Sandell concludes third NCAA meet, lifts Purple Knights to best finish since 1999

Sandell concludes third NCAA meet, lifts Purple Knights to best finish since 1999

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - Saint Michael's College Alpine skiing senior Fredrik Sandell (Oslo, Norway/Donski Alpine) closed out competition at his third career NCAA Championship on Saturday with a 32nd-place showing in the slalom during his final collegiate race. With the performance, Sandell single-handedly lifted the Purple Knights to an 18th-place team finish, their best since 1999.

"His going three times to NCAAs has been huge for our program," said fifth-year head coach Gus MacLeod '02, "to show incoming first-years that we have a good training team, and we have some people that can compete in our league. It's great for them to train with a guy like Fredo, who has been putting it down the hill all year. It's good for kids looking at schools to see us continually send kids to NCAAs and see us be competitive."

Sandell was one of 34 male Alpine skiers from Division I, II and III to qualify for the NCAA Championship, which took place on Whiteface Mountain, a venue used during the 1980 Winter Olympics. He was among 16 competitors from the East region. This year's NCAA Championship was hosted by Saint Lawrence University and the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

"I hope what I've been doing will make some more good people come to this school next year and for years to come," said Sandell. "We were so close to sending two to NCAAs this year; it would have been so much fun sending two guys. It's good to have our name out there and for people to see our name out there."

While giving Saint Michael's an NCAA selection for the sixth time in seven years, Sandell scored 12 points during the four-day Alpine and Nordic competition, placing the Purple Knights 18th among 23 institutions. That allowed the Purple and Gold, which was eighth out of 12 schools from the East, to finish in the top 20 for the fifth time in its past six appearances. Only the Purple Knights' 17th-place performance in 1999 and 13th-place showing at the 1988 championship were better than their finish this year, all thanks to the work of Sandell. The University of Colorado won the meet with 505 points.

During Saturday's slalom competition, Sandell started 25th but found himself sitting 16th after the opening run thanks to crossing the finish line in 1:00.82, just 0.5 seconds short of 11th place. Sandell's second run was interrupted when he clipped a gate with his ski tip in the lower portion of the course. By hiking back to that gate, he was able to complete the race and earn a final placement in the event. Sandell's cumulative time of 2:47.39 was good for 32nd among 33 finishers in the slalom. He netted all of his team's points by taking 19th on Thursday during the giant slalom, recording the best finish ever by a Purple Knight male in that event at the NCAA meet.

"I don't know what happened today, probably my first 'straddle' in my four years of college," said Sandell. "It's been an honor representing Saint Michael's. I wish I'd done better, especially today, because I had such a good season coming into NCAAs this year. I really wanted a top 10 today, and I'm almost positive I would have made it. It definitely helps that the team has been great here, makes days like this a little bit easier. It's good to be around the team even though I'm competing by myself, makes me feel like I'm part of something bigger."

Sandell concluded his stellar college career with 27 top-20 showings, including eight during his senior campaign. He joined four-time qualifier Keith Farnand '00 as the lone Purple Knights to ever partake more than twice at the national championship, as Sandell also qualified in 2012 (Montana) and 2013 (Middlebury College).

"He put forth a great effort today and Thursday," said MacLeod. "I know it's not exactly where he wanted to finish it today, but it's a fine line between clean run and 'straddle', especially when he put it down the hill like he did. I'm proud he didn't just ski to finish, he skied to compete, and he was putting it down the hill."