FRANCONIA, N.H. - The Saint Michael's College Alpine skiing team finished 15th among 21 schools for the second consecutive year when the NCAA Championship came to an end on Saturday with Nordic races. Three Purple Knight Alpine racers singlehandedly combined for the historic finish, as schools can send as many as 12 skiers between the Alpine and Nordic disciplines. The Purple and Gold's 56 points were the most by a college that qualified three individuals or fewer for the national championship.
During a meet that draws competitors from NCAA Division I, II and III institutions, sophomore Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) landed an All-America finish for the second straight year, while junior Mathias Grimsrud (Stabekk, Norway/Donski Alpine) and first-year Anna Willassen (Jar, Norway/Persbråten VGS) both made their NCAA Championship debuts.
The Saint Michael's trio accumulated 56 points, the most in program history, ahead of last year's 50. The Alpine squad has totaled 106 points in the last two years alone, two more than its total from its prior five NCAA appearances combined (2010, 2012-15). The Purple Knights only finished higher than 15th once, during the 1988 meet, when they were 13th of 15 schools. This year, they were seventh among Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) programs, with Middlebury College - which brought five Alpine competitors and one Nordic skier - ahead by 38 points in sixth place. The University of Utah won the championship with 541.5 points.
Among schools that only qualified Alpine competitors, Saint Michael's was 12th, but trailed the University of New Hampshire, which had four racers, by just two points. Other institutions only with Alpine skiers the Purple Knights narrowly trailed were Colby College (64), which had two skiers; the University of Alaska Anchorage (76), six skiers; and Middlebury (89), five skiers. Out of this subsection, Saint Michael's placed fifth in the East.
Grand placed 10th in the slalom on Friday to claim his All-America finish, turning the feat for the second straight year after becoming the first All-American in program history last winter. He was also 16th during the giant slalom on Wednesday. Grand is the 24th multi-time All-America student-athlete in College history. Grimsrud took 15th in the slalom - the fourth-best event finish in program history - while Willassen was 27th.
Thirty-four men and 34 women competed in each Alpine race this week, with 16 apiece hailing from the East region. This marks the second consecutive season Saint Michael's sent three Alpine competitors to the NCAA Championship after multiple skiers had represented the College at the same NCAA Championship only twice before last season, when one Alpine and one Nordic competitor apiece took part in the 1998 and 1999 meets. Neither discipline had ever sent multiple racers to the same national meet prior to last winter.