(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State University sits in seventh place following the opening day of the NCAA Skiing Championships hosted by the University of Colorado at the Steamboat Springs Ski Resort on Wednesday, March 7. Three Bobcats produced points and earned All-America accolades to highlight MSU’s showing in the Giant Slalom.
Junior Morten Bakke had MSU’s top individual finish in the 2018 Giant Slalom. Bakke, who previously was an All-American back at the 2016 meet which was held in Steamboat Springs, had the seventh-fastest first (54.82) and second (55.40) runs of the day. It led him to a combined time of 1:50.22 which placed him fifth along with First Team All-America honors.
MSU’s two other men’s alpine skiers, Garrett Driller and Addison Dvoracek had solid opening runs before not finishing their second attempts. Dvoracek had the fastest run of the day of 53.93 seconds to sit in first place. Driller sat in 12th after his first run which he crossed the line in 55.07 seconds.
“We had great runs to start off with,” MSU alpine head coach Kevin Francis said. “We gave ourselves a great chance. We had some bad luck on our second runs.
“Morten was so impressive with his skiing on both runs. There was never a ton of risk going on, I thought he was going to make it down and be fast the whole time. It was his most consistent skiing of the year and he was rewarded for it in the end.”
“I’ve always had confidence skiing here like last time we came here for NCAA’s,” Bakke said. “We had regionals a couple weekends ago and I had a couple good runs then too. I had the confidence going, I managed to put down two pretty good runs today and that was pretty awesome.”
Junior Stephanie Gartner led the women’s team with her sixth-place finish. Gartner entered her second run in 12th place, but completed the third-fastest run (58.65) on the second attempt among competitors for a combined mark of 1:53.51.
Senior Kari Hole joined Gartner on the Giant Slalom All-America Second Team. Hole put together two consecutive top-10 runs clocking in with a combined 1:53.78 which was good for 10th place overall.
Benedicte Lyche was in second following her first run, but was unable to finish her second attempt on Wednesday.
The women’s side made up for 48 of MSU’s 77 overall points that currently puts the Bobcats in seventh. Vermont leads the team standings with 134 points, but Colorado (130), Denver (129) and Utah (103) are in the thick of the team competition.
MSU will have a chance to cut the deficit over the next three days, with the alpine group making its return with the Slalom on Friday evening.
“Luckily, we’re confident in Slalom,” Francis said. “It’s another day, it’s a new event and we get to start from scratch. We really get to ski how we want to and know how to. There’s very little pressure for us at this point. When you come into a championship, there’s always a thought of ‘hey can we win this year. Everything is going to have to go right.’
“At this point, we can still win championships and still win events and score a ton of points. The nordic skiers are getting ready to rip tomorrow and we’re stoked to see what they can pull off. We’re not out of it yet.”
Montana State’s nordic skiers make their debut at the NCAA Championships on Thursday when they compete in the classical set of races. The men begin action at 9 a.m. MDT and are followed by the women at 11 a.m.