MSU ski team set for NCAA Championships


BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Montana State ski team will begin competition at the NCAA Championships on Wednesday after a historic run on the national stage last season.

The Bobcats finished 4th overall in the team standings at the 2016 Championships in Colorado, marking the best-ever finish at nationals for the MSU program.

"I think the athletes learned that they could compete for the national championship last year, so they have that confidence going into this year," said MSU Alpine Skiing Head Coach Kevin Francis. "I think they thought they could win it in the first race this year. We've seen a little bit better results through the course of the whole season than we did last year, so I think that gives them confidence going into the races. They're thinking, 'We've been skiing better than last year, so we can do better than last year.'"

"I think we have a little bit more motivation towards wanting to do it again," said junior Garret Driller. "We have another strong team coming in, and I think we have a good choice in attitude, which is 'We can do it.'"

The Cats enter this year's competition in New Hampshire with 11 out of a possible 12 skiers, including six who received All-America accolades at last year's NCAA Championships.

That includes senior Anika Miller, who is the reigning national champion in the Women's 15K Freestyle, and is only the third Bobcat in history to win an NCAA individual title.

Another All-American to keep an eye on is Driller, who will be splitting his time this week between Montana State and Team USA.

The Truckee, California, native is one of eight American men competing at the 2017 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships in Are, Sweden.

Driller becomes the first Bobcat in history to be named to the national squad.

"I was pretty stoked," Driller said. "I had to definitely look at the schedule to make sure it would work out, and I'm leaving right after our Giant Slalom race for NCAA's. I'm flying straight there and I'm going to do some racing. I was really excited to figure that out because it's my last chance as a junior to do it."

"It's our first time that this has happened to a Bobcat, and it's such an honor to have him named," Francis said. "I think if anybody could do it, Garret's got the ability to take care of himself and perform at his best in both places."

Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire, will host the Alpine events. The Women's and Men's Giant Slalom will take place on Wednesday, while the Women's and Men's Slalom will be held on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Jackson Ski Touring Center in Jackson, New Hampshire, will host the Nordic events. The Women's 5K Classical and Men's 10K Classical competitions will be held on Thursday, while the Men's 20K Freestyle and Women's 15K Freestyle will take place on Saturday.