Mark Bedics, NCAA.com

In the past 16 years, a team from the West region has won the NCAA National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Skiing Championship 15 times. However, the Vermont Catamounts made a statement at the season-opening Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Carnival that they are a team to be reckoned with in 2011.

Vermont won the team competition by more than 200 points and had the individual champion in seven of the eights events in which teams competed at the St. Lawrence Carnival in Lake Placid, NY on Jan. 14-15. It also stopped Dartmouth’s streak of having won the previous 15 straight EISA Carnivals.

If that isn’t enough to excite the Catamount faithful, Vermont will host also the NCAA championships this year on their home courses – Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapp Family Lodge.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” Vermont Director of Skiing Bill Reichelt said. “The most rewarding part of the weekend was having so many different members of the team contribute. We have shown that we have depth in all four quadrants which is very encouraging. The focus will remain on getting better throughout the season and working together as a team.”

The Catamount depth was exceptionally apparent on the weekend in both alpine and Nordic events. In alpine, Vermont had the top three finishers in women’s giant slalom, three of the top four in men’s giant slalom, the top two in women’s slalom and three of the top four in men’s slalom. The Catamounts were equally as efficient in the Nordic competition, as they took four of the top five in women’s classic, two of the top three in men’s classic, four of the top eight in men’s freestyle and the winner in women’s freestyle.

Of the seven individual titles, six of them were by different individuals – Megan Ryley (women’s slalom), Alexander Howe (men’s 15k freestyle), Jonathan Nordbottom (men’s giant slalom), Lyndee Janowiak (women’s giant slalom) and Scott Patterson (men’s 10k classic). However, the top performer for the weekend had to be Catamount junior Caitlin Patterson who won both the 5k classic and the 10k freestyle races. She won both races easily as her closest competition in either race was 29 seconds behind.

“Caitlin’s exceptional drive and desire to race help her achieve outstanding results in her competitions,” said Vermont Nordic coach Patrick Weaver. “When Caitlin enters a race I am always confident that a 110% effort will be given. This drive and desire to succeed were apparent in her opening races this season. The back-to-back wins were a great way to open the season.”

Alaska-Fairbanks
Alaska-Fairbanks' Alex Norris

Need to Know

The Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) held the Saints Hilltop Invitational in Duluth, Minn., on Jan. 15-16. In the men’s 10k freestyle race, Alaska-Fairbanks swept the top three spots with John Parry winning the event and Ray Sabo and Alex Morris in second and third, respectively, less than 10 seconds behind. In the women’s 5k freestyle, UW-Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman won the title by more than 15 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor. In the men’s 10k classic, Morris came in first with Parry 34 seconds behind in second. In the women’s 5k classic, Alaska-Fairbanks again took the top two spots with Raphaela Sieber winning in 17:34 and Theresia Schnurr in second in 18:02, while Freeman came in third in 18:06.

In the team competition, Alaska-Fairbanks won the team competition with 303 points, Michigan Tech was second in 215, Wisconsin-Green Bay was third with 198, St. Scholastica and Gustavus Adolphus tied in fourth with 184 points, and St. Olaf was sixth with 183.

In the closest finish in Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) history, Colorado edged Utah by nine points, 921-912 at the Montana State Invitational at Big Sky (alpine) and Bohart Ranch (Nordic). New Mexico was third with 786 points, Denver was fourth with 764, Alaska-Anchorage was fifth with 658 and Montana State was sixth with 603.

Individually, Utah’s Miles Havlick won the 20k classic, while teammate Maria Graefnings won the women’s 15k classic. New Mexico’s Petter Brenna won the men’s slalom competition, while Denver’s Sterling Grant won the women’s. Colorado’s Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men’s 10k freestyle, while Graefnings had the women’s weekend sweep with the 5k freestyle sweep. Utah’s Ryan Wilson won the men’s giant slalom, while Utah’s Tii-Maria Romar won the women’s giant slalom.

Quick Hits

The EISA will be back in action Jan. 21-22 at the Colby Carnival. The alpine competition will be held at Sugarloaf, while the Nordic events will be held at the Titcomb Nordic Center in Farmington, Maine. … The RMISA will finish the Utah Invitational with the Nordic events on Jan. 21-22 at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. … The alpine events were raced two weeks ago while Nordic student-athletes were in Maine competing at the United States Cross Country Championships. … The Central Collegiate Ski Association members will be competing at the Midwest Grand Prix on Jan. 22-23 in Minneapolis.