Helsinki, Finland --- After a brilliant career at the University of New Mexico which saw Joonas Rasanen win the 2013 NCAA Slalom national championship and the 2013 World University Games Slalom championship, Rasanen now gets to do something special to all athletes: represent his country.
Rasanen was named to the Finnish National B-Team, one of three NCAA skiers promoted to their national teams from the NCAA ranks last season. Rasanen joins Utah’s Mark Engel (United States) and Vermont’s Jonathan Nordbotten (Norway).
“I am really excited to be able to represent my country again and get the opportunity to compete against the best skiers in the world,” said Rasanen, who wore his UNM suit with the flag and colors of Finland on his helmet at the World University Games. “It’s going to be fun to ski more next year and represent the University of New Mexico all over the world.”
Rasanen won four titles at New Mexico, including three in the 2013 season. He won slalom races at the Colorado Invitational and the Denver Invitational in a span of four days, and then capped off that season with a thrilling win at the NCAAs, becoming only the second men’s slalom national champion at New Mexico, joining Mattais Erlandsson, who took home the title in 1996.
Seeing one of his skiers make a national team after his career is over on the alpine side does everything to showcase the program according to head coach Fredrik Landstedt. “This is a tremendous honor for Joonas. It shows where our program is that you can train in New Mexico at UNM for three years and have the career success to qualify for a national team.”
Rasanen missed the first portion of the 2014 season with good reason, as he won the slalom title at the World University Games. Much like in his NCAA title run where Joonas was fourth after the first run and used a lightning guick second run to take home the crown, Rasanen was third after the first WUG run and took advantage of a snow pack to his liking. At the time he told Ski Racing Magazine, “The conditions were good, it was like skiing in Colorado. The snow was grippy and nice, and the second course was normal except for a lot of combinations. I think the course setter knew that all the racers were students and he wanted to test our memory”Rasanen does have three World Cup starts to his credit in 2014 as well, starting at Adelboden, Kitzbuehel, and Schladming. While most of the skiing world might not equate New Mexico and world class skiing (despite 29 straight years in the top 9 in the NCAA and the 2004 NCAA title), Rasanen’s hoping to change all of that, as his work with ski coaches Fredrik Landstedt, and specifically alpine coach Joe Downing have him ready for his national team.
“I am also proud of the system the ski team has offered to me here at UNM. The system has allowed me to get better throughout the years that while I competed and trained at UNM. I will make sure to bring some Lobo flair to Europe!”