SkiRacing.com APRIL 7, 2011 | 38
strength and I was able to [open up a gap] and lead into the finish.”
Coach Cranmer knew his athlete had just dropped a heavy burden, too.
“Even though Eliska won both races at the regional championships a couple
weeks ago, she still gets very frustrated by Maria beating her,” said Cranmer
after the final race. “Eliska was stronger today and I’m very happy for her and
for the rest of our team.”
Hajkova’s teammate Joann Reid was also a first-team All-American in both
events, finishing third in the 5K free and fifth in the 15K classic; and CU’s
Vegard Kjoelhamar was the only male from any school to earn first-team All-American honors in both nordic races, finishing second in the 10K free and
third in the 20K classic. Impressive performances, surely, but still another
Buff made American skiing history.
Dating back more than 35 years to 1976, only six American men have won in-
dividual NCAA cross country skiing titles. Two of those men, Colorado’s Reid
Pletcher and Dartmouth’s Sam Tarling, did it in 2011 — the first time American
men have won both nordic titles in the same year over the aforementioned
On March 9, the sterling-weather opening day of the champs, Tarling’s victory
in the individual start 10K free may have surprised some from the West, but for
those paying attention to Eastern races, it wasn’t so much a surprise as it was
the sublime cap to a stellar season. At EISA races in which he started, Tarling
was mostly on the podium, never worse than fifth, and won both nordic races at
the 100th Dartmouth College Carnival in February.
“I can’t explain it; it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said an understandably elated Tarling after his NCAA victory. “The double victory at the Dartmouth Carnival was
the highlight of my year — incredible to win in front of the home crowd — but
this tops that, for sure. My plan was to go out pretty hard without emptying the
tank and hopefully pull back more time in the second lap, which was mostly how
it worked out.”
Pletcher’s 20K victory at the March 11 mass start classic races occurred in the
wettest conditions imaginable, but nevertheless loads of spectators lined the
trails. Perhaps Pletcher also surprised a few folks that day, but like Tarling, he’d
shown championship form leading into NCAAs, notching his first-ever college
victory at the Denver Invitational in February.
Jumping on the exact same pair of skis Hajkova used to win the ladies’ mass UAA’s Erik Bjornsen leads the 20K classic.
2011 NCAA Skiing
CU’s Reid Pletcher makes
history in the 20K classic.