SOLDIER HOLLOW & PARK CITY, Utah --- Freshman Eva Severrus picked up the 27th individual National Championship in the history of the University of New Mexico, leading the Lobos to a third place finish at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
In a busy day at the NCAA Championships, poor weather forced the men’s and women’s slalom races to today, coupled with the 15k women’s and 20k men’s free style mass start Nordic races. The compacted schedule made for double the excitement and New Mexico saw itself jump from fourth to second, but get caught in the end by Vermont, which had an extremely rare sweep of the women’s slalom to take second and slide UNM to third.
The third place finish for UNM improves upon the sixth place finish of a year ago, and it was UNM’s best finish since finishing third in both 2009 and 2010, and finishing second in 2006. Denver won the title with 556 points, Vermont was second with 487.5 and New Mexico was third with 458.5 points. UNM easily topped Colorado which was fourth with 402.5.
The New Mexico, it’s the third top-10 finish in the NCAAs this year, and the fourth in the top 11. Men’s Soccer and Skiing both finished third, women’s cross country finished 10th, and men’s cross country finished 11th.
Severrus, who won the title by 1.8 seconds over the 15K course, is New Mexico’s 17th skiing national champion, and the 10th on the women’s side. She is the first freestyle national champion since Ivana Radlova in 1993, and the first Nordic national champion since Kristina Strandberg in 2000.
It was Eva’s third win of the season, all in the freestyle races. However, that’s not how the day started.
It started with UNM in fourth place and needing a few good results, starting with the men’s 20K mass start freestyle race. A few good results is exactly what the Lobos got. UNM got All-American performances from Mats Resaland, who finished third for first team honors, and Aljaz Praznik, who finished seventh for second team honors. Combined with a 25th place finish from Aku Nikander, UNM leaped to third place, just a half a point out of second place.
The action switched over to alpine as the first runs went off for the men and women, with two Lobos in the top 10 after the first go on the men’s side, and one on the women’s side, meaning UNM would need a big result in the women’s Nordic race. That’s where Severrus delivered.
UNM was behind the 8-ball at the beginning of the race without Anni Nord, who couldn’t go as she was hampered by an illness. That left most of the heavy lifting to Severrus and Andrea Lee. Severrus was steady throughout, never having the lead until the final lap. She was second to Denver’s Sylvia Nordskar, and then after the second lap she remained in second, but this time behind Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski, although by just 2.5 seconds.
The two battled neck-and-neck for the remainder of the race, but it was Severrus who took the lead late and never gave it up, winning the title. Lee, while not earning All-American status, was also steady throughout in finishing 18th, adding 13 points to the 40 earned by Severrus. That gave UNM enough points to move into second.
In the men’s slalom, Joonas Rasanen struggled in his second run and couldn’t repeat as the national champion, coming in 12th. Armin Triendl, the 2014 giant slalom NCAA runner-up, finished 11th, and RMISA Alpine MVP Sean Horner followed up a solid opening run with a great second run to garner First Team All-America honors, finishing fifth.
Then it was the final event, the women’s slalom, and UNM got an All-America performance from Mateja Robnik, who finished 10th. Courtney Altringer ran tied for 13th, but it came down to Karoline Myklebust to attempt to knock out one of the two Vermont skiers who were in first and second in the slalom. Mykelbust and UNM saw the writing on the wall, and Mykelbust went for a national title, and perhaps might have had it but skidding past a gate right at the bottom of the course.
Not wanting a DNF, Mykelbust perhaps heard the biggest cheers of the afternoon as she pushed herself back up the hill and around the missed gate in order to officially finish the race. That helped UNM get three extra points. Those points would have come into play had the final competitor, Vermont’s Kristina Riis-Johannessen suffered a missed gate. Instead she flew down the course giving Vermont a sweep of the women’s slalom and second place overall.
Overall, the Lobos saw 11 All-American performances, including two first team performances from Eva Severrus and a first and second team performance from Sean Horner.
NOTES: Resaland is now a three-time All-American, having previously earned the honors in both the classical and freestyle last year … Armin Triendl also earned All-American honors for the third time … Robnik finished ninth last year earning All-America honors … Severrus’ three wins on the year third her for the fourth most in UNM women’s Nordic history and after her freshman season she is already tied for fifth on the career women’s Nordic wins last, with only Ivana Radlova having more freestyle wins in a season (4 in 1983)
Lobo 2014 All-Americans
First Team All-Americans
|Armin Triendl||Giant Slalom|
|Eva Severrus||Nordic Classical|
|Mats Resland||Nordic Freestyle|
|Eva Severrus||Nordic Freestyle|
Second Team All-Americans
|Seao Horner||Giant Slalom|
|Karoline Mykelbust||Giant Slalom|
|Courtney Altringer||Giant Slalom|
|Aku Nikander||Nordic Classical|
|Aljaz Praznik||Nordic Freestyle|