Skiing races to 12th at NCAAs

Skiing saw its last action of the season over the weekend at the Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Mont.

Geordi Lonza ’13 claimed third in the giant slalom at last weekend’s NCAA Div. I Championships.
Geordi Lonza ’13 claimed third in the giant slalom at last weekend’s NCAA Div. I Championships. - Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Elliot

Competing at the bowl hosted by Montana State, which doubled as the NCAA Div. I Championships, Williams amassed 146 points en route to an impressive 12th-place finish behind a historic third-place giant slalom finish from Geordie Lonza ’13. Four skiers represented the team on the weekend and helped the Ephs improve over last year’s 14th-place finish.

Facing unusually warm conditions with temperatures that rose into the 60s, Lonza and Laurel Carter ’12 hit the slopes in the women’s slalom event on Saturday. Lonza had a fantastic start, finishing her first run in fourth place with a blistering time of 43.71 seconds. While Carter struggled to piece together two clean runs, Lonza laid down a solid second run in 53.90 to land her in 21st on the day. Carter finished 34th overall.

On Friday, the men’s nordic duo of captain Dimitri Luethi ’12 and rookie standout Will Wicherski ’15 each placed in the top 20 of the 20-kilometer classic race. Wicherski, after finding himself nearly last through the first quarter of the race, rallied to finish 11th overall, nearly cracking the top 10. Wicherski’s time of 58:05 was an impressive mark for a first-time competitor at NCAAs. The Eph found himself in fifth among skiers from East coast colleges at the conclusion of the day.

For Luethi, Friday’s race was his last as an Eph. A Switzerland native, Luethi is a four-time NCAA qualifier and has been a perennial top scorer throughout his career. The Eph struggled during the middle of the race but charged back during the second half in emphatic fashion. Fighting through the pack in the final 5k, Luethi finished in a time of 59:24, capping off his career with a solid 20th-place result.

On Thursday, Lonza made her mark on the national stage in the giant slalom event. Her first-run time of 52.62 put her in fifth heading into the second run. Capitalizing on her early success, Lonza laid down a blazing-fast second run in 49.88. This result was enough to move her up two places in the field. Lonza’s third-place finish marked the first time a Williams women’s alpine skier had taken the podium since 1994. Lonza is also the first woman to earn All-American honors since 2003.

Alpine Head Coach Ed Grees was impressed by Lonza’s performance. “The women’s field at the NCAA championships was incredibly strong and deep,” he said. “Geordie was able to keep her focus on this national stage and put her best on the hill both runs to win the bronze.”

The first day of competition on Wednesday saw Luethi and Wicherski hit the trails for the 10-kilometer freestyle race. Facing a highly competitive field and a challenging course, both men had solid finishes. Wicherski bested his senior teammate, coming in at 25th in 27:05 ahead of Luethi’s 35th-place finish in 27:52. The duo earned 20 points total in their first event.

After a successful winter campaign, the Ephs look forward to building on their successes next year. They will have to do so with a different team, however: The combined nordic and alpine squads will lose a total of 11 seniors to graduation in June.