Haugen defends NCAA title while Utah gets off to an impressive start


Repeat title winner Kristine Haugen (Susie Theis)

Repeat title winner Kristine Haugen (Susan Theis)

PARK CITY, Utah – The opening victories in Wednesday’s NCAA giant slalom championship races did not come easily, but they were awarded to athletes who have shown promise and determination all season long through the inevitable ups and downs of ski racing. University of Utah freshman Mark Engel, released from the U.S. Ski Team last spring after a slow recovery from a back injury, held on for the win despite a Shiffrin-esque inside ski recovery in the middle of a bumpy second run, while the University of Denver’s Kristine Haugen successfully defended her 2013 title seven months after shoulder surgery.

Haugen, in only her sophomore year at the University of Denver, already has three NCAA titles to her name, including those from both disciplines last season. She led after the first run today and handily defended her giant slalom title, but her volatile season leading to Park City hardly foreshadowed such a result. Unlike last season when she was undefeated in the discipline prior to NCAA championships, this year she had only three GS victories and finished third at regionals.

“I’m so happy. I told everyone, I don’t believe it. Not yet. … I just didn’t really have that feeling that I was going to get to do it this year again. Doing it again is just so amazing, and having my team here, they’re so supportive and it just feels great,” said Haugen, whose older brother, Leif, is an Olympian and regular on the World Cup circuit. “It’s a little bit of pressure too because I want to do as well as he does, but he’s helping me so much. I got a text in between the runs today, which he just told me to smile from the top to the bottom, and that’s what I tried to do.”

Haugen was the first skier on course in the first run and then the 3oth in the second, but she tried not to let her nerves get the best of her.

“I definitely was happy with my start number, but at the same time I am a person who gets really nervous. I think that’s a good thing. But everything was kind of perfect this morning,” said Haugen. “I’ve had a tough summer with injuries and surgeries, so I’ve just been trying to get back into shape again this year, and just tried to do my best and have fun with the skiing.” Haugen underwent surgery on a shoulder injury in July and missed conditioning and summer skiing as well as some time in the early season this year.

“It’s always a surprise for me. Every time, I’m like, I don’t know if I can do it,” remarked Haugen, who clearly can.

She was followed on the podium by a pair of Utes, Kristiina Rove in second and Chloe Margrethe Fausa in third.

“It was definitely better than I expected. The last few days when we’ve been training here it’s been really hard, and the course crew did an amazing job. I have to thank them for that,” said Utah junior Rove, who improved upon her fourth-place finish from last year. “I was actually thinking about it in the start, ‘OK, I have a fourth place already.’ So I just had to attack and just go for it. I knew I wanted to be on the podium today.”

Rove sharing the podium with a teammate and leading team scoring after the first day is what Utah hopes will be one of the contributing factors of a remarkable home championship.

“It’s obviously a great start, and everyone’s going to have to keep the momentum going and go for it,” said Rove.

Vermont’s Kate Ryley, who won every EISA GS contested this season, had to settle for fourth after dropping back one position from her first-run result. Fellow Catamount Kristina Riis-Johannessen, who got hung up on a gate but sat fifth after the first run, slid out of the second and failed to finish. It was a tough start to the competition for the University of Vermont, a team that went undefeated in regional action this season. But, the Cats were in good company on second run disappointment.

Four of the top-10 skiers from the first run, including Riis-Johannessen, failed to finish the second in bumpy conditions on soft snow. Tension filled the air as the best skiers from the first run battled their way down the second.

“Absolutely you’re nervous when you see what’s going on, and for our girls to finish that strong was amazing,” said Utah head alpine coach Jaka Korencan, whose course report did not alter despite the difficulties for some. “When it gets so close to your own racers, you try to leave them alone and execute the plan.”

University of New Mexico’s Mateja Robnik, who had an unfortunate mishap and crashed at the first gate in run one yet still managed to complete the course in 28th, recorded the fastest second run of the day after starting early in the flip to finish 11th overall.

“I took advantage of this run. I think it’s getting worse and worse, so I don’t know what to say to the other athletes,” Robnik remarked when she still held the lead in the finish area.

Harvard’s 2012 NCAA giant slalom title winner, Becca Nadler, was able to make a substantial move from 10th after the first run to finish sixth on the day, just behind the University of Colorado’s Brooke Wales who rounded out the top 5.

“It was pretty fun, a little bumpy in places, but definitely rip-able,” Nadler said of the second course. “I was just hoping to come out and ski two runs the way that I know I can, so wherever the results fall is fine. I’m happy with the effort I put in.”

Aside from Utah and Colorado, New Mexico was the only other school that placed two skiers in the top 10 of the women’s race with Karoline Myklebust and Courtney Altringer finishing seventh and eighth, respectively.

The men’s race began not long after the completion of the women’s, but the first run started off on a soft track that seemed disadvantageous to early bib numbers. Engel led the charge from bib 9 to post the fastest first run time, and he was followed by New Mexico’s Armin Triendl, a redshirt senior from Austria who tore his ACL last winter, and Alaska’s Niko Harmanen, a spirited Finnish skier whose best giant slalom result in this, his senior year, had been ninth. Triendl and Harmanen tied on the first run but shook it out later so the Austrian finished second and the Finn third.

“You had to ski the hill and know where to back off and where to go for it, so that helped. But also, after I went there were a lot of fast times from the next 15 bibs,” Engel noted after the first run. “The first guys had some really soft conditions and that made it really hard to ski fast next to the gate. So it was starting to get a little faster when I went, and then after me I think it got even better.”

Canadian Olympian and Denver Pioneer Trevor Philp was out for revenge in the second run. After an error in the first placed him in 18th, Philp charged with an aggressive attack to take the lead and hold off 14 subsequent challengers until Triendl’s run ousted him from the top position. Philp ultimately finished with the wooden spoon in fourth.

“It was a lot bumpier, a little harder to see, the clouds are coming in, but the snow held up pretty nicely,” Engel said of the second run which required an athletic maneuver for him to even stay on course. “I was kind of happy (my recovery) happened because the next section was really turny, so I got backseat—thrown out—offline and I had to slow down to come back, and then I entered the next turny section with lower speed and I knew that I could nail that section. … It was actually kind of a good mistake.”

Harmanen, who was in the final GS race of his career, was overjoyed in the finish area with his result, as was Triendl.

“I can’t describe what (second place) means. This year started off in a NorAm; I got 100th in the first run. And now I was fighting for the podium. I wanted one podium this year, and I got it at the right race,” said Triendl, a graduate of Schigymnasium Stams. “This is what made me appreciate skiing again, and made me have fun. … Austria prepared me for slopes like this and conditions like this, but the U.S. made me ski fast and have fun again, and that’s what’s important.”

On the commanding performances of Engel, Rove, and Fausa, the University of Utah has taken an early lead in the hunt for the national championship team title, amassing 165 points on the day. New Mexico and Denver are tied for second at 130 each. Colorado sits fourth with 128, and the University of Vermont is fifth with 101.

This is only the third time in the last 25 years that the host school has led after the first day of the NCAA championships. Vermont is the only other team to do so, leading by 30 points in 2005 and 23 points in 1997 when it hosted at Stowe, both times over Utah. Vermont ultimately finished as runner-up in those meets, behind Denver in 2005 and Utah in 1997.

“Oh my god, I’m just so proud of this team,” exclaimed Korencan. “To come out on the first day on their home hill in front of this home crowd and perform that strong is just amazing. We couldn’t ask for a better opener, and I know that this is a great motivation for slalom and our nordic team. I cannot wait see what happens tomorrow and the rest of the week.”

NCAA championship action continues Thursday (March 6) with the men’s 10km and women’s 5km classic races at Soldier Hollow.

See more photos from these races in our gallery here.

Susan Theis contributed on-site reporting for this article. 

 

RESULTS – WOMEN’S GS

Plc Bib NAME TEAM RUN 1 RUN 2 TIME
1 1 HAUGEN, Kristine Gjelst DU 1:00.27/ 1 56.12/ 2 1:56.40
2 2 ROVE, Kristiina UU 1:00.52/ 2 56.43/ 4 1:56.96
3 8 FAUSA, Chloe Margrethe UU 1:00.69/ 4 56.29/ 3 1:56.99
4 4 RYLEY, Kate UVM 1:00.57/ 3 56.68/ 5 1:57.26
5 5 WALES, Brooke CU 1:01.61/ 5 57.25/ 12 1:58.87
6 13 NADLER, Rebecca HAR 1:01.93/ 6 57.10/ 10 1:59.04
7 12 MYKLEBUST, Karoline Soevik UNM 1:02.18/ 7 56.93/ 8 1:59.12
8 18 ALTRINGER, Courtney UNM 1:02.39/ 9 57.27/ 13 1:59.67
9 16 HONKONEN, Jessica CU 1:03.16/ 14 56.81/ 6 1:59.98
10 32 TESCHNER, Randa UNH 1:02.24/ 8 57.86/ 21 2:00.11
11 7 ROBNIK, Mateja UNM 1:04.30/ 23 56.11/ 1 2:00.43
12 3 MOE-LANGE, Yina MID 1:02.92/ 11 57.60/ 17 2:00.53
13 14 DELANEY, Devin DU 1:03.17/ 15 57.57/ 16 2:00.75
14 28 FARROW, Katie UNH 1:03.70/ 17 57.07/ 9 2:00.78
15 19 KOBAL, Ana UU 1:03.94/ 22 56.92/ 7 2:00.87
16 20 CAMPBELL, Shannon WIL 1:02.98/ 12 57.96/ 23 2:00.95
17 23 IRWIN, Stephanie MSU 1:03.76/ 18 57.19/ 11 2:00.96
18 9 FUCIGNA, Abigail DAR 1:02.77/ 10 58.22/ 25 2:01.01
19 30 IDE, Maisie DAR 1:03.53/ 16 57.49/ 15 2:01.04
20 26 HASKELL, Mardene CBC 1:03.90/ 21 57.28/ 14 2:01.20
21 15 BARTHOLD, Jeanne CBC 1:03.07/ 13 58.33/ 26 2:01.40
22 21 GROSVOLD, Thea CU 1:03.79/ 19 57.74/ 18 2:01.54
23 11 TEFRE, Elise-woien UVM 1:03.88/ 20 57.75/ 19 2:01.64
24 27 BERECZ, Anna UAA 1:04.66/ 25 57.80/ 20 2:02.47
25 29 DANZA, Emily MSU 1:04.59/ 24 58.16/ 24 2:02.77
26 34 WHISTLER, Paige CBC 1:05.03/ 26 58.64/ 27 2:03.69
27 31 BERTHER, Vanessa UAA 1:06.05/ 29 57.95/ 22 2:04.01
28 25 CARROLL, Tianda DU 1:05.12/ 27 59.40/ 28 2:04.52
29 33 ANDREINI, Isabella UAA 1:05.36/ 28 1:01.22/ 29 2:06.59

 

RESULTS – MEN’S GS

Rank Bib Name Team Club Class Result 1 Result 2 Combined
1 9
ENGEL, Mark
USA
UU
SR
57.28   (1)
1:01.28   (1)
1:58.56
2 12
TRIENDL, Armin
AUT
UNM
SR
57.71   (2)
1:01.99   (4)
1:59.70
3 23
HARMANEN, Niko
FIN
UAA
SR
57.71   (2)
1:02.38   (8)
2:00.09
4 3
Philp, Trevor
CAN
DU
SR
58.78 (18)
1:01.47   (2)
2:00.25
5 21
Gunnarsson, Henrik
SWE
CU
SR
57.81   (4)
1:02.60 (11)
2:00.41
6 13
Nordbotten, Jonathon
NOR
UVM
SR
58.01   (5)
1:02.56 (10)
2:00.57
7 4
HORNER, Sean
USA
UNM
SR
58.42 (10)
1:02.24   (6)
2:00.66
8 5
LYSDAHL, Espen
NOR
DU
SR
58.59 (13)
1:02.25   (7)
2:00.84
9 2
DRURY, Kevin
CAN
UVM
SR
58.69 (15)
1:02.53   (9)
2:01.22
10 18
Brath, Joergen
NOR
UU
SR
58.24   (7)
1:03.00 (15)
2:01.24
11 14
Haug, Andreas Willumsen
NOR
CU
SR
58.47 (11)
1:02.78 (12)
2:01.25
12 19
Hietanen, Kasper
FIN
CU
SR
58.32   (8)
1:03.24 (18)
2:01.56
12 16
NEUHAUSER, DAVID
MSU
MSU
U21
58.75 (17)
1:02.81 (13)
2:01.56
14 10
Trow, Andy
CAN
UU
SR
58.22   (6)
1:03.38 (22)
2:01.60
15 6
ROBERTS, Hig
USA
MID
SR
59.66 (30)
1:01.95   (3)
2:01.61
16 7
Brigovic, Sebastian
CRO
DU
SR
58.65 (14)
1:02.99 (14)
2:01.64
17 11
MCKENNA, Christopher
USA
MID
U21
59.61 (29)
1:02.12   (5)
2:01.73
18 1
DAWSON, Travis
CAN
UVM
SR
58.40   (9)
1:03.36 (21)
2:01.76
19 8
OVERING, Robert
CAN
DAR
U21
58.54 (12)
1:03.38 (22)
2:01.92
20 22
BROOKS, Dylan
USA
DAR
SR
58.89 (19)
1:03.24 (18)
2:02.13
21 29
Gagnon, Cedrick
CAN
UAA
SR
59.34 (23)
1:03.19 (17)
2:02.53
22 34
BAILEY, Nick
USA
MID
SR
59.42 (24)
1:03.12 (16)
2:02.54
23 33
MCCONNELL, Ryan
USA
MSU
SR
59.14 (21)
1:03.53 (25)
2:02.67
24 20
OLIVER, Coley
USA
UNH
SR
59.03 (20)
1:03.67 (26)
2:02.70
25 32
MORSE, Ben
USA
DAR
SR
59.46 (26)
1:03.32 (20)
2:02.78
26 31
Norton, Hughston
USA
UAA
U21
59.54 (28)
1:03.41 (24)
2:02.95
27 30
FARRELL, Brad
USA
SMC
SR
59.44 (25)
1:03.99 (28)
2:03.43
28 28
BOARDMAN, Michael
USA
CBC
U21
59.29 (22)
1:04.48 (29)
2:03.77
29 27
OWSLEY, David
USA
MSU
SR
59.98 (31)
1:03.92 (27)
2:03.90
30 17
MARTIN, Max
USA
PSU
U21
58.70 (16)
1:06.34 (30)
2:05.04
31 15
Ogle, Jay
USA
UNH
SR
59.53 (27)
1:07.82 (31)
2:07.35
26
HOPKINS, Kris
USA
UNH
SR
DNF
DNS
25
Rasanen, Joonas
FIN
UNM
SR
DNF
DNS
24
SCOTT, Graham
CAN
SLU
SR
DNF
DNS

 

TEAM STANDINGS

1 UNIVERSITY OF UTAH  165.0
2 UNIV OF NEW MEXICO  130.0
3 UNIVERSITY OF DENVER  130.0
4 UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO  128.0
5 UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT  101.0
6 UNIV OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE  62.0
7 MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE  58.0
8 DARTMOUTH COLLEGE  54.0
9 MONTANA STATE UNIVERSITY  49.0
10 UNIV OF NEW HAMPSHIRE  45.0
11 COLBY COLLEGE  29.0
12 HARVARD UNIVERSITY  27.0
13 WILLIAMS COLLEGE 15.0
14 ST MICHAELS COLLEGE  4.0
15 PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY  1.0

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