Panther women capture first national title
SUN VALLEY, Idaho – The Plymouth State University women's alpine ski team captured its first national team championship on Wednesday, skiing to the title in the giant slalom portion of the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships at Sun Valley.
Sophomore Martina Ryberg (Stockholm, Sweden) led the Panthers with the overall women's giant slalom championship, placing first among the 103 ski racers from 20 schools across the country. Her combined time in the two runs of 2:20.17 was exactly one second faster than her regular season rival, Danielle Shannon of Colby-Sawyer College. Ryberg had finished third in the GS at last year's nationals.
The Panthers finished with a combined team time of 438:21, more than three and a half seconds ahead of runner-up Rocky Mountain College and seven seconds faster than third-place Sierra Nevada College. The University of Nevada and Colby-Sawyer rounded out the top five schools. The team times are the combined time of the top three finishers out of the five racers from each team.
In addition to Ryberg's championship, freshman Marley Pawlak (West Dover, Vt.) had an outstanding performance for the Panthers with a sixth-place finish, her top performance in any race this season. Freshman Leigh Anne Connors (Lake Placid, N.Y.) was PSU's third racer across the line with a 23rd place, pushing the Panthers to the team title. Junior Katherine Goller (Williston, Vt.) finished a solid 36th place, while junior Kait Pawlak (North Windham, Vt.) also represented Plymouth State but fell and did not finish.
Plymouth State's women's team finished second at the national championships in the slalom in 2001, and placed third in the giant slalom and combined alpine on two occasions each, but had never won the national team title. Ryberg's individual championship is the first for a PSU woman since Anda Curuta in 2001.
The championships continue Thursday with the men's GS, while the women are back on the slopes on Friday with the slalom race.
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