BEAVER CREEK & MINTURN, Colo.—Behind wins from senior Andreas Haug and junior Rune Oedegaard and the best women’s Nordic performance of the season, the University of Colorado ski team is leading the 65th Annual Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships here Friday with the meet at its midpoint.
While the Buffs lead the meet, which doubles as the 2014 NCAA Western Regional, there are still four teams in the hunt. CU racked up 337 points, just three ahead of Utah’s total of 334. New Mexico sits third with 298.5 points and Denver is fourth with 291.5 points. Montana State (210) rounds out the top five with Alaska Anchorage (200) in sixth just 10 points behind.
“We haven’t shown up as much this season, so to display some strength in the Regional Championship brings back the feeling of accomplishment for the season,” CU coach Richard Rokos said. “It wasn’t so much the fact we weren’t skiing well, we just had people missing races for illness or a prior engagement. It’s a good time to pull things together. Today was a pretty standard display of our strength and depth.”
“It’s definitely good to be in the lead, at the same time this brings us coaches a few more headaches in terms of NCAA qualifying and who we pick to take, especially on the alpine side,” he continued. “I’m really pleased with the Nordic results, Rune and Mads continue to get on the podium, and Arnaud getting a top 10 is great. On the women’s side, Maja getting a sixth place is a great, promising placement.”
At Maloit Park, Oedegaard won his third race of the season and 12th of his career and he’s now just one behind the CU record for a men’s Nordic skier, currently held by Per Kare Jakobsen, who won 13 races from 1988-90. Oedegaard is tied for fourth overall in CU history with John Skajem, who won 12 alpine races between 1986-87. He now has eight wins in classical races, most among men’s skiers in CU history and second only to Maria Grevsgaard, who had 15 classical wins among her CU record 24 wins.
“I had some really good skis, probably better than I deserved,” Oedegaard said. “I was skiing without stressing. I was a little behind after the first lap but went strong on the second and third laps. You have to do it a little differently on a smaller course, if you go out too hard, you’ll be thinking that you have a lot of laps left, but on the other hand if you get a nice pace from the beginning the laps go really fast.”
Oedegaard’s time of 24 minutes, 10.9 seconds, gave him a 27.3 second victory over Denver’s Pierre Guedon (24:38.2) while freshman Mads Stroem finished third in a time of 24:47.4. Junior Arnaud Du Pasquier finished eighth, his career best classical finish and second best overall finish after taking seventh in the freestyle race at the RMISA Championships last year.
“I think he feels that he’s in good shape but he can still improve,” CU Nordic coach Bruce Cramer said. “I think Mads still thinks he has some improving to do, as well. It will help him going back down in elevation for NCAAs. It’s good to have three guys in the top 10.”
The CU men had five of the top 14 finishers with junior Emil Johansson taking 11th in a time of 25:54.7 and senior Andreas Hoye taking 14th in 26:24.0. Freshmen Jackson Hill (27:30.0) took 22nd and Max Scrimgeour (28:33.2) was 25th to round out the Buffs.
In women’s Nordic action, the Buffs collectively had their best results of the year as a team, compiling 69 points to finish third in the race. An entirely new team replacing one of the best women’s Nordic teams in NCAA history last year, the new stable of freshmen have fought off illness and bad luck all season, but it mostly came together on Friday for the Buffs.
“It’s nice to have the best point day for the women,” Cranmer said. “A couple are getting closer to the podium and I think Lucy can still improve.”
Freshman Maja Solbakken finished sixth, her best finish of the season, in a time of 15:18.1 with freshman Camilla Brautaset taking seventh in 15:20.9, her second best finish of the season. Freshman Lucy Newman, suffering from cramps in her calf, still managed to finish 15th in a time of 15:40.5.
“I started out pretty easy, there were some uphill’s early in the race.” Solbakken said. “I was 11th the first time I heard splits, and I worked up to sixth. I feel like I’m back to 100 percent. I got sick coming back here from home after Christmas. I couldn’t race in Utah or Bozeman and I was maybe about 90 percent in Steamboat, and now I feel like I’m back.”
“I came out a little too fast, but you have to in a 5K, but I’m satisfied, it was a good race,” Brautaset added. “I really like to race here, it’s nice to be a part of the team. It’s good that Maja is back now, she was struggling for a while.”
Meanwhile over at Beaver Creek’s Bear Trap run, senior Andreas Haug won his first giant slalom race of his career and his second overall race, also having taken a slalom race at the New Mexico Invitational his freshman season in 2011. His time of 1:57.51 was more than four-tenths ahead of the field. Even more impressive was the fact that Haug started the first run in the 29th spot still threw down the third-fastest first run and then moved up two more spots to get the win in the second run.
“It’s always hard for Richie to seed for these races,” Haug said. “I was seeded second to last for CU but it was great conditions and I think it’s starting to pay off having experience in college racing. I’ve been there before, I’m not as nervous and when I can get in that mindset, I ski fast. I’ve never felt so good to be on top of the podium, I’ve worked hard the last two years but it didn’t work out, so it’s a great feeling to be on top today.”
“Andreas is a smart skier and a smart person, he can always get a good read on what he needs to do,” Rokos said. “He’s had some issues with his eyes and had surgery this past off season, so he’s probably in better shape now than he’s ever been.”
It wasn’t just Haug, as the Buffs won the race with 96 points. Sophomore Adam Zika finished fourth, his best finish of the season, in a time of 1:58.09 and sophomore Cameron Smith finished seventh in 1:58.42.
Sophomore Henrik Gunnarsson finished 15th in a time of 1:58.97 while Kasper Hietanen (1:59.20) was 18th, just ahead of senior Fletcher McDonald (1:59.23) in 19th. Sophomore Roger Carry rounded out the Buffs contingent in a time of 2:00.87.
In women’s alpine action, sophomore Brooke Wales finished fifth in a time of 2:00.70, just ahead of classmate Jessica Honkonen in sixth place in a time of 2:00.88. The finish was good for Honkonen, who had her best GS run of the season to put herself in a better position for NCAA qualifying, which will take place after the RMISA Championships are over.
Junior Shane McLean was the third CU skier in the race, finishing 12th in a time of 2:01.76. Sophomore Thea Grosvold was 14th in a time of 2:02.46. Sophomore Clare Wise took 17th in 2:03.04 and freshman Katie Hostetler rounded out the women’s alpine squad in a time of 2:04.31, good for 22nd.
The RMISA Championships will conclude on Saturday with the freestyle races on the Nordic side and slalom races on the alpine side.
EISA Update: On the east coast at the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships, Vermont and Dartmouth are battling it out with just 16 points separating those two teams through four events. Host Middlebury sits third, 139 points behind Dartmouth.
RMISA Championships Team Scores (4 of 8 events)—1. Colorado 337; 2. Utah 334; 3. New Mexico 298.5; 4. Denver 291.5; 5. Montana State 210; 6. Alaska Anchorage 200; 7. Colorado Mountain College 36.
Women’s 5K Classical (27 finishers)—1. Makayla Cappel, DU, 14:30.2; 2. Sloan Storey, UU, 14:46.5; 3. Eva Severrus, UNM, 14:55.8; 4. Marine Dusser, UAA, 15:03.4; 5. Silje Benum, DU, 15:12.4; 6. Maja Solbakken, CU, 15:18.1; 7. Camilla Brautaset, CU, 15:20.9; 8. Jessica Yeaton, MSU, 15:22.8; 9. Elena Breed, DU, 15:26.0; 10. Anna-Lena Heynen, UU, 15:32.0. Other CU Finisher: 15. Lucy Newman, 15:40.5.
Men’s 10K Classical (29 finsihers)—1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 24:10.9; 2. Pierre Guedon, DU, 24:38.2; 3. Mads Stroem, CU, 24:47.4; 4. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 25:05.2; 5. Niklas Persson, UU, 25:09.2; 6. Mats Resaland, UNM, 25:23.3; 7. Aljaz Praznik, UNM, 25:33.3; 8. Arnaud Du Pasquier, CU, 25:40.8; 9. Noe Bellet, UU, 25:45.4; 10. David Norris, MSU, 25:51.3. Other CU Finishers: t-11. Emil Johansson, 25:54.7; 15. Andreas Hoye, 26:24.0; 23. Jackson Hill, 27:30.0; 26. Max Scrimgeour, 28:33.2.
Women’s Giant Slalom (31 finishers)— 1. Chloe Fausa, UU, 1:58.77; 2. Kristiina Rova, UU, 1:59.61; 3. Kristine Haugen, DU and Karoline Myklebust, UNM, 2:00.61; 5. Brooke Wales, CU, 2:00.70; 6. Jessica Honkonen, CU, 2:00.88; 7. Mateja Robnik, UNM, 2:01.28; 8. Ana Kobal, UU, 2:01.31; 9. Courtney Altringer, UNM, 2:01.41; 10. Devin Delaney, DU, 2:01.66. Other CU Skiers: 12. Shane McLean, 2:01.76; 14. Thea Grosvold, 2:02.46; 17. Clare Wise, 2:03.04; 22. Katie Hostetler, 2:04.31.
Men’s Giant Slalom (33 finishers)— 1. Andreas Haug, CU, 1:57.51; 2. Mark Engel, UU, 1:57.93; 3. Andy Trow, UU, 1:57.95; 4. Adam Zika, CU, 1:58.09; 5. Juho-Pekka Penttinen, UNM, 1:58.26; 6. Sean Horner, UNM, 1:58.35; 7. Cameron Smith, CU, 1:58.42; 8. Armin Triendl, UNM, 1:58.44; 9. Charlie Reynolds, DU, 1:58.50; 10. Eian Sandvik, UU, 1:58.71. Other CU Finishers: 15. Henrik Gunnarsson, 1:58.97; 18. Kasper Hietanen, 1:59.20; 19. Fletcher McDonald, 1:59.23; 25. Roger Carry, 2:00.87.