STEAMBOAT SPRINGS & WINTER PARK, Colo. – The University of Colorado ski team stormed to the lead in its own Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational on the Nordic side and opened the Denver Invitational in third place on the alpine side in a busy day of skiing in the Colorado Mountains.
In Steamboat Springs, CU individuals won both races with sophomore Rune Oedegaard opening the day by winning the men’s 20-kilometer freestyle race while senior Joanne Reid followed that up by taking the victory in the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle race.
“It’s a nice start to the season,” CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. “It was a tough day because it was so cold. A lot of different people were all over the place. It’s hard to know for sure, but I think the cold played into it. It was a rough day from that standpoint.”
With temperatures hovering around zero, Reid’s final time of 45:58.1 won the race by just over six seconds, topping Alaska Anchorage’s Marine Dusser’s time of 46:06.7. She separated from the field in the final 2-kilometers and hung on for the win.
“Joanne just skied relaxed,” Cranmer said. “When the other girls didn’t seem like they were going fast, she pushed a little and they couldn’t hang with her. The Steamboat course is up and down and she skis downhill well, so on the final lap she was able to get a gap and hold on.”
Reid was having issues throughout the race trying to take her turn leading the race, so she just relaxed and waited for the opportune moment near the end of the race and took advantage.
“I knew I felt strong,” Reid said. “They wouldn’t let me pass, so I just chilled, and then I hammered when I saw her getting tired on the final climb. My skis were much better and the last 2K was downhill, rolling, so I just pushed it over the tops of the hills and skied efficiently. Then I detachedly realized that I seemed to be actually winning.”
Freshman Maria Nordstroem was also in the lead pack and finished with a time of 46:15.4, about 17 seconds behind Reid. She fell off on the final big uphill but still maintained momentum and her got the impressive podium appearance in her first collegiate race.
“Maria led a bunch of the race,” Cranmer said. “She was in the final pack at the end and she’s a really good sprinter so I thought maybe she would do it. She just returned from sea level, so it’s a great result given the travel and time away from altitude that she’s had.”
Senior Mary Rose had one of the best races of her career, coming in seventh in 47:18.4. It’s the second best finish of her career, behind a dramatic fifth place finish in last year’s RMISA Championships, a performance needed for her to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
“Mary had a very good race,” Cranmer said. “Looking at where she was last year, she didn’t have a lot of top 10s. She was skiing comfortably and just had a good race. You always want to do better if you don’t win, but it was a good race for sure.”
Senior Eliska Hajkova rounded out the CU skiers by finishing ninth in a time of 48:06.3. “Eliska struggled a little bit,” Cranmer said. “But she hung in there tough. She had one tough lap and has been recovering from some issues recently.”
In men’s Nordic action, Oedegaard’s winning time in the four lap race was 53:49.6, besting Utah’s Miles Havlick by less than a second (53:50.4). Oedegaard had a solid race throughout and won the final sprint to take the victory.
“Rune was just in there and skied smart,” Cranmer said. “Sometimes the cold is an issue for him, fortunately it wasn’t there today. He’s in good form and skiing with some confidence and had a smart race.”
It marks Oedegaard’s sixth college victory in just 13 total races. He has won four of his last six college races and it’s his third straight win in the state of Colorado, having swept the races at last year’s Denver Invitational.
“It was a good race,” Oedegaard said. “It’s always difficult being back at altitude, but it worked out well today. And it was a cold experience though in the end it was all about being smart and being the first one down the last downhill. Once that happened, I felt confident going into the final sprint.”
CU then had two freshman earn team points, with Charlie Von Thaden finishing 15th in 56:35.9 and Michael Vigers two spots back in 17th with a time of 56:57.0.
“Charlie and Mike both had good races,” Cranmer said. “It was a really good race for Charlie, he was in there, and Mike also had a decent race.”
Senior Ian Mallams took home 20th place in 57:20.4 while sophomore Arnaud Du Pasquier rounded out the Buffs finishers in 22nd place in 59:09.7. Junior Andreas Hoye did not finish the race due to illness and freshman Gustav Nordstrom is in Europe competing in World Cup races.
Meanwhile 100 miles to the southeast in Winter Park, the Denver Invitational was getting underway. Sophomore Shane McLean led the way with a podium appearance on the women’s side while three Buffs were in the top 11 on the men’s side.
Freshman Cameron Smith continues to improve on his results, Saturday finishing sixth in a time of 2:01.80, just one second behind second place. He consistently had the 10th-best first run and ninth-best second run for his second straight top 10 finish.
“It feels really good,” Smith said. “As I said yesterday, I was really disappointed after Eldora, so it’s good to get two solid races in. A big thing for me is to ski like it’s training, because I usually ski well in training. The goal for me is to get into the top seed (guaranteeing a top seven starting position), having a top bib is definitely an advantage to starting 16th.”
Freshman Kasper Hietenan put his best collegiate race together, finishing 10th in a time of 2:02.71, just three-tenths behind three skiers. He had the seventh-best second run to improve from 21st to 10th. Freshman Henrik Gunnarsson was immediately behind Hietenan in 11th with a time of 2:02.81, a tenth of a second back.
Junior Andreas Haug improved from a starting position of 28 to finish 14th in a time of 2:03.11 while senior Max Lamb had a similar performance, starting 31st and finishing 19th in 2:03.75. Junior Fletcher McDonald also greatly improved over his starting position of 49th to finish 30th in 2:07.25.
“The whole men’s team made a huge leap forward today, they all improved on their rankings both for start lists and NCAA qualification,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “On the women’s side, Shane was third and that’s outstanding, she proved herself again.”
McLean earned her first podium appearance of the season, although it’s her third top five finish this season after finishing fourth and fifth in the two races at Eldora before not finishing the RMISA qualifier race here Friday. She had the third-fastest first run down the hill and held her position in the second run to finish with a combined time of 2:04.44. It marks her third career podium appearance and she continued her success on the Winter Park hill, where she won her first college race a year ago here at the DU Invitational.
“It went well,” McLean said. “It’s was good for my confidence to have two solid runs down the hill. There were some mistakes but that’s ski racing. I’m looking to coming out and doing the same thing tomorrow, put down two good slalom runs. Slalom is harder for me, so I’ll go out and do my best.”
Freshman Jessica Honkonen finished 17th in a time of 2:07.57 while freshman Thea Grosvold finished 23rd in 2:09.17. Freshman Clare Wise took 27th in a time of 2:13.20. Freshman Brooke Wales, who has a pair of runner-up finishes this season and was sitting fourth right behind McLean in the first run, did not finish for the second straight race. Senior Khyla Burrows also did not finish.
“The women’s team I think was a little intimidated by the light and conditions,” Rokos said. “Both Thea and Jessica are still coming back from injuries, so they are continuing to build confidence but it’s a process.”
Action continues in both meets on Sunday, with Nordic classical races putting a cap on the CU Invitational and slalom races at Winter Park concluding the alpine portion of the DU Invitational. The alpine teams will then be off until Feb. 6 when action continues in the Utah Invitational while the Nordic teams will be in action again next weekend to put the wraps on the Denver Invitational.
“Overall its’ a good day,” Rokos concluded. “I’m really pleased with the Nordic team today. Winning our home meet is always a goal. They have another day to go, but Joanne and Rune were outstanding today.”
University of Colorado Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational Team Scores (through 6 of 8 events)—1. Colorado, 646; 2. Denver, 620.5; 3. New Mexico, 578; 4. Alaska Anchorage, 514; 5. Utah, 492; 6. Montana State, 463.5; 7. Westminster, 259; 8. Colorado Mountain College 20.
Men’s 20-kilometer Freestyle (28 college finishers)- 1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 53:49.6; 2. Miles Havlick, UU, 53:50.4; 3. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 53:51.3; 4. Einar Ulsund, UU, 53:58.2; 5. Mats Resaland, UNM, 54:35.4; 6. Andrew Dougherty, DU, 54:35.6; 7. Joergen Bye Brevik, DU, 54:36.9; 8. Tucker McCrerey, UU, 54:43.1; 9. Viktor Braennmark, UAA, 55:14.4; 10. Noe Ballet, UU, 55:39.5; 11. Tyler Reinking, MSU, 56:57.3; 12. Lasse Moelgaard, UAA, 56:14.6; 13. Trygve Markset, DU, 56:14.7; 14. Michael Schallinger, MSU, 56:35.8; 15. Charlie Von Thaden, CU, 56:35.9; 16. Christian Otto, UNM, 56:38.8; 17. Michael Vigers, CU, 56:57.0; 18. David Norris, MSU, 57:11.0; 19. Niklas Persson, UU, 57:15.0; 20. Ian Mallams, CU, 57:20.4; 21. Patrick Madden, MSU, 58:05.3; 22. Arnaud Du Pasquier, CU, 59:09.7; 23. Galen Johnston, UAA, 59:09.8; 24. David Dunlap, UAA, 1:00:15.3; 25. Luke Bromley, MSU, 1:01:09.6; 26. Scott Phelan, MSU, 1:01:17.0; 27. Sjur Prestsaeter, UNM, 1:02:51.9; 28. Eivind Solberg, UNM, 1:07:15.4.
Women’s 15-Kilometer Freestyle (27 college finishers)- 1. Joanne Reid, CU, 45:58.1; 2. Marine Dusser, UAA, 46:06.7; 3. Maria Norsdstroem, CU, 46:15.4; 4. Linn Klaesson, UNM, 46:59.4; 5. Silje Benum, DU, 47:17.2; 6. Jessica Yeaton, MSU, 47:18.3; 7. Mary Rose, CU, 47:18.4; 8. Clara Chauvet, UNM, 47:35.9; 9. Eliska Hajkova, CU, 48:06.3; 10. Rose Kemp, UU, 48:06.9; 11. Jessica Jortbert, DU, 48:17.3; 12. Sloan Storey, UU, 48:34.5; 13. Katie Gill, DU, 48:40.6; 14. Sarah Freistone, UAA, 48:48.3; 15. Anni Nord, UNM, 49:07.2; 16. Patricia Sprecher, UAA, 49:22.2; 17. Cambria McDermott, MSU, 49:28.5; 18. Maerta Larsen, UU, 49:30.3; 19. Isabella Smith, MSU, 49:32.6; 20. Elena Breed, DU, 49:58.5; 21. Anita Kirvesniemi, UNM, 51:03.5; 22. Karina Smith, UAA, 51:09.3; 23. Katie Backstrum, MSU, 51:10.2; 24. Cara McCulloch, UAA, 51:10.9; 25. Parker Tyler, UU, 53:27.8; 26. Ingrid Leask, UNM, 55:14.6; 27. Maya Radonich, UAA, 55:39.6.
Denver Invitational Team Scores (through 2 of 8 events)—1. Denver 253; 2. Utah 193; 3. Colorado 187; 4. Montana State 178; 5. New Mexico, 171; 6. Westminster 160; 7. Alaska Anchorage 151; 8. Colorado Mountain College 37.
Women’s Giant Slalom (28 collegiate finishers)- 1. Kristine Haugen, DU, 2:01.92; 2. Tonje Sekse, WMC, 2:02.42; 3. Shane McLean, CU, 2:04.44; 4. Jamie DuPratt, UU, 2:05.00; 5. Devin Delaney, DU, 2:05.25; 6. Teagen Palmer, DU, 2:05.31; 7. Vanessa Berther, UAA, 2:05.37; 8. Tianda Carroll, DU, 2:05.68; 9. Courtney Altringer, UNM, 2:05.93; 10. Ana Kobal, UU, 2:06.30. Other CU Finishers: 17. Jessica Honkonen, 2:07.57; 23. Thea Grosvold, 2:09.17; 27. Clare Wise, 2:13.20. Did Not Finish (First Run): Khyla Burrows. Did Not Finish (Second Run): Brooke Wales.
Men’s Giant Slalom (33 collegiate finishers)- 1. Michael Radford, MSU, 2:00.03; 2. Trevor Philp, DU, 2:00.80; 3. Jeremy Elliot, UU, 2:00.85; 4. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 2:01.33; 5. Grant Jampolsky, DU, 2:01.47; 6. Cameron Smith, CU, 2:01.80; 7. Chris Acosta, UNM & Simon Ruud, WMC, 2:02.41; 9. Nikolai Narvestad, WMC, 2:02.44; 10. Kasper Hietanen, CU, 2:02.71. Other CU Finishers: 11. Henrik Gunnarsson, 2:02.81; 14. Andreas Haug, 2:03.11; 19. Max Lamb, 2:03.75; 30. Fletcher McDonald, 2:07.25.