PARK CITY, Utah—The University of Colorado Ski Team will begin defense of its 2013 NCAA Championship Saturday with both alpine and Nordic teams in action as part of the 2014 Pat Miller Invitational, hosted by Utah.
“We had a great training season in the fall and at University Games,” CU coach Richard Rokos said. “The racing wasn’t ideal at the World University Games, but the training was really good. Everybody is ready for the start of the season.”
The Nordic teams will begin competition at the United States Cross Country National Championships, held at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, where the results for Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Teams will be pulled and calculated separately from the official US Nationals results. Saturday’s race will be a 10K women’s and 15K men’s classic races with an interval start. The women start at 10 a.m. with the men entering the starting gate at 12 p.m.
On the alpine side, the men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom races will take place at Park City Mountain Resort with the men kicking things off at 9 a.m. The alpine portion of the meet will conclude on Sunday with men’s slalom and women’s giant slalom races.
Nordic competition concludes on Wednesday, Jan. 8, with the 20K women’s and 30K men’s freestyle mass start race. The men start at 10 a.m. and the women will follow the conclusion of the men’s race.
The Buffs will be short-handed on the Nordic side to begin the 2014 season. CU’s trio of Norwegians on the men’s Nordic side of Rune Oedegaard, Mads Stroem and Andreas Hoye will not be in Utah. Oedegaard and Stroem will also not be in Montana State next week. Junior Arnaud Du Pasquier will anchor the teams in their absence and will be joined by newcomers Jackson Hill, Emil Johansson and Max Scrimgeour.
“The Nordies will be a little depleted and I don’t have a lot of expectations from a team perspective because of that,” Rokos said. “But I’m convinced that as soon as we get those guys back, it will boost the strength of the entire team.”
CU has also signed another women’s Nordic skier, Camilla Brautaset, who will begin her academic career at Colorado this spring. She will be filling out her remaining paperwork early next week and will miss the classic races but the Buffs hope to have her in Salt Lake City by Wednesday’s freestyle races. Brautaset will be joined by Jesse Knori, Lucy Newman and Maja Solbakken, all four new as the entire women’s Nordic team has turned over.
“Those girls all new, so we’ll see how they start their careers,” Rokos said. “They have done well against Denver and some other teams in training. But they’re all new to college skiing, so we will just have to wait and see how they do.”
On the alpine side, the Buffs will be at full strength and returning all six Buffs who competed last year at the NCAA Championships.
On the men’s side, senior Andreas Haug captains a strong and deep group that includes sophomores Henrik Gunnarsson and Kasper Hietanen, who both competed at the NCAA Championships last year. The Buffs also return Adam Zika, the 2012 NCAA Individual Champion in the giant slalom. Senior Fletcher McDonald, sophomore Cameron Smith and newcomers Roger Carry and Tanner Mottau give the Buffs one of the deepest men’s alpine teams in recent years.
The women’s alpine team is also deep and talented, captained by sophomore Brooke Wales, who was second in last year’s giant slalom race at the NCAA Championships. Sophomores Thea Grosvold and Jessica Honkonen both helped the Buffs to the 2013 title, as well, while junior Shane McLean is back to full strength after a late season injury last year. Sophomore Clare Wise and newcomer Katie Hostetler provide even more depth for the squad.
“Some years you know way to early who will represent us at the NCAA Championships,” Rokos said. “This year it’s wide open and several guys and girls are capable of making a statement there.”
After the meet at Utah, the Buffs immediately travel north to Montana, where the Montana State Invitational will take place Jan. 10-12. The Buffs will then have a few weeks off before hosting the Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational in Winter Park and Steamboat Springs from Jan. 31-Feb. 3.
After the CU meet, the regular season will conclude the following week at New Mexico win the Jade Enterprises New Mexico Invitational in Red River, N.M. on Feb. 7-8. The RMISA Championships, which double as the NCAA West Regional, will take place Feb. 21-22 in Beaver Creek and Minturn, Colo., and the season will conclude where it starts Saturday at the NCAA Championships, hosted by Utah, Mar. 3-5.