STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Junior Rune Oedegaard won in his first collegiate race of the season and the University of Colorado ski team opened up fourth in its own Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational with Nordic classical races opening the meet Friday here at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
Denver leads the meet, racking up 176 points in the women’s 5K and men’s 10K classical races. New Mexico (154) edged out Utah (152) for second place and the host Buffaloes are fourth with 137 points. Alaska Anchorage is fifth with 119 points with Montana State (94) sixth and RMISA affiliate member Wyoming rounding out the team scoring with 76 points in seventh place.
“It’s nice to have the men’s team back to full strength,” CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. “Rune and Mads (Stroem) both bring a lot of leadership and I think like any sport, when anybody is doing well it can often lift everybody else up. We know we don’t have as strong of a women’s team as last year, so from that aspect having them back is great.”
Oedegaard, who missed the first two meets of the season competing at the Norwegian National Championships earlier this month, won his first collegiate outing in a time of 28 minutes, 28.2 seconds, just a half second ahead of Denver’s Pierre Guedon (28:28.7). CU freshman Mads Stroem, who was also in Norway competing and thus making his collegiate debut Friday, earned a podium appearance in third place in 28:30.2.
“It was tough, it’s hard being back at altitude,” Oedegaard said. “This was the second hard workout we’ve had since being back from Norway along with some training at Winter Park last weekend. I was good for about 8K and then hit the wall brutally, as you can only hit it at altitude, and the last 2K was terrible, it was just a fight to get to the finish, but it turned out well in the end. This was tougher coming back to altitude this year, I was back in Europe for almost two months. But I’m coming along well and feeling better every day.”
Oedegaard won his 10th career race and now has 20 podium appearances in 26 career races. He is just the ninth skier in CU history to win 10 races in a career and he ranks tied for eighth on the career wins chart and is tied for second for most wins by a men’s Nordic skier in CU history. Per Kare Jakobsen (1988-90) won 13 career races and Oedegaard is tied with Bjorn Svensson (1990-93) with 10 career wins.
It’s also Oedegaard’s seventh career classical win, the most for a men’s Nordic skier in CU history and tied for second most for any Nordic skier. He tied Anette Skjolden, who had seven classical wins from 1991-93, and that duo is behind just Maria Grevsgaard, who won 15 classical races from 2006-09.
With Stroem also hitting the podium, it marks the first time since the 2011 NCAA Championships that two men’s Nordic skiers hit the podium. Reid Pletcher won the NCAA individual championship and Vegard Kjoelhamar was third in the classical race, helping propel the Buffs to the 2011 National Championship. Stroem is also the first men’s Nordic skier to earn a podium appearance in his first collegiate race since Kjoelhamar won the freestyle race at the 2009 Alaska Anchorage Invitational.
“We just got back a week ago and aren’t completely adapted back to altitude,” Stroem said. “I felt like I was going fast and finished strong. It’s really nice to have Rune around and he pushes me all the time. Having two guys out there is really nice.”
Junior Arnaud Du Pasquier finished 13th for the Buffaloes as the third team scorer in a time of 29:21.3 just ahead of junior Emil Johansson, who was 17th in a time of 29:57.6. Freshman Jackson Hill (30:21.7) was 21st and senior Andreas Hoye (30:44.7) 22nd while freshman Max Scrimgeour rounded out the CU men’s contingent in 26th place in 31:25.6.
“Their best is yet to come,” Cranmer said. “I know Mads doesn’t feel great yet. Arnaud has begun to consistently push for a top 10 and that’s great. The young guys are coming along, there’s a bunch of them that can be in there fighting together. It seems like for our third guy in terms of scoring, you could’ve picked anybody and having that kind of competition and pushing each other in a good way is a good thing.”
On the women’s side, the Buffs yielded a full team of three skiers for the first time this season and were led by freshman Lucy Newman, who finished 14th in a time of 17:55.5 racing on her home course. Freshman Maja Solbakken was 20th in a time of 18:14.1 and freshman Camila Brautaset finished 23rd in 18:27.8. Denver’s Sylvia Nordskar won the women’s race in a time of 16:23.7.
“It was a lot of fun and good to be home and see some familiar faces, it made it fun today,” Newman said. “It’s a hard course, a lot uphill for 3K and then fast downhill. We had to push our bodies more than we have this year.”
Action continues in the Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational Saturday with Nordic action concluding in Steamboat Springs with the 15K women’s and 20K men’s freestyle races while alpine action starts in Winter Park with men’s and women’s slalom action.
Oedegaard, who often times felt himself outnumbered in the lead pack as the only Buffalo, is looking forward to Saturday’s mass start race.
“It’s different than last year, I was alone up front and now Mads with here and Emil can get in there and mix it up as a good hockey player,” Oedegaard said. “I always had to be careful with what Utah did last year (having multiple skiers in the lead pack), they always had one guy gapping the field and now we can do that, if one of us wants to create a gap the other one can slow down the pack.”
“I’m a bit better in skating, I think tomorrow will be another good day,” Stroem said. “It’s always nice to be in a lead pack, and with myself and Rune, we can also speak Norwegian and nobody else can understand what we’re saying.”
Colorado Invitational Team Scores (2 events)—1. Denver 176; 2. New Mexico 154; 3. Utah 152; 4. Colorado 137; 5. Alaska Anchorage 119; 6. Montana State 94; 7. Wyoming 76.
Women’s 5k Classical (31 finishers)— 1. Sylvia Nordskar, DU, 16:23.7; 2. Eva Severrus, UNM, 16:46.7; 3. Marine Dusser, UAA, 16:53.5; 4. Anna Svendsen, UU, 17:07.8; 5. Josefin Nilsson, UU, 17:11.2; . Anni Nord, UNM, 17:12.5; 7. Silje Benum, DU, 17:20.5; 8. Annie Liotta, MSU, 17:26.6; 9. Makayla Cappel, DU, 17:32.5; 10. Elena Breed, DU, 17:33.2; 11. Jessica Jortberg, DU, 17:34.1; 12. Andrea Lee, UNM, 17:39.2; 13. Anna-Lena Heynen, UU, 17:51.4; 14. Lucy Newman, CU, 17:55.5; 15. Elise Sulser, WYO, 17:55.6; 16. Synnoeve Bruland, UAA, 17:56.2; 17. Jessica Yeaton, MSU, 18:05.8; 18. Madeleine Thorn, UU, 18:08.7; 19. Sierra Jech, WYO, 18:09.4; 20. Maja Solbakken, CU, 18:14.1; 21. Isabella Smith, MSU, 18:20.0; 22. Kate Backstrum, MSU, 18:26.9; 23. Camila Brautaset, CU, 18:27.8; 24. Heleene Tambet, UNM, 18:40.9; 25. Anna Daudert, UNM, 18:49.6; 26. Patricia Sprecher, UAA, 18:52.6; 27. Katie Gill, DU, 19:04.1; 28. Bridget Weiner, WYO, 19:24.9; 29. Anne-Tine Markset, DU*, 19:38.5; 30. Julia Hayes, MSU, 19:45.0; 31. Britta Schroeter, WYO, 21:00.4.
Men’s 10k Classical (36 finishers)— 1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 28:28.2; 2. Pierre Guedon, DU, 28:28.7; 3. Mads Stroem, CU, 28:30.2; 4. Trygve Markset, DU, 28:34.6; 5. Mats Resaland, UNM, 28:41.2; 6. Noe Bellet, UU, 28:48.2; 7. Niklas Persson, UU, 28:52.9; 8. Aku Nikander, UNM, 28:57.2; 9. Etienne Richard, UAA, 29:07.9; 10. Moritz Madlener, DU, 29:10.3; 11. Kevin Bolger, UU, 29:11.3; 12. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 29:14.4; 13. Arnaud Du Pasquier, CU, 29:21.3; 14. Joergen Brevik, DU, 29:24.9; 15. Ajaz Praznik, UNM, 29:27.4; 16. Andrew Arnold, UAA, 29:47.8; 17. Emil Johansson, CU, 29:57.6; 18. Marshall Opel, MSU, 30:02.9; 19. Sawyer Kesselheim, MSU, 30:07.3; 20. Tucker McCrerey, UU, 30:15.3; 21. Jackson Hill, CU, 30:21.7; 22. Andreas Hoye, CU, 30:44.7; 23. Forrest Mahlen, MSU, 30:47.8; 24. Christian Shanley, DU, 30:58.2; 25. Patrick Madden, MSU, 31:14.5; 26. Max Scrimgeour, CU*, 31:25.6; 27. Brandon Brewster, UAA, 32:01.5; 28. Oscar Ivars, UU, 32:06.5; 29. Davis Dunlap, UAA, 32:59.3; 30. Kyle Bochanski, WYO, 33:00.2; 31. Will Timmons, WYO, 33:32.8; 32. Patrick Rodgers, WYO, 33:38.6; 33. Ben Noren, WYO, 34:07.5; 34. Andrew Hill, WYO, 34:23.3; 35. Taylor Vignaroli, WYO, 34:43.6; 36. Sam Wiswell, WYO*, 37:41.0.