ELDORA – The host University of Colorado ski team is in third place after two events in its own Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational, as the Buffaloes won the women’s giant slalom race while struggled on the men’s side as windy conditions prevailed here at Eldora Mountain Resort.
CU accumulated 191 points, and is behind meet leader Denver by 49½ points as the Pioneers racked up 240½, including 133 on the men’s side behind a 1-3-5 finish. New Mexico is second with 213 points, 22 more than the Buffs, while Utah sits fourth, just five points behind CU with 186.
The CU women won its race with a combined 119 points, topping Utah’s 108 and Denver’s total of 107.5. The Buffs finished with three top eight finishers for those points and added a fourth skier in the top 12.
“Having four women in the top 12 is very good and we can build on that,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “They did their job to perfection today. The guys are still struggling a little bit, but there are signs. They were far better on their second runs.”
CU freshman Brooke Wales earned a runner-up performance in the giant slalom, matching her performance from a day earlier on the same hill in a RMISA Qualifier race in a time of 2:01.31. She had the fourth-fastest first (1:00.41) and third-fastest second run (1:00.90) to hold of Utah’s Jamie DuPratt by just six-one hundredths of a second.
“It was a really good result for me today and the girls skied really well, which was awesome,” Wales said. “I had a couple of mistakes and whatnot, so I’m happy with second given those mistakes.”
Wales said the wind “can be a factor. I don’t think it made a difference in people’s times, it’s just a matter of if you can see or not. It was a little hard to see the ground with the snow blowing around, but you just have to take it as it is and do the best with the conditions you’re given.”
Sophomore Shane McLean brought home fifth place in a two-run time of 2:01.70. She was sixth-fastest down the hill in the first run with a time of 1:01.40 and then blazed down the La Belle run in the afternoon with the second-fastest time (1:00.66) to move up one spot and get her second top five finish of the young season.
“It feels good being consistent and helping out the team,” McLean said. “I made a mistake on my first run but had some good sections, too, so I just tried to be more consistent in the second run and it paid off.”
Freshman Jessica Honkonen finished eighth in a time of 2:02.84, giving her two top 10 finishes after finishing seventh in Monday’s qualifier race. Freshman Thea Grosvold finished 12th, improving her first day performance by two spots in a time of 2:03.85. Freshman Clare Wise finished 21st, moving up nine spots from her starting position of 29th, in a time of 2:05.80. Senior Khyla Burrows did not finish her first run down the hill.
On the men’s side, the Buffs struggled but did finish as a pack led by junior Andreas Haug’s 16th place finish in a time of 1:55.65, just ahead of freshman Henrik Gunnarsson and his 17th-place time of 1:55.76.
Senior Max Lamb was the Buffs’ third scorer in a time of 1:57.00, good for 23rd, followed by freshman Cameron Smith, who was 24th in a time of 1:57.17. Junior Fletcher McDonald finished 30th in a time of 1:58.97 while freshman Kasper Hietenan did not finsh the second run after posting the 22nd fastest time in the first run.
The men’s team compiled 72 points, a disappointing sixth-best in the field. But as Rokos says, Wednesday’s slalom races should bode better for the Buffaloes.
“The giant slalom hasn’t been our best event lately,” Rokos said. “We will invest more time in training for GS, but the bottom line is we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to train GS in the fall. Because of the snow, we trained a lot more slalom. We got away from Eldora to get a few good days in, but nothing here at Eldora that we could benefit from. I think we will improve throughout the season.”
Also hurting the Buffs in the GS is the absence of the team’s best skier, as sophomore Adam Zika is out the first two weeks of the season resting his knee. He is the defending NCAA giant slalom champion, a race he won by record margin last March.
“Adam is a big part of our whole team chemistry,” Rokos said. “Not only do we miss his results, but we miss somebody with such a high skill and ability in practice. Right now all the guys are fighting within each other by just a couple hundredths of a second. They need somebody to raise the bar, so we’re looking forward to having him back.”
The slalom races Wednesday will conclude the alpine portion of the CU Invitational, with men’s action getting underway at 8:15 a.m. The Nordic portion of the meet will take place Saturday and Sunday in Steamboat Springs while the alpine teams compete in Winter Park as part of the Denver Invitational.
CU Invitational/Spencer James Nelson Memorial Team Scores (2 events)-1. Denver 240½; 2. New Mexico 213; 3. Colorado 191; 4. Utah 186; 5. Alaska Anchorage 167; 6. Montana State 140½; 7. Westminster College 125; 8. Colorado Mountain College 20.
Women’s Giant Slalom (27 collegiate finishers)-1. Kristine Haugen, DU, 1:59.52; 2. Brooke Wales, CU, 2:01.31; 3. Jamie DuPratt, UU, 2:01.37; 4. Courtney Altringer, UNM, 2:01.48; 5. Shane McLean, CU, 2:01.70; 6. Vanessa Berther, UAA, 2:02.17; 7. Kristiina Rove, UU, 2:02.66; 8. Jessica Honkonen, CU, 2:02.84; 9. Kate Williams, UNM, 2:03.01; 10. Tianda Carroll, DU, 2:03.27; 11. Ana Kobal, UU, 2:03.59; 12. Thea Grosvold, CU, 2:03.85; 13. Stephane Irwin, MSU & Devin Delaney, DU, 2:04.00; 15. Anna Berecz, UAA, 2:04.22; 16. Terra Moran, MSU, 2:05.23; 17. Anna Goodman, WMC, 2:05.29; 18. Emily Danza, MSU, 2:05.31; 19. Mary Rachel Hostetter, UNM, 2:05.35; 20. Clare Wise, CU, 2:05.80; 21. Bridget French, DU, 2:06.48; 22. Kayla Fry, UAA, 2:06.84; 23. Maria Elena Rizzieri, DU, 2:07.87; 24. Ida Bjerka, UAA, 2:08.95; 25. Marissa Riopelle, MSU, 2:09.48; 26. Jacqueline Lebel, MSU, 2:13.00; 27. Christina Rennie, CMC, 2:24.12. Did Not Start: Lindsay Cone, DU. Did Not Finish (First Run): Tonje Sekse, WMC, Kelly McBroom, MSU; A.C. Brusletto, UNM; 17. Natalie Knowles, DU; Khyla Burrows, CU; Tenaya Driller, MSU; Teagen Palmer, DU. Did Not Finish (Second Run): Ceila Ferguson, CMC.
Men’s Giant Slalom (34 collegiate finishers)-1. Max Marno, DU, 1:53.84; 2. Michael Bansmer, UNM, 1:53.86; 3. Trevor Philp, DU, 1:53.96; 4. Armin Triendl, UNM, 1:53.98; 5. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:54.46; 6. Simon Ruud, WMC, 1:54.76; 7. Benoit Jagot, WMC, 1:55.01; 8. Andreas Adde, UAA, 1:55.12; 9. Grant Jampolsky, DU, 1:55.13; 10. Joonas Rasanen, UNM, 1:55.20; 11. Niko Harmanen, UAA, 1:55.25; 12. David Herzog, WMC, 1:55.31; 13. Luke Laidlaw, DU, 1:55.33; 14. Andy Trow, UU, 1:55.48; 15. Ryan Wilson, UU, 1:55.59; 16. Andreas Haug, CU, 1:55.65; 17. Henrik Gunnarsson, CU, 1:55.76; 18. Michael Radford, MSU, 1:55.86; 19. Kitt Flowers, DU, 1:56.15; 20. Timotej Hribar, UU, 1:56.91; 21. Eian Sandvik, UU, 1:56.93; 22. Michael Mackie, MSU, 1:56.96; 23. Max Lamb, CU, 1:57.00; 24. Cameron Smith, CU, 1:57.17; 25. Sean Horner, UNM, 1:57.81; 26. Nikolai Narvestad, WMC, 1:58.34; 27. Cam Brewington, UAA, 1:58.37; 28. Chris Kollenborg, UAA, 1:58.66; 29. Taylor Shiffrin, DU, 1:58.85; 30. Fletcher McDonald, CU, 1:58.97; 31. Charlie Reynolds, DU, 1:59.07; 32. Sam Monsen, MSU, 1:59.59; 33. David Owsley, MSU, 1:59.73; 34. James Schindler, UAA, 2:01.68. Did Not Start: Mark Miller, UNM. Did Not Finish (First Run): Even Winquist, WMC; Chriss Salbu, UNM; Will Cutler, CMC. Did Not Finish (Second Run): Cedrik Gagnon, UAA; Kasper Hietanen, CU; Chris Acosta, UNM; Jeremy Elliott, UU; David Senoner, WMC; Juko-Pekka Penttinen, UMC; Ryan McDonnell, MSU.