Stevens: Lobo Ski Team Looking Up Hill at NCAA Championships
March 5, 2012
The NCAA is streaming each competition live. For the links to watch please click on the designated links below:
March 7th - Nordic - Freestyle Races - watch live
March 8th - Alpine GS - watch live
March 9th - Nordic - Classical Races - watch live
March 10th - Alpine SL - watch live
Lobos at NCAA Championships
New Mexico Lobos Ski Team - at NCAA ChampionshipsWhen/Where: Wednesday thru Saturday - Bozeman, Mont.
Teams to Beat/Skiers entered: Alaska Anchorage (12), Colorado (12), Dartmouth (12), Denver (10) Montana State 11), New Hampshire (10), New Mexico 10) Utah 12, Vermont 12).
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Triendl, Klaesson and Coach Fredrik Landstedt's Lobos will be looking up - looking up at Utah and a few other loaded teams.
"I think we have a chance to win. We need everybody to have their good days," said Kleasson, a Nordic skier from Norway.
Said Triendl, an Alpine skier from Austria: "The team looks good. We aren't favorites, but that might be good. Utah, Colorado and Vermont are strong, but there is pressure on those teams to win. We're coming from the outside and we have a chance."
The NCAA Championships will be run on the high ground at Bridger Bowl and Bohart Ranch outside of Bozeman, Mont. The NCAA meet will run Wednesday through Saturday. A team is allowed to qualify a maximum of 12 skiers. The Lobos, down a Nordic male, are a racer short at 11.
"The Nordic men need to pick it up but everybody needs to come through, if we want to get into the top four," said Landstedt. "We want to win and you always have a chance because anything can happen on snow. The winner always has to have good days and some good luck.
"When you only have 11 athletes, you don't have any room for bad luck. If we get things going our way and some other teams have bad luck, you never know."
Landstedt already has had some good luck and good recruiting in bringing in Triendl and Klaesson to American snow. Like most Europeans who slap the long boards to their feet, they came here to continue their education while embracing their passion.
They have been outstanding Lobos and UNM needs them to be outstanding in Bozeman.
Triendl and Klaesson were both First Team All-Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. Triendl was the RMISA Alpine MVP. Klaesson was a blaze of consistency on the snow as she finished Top Ten in every race in which she pushed off.
The Lobos now would like to see them reach All-American status and bring points to the New Mexico total in Bozeman.
"My goal every race was Top Ten. At the NCAAs, it's harder because it's the finals," said Klaesson. "But I want Top Ten there, too."
The men's 10-kilometer and women's five-kilometer freestyle cross-country races will be held on Wednesday. The women's 15-kilometer and men's 20-kilometer classical races will be held on Friday.
The Lobos need a good Nordic start. The men's and women's giant slaloms will be held on Thursday with the meet ending on Saturday with the men's and women's slaloms.
Triendl used consistency to claim the RMISA MVP title. At Bozeman, he knows he needs to push it - probably to a different level.
"If you don't push it, you aren't even in the Top 15," he said. "It's the most important race of the year, and you have to go to your highest level. You get excited or nervous, but that's also something you like about skiing. You have that moment where you need to show what you can do.
"You have to have the attitude that you want to win and that would be amazing, but to win the race so many things have to work out. My goal is at least Top Five, but I would like to be on the podium."
Both Triendl and Klaesson come from cultures where skiing is king, or queen, but in Norway and Austria there is a strong vein of individualism on skis. At UNM, they find the team aspect refreshing.
"We think of the whole team," said Klaesson.
Of course, team scores come from individual success and at the NCAA finals the Lobos need both of these skiers to have individual glory. Triendl says part of his individual success has come from a more relaxed attitude on and off skis.
"I think there was more pressure back home," he said. "Everyone is so focused and it's your dream to become a pro and get on the (national) team. There is pressure on all sides and then you add pressure to yourself.
"I'm not sure back home I was even enjoying skiing. It was, `You need to, you need to, you need to.' At home, it's all about yourself. Here, it's team first and I think that helped my skiing. I'm letting it go and having fun."
The definition of "fun" probably changes a bit at the NCAA finals. The ski team is still the only UNM team to ever bring home an NCAA national title. This is a program that expects and demands success -- and big trophies.
The Lobos started the season slowly, but improved in February and enter the NCAA meet ranked No. 5 by Skiracing Magazine.
"We aren't the favorites, but we have settled down and are skiing well," said Landstedt. "Utah has been winning everything and they are the big favorites. Colorado is very good, Vermont has been strong back East, and Dartmouth is always in there.
"We'll see what happens."