The 2013 NCAA Skiing Championships begin March 6 in Middlebury, Vt. and a select number of the country’s top alpine and Nordic student-athletes pose a serious threat in both contested events for their specific disciplines. While the intense levels of competition make it nearly impossible for a national champion to sweep both victories, here are four skiers who all have a legitimate shot at claiming two individual national championship titles when the racing gets under way in Vermont.
Denver / Freshman
Don’t be fooled by this rookie who has won every single giant slalom race in the Western league this year and three out of six slalom victories. In head-to-head competition against Eastern skiers, she currently stands atop the NorAm overall leaderboard and takes top ranks in giant slalom and slalom for collegiate skiers. Last year’s slalom champion and giant slalom runner-up, Kate Ryley of Vermont, identified Haugen as her greatest competition heading into this year’s championships. If the Eastern snow at Middlebury is anything like Norway, Haugen stands a solid chance of packing heavy hardware for the flight back to school.
Middlebury / Senior
The oldest athlete to compete in this year’s alpine events, Donaldson brings 27 years of life experience into the final collegiate races of his career, notably hosted at his home mountain. The only giant slalom race he lost all season was, surprisingly enough, at Middlebury. But fans can expect to see ‘Donnie’ going all-out in his final campaign as a college skier. His seven wins in EISA races this season all point toward success at the big show for this composed and mature athlete who often helps his teammates with video review and line selection.
Colorado / Senior
Ski racing champions don’t frequently emerge from Palo Alta, Calif., but Reid spent quality time during her formative years nearly four hours away in the mountains of Lake Tahoe. Prior to this winter, she had two career victories. But in 2013, she blew the doors off the RMISA circuit to win eight races in total. The two she didn’t win? Yeah, she came in second. Reid has the support of teammate Eliska Hajkova who was runner-up in the Western standings this year as well as her boyfriend who buys her a cheesecake every time she sweeps a meet. Bakers in Middlebury be warned.
Vermont / Junior
Just because you’re down, that doesn’t mean you’re out. Scott Patterson failed to make the UVM team for championships last year, but this year, he is the top qualifier out of the East, having won a total of seven races. He swept the entire men’s freestyle season and showed he can exchange double-poles with 2011 NCAA champion Sam Tarling, even in classic. Patterson hasn’t won by a hair either; he frequently takes multi-second leads out of his competition and allows others to gain on him before crossing the finish line with a win.