Rebecca Nadler did not exactly set a blazing pace at the NCAA alpine championships last year. The Harvard freshman placed a disappointing 33d, out of 35 competitors, in the giant slalom. It was a low point.
On Thursday, she made history.
The sophomore from Ottawa, Ontario became the first Crimson skier, male or female, to win a national championship, capturing the women's GS at the Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, Montana.
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 at a Western host site in 15 tries. Geordie Lonza of Williams was third (1:42.49).
Nadler was one of 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 races.
"I was not expecting a first place, but I will take it with open arms," Nadler told C.J. Feehan of NCAA.com. "To come out here this year and get this result was definitely really good improvement. "
Harvard coach Tim Mitchell added, "It was definitely in the back our our mind that this could happen here, but it's one of those things that you never want to focus on the result.
"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."
As a neurobiology major, Nadler carries a challenging academic workload. But all season, she has continued to impress on the slopes.
Earlier this season, she became the first Harvard skier to win an NCAA alpine race at the Williams Carnival. And she made numerous appearances on the podium during the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association season.
But a NCAA title is quite a feat.
"I hope Harvard just keeps surprising people until it isn't a surprise anymore," she said.
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