com.