Stowe, VT– On the last day of the 2019 NCAA Skiing Championships, not only was the sun shining, (a miracle in its own right), but the passion, energy and love for sport which surrounds college skiing was also out. In a big way.
First, a few highlights from the day. After leading first run, Laurence St. Germain of UVM took home her second win of the series by an astounding 2.58 seconds over Roni Remme from Utah. Jett Seymour, a Sophomore at DU, won the men’s side by an also impressive .67 seconds over Liam Wallace from University of Alaska. Seymour trailed Tanguy Nef from Dartmouth on the first run, who ended up straddling early in the second run, which gave Seymour the win. The University of Utah brought home the overall win, amassing 530.5 total points over the University of Vermont in second (476), and the University of Colorado Boulder in third (455).
Coming off a strong season skiing World Cup Slalom, Laurence St. Germain was definitely a top contender going into Saturday’s race. Despite her familiarity of skiing on big stages, St. Germain said that she had never been more nervous in her life than she was before second run.
“I knew I had a big lead, but in slalom anything can happen, so I knew I still needed to attack to maintain my lead” she said. “I just kept telling myself that it’s better if I make a mistake and attack than skiing safe.”
This is St. Germain’s last year skiing for the Catamounts, and she’s heading to Andorra to represent Canada in World Cup Finals in the coming days. When asked what she’ll miss most about college skiing, she replied that she will miss the team aspect of college skiing the most.
On the men’s side, Jett Seymour has had an equally impressive season, coming off a recent 10th place at the Slalom in World Junior Championships held in Val di Fassa, Italy. Seymour has had incredible results at Stowe in the past, including his first Nor-Am win during the 2016-17 season.
“The vibes at the hill today were awesome” he said. “I think it was the most beautiful day the East Coast has ever had, and it was such an amazing feeling coming down with the lead and hearing the crowd. Our team was basically out of winning unless we went 1, 2, 3 on both and the guys side, so I felt zero pressure. It was really different for me to race with nothing to lose and watch the other teams with lots to lose, which helped me handle the pressure and just send it on second run,” Seymour said.
NCAA Championships are unique from most other championship sporting events in the sense that a team essentially could walk away with no individual title-holders, and still win. They have to just do enough to accumulate more points. In some sense, this could create less pressure for individuals. In other words, thinking ‘I don’t have to win, just be pretty far up there,’ is sometimes less pressure than thinking solely about winning. But in another sense, having such acute awareness about the impact of one’s points, even if they do come from tenth place, is much more pressure than another ski race, as individual results impact a far greater number of people. No team better encapsulates the nerves of “doing just enough” than Utah.
“Going into the last day I was really nervous,” said Utes coach JJ Johnson. Utah had approximately 65 points over the University of Colorado on the third day. “It’s funny, I think our whole team understood the pressure that was on us because we had the lead from the Nordic races the day before, but the focus was really, really there. But we knew we didn’t have to do anything crazy, we just needed to do enough” he said.
The Utes did just that. On the women’s side, Roni Remme came 2nd to St. Germain, followed by Eirin Engeset in 20th and Kristina Aasberg in 21st. On the Men’s side, they had Mark Engel in 9th, Joachim Lein in 15th, and Addison Dvoracek in 23rd.
“I was so proud of my team today,” Johnson said. After coming off many years coaching with the U.S. Ski Team he said his team’s win is tops.
“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had as a coach. More than any other success I’ve had with groups on the U.S. Ski Team, it was incredible to see how much this group meant to one another. They cared so much to win for one another, and put away individual glory in order for the team to do well,” he said.
“NCCAs are a really special event” Johnson continued. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Seeing the difference of nerves even from people who have raced the Olympics and World Cups just shows how big a difference the team aspect makes.”
The NCAA Championships mark the wrap-up for college skiing this year, but you can bet on seeing these athletes skiing fast in final races of the season. Up next are being Nor-Am finals at Burke and Stowe March 12-15.