(RIPTON, VT) -- If University of Maine-Presque Isle skier Eirik Fosnæs (So./Bærum, Norway) had nerves going into his first experience at the NCAA Championships on Thursday, he hid them well. The first-year Owl finished 25th (out of 40) and was the 7th eastern region skier to cross the finish line in the 10K "Classic" held at Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton, VT. That performance was good enough to beat several skiers that were ranked ahead of him and that had beaten him frequently this season.
The weather was almost perfect for a ski race and the track was well set up. "The snow is better this week then it was for the Middlebury Carnival a few weeks ago," said Owls' coach Paul Stone, "they have been grooming it well all week but today was definitely the best it's been."
As many college athletes who strive for continual improvement, Fosnæs, who had been feeling under the weather in the days leading up to the race, was encouraged but not satisfied with his result.
"I felt average out there. Not bad, but not great," he said.
His coach was more complimentary.
"Considering that he didn't feel awesome it was a great result," offered Stone. "I think he should have good confidence going into Saturday's mass start race. He has been a bit better in skating this year and he skis well in a crowd. With everyone starting together he will always know where he is. He should be able to hang around in the teens in the early going, it will just depend on how he feels in the last few kilometers."
Fosnæs will get the day off to recover and gameplan on Friday before returning to the snow on Saturday for his final event of the weekend, the 20K Freestyle. That race will begin at noon. The NCAA's live feed of that race can be seen here.
Despite being the only Owl representative at the NCAA national event, Fosnæs' finish actually has UMPI in 18th place out of 21 teams after the event's 2nd day. With a strong performance on Saturday, the Owls "team" score has a chance to move up a spot at the potential expense of Bates College (4 skiers) while increasing the lead over Bowdoin (1 skier), College of St. Scholastica (2 skiers), and St. Michael's (1 skier).