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NCAA Championships Recap

by Mary Kozloski
March 13, 2017

JACKSON, New Hampshire (March 9-11, 2017) - 80 of the top men and women collegiate skiers from around the nation, met at the Jackson Ski Touring Center to compete for the coveted 2017 NCAA Champion and All American titles. After hours of intense year round training and competitive regional qualifying races; NCAAs is the final stop for collegiate skiers, where everyone’s hard work is put to the test. Competition kicked off Thursday with 5/10k individual classic races and concluded Saturday with a 15/20k freestyle mass start. Minnesota native and University of Vermont athlete, Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, MN), who has been dominating the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) conference all season, didn’t let up her intensity while securing two outstanding podium finishes - third in the 5k classic and second in the 15k freestyle mass start. Not only did Sonnesyn have strong NCAA races, Minnesota natives Vivian Hett (Burnsville, MN, Northern Michigan University) and Luke Brown (St. Paul, MN, Dartmouth) grabbed top ten finishes, while Wisconsin natives Adam Martin (Wausau, WI, NMU) and Kevin Bolger (Minocqua, WI, University of Utah) also secured top ten finishes.

“I am so happy with both of my races,” an excited Alayna Sonnesyn said. “I am still a little in shock about each race!”

In the women’s 5k individual classic Colorado University’s Petra Hyncicova skied to a convincing NCAA title, finishing 19.3 seconds ahead of University of Utah’s Merete Myrseth. The intense fight for second place between Myrseth and the University of Vermont’s Alayna Sonnesyn, was determined by just 1.1 second. Myrseth had the final burst of energy to snag second from Sonnesyn. NMU’s Vivian Hett finished sixth, just 3.2 seconds out of the top five, while Minnesota native and NMU skier, Nicole Schneider (Wayzata, MN) finished 12th.

“I knew the 5k was going to be fast and I would need to push it right from the start and not really let up for a few kilometers,” explained Sonnesyn. “That's what I did and I felt so good that it worked!”

“I'm very happy with how my races went at NCAAs,” said Vivian Hett. “My goal for the classic race was a top 10 and I'm excited to have accomplished that goal. The snow conditions were tough with a little blizzard occurring about an hour before the race. Throughout the whole race, I was receiving splits that I was sitting around 8-10th place. When I went down that last hill, I knew I had to go for it if I wanted to get into the top 10. Coming out of the woods and into the finish, I don't think I have ever double poled faster. As soon as I crossed the finish line and the announcer said I placed 6th, I knew I had finally reached my goal and immediately started crying.”

In the men’s 10k individual classic, the University of Utah’s Martin Bergstroem finished 26.8 seconds ahead of Denver University’s Dag Trolleboe to claim the 2017 NCAA 10k classic title, while the University of Utah’s Martin Mikkelsen finished third. NMU’s Adam Martin finished seventh just behind teammate Fredrik Schwencke who was sixth.

“The classic race was my best distance classic of the season so I was super thankful that it was at NCAAs” said Luke Brown. “My legs felt really good going into the classic race and I had spent a bunch of time getting to know the ins and outs of the course which paid off. It was a bit difficult skiing in klister conditions and with the track getting washed out a lot so I tried to stay relaxed and ski strong but smooth. Skis were great. I was an early starter but got good splits from my coaches along with many others who were cheering me on and was pumped to get 14th!”

The final competition of the 2017 NCAAs was a 15/20k freestyle mass start. In the women’s race, the University of Colorado’s Petra Hyncicova secured her second 2017 NCAA title. Hyncicova skied to yet another convincing win, 21.1 seconds ahead of Alayna Sonnesyn, University of Vermont, and the University of Colorado’s Christina Rolandsen, who was third.

“In the 15k I knew I didn't want to lead too much because it was so windy that day,” explained Sonnesyn. “This plan worked until the second lap when I found myself with one other girl after breaking away from the field and she had me step in front. I tried to push it so the other girls wouldn't catch us and then just tried to hang on as long as I could.”

“With the Skate race on Saturday, I can say that I have never raced on such tricky conditions before,” said Vivian Hett. “The temperature dropped Friday night into race morning, making the trail extremely fast and many turns became icy. Unfortunately I had a bad crash at the end of the first lap in which someone hit my head but no equipment was broken and I slowly moved my way up. I'm happy with the results based on these circumstances. Overall, NMU had a great finish this year at NCAAs. Our team placed 4th overall in the Nordic category which I think we are all excited about!”

The men’s 20k was an extremely close race, where a photo finish determined the 2017 NCAA Champion and first through fifth place were less than two seconds apart. The University of Utah’s Martin Bergstroem and the University of Colorado’s Mads Stroem were neck-and-neck in the final stretch but it was Bergstroem who was able to lunge a little bit further than Stroem to win his second 2017 NCAA Champion title by a toe, while Denver University’s Moritz Madlener was third. NMU’s Adam Martin was in the mix and finished sixth while Luke Brown and Kevin Bolger were ninth and tenth.

“Coming into the championships, I had high hopes, so I was disappointed not to put together my best races,” said Adam Martin. “But I have a tremendous amount of respect for the level that the top 5 guys were skiing at, and it was cool to have such high quality competition.”

“I've been a better skater all year so had confidence but high expectations going into the 20km, said Luke Brown. “I had an awesome starting position which helped me out since I naturally start slow. Dropped back a ways on the first lap but felt great and had fast skis so just tried to be smart as I picked the best places to move up through the pack. The course was very narrow and somewhat icy in places so it was a little dicey. As the pack split up I saw my teammate Fabian was right with the leaders which pumped me up! Just tried to hammer that last lap and was fortunate that some Utah guys had fallen off the fast pace which left an opportunity for me to slip into the top 10. I got into sprinter mode for the end, and got one of the Utes and lost to the other and importantly remembers to Moose-it over the line. I'm super blessed that skis, health, energy, mindset, and race tactics came together for me at the championship races! Go Big Green.”

Results

Men’s 10k Classic

Women’s 5k Classic

Men’s 20k Freestyle

Women’s 15k Freestyle


Coverage

NCAA Championships: Classical Coverage
March 9, 2017
The NCAA Championships Nordic skiing held their classical races on Thursday at Jackson Touring Center in New Hampshire. Minnesota native Alayna Sonnesyn, Univ of Vermont, skied herself onto the podium with a third place first (first American)! Vivian Hett, NMU, was the top skier from the Midwest region, finishing 6th (2nd American). The womens champion was Petra Hyncicova of Colorado Univ. In the mens 10K, Fredrik Schwencke, NMU, was the top Midwest finisher taking 6th, and teammate Adam Martin, was 7th and the top American. Martin Bergstroem, Univ of Utah, was the mens champion. Results linked in, along with full photosets from both races.


NCAA Championships: Freestyle Coverage
March 11, 2017
The NCAA Championships concluded on Saturday under some bitter cold conditions with a pair of freestyle mass start races at Jackon Ski Touring Center in Jackson, NH. Alayna Sonnesyn of Plymouth, MN, and Univ of Vermont, was once again the star on the day, skiing a strong race and hanging on in the womens 15K race until it became a race of just two, with Petra Hyncicova, Univ of Colorado, opening up the winning gap on the climb to the high point on the final lap, and winning by just over 20 seconds with Sonnesyn second, and Hyncicova teammate Christina Rolandsen taking third. The mens 20K came down to a five man pack sprint finish with Martin Bergstroem, Univ of Utah taking the victory, Mads Ek Stroem, Univ of Colorado, second and Moritz Madlener, Denver Univ, third. Adam Martin of NMU just lost contact with the lead pack and finished 6th. Other top Midwest results: Nichole Bathe, Univ of Alaska-Fairbanks, 12th; Kris Bourne, NMU, 13th; Luke Brown, Dartmouth, 9th; Kevin Bolger, Univ of Utah, 10th; Tom Bye, Michigan Tech, 14th. Results along with big photosets posted.
Related:
2017 Championship: Freestyle Recap
Northern Michigan's Martin Receives NCAA Skiing Elite 90 Award

Thanks to all the individuals, organizations and some major underwriting from CXCMaplelag and LNR that helped make the coverage possible!


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