Fourth time's a charm

Colby College skier grabs national title

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Colby College ski racer Abbi Lathrop has been to the NCAA National Championships four times, but before Wednesday's women's giant slalom race, she had never brought home a national title.

But this week, she ended her drought and became the first Colby College skier, Alpine or Nordic, to win a national title.

2006 NCAA National Skiing Championships Wednesday

Men's giant slalom -- 1. Scott Veenis, Utah, 2:12.19; 2. Francesco Ghedina, DU, 2:13.13; 3. Lars Loeseth, UNM, 2:13.57; 4. Scott Hume, UNR, 2:13.75; 5. Sean McNamara, UNH, 2:13.86; 6. Karl Johnson, DAR, 2:14.00; 6. Eric Mann, WIL, 2:14.00; 8. Paul Epstein, UVM, 2:14.68; 9. Charles Christianson, Williams, 2:14.98; 10. Luke Patterson, UNR, 2:15.13; 11. Gaspar Perricone, Utah, 2:15.69; 31. Josh Bryan, CU, 3:11.45.

Women's giant slalom -- 1. Abbi Lathrop, Colby, 2:16.85; 2. Florence Roujas, DU, 2:16.95; 3. Jamie Kingsbury, UVM, 2:17.68; 4. Lucie Zikova, CU, 2:18.21; 5. Lisa Perricone, CU, 2:19.22; 6. Spela Bertoncelj, MSU, 2:20.41; 7. Kristina Repcinova, UAA, 2:20.47; 8. Stephanie Vaughan, UNH, 2:20.75; 9. Jilyne NcDonald, UVM, 2:21.59; 10. Michelanne Shields, Dart, 2:21.80.

"Last year, I was second at Stowe behind Jamie Kingsbury," Lathrop said. "I didn't think about it too much until right before my run. That's when my coach said, 'You know it's your turn.' It clicked, and it really helped. I'm glad he said it."

Lathrop posted the fastest time in both runs to finish the day with a combined time of 2 minutes, 16.85 seconds. She just edged University of Denver skier Florence Roujas, who was second with a time of 2:16.95. Last year's giant slalom winner, Kingsbury, placed third with a time of 2:17.68. Kingsbury skies for the University of Vermont.

Former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club ski racer Lisa Perricone gave Steamboat ski racing fans plenty to cheer about after she placed fifth in the women's giant slalom in her first NCAA National Championship.

But this day belonged to Lathrop.

"I felt really solid on both runs," Lathrop said. "It was easy. I was in the right position, and I tried to be tight on every gate, and it worked out."

Although the run was easy for Lathrop, it wasn't so easy for the other 34 skiers in the women's field. The race was plagued with heavy fog and snow that limited visibility. The volunteer work crews also had to work all day to remove several inches of snow from the course before and during the race.

"I actually ran 12th, and I think it was better," Lathrop said. " The track felt fine to me. It was a little rough, and then it was quick. You just had to stay on top of it. ... I kept a good line and executed the way I wanted to."

For the small contingent from Colby, Lathrop and two men's Alpine skiers, the result was a reason to celebrate. Both of the men fell but were able to finish the race.

"We came to have a good time, and that's what we've had so far," Lathrop said. " So hopefully, it will continue."

Lathrop and her teammates will be off today as the NCAA Championships move to the cross-country course at Howelsen Hill for the women's five-kilometer classic race at 9:30 a.m. The men's 10-kilometer classic race will follow at 11:30 a.m.

Lathrop's next chance at the National title will come Friday, when the men and women race under the lights at Howelsen.

"I've always been better at GS, but this year, I've been super excited with slalom," Lathrop said. "I didn't expect to do this well in the giant slalom because my results were not that strong in the other ski carnivals."

But Lathrop came to Steam--boat to pursue several goals, most of which she had accomplished by Wednesday afternoon.

"I also had a goal to be a four-time all-American -- that's worked out. Now, I can just go have fun and ski the way I can," Lathrop said.

After the championships are over and she's graduated from Colby, Lathrop said she would like to pursue a position with the U.S. Ski Team alongside her twin sister, Jenny.

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