MSU sent a full 12-member team to represent at the Nordic and Alpine NCAA championships at the Park City and Midway venues in Utah. On the men’s side for Alpine, freshman David Neuhauser had the best showing in the slalom races, placing 12th. Behind him was senior Ryan McConnell who placed 23rd and junior David Owsley in 29th.
Coach Kevin Francis said post race, “David wasn’t very fast in the first run. However, he came down the second run and skied much better. As a freshman, he is still learning every day, but we are really impressed with him and feel that he will be a big part of our team’s future.” He added additional comments on McConnell, “Ryan skied his heart out today. He did awesome.”
The giant slalom events finished with McConnell in 25th, Owsley in 28th and Neuhauser in 30th.
Senior teammate Emily Danza commented on the events, saying, “Skiing is such a unique and random sport; anything can happen in your run. It isn’t necessarily who is the best throughout the season, it’s who lucks out during that one race, sometimes it even takes one run.”
The men’s nordic team was met with subpar ski conditions as they started last in sequence of the classic race. According to coach Grete Hagensen, “The MSU Nordic men skied very well. Unfortunately, they started last and due to the change in snow conditions, did not have a chance. The top men started their second lap when our men started their first. The winner skied his second lap 1:15 slower than his first. I think that says it all.”
Junior Sawyer Kesselheim from the men’s side said, “I felt that the team had a solid performance but had some unfortunate things happen, such as crashing and having tough start positions. Individually I was happy with my performance and felt that I was peaking at the right time.”
The women’s nordic team posted excellent results in the 5k classic race with senior Jessica Yeaton placing fifth and winning All-America honors in her race. Junior Annie Liotta was 27th and senior Kate Backstrum was 37th. In the 15k freestyle race, Liotta placed 14th, Yeaton placed 15th, and Backstrum placed 24th.
The Alpine women’s team was led by junior Steph Irwin in giant slalom who placed 17th, with Emily Danza in 25th. Senior Kelly McBroom was in podium standing after her first run, but due to spring conditions and poor snow, slipped out in her second run. As for slalom, McBroom, Danza and Irwin placed 16th, 18th and 22nd, respectively.
Irwin said post-race, “I think in general everyone skied well, the conditions were very spring-like and difficult for racing. It definitely showed in the results, as skiers were coming down almost according to bib order, or deteriorating conditions. All-in-all, everyone skied well and had fun. The team’s potential is always greater than the results show.”
Danza added, “Individually, I had some of the best skiing I’ve done all season and maybe in my career. I am so excited to see this team have a day where everything falls into place and they end up at the top. We have great coaches and athletes that make for a very successful and accomplished team.”