The action on Day 2 of the NCAA Skiing Championship, taking place in Steamboat Springs, CO was even more exciting than Day 1. The final day of racing featured a mass start 15KM/20KM skate race, in which women completed 3 loops and the men four loops. Warm weather and blue skies at Howelson Hill Ski Area held up throughout both distance competitions.
The men’s 20KM race kicked off first at 9:00AM. 40 competitors set off at the gun with Colby’s Zane Fields taking the lead about halfway through the first lap. Upon entering the second lap, Middlebury’s Sam Wood took the lead from Fields, with Cully Brown (UVM), Braden Becker (WIL), Finn O’ Connell (UVM), and Adam Luban (MID) in the top pack on his heels. Wood held onto the lead for about half of the second lap. His teammate Adam Luban (MID) then took the driver's seat shortly before a pack of West coast skiers swarmed around him.
Nearing the end of the second lap, a pack of five west coast skiers led by Eivind Kvalle (DU) set the pace with Finn O’ Connell (UVM), Callan DeLine (DAR), and Juri Miosga (UVM) still in top ten positions. During the third lap, it was Callan DeLine who began to make his move and slowly moved up to fourth place by the end of the loop. Although there was only one lap left at this point the majority of the field were all still together in one big pack.
At the beginning of the fourth lap, DeLine continued to stay up with the top racers shifting to 5th place and Fields moving back into the mix in 9th. Throughout the final loop, DeLine went back and forth with a pack of four racers who broke off from the field. He lead at one point, then settled in third at about halfway through the fourth lap. As the leading skiers came into view on the downhill before the finishing stretch, it was a battle between Ian Torchia (NMU) and Alvar Alev (CU). Torchia ended up taking the win in 54:21. Other than the top 3 skiers, the field was insanely close. Callan DeLine led the East, coming in 5th in 54:32, with Zane Fields coming in right behind him, in 6th in 54:33. Other notable performances were from Braden Becker(WIL), coming in 11th at 54:57 and Finn O’ Connell (UVM) in 14th in 54:14.
In the men’s team score the University of Denver took the win with 90 points, with the East being led by UVM who tied with the University of Utah for 4th with 42 points. Dartmouth and Middlebury didn’t trail far behind, with the big green in 6th with 39 points and the Panthers in 7th with 37 points. Overall, after seven events Denver was in first with 527 points, Colorado in second with 491 points, and Dartmouth in third with 369.5 points.
The Women’s 15KM race followed at 11:00 AM with an absolutely incredible performance by Dartmouth’s Katharine Ogden. The start of the race differed from the men’s with West coast skiers taking the lead with Katharine Ogden sitting in 4th and Alayna Sonnesyn (UVM) in the top 10. Ogden quickly started to move up and went back and forth with the top three skiers, leading and following throughout the first loop. By the end of the first lap, Ogden was in second with Lauren Jortberg (DAR) and Lina Sutro (UVM) right around that top 10 pack.
It wasn’t long into the second lap that Ogden put the hammer down and began to create a gap between her and the rest of the top pack. When the announcers timed this lead about halfway through Ogden’s second lap, she had accrued about 27 seconds, making her spot a rather secure one. By the end of the second lap, Ogden was nearly 40 seconds ahead and when she encountered a fall on the downhill coming into the stadium, it did nothing to slow her down.
Ogden recovered quickly from this slip up heading into her third lap, and her teammate Lauren Jortberg still sitting in a top 10 position. The women’s race was completely different from the men’s with packs spreading out and places becoming more definitive by the second. Ogden’s lead just continued to grow during the final lap with the other skiers not even in sight.
Ogden came into the finishing chute in 43:22, and that was after she stopped to grab a Dartmouth flag to hold in those final 50 meters. This was a nearly 40-second victory ahead of runner-up Hailey Swirlbul (UAA). Ogden’s teammate, Lauren Jortberg (DAR) also reached All American status, coming in at 45:01 which earned her 8th place. Other strong finishes were earned by Katie Feldman (MID) who came in 13th place in a time of 45:58, and Lydia Blanchet (DAR) who came in 15th in a time of 46:19.
In the women’s team score Dartmouth took first with 79 points, with the University of Denver following close behind with 77 points and the University of Colorado Boulder with 72 points. Middlebury College took 7th with 25 points and UVM 11th with 9 points. Overall this led to the University of Denver to take the NCAA win ahead of the University of Colorado Boulder coming in second, and Dartmouth rounded out the podium in third. The University of Vermont came in 5th and Middlebury College came in 8th.
Overall the NCAA Championships marked a great ending to an action packed EISA season. A majority of these athletes will end their 2018 racing seasons with Spring Series, held this year in Craftsbury, VT, on March 23-28th. Cheers to everyone who tuned in this year for all of the EISA action! Nine more months and we’re onto the next!