BOZEMAN & BIG SKY, Mont.—Sophomore Jessica Honkonen earned CU’s first women’s slalom victory in nearly six years and the University of Colorado ski team finished fourth at the 2014 Montana State Invitational here at Big Sky and Bohart Ranch Sunday.
Denver held on to win the meet after building a 120 point lead after the first day and extended its lead, beating second place Utah by 180 points, 737 to 557. New Mexico was just two points behind Utah with 555 points while the Buffs total of 496.5 was good for fourth. Montana State (438) and Alaska Anchorage (429) rounded out the NCAA scoring in the meet.
Honkonen was in second after the first run by almost a half-second behind the first run winner, Denver’s Kristine Haugen. Honkonen beat Haugen by three-quarters of a second in the second-fastest second run to win in a time of 1:37.42. It’s her first race victory, the first for the Buffs this season, and her fourth podium in slalom action early in her second season.
“Jessica really put two solid runs together,” CU coach Richard Rokos said. “She actually had a couple of mistakes in her second run but was able to overcome them, still had the second fastest time and won the race.”
It’s the Buffs first race win in women’s alpine since Shane McLean won the GS race at the UAA Invitational two years ago and the first win in women’s slalom since Lucie Zikova’s final race in 2008 when she won the slalom individual national championship.
Sophomore Brooke Wales finished eighth in a time of 1:38.85, just ahead of sophomore Thea Grosvold’s ninth-place finish in a time of 1:38.97. McLean gave the Buffs four of the top 12 in the race in a time of 1:39.76.
“The girls really had a field day, all in the top 12 with Jessica winning and Brooke getting eighth after starting 17t is really solid,” Rokos said. “Thea and Shane the same, solid runs and they can still get better.”
The CU women’s alpine team racked up 166 points, more than any other women’s alpine team in the meet, and won the slalom race with 85 points after taking second in the GS race Saturday. Freshman Katie Hostetler finished 26th in a time of 1:48.15 with Clare Wise rounding out the CU skiers in 29th in a time of 1:52.61.
Senior Fletcher McDonald paced the Buffs on the men’s side for the second straight day. After his career best finish in the GS race the day before, McDonald turned around and hit the podium in the slalom race, taking third in a time of 1:37.97, marking his fourth career podium performance and first of the 2014 season.
“Fletcher became the star of the show, leading us both yesterday and today,” Rokos said. “We know he can do what he did today, but nobody would’ve guessed he would do what he did yesterday and his second run especially was perfect. But still to come out and prove it again today is great.”
Sophomore Henrik Gunnarsson finished seventh in a time of 1:38.70, sophomore Kasper Hietanen taking 14th in 1:39.27 and junior Adam Zika gave CU four in the top 15 in a time of 1:39.60.
Three more Buffs were bunched up later in the standings with senior Andreas Haug 26th in 1:41.78, freshman Roger Carry 27th in 1:42.90 and sophomore Cameron Smith 31st in 1:44.26. Freshman Tanner Mottau did not finish.
In Nordic action, the Buffs had two women finishers in the 10K freestyle race and freshman Camila Brautaset just missed her second straight top 10 finish to begin her career. She took 11th in 31:15.4 with freshman Lucy Newman finishing 18th in a time of 32:24.7.
Freshmen Maja Solbakken and Jesse Knori both did not race.
In the men’s 10K freestyle race, the buffs were paced by freshman Jackson Hill and his 11th place finish in a time of 26:15.5. Junior Emil Johansson finished 18th in 26:34.5 while senior Arnaud Du Pasquier finished 22nd in 26:47.9 and freshman Max Scrimgeour was 24th in 27:50.0. Senior Andreas Hoye did not start the race.
The Buffs now have nearly three weeks off before hosting the 2014 University of Colorado/Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational. The Nordic races will take place in Steamboat Springs, Colo., at the Howelsen Hill Cross Country Trails on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 while the alpine races will take place Feb. 1-3 in Winter Park, counting the final RMISA Qualifier race attached to the back end of the meet on Feb. 3.
“We will take a few days off and start training on Wednesday and go for five days,” Rokos said. “We will probably focus a little more on giant slalom in training the next few days in preparation for Winter Park to try and close the gap with DU.”
MONTANA STATE INVITATIONAL TEAM RESULTS (Final)—1. Denver 737; .2. Utah 557; 3. New Mexico 555; 4. Colorado 496.5; 5. Montana State 438; 6. Alaska Anchorage 429; 7. Westminster 224.5; 8. Wyoming 143; 9. Colorado Mountain College 55.
Women’s Slalom (32 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Jessica Honkonen, CU, 1:37.42; 2. Kristine Haugen, 1:37.68; 3. Tonje Sekse, WMC, 1:38.02; 4. Mateja Robnik, UNM, 1:38.25; 5. Kristiina Rove, UU, 1:38.43; 6. Karoline Myklebust, UNM, 1:38.58; 7. Chloe Fausa, UU, 1:38.62; 8. Brooke Wales, CU, 1:38.85; 9. Thea Grosvold, CU, 1:38.97; 10. Devin Delaney, DU, 1:39.02. Other CU Finishers: 12. Shane McLean, 1:39.76; 26. Katie Hostetler, 1:48.15; 29. Clare Wise, 1:52.16.
Men’s Slalom (35 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:37.24; 2. Sebastian Brigovic, DU, 1:37.49; 3. Fletcher McDonald, CU, 1:37.97; 4. Tim Lindgren, WMC, 1:38.05; 5. Trevor Philp, DU, 1:38.08; 6. Juho-Pekka Penttinen, UNM, 1:38.53; 7. Henrik Gunnarsson, CU, 1:38.70; 8. Mark Miller, UNM, 1:38.76; 9. Andy Trow, UU, 1:38.93; 10. Jonas Nyberg, WMC, 1:38.96. Other CU Finishers: 14. Kasper Hietanen, 1:39.27; 15. Adam Zika, 1:39.60; 26. Andreas Haug, 1:41.78; 27. Roger Carry, 1:42.90; 31. Cameron Smith, 1:44.26. Did Not Finish (First Run): Tanner Mottau.
Women’s 10K Freestyle (28 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Marine Dusser, UAA, 29:18.1; 2. Sylvia Nordskar, DU, 29:40.4; 3. Eva Severrus, UNM, 29:45.5; 4. Anna-lena Heynen, UU, 30:00.9; 5. Kate Backstrum, MSU, 30:03.8; 6. Anni Nord, UNM, 30:16.3; 7. Jessica Yeaton, MSU, 30:20.9; 8. Silje Benum, DU, 30:42.5; 9. Katie Gill, DU, 31:10.3; 10. Annie Liotta, MSU, 31:15.0. CU Finishers: 11. Camila Brautaset, 31:15.4; 18. Lucy Newman, 32:24.7.
Men’s 10K Freestyle (31 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 24:48.5; 2. Noe Bellet, 25:09.1; 3. Moritz Madelener, DU, 25:15.1; 4. Oscar Ivars, UU, 25:19.2; 5. Joergen Brevik, DU, 25:42.8; 6 .Aku Nikander, UNM, 25:45.0; 7. Niklas Persson, UU, 25:47.1; 8. Sawyer Kisselheim, MSU, 25:54.7; 9. Mats Resaland, UNM, 25:58.9; 10. Kevin Bolger, UU, 25:58.9. CU Finishers: 11. Jackson Hill, 26:15.5; 18. Emil Johansson, 26:34.5; 22. Arnaud Du Pasquier, 26:47.9; 24. Max Scrimgeour, 27:50.0. Did Not Start: Andreas Hoye.