NCAA racers are well-represented in this year’s world championships tech events, as they have been at every world champs and Olympics in recent years. Eight of the 17 NCAA athletes competing in Cortina are “Pios,” Denver University Pioneers.
The national team featuring the highest number of collegiate athletes is Canada. Their 13-member roster includes six current or former NCAA skiers. The nation with the next most NCAA representation is the U.S. with four, followed by Norway, Croatia, Brazil and Greece each with one NCAA skier. Between them, these skiers represent five different colleges. While many eastern schools are not competing on the EISA circuit this year, current athletes from western schools headed to Cortina straight from their RMISA competitions in Utah.
Here’s how it shakes out:
UVM grad and 2019 NCAA GS champ Laurence St. Germain comes into Cortina with three top-10 slalom results this season. DU senior Amelia Smart has scored points in two World Cup slaloms this season while attending classes remotely and recently won two Uni slaloms for the Pioneers in Snowbird. CU freshman Cassidy Gray, like Smart comes to Cortina straight from Utah. The 19-year-old Gray scored her first World Cup points at Kranska Gora in January, and recently won for the Buffs at the Uni GS in Park City.
With some EISA schools not competing this season, Middlebury Sophomore Ali Nullmeyer is competing full time on the World Cup slalom circuit and will race that event in Cortina. On the men’s side, Canada’s tech team features veterans, world champ medalists and DU grads Trevor Philp and Erik Read. Philp has two top 20 World Cup GS finishes this season, while Read has been consistently in the points in both tech events, including two 10th-place finishes in GS.
For the U.S., former UVM skier Paula Moltzan comes into Cortina with top 10 finishes in both Slalom and GS, and her breakout podium in parallel. She will be joined by DU junior Katie Hensien in both slalom and parallel. Hensien, who scored her first slalom points this season, opted out of collegiate skiing this year while pursuing her degree remotely.
DU graduate Alex Leever, racing independently, earned a World Cup start in Schladming and converted the opportunity into a 24th-place finish and a spot on the U.S. world championship team. Jett Seymour, who raced three seasons for DU, put his academics on hold to compete full time on the U.S. slalom team this season and will compete in that event.
Dartmouth will be represented by two of their NCAA skiers in the Cortina slalom. NCAA GS and slalom champ Tanguy Nef earned a berth on a fiercely competitive Swiss team with three top 10 scores. Former U.S. Ski Team athlete AJ Ginnis, who raced for Dartmouth last season and is now racing for Greece, comes into Cortina after a breakthrough 11th place slalom finish.
2020 DU graduate Andrea Komsic, now racing World Cup full time for her home country of Croatia, has recovered from early season injuries and will race both tech events. Middlebury junior Michel Macedo, one of many EISA skiers who will be able to roll his NCAA career forward another year, will represent his home country of Brazil.
2012 DU graduate Leif Kristian Haugen will again represent Norway as he has since 2010 when he competed in the Vancouver Olympics the same year he won the NCAA GS title. Since then, DU Pioneers have won four medals — three world championship and one Olympic — and hope to build on that. Also representing Norway, Kristina Riis-Johannessen is a graduate of UVM with a degree in finance and marketing; she was the overall Europa Cup winner 2016-17.
As tough as it is for the collegiate coaches to lose their top athletes for a key part of the season, it is harder still to deny them the opportunity to compete for their countries. In echoing the sentiments of his NCAA colleagues, CU coach Richard Rokos says, “My take on it is to help those athletes to accomplish the athletic dreams and the national team is a part of it — lasting sometimes well after their eligibility has expired.”
THE BIG LIST
- AJ Ginnis, Dartmouth, Greece
- Tanguy Nef, Dartmouth, Switzerland
- Cassidy Gray, CU, CAN
- Leif Haugen, DU, NOR
- Erik Read, DU, CAN
- Trevor Philp, DU, CAN
- Jett Seymour, DU, USA
- Alex Leever, DU, USA
- Katie Hensien, DU, USA
- Amelia Smart, DU, CAN
- Andrea Komsic, DU, CRO
- Paula Moltzan, UVM, USA
- Laurence St Germaine, UVM, CAN
- Ali Nullmeyer, MIDD, CAN
- Michel Macedo, MIDD, BRA
- Tomas Birkner, UTAH, ARG
- Kristina Riis-Johannessen, UVM, NOR
This story was modified from its original version to add Kristina Riis-Johannessen, who was not listed on Norway’s roster.