Gray and Toiviainen Win GS Races as Westminster Shows Alpine Strength

Thursday, February 11, 2021 • by Ron Knabenbauer, Special To RMISA

PARK CITY, Utah—Colorado's Cassidy Gray won her first career race and Westminster's Julia Toiviainen was also victorious on the giant slalom course at Park City Resort on Thursday as the Griffins controlled the first day of alpine action at the RMISA Invitational at Utah. The Westminster Griffins swept the podium and had four skiers in the top five in the second GS race of the day after placing two on the stand and three in the top five in the morning competition. Toiviainen continued her strong season in the afternoon by winning her fourth race of the campaign in a total time of 1:59.82. She produced the second-fastest time in both runs, clocking in 58.94 in her first and 1:00.88 in her second. Toiviainen, who came in third place in the first giant slalom on Thursday won by Gray, now has six podium finishes on the season and has ended in the top five in six of her seven races; she had no podiums and only three top-five appearance during her first season in 2020. Westminster's Hanna Saethereng and Lana Zbasnik joined Toiviainen on the podium in the afternoon GS in second and third place, respectively, while teammate Henriette Resen came in fifth. Saethereng, who recorded her first career podium in the morning, had the fastest second run at 1:00.84 and was just 8-hundreths of a second behind Toiviainen with a total time of 1:59.90. It is the first-ever podium sweep in Westminster history, and the Griffins become only the third RMISA team since 2006 to take each of the top three spots in an alpine race. The last school to do it in a regular-season meet was Colorado at the 2006 Western State Invitational. Westminster joins the Utah women's Nordic team as schools with podium sweeps this season, as the Utes claimed the top three spots to open this RMISA Invitational in the 15-kilometer freestyle race on Jan. 17. The Griffins gained 211 points on the day as they also won the team competition in the first giant slalom event. The rookie Saethereng placed second in the morning race (1:55.99), while Toiviainen joined her on the podium in third place (1:56.28) after posting the quickest first run at 55.99. Zbasnik came in fifth with a time of 1:57.76. University of Colorado freshman Cassidy Gray won the first giant slalom, her first victory in only her third career race. She finished with a 44-hundreths of second lead for a total time of 1:55.55. She produced the fastest second run at 58.73 after coming in third quickest in the opener at 56.82. CU's Stef Fleckenstein joined Gray in the top five in fourth place, as the Buffaloes ended up placing four skiers in the top 10 to finish second in the morning team standings with 94 points. Emma Hammergaard also scored for CU in eighth place while Andrea Arnold came in 10th. None of the Buffs were able to finish the second race despite Gray posting the fastest first run in the afternoon at 58.67. Alaska Anchorage and Montana State each had three skiers in the top 10 over the two races. UAA's Georgia Burgess came in ninth in the first race and seventh in the second while teammate Rebecca Fiegl finished 10th in the afternoon. MSU's Kristiane Bekkestad finished seventh in race No. 1, while Tegan Wold came in sixth and Nellie Talbot in eighth in the second event. The Utah Utes continue to lead the RMISA Invitational at Utah with 527 points after previously winning three of the four Nordic races to begin the meet on Jan. 17-18. Alaska Anchorage is 86 points behind in second place with 441 points, and Montana State is third with 392 points. The Utah RMISA Invite concludes on Friday with two men's slalom races at Park City Resort. The women's alpine regular season is now complete as the RMISA Championships are next up on the schedule in a week's time. The women's and men's giant slalom is on Thursday, Feb. 18, while the slalom competition is Friday, Feb. 19. RMISA Invitational at Utah Team Standings (through 6 of 8 events): 1. Utah (527), 2. Alaska Anchorage (441), 3. Montana State (392), 4. Colorado (382), 5. Denver (297), 6. Alaska Fairbanks (218), 7. Westminster (211), 8. Colorado Mountain (54) Team Notes: Westminster won all four women's giant slalom races during the regular season and five overall on the women's alpine circuit ... WMC has also won two men's alpine races outright and tied in another ... In addition to their first-ever podium sweep in the second race, the Griffins are only the fourth school to accomplish the feat in an RMISA alpine competition in the last 15 years, with Denver last doing it at the 2020 conference championships. Vermont previously accomplished the feat prior at the 2014 NCAA Championships, while Colorado was the last school to sweep an alpine podium in the regular season at the 2006 Western State Invitational ... It was the second podium sweep of the regular season and the first in Alpine, as Utah's women's Nordic team also accomplished the feat earlier at the meet in the 15 kilometer freestyle race on Jan. 17 ... Gaining 100 and 111 points, respectively, on the day, Westminster's women's alpine team has reached the century mark in all four giant slalom competitions in 2021 and has finished with at least three skiers in the top five in each race ... Westminster has placed at least two skiers on the podium in three races this year ... Utah gained the second-most points on the day with 133 and continues to lead the meet with 527 points heading into the final day of competition. Women's GS #1 Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Cassidy Gray, CU, 1:55.55; 2. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 1:55.99; 3. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:56.28; 4. Stef Fleckenstein, CU, 1:57.23; 5. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 1:57.76; 6. Katie Parker, UU, 1:57.91; 7. Kristiane Bekkestad, MSU, 1:58.28; 8. Emma Hammergaard, CU 1:58.31; 9. George Burgess, UAA, 1:58.70; 10. Andrea Arnold, CU, 1:58.77 Women's GS #1 Team Results: 1. Westminster (100), 2. Colorado (94), 3. Utah (63), 4. Montana State (59), 5. Alaska Anchorage (53), 6. Denver (52), 7. Colorado Mountain (23), Individual Notes Giant Slalom #1: Colorado freshman Cassidy Gray won her first race in her third career event ... Gray's victory was the first in women's alpine for the University of Colorado this season, and she joins Filip Forejtek (CU Invite slalom No. 2) and Magnus Boee (five times in Nordic) as Buffs with wins in 2021 ... Gray has two top-10 and three top-15 finishes in her first three collegiate races ... Westminster freshman Hannah Saethereng recorded a new career best in second place and earned her first career podium, while teammate Julia Toiviainen recorded her fifth podium of the season in third place ... CU's Stef Fleckenstein placed fourth in her first GS race of the year and tied a season's best result ... Fleckenstein has come in the top 10 in each of her first three races of the year, with the other two coming earlier this week at the RMISA Invite at Westminster ... She now has 12 career top-five finishes, with seven in giant slalom ... Katie Parker was the highest-placed Utah skier in sixth in the first giant slalom, her second top 10 of the season (third in DU Invite GS#1 on Jan. 10) ... Parker now has nine career top-10 finishes, with seven from the GS ... Rookie Kristiane Bekkestad of Montana State completed her first GS race and came in seventh to be the highest-placed finisher for the school ... It was her third career top 10, and she has now been in the top 10 in every race she's finished ... Colorado's Emma Hammergaard tied a career best in eighth place, accomplished four times previously and twice earlier this season including at DU Invite GS#1 on Jan. 10 ... Hammergaard now has seven career top 10s ... Georgia Burgess led all Alaska Anchorage skiers in the first race in ninth place ... CU's Andrea Arnold registered her third top 10 of the season (all in GS) and the ninth of her career ... Reece Bell was the highest-placed Denver skier in the morning race in 13th, while Morgan Kosik led Colorado Mountain College (29th). Women's GS #2 Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:59.82; 2. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 1:59.90; 3. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 2:01.12; 4. Sona Moravcikova, UU, 2:02.11; 5. Henriette Resen, WMC, 2:02.54; 6. Tegan Wold, MSU, 2:03.38; 7. Georgia Burgess, UAA, 2:03.78; 8. Nellie Talbot, MSU, 2:03.84; 9. Reece Bell, DU, 2:04.38; 10. Rebecca Fiegl, UAA, 2:04.88 Women's Slalom #2 Team Results: 1. Westminster (111), 2. Montana State (71), 3. Utah (70), 4. Alaska Anchorage (69), 5. Denver (42), 6. Colorado Mountain (31), 7. Colorado (0). Individual Notes Slalom #2: Westminster's Julia Toiviainen won her fourth overall race and third of the season in giant slalom after sweeping the DU Invitational GS events on Jan. 10 ... Toiviainen has reached the podium in six of the eight races his year and has seven top-five placements ... She has finished in the top 10 in 18 of her 20 career races, including all eight in 2021 ... WMC's Hannah Saethereng's two runner-up finishes (and first career podiums) on the day gives her four career top-five placements, which includes a pair of fifth-place results in the two GS races to begin the season at the DU Invite on Jan. 10 ... Lana Zbasnik of Westminster finished third in the second GS for her first career podium ... After placing fifth in the first race of the day, Zbasnik now has four top-five finishes on the season, all coming in the GS, and owns six top 10s on the campaign ... Sona Moravcikova of Utah came in fourth place, a season high for her and her best finish since coming in third in the giant slalom at the 2020 NCAA Championships ... It was Moravcikova's eighth career top-five result, with six coming in the GS ... Henriette Resen of WMC finished in a season-high fifth place ... Montana State's Tegan Wold's sixth-place finish marked her best-ever result in the giant slalom (previous was 10th at DU Invite GS#2 on Jan. 10) and her ninth career top 10 ... Georgia Burgess of Alaska Anchorage was seventh in the second race and has been in the top 10 in all three GS races she's finished this season ... Nine of Burgess' 10 career top-10 results have been in the giant slalom ... MSU's Nellie Talbot recorded her third top-10 finish of the season in eighth, all of which have been in the giant slalom ... She owns eight such results in her career, which have also all come in the GS ... Denver's Reece Bell came in ninth to set a new personal best in the giant slalom ... It was Bell's fifth career top 10 (second of season) and first in the GS discipline ... UAA's Rebecca Fiegl (10th) posted her third top 10 in a GS race and sixth overall this season ... Fiegl now owns 29 career top 10s ... Colorado Mountain College's Morgan Kosik was the highest-placed skier for the school in the second race as well (19th) ... Colorado's Cassidy Gray posted the fastest first run in the second event of the day at 58.67, but CU was unable to have a skier finish the afternoon race.

© Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. All Rights Reserved. Powered by StatsGeek