2021 NCAA Championships (3/13)
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Utah Wins 2021 NCAA Championship as Boee and Palmer-Leger Sweep Nordic Events

Saturday, March 13, 2021 • by Ron Knabenbauer, Special To RMISA

JACKSON, N.H.—The University of Utah won its 14th team national title on Saturday as the 2021 NCAA Championship concluded with the Nordic freestyle competition at Jackson Nordic Ski Area. Utah freshman Sydney Palmer-Leger won the women's 15-kilometer race and Colorado sophomore Magnus Boee came in first in the men's 20K, as each skier picked up their second national titles at this year's meet.

Palmer-Leger (women's 5K) and Boee (men's 10K) also won the classical races on Thursday to complete the 28th and 29th title sweeps at the national championships since 1983. Vermont's Laurence St. Germain was the last athlete to sweep at nationals, doing so in women's alpine in 2019, while Dartmouth's Katharine Ogden was the previous Nordic skier to finish atop the podium in both women's events in 2018.

Boee's two victories marks the ninth nationals sweep for the University of Colorado since 1983 and the school's first since David Ketterer did it in men's alpine in 2017. Mads Stroem was the last men's Nordic skier to win two national titles in the same year in 2016.

"I guess I knew my potential somewhat that I was capable of doing so, but you know there is a difference between capable of doing something and actually doing it," Boee said of winning both the classical and freestyle races. "There's a lot that can go wrong and you have to make sure everything goes right. It always feels great when you end up getting it all right and nothing is in your way. It's very satisfying and a little bit of a relief, but I just focused on enjoying the race and did it."

Palmer-Leger's sweep is the first for a Utah women's Nordic skier in 18 years at the national meet, with Katrin Smigun last doing it for the Utes in 2003. The freshman from Park City is the first UU skier to earn two national titles in the same year since Martin Bergstroem in men's Nordic in 2017.

"I didn't have any expectations. I didn't know if it was possible of getting both the skate and classic," Palmer-Leger said. "This season I have been pretty strong in classic 5Ks, so I really wanted to do well [in that], that was two days ago. Today was kind of pushing as hard as I could and see where I could be. So when Miles and some other coaches on the course were giving me splits on the course that I was ahead, it was a real shocker. It was like ‘OK, I can do it,' and just put through the pain that I only have only another lap or two left."

Utah won with 554 total points to pick up its third NCAA title in the last four national meets, also winning in 2019 in Vermont and in 2017 on the same New Hampshire course. The Utes wrapped up the 2021 season with wins in each of their six meets they participated. It is UU's 13th championship in NCAA history, as the school also won one in AIAW.

"Starting off this fall, we didn't know what to expect. If we would have a season, if we would have any races at all, if we would have a championships," said Miles Havlick, Utah's head Nordic coach. "But we came together and said, ‘OK, we can either make excuses or we can use this an opportunity to become better and train harder and gain some ground on the competition. That's what we did."

The RMISA took the top five spots in the overall team standings, with Colorado finishing 31.5 points behind the Utes in second place (522). It was the closest margin of victory at the national championships since Utah won by 16.5 points in 2017. Denver finished in third (442), Alaska Anchorage in fourth (411) and Montana State in fifth (383.5). Westminster College came in fifth in the alpine competition (212), and Alaska Fairbanks ended in sixth in the Nordic events with 163 points.

Palmer-Leger grabbed her fourth win of the season and her second national title by completing the women's 15K course in 38:31.0. It was her first victory of season in freestyle, and she finished with a 24.2-second advantage over second-place Astrid Stav of Alaska Anchorage (38:55.2).

"It was definitely a lot colder today than it was two days ago. Mostly just focusing on training and what I've been doing for this past season," said Palmer-Leger of her race. "The weather is going to change on us, so for me it's focusing on technique and staying strong and big and powerful because I can control that. I can't control if it's really hot or really cold. And just staying in a good mindset and that I can push through the pain of going up a hill, and it's only a couple minutes before you get a couple seconds of rest."

RMISA freshmen held each of the top four spots in the final standings of the women's competition, and the conference had a skier in each of the top-five positions and in six of the top seven. Novie McCabe joined her UU teammate Palmer-Leger and Stav on the podium in third place, while UAA's Tuva Bygrave was fourth.

It was Stav's first podium at nationals and the sixth of her season, while McCabe's earned her second podium this week after she finished third in the 5K classic. McCabe wraps up her rookie year with podium placements in each of her 10 races. Byrave's fourth-place result was her second top 10 at these NCAA Championships and her third top five of the year

Utah won the women's team event with 86 points, with Anchorage coming in second with 76 and Colorado in third with 64. The Buffaloes were led by Weronika Kaleta in seventh place and scored all three of their athletes in the top 12.

Alaska Fairbanks also had two skiers in the top 10 as Mariel Pulles led the Nanooks in fifth, while another freshman, Kendall Kramer, came in eighth.

Boee finished the men's 20K in 48:02.4, 15.9 seconds ahead of second-place Sam Hendry of Utah (48.18.3). Northern Michigan's Kjetil Baanerud joined the two western skiers on the podium in third (48:49.4).

In addition to his second national title, it was Boee's 10th victory of the season, with five each in freestyle and classic. He already held the CU record for the most victories in a season by a men's Nordic skier after winning the classic on Thursday, and his 10 wins this year puts him in a tie with Dave Butts (10, 1960) for the third-most in a single campaign in Colorado history and just one behind first place (11).

"One thing I'm supper happy about was getting my freestyle going because last year my freestyle wasn't very good," Boee said. "I had some fine races but not real good skating races. It was mostly on the classic part that I was doing well. This year, somehow I figured it out technically and was able to ski a lot more relaxed and ski faster in freestyle."

Boee's 13 career wins are the most among active RMISA athletes, two more than second-place Amelia Smart of Denver women's alpine (11) and nine more than the next closest men's Nordic skier in Hendry, who has four.

Hendry's runner-up finish was his second podium at this year's nationals after placing third in classic, and it was his third time on the stand in his NCAA Championship career (also placed second in the 10K freestyle in 2020). He has podiumed in nine straight races he's competed in and in 13 overall in his career.

The RMISA controlled the top of the leaderboard in the men's race by having eight skiers finish in the top 10, 13 in the top 15 and placing all 17 of its athletes in the first 23 spots.

Colorado won the men's team race with 85 points with freshman Oyvind Haugan helping Boee by finishing in sixth place. There was a three-way tie for second in the school scores as Alaska Anchorage, Northern Michigan and Utah all garnered 70 points. Denver was fifth with 60 points.

In addition to the Buffaloes, UU, UAA and DU all placed multiple skiers in the top 10. Sigurd Roenning was fifth and Magnus Noroey was seventh for the UAA Seawolves, while Bernhard Flaschberger and Borgar Norrud led the Pioneers in eighth and ninth place, respectively. The Utes' Bjorn Riksaasen was 10th.

The RMISA finished with 60 All-Americans, including 33 on the first team. All seven schools were represented on the All-America lists, with Utah having the most named with 16.

The conference had a skier win seven of the eight individual national titles at this year's championships, as Colorado's Cassidy Gray (women's giant slalom), Denver's Amelia Smart (women's slalom) and Westminster's Mikkel Solbakken (men's giant slalom) joined Boee (men's classic and freestyle) and Palmer-Leger (men's classic and freestyle) in earning gold hardware.

2021 NCAA National Championships Final Team Standings (8 events): 1. Utah (554), 2. Colorado (522.5), 3. Denver (442), 4. Alaska Anchorage (411), 5. Montana State (385.5), 6. Vermont (351), 7. Northern Michigan (232), 8. Westminster (212), 9. New Hampshire (211), 10. Alaska Fairbanks (163), 11. Plymouth State (134), 12. Boston College (121), 13. St. Lawrence (100), 14. Michigan Tech (87), 15. St. Scholastica (33), 16. Colby (31), 17. Clarkson (0)

Team Notes: Both races on Saturday were conducted with an interval start ... Utah won its 14th national championship and 13th in the NCAA (one in AIAW) ... UU totaled 554 points, the most at the national championships since Denver had 604 in 2018 ... Utah gained the most points on the day with 156 ... UU's women's Nordic team won all 12 races in 2021 ... All five RMISA schools that field alpine and Nordic squads finished in the top five overall ... Colorado won the men's team event for the fourth time this season and its third in freestyle ... Colorado now has 98 individual NCAA national titles, while Utah has 78 ... There has been at least one title sweep at the NCAA Championships in each of the past five meets and nine overall (not including 2020) ... 2018 was the last year that there were two title sweeps at the national championships.

Women's Freestyle Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Sydney Palmer-Leger, UU, 38:31.0; 2. Astrid Stav, UAA, 38:55.2; 3. Novie McCabe, UU, 39:16.1; 4. Tuva Bygrave, UAA, 39:28.7; 5. Mariel Pulles, UAF, 39:31.6; 6. Malin Boerjesjoe, NMU, 39:41.9; 7. Weronika Kaleta, CU, 39:44.5; 8. Kendall Kramer, UAF, 40:04.2; 9. Lina Sutro, UVM, 40:06.1; 10. Molly Miller, NMU, 40:14.5

Women's Freestyle Team Results: 1. Utah (86), 2. Alaska Anchorage (76), 3. Colorado (64), 4. Northern Michigan (62), 5. Alaska Fairbanks (52), 6. Denver (36), 7. Vermont (29), 8. Montana State (27), 9. New Hampshire (26), 10. Michigan Tech (25), 11. Colby (9), 12. St. Lawrence (7), T13. Clarkson (0), T13. St. Scholastica (0)

Women's Individual Notes: Utah's Sydney Palmer-Leger (1st) won her second national title at her first NCAA Championship meet ... It was her fourth victory of the year and her first in freestyle ... She has three wins and four podiums in her last four races ... The last UU women's Nordic skier to win a national title in freestyle was current teammate Julia Richter in 2019 (5K) ... Palmer-Leger is the first-ever women's Nordic skier from Utah to win a freestyle race at a 15-kilometer distance and first in any discipline at 15K since Katrin Smigun in classical in 2003 ... Smigun's 2003 nationals was the last time a UU women's Nordic skier swept both events .... Martin Bergstroem is the last Utah skier to have a sweep at the NCAA Championships in 2017 (men's Nordic) ... Alaska Anchorage's Astrid Stav (2nd) recorded her best result at nationals after coming in fourth in the 5K classic on Thursday ... It was Stav's sixth podium of the season and fourth in freestyle ... Stav has finished in the top five in five straight races and in nine of her 10 competitions during her freshman campaign ... UU's Novie McCabe (3rd) finished on the podium in both of her first two career NCAA Championship races after also coming in third in the 5K classic on Thursday ... McCabe has been on the podium in all 10 races of her freshman season, picking up five wins ... UAA freshman Tuva Bygrave (4th) set a new personal best at nationals after placing sixth in her debut in the classic on Thursday ... Bygrave earned her third top-five finish of the season and her fifth in the top 10 after participating in six races in 2021 ... Alaska Fairbanks' Mariel Pulles (5th) set a new personal best at the NCAA Championships for the second straight race after finishing seventh in the 5K classic on Thursday ... Pulles has been in the top 10 in now four straight races and in six of her last seven ... It was her third top-five placement of the season/career ... Colorado's Weronika Kaleta (7th) led the Buffaloes in scoring and set a new personal best at her first national championships (13th in 5K classic) ... It was Kaleta's eighth top 10 of the season and her best finish in freestyle since coming in third in a sprint competition at the CU Invitational on Feb. 5 ... UAF's Kendall Kramer (8th) recorded her fourth top 10 of her freshman year and her third in freestyle ... It was a new personal best at the national championships after being 12th in the classical on Thursday ... Denver's Hanna Ray (14th) led her school in scoring and recorded her second top-15 finish of the season in freestyle ... Adrianna Proffitt was the highest-placed Montana State skier in 18th.

Men's Freestyle Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Magnus Boee, CU, 48:02.4; 2. Sam Hendry, UU, 48:18.3; 3. Kjetil Baanerud, NMU, 48:49.4; 4. Zak Ketterson, NMU, 48:54.1; 5. Sigurd Roenning, UAA, 48:56.0; 6. Oyvind Haugan, CU, 48:56.8; 7. Magnus Noroey, UAA, 49:02.1; 8. Bernhard Flaschberger, DU, 49:11.3; 9. Borgar Norrud, DU, 49:27.4; 10. Bjorn Riksaasen, UU, 49:30.2

Men's Freestyle Team Results: 1. Colorado (85), T2. Northern Michigan (70), T2. Alaska Anchorage (70), T2. Utah (70), 5. Denver (60), 6. Montana State (42), 7. Alaska Fairbanks (36), T8. Michigan Tech (23), T8. Vermont (23), 10. New Hampshire (11), 11. St. Scholastica (8), 12. Colby (1), T13. Clarkson (0), T13. St. Lawrence (0)

Men's Individual Notes: Colorado's Magnus Boee (1st) picked up his second career national title after also winning the 10K classic on Thursday ... He is the first men's Nordic skier to sweep the two races at nationals since Utah's Martin Bergstroem in 2017 and the first to do it from CU since Mads Stroem in 2016 ... David Ketterer was the last Colorado athlete to have a sweep, doing so in men's alpine in 2017 ... Boee won his 10th race of the season and the 13th of his career ... He has finished first in four straight races and in nine of the past 10 competitions ... It was also his 16th career podium, passing UAA's Sigurd Roenning (15) for the most among active RMISA skiers ... Erik Dengerud was the last CU men's Nordic skier to win in freestyle in 2019 (10K, interval), while Mads Stroem (2014) was the last to do it in a 20K race ... Boee is the first Colorado skier to win an NCAA Championship 20K race with an interval start ... UU teammate Sam Hendry (2nd) tied his career-best finish at the national championships after placing second in the 10K freestyle last year ... He has placed on the podium in each of his three career races at the NCAA Championships ... Hendry has finished on the podium in each of the last nine races he's participated in, recording two wins, six runner-ups and a third-place result ... Alaska Anchorage's Sigurd Roenning (5th) picked up his third top-five finish in his NCAA Championships career ... It was his fifth top five of the year and his best finish in freestyle since coming in third place in the season opener at the Denver Invitational 10K on Jan. 17 ... CU freshman Oyvind Haugan (6th) had a new career-best finish at the national championships after placing eighth in the 5K classic on Thursday ... He finished in the top 10 in nine of his 10 races this season ... UAA Magnus Noroey (7th) has now recorded two top-10 placements in two career races at the national championships after coming in ninth in his debut on Thursday in the 5K classic ... It was his fifth top 10 of the year ... Denver's Bernhard Flaschberger (8th) earned his 10th top 10 of the season and his third in three career races at the NCAAs after coming in third in the 2020 freestyle 10K and sixth in the 5K classic on Thursday ... DU senior Borgar Norrud (9th) had his best finish in five career NCAA Championships, his first top 10 at the national event and his third of the season ... UU senior Bjorn Riksaasen (10th) had his second top 10 at 2021 nationals (was fifth in classic) and set a new career best for freestyle at the national championships ... He finished in the top 10 in all 12 races this year ... Zanden McMullen led Montana State with his second-straight 11th-place result as he also came in that spot in Thursday's classic ... Alaska Fairbanks' Mike Ophoff had his best career finish at the national championships in 12th place, his fifth top-15 performance of the year.

2021 NCAA Championships Alpine Final Team Standings: 1. Denver (250), 2. Vermont (242), 3. Colorado (240), 4. Montana State (238), 5. Westminster (212), 6. Utah (187), 7. New Hampshire (155), 8. Plymouth State (134), 9. Alaska Anchorage (128), 10. Boston College (121), 11. St. Lawrence (85)

2021 NCAA Championships Nordic Final Team Standings: 1. Utah (367), 2. Alaska Anchorage (283), 3. Colorado (283.5), 4. Northern Michigan (232), 5. Denver (192), 6. Alaska Fairbanks (163), 7. Montana State (145.5), 8. Vermont (109), 9. Michigan Tech (89), 10. New Hampshire (56), 11. St. Scholastica (33), 12, Colby (31), 13. St. Lawrence (15), 14. Clarkson (0)

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