STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - First-year Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) became the first Saint Michael's College skier to ever earn All-America honors on Friday evening, taking ninth in the slalom, as the Purple Knights' Alpine skiing trio concluded competition at the NCAA Championship.
With only Nordic races remaining on Saturday to cap a meet involving student-athletes from Division I, II and III that's being hosted by the University of Colorado, Boulder, Saint Michael's is 14th out of 21 schools, the same placement it occupied entering the day. With 50 points, the Purple and Gold trails Williams College - which also has male Nordic skiers present - by just two points. Should the placement hold, it would be the Purple Knights' best since taking 13th in 1988 among a 15-school field, while its 50 points are already a program record, besting the 1999 squad's 45.
For just the third time in the meet's 63-year history, Alpine races were held under the lights in primetime, with all three instances now occurring at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area. Grand, sophomore sister Meggane Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée des métiers Ambroise Croizat) and fellow first-year Torjus Grimsrud (Stabekk, Norway/Donski Alpine) finished off their first NCAA Championship appearances with their second race in three days.
Guillaume Grand started 14th but found himself ninth following the first of two runs, crossing the finish line in 41.20. He was the 16th-fastest finisher of the second run, in 44.51, but that gave him a composite time of 1:25.71, placing Grand ninth out of 33 finishers. Each of the top 10 earn All-America laurels, and Grand landed on the five-man second team thanks to the best finish ever by a Purple Knight of either gender or from Alpine or Nordic at the NCAA Championship, topping the previous high, his own 12th-place showing in Wednesday's giant slalom, when he finished just 0.01 seconds out of an All-America berth. Grand, who was among the top 10 in 13 of his 14 races as a rookie, was just 0.30 seconds short of the top five while ending up as the third-fastest from the East.
Grimsrud started 27th and caught himself from falling twice during his first run, when he clocked in at 42.69 to stand 28th. Thanks to the 24th-fastest second trek, in 44.86, he took 26th in the race at 1:27.55, the first completed event at an NCAA Championship in his career. Meggane Grand, Guillaume's younger sister, was the first Purple Knight female for either discipline to qualify for NCAAs since Megan McCarthy '05 in 2002. After starting 25th, Grand held that same placement thanks to a first-run time of 48.91, but a stumble interrupted her second trek and she was unable to finish the event. Three Saint Michael's Alpine skiing women have now competed at the NCAA Championship, but none have completed the slalom.
Thanks to Guillaume Grand and Grimsrud, the Purple Knight men scored 27 points on Friday, the third-best figure from the East, besting such regional powers as the University of New Hampshire (21) and Middlebury College (17).
Grimsrud and the Grand siblings provided Saint Michael's a school-record three qualifiers for the NCAA Championship. They're also among only 13 Purple Knights - nine being Alpine racers - to ever compete at NCAAs. Thirty-four male and 34 female Alpine skiers qualified for the championship, including 16 apiece from the East Region. The College has now had representation at the last five NCAA Championships, and seven of eight since 2009.