Denver Clinches NCAA Championship With Nordic Victory, Colorado Glides Into Second In Tight Podium Race

FasterSkierMarch 15, 200910

Outstanding Nordic results from the University of Denver on Saturday lifted the DU Pioneers to their second consecutive NCAA Championship team title, closing out one of the tightest team competitions in memory. Going into Saturday’s freestyle mass start races, the University of Vermont, DU, and the University of New Mexico sat in a virtual three-way tie. But as the final races unfolded under sunny skies at Black Mountain in Rumford, Maine, the Denver women showed their depth to take an insurmountable lead in the overall standings, with sophomore Antje Maempel earning her second NCAA individual title of these championships, followed closely by Annelise Bailly in fourth. Denver thereby took the team lead over UVM following the women’s 15 KM, and held on with a strong 6th place by Mike Hinkley in the Men’s 20 KM to take the overall win by 56.5 points.

But the surprise of the day came from the University of Colorado, finishing second overall, an amazing .5 points ahead of  New Mexico.  Colorado entered the day in fifth place, unlikely to be in the hunt for the podium. But Alexa Turzian’s outstanding second- place performance in the 15 KM, along with Maria Grevsgaard’s sixth place finish, lifted the Buffs into third heading into the final 20 KM men’s event. CU’s Vegard Kjoelhamar kept the momentum going with a convincing 20 second victory in the men’s race, reminding that Colorado will always be a podium contender at NCAAs. Despite two top-10 performances from New Mexico’s Martin Kaas (4th) and Simon Reissmann (10th), and a relatively weak finish from CU’s Matt Gelso (20th in a sprint finish to the line with Michigan Tech’s Oskar Lund), Colorado ended the day a mere .5 points ahead of New Mexico, thanks to a tie-breaking scoring rule from Friday’s men’s slalom race. (Colorado’s third slalom skier tied for 14th with Williams’ Eric Mann, resulting in an averaged score of 25.5 for each racer. That additional .5 pts provided the margin over UNM in the final standings).

The University of Vermont led the team competition going into the final Nordic events, and sat in second following the women’s 15 km. But classic race champion Juergen Uhl failed to produce in the skating race, finishing a disappointing 26th.  UVM finished the team competition in 5th, five points ahead of Utah. The University of Alaska Anchorage finished fourth, riding the strength of the most consistent men’s X-C team of these championships.

NCAA championship skiing is unique in its emphasis on team competition; a team can only send three athletes per discipline, and all three athletes count. In a tight team competition, every close individual result can determine where a twelve-athlete team stands on the final podium. In this format, the final mass-start nordic events consistently provide an exhilarating finale with high stakes head-to-head action. Congratulations to all the 2009 NCAA individual and team champions.

Final Team Score

Women’s 15 Km Mass Start

Men’s 20 Km Mass Start

Photos courtesy of

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  • Andrew Lee

    March 16, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Here are the scores most relevant to nordic skiers:

    Nordic Top 5:
    Alaska, Anchorage 383
    Denver 375
    Colorado 347
    Darmouth 343
    Utah 249

    Good racing, UAA!

  • Mike Trecker

    March 16, 2009 at 8:07 am

    That’s like….um, your opinion man. NCAA skiing has always been about the whole team. In the photos above I see a DU alpine racer with newly crowned champ Antje Maempel on his shoulders. I’m a big fan of the NCAA circuit and I’ve never seperated out the cross country results from the team totals just so I could analyze how half the team did. Of course I’m cheering for the real contenders, and by the way, over 700 nordic points scored from a 25 mile radius on the Colorado Front Range. Congrats DU Pioneers and CU Golden Buffs, this was the 13th time these two teams took the top two spots overall!!

  • Andrew Lee

    March 16, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Sure, it is my opinion – I don’t alpine ski. But, this is a nordic skiing website, so how is it not relevant? DU is already recognized by the NCAA as the skiing champions, how does it hurt to point out the nordic top five on a websited dedicated to nordic? I got those scores right off of the results PDF, so it’s not like no one cares.

    There are also schools like UAF that don’t have alpine programs. They didn’t do that well this year, but I’m sure that’s what they look at too.

  • peteb

    March 18, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Not to be a nitpicker, but of the 700 pts scored from within 25 miles of the fron range, about 550 of those points were from europeans in their mid-20s. The majority of the rest came from Alaska, Idaho , California.

    Did anyone from Colorado even go to the NCAAs?

  • Patrick Stinson

    March 20, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Awww snap!

    Way to go Andrew. Nordic results are totally relevant. Alpiners have big thighs, can party, get sick, and still race, and nordic skiers have to sleep every 10 of 24 hours and train a quality 11 months out of the year – not to tout one as better, but they aren’t the same sport, duh! Both are elite competitions requiring elite skills but they are not the same, so it at least deserves a mention. Since when did Antje’ VO2 max affect her alpine team’s score? Of course it’s relevant. Great Job UAA, and all the other nordic teams!

  • Mike Trecker

    March 23, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Nice rips for sure, good college spirit.

    UAA skied great, they have their share of foreign skiers also. I’ll cheer hard the year that the Seawolves field a competitive Alpine team and they take the whole enchilada ala Dartmouth a couple years ago.

    My point is, the original post said “most relevant”, while Patrick said “totally relevant”. I know that’s nit picking also, but clearly the cross country points aren’t the “most relevant” because they don’t award a single team prize for cross country points.

    Are these the same people that focus on “the top American” results all year in the cross country races because of “all the damn foreigners on the circuit.” We need all of the tough skiers we can get in this country. The Aspen Nordic Festival and Owl Creek Chase were historic this year because of the incredible strength of the NCAA western circuit. The Owl Creek Chase proved to be a tougher field than the Birkie this year due to all of the foreign skiers, something the Birkie has lost in the last few seasons. Everyone used to rip on the Italians in Hayward, but now that we haven’t seen them recently, something seems to be missing.

    As far as the slam on gravity skiers. I personally have nothing against the Alpiners, I wish I could be Bode. And by the way, I’ve seen plenty of big thighs, partying, getting sick and still WINNING cross country races on the NCAA circuit, your slams on the Alpine skiers are offensive, generalized and inaccurate.

    One last thing, of course there were Colorado skiers at NCAAs, but I’ll choose to tout an Alaskan skiing at CU. Morgan, Liz et al. – Don’t forget about Alexa.

  • Mike Trecker

    March 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Oops, my bad, Alexa’s from Idaho not the AK, nevertheless, watch out she’s skiing great.

  • Patrick Stinson

    March 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Yeah, I wish I could be Bode too. Huckin meat rules.

  • Jamey Holstein

    March 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I gotta go with Mike in this one…NCAA skiing is about the team, not just the nordic team….thus a “ski team” (too bad jumping is gone). And I have found that, contrary to popular belief, not all NCAA x-c ski racers fall into the steroetype of an enduance athelet who are computer geeks that go on to computer progaming, law school or med school (just a joke, so relax you nerds) – we can hold our own in the party department. Like it or not, year in and out alot of the top 10 skiers are Euros and they only make our skiers ski faster, so the more the better I say.

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