Forty years in the making: Tahoe hosts NCAA Skiing Championships
On March 11-13, the 51st NCAA Skiing Championships took place in the region it was introduced in 1954, when Slide Mountain and Sky Tavern hosted the inaugural event.
And for the first time since 1962, the top NCAA skiers in the country came to the Tahoe region – this time to Auburn Ski Club and Sugar Bowl. It was the third National Championships hosted by University of Nevada, Reno, and it has not been hosted in this region since Squaw Valley was the venue over 40 years ago.
The Race Organizers at Donner Summit’s Auburn Ski Club Training Center bid for the NCAA Nordic Nationals last spring after learning the site had been awarded the High Profile Junior National Championships for 2005.
The alpine discipline of the NCAA championships was held at nearby Sugar Bowl Ski Area, consisting of a Giant Slalom and Slalom competition. Host Nevada ended the weekend in ninth place with 383 points.
On Saturday, New Mexico claimed its first NCAA championship in any sport, overtaking Denver, which led after the first two days of competition. The Lobos took the lead after Friday’s men’s and women’s slalom events and ended competition with 623 points, better than second-place Utah’s 581 and third-place Denver’s 568. Utah was the defending 2003 champions.
In Nevada’s Nordic action, junior Jesse Carlstrom made All-America status with his eighth-place finish in 53:40.5 in the 20K Classical race. UNR’s Sari Tuovinen was ninth in the women’s 15K Classical race (53:53). Jessica Ford, also a UNR skier, grew up in Lee Vining, Calif., and raced for Far West Nordic for many years. Ford enjoyed her best race of her career on Saturday in the Classical, finishing 14th (54:43.9).
In the alpine races at Sugar Bowl, UNR’s Quincy Young, a Truckee native and 2000 graduate of Truckee High School, finished 17th in the women’s slalom and 28th in the slalom.
Besides locals who represented UNR, there were other familiar faces skiing for Reno’s rivals this weekend.
Zach Violett, who made a name for himself training in the Tahoe area before he moved on to the University of Alaska-Anchorage, earned a fourth-place come-from-behind finish in the men’s 20K Classical Nordic race for the top American finish of the competition. He also finished seventh in the men’s 10K Freestyle Technique.
Violett is a former Far West junior skier, and his younger brother and sister both went to the Junior Olympics competition this year. Violett grew up in Brownsville, Calif., (north of Nevada City) and has trained at Auburn Ski Club and Royal Gorge for many years. He has become one of the top younger skiers in the entire country, as evidenced by some of his top times in U.S. Nationals and this season’s college races, especially in classic technique events.
Emily Robins, also a cross country skier, grew up in Tahoe City and was a Far West junior skier as a teenager. She has been attending Montana State University for the past few years and has developed into a top skier in the program. Robins finished 18th in the Skate competition and 18th in the Classical, proving her consistency as a solid Nordic skier.
April Mancuso, a Squaw Valley native and a graduate of North Tahoe High School, competed for Utah’s alpine team, finishing sixth in the women’s Giant Slalom and eighth in the Slalom.
Rounding out the top five, Colorado was fourth with 564 points and Vermont fifth with 533.5.
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As seniors from North Tahoe collected diplomas this week, a group of Lakers continued another local tradition — capturing first place at the boys’ regional golf championship.