Bruce Cranmer, a familiar name among skiing historians in Colorado, is in his 15th season at the head Nordic coach for the Buffaloes.
Cranmer skied collegiately for CU, helping the Buffs to two national championships in 1972 and ’73 under coach Bill Marolt. He later went on to compete for the U.S. Ski Team from 1980-88 when he was a member of the 1985 World Championship team.
Longtime Coloradoans certainly know the name, as his grandfather, George, started the Winter Park Ski Resort in Winter Park, Colo., which has blossomed into one of the finer skier areas in the world.
Cranmer brought an outstanding coaching resume with him to Boulder and he has expanded it even further once he got there, as he was the head cross country coach at Vermont, helping the Catamounts to four NCAA Championships between 1989-2000. Vermont was also the national runner-up three different times under Cranmer and head coach Chip LaCasse.
In his tenure at CU, the Buffs have won three NCAA Championships, 2006, 2011 and 2013, and have finished in the top three at the national meet eight other times in his 14 years. He has coached 11 skiers to 14 individual NCAA Championships, including Rune Oedegaard and Mads Stroem in 2014. He also has coached two athletes to individual NCAA Championship sweeps, first in 2006 when current assistant coach Jana Weinberger (then Rehemaa) won both the classical and freestyle championships and then in 2008, Maria Grevsgaard won both championships.
In the past 10 years, CU has racked up 13 of those 14 individual championships and the Buffs have had at least one individual champion on the Nordic side in six of the last seven seasons.
Others who have won individual NCAA Championships are Mari Storeng (2002, women’s freestyle), Kit Richmond (2006, men’s classical), Vegard Kjoelhamar (2009, men’s freestyle), Matt Gelso (2010, men’s classical), Reid Pletcher (2011, men's classical), Eliska Hajkova (2011, women's classical) and Joanne Reid (2013, women’s freestyle).
The Buffs have also won the mythical Nordic national championship six times under Cranmer’s tutelage, scoring the most Nordic points at the NCAA Championships in 2004, ’06, ’08, ’10, '11 and ’13, the only six times the Buffs have topped the Nordic points list since the NCAA went to a combined skiing championship in 1983.
CU’s men’s Nordic skiers have earned the most points at the NCAA Championship five times under Cranmer (2004, ’06, ’08, ’10, ‘11), the only five times since 1983 the Buffs have topped that point total, as well. On the women’s side, Cranmer’s teams have earned more points than other women’s Nordic squads five times under Cranmer (out of seven times in CU history), including in 2002, ’06, ’08, ‘11 and '13.
Cranmer’s squads have eight times won races at the NCAA Championships, starting in 2002 when the women won both the classical and freestyle races. In 2004, ’06 and ’08 when the Buffs won the Nordic overall title, CU won three of the four races. In 2009, CU won the men’s classical race, in 2010, CU won the men’s classical and women’s freestyle races and in 2011, CU won the men’s classical and women’s freestyle races. CU has won the men’s classical race four of the past six seasons at NCAAs. In 2013, the CU women won both the classical and freestyle races.
Grevsgaard set a new CU record when she won 24 races between 2006-09, eight more than any other skier in CU history, Nordic or alpine. Out of the 20 skiers that have won five or more races in a season, Cranmer has coached seven of them, including Grevsgaard’s totals of 11 in 2008, matching the CU record, seven in 2007 and five in 2009, and Rehemaa’s five in 2006, Gelso’s five in 2010, Oedegaard’s five in 2012 and 2014 and Reid's nine in 2013.
In Cranmer’s first season in 2001, Storeng became just the seventh skier in CU history to earn two podium appearances in their first NCAA Championship as she was the runner up in the classical race and took third in the freestyle race.
A total of 22 of his athletes have earned 52 first-team All-America honors and in all, and he has had at least one first-team All-America performance each year and eight times CU has had four or more Nordic athletes earn first-team All-America honors, including a CU record five, accomplished in 2010. CU’s four athletes earning first-team honors in 2011 earned a combined seven honors, the most in CU history, one more than the 2004 and ’10 teams.
Including second-team All-America honors, Cranmer has coached 25 athletes to 83 such honors in his time at Colorado. In his time at CU, the Buffs have had 20 skiers win a total of 100 races, including 15 skiers winning 92 races since 2006. CU has won at least six races in each of the last eight years and four of those years the Buffs won 12 or more Nordic races throughout the season. The Buffs have twice swept all four Nordic races under his tenure, in 2008 at the RMISA Championships when Grevsgaard and Kit Richmond both swept the races, and in 2009 at the Alaska Invitational when Grevsgaard won both races while Gelso and Kjoelhamar each one a men’s race.
In his time at Vermont, the Catamounts boasted 12 individual Nordic NCAA Championships including a pair of four-time winners in Thorodd Bakken and Laura Wilson and a pair of Olympians in Joe Galanes and Kerrin Petty. Former DU Nordic coaches Knut and Trond Nystad were also All-Americans under Cranmer’s tutelage while at Vermont.
Cranmer also coached for two U.S. Olympic Teams, the 1994 squad in Lillehammer, Norway, and the 1998 team in Nagano, Japan. Outside of skiing, Cranmer spent time as a Quality Control Engineer on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and as an Outward Bound instructor in Bertchesgaden, Germany.
Born September 15, 1950, in Denver, Cranmer graduated from Aspen High School. He won NBC’s Survival of the Fittest in 1985 and won the overall Great American Ski Chase in 1986. He is also a Class 5 whitewater kayaker. He is married to the former Patricia Drislane.