The NCAA National Championships have just wrapped up in Stowe, Vermont. The races, hosted by the University of Vermont, were located at the famous Trapp Family Lodge just outside of Stowe. It was a picturesque week with plenty of sunshine and great weather for all of the athletes. In total, 12 athletes from the CCSA were represented at the championships. NMU qualified a full 6 member team including Kjetil Banerud, Zak Ketterson, Ian Torchia, Julie Ensrud, Abigail Jarzin, and Nicole Schneider. MTU qualified 2 men and 2 women including Patrick Acton, Kristoffer Vollset, Sarah Goble, and Amanda Kautzer. CSS qualified 1 man, Emil Book Bratbak, and UWGB qualified 1 woman, Sadie Peterson.
The first races on Wednesday were the 5 and 10km skate interval starts competitions. The men were the first ones to race on the day and it was clear that the times were going to be very tight from the start. The top 4 skiers were pretty clearly ahead of the rest of the field, with Ian Torchia taking his second NCAA podium finish in 3rd place, less than 1 second away from 2nd place. There was only a 30-second difference between 5th and 25th meaning there was a finisher almost every second after the top 4. Zak Ketterson managed to sneak into the last All-American position in 10th place. Kjetil Banerud finished in 16th, only 10 seconds away from 5th. Kristoffer Vollset, Emil Book Bratbak, and Patrick Acton also finished very close to each other in 31st, 32nd, and 34th. The NCAA skate champion came from the University of Colorado – Boulder, Erik Dengerud.
Shortly afterward the women took to the difficult course to decide the 5km skate NCAA national champion. It was again an extremely tight race with less than 1 second separating the top three women. NMU again had two women earn All-American honor, matching the mark set by the NMU men earlier in the day. Abigail Jarzin finished in 7th, while Nicole Schneider finished in 9th. Sarah Goble finished in 20th, Amanda Kautzer finished in 29th, Julie Ensrud finished in 34th, and Sadie Peterson finished in 38th. The women’s NCAA skate champion came from the University of Utah, Julia Richter.
After a rest day for the Nordic athletes where the alpine competitions took place on Thursday, racing picked up again on Friday with the Classic mass start races. Using the same 5km course that was showcased during the skate races, the women were the first to hit the course skiing three full laps to get to complete the 15km race. The race exploded as soon as the gun went off with skiers putting in big efforts right away and the pack was strung out very quickly. It was a true test of grit to see who could hold on the longest. Abigail Jarzin for the second day in a row was the highest placed CCSA Woman, finishing in 14th. Amanda Kautzer finished shortly behind in 17th, and Sarah Goble reached into the top 20 for the second day in a row in 19th. Nicole Schneider and Julie Ensrud finished back to back in 32nd and 33rd, and Sadie Peterson finished in 38th for the second day in a row. Dartmouth’s Katharine Ogden won her second classic NCAA title in two years, skiing away from the field with one remaining.
For the men’s race coaches had to adapt to the warming conditions to try to find their athletes winning skis. The men’s race was much more tactical than the women’s, but there was still an early breakaway group. An 11 man group formed in the first 2 laps of the race, and it all split apart on the last lap. Ian Torchia was the best placed CCSA skier to come out of the group, finishing in 6th place. An unlucky broken pole for Zak Ketterson with only 2 km to go hurt his chances to fight for the top spot on the podium, but he still managed to hang on for 7th place. Kjetil Banerud held on for an 11th place finish, just 1 spot out of All-American. Kristoffer Vollset had an amazing last race of his collegiate career, finishing in 15th. Emil Book Bratbak moved up through the entire race, finally ending in 28th place. Patrick Acton ended the day of racing in 37th place. The skier that came out victorious on the day was Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier from the University of New Mexico.
The NCAA Championships were the final races of the 2018-2019 ski season. It was a great year for all the athletes and racers from all schools. Montana State University will be hosting the 2019-2020 NCAA National Championships out of Crosscut Ranch in Bozeman, MT.