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Ski team fifth in championships

The UNM ski team finished fifth out of 22 teams with a combined total of 496.5 points at the 48th annual NCAA Championships March 8-10 in Middlebury, Vt.

The University of Denver won its second straight championship with 649 points, the University of Vermont came in second with 605 points and the University of Colorado was third with 595.5 points.

The event culminated with UNM garnering nine top-10 finishes.

On the first day of competition, the women’s nordic team competed in the 5-kilometer classical race where senior Kristina Strandberg was trying to defend her championship title.

She finished eighth with a time of 16:34.8 and fellow senior Anne Heggelund followed in the 10th position, seven seconds behind Strandberg. The University of Nevada at Reno’s Katarina Hanusova won the race in 15:59.4. Freshman Pirkko Pulkkanen finished in 31st place.

In the men’s 10-km classical, senior Tomas Dohnal led the way with a 10th-place finish in 29:54.9 as Denver’s Wolf Wallendorf won the race with a time of 28:37.5. UNM freshman Vesa Tiihonen finished 29th.

The alpine team began its competition on day two with the giant slalom. Freshman Marte Dolva, who set a record at the NCAA Regionals for being the first woman to win the giant slalom and the slalom in the regionals, finished in fifth place with a time of 2:07.13. Vermont’s Erica MacConnell took top honors with a time of 2:06.32. UNM freshman Jennifer Delich finished the day in 22nd place (2:10.42).

On the men’s side, junior Fredrik Steen paced the Lobos with a fifth-place finish in the giant slalom. John Minahan gave Vermont another first-place finish with a time of 1:59.52. UNM sophomores Johan Sauer and Stian Eriksen finished 21st and 28th respectively.

On day three, nordic skiers Strandberg and Heggelund finished in the top 10 for the Lobos in the 15-km freestyle race.

Strandberg took sixth place in 46:32.8, with Heggelund close on her heels in seventh with a time of 47:48.5. Nevada-Reno’s Hanusova once again proved to be too tough, winning the race in 44:23.2. Pulkkanen earned a 13th-place finish for the Lobos with a time of 47:14.8.

Dohnal dominated for the men, finishing fifth in the 20-km freestyle race with a time of 50:51.8. The favorite, Denver’s Pietro Broggini, won the race, finishing seven seconds ahead of Dohnal at 50:44.8. Tiihonen placed 37th (54:16.6).

On the final day of competition Dolva raced in the slalom, an event she won three times this season. She gave UNM its best finish of the week, landing in second place. Dolva’s time of 1:28.82 was .06 seconds behind the University of Utah’s Petra Svet, who finished in 1:28.76. Delich earned a top-20 finish, placing 17th with a time of 1:32.78.

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For the men, Steen once again led the way for the Lobos with a 13th-place finish (1:27.62). Sauer finished in 17th place (1:28.46), followed by Eriksen in 18th place (1:28.63). Utah’s Jernej Bukovec won the slalom in 1:24.50.

The Lobos are back in action with the alpine team heading to the U.S. Alpine Championships in Big Mountain, Mont. on March 20-23.

Anika Amon contributed to this staff report.

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