WINTER PARK, Colo. - The University of Colorado competed in the final Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association qualifier race here Friday where the men's team improved upon its results from earlier in the week and the women struggled.
No team points are counted with the qualifier race. There is another giant slalom race Saturday as the Denver Invitational gets underway, a meet that's alpine portion concludes Sunday with slalom races.
"We are very lucky that today isn't tomorrow," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "Tomorrow would've had much deeper consequences. I don't' have much explanation of what happened today, it's just a bundle of things happening."
Freshman Cameron Smith led the way for the Buffaloes with an eighth place finish. He had the 10th fastest first run and then improved his placement despite a 20th place second run with a two-run time of 2:09.69.
"I feel a lot better," Smith said. "Eldora was pretty rough for all the guys in the GS. It was nice to get a top 10 for the team, I know it's just a qualifier, but hopefully I'll do well tomorrow again. It helps my confidence. I was pretty bummed about Eldora, it's our home hill, I grew up skiing at Eldora."
Freshman Henrik Gunnarsson finished 10th just behind Smith in a time of 2:09.90 while freshman Kasper Hietanen took 17th in a time of 2:10.38. Senior Max Lamb finished 22nd in a time of 2:13.63 and Fletcher McDonald finished 25th in 2:14.36.
"The guys are slowly recovering in GS," Rokos said. "We are picking up some momentum, but it's not enough. We need to make quicker progress. Cameron and Henrik put good runs together and that will help their confidence. Every race helps the next race."
On the women's side, three of the Buffs top four finishers from both GS races in Eldora all did not finish the race. Freshman Brooke Wales, who was second in both previous races, didn't finish the first run, while sophomore Shane McLean and freshman Jessica Honkonen both did not finish the second run. Last week McLean had two top five finishes while Honkonen was in the top eight both races.
The three women who did finish were grouped together, as freshman Thea Grosvold, who took 18th in a time of 2:12.32 with senior Khyla Burrows 19th in a time of 2:12.85 and freshman Clare Wise 21st in a time of 2:13.15.
"I need to talk to the team and make sure this didn't leave a scar on their soul," Rokos said. "When you have three not finish and others who did finish had too many mistakes, we need to realize this isn't training or free skiing, this is racing. Going from skiing excellent in Eldora with no training on that hill to coming here to a hill they skied before, it's not a good sign. We can't get away with skiing like this in a strong field like this."
Along with the action as part of the Denver Invitational here the next two days, the Nordic season also gets underway Saturday with the conclusion of the Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational, hosted by the Buffs in Steamboat Springs. Freestyle races will take place Saturday with classic races slated for Sunday.
Women's Giant Slalom (26 collegiate finishers)- 1. Kristine Haugen, DU, 2:05.54; 2. Tonje Sekse, WMC, 2:06.06; 3. Devin Delaney, DU, 2:08.73; 4. Stephanie Irwin, MSU, 2:08.83; 5. Kate Williams, UNM, 2:08.88; 6. Kelly McBroom, MSU, 2:08.96; 7. Kristiina Rove, UU, 2:09.11; 8. Tianda Carroll, DU, 2:09.25; 9. Courtney Altringer, UNM, 2:09.61. CU Finishers: 19: Thea Grosvold, 2:12.32; 20. Khyla Burrows, 2:12.85; 22. Clare Wise, 2:19.11. Did Not Finish: Jessica Honkonen, Shane McLean, Brooke Wales.
Men's Giant Slalom (30 collegiate finishers)- 1. Andy Trow, UU, 2:08.01; 2. Michael Radford, MSU & Trevor Philp, DU, 2:08.38; 4. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 2:08.52; 5. Simon Ruud, WMC, 2:09.08; 6. Ryan Wilson, UU, 2:09.34; 7. David Herzog, WMC, 2:09.36; 8. Cameron Smith, CU, 2:09.69; 9. Andreas Adde, UAA, 2:09.87; 10. Henrik Gunnarsson, CU, 2:09.90. Other CU Finishers: 16. Kasper Hietenan, 2:10.57; 22. Max Lamb, 2:13.63; 25. Fletcher McDonald, 2:14.36. Did Not Finish: Andreas Haug.