Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 15, 2013

Keeping it all in the family

Gunn High grad matches her mother's '83 NCAA title

by Keith Peters

The past and present came together in a big bear hug this past weekend as Gunn High grad Joanne Reid celebrated with her mother as an NCAA champion in cross-country skiing.

Reid, a senior at the University of Colorado, won the women's 15-kilometer race on Saturday at the NCAA Championships at Ripton, Vt. That matched her mother's performance 30 years earlier whiling helping the Buffaloes rally from a 54-point deficit to win their 19th national championship in skiing — their seventh coed title to go with 11 men's crowns and one women's.

Reid's mother, Olympic speed skating medalist Beth Heiden, won the cross country title skiing for Vermont in 1983, the first year the NCAA sponsored women's skiing after absorbing the old AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women).

"It feels amazing," Joanne Reid said of her final collegiate race. "My mom's got connections here; she can do what she wants, so I saw her at the finish line and it was great. It's cool that we have both now won NCAA individual titles — especially because every time I go skiing with her, they just list all her awards so now I have one that she has. I just need a few more world championships in other sports now to catch up."

Before skiing to here NCAA title in 1983, Beth Heiden was the all-around world speed skating champion in 1979, the 1980 world road cycling champ and a bronze-medalist speed skater at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Reid's uncle, Eric Heiden, won five gold medals at the 1980 Olympics, and set four Olympic records and a world best there. He was the only athlete in the history of speed skating to sweep five events in a single Olympics. Both Beth and Eric were on the cover of Time Magazine in 1980 in a preview edition to the Winter Games.

While Joanne has yet to match the performances of her mom and uncle, her NCAA title was nonetheless special.

"I was really worried about falling, because I'm small, and I get knocked pretty easily," said Reid. "So (senior teammate) Eliska (Hajkova) and I just decided to go out fast and get in front and go. I'm more comfortable leading. I have a weird style so it's hard for me to follow. When I got passed, I just got really nervous that they would break away so I passed them right back. I didn't realize I had a gap, when you get a game there's a hush over the crowd, that's when I realized I had a breakaway."

The largest final day rally in NCAA championship history gave Colorado the school's 25th overall national title, when combining three in men's cross country, two in women's cross country and one in football. It is CU's second ski crown in three years, having won in 2011 in Stowe, and of the 19 total, nine have now been won in the East.

The women's 15-kilometer race was first up Saturday, and set the tone for the day. Reid took the lead at the beginning and dipped into second just once after the second split, eventually pulling away from the field in an impressive winning time of 38:17.8.

At 20 years, eight months and nine days old, Reid became the third-youngest Nordic female national champion, second youngest at CU to Kristen Petty (20, 2, 24) who won in 1985; Vermont's Laura Wilson was a two-time champ in classic and freestyle in 1990, three months younger than Reid.

Hajkova was second in 38:44.6, giving the Buffs two first-team All-Americans; it was the sixth honor for Reid and the fourth for Hajkova. The women's finish gave Colorado a 16-point lead heading into the men's race.

Reid is the sixth CU woman be crowned an NCAA freestyle champion, joining Anette Skjolden (1992), Line Selnes (1998), Katka Hanusova (2000), current CU assistant coach Jana Rehemaa (2006) and Maria Grevsgaard (2008).

It was Reid's ninth win this year, third-most in a single season behind Selnes and Grevsgard, who had 11 those same years. It was also Reid's 11th career win, tying her for fifth all-time at Colorado, and the NCAA-leading 86th all-time a CU skier.

It was the sixth time at the NCAA Championships since 1983 that Colorado skiers produced a 1-2 finish, the first since 2008 when Grevsgaard and Lenka Palanova also did it in the freestyle, though that year it was a 5K. In 2006, it happened in the 15k classic, with Rehemaa winning with Grevsgaard second. Colorado also had 1-2 finishes in 1999 (women's giant slalom), 1988 (men's 20k classic) and in 1991 (men's 10k freestyle).

"I'm so proud of Eliska, she was right next to me for most of the race, we inspire each other," Reid said. "That helped me. She's an amazing sprinter, and amazing skier, that made my race complete when she won the sprint to get second."

At Gunn, Reid ran cross country and on the track and field team. She helped the Titans finish third in 2008 and 2007 at the Central Coast Section Championships in cross country, earning trips to the CIF State Meet. She graduated from Gunn in 2009.

Comments

Posted by Amos Irwin, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Go Joanne!


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