March 7, 2010
2010 NCAA Ski National Championships Photo Gallery
Saturday, March 13 - 9:30 p.m.
Wow! It is hard to believe that the 2010 NCAA Ski Championships have come to a close. The Lobos made a great run for a national title, but came up a little short with a third-place finish for the second year in a row. Not bad for a team that was one skier short of the full contingent.
Martin and Polina earned their second All-America honors of the week today with top-10 performances in the freestyle races. Martin was in a tight race the whole 20 kilometers. He sprinted hard to finish as the national runner-up, his fourth All-America honor in four tries.
Polina skied a great race staying in the front group the whole 15 kilometers. Finishing 6th, she earned her 7th All-America honor in 8 races. Polina will graduate as one of the most decorated Lobos in UNM ski history.
This week it was amazing to see how tight the ski community is, especially in the West where RMISA teams finished 1-2-3-4 in the final NCAA team standings (Denver - Colorado - New Mexico - Utah). These student-athletes race against each other 5-6 times during the regular season before they see outside competition at the NCAA championships. So they know each other well with some training and racing against each other since they first put on skis in their native countries.
Now the Lobos will spread out around the world for a much deserved Spring Break! Enjoy the time away and we'll see you when classes start up again.
Also, thanks for letting me tag along this week, making you do interviews and getting to know you and your families and friends.
To the seniors, congratulations and best wishes in your future endeavors! And to the rest of the team, training for the 2011 NCAA Championships in Vermont begins after Spring Break!
Everyone's a Lobo! Woof, woof, woof!
Saturday, March 13 - 1:45 a.m.
Congratulations, Malin!! She won her third NCAA women's slalom title tonight and along with five other great performances by A.C., Kate, Petter, Chris and Thomas put the Lobos into second place at the 2010 national championships!
If you ever get a chance to watch night skiing, take it! It was incredible to watch.
It's late, so I'll post photos in the morning before the freestyle races. Just two more races for our Nordic skiers first thing in the morning. Good luck, Polina, Linn, Martin, Pierre and Tor-Hakon!
Friday, March 12 - 11 a.m.
Just a quick note this morning to remind folks that today's races will be this evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. Live results links are available on the front page of GoLobos.com. So follow along.
More Lobo fans have been rolling in to town. Chris Acosta's dad, Jerry, surprised him by coming to Steamboat on Wednesday. (Hi Mom Peggy!) UNM Board of Regents member Jamie Koch arrived this morning, while Associate AD Rich Pickering will arrive this afternoon.
Now back to work!
Thursday, March 11 - 6:45 p.m.
Okay, ski story and photos are posted on GoLobos.com and men's basketball stats are updated. Time to fill you in on the day in Steamboat.
Today was the first time to see the Nordic skiers out on the trails. Linn and Polina got things started with the women's 5K classic race. It was an interval start and Linn was the first Lobo on the course. She had a good race for her first NCAA championships.
Polina was in the last group on the course. She took a spill on a hill and lost some time, but pushed through to finish sixth overall and earn her sixth All-America honor. I know she wasn't happy after the race, but I'm proud of her for pushing on and moving into an elite group of Lobos who have earned over five All-America performances in their UNM careers. One more strong performance on Saturday in freestyle and she can join former Lobos Lars Loeseth and Kristina Strandberg at the top of the list with seven each.
UNM was in sixth place in the team standings after the women's race, not bad considering women's Nordic is the one area that we aren't sporting a full contingent.
The men's classic distance was 10K. Since Tor-Hakon missed a few races this year, he started out in the middle of the pack, while Pierre and Martin were in the last group out on the course. The guys needed to finish strong and close together on their times for UNM to push back up to a podium spot. They did a great job finishing 5-7-12 and taking second in the event as a team.
The solid racing pushed UNM back into third place in the team standings, behind Denver and Colorado, at the halfway point.
Martin did an interview with The Mtn after the awards ceremony. I'm trying to get the interviews done while we are here, since after Saturday everyone spreads out for Spring Break next week. So no Mtn Campus Cams next week for the skiers.
This afternoon the team spent time with the Lobo fans that came into Steamboat for the races, before going to hang out with the other teams at a student-athlete dinner at Olympian Hall.
Big day tomorrow! Men's and women's slalom under the lights starting at 5:15 p.m. A great time for UNM to pick up some points. So tomorrow's blog might be an early, early Saturday morning version.
Wednesday, March 10 - 7:30 p.m.
Wow, what a day! I think my fingers finally have the feeling back in them so I can get results out (see the story on the front page of GoLobos.com) and give you an update in the blog and photo gallery. I tried to video tape each Lobo during the races today. We'll see what magic Katie can work with the footage I bring back to Albuquerque.
It was a little chilly this morning, but the skies were clear as the giant slalom races got underway. A.C. was the first racer out of the gate at 9 a.m. and set the pace for the rest of the field. All three women had solid races, with all three finishing in the top-16. Malin record her best NCAA giant slalom, 4th place (three spots better than her previous mark, 7th in 2008) and earned her 4th All-America honor. A.C., despite being sick, earned the first of what should be many All-America honors in her UNM career with a 6th place finish. Kate skied well to keep UNM high on the leader board.
During the break between the women's first and second run, this wave of Lobo cherry and silver began to unload off the Christie's Express chair lift! All of a sudden there was a large contingent of Lobo fans led by Corporate Cup Board of Directors member Jeff Speck. Also in the crowd were Kate Williams' and Olivier Lacaille's parents in from Park City, Utah and Montreal, Quebec. I'm sure there were more. So by the women's second run the Lobo cheering section started to get loud! It was great!
After the women's run, I had a chance to catch up with some former colleagues from the University of Denver over lunch, Mitch Hyder and Ed Henderson, who have been hired by The Mountain Sports Network to cover UNM and Utah this week in Steamboat. I worked at DU from 1998-2000 so have seen a few people around from my time with the Pioneers, including DU senior associate AD Ron Grahame. We played on a co-ed ice hockey team the two years I was there. It was a blast!
Okay back to skiing! During lunch a few flurries tried to work their way over the mountain. But by the start of the men's race, it was clear. After the first couple of racers, you could tell that the course was going to be very fast. Petter was the first Lobo down the hill at a pretty good clip, but lost his footing on a turn and wiped out. He got back up, hiked and finished down the hill to keep UNM in contention for points in the event. Petter wasn't the only one to struggle on that part of the hill. About four other racers also struggled on that particular turn. Petter bounced back in the second run with a good time, faster than the top 8 finishers in their final runs.
Thomas and Chris had good first runs in relatively clear weather, but you could see the clouds starting to roll in. During the break between runs, the weather still looked good. But part way through the men's second run the visibility dropped on the course and the snow started to fall. Most of the day I had been able to catch racers coming over the coaches portion of the hill and follow them down. I could see Chris coming down the hill during his second run, but by the time Thomas made his second run I had trouble finding him coming down the hill and you couldn't see the group of coaches at the top of the hill. The snow was really coming down by the time Petter made his second run.
After the races, it was time to move to the Gondola Square for the awards ceremony. While we waited, and got soaked by the snow, Malin did an interview with The Mtn. After the interview, she knocked the snow off the bill of my cap because it was the size of a snowball. I know all of you in Las Vegas for the Mountain West basketball tournament are jealous of the weather we are having in Steamboat!
During the awards ceremony, Malin, A.C. and Thomas were recognized for their performances (see photos in the gallery). I wasn't joking about the snow coming down!
So at the end of the day, we are sitting in 4th place with 173 points after two events. Just 5 and a half points out of 3rd. Big day tomorrow as the Nordics get on the trails for their first races of the week. Good luck, Polina, Linn, Tor-Hakon, Martin and Pierre!
See you at Howelson Hill tomorrow!
Tuesday, March 9 - 10 p.m.
We had a great time at the championships banquet tonight. First, we joined the rest of the teams at the championships pep rally and watched the top 10 men and women in giant slalom draw their bibs for tomorrow's races. Petter Brenna and Thomas Schwab were among the top 10 men and Malin Hemmingsson and Anne Cecilie Brusletto were among the top 10 women. A.C. ended up with the women's No. 1 bib for tomorrow's race, so she will be the first one down the hill in the morning. We also got to meet Kate Williams ' family, who came in from Park City for the championships.
Our banquet was at the top of Mt. Warner. So I rode up in the gondola with Linn Klaesson and Casey Dyck. The view was amazing and we all picked out our `dream' mountain homes along the way. Since I had the video camera out Chriss and Chris started interviewing each other and the rest of the group. It is pretty hilarious. I'll have to make sure Katie Brutlag, our video coordinator, includes some of the footage in our championships highlights package for GoLobos.com next week.
At the banquet we had 10 student-athletes named to the National Skiing All-Academic Team - Petter Brenna, Stefanie Demetz, Polina Ermoshina, Jacqueline Hangl, Tor-Hakon Hellebostad, Malin Hemmingsson, Martin Kaas, Olivier Lacaille, Ingrid Leask, and Thomas Schwab. After the festivities we took time out to take a team picture, especially since everyone was dressed up and the Alpine and Nordic squads were together.
Now it is time to rest up and kick things off with a great day of giant slalom races from Petter, Thomas, Chris, A.C., Malin and Kate.
Tuesday, March 9 - 11 a.m.
It actually snowed a little bit overnight, but the sun has finally come out and it quickly melted off of the road surfaces. One of the cool things about where I am staying ... I can look out my window and see the Nordic skiers practicing across the river.
Watching the skiers go by this morning, I have a new-found appreciation for how physically and mentally fit our Lobo skiers have to be for competition ... the Alpine team rocketing down the giant slalom and slalom courses, having to turn on a dime around all the gates ... the Nordic team having to show endurance and strategy to maintain for anywhere from 5-20 kilometers in the classic and freestyle races. Oh, and have I mentioned lately that they carry some of the top grade point averages in the department in addition to being ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Well, time to do some work and get ready for this afternoon's meetings and tonight's banquet. See you after the banquet.
Monday, March 8 - 10 p.m.
Found out that it is very easy to get around Steamboat Springs. You can walk a trail along the Yampa River from one end of the town to the other, even right up to the Howelsen Ski Area, the primary race headquarters for this week's events. Downtown Steamboat Springs has a lot of great shops and restaurants to check out when you are done skiing for the day.
The Nordic team spent the day training on Howelsen Hill, while the Alpine team got in one more training day at Copper Mountain before meeting up with the rest of us in Steamboat. Head coach Fredrik Landstedt also had meetings today because he is a member of the NCAA Ski Committee, the group that coordinates the national championships with the NCAA championships staff.
Another great dinner by the Nordic team tonight. This group can cook!
And, yes, I was wrong about Sunday's curling results. Martin Kaas was victorious in the afternoon match with a come-from-behind win.
After dinner, we had a rousing game of Yahtzee while we waited for the team meeting to start at 8:30.
During the team meeting with both the Nordic and Alpine skiers, Fredrik handed out the participant gifts from the NCAA, very cool noise-cancelling headphones and an ipod holder. The team also received tournament t-shirts, red ones, of course.
Time to sign off for the night! Tomorrow is another practice day and the tournament banquet.
Monday, March 8 - Noon
For the record this is not when I got up today. I've been up for a while, got a walk in on the treadmill, voted on the baseball writers poll and finished the Monday Report. The Nordic teams are practicing and the Alpine teams are headed up from Copper Mountain. So it is time to go explore the sights of Steamboat Springs.
Sunday, March 7 - 7:30 p.m.
It was a great trip up to Steamboat Springs! We had a great lunch in Alamosa, Colo. and continued on through Colorado. I had forgotten how majestic the Colorado Rocky Mountains are covered in snow!
In our truck, Martin Kaas and Tor-Hakon Hellebostad played a competitive game of curling on an iphone. Based on the good-natured ribbing it sounds like Martin won the morning round and Tor-Hakon took the afternoon game. They'll tell me tomorrow if I got it wrong.
Probably the best part of the day was dinner. When the ski team travels they tend to stay in local lodges or apartments with kitchen facilities and they do bulk shopping. It was a true `family' atmosphere as several of us chipped in to make dinner. The salmon spaghetti was fantastic. It was a great time around the table!
Tomorrow and Tuesday will be a practice days, so I'll check in with the team on the trails and slopes as well as explore our host city.
Good night from Steamboat!
Sunday, March 7 - 9 a.m.
There aren't many reasons that can get me out of bed early on a Sunday morning. But getting the opportunity to travel with the Lobo ski team to the 2010 NCAA National Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colo. definitely ranks in the top 5.
So we are on our way. I met head coach Fredrik Landstedt and the Nordic skiers on campus to load up the vehicles and get on the road. It will be a long day of driving up through the mountains today. The Alpiners actually left Thursday night and have been training at different spots along the way to Steamboat. We'll all meet up in Steamboat Springs on Monday.
I'll try to update you a few times a day during the week during the Lobos' Race for the National Championship.