Under sunny and cold skies a pair of east coast skiers claimed the top step of the NCAA giant slalom podium on Thursday at Stowe Mountain Resort. UVM’s Laurence St-Germain and Dartmouth’s Tanguy Nef each secured the GS championship title after hard fought battles against the best collegiate alpine skiers in the country.
Propelled by Nef’s victory, Dartmouth surged from sixth place after the first day of competition into first place overall after day two of the Championship. The Big Green finished the day with 259 team points, six points ahead of Utah’s 252 points. The host UVM Catamounts sit in third place with 245 points.
With the women running the track first, St. Germain finished with a combined time of 2:00.57. Utah’s Roni Remme finished second in 2:01.02 and Dartmouth’s Patricia Mangan rounded out the top three in 2:01.64.
On the men’s side, Nef’s victory was closely followed up with a 3rd place performance by teammates James Ferri and 4th place finish by former U.S. Ski Team member, Drew Duffy. On the women’s side, Mangan claimed third and teammates Steph Currie and Alexa Dlouhy finished 13th and 20th respectively to lock up the huge 168-point day for Dartmouth.
The GS featured the best of east coast ingredients: Sunny skies, light wind, cold temps and an immaculately prepared racetrack. For the senior Catamount, St. Germain, who spent time this season racing on the World Cup, it was a sweet victory to cap off her collegiate skiing career at UVM.
“I was satisfied after the first run, but I thought, you know what, I have nothing to lose,” she said moments after her victory. “I pushed hard on the second run and when I came down to the bottom I really had no idea how I had done until I heard all the screaming and I was like ‘oh, wow!’”
Despite skiing on both the World Cup and Olympic levels, the pressure to perform for the team is different.
“The most stressed I’ve ever been for a race is definitely the NCAAs,” she said. “Every time I’ve been to the NCAAs, leading up to it, I’m so nervous. Just the aspect of having a team and everything, it’s so different. Everyone says we have an advantage (as hosts) because of (knowing) the snow and the hill, but I think our biggest advantage is how good of a team we have.”
St. Germain skied into a boisterous group of teammates at the bottom of her second run and then waited, surrounded by her fellow racers, as the final skiers finished their runs. When her time held up the group broke into screams and bear-hugged the senior.
Nef, who started from bib 20, scalded the Main Street track and shot into the lead after the morning. His teammates also grouped up at the bottom of the second run, growing more excited as he built on his lead. When his time flashed up in green on the scoreboard, the group rushed into the finish corral and mobbed him.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, a tough race, on the second run,” Nef said. “I just attacked the whole way, I was on the edge a couple of times, but I knew once I hit the flats I was ok. When I got through the finish and heard people screaming I was so stoked.”
Nef finished with a combined time of 1:56.10, over a second in front of Denver’s Simon Fournier’s combined time of 1:57.35 and Ferri’s 1:57.56.
“The guys work so well together, they’re intelligent skiers who support and coach each other,” Dartmouth head men’s coach Peter Dodge said after congratulating Nef in the finish. “The first run was awesome, really just about perfect. Before the second run it was just find that once percent more, that slight edge.”
The great equalizer of the day was the Main Street racetrack, which barely looked as if it had been attacked, twice, at the conclusion of the race. A thin layer of freshly groomed snow covered a bulletproof base. “Today, the last racer had the same chance as the first,” said Dartmouth head coach John Dwyer.
Both Nef and St. Germain proved that point after starting last on the second run and laying down the two fastest times of the afternoon.