Ten Skiers Headed to 2011 NCAA Championships

DURHAM, N.H. – Ten University of New Hampshire skiers have been selected to participate in the 2011 National Collegiate Men's and Women's Skiing Championships, which are being hosted by the University of Vermont from March 9-12 at the Stowe Mountain Resort and Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vt.

New Hampshire 29th-year ski coordinator and 26th-year Nordic head coach Cory Schwartz has guided the Wildcats to 21 top-10 NCAA championship finishes, including ninth place in each of the last two seasons, and alpine head coach Brian Blank, now in his fourth season, will be sending a full complement of six skiers to the 2011 NCAAs.

The men's alpine team will be represented by Paul Atkinson (Toronto, Ontario), Zach Clayton (Manassas, Va.) and Sam Coffey (Snowmass, Colo.), while Catherine Blanchard (Eastman, Quebec), Marie-Elaine Lepine (Mont-Tremblant, Quebec) and Laura Rozinowicz (Toronto, Ontario) earned the opportunity to compete on the women's side. Harrison Harb (Hopkinton, N.H.) is the lone member of the men's Nordic team to qualify for that discipline, while (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), Clare Egan, Liz Guiney (Park City, Utah) and Tasha Kullas (Timmins, Ontario) will all participate in the women's competition.  

Paul Atkinson

Atkinson, an EISA All-East First Team alpine member, is making his third consecutive trip to the championships. As a sophomore last season, Atkinson was the top UNH men's finisher, taking 14th in slalom in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The East Region's fifth-ranked alpine skier posted his first collegiate win, and New Hampshire's lone individual victory of the season, in the SL at the St. Lawrence Carnival (Jan. 15).  He also recorded second-place finishes in SL races at Colby (Jan. 22) and Middlebury (Feb. 18) and tacked on top-5 results in giant slalom at Middlebury (Feb. 19) and at the EISA Championships (Feb. 27). The junior was named the EISA Skier of the Week on Feb. 21.

Clayton, an EISA All-East Second Team honoree, makes his first NCAA appearance as the East Region's seventh-ranked men's alpine skier. The junior enjoyed his finest race of the season in the SL at Vermont (Feb. 5), where he claimed a career-best second place finish. Clayton also notched fifth place in SL at Dartmouth (Feb. 12) and finished in the top 10 in SL races at the EISA Championships (sixth, Feb. 26) Middlebury (10th, Feb. 18), Colby (ninth, Jan. 22) and St. Lawrence (sixth, Jan. 15).

Coffey, a freshman, is ranked 12th in the East after placing a career-high fifth in the GS at Vermont (Feb. 4), matching that in SL at Middlebury (Feb. 18). Other top-10 performances included sixth (GS) and eighth (SL) at Colby (Jan. 21-22), 10th (SL) at Vermont (Feb. 5) and ninth (GS) at Dartmouth (Feb. 11).

Blanchard, ranked 14th regionally in women's alpine, earns her first NCAA assignment. The sophomore closed out the season strong with a sixth-place finish in SL at the EISAs (Feb. 26). Her top performance came at Vermont (Feb. 5), where she collected third place in SL, and she also tacked on a fifth-place finish in SL at Middlebury (Feb. 18).

Marie-Elaine Lepine

Lepine is making her second consecutive NCAA appearance following a consistent season that saw her claim a No. 17 East Region ranking. The sophomore was the top 'Cat at the EISAs (Feb. 26-27), finishing eighth in GS and 12th in SL. She added a season-best fourth-place finish in GS at Middlebury (Feb. 19) and notched top 10s at Vermont (eighth, GS, Feb. 4) and St. Lawrence (ninth, GS, Jan. 14). At the 2010 NCAAs, Lepine finished 15th in GS.

Rozinowicz brings the top ranking among Wildcat women alpine skiers as the No. 10 skier in the East. The freshman placed a season-best second in GS at Vermont (Feb. 4) and also owns a seventh-place finish in GS and 10th in SL at Dartmouth (Feb. 11-12).

Two other alpine skiers –Chad Lawrence (Hastings, Minn., No. 13) and Taylor Burton (Breckenridge, Colo., No. 14)- also qualified for the championships, but due to the NCAA's three-skier limit per school, will not participate.

Harrison Harb

On the Nordic side, Harb posted a No. 22 ranking after a senior season that saw him tally three top-20 finishes, highlighted by a 10th-place run in the 15K freestyle race at St. Lawrence (Jan. 15). The Granite State native also placed 17th in the 10K classic at St. Lawrence (Jan. 14) and 19th in the 20K classic at Vermont (Feb. 4).

Egan, an All-East Second Team women's Nordic skier, is the highest ranked Wildcat at No. 6. The graduate student filed an impressive campaign with seven individual top-10 finishes, culminating in a third-place finish in the 5K free at the EISAs (Feb. 26). Egan placed third in the 10K free at St. Lawrence (Jan. 15) and recorded a fourth-place finish in the 15K classic at Dartmouth (Feb. 12), where she also notched sixth in the 5K free (Feb. 11). Additionally, she secured fifth in the 10K classic at Colby (Jan. 21), established eighth-place finishes in both the 15K classic and 5K free at Vermont (Feb. 4-5) and, as part of a 3x3 sprint relay team, captured a victory at Middlebury (Feb. 19) and took second in a 3x5 free relay at Colby (Jan. 22).

Guiney boasts a No. 10 regional ranking. The sophomore's notable performances include third place in the 5K classic and eighth in the 10K free at St. Lawrence (Jan. 14-15), sixth in the 15K classic at Vermont (Feb. 4), ninth in the 15K classic at Dartmouth (Feb. 12) and a team victory in the 3x3 sprint relay at Middlebury (Feb. 19).

Tasha Kullas

Kullas, the only senior women's Nordic skier to qualify for the championships, is ranked 11th in the region. Her accomplishments include a fourth-place finish in the 10K classic at Colby (Jan. 21), sixth in the 5K free and seventh in the 15K classic at Vermont (Feb. 4-5) and 10th in the season-opening 5K classic at St. Lawrence (Jan. 14). Further, Kullas joined Egan and Guiney for a 3x3 sprint relay free triumph at Middlebury.

Nordic events will be held March 9 and 11 at Trapp Family Lodge. The men's 10-kilometer and women's five-kilometer freestyle cross-country races will be conducted March 9.  The women's 15-kilometer and men's 20-kilometer classical races will be held March 11.

Alpine events will run March 9 and 12 at Stowe Mountain Resort. The men's and women's giant slaloms will be held March 9, with the men's and women's slaloms conducted March 12.

This year's skiing championships will be webcast live on NCAA.com. Visit the Skiing page of NCAA.com to watch all the action. In addition, highlights of the skiing championships will be shown on CBS at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. CBS Sports Presents Championships of the NCAA will feature highlights of 16 different NCAA championships, each taking place during the winter season.

For more information on the UNH ski team, visit www.unhwildcats.com. For more on the NCAA Championships, CLICK HERE.

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