PARK CITY, Utah --- Last year when Armin Triendl suffered a season-ending knee injury after his second race, he knew he wasn’t going to have his final meet of his collegiate career end like that. Fast forward a little over a year later, and Triendl has to love the end result.
Triendl was a demon on the giant slalom course at the Park City Mountain Resort, earning First Team All-America honors after finishing with his best runs of the season, coming in second in the giant slalom on the opening day of the NCAA Championships. His run was one of four All-American runs as New Mexico used the giant slalom to put themselves in a tie for second after the opening day of competition.
Utah, which saw Mark Engel nip Triendl for a national title, had three podium finishes and is in first place after day one with 165 points. New Mexico and Denver are tied for second with 130 points, and Colorado is in fourth with 127.5 points. Vermont is in fifth place with 101 points, the only non-RMISA school in the top five.
For Triendl, the long road back had to be worth the wait. He has been steady all season long with six top-10 finishes in the giant slalom this season, but none higher than sixth. However, on the big stage, Triendl was both steady and spectacular. His first run at 57.71 had him tied for second, and he them pulled off the fourth best run of the second-go. That second go proved harrowing as several skiers lost time on the slick course on a pair of hard turns, one left and one right. Engel, who beat Triendl for the national title, narrowly missed an early gate after catching an edge, but he recovered enough for the win.
Triendl, who owns two career victories, joined Engel as the only skiers to combine for a sub-2 minute time.
Triendl’s 37 points for second was huge on the opening day as the men only scored two skiers after last year’s slalom national champion Joonas Rasanen did not finish his first run. Teammate Sean Horner, the RMISA Alpine MVP earned Second Team All-America honors with a seventh-place finish, scoring 25 points. More importantly, he jumped from 10th after the first run into seventh, 0.18 seconds ahead of Denver’s Espen Lysdahl, which is what put UNM into a second-place tie.
The women’s alpine team also saw a pair of All-American runs as Karoline Mykelbust finished seventh for 25 points, and Courtney Altringer finished eighth for 23 points. Mykelbust was sitting in 11th after her first run, but she posted a solid 56.93, the eighth-best run of the second-go. For Altringer, she picked up an eight-place finish, her second-best finish of the season.
While not finishing as an All-America, Mateja Robnik might have pulled off the most important run of the day for UNM. Robnik, who finished 20th at the NCAA giant slalom last year, had after a rough first run and saw herself sitting all the way down in 28th place, which would score three points. Robnik then showed off the style that saw her win the RMISA giant slalom qualifier, as she posted a 56.11, the best-time of the second run, and better than the eventual winner, two-time national titlist Kristine Haugen of Denver. Her 11th place finish was worth 20 points.
Overall, the women’s alpine team scoring 68 points, and the men scored 62 despite getting points from just two skiers.
The national championships swap disciplines as the Nordic teams will take center stage tomorrow at Soldier Hollow Resort in Midway, Utah with the Classical Races. The women’s race will be 5K, and the men’s 10K. For the women, Anni Nord and Eva Severrus have had solid results, particularly in the 5K distance. Severrus has four podium finishes in four races at that distance.
For the men, Mats Resaland has finished in the top-10 in all four races at the 10K distance, while Aku Nikander has a pair of top-10s.
The Nordic Classical races can be watched here: http://www.ncaa.com/championship/liveplayer/player?gameId=442783&date=2014/03/06