Catamounts Finish Fifth in Ski Championships

Vermont entered the NCAA Ski Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colorado on Wednesday looking to capture their sixth National Title in school history. After completing a regular season sweep and taking home the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championship two weeks ago, Vermont looked primed to make a run at their first National Title since 1994. The first day got off to a disappointing start for Vermont as the defending national champion in giant slalom, sophomore Greg Hardy, got his arm hooked on a gate in his second run and finished in a unsatisfactory 22nd place in the men’s GS. “We were skiing to win and today we had a couple of tough breaks,” Director of Skiing and head alpine coach Bill Reichelt said. “We went for the most points possible and things didn’t fall into place. But there is plenty of skiing left and the team is in good spirits. ” The team did have things to be happy about as senior Paul Epstein led the way for the men with an eighth place finish and senior Jamie Kingsbury, the defending national champion in GS, finished third in the women’s giant slalom. A ninth place finish by sophomore Jilyne McDonald and a 28th place finish by Hilary McCloy rounded out a good showing by the women’s Alpine team. Vermont ended the first day in fourth place overall with 130 points. Fellow EISA member, New Hampshire, was in first place with 161 points, followed by the Denver and Utah. The second day marked the start of the Nordic competition. Senior captain Kate Crawford led the team with an eighth place finish in the women’s 5k classical. This was a major improvement for Crawford after she finished in 32nd place last year. Junior Carina Hamel came in 20th place and was followed up by Anja Jokela in 24th position. As for the men, freshman Juergen Uhl led the way for the Catamounts with a 16th place showing in the men’s 10k classical. Seniors Ryan Foster and Anders Osthus finished in 24th and 25th place, respectively. Vermont remained in fourth place with 253 points but the top of the rankings experienced a shake up as Denver moved into first with 337.5 points followed by host Colorado (307) and New Mexico (254). On day three, the final day of Alpine competition, a pair of sophomores stepped up to lead the Catamounts. McDonald placed second in the women’s slalom event to give Vermont its highest finisher of the championships. Kingsbury finished less then a second off the pace to grab sixth place and McCloy came in 27th position. The second place finish for McDonald was an impressive jump from her 17th place finish a year ago in the championships. Sophomore Zac Brown led the men with an impressive eighth place finish. Hardy finished in 10th place while Epstein came in 30th. Vermont remained in fourth place heading into the final day of competition with 410 team points. Colorado was the new leader with 447 points followed by New Mexico (442) in second and Denver (420.5) in third. The fourth and final day belonged to host Colorado. The Buffalos gained over 200 points on the day to finish with 654 overall team points. The second place New Mexico Lobos finished almost 100 points behind Colorado with only 556 points. This marked the fourth largest margin of victory in the 53-year history of the NCAA Championships. Crawford, who grabbed an eighth place finish in the women’s 15k freestyle Nordic event, led Vermont. This was the second eighth place finish for Crawford in the championships. Jokela came in 25th position and Hamel was 27th. For the men, Osthus represented the Cats with a 12th place finish in the 20k freestyle and Foster and Uhl backed him up by finishing 19th and 21st, respectively. The Catamounts had a good showing on the final day as they finished with 516 team points but they dropped to fifth place overall as Dartmouth jumped up to grab the third place finish with 537.5 points. Denver finished in fourth place with 522.5 points. Six Vermont skiers received All-American honors for their performances at the National Championships. Kingsbury and McDonald were both named to the first team. Brown, Epstein and Hardy were Second Team All-Americans selections.