Tournament time

Five skiers with local ties qualify for championships

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— After months of qualifying races across the country, 148 Alpine and Nordic skiers will descend on Steamboat Springs next week for the 2006 NCAA Men's and Women's Skiing Championships.

The University of Colorado at Boulder is the host school, and the Buffs did themselves proud, qualifying 11 skiers for this year's championships.

Twelve is the maximum per school.

Of the 11 CU skiers who qualified to race in Steamboat, three names will sound familiar to locals.

Lisa Perricone, Joshua Bryan and Pat Duran are former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers who race for the Buffs.

Gaspar Perricone, a junior at Utah, and Mark Iverson, a senior at Montana State University, also qualified for the NCAA Championships. Both are former Winter Sports Club skiers.

Roger Perricone, father of Gaspar and Lisa, is manager for Steamboat Ski Area's Competitive Services.

He and a crew of 50 have helped prepare, build and maintain courses nonstop since Dec. 7. The NCAA giant slalom race is Wednesday on Concentration ski run.

"This is the ultimate goal in the collegiate race," Roger Perricone said. "This is what they are shooting for."

Concentration is in good condition.

"It's a steep, constant pitch," he said. "It's a fairly difficult course. There are no flats and no recovery time. The coverage is great, and prep has been good. It will be hard in the mornings and soft in the afternoons."

The slalom race and Nordic races will be at Howelsen Hill. The men's and women's slalom races are Friday. The men's 10-kilometer classic race and the women's 5K classic race are Thursday. The men's 20K freestyle race and the women's 15K freestyle race are March 11.

Iverson is the only local Nordic skier who qualified.

Participants for the NCAA Championships were selected on a regional basis ----East and West for Alpine skiers and Central, East and West for Nordic skiers. Bids for each region are awarded using a formula determined by the skiing committee.

Alaska Anchorage's Mandy Kempf is the defending women's 5K and 15K champion. The University of Denver's Rene Reisshauer is the defending men's 10K and 20K champion.

Megan Hughes is the defending slalom champion, and Dartmouth's David Chodounsky is the 2005 men's slalom champion. Vermont skiers Greg Hardy and Jamie Kingsbury are the defending men and women's giant slalom champions, respectively.

Every skier but Kempf is back to try to repeat.

DU is the defending team champion, and is a favorite again in 2006, along with CU.

Highlights from the NCAA Championships will be shown at noon April 22 on CBS as part of the show CBS Sports Presents Championships of the NCAA, featuring highlights of the 17 NCAA Championships held during the winter.

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