The top end looks similar to last week, but further justification for these positions has now been firmly established. After consideration of the results from the UVM Carnival, Vail NorAm tech series, and UAA Invitational nordic races, there’s a shake up on the bottom as well as a new team making its debut. See the complete NCAA Power Rankings in Issue 8 of Ski Racing, due out shortly.
#1 Utah (Last week: 1) – 2011 NCAA champion Maria Graefnings returned to the RMISA circuit for the first time this season and placed first and second in her opening races. Cohee and Wilson are still delivering alternating punches in alpine. Fghting off Colorado week after week only seems to strengthen the Utes’ resolve.
#2 Vermont (Last week: 2) – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: how do you rattle a Catamount? Tie one paw behind its back, then blindside it in a ski race at home. In a scene tragically reminiscent of last year’s NCAAs, UVM’s winning streak came to an end on its own turf. No penalty assessed for making the tough calendar call to split the battalion especially since their alpine troops at the Vail NorAms bested a handful of RMISA and national team athletes. Watch out, the Cats will have their claws back in a flash, and now they’re out for blood.
#3 Colorado (Last week: 3) – Eliska Hajkova won the UAA Invitational classic race by more than ten seconds, adding to the podiums previously collected by teammate Joanne Reid. There’s depth on the alpine side as well. If the Buffs can topple Utah in an invitational, rankings on the top end could get tricky.
#4 Dartmouth (Last week: 5) – The Big Green clearly got the memo and pulled out all the stops as they steamrolled the UVM Carnival. The alpine squad got its act together, and first-year standout Ben Morse snagged a giant slalom win and second place in the slalom. Both the men’s and women’s nordic teams have so much depth that it’s hard to identify any weakness.
#5 Denver (Last week: n/a) – We’re rewarding DU for showing its cards by running its alpine athletes in the Vail NorAms, a gutsy move before a hectic travel schedule to Anchorage. Espen Lysdahl and Trevor Philp’s NorAm podiums demonstrate that the men’s alpine team can certainly hang, but the ladies still need to step it up. Welcome to the show.
Photo of Utah’s Nick Cohee by Guenther Birgmann
Photo of Dartmouth’s Sophie Caldwell by Cory Ransom