PARK CITY, Utah—Despite what CU coach Richard Rokos called a “disaster,” the University of Colorado moved up one spot Sunday and sits in fourth place through six of eight events at the 2014 Pat Miller Invitational, hosted here at the Park City Mountain Resort by the University of Utah.
The host Utes remained in control of the meet although Denver used a solid day to cut the Utes lead in half. Utah was up over 70 points entering the day and now holds a 36.5 point lead over DU, 520.5 to 484. New Mexico sits third at 414.5 while the Buffs (327) are just ahead of Alaska Anchorage (326) and Montana State sits sixth with 291 points.
The Buffs finished just two of its six skiers in the women’s giant slalom race and had just one top 10 finish on the men’s side in arguable the better discipline for both genders.
“From a coaches stand point, this was a disaster,” Rokos said. “We have high expectations and a lot of potential. Most of the guys are far better in slalom than GS. I will want to dwell on this for a bit but won’t, at this point it’s over and we have to go on with life and fight to get better.”
The women started things off in giant slalom action and just two of the six Buffs that entered the race finished, led by sophomore Thea Grosvold, who finished 10th in a time of 1:01.14. Sophomore Jessica Honkonen was just behind her in a time of 1:01.67 in 11th place.
“We were talking about it yesterday and knowing the Nordic team is four people short, we’d try to do as much as we could on the alpine side and really go for it to make up for the missing Nordic pieces,” Rokos said. “When you do that, it’s either make it or break it and sometimes that brings up disaster and that’s what happened today.”
CU’s two best GS skiers based on last year’s results were Brooke Wales and Shane McLean, Wales didn’t finish the first run and McLean skied out in the second run. Sophomore Clair Wise didn’t finish her first run and freshman Katie Hostetler did not finish her second run.
“Brooke was on a quest to win the race and did well on the top half of her run,” Rokos said. “She got going too fast at the wrong part and came out of the course. Shane had a similar mistake on the top of the course on her second run.”
In men’s slalom action, the Buffs struggled with th the exception of sophomore Henrik Gunnarsson, who finished seventh in a time of 1:53.00. Gunnarsson had the fifth fastest first run and hung on for his top 10 finish.
“We had a few guys miss gates right off the bat and that put pressure on the rest of the guys and it snowballed,” Rokos said. “
Sophomore Kasper Hietanen finished 14th in a time of 1:53.43 while sophomore Adam Zika was 20th in 1:56.04, just ahead of freshman Roger Carry, who was 21st in 1:56.74. Cameron Smith was 23rd in 1:57.15 and senior Fletcher McDonald rounded out the Buffs finishers in 24th in a time of 1:57.42. Tanner Mottau didn’t finish his first run and senior Andreas Haug didn’t start the second run after struggling in his first run.
The Pat Miller Invitational concludes Wednesday with the women’s 20K and men’s 30K freestyle races, still a part of the U.S. National Championships. The RMISA squads will then head north for the Montana State Invitational next weekend.
As for the alpine teams, the men will stay in Park City for two more days to race giant slalom as extra prep as this is the site for the NCAA Championships in March. The women will race in slalom races in nearby Snowbird before heading up to Montana for the Montana State Invitational, that will feature an extra giant slalom qualifier race.
“We will still be short on the Nordic side in Montana so we will focus more on our individual performances,” Rokos said.
TEAM SCORES—1. Utah 520.5; 2. Denver 484; 3. New Mexico 414.5; 4. Colorado 327; 5. Alaska Anchorage 326; 6. Montana State 291; 7. Westminster 183; 8. Wyoming 14; 9. Colorado Mountain College 0.
WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM (23 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Chloe Fausa, UU, 1:56.84; 2. Kristine Haugen, DU, 1:57.57; 3. Tonje Sekse, WMC, 1:58.77; 4. Kristiina Rove, UU, 1:59.03; 5. Mateja Robnik, UNM, 1:59.08; 6. Marie Aufrere, WMC, 1:59.28; 7. Karoline Mykelbust, UNM, 1:59.38; 8. Devin Delaney, DU, 1:59.40; 9. Natalie Knowles, DU, 2:00.41; 10. Thea Grosvold, CU, 2:00.92. Other CU Finishers: 11. Jessica Honkonen, 2:01.78. Did Not Finish (First Run): Brooke Wales, Clare Wise. Did Not Finish (Second Run): Shane McLean, Katie Hostetler.
MEN’S SLALOM (29 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Trevor Philp, DU, 1:50.92; 2. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:51.41; 3. Sebastian Brigovic, DU, 1:51.58; 4. Juho-Pekka Penttinen, UNM, 1:51.72; 5. Mark Engel, UU, 1:51.84; 6. Charlie Reynolds, DU, 1:52.76; 7. Henrik Gunnarsson, CU, 1:53.00; 8. Taylor Shiffrin, DU, 1:53.06; 9. Scott Snow, UNM, 1:53.12; 10. Sam Monsen, MSU, 1:53.13. Other CU Finishers: 14. Kasper Hietanen, 1:53.43; 20. Adam Zika, 1:56.04; 21. Roger Carry, 1:56.74; 23. Cameron Smith, 1:57.15; 24. Fletcher McDonald, 1:57.42. Did Not Finish (First Run): Tanner Mottau. Did Not Start (Second Run): Andreas Haug.