BOULDER - The top-ranked University of Colorado ski team was allotted a full 12-skier squad for the upcoming NCAA Championships, announced Tuesday by the NCAA men's and women's skiing committee. The Buffs host the championships March 10-13 in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Also announced Tuesday were the All-Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association teams where the Buffs also placed a league-high 12 skiers and the Buffs also vaulted one spot into the No. 1 ranking in the latest Ski Racing Magazine poll.
The Buffs are one of just four teams nationally that qualified a complete team of 12 skiers, which is comprised of three men and three women from both alpine and nordic. Colorado is joined by Dartmouth, Denver and Utah with full squads qualified while Alaska Anchorage and New Mexico both qualified 11 skiers and Vermont qualified 10. Northern Michigan also qualified a full six-skier squad as the central region only support nordic skiing.
Competing at NCAAs for the Buffaloes will be senior Matt Gelso (men's nordic), freshman Erika Ghent (women's alpine), sophomore Eliska Hajkova (women's nordic), junior Katie Hartman (women's alpine), senior Vegard Kjoelhamar (men's nordic), freshman Spencer Nelson (men's alpine), junior Carolina Nordh (women's alpine), junior Jesper Ostensen (men's nordic), junior Gabriel Rivas (men's alpine), senior Drew Roberts (men's alpine), freshman Joanne Reid (women's nordic) and junior Alexa Turzian (women's nordic).
"It was actually tougher to chose the team this year than in previous years, when we didn't qualify a full team," CU coach Richard Rokos said. "It's the one unfortunate thing if you have depth, with only three skiers from each discipline allowed to go to the NCAA's, someone's going to be left out. It was a little bit of a headache, and someone is going to be disappointed, but after careful deliberation, I believe we picked the best possible team. Since we are hosting it, all the kids are going to be there whether they're competing or not, so we'll have a strong crowd helping us."
Gelso and Roberts will be competing in their fourth NCAA Championships, while Ostensen and Turzian are making their third appearances. Turzian competed in NCAAs at Middlebury two years ago as well as last year for the Buffaloes. Hartman, Kjoelhamar, Nordh and Rivas will all be returning to NCAAs for the second straight season while Hajkova, Nelson and Reid will all make their first appearance, all in their first season skiing collegiately.
The Buffs also placed a league-high 12 skiers on the All-RMISA first- and second-teams. Gelso, Hajkova, Hartman, Kjoelhamar, Ostensen and Rivas all earned first-team honors while Ghent, Nordh, Reid Pletcher (men's nordic), Roberts, Joanna Reid and Turzian earned second-team mention.
Colorado led the way with 12 overall selections, followed by New Mexico with nine and Denver with eight honorees. The Buffs and Lobos each had six first-team selections to lead the way, as well.
The Buffs and Lobos also swapped places in the latest poll by Ski Racing Magazine on the strength of CU's two wins at the Nevada Invitational as well as the RMISA Championships. Dartmouth remains third, Denver fourth and Vermont round out the top five of the poll.