BEAVER CREEK/MINTURN, Colo. --- Four podium finishes, one in each event got UNM closer, but not close enough to an elusive RMISA/NCAA West Regional skiing title, finishing a close third. Utah edged Colorado 640-636, with UNM just off the pace at 617.5.
The Lobos got a huge lift early when Eva Severrus won the 15K freestyle mass start, her second title of the year, making her an RMISA champion. Severrus, who has eight podium finishes this season, has won both 15K races she has competed in this year. Severrus won the race over Alaska-Anchorage’s Marine Dusser by 37.5 seconds.
UNM was hurt by an injury to Anni Nord, the squad’s No. 2 skier and owner of eight straight top 10s before suffering an injury slowed her down in Friday’s 5K Classical race. In her stead though, Andrea Lee had her best race, finishing a career-best seventh, giving UNM a much needed lift. Also scoring was Heleene Tambet, a member of the UNM track team who also is skilled in cross country skiing. She had a career-best 19th-place finish.
Clearly the loss of Nord hurt UNM, as the Lobos lost approximately 15 expected points.
On the men’s side, Aljaz Praznik had a career-best third-place finish, getting UNM 34 points. He finished just 0.3 seconds out of second place in the 20K Freestyle Mass Start race. Mats Resaland finished in a tie for sixth, and Aku Nikander also garnered a top-10 finish, coming in right on the line in 10th.
UNM’s other two podiums were second-place finishes in the slalom. On the men’s side, Jonnas Rasanen, skiing at the back of the pack, put up a solid 36.57 in the second run to take a lead before the Utah’s Mark Engel nipped him with a 36.67 in his second run, giving Engel a combined 1:14.75, besting Rasanen by 0.57 seconds.
UNM had a cluster of skiers in the thick of things, with Armin Triendl finishing seventh, Sean Horner 10th, Scott Snow 11th, Mark Miller 12th, and Michael Bansmer 13th.
Bansmer was 22nd after the first run and briefly held the overall lead after a brilliant second run that saw him garner the fourth-best time in the run at 36.51.
For the women, it was another podium for Karoline Mykelbust, who finished second to Kristiina Rove of Utah. Mateja Robnik struggled a bit in finishing 10th, her 10th top 10 finish of the season. Robnik however picked up a seventh and a 10th at the RMISA/West Championships after seven straight top five finishes. UNM’s other scorer was Courtney Altringer, who was 12th.
The Lobos will now have two weeks to prepare and set their roster for the National Championships, to be held in Midway (Nordic) and Park City (Alpine), Utah on March 5-8.