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BOULDER—University of Colorado ski team members Katie Hartman and Vegard Kjoelhamar will both return to the slopes and trails, respectively, to help the Buffaloes defend their NCAA Championship in 2012.  

Hartman, a senior in 2011, was granted an approval for her medical hardship waver, meaning she regains a year of eligibility and Kjoelhamar was admitted to the graduate program at CU and will also return to the Buffaloes for his final season of eligibility. 

“Having Katie back is big,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “The enthusiasm and leadership she brings to the program can’t be matched.  Having her back versus a new recruit, there is no comparison.  She has been a team captain forever and is especially deserving of the extra season of competition. Vegard coming back is also great news. He was also a team captain for that group last year, so his leadership is big, not to mention he is one of the best skiers in the nation.  This is a huge bonus for the Nordic side and our entire program.”

Hartman tore her ACL and partially tore her MCL on February 1, 2011 in Turkey participating in the World University Games.  She won a gold medal in the Super G, the first competition of the games, two days before her injury and got hurt in horrible conditions.  With gusting winds and little visibility, she crashed just after the first timing gate after she was clocked as the fastest skier to that point by over a second. The skier after her also fell and the race was then cancelled. 

Despite her injury, she remained in Turkey and cheered the United States on to its best alpine performance on foreign soil at any level in U.S. history.  She had surgery in late February and her recovery is on schedule by the start of the collegiate season in January.

“I can’t explain how excited I am to return for one more season,” Hartman said. “I feel like there is some unfinished business to take care of.  I can’t wait to get back on the slopes.”

Last year, she skied in just three of 14 collegiate races with a pair of top 10 performances.  In her career, she is a two-time All-American and three-time All-RMISA performer.  She has two race victories to her credit and 25 top 10 finishes in 34 races.  She has been a team captain since her freshman season. 

Kjoelhamar participated in 10 races and had six podium appearances in 2011, including two at NCAA Championships which earned him a pair of first-team All-America honors.  He won the first two freestyle races of the year and Montana State and Utah, respectively, and took second in the classical race at both of those venues, as well.  He was strapped with an illness most of the middle of the season but returned to full strength for the NCAA Championships, helping the Buffs to their 18th national championship. 

In his career, he has 33 races to his credit, finishing outside the top 20 just once and 27 times placing in the top 10.  He has 14 podium appearances and five race victories, including the 2009 NCAA Freestyle race.  He is a six-time All-America, five-time first team, and has been a first-team member of the All-RMISA team each of his three years, earning the RMISA MVP in 2009.  

Additionally, both Erika Ghent and Sara Hjertman were also deemed eligible for one additional season for the Buffaloes, meaning at one time with Ghent, Hartman and Hjertman all in doubt as to whether they would return, instead of rebuilding the women’s alpine squad, the Buffs look to it as the most experienced squad in 2012.  

Ghent raced in 11 of 13 races last season, missing just two while participating alongside Hartman in Turkey in the World University Games, there earning an overall gold medal for women’s alpine.  She had nine top 10 finishes, four top 5 and two podiums and earned one first-team and one second-team All-America honor at NCAA Championships.  

Hjertman raced in nine of 13 races on the season, also participating at WUG for Sweden.  In her races for CU, she didn’t finish lower than 12th in any race and compiled seven top 10 and four podium appearances, including a second place finish in the giant slalom race at NCAA Championships, earning a first-team All-America citation in the process.

The women’s alpine trio returning has combined to finish 75 collegiate races with 54 top 10 finishes, 18 podiums and three race victories to their credit.