As NCAA teams contend with additional alpine teams, shorter rosters, and
a nordic quest to stay healthy, the 2012 title could be the most hotly con-
tested in history BY C.J. FEEHAN
The triumphant Buffaloes in 2011.
Thinking back to the tough, inclement conditions of March 12, 2011, at Stowe Mountain
Resort, where the University of Colorado claimed its 17th recognized national title, has
been a kinder memory for some NCAA ski teams than others.
For starters, there was the mighty Colorado squad that rallied around the spirit of late teammate Spencer Nelson to demonstrate unequivocal superiority across all events. Then there
was the surprise podium for Dartmouth College, whose sophomore cross country standout,
Sam Tarling, skated his way to a national title. But the memories are more sour than sweet
for the University of Denver, which had high hopes and a legitimate chance of securing a
fourth championship in a row, only to dwindle into fifth. Top-seeded Vermont — which dominated the EISA circuit all winter long with record-smashing success — also came up short on
its home turf, much to the dismay of their Catamount fans.
The unique nature of NCAA team scoring in ski racing has long valued the accumulation
of consistent, individual successes. But with more athletes using NCAA competition as a
springboard to U.S. Ski Team nominations (Seppi Stiegler of Denver, Robby Kelley of UVM,
Ace Tarberry of Dartmouth, and Rob Cone of Middlebury; all this year), individual performances above and beyond team contributions are being rewarded by the national governing
body in ways unseen for many years.
Former NCAA stars like Warner Nickerson, Charles Christianson, and Ida Sargent have secured World Cup starts after the conclusions of their collegiate careers. Even current NCAA
athletes — Catamounts Elli Terwiel of Canada and Jonathan Nordbotten of Norway — competed in the Aspen and Beaver Creek World Cups for their respective national teams this November. “Our top athletes are winning NorAms and racing in World Cups,” says Denver head
alpine coach Andy LeRoy of the current level of competition in NCAA racing nationwide.
The level of competition isn’t the only thing increasing. Past funding trends that saw a decline in the number of schools fielding NCAA ski teams may finally be on the reverse. Newcomers to the scene include the all-alpine teams of Colorado Mountain College to the RMISA
and Boston College, Colby-Sawyer College, and Plymouth State University to the EISA.