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Ellefson finishes fourth in 10K Freestyle at NCAA Championships

Ellefson enjoys his self-described favorite post-race beverage after the best national performance of his career.
The scoreboard tells the tale...

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Bates College junior Sylvan Ellefson placed fourth in the Men's 10K Free Technique race Wednesday at the NCAA Skiing Championships, hosted by Montana State University.

Ellefson (Vail, Colo.) covered the Bohart Ranch course in 31:20.0, fourth best out of 38 competitors. He was one of only three Americans in the top 10 and the only one from a Division III school. He wins his first All-America honors for his top-10 finish, after missing out on the honor by 0.3 seconds in the 10K Free a year ago.

"I felt great," wrote Ellefson via e-mail. "While my lungs were burning because of the altitude, my skis were fast and I felt the most fit I have in a long time. A big thanks to the coaching staff for some of the fastest skis on the course today and their support. Also to my teammates for getting me going through e-mail and phone calls throughout the week. I have the best team in the U.S."

Ellefson is Bates' first Nordic All-American since Justin Easter in 2003, and his finish is the highest for the Bobcats since 2006 U.S. Olympian Justin Freeman placed third in the 10K Classic in 1997.

"I am so thrilled for Sylvan -- what a great race for him and a great day for Bates," wrote Bates coach Becky Woods via e-mail. "I think we all knew he had it in him, especially given his recent results, but it was exciting to see it all come together here."

Ellefson won two races on the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association carnival circuit this season, becoming the first Bates skier to win an EISA race. He was named First Team All-East by the EISA and was the top-ranked skier from an Eastern college at the end of the season.

Ellefson will also compete on Friday at NCAAs in the Men's 20K Mass Start Classic Technique race. Three of his teammates on the Bates women's alpine ski team will begin their NCAA competition tomorrow at Bridger Bowl: juniors Liz Thompson (Rangeley, Maine) and Emily Sampson (Plymouth, N.H.), and first-year Micaela Holland (Belmont, Mass.).

"While I am happy with my finish, being only 15 seconds from the podium (top three) fuels the fire for next year," said Ellefson. "I've raced against many of these guys for the past two years and it is nice to know where I stand amongst them now. It's a confidence booster going into summer training and next season."

Find complete NCAA Championship results at http://www.eisaskiing.org/BART/Results08/ncaa08.htm