Panthers will be represented in both genders at National Championships
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – For the third straight year, Plymouth State University will be represented at the biggest race in collegiate ski racing, the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Skiing Championships.
Senior Max Martin (Salt Lake City, Utah) and freshman Freydis Halla Einarsdottir (Gardabaer, Iceland) have qualified for the event, which will take place Mar. 9-12 at Steamboat Springs, Colo. The giant slalom races are Wednesday, Mar. 9, with the slalom slated for Friday, Mar. 11, with both events including student-athletes from all NCAA Divisions. This marks the fourth time that Plymouth State has been represented at the NCAA Skiing Championships, and the first time in both genders.
In addition, PSU head ski coach Andrew Gannon has been named the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) Alpine Coach of the Year for 2016. The announcement was made at the EISA Awards banquet last Friday at the NCAA Regionals at Middlebury College.
Martin will make his second appearance at the NCAAs, having competed in 2014 in Park City, Utah. He clinched his 2016 berth last weekend at the Middlebury College Carnival, which also doubles at the NCAA Eastern Regional Championships, posting the best results of his career. Martin placed eighth out of 70 racers in the giant slalom after taking ninth in the slalom event, finishing the 12-race regular season with three top-10 finishes and nine top-20 performances.
"I am so happy for Max," said Gannon. "What a way to cap off four years! His ninth place in the giant slalom in the Colby Carnival in week two was clutch to start of the season. This past weekend at Middlebury was extra special in my mind for Max, as this has never been "his hill". It came down to the second run of the last race of the year, and with all that pressure he got more than he needed, moving from 15th to 8th, and bumping him up four spots in the overall rankings."
Einarsdottir has enjoyed an outstanding rookie season for the PSU women's team, posting eight top-10 finishes and two podium performances in 12 outings. She placed in the top seven in all six slalom races, including a runner-up finish last Saturday at the NCAA Regionals and a third-place at the University of Vermont Carnival in late January. Einarsdottir is ranked sixth among the NCAA qualifiers in the EISA women's alpine rankings, including third in the slalom.
"Freydis is a great skier," said Gannon. "I had no real expectations for her this winter, but I did figure out immediately that her work ethic is outstanding; you can see immediate response to training--on or off the snow. Her success so far this season is wonderful, and I am so happy for her. She works very hard, and deserves everything she can achieve."
Now in his sixth season at PSU, Gannon has built the Panthers into solid contenders on the EISA circuit. The Panthers have had four NCAA Championship qualifiers in the past three years under Gannon, three on the men's side and one on the women's. Gannon previously had tremendous success in his stint at Colby-Sawyer College, with numerous NCAA National Championship individual qualifiers and six consecutive US Collegiate Ski Association national championships.
The contingent from the East will include the PSU pair along with skiers from the University of Vermont, the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College and Middlebury College, and individual competitors from Williams College, Saint Michael's College, and Colby College. They will be competing against the top collegiate ski racers in the country, including Division I scholarship student-athletes, and skiers with World Cup and Olympic experience.
"The NCAA Skiing Championships is one of the hardest competitions in collegiate sports to qualify for," said Gannon. "Only 16 men and 16 women make it, from 13 NCAA Division I, II, and III schools. The only Eastern schools to qualify a full alpine team this year were UVM, Dartmouth, and UNH.
This year's skiing championships will be webcast live on NCAA.com. Visit http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule to watch all the action.
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