Joonas Rasanen is Slalom National Champion; Lobos Still in Fifth
March 8, 2013
New Mexico Lobo Skiing - @ 2013 NCAA Championships - Information Central
Wed., March 6: Giant Slalom - Acosta finishes 4th; Lobos in sixth overall
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Sophomore Joonas Rasanen became the 26th individual national champion in the history of the University of New Mexico (all sports) as the Lobo men's Alpine skier won the slalom event at the 2013 NCAA Skiing Championships on Friday in Middlebury, Vt.
His win helped the Lobos post the day's second-best team score of 169 points. New Mexico remains in fifth place after three days of competition, but are close to striking distance of a podium finish heading into Saturday's final events, the Nordic freestyle mass start races at Rikert Nordic Center.
Defending champion Vermont remains in first place with a point total of 564. Colorado is second, 54 points behind, while Denver (484 points), Utah (481) and New Mexico (449) round out the top five.
Rasanen, a native of Helsinki, Finland, was in third place after the men's first run as he posted a time of 48.09. The second run of the men's slalom featured slips from many of the contenders and Rasanen took advantage, posting a solid second run in 50.87 for a total time of 1:38.96.
"I knew I couldn't back off," Rasanen said of the second run. "I'm three tenths out [after the] first run and I wanted to win. Our Nordic got a second place, Mats Rudin Resaland, and I decided he's not gonna be the best Lobo here, so we had to step it up at Alpine. We did pretty good today."
Rasanen is the 13th Lobo skier to win an individual national title and the first since 2009, when Malin Hemmingsson won the women's slalom. He's just the third UNM men's skier to win a title, and only the second men's alpine champion. Mattais Erlandsson won the slalom in 1996.
It's the first trip to the NCAAs for Rasanen and his first All-America honor. The slalom event has been his strength all season as he has recorded three slalom victories during regular-season Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association competition. Four victories in the slalom in a single season is the most of any Lobo men's skier in program history. He ranks tied for second for most wins by a Lobo men's alpine skier in a single season (Tor Fodnesbergene 2006 and Lars Loeseth 2005).
Senior Chris Acosta also earned All-America honors -- his sixth of his career. The native of Ashland, Wisc., finished tied for eighth place with Colorado's Kasper Hietanen, posting a total time of 1:40.28.
Acosta finishes his Lobo skiing career as a four-year All-American -- just the third Lobo men's Alpiner to do so -- and ranks second for most men's All-America honors. Seven is the most of any Lobo skier and three have done so in the history of the program: Polina Ermoshina (4 in CL, 3 FS, 2007-10), Kristina Strandberg (4 in CL, 3 in FS, 2000-03) and Lars Loseth (four in GS, 3 in SL; 1992, 94-95).
Sophomore Michael Bansmer, from Central Pointe, Ore., rounded the men's Alpine scoring for UNM as he placed 31st (1:57.94). Bansmer slipped and fell on a turn during his second run, costing hims several seconds and giving him a time of 1:07.35 on his final trip down the hill.
Sophomore Mateja Robnik earned Second Team All-America honors as she led the Lobo women with a ninth-place finish. The Luce, Slovenia, native recorded a total time of 1:39.21.
Denver University's Kristine Haugen, of Lommedalen, Norway, became the fifth woman to score an Alpine title sweep at the NCAA Skiing Championships, prevailing in the slalom on a wild day of competition.
The NCAA Championships conclude Saturday with the Nordic freestyle mass start races at the Rikert Nordic Center. Competition is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET/8 a.m. MT.