The 2013 college ski season kicked off in full this weekend at the Colorado Invitational at Howelsen Hill Rocky in Steamboat Springs, Colo. The CU Buffs prevailed in their home meet, 878 points to Denver University’s 808.5 between both alpine and nordic scores.
Frigidly cold temperatures made for adverse racing conditions for the 15/20 k freestyle mass start and 5/10 k classic. Joanne Reid (CU) and Rune Oedegaard (CU) each took individual victories in Saturday’s mass start event.
“It was pretty tough,” CU head coach Bruce Cranmer said of the conditions. “I think some people struggled with the cold; the slow snow and all that.”
The first women’s race was a close one until about 2 k from the finish, when Reid pulled away from Marine Dusser (University of Alaska, Anchorage) and Maria Nordstroem (CU) to finish 8.6 seconds ahead of Dusser. Reid led Nordstroem and Mary Rose to a 1-3-7 placing for the Buffs in the 15 k.
Reid did not race at U.S. Nationals in Utah earlier this month and was therefore a slightly unknown quantity going into the first RMISA race of the year. She said the conditions suited her: skating, challenging course, unpleasant conditions.
“This is my first race of the season so I was really nervous,” Reid told FasterSkier on the phone from Steamboat Springs. “I’m a better skate distance skier so I was hoping to crack the top five.
“[The cold] makes the snow really slow so the race becomes a little different; it’s more about strength,” Reid said. “I really like the course here, it’s pretty hard but it’s a fun course to ski.”
The men’s 20 k was a much closer race. Oedegaard bested the University of Utah’s Miles Havlick by only 0.8 seconds. UAA’s Lukas Ebner took third (+1.7).
“He’s been training well and doing well, so I figured he’d be in there,” Cranmer said of Oedegaard. The Molde, Norway, native raced in Sweden over the holiday break and was recently second in the 15 k classic in Bozeman, Mont.
Havlick led the Utes to the high men’s score on Saturday; he, Einar Ulsund and Tucker McCrerey went 2-4-8 for the Utes in the 20 k.
Havlick and Oedegaard traded places in the 10 k classic event the next day. The defending NCAA classic champion bested Oedegaard by 10.9 seconds. Ulsund took third (+21.4).
“Today, our team really demonstrated the grit and determination that make us so strong,” Havlick said in a Utah Skiing press release. “When it’s -3F at the start of the race and there are smiles all around, you know it is going to be a great day.
“I want to dedicate my race today to my former teammate Charlie Smith, who finished on the podium at the NCAA Championships in the 15-km classical on this same course in 2010. He passed away over the holidays, but continues to be an inspiration to us all and constantly in our thoughts.”
In the women’s 5 k, CU once again had a dominant performance. Nordstroem beat Reid by 13.5 seconds; Rose Kemp (UU) took third (+17.4). Eliska Hajkova (CU), despite recent illness, was CU’s third scorer in sixth (+20.4).
“I can’t wait until Eliska fully recovers so we can really show them some Buff power,” Reid said.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.