The 2020 NCAA Championships began Wednesday with the giant slalom held at Bridger Bowl hosted by Montana State University. This year’s championship race has brought stellar athletes from 23 universities across the country to Montana to compete for NCAA titles. A total of 68 men and women hit the slopes Wednesday with the men kicking out of the start gate first. 

The giant slalom brought overcast skies and soft snow for the racers. The RMISA skiers came in with an advantage having already raced on the hill just over a week ago and skiing in soft conditions more frequently compared to the EISA, and this showed in the first run.

“The weather was all over the place and the snow was soft and inconsistent. Today was a wild day to say the least,” commented Patrick Kenney (UNH). 

The RMISA men dominated the first run of the GS with Filip Forejtek (CU), Tobias Kogler (DU), and Joachim Lien (UU) taking the fastest first-run times. Forejtek sped his way down to a 52.79, just two tenths ahead of Kogler’s 53.04 and Lien’s 53.17. Dartmouth’s Andrew Miller skied into fourth with a 53.30, just out of reach of a podium result. As the first run continued the surface deteriorated quickly, giving the racers who ran towards the beginning an advantage.

Following the men’s first run, the sun made a showing while the wind picked up causing course holds and variable visibility for the women’s race.

“Today’s race was crazy! It was hard conditions and a real fight to the finish,” commented Nellie Talbot (MSU).

Storm Klomhaus on her way to a win at NCAA Champs. Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The tough conditions were no match for Storm Klomhaus of Denver University who set the pace first run screeching down to a 55.84. Westminster College racer Henrietta Resen sped to second with a 55.97 and Middlebury’s Lucia Bailey moved into third with a 56.11. Both Resen and Bailey came from the back of the GS field into those podium spots proving they are fierce GS competitors. For team efforts, the Denver women laid down great first runs with three athletes in the top seven. 

Second Run

The wind continued to blow in the second run for the men as the sun fell back into the clouds in the afternoon causing poor visibility. Despite the visibility and breeze, there was a lot of movement in the second run, and the men running near the beginning took full advantage. 

From 19th place first run to ninth overall was Joachim Mjelde (WMC) with the third fastest second run time. And with a large leap up the results page Patrick Kenney (UNH) blazed down to win the second run with a time of 53.68. Kenney, with an 11th place first run, catapulted himself into fourth place overall. 

“I knew that given the conditions, it really could have been anyone’s day going into the second run,” said Kenney. “I stuck to my routine with a bit more intensity and focused on simplifying to skiing deep and stay level.”

It was all about the Denver Pioneers today as Tobias Kogler skied clean and aggressive to move past Filip Forejtek (CU) by 0.02 taking home the 2020 NCAA GS title with the combined time of 1:46.93. Forejtek took second and Lien claimed third. 

“I did exactly what I did at regionals, stable, solid skiing. Going into second run, I just tried to attack and ski smart at the same time. Worked out pretty good,” commented Kogler on his win. “The whole team did a great job, great day for the Pios!”

Men’s GS podium. Photo courtesy of DU.

Like the men, there was considerable movement in the results as the women were full throttle looking to score for their teams. Making huge gains was Kathryn Parker of Utah who finished 29th first run and raced down to win the second run with the time of 57.02. Parker moved up a whopping 20 places to 9th place overall.

“For second run I had the mentality of nothing to lose and I really wanted to move up and score points for the team,” said Parker on her second run.

Nina Reichelm of Middlebury made large gains, as well, moving from 20th to 8th overall, posting the fifth-fastest second run.

MSU’s Nellie Rose Talbot moved up from ninth to second overall. The freshman skier snagged the second-fastest second-run time and overall time of 1:53.97.

“Second run was a wild ride to say the least,” said Talbot (MSU). “It was pretty bumpy and low light. I am happy I adapted and could be balanced to make it through the bumps and then send the bottom with confidence.”

Utah’s Sona Moravcikova claimed third overall with the combined time of 1:54.22, and Denver continued its big GS victories with Storm Klomhaus blazing into first overall with a .60 tenth advantage. Klomhaus won with the combined time of 1:53.35. 

Women’s GS podium. Photo courtesy of DU.

“It was amazing to compete at my first NCAAs let alone to win an event. Being able to do it my senior year is super rewarding because it is such an awesome way to finish off my collegiate career,” exclaimed Klomhaus.

Following Wednesday’s GS race, Denver University leads the team standings with 172 points. Utah is in second with 152 points, and Middlebury College is in third with 115 points. The NCAA action continues with the Nordic freestyle competition Thursday, slalom on Friday and the Nordic classical on Saturday. 

You can watch the NCAA excitement unfold live on NCAA.com: NCAA skiing championships: Schedule, results, how to watch

2020 Giant Slalom All American Honors:

Men

  • Tobias Kogler (DU)
  • Filip Forejtek (CU)
  • Joachim Lien (UU)
  • Patrick Kenney (UNH)
  • Simon Fournier (DU)
  • Aage Solheim (MSU)
  • Tim Gavett (MIDD)
  • Addison Dvoracek (UU)
  • Joachim Mjelde (WMC)
  • Louis Muhlen Schulte (MSU)

Women

  • Storm Klomhaus (DU)
  • Nellie Rose Talbot (MSU)
  • Sona Moravcikova (UU)
  • Patricia Mangan (DAR)
  • Lucia Bailey (MIDD)
  • Ali Nullmeyer (MIDD)
  • Amelia Smart (DU)
  • Nina Reichhelm (MIDD)
  • Kathryn Parker (UU)
  • Eirin Engeset (UU)

A San Francisco Bay Area native and Bates College graduate, Sierra Ryder has ski raced all over the country starting in the West growing up skiing on The Squaw Valley Ski Team, and then back East on the EISA NCAA circuit. Sierra is a proud Bates Bobcat and is grateful to have skied carnivals for four years serving as a captain for the Bates ski team her senior year. She now resides in San Francisco where she works for the CBS San Francisco News affiliate KPIX5. When she is not working you can find her running on Crissy field or skiing at Squaw.