Willassen takes second in GS, leading six Alpine skiers among top 20

Willassen takes second in GS, leading six Alpine skiers among top 20

STOWE, Vt. - First-year Anna Willassen (Jar, Norway/Persbråten VGS) took second in the giant slalom, pacing six Saint Michael's College Alpine skiers among the top 20 on Friday during the University of Vermont Carnival. After one day of action, the Purple Knight Alpine and Nordic skiing teams are seventh among 16 schools, as Alpine races are occurring at Stowe Mountain Resort while Nordic events are at Trapp Family Lodge. The second and final day of competition begins on Saturday at 9 a.m.

Willassen's finish led the Alpine women to second-place points as a team, with them notching 100 to trail only Dartmouth College (107). The men totaled 89 to place third, while the Alpine squads combined to also take third place with 189 points, behind just the host (203) and Dartmouth (211).

Willassen had the fastest opening run of the giant slalom, with her trek of 1:09.12 the quickest by 0.60 seconds, before she finished at 2:21.62 between the two runs, holding off the third-place finisher by 0.05 ticks. Junior Meggane Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée des métiers Ambroise Croizat) was 10th at 2:24.19, improving five spots over her initial run while recording her second career top-10 showing, and first-year Emilia Laffin (Chamonix, France/Lycée du Mont-Blanc René Dayve) took 17th in 2:25.61.

Senior Nicole Cordingley (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell) was 24th at 2:27.24, giving the Purple Knights four competitors who earned NCAA points on the day. The placements were career bests for Laffin and Willassen, Grand posted her best GS finish, and Cordingley notched her top showing since the 2014 Colby College Carnival.

Sophomore Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) placed fourth for the men during the GS, improving from ninth after his opening run with a composite time of 2:16.86, just 0.25 seconds short of the winner. He has placed among the top 10 18 times in 18 career starts, including all 17 Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) races. First-year Zach Bouchard (Merrimac, Mass./Gould Academy) moved from 23rd to place 12th at 2:18.88, and sophomore Torjus Grimsrud (Stabekk, Norway/Donski Alpine) was 20th in 2:19.86. Senior Cam Furrer (Wolcott, Vt./Mount Mansfield Winter Academy) placed 33rd at 2:23.54.

Bouchard matched his career-high placement, Grand tied his personal best for a GS, and Furrer recorded the best finish of his college career.

Sophomore Liam Schmelzle (Saint Louis Park, Minn./Saint Louis Park) led the men's Nordic squad by placing 38th in the freestyle sprint at 3:22.6, recording the second-best placement of his career and coming within 1.3 seconds of the top 30 and an advancement to heats. Classmate Aaron Deeter (Truckee, Calif./Tahoe Truckee) was 53rd in 3:25.1, and senior Torin La Liberte (Madison, N.H./Kennett) took 61st in 3:26.4.

In the women's freestyle sprint, sophomore Amy Duclos (Clifton Park, N.Y./Shenendehowa) was 73rd at 4:27.7, and first-year Aimee Sala (Carrabassett Valley, Maine/Kents Hill School) nabbed 75th in 4:33.6. Junior Emma Barnes (Amherst, Wis./Amherst) narrowly trailed, placing 76th in 4:34.0.