Photo courtesy of Evan Wang
The RMISA Championships featured one slalom and two GS races at Steamboat Wednesday through Friday of last week. Four of the six races were won by a Westminster athlete, but Utah maintained its lead in the overall team standings.
The men and women had mixed reviews on the snow and weather conditions for the GS. As they mentioned last week, the men and women typically share a GS course at these races, which has the potential to impact their experiences.
The women’s GS was won by Julia Toiviainen, who is a junior at Westminster, on Wednesday by nearly half a second. This was her first NCAA win of the season, though she has had a couple podiums.
Toivainen shared the podium with Emma Hammergaard and Kaja Norbye who were 0.48 and 0.49 out, respectively. Hammergaard is a junior at the University of Colorado while Norbye is a Utah freshman. This was Hammergaard’s first NCAA podium of the season and Norbye’s fourth.
The women thought the snow quality was good. “The conditions on the GS race were awesome. There was basically no tracks on the second run, which made it easier for me to make a good run down,” said Toivainen.
Norbye agreed, calling the conditions “really solid.”
After her successful race, Toiviainen is now tied with two other women for the No. 1 spot in the GS rankings.
Freshman year can be a tough season for many and experiencing a new country often adds another layer of difficulty. Despite her solid fourth position in the GS rankings, these factors have had an impact on Norbye’s freshman season.
“This is my first season in the US, and I have found it quite difficult to adapt to the snow over here, especially in slalom,” she said, “It is very different than in Europe, but I am slowly starting to figure it out and I had a great day yesterday in Steamboat.”
The top ranked GS women are: 1. Nellie Talbot (MSU); 1. Julia Toiviainen (WMC); 1. Katie Hensien (DU); 4. Kaja Norbye (UU); 5. Galena Wardle (DU); 5. Madison Hoffman (UU).
The men’s GS was also won by a Westminster skier. Tobias Kogler snagged his second consecutive NCAA GS win and third consecutive GS podium. Utah’s Oliver Parazette was 0.41 behind him in second place, and Denver’s Trey Seymour finished in third place, just under a second off the pace of Kogler.
Changing conditions are something that ski racers are forced to adapt to frequently, this race was no different. According to Parazette, it was beneficial to run early in the second run for the men due to weather and snow.
“Conditions were definitely poor,” said Parazette. “Not only was the snow soft, but there was a lot of fog that rolled through for second run, it was even snowing for some of it. Although there was a pretty big advantage to those running early on second run, at the end of the day it was still a ski race.”
All of the top-five ranked men in GS represent different schools. The top five are: 1. Tobias Kogler (DU); 1. Riley Seger (MSU); 3. Filip Forejtek (CU); 3. Joachim Lien (UU); 5. Mikkel Solbakken (WMC).
The weather was better for the slalom races that occurred on Thursday and Friday. Early racers experienced some softer snow on top of the injected surface, but the athletes eventually got down to the more-solid surface.
Denise Dingsleder (WMC) won the first women’s slalom by 0.39. Kristiane Bekkestad (MSU) finished in second, and there was a tie for third place between Madeline Dekko and Kaitlyn Vesterstein (Utah), who were 0.99 seconds off of Dingsleder.
Dekko formerly raced for Williams College in the East, and is not a current student at any RMISA school; therefore do not affect the NCAA rankings.
The second slalom race was the first women’s race to not be won by a Westminster skier. Montana’s Kristiane Bekkestad claimed first place by 0.25 seconds. Westminster skiers, Evelina Fredricsson and Denise Dingsleder, finished in second and third, respectively. Fredricsson was 0.37 out of first place.
The men’s slalom podiums were completely different between the two days.
The Westminster men went 1-2 in the first slalom with Francesco Gori in first and Mikkel Solbakken in second. Solbakken was only 0.12 seconds off of his teammate. Rounding out the podium was Gustav Rosber Voello, a Utah skier.
Friday’s podium saw Wilhelm Normannseth, a Utah skier, on top by a solid margin of 0.61 seconds. Leon Nikic from Alaska Anchorage finished in second place and Colorado’s Louis Gustave Fausa finished in third, 1.17 seconds out.
This was Nikic’s best result of the NCAA season. It was also the first podium of Fausa’s NCAA career.
The teams NCAA Championships will be announced on March, 1.