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Saethereng and Kogler Win RMISA Giant Slalom Championships

Thursday, February 18, 2021 • by Ron Knabenbauer, Special To RMISA

PARK CITY, Utah—Hannah Saethereng of Westminster College and Tobias Kogler of the University of Denver won the women's and men's giant slalom on Thursday at Park City Resort on the first day of the 2021 RMISA Championships. It was Saethereng's first career win and Kogler's second conference championship and first in GS.

Westminster leads the RMISA Championships with 165 points after the first day of competition. The University of Colorado is just two points behind in second place (163), while Montana State (154), Utah (146) and Denver (121) are all within 50 points of the top spot.

Saethereng won her first collegiate race in a time of 1:57.01 after producing the fastest second run of the day at 58.71. The freshman registered back-to-back second-place finishes in the giant slalom at last week's RMISA Invitational at Utah and has finished in the top five in all five GS events this season.

Westminster won the women's team event with 105 points by placing three skiers in the top four, with only Colorado's Stef Fleckenstein's second-place finish breaking up the pack of Griffins at the top. Julia Toiviainen was on the podium in the third spot with a time of 1:58.21, seven-hundredths of a second faster than teammate Lana Zbasnik in fourth (1:58.28).

Toiviainen had her best finish at a conference championship in third place and has found her way on the podium in all five GS races this season, which includes three wins. Zbasnik joins Toiviainen by also recording her career-best result at the RMISA Championships and now owns five top-five finishes in giant slalom competitions in 2021.

Fleckenstein's second-place finish marked her best result and second career podium in a conference championship race after coming in third at last year's GS competition. She had the fastest first run of the day at 57.60 and ended with a total time of 1:57.44.

Colorado came in second in the women's team competition with 89 points with three skiers scoring in the top 10. Along with Fleckenstein, Isabelle Fidjeland finished in fifth and Emma Hammergaard in eighth after the two Buffaloes had the second and third-fastest second runs, respectively. Fleckenstein had the fourth-fastest second run.

Utah joined the Buffaloes and Griffins with three skiers in the top 10 to finish in third place (68 points) as Katie Parker came in seventh, Sona Moravcikova in ninth and Claire Timmermann in 10th. Fellow Ute Katie Vesterstein was close behind as well in 11th.

Freshman Kristiane Bekkestad wrapped up her first conference championship race in sixth place for Montana State, which was fourth with 63 points.

Kogler's victory in the men's race marked his third in a row after winning both giant slalom competitions in his last meet at the RMISA Invitational at Utah. It was also his second win of the day as the second GS race of the RMISA Invite was held earlier on Thursday morning as a make-up after the meet was postponed due to worsening conditions that made it unsafe to continue last Friday.

The winner of the 2020 national championship in the GS, Kogler has finished in the top-five in five RMISA Championship events, including in each of the last three in the giant slalom. The Pioneers senior won the slalom and came in second in the GS at last year's conference championship.

Kogler finished with a time of 1:53.93 after having the best second run at 57.33. Louis Muhlen-Schulte of Montana State ended in second place with a time of 1:54.11, as he produced the second-fastest mark in each run for his first career podium at the conference championships. Utah's Huston Philp finished in third for his first career podium and second top-five finish of the year.

Montana State won the men's giant slalom team event with 91 points as Riley Segar (fifth) and Aage Solheim (seventh) joined Muhlen-Schulte with top-10 appearances on the day.

Behind MSU, Utah (78), Denver (76) and Colorado (74) were separated by only four points in the team standings.

Second-place Utah also scored three skiers in the top 10, with Gustav Voello in eighth and freshman Wilhelm Normannseth finishing 10th. Colorado was headed by rookie Louis Fausa in fourth and teammate Filip Forejtek two spots behind in sixth. Mikkel Solbakken led Westminster in ninth place, his eighth top 10 of the season.

The Alpine portion of the RMISA Championships concludes on Friday with the women's and men's slalom events. The Nordic skiers will begin the conference meet on Feb. 26 after wrapping up their regular season early next week.

2021 RMISA Championship Team Standings (through 2 of 8 events): 1. Westminster (165), 2. Colorado (163), 3. Montana State (154), 4. Utah (146), 5. Denver (121), 6. Alaska Anchorage (88), 7. Colorado Mountain (71), 8. Alaska Fairbanks (0)

Team Notes: Westminster College has won all five giant slalom team events this season and six overall ... It has placed at least three skiers in the top five in all five GS events ... The Griffins recorded at least 100 points in a women's alpine race for the fifth time this season, also all in the GS ... Montana State won their second men's alpine team event of the season and its first outright after tying with Westminster in slalom No. 1 at the Colorado Invitational on Jan. 13 ... Utah recorded six skiers in the top on the day ... All seven teams are within 100 points of each other after the first day of the conference championships, including five within 50 points ... Alaska Fairbanks did not participate on Thursday as the school doesn't field an Alpine team.

Women's GS Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 1:57.01; 2. Stef Fleckenstein, CU, 1:57.44; 3. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:58.21; 4. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 1:58.28; 5. Isabelle Fidjeland, CU, 1:58.42; 6. Kristiane Bekkestad, MSU, 1:58.61; 7. Katie Parker, UU, 1:58.65; 8. Emma Hammergaard, CU, 1:58.68; 9. Sona Moravcikova, UU, 1:58.71; 10. Claire Timmermann, UU, 1:58.90.

Women's GS Team Results: 1. Westminster (105), 2. Colorado (89), 3 Utah (68), 4. Montana State (63), 5. Alaska Anchorage (48), 6. Denver (45), 7. Colorado Mountain (36)

Women's Individual Notes: After winning her first race, Westminster freshman Hannah Saethereng now has three straight podium appearances and has been in the top five in all five GS races this season ... CU's Stef Fleckenstein's second place finish was a new season's best and tied her best-career result for the conference championship (third in GS in 2020) ... Fleckenstein has been in the top 10 in all four races she's finished this year, including in the top five in three of them ... Julia Toiviainen of Westminster recorded her best ever result at the conference championships in third place and has finished in the top 10 in all nine races this season ... She has placed on the podium in all five GS races, which included four podiums and three wins, and has been in the top five in eight of nine alpine races this year ... WMC's Lana Zbasnik's fourth-place result was a new personal best at the RMISA Championships and marked her third straight top five and fifth overall of the season ... Colorado's Isabelle Fidjeland's fifth-place finish set a new career best ... It was Fidjeland's sixth top 10 of her career and third of the season.

Men's GS Top 10 Individual Results: 1. Tobias Kogler, DU, 1:53.93; 2. Louis Muhlen-Schulte, MSU, 1:54.11; 3. Huston Philp, UU, 1:54.59; 4. Louis Fausa, CU, 1:54.69; 5. Riley Seger, MSU, 1:54.72; 6. Filip Forejtek, CU, 1:54.84; 7. Aage Solheim, MSU, 1:55.05; 8. Gustav Voello, UU, 1:55.18; 9. Mikkel Solbakken, WMC, 1:55.24; 10. Wilhelm Normannseth, UU, 1:55.60

Men's GS Team Results: 1. Montana State (91), 2. Utah (78), 3. Denver (76), 4. Colorado (74), 5. Westminster (60), 6. Alaska Anchorage (40), 7. Colorado Mountain (35)

Men's Individual Notes: Denver's Tobias Kogler won his third straight race, all in the giant slalom ... Kogler has won six of his last eight races he's finished ... It was Kogler's second conference championship and third podium after winning slalom and finishing second in the GS last year ... Montana State's Louis Muhlen-Schulte registered his fourth podium and eighth top 10 of the season ... His second-place finish is his best at an RMISA Championship ... Utah's Huston Philip recorded his first career podium and second top-five finish of the season ... Colorado freshman Louis Fausa's finished in fourth to set a new career-best result ... MSU's Riley Seger finished in a season-best fifth place ... CU's Filip Forejtek's sixth-place finish marked his eighth top 10 of the year and his sixth in a row ... Forejtek had previously finished in the top five in each of the seven races he had finished this season ... Montana State's Aage Solheim (seventh) has been in the top 10 in each of the last seven races he's finished and three straight overall ... Westminster's Mikkel Solbakken recorded his eighth top-10 finish of the season in ninth place.

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