INDIANAPOLIS – Ten University of New Hampshire skiers have been selected to participate in the 2012 NCAA Men's and Women's Skiing Championships, which are being hosted by Montana State University from March 7-10 with alpine events running at Bridger Bowl and Nordic events taking place at Bohart Ranch.
The men's alpine team will be represented by Paul Atkinson (Toronto, Ontario), Taylor Vest-Burton (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Zach Clayton (Manassas, Va.), while Marie-Elaine Lepine (Mont-Tremblant, Quebec), Jenna Kantor (East Burke, Vt.) and Laura Rozinowicz (Toronto, Ontario) will compete in the women's alpine races.
The UNH Nordic qualifiers are the women's triumvirate of Liz Guiney (Park City, Utah), Elizabeth Izzo (Lake Placid, N.Y.) and Tristan Ramey (Anchorage, Alaska), and Erik Lindgren (Pitea, Sweden) on the men's side.
The Wildcats are led by 30th-year Nordic coach and 25th-year ski program coordinator Cory Schwartz and fifth-year alpine head coach Brian Blank. UNH has posted 22 top-10 NCAA finishes during Schwartz's tenure, including eighth place in 2011, which was the school's top finish in 11 seasons.
Atkinson, a four-time NCAA qualifier, will compete at the NCAAs for the third consecutive season. The 2012 EISA All-East Second Team skier and two-time EISA All-East First-Teamer is the East Region's 10th-ranked men's alpine skier. Atkinson, the Wildcats' 2011 men's alpine team MVP, ranked seventh in slalom with three top-10 finishes, highlighted by a season-best third place at the Vermont Carnival, along with fifth place in the EISA Championship at Middlebury and ninth place at Dartmouth. His top giant-slalom performances were a fifth place at UVM and a 12th place at Bates.
Burton is a two-time NCAA qualifier and first-time competitor as the East's 14th-ranked alpine skier. The junior was ranked 10th in SL, where he claimed the top result of his collegiate career when he placed third in SL at the EISAs on Feb. 24. He previously recorded the team's top SL score at Williams (eighth) to go along with a 10th-place run at Dartmouth and 11th at Bates. His top GS finishes included a tie for 10th at Williams, 12th at both Dartmouth and Vermont and 13th at Bates.
Clayton, who garnered All-America First-Team honors in 2011 by finishing third in SL at the NCAAs in Vermont, will seek an encore performance in his senior season. Clayton concluded the year ranked 13th, including a No. 9 ranking in SL. Season SL highlights include a fourth-place finish at the UNH Carnival, fifth place at UVM and 12th at Williams.
Lepine, the East's No. 7 women's alpine skier, prepares for her third straight trip to the NCAAs. The junior captain, a member of the EISA All-East Second Team, was strongest on GS (ranked fifth), where she registered her first career individual victory Feb. 13 at Vermont's Burke Mountain (UNH Carnival make-up race) and spearheaded a Wildcat team GS triumph at Williams by notching fourth place. In addition, the 2011 alpine team MVP snatched third place at Bates and posted a seventh-place finish at Dartmouth. Lepine racked up a SL season-best eighth place at the UNH Carnival.
Kantor punched her ticket to the NCAAs courtesy of a No. 18 ranking, including No. 7 in GS. The sophomore notched a career-high third-place finish at EISAs and tacked on two fourth-place finishes: at UVM and in a UNH Carnival make-up race at Burke Mountain. Kantor's top SL performance was eighth place at UNH.
Rozinowicz, UNH's top women's GS finisher (17th) at last year's nationals, returns for a second straight trip to the NCAAs after locking up a No. 13 ranking. The East's eighth-ranked GS racer collected four top-five finishes this season, including fifth place at Bates, fourth at Dartmouth, fifth at Williams and fourth at EISAs. The sophomore's top SL result was 15th at UVM.
Guiney gears up for her second straight NCAA Championship appearance after making it back-to-back All-East Second-Team berths. The Wildcats' Nordic co-captain is ranked ninth in the East after attaining a top-10 finish in 10 of the season's 11 races, highlighted by her season-best fifth-place run in the 15K classic at last Saturday's EISAs. The junior began the season at Bates with a seventh-place run in the 10K classic and an eighth-place result in the 5K free before rattling off an impressive string of six straight 10th-place performances: the classic sprints and the 15K free at UNH; the 10K free and 5K classic at UVM and the 5K free and 15K classic at Dartmouth.
Izzo will make her first NCAA appearance courtesy of her No. 20 Nordic ranking. The sophomore's season highlights include 13th place in the 15K free at UNH, 14th in the 5K free at Bates and 16th in the 5K classic at Vermont.
Ramey, the lone freshman among the Wildcat contingent, is ranked 18th among EISA Nordic skiers. She solidified her NCAA spot with an 11th-place finish in the 15K classic at EISAs. The Anchorage, Alaska, native snapped Guiney's streak of races as the top 'Cat with a ninth-place finish in the 5K classic at Vermont. Other notable performances included 12th place in both the 10K classic at Williams and at the 15K classic at Dartmouth.
Lindgren, the Nordic co-captain, is the sole men's representative as the East's 16th-ranked competitor. The Pitea, Sweden, native tallied a season-high sixth-place finish in the 20K classic at Dartmouth, claimed 10th place in the 10K classic at UVM and placed 12th in the 20K free at UMH.
Nordic events will be held at Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center. The men's 10-kilometer and women's five-kilometer freestyle cross-country races will be conducted March 7. The women's 15-kilometer and men's 20-kilometer classical races will be held March 9. Alpine events will run at Bridger Bowl. The men's and women's giant slaloms will be held March 8, with the men's and women's slaloms conducted March 10.
All four days of competition will be webcast live on NCAA.com. For the latest schedule, CLICK HERE.