LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The final Nordic races of the 2015 NCAA championships at Mt. Van Hoevenberg were the most dramatic of the event yet, as both the women’s and men’s races came down to sprints in the final meters of the course. However, it was New Mexico’s Emilie Cedervaern and Northern Michigan’s Fredrik Schwencke who held off charges in the final seconds to claim their first national championship titles.
With three days of competition in the books in Lake Placid, the 2015 NCAA championship trophy will come down to the slalom races at Whiteface Mountain on Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. Colorado enters the final day with a slim 7-point lead over Utah, with New Mexico, Denver and Vermont rounding out the top five.
Cedervaern and Wednesday’s champion of the 5 kilometer freestyle Veronika Mayerhofer from Utah separated themselves in the women’s 15k classic by the 10k mark of the race. The two entered the steepest hills of Van Hoevenberg with Cedervaern ahead, only to have Mayerhofer take the lead in the final lap on the uphill slopes after Cedervaern suffered a fall. However, she kept her composure and despite trailing heading into the last 225 meters, she found another gear and managed to pass Mayerhofer in the last straightaway to claim victory by 1.5 seconds. The victory was the fifth in six races for Cedervaern, who has been a dominant force in the west throughout the 2015 season.
“[Veronika] tried to get rid of me on the last uphill but I felt strong,” said Cedervaern after her win. “I had so much speed on a turn that I almost ran her over, and when I fell, I thought I messed things up. But I kept trying and went for it the last 200m.”
Mayerhofer was joined in the top five by Utah teammate Sloan Storey in fifth place, while Denver’s Sylvia Nordksar and Colorado’s Maja Solbakken were third and fourth, respectively, for first team All-American honors. Second team honorees included Colorado’s Petra Hyncicova and Ane Johnsen, New Hampshire’s Annika Taylor, Vermont’s M.K. Cirelli and Utah’s Anna-Lena Heynen.
Meanwhile, the men’s race also had an incredible finish, with four skiers coming to the final straightaway with a chance to claim victory. Though Aku Nikander from New Mexico held a lead in the final 5k, he was caught by Schwencke, two-time defending classic national champion Rune Oedegaard from Colorado, and his Buffalo teammate Mads Stroem. As the foursome came down the final 35-meter stretch with Schwencke in front, Oedegaard suffered a fall after planting his pole on Nikander’s ski, colliding with the Lobos standout and knocking them off the trail. Schwencke glided to the finish for the national title before celebrating with his teammates and coaches, followed by Stroem, Oedegaard and Nikander, respectively.
“It feels amazing. It was a good race, there was a good pace going with four guys at the very end for the win,” Schwencke said. “I had great skis and I want to thank my coaches for that. I came in hoping to do well and fight for the win. I felt pretty confident and saved as much energy as possible, I went for it in the last turn and it worked out just as I hoped.”
Utah’s Niklas Persson rounded out the first team All-Americans, while Clement Molliet from Alaska Anchorage, Kyle Bratrud of Northern Michigan, Moritz Madlener of Denver, Joergen Grav of Vermont and Wednesday’s national champion Patrick Caldwell of Dartmouth earned second team honors in the top 10.
Release courtesy of St. Lawrence Athletics