Eliska Hajkova drives toward
the win in 15k classic.
Buff Vegard Kjoelhamar en route to a double first-team All-American performance.
start earlier in the morning, Pletcher hung with the race’s lead pack for 19
kilometers, then sprung and maintained a solitary break in the final kilometer to the finish. It was a thrilling conclusion to 2011’s NCAA nordic races,
especially for Pletcher, whose opening race was disappointing.
“I’ve had a great season, and I had a really hard time with Wednesday’s
result because I felt good but ended up 23rd,” said Pletcher after his win.
“I’ve barely slept the past couple days trying to figure out what happened ...
But whatever went wrong on Wednesday all went right today.”
What Happened to the Cats?
Vermont’s Catamounts arrived at the 2011 Champs with a lot going for
them: epic point-tallies in five EISA wins and a 12-skier team filled with reg-
ular-season race winners. Plus, they were hosting at the same venues at
which their skiers won all eight races at the UVM Carnival a month earlier.
Vermont’s sixth-place finish at NCAAs cannot be described as anything
other than a bummer.
But as Colorado’s Rokos said, the difference between a good week and
a bad one at NCAAs often comes down to a little luck and alpine finishes.
Before the races even started, the UVM nordic squad was whacked with
the flu (after the women’s 15K classic, one could literally hear Caitlin Pat-
terson’s lungs rattling), sturdy alpiners who won all season long suddenly
couldn’t find the finish beam, and the Cats were somehow looking to next
year before the races were half over.
One Ski Racing reader asked if we still felt good about Vermont’s spend-
ing the season at No. 1 in the Power Rankings. The answer? Absolutely.
First, the numbers show the Catamounts had the best regular season in
the country — unequivocally. Second, UVM’s cards yielded a disappoint-
ing hand with bad luck and sickness at NCAAs, but its skiers still somehow
showed they had every bit the pace of the west’s best: Kate Ryley was the
only alpiner (male or female) who raced to a pair of first-team All-American
accolades; Kevin Drury sparked a second-place result in men’s GS; Tim
Kelley became the first Cat to win the men’s slalom title since1992 (a race
in which he trailed teammate Nordbotten by almost a second in the first
run, only to watch him hike in the second); and Lyndee Janowiak, Lucy
Garrec, the Patterson siblings, and Amy Glen all collected All-American
When proceedings came to a close, it was a wire-to-wire win for the Buffs,
who accrued the highest number of points in the three-year history of
NCAA’s current scoring format (831 points) and notched the fifth largest
margin of victory (80.5 points) in 58 years of skiing championships.
And it must be said that, for whatever misfortune other teams faced, CU en-
dured way more than its fair share of hardship: Spencer Nelson’s passing;
season-ending injury to super-fast captain Katie Hartman; a two-van wreck
on the way to training at Eldora in February; concussions; and more.
Yep, in the face of adversity, consistent Colorado time and again proved
it was more resilient and had more depth than all other comers — undeni-
ably deserving champs.
MARK COLLIER; UVM
In the last issue of Ski Racing, we spotlighted
three academic superstars who competed at
this year’s NCAA Skiing Championships. Add
Vermont junior Amy Glen to the top of that list.
At a March 8 banquet on the eve of the opening races, officials presented Glen with the Elite
88 award, NCAA’s highest honor for academic
and athletic achievement. The award is given
to the “student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the
finals site for each of the NCAA’s 88 championships.” Moreover, according to NCAA, eligible
student-athletes must be at least sophomores
and all cumulative GPA ties are broken by number of courses completed.
Glen, at UVM by way of Anchorage, Alaska,
carries a 4.0 GPA as a biology major. In addition to building a stellar academic career, Glen
competed for the U.S. at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Estonia and earned All-American honors at this year’s NCAAs in the
Following teammate Caitlin Patterson in 2010,
Glen is the second Catamount in a row to win
the award at NCAA’s skiing champs.