Catamounts Finish as National Runner-Up at NCAA Ski Championships
- By Lisa A. Champagne
The Vermont Catamounts entered the final day of the NCAA Ski Championships in fifth place. Strong performances by the women's alpine and Nordic teams vaulted UVM into second place. The Catamounts finished as the national runner-up with 487.5 points, 68.5 points behind national champion Denver (556 points). The Pioneers won national title for the 22nd time in program history. New Mexico rounded out the team podium with 458.5 points.
The Vermont women's alpine team swept the slalom podium. The third time was the charm for Kristina Riis-Johannessen. The national runner-up the past two seasons in the slalom, she had the fastest time down the mountain during the first run (48.21) and finished with a two-run total of 1:37.89 to win her first NCAA National Championship.
Teammate Kate Ryley, the 2012 national champ in the slalom, had the fastest time during the second run (49.48) and finished second overall, behind her teammate Riis-Johannessen, with a time of 1:38.24. Ryley finishes her collegiate racing career having been on the podium 40 times. Elise Tefre, making her NCAA debut, rounded out the Catamount podium. She finished third with a time of 1:39.93.
Vermont had the ninth podium sweep all-time and the second in an alpine event in NCAA Skiing Championship history. The Catamounts had done it once before in 1989 when they swept the top four spots in the women's 15K freestyle. The last alpine 1-2-3 finish was by Wyoming in 1985.
"I'm just so happy right now," said Riis-Johannessen. "I just knew that I had to crush that second run. I knew I had to step it up and have a really good run, but having my teammates on the podium with me is just unbelievable, and I'm so happy. It was a great team effort today by everyone. It was an awesome day."
In the men's slalom, Denver took to the top two spots. Espen Lysdahl posted the fastest combined time of 1:53.54 to win the race. Teammate Trevor Philp was second (1:54.11) and Vermont's Jonathan Nordbotten rounded out the podium, finishing third with a time of 1:54.89. It marked his 25th podium appearance in his final collegiate race.