For the fifth time in school history, Middlebury College will be the host site for the NCAA Skiing Championships. The Panthers will host the 60th annual event from March 6-9, 2013, with alpine events taking place at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, and nordic events being contested at the Rikert Nordic Center. Middlebury previously hosted the event in 1961, 1973, 1988 and 2001.
Action begins on Wednesday, March 6th with the men’s and women giant slalom events at 8:30 a.m. Nordic racing starts on Thursday with the men’s 10K classic at 10:00 a.m., followed by the women’s 5K classic at noon. Action returns to the Snow Bowl on Friday with the men’s and women’s slalom races beginning at 9:00 a.m. The final day of the championship will feature the women’s 15K freestyle mass start race at Rikert (10:00 a.m.), with the men’s 20K to follow at noon.
Middlebury qualified a full slate of alpine men and nordic women for the event. Seniors David Donaldson (Toronto, Ont.) and Andrew McNealus (Woodstock, Vt.) along with junior Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) will represent the men’s alpine team, which won the title in the GS a year ago. Sophomore Mary Sackbauer (Vail, Colo.) has qualified for the Panther women.
Sophomores Annie Pokorny (Spokane, Wash.) and Heather Mooney (Peru, Vt.) will represent the nordic women, along with first-year athlete Kelsey Phinney (Boulder, Colo.). Juniors Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) and Austin Cobb (Peru, Vt.) will compete for the men.
Middlebury finished fourth in four of six carnivals this season, earning season-best second-place finishes at Dartmouth and Middlebury. Donaldson recently earned the EISA Leader Bib award as the top alpine racer in the giant slalom this season, while alpine assistant coach Abby Copeland was named the EISA Alpine Coach of the Year.
Donaldson dominated the giant slalom event this carnival season, winning five of the six events. He won the first four races of the season, before earning a third place finish at the Middlebury Carnival. The senior came back strong at the EISA Championships at Bates, taking home the top spot once again. He also had a solid season in the slalom, earning a win at St. Lawrence and a second place finish at Colby.
McNealus earned three third place finishes this season, including the slalom event at the Middlebury Carnival. His other top finishes were in the GS races at St. Lawrence and Dartmouth.
Roberts has improved his finishes all season, winning the slalom at the EISA Championships last weekend. He owns six top 10 finishes with five of them coming in the top six. At the Middlebury Carnival, Roberts placed fourth in both the slalom and giant slalom races.
Sackbauer represented the women’s alpine racers on the second team with five top eight finishes in her last five races. Her best finish of the season was at the Middlebury Carnival where she placed second in the GS event. She was fifth in the GS at Dartmouth, while placing seventh in both events at the EISA’s.
Pokorny, the EISA rookie of the year in ’12, earns a spot on the first team. Pokorny opened the year with a win in the 5K free race at UVM, before taking home the title in the same event at the Middlebury Carnival. She also boast three second place finishes, most recently in the 5K classic at the EISA Championships.
Mooney opened the season with an eighth place finish in the 5K free at UVM, while placing a season-best fourth in the 10K classic race. She missed the next two carnivals while competing at the World Junior Championships, before returning with an 11th place finish in the 10K free at the EISA Championships at Bates.
Phinney has been a top 20 finisher in 8 of 11 races this season. She came on strong at Colby, placing sixth in both the 15K free race as well as the 5K classic. The following week she was part of the 3x5 freestyle relay team that finished fourth overall at Dartmouth.
Lustgarten was also a first-team selection for the Panther men. He earned a victory in the 10K classic race at Colby this season with top 10 finishes in 11 of 12 events. Seven of those finishes were in the top five, including third places finishes in the 10K classic at UVM, 20K free at Colby and 10K classic at the EISA Championships.
Cobb finished in the top 25 in 11 of 12 events he competed in this season. He earned season-best 13th place finishes in the 20K free at Colby and at Middlebury. Cobb was also a part of the fifth-place-finishing 3x5 freestyle relay team at Dartmouth.