Spika Takes 33rd as West Region Dominates

Friday, Mar 7, 2008

With skiers from the west region once again dominating, Whitman College sophomore Devon Spika placed 33rd in the women's 15-kilometer classic as the Nordic portion of the NCAA National Ski Championships came to a close Friday at Bohart Ranch near Bozeman, Mont.

Spika, who also finished 33rd in Wednesday's freestyle race, finished Friday's event in 1:04:56.2.

Maria Grevsgaard, a native of Norway and a senior at NCAA Div. I University of Colorado, took the gold medal with a time of 55:04.6, beating runner-up Polina Ermoshina of the University of New Mexico by nearly 55 seconds. The University of Denver's Antje Maempel was third in 56:09.5, giving the west region a sweep of the podium spots.

Grevsgaard also won Wednesday's freestyle race, leading the west region to a sweep in that event. In Friday's race, skiers from the west region -- one of three regions represented at the national championships -- filled eight of the top 12 spots.

"The competition at nationals this week was definitely tougher than it was a year ago, and our region was a big part of that," Whitman coach Calisa Schouweiler said. "I know Devon wanted to place higher this week, but it's remarkable that she even qualified for nationals while competing in a region as tough as the west."

For a second consecutive year, Spika was the only NCAA Div. III skier to qualify for nationals from the west region. "Given the level of talent here at nationals, any performance is a good performance," Schouweiler said. "Devon has felt really tired this week, and sometimes that happens to an athlete at the end of a long season. I'm proud of the way she competed and stayed mentally tough this week even though she was feeling a bit exhausted physically."

In the men's 20-kilometer classic on Wednesday, Marius Korthauer (Bonndorf, Germany), a senior at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, was a winner in 1:03:07.6. The University of Colorado's Kit Richmond was second in 1:03.19.7, edging the University of Vermont's Juergen Uhl by one second.

The championships conclude Saturday with alpine slalom races.