The UNM ski team fought the weather and sickness last weekend while competing in the Michelobo Ski Invitational in Santa Fe and Red River, N.M., and finished in fourth-place finish.
Because of 14 inches of fresh powder in Santa Fe, the race started late, forcing the men's giant slalom to be cancelled and rescheduled for Feb. 22 in Vail, Colo., the day before the NCAA Regionals in Breckenridge, Colo. The invitation's final results were calculated without the men's giant slalom scores.
The UNM nordic team competed at the Enchanted Forest Nordic Center in Red River and finished fifth with 152 points. At the Santa Fe Ski Basin, the alpine team finished fourth with 122 points, for a combined total of 274. The University of Utah won with 377.5 points, the University of Denver finished second with 364 points and the University of Colorado came in third with 357 points.
UNM's top female Alpine skier, freshman Marte Dolva, came down with the flu last Wednesday and spent all of Thursday in bed. Friday she competed in the giant slalom but pulled out of the slalom, her best event, before its start Saturday.
"She's really strong in the slalom," teammate Jennifer Delich said. "It is such a team thing, it hurts when someone is not up there."
Despite the trials and tribulations, the Lobos did have some good individual results to end the weekend.
Seniors Kristina Strandberg and Tomas Dohnal skied well in the Nordic events. Strandberg, last year's NCAA champion in the 15-kilometer classical race, finished second in the 5-km classical race Friday. She also took second in the 10-km freestyle race on Saturday.
Dohnal took second in both the 10-km classical Friday and the 10-km freestyle Saturday, finishing 24 seconds behind Denver's Pitero Broggini.
For the men, freshman Jacob Zehnder finished in 27th place in the 10-km classical and 22nd in the 10-km freestyle race.
On Friday, Dolva was the top finisher in the giant slalom. She finished 11th, just one-twelfth of a second out of the top 10. Delich finished 15th and freshman Caroline Schicht was 22nd.
Delich was the top performer in Saturday's slalom with a ninth-place finish. Delich said the second day of competition was much better than the first, but the entire weekend was a bit of a disappointment.
Schicht had her best outing of the season in the slalom, ending the day in 14th place. Senior
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Jessica Kortas began the second slalom run in the 25th position, but moved up seven spots to finish in 18th place.
The men's team helped the Lobos' overall score with three top-15 finishes in Saturday's slalom. Junior Fredrik Steen led the way with a time of 1:46.78, landing him in ninth place. Sophomores Johan Sauer and Stian Eriksen followed with 11th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively. Utah took the top four places in the men's slalom, led by Jernei Bukevoc with a two-run combined time of 1:44.99.
Although the men's results were good, Eriksen said he felt slow and was a little disappointed in the weekend.
This weekend's race was one of five qualifying races for the NCAA Championships. The qualifications will be determined at the NCAA Regionals later this month.
"My expectations are that all the UNM athletes will qualify for the NCAAs," Brooks said. "If they don't, they are not getting the job done."
The Lobos finished fifth in last year's NCAA Championships.
The team is now heading into its final races of the seasoon. The nordic team heads to Durango, Colo. next weekend for the Corporate Cup. Then the teams travel together to Breckenridge for the NCAA Regionals Feb. 23-24. The NCAA Championships will be held in Middlebury, Vt., March 2-11.
Team members said they were hoping to finish strongly at their home race and were disappointed with the fourth-place finish.
Unlike many of the races the Lobos participate in, the Michelobo event in Santa Fe counts on volunteers with little experience to help put on the race. This makes coordinating a race difficult, Brooks said. He also said that considering the conditions, the team's results were reasonable.
"Hosting a home race is a real trying experience," Brooks said. "(It's) a real challenge."