BOZEMAN, MONT. – It may have taken a year with historic low snow fall but Harvard sophomore Rebecca Nadler made her own history Thursday afternoon when she won the NCAA individual national championship in the women's giant slalom event at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Mont.
Nadler becomes the first Harvard skier, male or female, to win a national championship. Earlier this year the Harvard sophomore became the first skier to even win a downhill event, also in the giant slalom.
"I was not expecting a first place, but I will take it with open arms," said Nadler, a sophomore neurobiology concentrator. "To come out here this year and get this result was definitely a really good improvement."
With a two-run time of 1:41.82, Nadler also became just the fourth woman from the Eastern Region to win the NCAA giant slalom title at a Western host site in 15 tries.
"It was definitely in the back of our mind that this could happen here, but it's one of those things that you never want to focus on the result," said head coach Tim Mitchell. "It's still a little difficult for me to wrap my head around, from where we were six years ago to where we are right now; clearly this [result] is massive…. I'm just totally overwhelmed."
Although the victory is historic, Nadler was not an unknown heading into the competition. In addition to winning the Williams Carnival this season, she finished the regular season as the East region's second-rated skier, by mere points after her worst race of the season in the EISA Championships.
It was a wild day at the mountain with Nadler being one of just three racers to finish with top-10 times in both runs. In the end, her victory by 0.38 seconds over Vermont's Kate Ryley (1:42.21) ranks as one of the widest margins in recent NCAA annals.
In a field with 35 racers, Nadler produced the second-best time of 52.08 in the first run although she stood 0.66 seconds behind Vermont's Kristina Riss-Johannessen in the title chase. Riss-Johannessen would stumble in the decisive run however, to finish a distant 22nd.
Nadler's nearest competitor would be Ryley, who stood in fourth place after the initial run. The two swap places in the second run with Ryley coming home with the second-fastest time (49.67) compared to Nadler's fourth-best time of 49.75. With the combined times, Nadler finished comfortably ahead in the final tally.
For complete results from Day Two, click here.
Nadler postgame quotes:
"It feels completely surreal. I'm pinching myself. I'm really, really happy.
On this season's goals: "I had goals for myself this was so above anything I could imagine. So, no, I'm totally surprised but very happy."
On how she trained for this season: "I've been working pretty consistently the whole season on a few things. They've really been coming along in training, really powerful about the turn, getting that long outside leg. It's great that I was able to bring that to race day, too."