STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Senior Meggane Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée des métiers Ambroise Croizat) and junior Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) both placed among the top 15 in the slalom on Friday as the Saint Michael's College Alpine skiing team concluded competition at the NCAA Championship. Racers from Division I, II and III schools took part in the third day of the four-day meet under the lights of Howelsen Hill Ski Area, which has now hosted all four primetime Alpine races in NCAA history.
The Purple Knights stand 12th among 23 schools, some of which also have Nordic competitors at the event, while their 73 points have shattered last year's program mark of 56. That leaves them fifth among all East Region schools, short of only Dartmouth College (330.5), the University of Vermont (279), Middlebury College (186) and the University of New Hampshire (108.5). The Purple Knights, who have never finished higher than 13th place, will find out their final NCAA placement after Saturday's Nordic events, which begin at 11 a.m. ET.
The Grand siblings joined senior Danny Duffy (Warren, Vt./Green Mountain Valley School) and sophomore Anna Willassen (Jar, Norway/Persbråten VGS) to comprise a school-record four-skier contingent at the NCAA Championship.
Both the men and women scored ninth-place points during the slalom, with the women claiming 19 points to finish fourth in the East, behind only Vermont (78), New Hampshire (50) and Dartmouth (39). The Purple Knights bested four more squads from their region, including Middlebury (6). The men scored 18 points, thanks singlehandedly to Guillaume Grand, to also nab fourth in the East, short of Dartmouth (74), Vermont (39) and Middlebury (37). Grand helped the Purple and Gold best New Hampshire (11), among four regional foes.
Meggane Grand completed a whirlwind week by tying the best placement ever by a Purple Knight woman at the NCAA Championship. After only being activated for the meet on Monday evening when another competitor was injured, Grand placed 15th in the slalom on Friday for the top showing ever by a female from the College in the event, while matching Megan McCarthy's '05 giant slalom performance at the 2002 NCAAs. Grand, who did not complete the second run during her NCAA debut in 2016, started in the No. 26 bib but had the third-best improvement (11 spots) in the event, eventually clocking in the 17th-best opening run (40.21) and 14th-fastest second leg (42.87), ending up with a composite time of 1:23.08. That left her sixth in the East, behind racers from Dartmouth, New Hampshire and Vermont. Grand was also 25th in the GS on Wednesday.
Willassen started in the No. 34 bib but improved to 28th behind a time of 1:28.78, taking 13th among East skiers. Willassen, who was 27th last year as the only Purple Knight woman to ever complete the slalom event at NCAAs prior to Friday evening, had the 31st-best opening run (42.93) before posting the 28th-best second run (45.85). Willassen took 22nd in the GS earlier in the week.
Guillaume Grand began 16th before finishing the night 13th, coming within 0.16 seconds of 10th, and his third All-America placement in as many years in the event. He opened with the 15th-fastest first run (40.13) before turning in the ninth-best second trek (42.59), closing out the race at 1:22.73. Grand was fifth from the East, trailing foes from Dartmouth, Middlebury and Vermont. The lone All-America skier in College history, Grand was ninth as a first-year and 10th last winter, and now owns five of the nine top-15 showings at NCAAs - Alpine or Nordic - in College history. Grand was 13th in Wednesday's GS, when Duffy placed 28th. In the slalom on Friday, Duffy, from the No. 25 position, closed out his college career by stumbling in his opening run, ultimately not finishing the race.
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. The College has never finished higher than 13th place at an NCAA Championship, doing so in a 15-school field in 1988. Its top showing since the meet expanded to more than 20 squads was 15th each of the last two years, thanks singlehandedly to the Alpine team.