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Soldier Hollow • Asked what exactly a Catamount was, University of Vermont skiier Anja Gruber broke into a bit of pantomime on Thursday. Deliberately removing her gloves to show her nails, painted with the words "Go Cats," Gruber playfully brandished her claws and snarled with a smile.
"It's a wild cat," Gruber said.
At Soldier Hollow in Midway, the Catamounts' senior showed at least one cat can move quickly over snow. She won the women's 5K classic at the NCAA Skiing Championships. The event, hosted by the University of Utah, featured the nordic cross-country skiiers in the second day of competition.
"It's really exciting. I would have not bet on myself today," said Gruber, who finished at 13:38.40 to beat the second-place finisher, Denver's Sylvia Nordskar.
"I thought that if things go right, I could have a really good day," Gruber added. "I love classic skiing and I love this course here, but it's one thing to have a good day and another to win it."
It was the second straight NCAA championship for Gruber, who was joined in the repeat winner's circle by Colorado's Rune Oedegaard.
In the men's 10K classic, Oedegaard finished the race in 24:34.50 to beat runner-up Pierre Guedon of Denver by more than ten seconds. Utah's Niklas Persson finished third for the Utes' best individual finish of the day.
"It was 25 minutes of maximum effort all the way. It was tough, but it was fun," said Oedegaard, the defending 2013 NCAA 10K champion. "It's been a big goal for me the entire season. I've been training hard with my teammates for the two races."
On Saturday, Oedegaard will try to double up when he competes in the 20K freestyle race.
Denver moved into the team lead in both the men's and women's standings with a strong day at Soldier Hollow. With a combined score of 299, the Pioneers moved ahead of Utah (248 points) and Colorado (240.5) overall.
"It's a good day to be a Buffalo," Oedegaard said.
NCAA Skiing Championships
O Friday's schedule
At Park City
9 a.m. • Men's slalom, 1st run
10 a.m. • Women's slalom, 1st run
Noon • Men's slalom, 2nd run
1 p.m. • Women's slalom, 2nd run
Team scores - Day 2 of 4
1. Denver 158
2. Colorado 150.5
3. New Mexico 119
4. Utah 1165. Vermont 82.5
1. Denver 141
2. Utah 1323. New Mexico 112
4. Vermont 104
5. Colorado 90
1. Denver 299; 2. Utah 248; 3. Colorado 240.5; 4. New Mexico 231; 5. Vermont 186.5
Women's 5K Classic
1. Anja Gruber, Vermont 13.38.40
2. Sylvia Nordskar, Denver 13.47.70 3. Eva Severrus, New Mexico 14:01.00
4. Nichole Bathe, AK Fairbanks 14:07.70
5. Jessica Yeaton, Montana St. 14:21.10
Men's 10K Classic
1. Rune Oedegaard, Colorado 24:34.50 2. Pierre Guedon, Denver 24:45.80
3. Niklas Persson, Utah 25:00.90
4. Mads Stroem, Colorado 25:11.10
5. Moritz Madlener, Denver 25:16.20