March 11, 2013

The Middlebury College ski team hosted the 2013 NCAA Championships at the Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic center from Wednesday through Saturday last week. The Panthers finished the event 10th overall, as Colorado took home its 18th national title.

Sophomore Mary Sackbauer (Vail, Colo.) earned second-team All-America honors after surging to a ninth-place finish in the women’s giant slalom race on the opening day of the NCAA Skiing championships at the Middlebury Snow Bowl on Wednesday.

In the women’s race, Sackbauer posted the eighth-best time in the second run to leap up from 14th place and finish in a two-run time of 2:08.03 seconds. She trailed winner Kristine Haugen of Denver by 3.43 seconds.

Sackbauer, the seventh-place racer in both events at the EISA championships, has been in the top 10 in each of her last six finishes heading into Friday's NCAA Championship slalom.

In the men's race, the Middlebury trio of junior Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), senior David Donaldson (Toronto, Ont.) and senior Andrew McNealus (Woodstock, Vt.) finished 19th, 21st and 28th, respectively.

Roberts turned in the eighth-best time in the second run to move up from 25th after the first run. He finished with a total time of 2:04.32. Donaldson finished in 2:04.61 while McNealus’ two-run time was 2:05.78.

Junior Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, Vt.) blazed to a fourth-place finish in the men's 10K classic nordic race Thursday, leading host Middlebury. Lustgarten completed the course in 26:32.6 to pick up first-team All-America recognition. The showing capped an excellent classical season for the junior from Burlington, who won at the Colby Carnival and also turned in two third-place finishes. Middlebury’s other men’s competitor, junior Austin Cobb (Peru, Vt.), was 28th in 27:51.8.

In the women’s 5K classic, sophomore Annie Pokorny (Spokane, Wash.) came home 18th in 16:27.5 to pace the Middlebury contingent, despite taking a spill on the course. Sophomore Heather Mooney (Peru, Vt.) was 26th in 16:45.1, while rookie Kelsey Phinney (Boulder, Colo.) clocked in at 17:18.6 to place 34th.

Middlebury posted the best team score in the men’s slalom at the NCAA Skiing Championships for the second straight year, seeing a pair of skiers finish in All-America positions Friday at the Bowl. Donaldson led the way for the Panthers, placing second in a two-run time of 1:39.24 to claim first-team All-America honors. Donaldson, the first-run leader, came in just 28 hundredths of a second behind winner Joonas Rasanen of New Mexico.

Donaldson improved on a 21st-place finish in Wednesday’s giant slalom to cap a senior season that saw him win six races and lead the Eastern Intercollegiate Skiing Association (EISA) giant slalom standings.

Roberts shined in the second run to place sixth in 1:40.13, earning All-American recognition for the second straight year. He landed on the second team this winter after picking up first-team honors with a fifth-place showing in 2012 championships in Bozeman, Mont.

The duo’s showing gives Middlebury three alpine All-Americans this winter. Sackbauer, who was ninth in Wednesday's women's giant slalom, completed her season with a 19th-place showing Friday in the slalom in 1:41.33. The third Middlebury men’s skier, McNealus, slipped in the second run and settled for 21st place in 1:42.22.

Lustgarten turned in his second All-America performance of the weekend Saturday, placing eighth in the men’s 20-kilometer freestyle race. His time was 50:18.6, just over five seconds behind winner Miles Havlick of Utah in a race that was tight throughout and came down to a final sprint through the stadium.

The second-team All-America showing followed up Lustgarten’s fourth-place run in the 10K classic on Thursday that earned him first-team honors. The Burlington resident finished in the top eight in every individual event he entered this season. Cobb came home 31st in Saturday’s race with a time of 53:21.6.

In the women’s 15K freestyle, Middlebury teammates Phinney and Mooney raced side-by-side much of the way before Phinney edged ahead at the finish. Their times were 42:19.4 and 42:19.9, respectively, good enough for the 34th and 35th placements.

Middlebury’s top-ranked women’s nordic skier, Pokorny, was hampered by an injury suffered in Thursday’s 5K Classic and had to pull out of Saturday’s race after the first of three laps. 

• end of season