Sunday, January 13, 2013

Steamboat Springs Recap

Today, the team completed the second of two days of racing at the University of Colorado Invitational races in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  It was a good start to the college racing season for the team, showing that we are in a solid position at the start of the season, and can be the best team in the west with some improvements and adaptations here and there. 

On Saturday, the women competed in a 15km mass-start race.  Marine was in the lead group, and by the time that group neared the finish, the group was whittled down to three skiers.  Marine ended up second. In the men's 20km race, it was much the same situation for Lukas, who was in the leading group of six skiers (four college skiers plus two non-college skiers). The top four college skiers finished within eight seconds, with Lukas finishing third. In addition, Viktor found his way into the top-10 with a 9th place finish.

On Sunday, it was individual-start classic races: 5km for women and 10km for men. Marine was fourth, just .3 seconds off the podium, and Patricia was also in the top-10, in 9th place.  On the men's side, Lukas had another solid race in 4th, and Lasse moved up into 8th place.

Results for all the races are available here: You'll also notice that results are available from the alpine races and that the overall results combine mens' and womens' alpine and Nordic together for an overall team score.  This is the most important result in NCAA competition, as the Nordic teams cannot win NCAA's with the alpine team, and the chairlift-riders can't win NCAA's without us.  So we are watching the alpine results very closely and pulling for them, even if they're racing on a slalom hill hundreds of miles away from us. This is an element of NCAA skiing that really makes it fun and exciting - the fact that a good women's slalom team or a good men's Nordic team can't do it all on their own; they need all the other team members in Nordic and alpine to do their part. Check out the team scores and you'll see what I mean.

These races, like all RMISA college races, are qualifying races for the NCAA National Championships, to be held in Vermont in March.  Each team can only take a maximum of three skiers to NCAA's, so it is important for the athletes to ski well enough to qualify for NCAA's.  They need to not only ski fast enough to meet the NCAA's qualification standard (based on race placings throughout the season) but they must also prove to their coach that they are among the best three skiers on their own team.  You can also follow the qualifying lists for NCAA's at the RMISA website above.

The team will spend one more day (Monday) in Steamboat Springs before driving south to Minturn, Colorado for the last two races of this trip.

The coaches are excited about what they're seeing from the team so far.  There's a lot of smiles and laughter in the van and at the team's lodgings, hard work is being done in training, and the results are coming together. This year, our team is 50% new skiers - a huge amount of turnover in one year. Our new skiers are responding well to the new racing environment, learning to deal with high-altitude competition, and perhaps learning a thing or two along the way from our skiers who have been racing on the NCAA circuit for a year or two already.  We definitely have room for improvement, but things are coming together, and we're pretty optimistic looking forward!

I stole this picture from Lasse - from yesterday's race. That's Viktor (on the sideline) and Marine (leading the race).

Crossing Colorado by van - Lukas


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