ASPEN, Colo.—The 2021 RMISA season began Sunday with Julia Toiviainen picking up her first two career wins and helping Westminster College take the lead following two women's giant slalom races at University of Denver Invitational.
After producing just two top-five finishes in her first campaign last year, Toiviainen opened the new season by finishing first in each of the two GS events at Aspen Highlands Ski Resort. Following her first collegiate win with a total time of 2:14.40 in the morning race, the Westminster sophomore once again was atop the podium in the afternoon, combining for an even better mark at 2:13.79.
Toiviainen produced four the fastest runs on the day.
It was a strong day overall for Westminster as the Griffins won both giant slalom team competitions by placing three skiers in the top five of each race. Lana Zbasnik and Hannah Saethereng, a freshman, finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in both events, while teammate Henriette Resen earned a top-10 finish in the first GS race.
Westminster (200) has a 52-point edge over second-place Montana State (148) following the first day of the DU Invitational, with Utah currently third with 129 points. Alaska Anchorage is fourth (113), Colorado is fifth (112), Colorado Mountain College is sixth (80) and Denver is seventh (20) as the host only had one skier competing.
Nellie Talbot anchored Montana State during the competition by reaching the podium in both races, grabbing second place in the first race (2:15.99) and third in the second (2:14.81), finishing just 2-tenths of a second behind Utah's Madison Hoffman. (2:14.61).
The Utes earned a spot on the podium in the morning giant slalom as well as Hoffman's teammate Katie Parker finished in third, tying for the best result of her career.
The University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Colorado joined Westminster in producing multiple skiers in the top 10 in the first giant slalom race. UAA's Georgia Burgess and Rebecca Fiegl were sixth and seventh, while CU's Emma Hammergaard and Andrea Arnold were eighth and ninth.
Arnold and Fiegl recorded their second top-10 finishes of the season opener in the afternoon race, with Arnold coming in sixth and Fiegl in eighth. Utah's Sona Moravcikova finished the second GS in seventh, while Montana State's duo of Brynne Hitchcock and Tegan Wold took ninth and 10th place, respectively.
The Denver Invitational continues on Monday as the collegiate men take the Aspen Highlands course for two giant slalom races before the circuit moves to Eldora Ski Area in Nederland, Colorado, for two days of slalom competition on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Spencer James Nelson Colorado Memorial Invitational.
The Denver Invitational wraps up in two weekends with the Nordic races at Maloit Park in Minturn, Colorado. The women's 5 kilometer and men's 7.5K freestyle are on Jan. 22 and the women's 7.5K and men's 10K classic are on Jan. 23.
Women's GS Final Team Results: 1. Westminster (200), 2. Montana State (148), 3. Utah (129), 4. Alaska Anchorage (113), T5. Colorado (112), T5. Colorado Mountain (80), 7. Denver (20), 8. Alaska Fairbanks (DNP)
Women's GS#1 Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 2:14.40; 2. Nellie Talbot, MSU, 2:15.99; 3. Katie Parker, UU, 2:16.29; 4. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 2:16.38; 5. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 2:16.53; 6. Georgia Burgess, UAA, 2:16.73; 7. Rebecca Fiegl, UAA, 2:17.02; 8. Emma Hammergaard, CU, 2:17.53; 9. Andrea Arnold, CU, 2:17.69; 10. Henriette Resen, WMC, 2:17.88.
Women's GS#1 Team Results: 1. Westminster (100), 2. Montana State (71), 3. Colorado (66), 4. Alaska Anchorage (52), 5. Utah (51), 6. Colorado Mountain (34), 7. Denver (20), 8. Alaska Fairbanks (DNC)
Women's GS#2 Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 2:13.79; 2. Madison Hoffman, UU, 2:14.61; 3. Nellie Talbot, MSU, 2:14.81; 4. Lana Zbasnik, MWC, 2:14.87; 5. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 2:16.07; 6. Andrea Arnold, CU, 2:16.74; 7. Sona Moravcikova, UU, 2:17.15; 8. Rebecca Fiegl, UAA, 2:17.70; 9. Brynne Hitchcock, MSU, 2:17.71; 10. Tegan Wold, MSU, 2:17.85
Women's GS#2 Team Results: 1. Westminster (100), 2. Utah (78), 3. Montana State (77), 4. Alaska Anchorage (61), T5. Colorado (46), T5. Colorado Mountain (46), 7. Denver (0), 8. Alaska Fairbanks (DNP)
NOTES: In her second RMISA season, Toiviainen now has 12 career top-10 finishes and four top-five places ... Her previous-best finish was fifth in GS at the 2020 RMISA Championships ... After taking a second and third place finish, MSU's Nellie Talbot now has four career podiums and nine top-10 finishes ... Her second-place finish in GS#1 marked the third time in her career she's been the runner-up in the giant slalom (2020 CU Invitational, 2020 NCAA Championships) ... Utah's Katie Parker's third-place finish in GS#1 was her second career podium and tied for her best collegiate finish (third place, GS, 2020 Utah Invitational) ... It was Parker's 10th career top-10 finish and seventh in a row dating back to last season ... Parker did not race in the second GS on Sunday ... UU teammate Madison Hoffman recorded her first collegiate finish after taking second in the GS race No. 2 ... Hoffman had the second fastest run in the first race (1:06.72) but wasn't able to complete her second run (DNF) ... Westminster's Lana Zbasnik's recorded a new career best with her two fourth-place finishes and now has three career top-five and six career top-10 mark ... Her previous best was fifth in the 2020 RMISA Qualifiers ... WMC's Hannah Saethereng, making her RMISA debut, registered the first two top-five finishes of her career ... Reece Bell was the only skier competing for host Denver, while the Colorado had only four skiers compete.