BOZEMAN, Mont. - In the final tune-up ahead of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) Championships, the Buffaloes racked up a win and six total top 10 finishes in the giant slalom here Thursday in the RMISA Alpine Qualifier No. 3.
Though securing just one podium (top three) finish, CU's six top 10 efforts were the most in the field, with Alaska and Utah netting four each, Montana State and New Mexico two apiece, and Denver and Westminster one.
"It was a good day for the Buffaloes," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "Especially before Regional's. The girls brought an incredible level of consistency both yesterday and today. That's the name of the game. The guys weren't quite as consistent today, but Adam's win is huge."
The women skied first, and five Buffaloes went on to place in the top 10, though Utah posted a 1-2 finish with Tii-Maria Romar winning in a two-run time of 1:44.76, almost a full second ahead of teammate Julie Bordeau (1:45.71).
Senior Katie Hartman led the way for the Buffs, taking fourth in 1:46.51, a tenth of a second ahead of fellow senior Erika Ghent (1:46.61); a third CU senior, Jennifer Allen, was right behind in sixth, three one-hundredths back (1:46.64). For Allen, it was the highest finish in her collegiate career, topping a seventh place effort on the same Bridger Bowl course in an RMISA Giant Slalom Qualifier back in January 2010, her sophomore year.
Senior Carolina Nordh placed ninth in 1:47.38, with junior Khyla Burrows rounding out the CU five with a 10th place finish in 1:47.57; it was by far her best career finish, topping a 15th place effort in her freshman year on the same mountain in the same event Allen previously had posted her top finish.
"The girls are my heroes today," Rokos said. "Having five in the top 10 is a huge achievement. I think it's a benefit of our training over the last few weeks at Eldora. We were aiming for this type of course and profile of this course and it's paying off."
In the men's GS, freshman Adam Zika posted the first alpine win of the season by the CU men, as his second run time of 50.47 thrusted him into the top spot on the podium with a two-run time of 1:41.07; Denver's Espen Lysdahl had the fastest first run (50.11), with Zika next (50.60), but the CU frosh made up the near half-second deficit with the spectacular second run to win his first collegiate race.
"I felt pretty good the first run," Zika said. "I made a mistake right before the finish that slowed me down some. The second run, I felt good and went all out. This is the course we'll have for Regional's and NCAAs, so for all of us it gives us confidence that we can perform at a high level."
"He's a universal soldier," Rokos added. "He's capabale of skiing on different surfaces. He can ski on a hard surface, but today was an example of how well he can adapt to the philosophy of a soft course and he skied very well."
All the other CU men were outside the top 10, with sophomore Andreas Haug (13th, 1:43.26), junior Max Lamb (19th, 1:43.91) and sophomore Fletcher McDonald (22nd, 1:44.14) finishing both runs. Senior Taggart Spenst was disqualified for straddling a gate during his second run.
Once again, qualifiers have no team scoring, but if they had, the Buffs would have tallied 117 points in the women's race, ahead of Utah's 97; the Utes only had two skiers finish, however. On the men's side, the Buffs would have won the closest competition of the year with 99 points, ahead of Alaska (98), Denver (94), Montana State and New Mexico (both 92) and Utah (89).
Next up are the RMISA Championships, which also serves as the NCAA West Regional, on Friday and Saturday. The giant slaloms will be run to completion Friday (women at 10, men at 1) in conjunction with the Nordic freestyle races (women's 5K at 9:30 a.m., men's 10K at 11 a.m.). Saturday's events feature the slalom races (men's runs at 10:00/1:00, women's at 11:30/2:30) and the Nordic classical events (men's 20K at 9 a.m., women's 15K at 11 a.m.).
Men's Giant Slalom (32 collegiate finishers)- 1. Adam Zika, CU, 1:41.07; 2. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:41.18; 3. Petter Brenna, WC, 1:42.60; 4. Andreas Adde, UAA, 1:42.64; 5. Michael Bansmer, UNM, 1:42.65; 6. Niko Harmanen, UAA, 1:42.70; 7. Geoffrey Irwin, MSU, 1:42.94; 8. Timotej Hribar, Utah, 1:42.96; 9. Ryan Wilson, Utah, 1:43.06; 10. Armin Triendl, UNM, 1:43.13. Other CU Results: 13. Andreas Haug, 1:43.26; 19. Max Lamb, 1:43.91; 22. Fletcher McDonald, 1:44.14. Disqualified (2nd run): Taggart Spenst (gate 33).
Women's Giant Slalom (26 collegiate finishers)- 1. Tii-Maria Romar, Utah, 1:44.76; 2. Julie Bordeau, Utah, 1:45.71; 3. Vanessa Berther, UAA, 1:46.33; 4. Katie Hartman, CU, 1:46.51; 5. Erika Ghent, CU, 1:46.61; 6. Jennifer Allen, CU, 1:46.64; 7. Kelly McBroom, MSU, 1:46.89; 8. Anais Urbain, UAA, 1:47.04; 9. Carolina Nordh, CU, 1:47.38; 10. Khyla Burrows, 1:47.57. Other CU Results: Did Not Finish (1st run): Shane McLean.
(Associate SID Curtis Snyder contributed to this report.)