March 9, 2013

NCAA Championships Day 4: Fosnæs Runs Solid Race

(RIPTON, VT) --  On a beautiful sunny day in Vermont, University of Maine-Presque Isle nordic skier Eirik Fosnæs (So./Bærum, Norway) finished a race at the NCAA Championships better than any other skier in the history of the program. Fosnæs placed 17th out of 40 skiers in the men's 20K freestyle mass start event held at the Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton, VT.    

Fosnæs, the Owls' sole qualifier for this year's NCAAs, combined Saturday's performance with his 25th place finish on Thursday in the 10K Classic, to give UMPI a team finish of 18th (out of 21 teams).  The 38 points earned in the two events eclipsed the previous program-high of 27 points earned by Welly Ramsey back in 2011.

Starting in the third row of the mass start but on the outside edge of the start grid, Eirik was able to move quickly to the front of the lead group in order to stay out of early trouble.  He skied as high up as fourth in the early going but spent most of the race in the second half of the lead group which numbered 25 skiers for much of the distance.  He did well in the group, narrowly avoiding a few crashes and didn't break any poles.  

"Eirik skied a smart race, he worked hard on the climbs and took advantage of his opportunities to pass people in the easier parts of the course," said Owls' coach Paul Stone. 

As the field spread out in the last 5km, Fosnæs steadily worked his way from the back of the lead pack.  On the last hill coming into the stadium he surged past 3 or 4 skiers and held the advantage for the last 300 meters of flat.  He closed on Dartmouth skier Scott Lacy, but could not quite get past him in the homestretch.  

UMaine-Presque Isle is a member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA).  Fosnæs' finish was the fifth best of the EISA skiers that qualified for the event. 

"Eirik's performance was the best this weekend amongst Maine nordic skiers," beamed Stone, "Colby didn't qualify anyone and he beat Bates and Bowdoin.  Bates was ahead of us in the overall but only because of their alpine skiers."