Senior Miles Havlick won the second NCAA title of his career in the men's 20-km Freestyle on Saturday.
March 9, 2013
Photo Gallery by Cory Ransom (coryransom.smugmug.com)
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Senior Miles Havlick won his second career national title and all three Ute competitors placed among the top five of the Nordic Freestyle races on Saturday to lead the University of Utah ski team to a second-place finish of the NCAA Championships at the Rikert Ski Center.
Utah entered the final day of the meet in fourth place, but the Ute Nordic team put together 186 points during the Nordic Freestyle events and jumped ahead two places in the overall team standings with a combined four-day total of 665 points.
The Utes got by Vermont (653 points), who ended in third place after leading the previous three days, and fellow RMISA school Denver (629 points). Colorado claimed the national championship with 708 points. Utah has finished in second place at the NCAA Championships each of the last three seasons.
"This has been one of the most amazing finishes in NCAA skiing I have ever witnessed!," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "I am speechless at how hard the entire team charged today! It was simply magnificent. It is hard to put it into words exactly right.
"Our very young team with many newcomers did an outstanding job of really understanding the concept of team skiing where absolutely every single point counts. This was college skiing at its best and I am ecstatic with our silver medal. I am in awe of senior Miles Havlick and how he has led this team from the first race of the year to the finish. He came through when it counts the most. This was an extremely special day for Miles to capture the podium and to lead out his teammates in the sprint to the finish that we were able to witness today.
"Thank you 2013 team! This was a wild and very rewarding championships for the record books. Utah Skiing is very much alive! A huge thanks goes out to Middlebury College for hosting a stellar championships and to the specific race venue organizers who had every detail 100% covered. Also very nice to see Pac-12 Conference schools Colorado and Utah go one and two! A huge thanks to my staff and support group is certainly in order no doubt."
After all three Utes turned in top-five efforts in the men's 20-km Freestyle race, Utah compiled a meet-high 133 points in the discipline to lead the late charge.
"Wow! What a day! After 14 years of working as a ski coach, I think that this day has really captured the full gamut of the coaching experience more than any other," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "It was a perfect blue-sky day, with as many fans as I have ever witnessed at an NCAA Nordic event. We went in a little behind, just hoping to hold on to an overall podium position. Skiing our way out of fourth and into second was just amazing.
"On the women's side, I was so happy to see Rose Kemp finally ski her way into a well-deserved All-American result. She has been so plagued with bad luck at the championships that we have started referring to her luck as the "Kemp Curse" -- I think we finally broke that today. However, her teammates, who opened so strong on Thursday, were a little disappointed that they were not able to match that stellar performance today. We all had high hopes for the women today, and the full team didn't quite gel. I think that just made the men's results even more special.
"Of course, the men's results speak for themselves. Truly, all the stars must be aligned to place a full team in the top five. These guys have been strong all season, but it is very hard to keep the entire team focused, and on track for such an exceptional showing at the championship event. Their finish was a perfect finale to this week. After such an impressive four years of skiing for the University of Utah, I really believe that Miles deserved to go out on top. We will miss Miles and Einar next year, but I hope Niklas sticks around to lead the future charge."
In his final race as a Ute, Havlick spurred Utah's move up the team standings by claiming his second career national title and winning his seventh race this season. He has been on the podium after nine of 12 races this season.
"Wow! I can't say enough good things about this team," Havlick said. "It was an incredible day. Einar [Ulsund] and Niklas [Persson] skied some of the best races of the whole season and I couldn't be happier to end my college career with a win! Huge thanks to the coaches and whole staff for the past four years. I'm looking forward to seeing the Utes take home that team championship in the next few years!
"It was a nice long sprint. I was able to get around some guys and kind of tuck in behind [second-place finisher] Rune [Oedegaard of Colorado] around that short corner and had enough to get by him. Everyone was really strong. It was a big pack throughout the race.
Havlick, a Boulder, Colo., native, was Utah's top finisher in all 12 races this year and finished among the top 10 in all 12 events as well.
Havlick won his first career national title in 2012 as he won the 20-km Classical NCAA title in Bozeman, Mont. For his career, Havlick has won 13 races and placed on the podium 28 times, four of which have come at the NCAA Championships.
Ulsund followed Havlick with Utah's second podium effort in the race as he earned his eighth third-place finish of 2013. Ulsund, from Tronheim, Norway, was a steady force for the Utes throughout the 2013 campaign as he placed third or better in 10 of Utah's 12 races.
Persson, a freshman from Falun, Sweden, joined Havlick and Ulsund among the top five as he posted his second top-five effort this season. Persson saved his best for the end of this season as he has been fifth or better in two of the last three events. Persson's best finish this season was a fourth-place effort in the 20-km Freestyle at the RMISA Championships on Feb. 23 in Bozeman, Mont.
In the women's 15-km Freestyle, the Utes accumulated 51 points on the day.
Rose Kemp represented Utah in the top 10 with a ninth-place effort to lead Utah for the 11th time this season. The senior from Boise, Idaho was tremendously consistent throughout the entire 2013 season as she was 10th or better in 11 of 12 competitions and has been Utah's top finisher in 11 of 12 races this season as well.
"Today was a very exciting day for our team!," Kemp said. "Our boys came out strong and made an amazing comeback. It was inspiring for everyone to see. I tried to execute my race plan as best as possible even though I got tangled up with some other girls in the first five kilometers. I made my way back to the top 10 as fast as I could, but not fast enough to catch the lead pack. I gave it all I could and am pleased with my result. It was a great day to be a Ute! Also, I want to say thanks to all our coaches, staff and all of my teammates. The last four years of racing as a Ute have been incredible and I would not change it for the world!"