UVM: Not the Smoothest Road to a National Title
by David Donaldson
Former Catamount and future member of the Middlebury Ski Team
|UVM claims its first national championship in 18 years (photo by C.J. Feehan)|
For the first time since 1994, the University of Vermont has won a team National Championship. The 6th in the school’s history, UVM Skiing asserted unbelievable dominance across all the events. Every team that made up the Catamount machine this season picked up a podium result. Not only were there two individual national titles but also four runner-ups.
After the overwhelmingly tremendous flop last season on their home turf of Stowe, Vermont, this win proves all the more powerful for Catamount Nation. The season was marked with enormous success on the hill. Two NCAA competitors (Jonathan Nordbotten and Elli Terwiel) also picked up World Cup points this season. Sean Higgins, left off the championship roster in favor of freshman Bobby Farrell, won his first carnival race as a junior and finished no worse than 6th in all but two collegiate races. The Nordic team especially can breathe a sigh of satisfaction and relief as they will be graduating seven seniors this season.
Despite all the success on the hill, the road to this title has not been a smooth one. Travis Dawson, who was forced to sit out last season with a blown ACL and MCL, traveled and missed the UVM Carnival to compete at the Nor-Am Cup series in Vail only to shatter his wrist. Kristina Riis-Johanneseen and Elli Terwiel both suffered concussions during the season. Kate Ryley turned her thumb into something one might expect to see on an episode of AMC’s series The Walking Dead. And the beginning of the season was marred by Hurricane Irene, which washed away men’s captain Colton Hardy’s home in Jamaica, Vermont. Who better to shake the hand of President Barack Obama on behalf of his native Vermont and Catamount Nation?
In addition to the already emotionally charged atmosphere, long time friend of Kate Ryley and Johnny Davidson (as well at Paul Atkinson of UNH and Mackenzie Irwin of St. Lawrence) and member of the Canadian National Ski Cross team tragically lost his life in Switzerland competing in a World Cup race just hours before the first run of the NCAA championship slalom. Nik Zoricic hit the last jump in the World Cup race and missed the landing, striking fencing and a wall of snow, an impact which proved to be fatal. Family and friends within the tightly-knit community that is Ontario Ski Racing will feel bitter sweet victory as Kate Ryley is crowned National Slalom Champion and Johnny Davidson wins a National Championship he has pursued with all his heart as both an athlete and coach with the program. Congratulations on the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to UVM and its incredible list of alumni. And condolences to the family of Nik Zoricic, who everyone in the world of skiing is thinking of right now.