Fields earns All-American honor, finishes sixth in 20K at NCAA meet

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Zane Fields capped off the greatest season by a Colby College Nordic skier in program history by earning All-American honors and finishing sixth in the  20-kilometer freestyle mass start at the NCAA Division I Skiing Championships on Saturday.

Fields had the best finish in the history of the program and is Colby's first male All-American for Nordic skiing.
 
"This season has been a dream," Fields said. "If you had told me two months ago that things would unfold the way they did, I wouldn't have believed you. While the sport is an individual one, I have the greatest coaches and team supporting me through every race."
 
Fields earned All-American honors by finishing with a time of 54 minutes, 33 seconds. He was less than one second out of fifth place and held off the seventh place finisher by one-tenth of a second.
 
"We all knew that he could ski at this level, but to see it play out and come together on the right day was exciting," Colby head coach Tracey Cote said. "We are thrilled with the outcome."
 
One of the factors of skiing in Colorado is the altitude factor. Fields had done very little skiing at altitude and it was a worry early in the race with the skiers starting off very slowly.
 
Fields led after the first lap, but dropped back dramatically near the end of the second lap.
 
"I did drop back to about 20th, but I'm honestly not sure how it happened," Fields said. "The pack was still so tight at that point. If you slip up once you get overwhelmed by skiers and it's hard to force your way back into line once you are out."
 
With six Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) wins this year, Fields has been tough to beat in the freestyle races. He put himself back in the top 10 early in the fourth and final lap. 
 
"That last lap was certainly frantic, times were still tight and we were all stepping on each other while we jockeyed for position," Fields said. "Passing is definitely hard, especially in a skate race since the trails are narrow. 
 
Northern Michigan University's Ian Torchia won the race in 54:21.0. 
 
Despite having only two skiers at the meet, Colby finished 15th overall (alpine and Nordic combined) with 50 points.
 
Fields, a junior, will get one more chance at nationals in 2019. 
 
"This has been the most fun year of skiing I have ever had," Fields said. "The season is one that certainly makes the 500-plus hours of training and sacrifices worth it. I'm excited to see what my team and I can accomplish next year."