Mark Bedics, NCAA.com
With the Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) nearing the midpoint of its season, it has become apparent that the University of Alaska Fairbanks is the team to beat in the conference. With its top three male skiers in Otepea, Estonia, competing at the U-23 and Junior World championships, the Nanooks still managed a quality performance in the competition this past weekend in Minneapolis.
Northern Michigan took the team title with 143 points, but the Nanooks were only five points back even with the absence of the three male skiers.
In the women’s competition, UAF sophomore Raphaela Sieber was the top collegiate finisher in both events on the weekend. Sieber posted a time of 14:09.5 to beat Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman by 14 seconds in the 5k freestyle. In the 10k classic, she finished in a time of 30:54.4 more than 48 seconds ahead of Northern Michigan’s Christina Turman. Junior Theresia Schnurr was the second UAF finisher and third collegiate finisher overall in the 5k freestyle, and the fourth collegiate finisher in the 10k classic.
For the Nanooks men’s team, junior Lex Treinen and freshman David Norris are in Europe competing on the United States U-23 team at the World Championships, while sophomore Tyler Kornfield is on the U.S. Junior team. Treinen is a two-time All-American after having transferred from the University of Alaska Anchorage this summer. He placed second in the NCAA freestyle competition as a freshman and ninth (top 10 are All-Americans) in the freestyle race as a sophomore.
“The key for us is to stay healthy,” said Alaska Fairbanks head coach Scott Jerome. “We have three guys who have the ability to finish among the top 10 in the nation. Lex has already been an All-American twice, David is one of the top U-23 skiers in the nation, and Tyler finished 25th last year and is even better this year. Our top two women are very good as well. We are just waiting for a third female to step up so we can qualify a full team.”
Even with the three male skiers out of the country, several Nanooks picked up the slack on the weekend. Senior Ray Sabo was the top collegiate finisher in the 10k freestyle, while fellow senior John Parry was the third collegiate finisher in the 15k classic.
In his seventh year at the helm of the Nanooks, Jerome is confident this is his best team to date. This will be the 30th time in school history that UAF has had qualifiers at the NCAA Championships, and will be looking to beat a school-best ninth place finish which came back in 1977.
“Even if we aren’t able to get a third female skier and therefore not qualify a full team, this will likely be the strongest contingent we have ever had at NCAAs,” said Jerome. “We have five very good skiers, so hopefully we can stay healthy. We need to focus on the conference and then the regional meet. After that we can start worrying about Stowe (site of the NCAA Championships).”
Need to Know
Vermont won its second consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) event, the Colby Carnival, over the weekend compiling 991 points with Dartmouth in second with 867. The Ryley sisters were once again in dominant form for the Catamounts in the women’s alpine races. Kate won the giant slalom, with Megan in second, while Megan won the slalom and Kate in second. Meanwhile, in the men’s alpine races, it was the Kelley brothers who dominated – Tim was first in the slalom, while Robby won the giant slalom.
In the Nordic events, Vermont’s Lucy Garrec won the women’s 10k classic, while Dartmouth’s Nils Koons won the men’s 10k classic. The other Nordic event was a 3 x 5k relay with the Big Green sweeping the men’s and women’s races.
The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) completed the Utah Invitational this weekend with the Nordic portion of the event. The alpine teams had competed in Park City back on Jan. 8-9. Colorado finished as the team champion with 923 points. Utah was second with 898, New Mexico was third with 824.5, Denver finished fourth with 710, while Alaska-Anchorage posted 658.5 for fifth and Montana State 640 points for sixth.
Utah’s Maria Grafnings swept the two women’s Nordic events, winning the 5k freestyle in 14:10.4 and the 15k classical in 54:38.0. Utah’s Miles Havlick won the men’s 10k freestyle in 26:21.0, while Colorado’s Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men’s 20k classical in 1:03:11.5.
• The University of Denver’s Leif Kristian Haugen competed for Norway in the slalom this past weekend on the World Cup circuit in Kitzbuehel, Austria. He managed his first podium finish in the European Cup the weekend before with a third place finish in slalom in Kirchberg, Austria.
• The RMISA and EISA will take the week off from racing, but will be back in action the following weekend.
• Northern Michigan’s Martin Baanerud was the top collegiate finisher in the men’s 15k classic at the SuperTour event on Jan. 23 in Minneapolis.
• The CCSA will compete at the Central Super Tour on Jan. 29-30 in Houghton, Mich.