NCAA Championships PreviewMarch 7, 2023
NCAA Championships are upon us and the stars are all out for the capstone competition of the collegiate racing scene. Shifting from west to east, this year's Championships are being held at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg venue just outside Lake Placid, New York. The first of the two sets of cross country ski events takes place this coming Thursday, with an interval start 10K freestyle race for the men's field, and an interval start 5K freestyle race for the women's field. After a break on Friday, athletes then return for the second day of racing on Saturday: a mass start 20K classic race for both the men's and women's fields.
While the competition appeared to be wide open for the men's field the previous year, this year there will be a clear favorite in the returning champ, Ben Ogden of the University of Vermont. Having skied overseas for a majority of the season save a handful of races back home, his competitive edge may be a bit of a question mark when it comes to going up against his academic peers, but he has shown good fitness when competing against his World Cup colleagues. An upset is certainly not outside of the realm of possibility, but it has to be assumed that Ogden will be right there in the mix if he isn't atop the podium at the end of the day.
In a similar vein, the talented trio from the University of Utah—Sophia Laukli, Novie McCabe, and Sydney Palmer-Leger—will also be the favorites heading into the competition, with each Ute putting in time internationally throughout the season and showing good fitness while doing so. For two of the three, Laukli and McCabe, title defences are on the line, and so the real question will be which of the three comes out on top this time around. Again, upsets are always possible, but the rest of the women's field will really have to show up and show out to overthrow the reigning champs from the University of Utah.
As for one's to watch, if you're tuning in from the midwest you'll have a slew of names to cheer for, some homegrown and some making the region their second home. For the men's field, the qualified athletes are as follows:
- Skylar Patten (Michigan Technological University)
- Zachary Jayne (College of St. Scholastica)
- Kristoffer Karsrud (Northern Michigan University)
- Adam Witkowski (Michigan Technological University)
- Colin Freed (Michigan Technological University)
- Joseph Lynch (College of St. Scholastica)
- John Schwinghamer (College of St. Scholastica)
- Luke Fricker (Northern Michigan University)
- Zachary Nemeth (Colby College)
And for the women's field:
- Victoria Dybwad (College of St. Scholastica)
- Anabel Needham (Michigan Technological University)
- Katerina Hyncicova (Northern Michigan University)
- Merle Richter (Northern Michigan University)
- Olivia Laven (Michigan Technological University)
- Henriette Semb (Michigan Technological University)
- Luci Anderson (University of New Hampshire)
You can also review a full list of the athletes from the Central Region, as well as qualifiers from the East Region and qualifiers from the West Region.
- Thursday, March 9: Freestyle Individual Start
- Men's 10K (9:00 am CST)
- Women's 5K (11:00 am CST)
- Saturday, March 11: Classic Mass Start
- Women's 20K (9:00 am CST)
- Men's 20K (11:00 am CST)
As in years past, NCAA will be broadcasting races live on their website throughout NCAA Championships. Live results will also be available, courtesy of Bullitt Timing, and we will be sure to post updates on Skinnyski.com shortly after each race has concluded.
There is no bigger stage for collegiate athletes, and as such, be prepared for some exciting days of racing ahead as they put it all on the line for the final competition of the season. Favorites are only favorites on paper, and anything can happen when the pressure is on.