BOZEMAN & BIG SKY, Mont.—The University of Colorado ski team sits in fourth place after the first day and at the midpoint of the 2014 Montana State Invitational Saturday here at Big Sky Resort and Briggs Ranch.
Denver dominated the first day of racing with individuals winning each of the four races while running up a score of 391 points, 120 more than both New Mexico and Utah, who are tied for second with 271 points. The Buffs are 20.5 points behind the Lobos and Utes with 250.5 points with Alaska Anchorage (219) and Montana State (213) each hit the 200-point mark, as well.
“We survived our GS day, not just survived but had a good day,” CU coach Richard Rokos said. “Things are slowly coming along; Denver with their class and training schedule has been on the hill a lot more than we have. With almost three weeks between now and our next meet, I’m confident things will keep getting better.”
The Buffs were led by sophomore Brooke Wales’ runner-up finish in the women’s giant slalom race, one of eight top 10 finishes on the day for CU with six coming on the alpine side, three men and three women.
Wales matched her career best finish and was just one-tenth of a second behind Denver’s Kristine Haugen after putting up the fastest second-run in the field by over a half-second. Her second run time of 58.45 gave her a two-run total of 1:56.76. She had the fourth-fastest first run.
“Brooke put two solid runs, she was the fastest on the hill in her second run,” Rokos said. “Haugen is really good and Brooke being dominant to the rest of the field is a great confidence builder for her. She’s been striving for it, in Park City she tried hard and crashed, and this time she didn’t have any mistakes. It’s something she can put in her notebook as a memorable race and build on it.”
Junior Shane McLean finished eighth in a time of 1:59.86. After posting the 16th fastest first run, McLean posted the third-fastest second run in 59.15 seconds to crack the top 10. Sophomore Thea Grosvold posted the ninth-fastest first run and held on for a top 10 finish of her own, taking 10th in 2:00.09.
Freshman Katie Hostetler was solid, finishing 20th in 2:02.46 while sophomore Clare Wise finished 29th in a time of 2:05.21. Sophomore Jessica Honkonen didn’t finish her second run.
“Shane did well, and Katie broke into the top 30 again,” Rokos said. “That’s an overall sign of the whole team moving in the right direction. Nobody is dropping off.”
On the men’s side, freshman Tanner Mottau led the way for the Buffaloes with a sixth place finish in a time of 1:57.38. He had the ninth fastest first run and improved despite a mistake in his second run.
“Tanner probably could’ve won the race,” Rokos said. “He’s extremely fast and he just needs a little more discipline. If he could control his speed just a little bit instead of going crazy. He made a big mistake on his second run and that’s something he can work on.”
Senior Fletcher McDonald turned in his career best GS performance in eighth place in a time of 1:57.51 after turning in the fastest second run in the field. His previous career best GS was a 20th place finish in Alaska in 2012, his only top 20 GS finish in his career. He was in 28th place after the first run and his time propelled him up some 20 positions.
“How do you anticipate that Fletcher will have the fastest second run in the GS?” Rokos questioned after he didn’t designate McDonald as a team scorer in the race. “It’s like lightening from a blue sky.”
Sophomore Cameron Smith finished 10th in a time of 1:57.73 in a similar fashion to McDonald. Smith was 27th after the first run and had the third-fastest second run to move into the top 10. Senior Andreas Haug finished 12th in a time of 1:57.89, sophomore Kasper Hietanen was 15th in 1:58.00, sophomore Adam Zika was 16th in 1:58.05 and Henrik Gunnarsson was 19th in 1:58.20, giving the Buffs six of the top 19 skiers in the race.
“Adam keeps getting better,” Rokos said. “His injury is allowing him to do more and more now. Kasper and Henrik both put solid runs together. Cameron’s second run was great. Even if it’s a partial results, 1-3 for those guys is great.”
On the Nordic side, the classical races took place with the 5K women’s and 10K men’s races. Freshman Camila Brautaset, in her first collegiate race, finished eighth in a time of 17:56.9 while freshman Lucy Newman finished 13th in 18:14.5. Maja Solbakken and Jesse Knori both missed their third consecutive race to start the season due to injury. Solbakken is expected to be back for the CU Invitational while the Buffs could keep Knori out for a bit to get fully healthy.
“Camila practically her first day with the team, having her come in and finish in the top 10 in her first race is great,” Rokos said. “She hung in there and has great potential.”
In the men’s race, junior Arnaud Du Pasquier finished 10th in a time of 32:16.7 while junior Emil Johansson took 12th in 32:44.2 and freshman Jackson Hill was 14th in 32:50.8. Senior Andreas Hoye did not finish in his first race of the season.
“Having two guys in the bank somewhere, knowing we can draw the check on them and they have the ability and capacity to come in and clean the bank is good,” Rokos said. “I’m looking forward to seeing those Nordic guys in there and get them to full strength. Once they are, alpine and Nordic complement each other so we can see improvement across the board.”
Junior Rune Oedegaard, a reigning NCAA Champion and 100th ranked Nordic skier in the world, and freshman Mads Stroem, will rejoin the Buffaloes for the CU meet in late January after missing the first two meets of the year competing in the Norwegian National Championships. The championships will be Jan. 16-19 in Oedegaard’s hometown of Molde.
The Montana State Invitational will close out Sunday with what will be 12 days of racing and traveling for all the RMISA skiers. The slalom races on the alpine side will be run alongside the Nordic freestyle races. Both the men and women will run 10K races with a mass start.
“It’s Slalom day, we have a plan to be efficient and focus on it,” Rokos said. “It’s been a long 12 days of racing and traveling on the road, everybody is healthy, no injuries or illness, we can finish on a strong note and the challenge for us will be then to get home before classes start on Monday.”
After Sunday, teams will have a three week break before the University of Colorado Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational, which will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 3 in Steamboat Springs (Nordic) and Winter Park (alpine).
“We have three weeks to prepare and it is our plan to use this as a training block,” Rokos said. “We will train at Winter Park on the weekends and we are able to practice at Eldora again during the week, so we will have an intense three weeks between now and our meet, at least five days each week.”
Montana State Invitational Team Results (through 4 of 8 events)—1. Denver 391, 2. New Mexico and Utah, 271; 4. Colorado 250.5; 5. Alaska Anchorage 219; 6. Montana State 213; 7. Westminster 111.5; 8. Wyoming 69; 9. Colorado Mountain College 34.
Women’s 5K Classical (27 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Sylvia Nordskar, DU, 16:40.1; 2. Silje Benum, DU, 17:07.1; 3. Eva Severrus, UNM, 17:30.7; 4. Katie Gill, DU, 17:37.5; 5. Makayla Cappel, DU, 17:39.3; 6. Jessica Yeaton, MSU, 17:42.4; 7. Kate Backstrum, MSU, 17:54.4; 8. Camilla Brautaset, CU, 17:56.9; 9. Anni Nord, UNM, 17:53.7; 10. Annie Liotta, MSU, 18:01.3. Other CU Finishers: 13. Lucy Newman, 18:14.5.
Men’s 10K Classical (31 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Moritz Madlener, DU, 30:30.1; 2. Mats Resaland, UNM, 30:53.1; 3. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 31:01.1; 4. Joergen Brevik, DU, 31:22.7; 5. Pierre Guedon, DU, 31:35.1; 6. Oscar Ivars, UU, 31:45.0; 7. Niklas Persson, UU, 31:45.1; 8. Etinne Richard, UAA, 31:57.7; 9. Noe Bellet, UU, 31:58.9; 10. Arnaud Du Pasquier, CU, 32:16.7. Other CU Finishers: 12. Emil Johannsson, 32:44.2; 14. Jackson Hill, 32:50.8. Did Not Finish: Andreas Hoye.
Women’s Giant Slalom (33 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Kristine Haugen, DU, 1:56.66; 2. Brooke Wales, CU, 1:56.76; 3. Chloe Fausa, UU, 1:56.78; 4. Sydney Staples, UNM, 1:58.32; 5. Maire Aufrere, WMC, 1:58.82; 6. Lauren Samuels, UU, 1:58.84; 7. Ana Kobal, UU, 1:59.67; 8. Shane McLean, CU, 1:59.86; 9. Kelly McBroom, MSU, 1:59.94; 10. Thea Grosvold, CU, 2:00.09. Other CU Finishers: 20. Katie Hostetler, 2:02.46; 29. Clare Wise, 2:05.21. Did Not Finish (Second Run): Jessica Honkonen.
Men’s Giant Slalom (38 Collegiate Finishers)—1. Trevor Philp, DU, 1:55.52; 2. Sebastian Brigovic, DU, 1:56.14; 3. Tim Lindgren, WMC, 1:56.71; 4. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:56.71; 5. Andy Trow, UU, 1:57.31; 6. Tanner Mottau, CU, 1:57.38; 7. Niko Harmanen, UAA, 1:57.40; 8. Fletcher McDonald, CU, 1:57.51; 9. Armin Trinedl, UNM, 1:57.57; 10. Cameron Smith, CU and Jonas Nyberg, WMC, 1:57.73. Other CU Finishers: 12. Andreas Haug, 1:57.89; 15. Kasper Hietanen, 1:58.00; 16. Adam Zika, 1:58.05; 19. Henrik Gunnarsson, 1:58.20. Did Not Finish (first run): Roger Carry.