March 11, 2011 (Stowe, VT) – A solid crowd turned out to cheer on the cross-country athletes on day three of the NCAA Skiing Championships in Stowe, VT today. With rainy conditions making wax prep and visibility uncertain at times in the women’s 15km and men’s 20km classic events, the skiers battled it out with CU athletes Eliska Hajkova and Reid Fletcher emerging victorious.
The women’s 15km classic competition closed with Colorado’s Hajkova taking the win in 53:33.3 over Utah’s Maria Graefnings (UU) following 4s later in 53:37.5 with Jamie Bronga of UAA closing out the podium with a time of 54:9.6. Hajkova and Graefnings alternated the lead throughout the race with Hajkova pulling ahead and maintaining her advantage two-thirds of the way through the race.
The rain lightened and the clouds were lifting as the gun signaled the start to the men’s race which CU’s Fletcher took in 1:05:31.4, followed by Erik Bjornsen of UAA with a time of 1:05:35.7. Vegard Kjoelhamar also from Colorado U and the silver medalist in Wednesday’s 10km freestyle race, claimed third with a time of 1:05:37.0.
A visibly pained Franz Bernstein from the UVM squad completed the race with a strong double-pole through the stadium landing him in 31st after having sustained an injury to his arm and torso during the event.
The overall team rankings for the championship have shuffled slightly with Saturday’s men’s and women’s alpine slalom events remaining to help settle the score. The top five in descending order are the University of Colorado (CU), the University of Utah (UU), Dartmouth College (DAR), the University of New Mexico (UNM) and event hosts, the University of Vermont (UVM).