STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - All four Saint Michael's College Alpine skiers scored points during day one of the four-day NCAA Championship on Wednesday at Steamboat Ski Resort's Mount Werner, as the Purple Knights are 10th among 23 Division I, II and III schools.
With 36 points, Saint Michael's has already posted the sixth-most points ever in its NCAA Championship history, only 20 points shy of last year's record 56. The Purple and Gold is just four points behind ninth-place University of Alaska Anchorage. Saint Michael's also stands fourth out of 13 East institutions, trailing only perennial powers University of Vermont (134), Dartmouth College (96.5) and Middlebury College (75).
Junior Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) became the third skier in College history to make three career NCAA appearances, joining Keith Farnand '00 (4) and Fredrik Sandell '15 (3). Senior Meggane Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée des métiers Ambroise Croizat) and sophomore Anna Willassen (Jar, Norway/Persbråten VGS) became the first female Purple Knight skiers to make multiple NCAA appearances, while senior Danny Duffy (Warren, Vt./Green Mountain Valley School) notched his NCAA debut.
The quartet is the largest contingent of Saint Michael's skiers to take part in an NCAA meet, with Meggane Grand being added to the roster just Monday night after originally serving as an alternate, and only flying out to Colorado from Burlington early Tuesday morning.
Duffy and Guillaume Grand combined to total 21 points for the men during the giant slalom, putting the Purple Knights seventh in the event, including third in the East, short of just Dartmouth and Vermont. On the women's side, Meggane Grand and Willassen registered 10th-place points (15), leaving them fourth from the region, trailing Vermont, Middlebury and the University of New Hampshire. They led Dartmouth by 10.5 points.
Guillaume Grand had the top finish for the Purple Knights, claiming his fourth top-15 performance in five career NCAA Championship races. All other competitors - Alpine and Nordic - the College has sent to NCAAs have three such finishes. Grand, who started with the No. 14 bib, ended up 13th out of 29 finishers with a two-run time of 1:50.95, leaving him within 0.54 seconds of the top 10 and an All-America placement. He was 17th after the opening run (55.26) before also claiming the 17th-best second-run (55.69), staying on course despite getting air over a drop that ended the day for a couple fellow competitors. Grand, who was 12th in the event as a first-year and 16th last season, was sixth among East skiers, finishing behind only counterparts from Dartmouth and Vermont.
After starting 33rd, Duffy took 28th at 1:53.85, placing 14th in the East. He matched his bib number with an opening-run 57.01 before turning in the 26th-fastest second trek, at 56.84. Duffy was one of just seven finishers of the race to cut time from his first run to his second.
Willassen started 20th en route to a 22nd-place showing out of 30 GS finishers with a time of 1:56.22. Willassen was 24th thanks to a time of 55.91 in her opening run before posting the 22nd-best second run, at 1:00.31. It was the first time she completed the event at NCAAs after not finishing her first leg as a rookie.
Skiing with the No. 24 bib, Meggane Grand took 25th at 1:56.99, improving her placement from 2016 by two spots. Grand was 26th after the opening run (56.23), which occurred following her waiting out a multiple-minute delay in the start house due to a mid-race course repair. She also had the 26th-fastest second trek (1:00.76).
Thirty-four men and 34 women are competing in each Alpine race this week, with 17 women and 16 men hailing from the East region. Saint Michael's has a school-record four competitors at the meet after sending a record three the past two winters. Thanks singlehandedly to the Alpine team, the College took 15th at the last two NCAAs.
The Purple Knights have never finished higher than 13th place, doing so in a 15-school field in 1988. Their top showing since the meet expanded to more than 20 squads was 15th each of the last two years. Nordic events begin tomorrow, and the Alpine competitors return to ski under the lights of Howelsen Hill Ski Area for the slalom on Friday. The women begin at 8:45 p.m. ET before the men start 45 minutes later.