Rocky's Julliand makes history on slopes

Freshman is Battlin' Bears' first female national champion
2013-03-07T14:03:00Z 2013-03-08T00:08:09Z Rocky's Julliand makes history on slopesGazette Staff The Billings Gazette

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — After a thrilling day of fast ski racing, Rocky Mountain College's Eloise Julliand went down in school history.

The 19-year-old freshman became Rocky's first female skier to win a national title after she swept both runs of the women's slalom Thursday at the United States Collegiate Ski Association's national championships on Bald Mountain.

Julliand, who is from Tignes, France, triumphed by nearly 3 1/2 seconds after dominating during her morning and afternoon dashes down the steep Grayhawk course and finishing with a sizzling combined time of 1:28.87.

In the process, she rewrote the history of the 26-year-old Rocky women's program with what was her sixth — and most significant — victory of the season for the Battlin' Bears.

"She was pretty darn excited," Rocky coach Jerry Wolf said of Julliand's reaction to winding up on top. "She's got a great smile, a great grin. I don't think we'll be able to wipe that off for a while."

On Wednesday, Rocky's men crowned just its third individual male champion when fellow freshman Nils Hoegbom of Sweden ruled over the men's giant slalom.

With her rousing victory, Julliand also earned the national combined championship (GS-slalom) after placing third in the GS on Tuesday. She received USCSA All-America recognition in both events.

"It was great to see her handle the nerves and the big event and put it all together," Wolf said of her slalom performance. "She didn't have any bobbles or any real problems out on the course. She's so solid and so consistent."

However, Wolf said that during the lunch break — between the first and second runs — Julliand was still seeking race advice and coaching.

"I just told her to go do what she did in the first run again," Wolf said with a laugh. "I said, 'Don't try something different right now.' It was pretty awesome."

Both of Julliand's runs were under 45 seconds.

Team champion Sierra Nevada College had three skiers finish in the top six to win the team crown in the slalom and successfully defend its overall national championship.

SNC, from Incline Village, Nev., was also first in the GS earlier in the week. Rocky finished second in both events, and the Battlin' Bears wound up second overall as a team, tying their highest finish ever.

St. Olaf College of Minnesota was third in the slalom and overall in the 18-school field.

"Our girls competed really well," Wolf said. "Sierra Nevada, unfortunately, was really deep. They didn't make any mistakes and didn't leave us any loopholes to get the win."

This is the third runner-up finish for the Rocky women at nationals, including the 2011 championships, which were also held at Sun Valley.

Melissa Daniels of SNC placed second to Julliand with her clocking of 1:32.03. Teammates Johanna Tikkanen (1:33.12) and Tea Palic (1:33.16) were fifth and sixth.

Rocky's other top placers included senior Mimmi Palovaara in 15th at 1:35.73 and freshman Malin Eriksson in 21st at 1:38.99.

Seventy-seven skiers completed their two runs.

The times of the top three finishers for each team are used in calculating the team standings.

The top-ranked Rocky men will be competing in the slalom Friday.

The Bears are sitting second to Sierra Nevada after the Eagles beat Rocky in the GS on Wednesday.

Rocky's men claimed its third national championship in 2011 at Sun Valley.

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