Alpine Skiing Sends Three Qualifiers to NCAA Championship for Third Straight Year

Alpine Skiing Sends Three Qualifiers to NCAA Championship for Third Straight Year

2018 NCAA Championship Alpine Skiing Schedule

Wednesday, March 7
11 a.m. ET - Men's GS (to completion)
2:30 p.m. ET - Men's GS (to completion)

Friday, March 9
8:45 p.m. ET - Women's SL 1st Run
9:30 p.m. ET - Men's SL 1st Run
11 p.m. ET - Women's SL 2nd Run
11:30 p.m. ET - Men's SL 2nd Run

COLCHESTER, Vt. - A school-record-tying three Saint Michael's College skiers have qualified for the NCAA Championship for the third straight year, it was announced on Monday, as the trio of Alpine racers will take part in an event that involves student-athletes from Division I, II and III. Junior Guillaume Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée Général Ferrié) makes his third appearance and sophomore Anna Willassen (Jar, Norway/Persbråten VGS) her second while senior Danny Duffy (Warren, Vt./Green Mountain Valley School) makes his NCAA debut on March 7 and 9 in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Seventy-four skiers from each gender will take part in Alpine and Nordic races at the national championship, with 34 female and 34 male Alpine skiers competing, including 16 apiece from the East Region. On March 7, the men's giant slalom begins at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Mount Werner at the Steamboat Ski Resort before the women's competition starts at 2:30 p.m. Skiers return for the slalom on March 9 at Howelsen Hill Ski Area, as the women start at 8:45 p.m. and the men at 9:30 p.m. It will mark just the fourth primetime ski race in NCAA Championship history, with each contested at Howelsen Hill.

Grand becomes the third Purple Knight to ever qualify for at least three NCAA Championships, joining Keith Farnand '00 (4) and Fredrik Sandell '15 (3). A top-10 finisher during 32 of his 40 career starts, Grand took 16th in last year's NCAA Championship giant slalom in Franconia, N.H., before claiming 10th during the slalom, landing All-America honors in the latter bv way of the top-10 placement. The lone All-America skier in College history, Grand was ninth in the 2016 slalom to land the initial All-America laurel by a Purple Knight. Those slalom finishes are the best two ever posted by a Purple and Gold competitor at NCAAs. Thanks in part to five top-four placements on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) circuit, including taking third during the Colby College Carnival GS, Grand earned EISA All-East accolades for the third consecutive winter.

Willassen becomes the first Purple Knight female - Alpine or Nordic - to qualify for multiple NCAA Championships. During her debut national meet, Willassen placed 27th in the slalom last season after not finishing her opening run of GS. She was among the top 15 in all six GS races this winter, claiming a season-high sixth place at the Middlebury College Carnival. Her placement was key in helping the Alpine women total third-place points in the GS that day, as she led three Purple Knights in the top 10. Willassen has cracked the top 20 12 times in her career, including on 11 occasions in GS events. With Willassen qualifying, Saint Michael's will have Norwegian representation at the NCAA Championship for the sixth time in seven years, after Sandell qualified three times and junior Torjus Grimsrud (Stabekk, Norway/Donski Alpine) took part in 2016. Willassen and senior Mathias Grimsrud (Stabekk, Norway/Donski Alpine) competed last year.

Duffy, who will graduate in three years in May, took a season-best eighth in the slalom at the Saint Michael's Carnival on Jan. 27 before placing 13th in the discipline twice more, including the next day in a makeup race as well as at Middlebury. Duffy also turned in a 22nd-place GS showing during the Purple Knights' home meet. During his career, Duffy has produced 14 top-25 finishes, with all four of his top-10 performances coming in slalom races. Eight of the nine Saint Michael's male skiers to qualify for nationals have now been Alpine representatives.

After neither the Alpine nor Nordic squads had ever sent more than one competitor to an NCAA Championship prior to 2016, the Alpine program has qualified three competitors for the third consecutive season. Last year's trio of Grand, Mathias Grimsrud and Willassen single-handedly put the Purple Knights in 15th place among 21 teams with 56 points. The point total bested the 2016 triumvirate's school record, while Saint Michael's was 15th at the second consecutive championship, remaining its best since taking 13th of 15 in 1988.

Eight of the 16 qualifiers in College have now come during Gus MacLeod's '02 eight-year tenure as Alpine head coach, with those eight accounting for 13 qualifications. MacLeod, the 2017 EISA Alpine Skiing Coach of the Year, saw his charges podium once while claiming 19 top-10 individual showings this winter.

While the Purple Knights will send three competitors to the NCAA Championship, five only narrowly fell short of qualifying. Senior Meggane Grand (La Plagne, France/Lycée des métiers Ambroise Croizat) and sophomore Emilia Laffin (Chamonix, France/Lycée du Mont-Blanc René Dayve) were among the first six women to miss the cut, while Mathias Grimsrud, Torjus Grimsrud and sophomore Zach Bouchard (Merrimac, Mass./Gould Academy) barely fell shy on the men's side. In all, 12 different Purple Knights - six women, all six men - earned NCAA points this winter by placing among the top 30 in a race.

The NCAA Championship will be webcast live on NCAA.com/liveschedule. Complete multimedia links will be available through SMCAthletics.com.