ANCHORAGE & GIRDWOOD, Alaska — Behind its first giant slalom win from a male skier in eight years and another strong Nordic performance, the University of Colorado ski team was able to rally and win one meet and finish third in an another as the Alaska-Anchorage and Seawolf invitationals both came to a close here Sunday.
In the UAA Invitational, Colorado was able to rally from 10 points down heading into Sunday’s alpine competition, and with the Buffs scoring the second most points combined between the men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom, were able to overtake host Alaska in the final standings. CU finished with 542 points, and with New Mexico scoring the most alpine points, the Lobos snared second with 529.5, a half-point more than UAA. Utah (492.5) and Denver round (481) rounded out the top five.
In the Seawolf Invitational, Alaska won its first full meet in the 26-year coed history of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, with the Seawolves atop the standings with 554 points. Utah was second (538), followed by Colorado (514.5), Denver (506.5) and New Mexico (472.5). UAA’s only previous win was in a stand-alone Alaska invite that featured Nordic-only events in 1994.
Two meets were conducted here simultaneously and was confusing to even the coaches; the Seawolf meet was a late addition to the schedule to replace the Western State event, which was dropped after the Gunnison-based school eliminated skiing last summer.
“In general, I think we did pretty well to open the year,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “Last year, we were hoping to get a couple of guys in the top 20, now we’re starting to place regularly in the top 10. The competition is amazing, there are a lot of skiers that are showing up from Nor-Am and World Cups (on other teams), but we’re competing right there with them and I’m happy about it.
CU was shorthanded here on the women’s Nordic side with just two performers, one of whom was sick for most of the week and the other who missed a race per doctor’s orders for injury rehab reasons. So in five races CU skied with one less scorer than the rest of the field and still came out of the opening week with decent team results.
In the men’s giant slalom, junior Gabriel Rivas recorded CU’s first alpine win by a male in two seasons in claiming Sunday’s event in a two-run time of 1:36.53. He was well ahead after the first run (49.41) and would best UNM’s Petter Brenna for the victory by seven one-hundredths of a second. CU’s last alpine win was by Drew Roberts, now a junior, as he won the slalom, his first collegiate race, as a freshman in 2007 at the Montana State Invitational.
In the women’s giant slalom, Utah’s Eva Huckova won a closely contested race in a 1:47.11 time, topping CU sophomore Carolina Nordh, who was the runner-up in 1:47.33. Just over one second separated the fourth through 12th skiers.
In the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle race, the Buffs didn’t record a third straight sweep but still had three place in the top five. New Mexico’s Simon Reissman just nipped CU freshman Vegard Kjoelhamar by three-tenths of a second; Reissman won in 40:42.4 while Kjoelhamar was timed in 40:42.7 as the two sprinted neck and neck at the finish. Junior Matt Gelso took third in 40:55.4 to mark the third consecutive race both Kjoelhamar and Gelso finished in the two-three slots. Sophomore Jesper Ostensen, who had posted wins the previous two races, finished fifth in 41:26.3. The competition was so close in a few spots that it took the coaches about 15 minutes to confirm the finish order following the race; in one place, two seconds separated eight skiers.
In the women’s 10k freestyle, CU senior Maria Grevsgaard finished third in 32:32.8, as she still isn’t at 100 percent after being sick earlier in the week, but still managed to win one race and finish in the top five in three of the four races here. Alaska’s Jaime Bronga won in 32:23.5, and as was the case in the men’s race, she posted a three-tenths of a second win over Denver’s Antje Maempel. Sophomore Alexa Turzian finished fifth in 32:45.5 after taking Saturday’s classical race off as part of her rehabilitation following fall hip surgery.
“Cold, good, but cold,” CU Nordic Coordinator Bruce Cranmer said of the opening week of the season. “It was as good a start as I think we could have hoped for. A lot of our skiers don’t do super-well in this kind of cold, not that many really do, but we built a lot of confidence in how we can ski, came together as a group and did well. So we’re happy with this start, now we just have to keep focused, keep improving and concentrate at peaking at the right time. We know where the finish line is as far as the season is concerned and we know we have to keep on track until the end.”
Next up on the western schedule will be the 15th Annual Colorado Invitational/Laura Sharpe Flood Memorial, which will run Wednesday through Saturday at both Eldora Ski Resort and on two Nordic courses in Aspen. Alpine events will take place the first three days, with the cross county competition on Friday and Saturday.
UAA Invitational Final Team Scores—1. Colorado 542; 2. New Mexico 529.5; 3. Alaska-Anchorage 529; 4. Utah 492.5;
5. Denver 481; 6. Montana State 396; 7. Nevada 350; 8. Whitman 186; 8. Wyoming 47.
Seawolf Invitational Final Team Scores—1. Alaska-Anchorage 554; 2. Utah 538; 3. Colorado 514.5; 4. Denver 506.5;
5. New Mexico 472.5; 6. Nevada 383.5; 7. Montana State 340; 8. Whitman 183; 9. Wyoming 42.
Women’s Giant Slalom—1. Eva Huckova, Utah, 1:47.11; 2. Carolina Nordh, CU, 1:47.33; 3. Estelle Pecherand-Charmet, UNM, 1:47.82; 4. Stefanie Demetz, UNM, 1:48.52; 5. Sanda MacDonald, UAA, 1:48.73; 6. Chirine Njeim, Utah, 1:48.83; 7. Carmell McElroy, MSU, 1:49.46; 8. Chelsea Laswell, Utah, 1:49.47; 9. Allison Empey, UAA, 1:49.55; 10. Malin Hemmingsson, UNM, 1:49.56. Other CU Results: 12. Katie Hartman, 1:49.71; 19. Lisa Perricone, 1:51.25; 25. Jennifer Allen, 1:52.78; 26. Ashley Babcock, 1:53.04. Did Not Finish (1st run): Heidi Hillenbrand 1:48.34.
Men’s Slalom—1. Gabriel Rivas, CU, 1:36.53; 2. Petter Brenna, UNM, 1:36.60; 3. John Buchar, DU, 1:37.07; 4. Leif Haugen, DU, 1:37.26; 5. Ian Lochhead, DU, 1:37.31; 6. Nikolai Finne, UNM, 1:37.99; 7. Drew Roberts, CU, 1:38.53; 8. Stefan Hughes, CU, 1:38.69; 9 (tie). Herman Lager, Utah, and Thomas Schwab, UNM, 1:38.70. Other CU Results: 11. Eric Davis, 1:38.85; 17. Patrick Duran, 1:39.63; 20. Arman Serebrakian, 1:40.56; 31. Taggart Spenst, 1:52.30. Disqualified (2nd run): Tony Cesolini.
Women’s 10K Freestyle— 1. Jaime Bronga, UAA, 32:23.5; 2. Antje Maempel, DU, 32:23.8; 3. Maria Grevsgaard, CU, 32:32.8; 4. Annelies Cook, Utah, 32:38.6; 5. Alexa Turzian, CU, 32:45.5; 6. Sadie Bjornsen, UAA, 33:09.1; 7. Annelise Bailly, DU, 33:27.9; 8. Laura Rombach, UAA, 33:29.5; 9. Zoe Roy, Utah, 33:30.2; 10. Sara Schwieger, Utah, 33:50.9.
Men’s 15K Freestyle—1. Simon Reissmann, UNM, 40:42.4; 2. Vegard Kjoelhamar, CU, 40:42.7; 3. Matt Gelso, CU, 40:55.4; 4. Mike Hinckley, DU, 41:09.2; 5. Jesper Ostensen, CU, 41:26.3; 6. Max Treinen, UAA, 41:30.2; 7. Raphael Wunderle, UAA, 41:30.7; 8. Didrik Smith, Utah, 41:30.8; 9. Lex Treinen, UAA, 41:31.6; 10. Tor-Hakon Hellebostad, UNM, 41:32.2. Other CU Results: 12. Karl Nygren, 42:08.1; 17. Reid Pletcher, 42:49.9; 23. Patrick Neel, 43:07.9; 26. Josh Smith, 43:37.3.
Source: Dave Plati, CU