STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Another beautiful day at the NCAA Skiing Championships, another Dartmouth individual champion.
Freshman Katharine Ogden crushed the field in the women’s 5K Classic on the second day of competition at the NCAAs, winning the race by nearly 47 seconds to give the Big Green their second individual champion in as many days and first-ever female champion in cross country skiing. Three other Dartmouth skiers finished in the top 10 to earn a spot on the All-America Second Team, allowing the Green to climb one spot in the team standings into fourth with 217.5 points.
Host Colorado took the overall lead as the Buffaloes won the women’s race, beating out Dartmouth, 84-72, with its three skiers among the top 11, and placed third in the men’s 10K Classic, reaching the midpoint of the championships with 276 points. Denver is in second just nine points back, while Utah is third with 235. Yesterday’s leader, Vermont, dropped back into fifth with 162 points.
Under clear blue skies and on top of terrific snow, the women began the day at 9 a.m. local time at Howelsen Hill with an interval start (30 seconds between skiers) for their 5K. Junior Lydia Blanchet was the first Big Green skier to hit the course, starting 27th out of the 40 in the field, followed by Ogden and sophomore Lauren Jortberg, a second-team All-American in this event last year.
With just one lap to complete the race, all skiers were pushing hard, and catching up to a skier is a helpful indicator as to how well one is doing. Blanchet did just that, crossing the tape at essentially the same time as Northern Michigan’s Nicole Schneider, but Ogden — featuring her bright pink hair from the Dartmouth Carnival a month ago — wasn’t too far behind. One could excuse the fans on hand for doing a double-take at the scoreboard when her time flashed at 14:47.2, which was more than 50 seconds better than anyone to that point.
The skier that launched prior to Ogden, Anne Siri Lervik of Colorado, snuck ahead of Hailey Swirbul of Alaska Anchorage to claim second place, but was still well behind in 15:34.1. Jortberg, one of the last skiers to start, passed the skier in front of her but settled for 21st place in 16:29.0. There was a little trouble in determining Blanchet’s time, which was originally recorded as over 17 minutes. But the snafu was sorted out in the final, official results as she took ninth in 15:57.8 to earn second-team All-America honors for the first time in her career.
“There isn’t much more to say about Katharine’s performance today other than she absolutely crushed it!” the Dartmouth Director of Skiing and women’s Nordic head coach Cami Thompson Graves said after the race. “It was such a treat to watch her perform so well.”
The men took to the course at 11 a.m. with junior Gavin McEwen eighth out of the chute, senior Callan DeLine 27th and fellow senior Luke Brown 33rd. By the end of the first 5K loop, DeLine had one of the six best times with a split of 13:50. Brown found himself mired in the middle of the pace in 18th at 14:18, while McEwen was in a large pack of skiers between 14:30 and 14:40 in 34th place.
DeLine was able maintain his pace on the second lap, and when he crossed the tape, he had the fastest time (28:33.6) for a fleeting few moments. Colorado’s Peter Reistad was the first to beat DeLine out, but it was the favorite, Utah’s Martin Bergstroem, who successfully defended his title and won his third straight NCAA race in 27:37.1, 8.5 seconds ahead of Reistad, with two Denver skiers finishing 3-4. Northern Michigan’s Ian Torchia then edged out DeLine, who settled for sixth to earn All-America honors for the first time in his Big Green career.
Meanwhile, Brown was making a mad dash up the standings, posting the fourth-fastest time on the second lap to climb from his split in 18th all the way into ninth with a time of 28:38.6, joining DeLine on the All-America second team, one year after finishing ninth in the freestyle race. McEwen, making his NCAA debut, moved up two spots in the standings to 32nd in 30:01.3.
With the two All-America performances, Dartmouth amassed 49 points, placing fifth in the event behind Denver (73), Utah (69), Colorado (62) and Northern Michigan (53). DeLine and Brown were the only two skiers from the East to finish among the top 10, while Northern Michigan had a pair to represent the Central region.
The slalom is up next at the NCAA Skiing Championships, which will be skied under the lights tomorrow night at Howelsen Hill beginning at 9 p.m. (EST).
Notes: The only other two Dartmouth women to win an NCAA skiing title are Anouk Patty (1988) and Jen Collins (1996), both of whom won the giant slalom … this is the first year since 1988 that the Big Green have two individual champions (Tom Foote and Patty won the men’s and women’s GS that year) … prior to that, one has to go back to 1962 for two titles, both of which were won by James Page in the now-defunct events of cross country and skimeister … only once has Dartmouth had three different skiers win an individual title in one year, that coming 60 years ago with Robert Gebhardt (slalom), Dave Harwood (skimeister) and Dave Vorst (alpine) … the most titles at one championship for the Big Green came the year prior with Ralph Miller winning three events and Chiharu Igaya claiming the sixth crown of his career, still an NCAA record.