Classic CU is a part of the CUBuffs.com network. Brought to you by the University of Colorado Athletic Department and the Univeristy of Colorado Heritage Center, ClassicCU.com will feature top teams, players and athletes, and events and moments from CU's rich tradition of excellence.
1959 Ski Team Wins CU's First NCAA Team Title
The first national championship team in any sport in CU’s athletic history took place on March 29, 1959 in Winter Park, Colo., as the CU ski team edged out rival Denver by 5.8 points.
The ’59 squad broke through for the first major win when it captured the NCAA West Region title. Two weeks later, head coach Bob Beattie’s Buffs were celebrating CU’s first of what is now 17 titles in the sport. In addition to Beattie, members of the team included skiers Frank Brown, Dave Steed, John Dendahl, Norris Durham, Gary Gisle, Bob Gray and Harold Shaeffer and assistant coach Helge Gagnum. Steed claimed two individual NCAA titles, in the jumping and skimeister competitions.
Fittingly, the 1959 ski team was the first team to be inducted into the Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. (Keyed in by CU Student Assistant SID Niko Strzepek).
By Dick Hilker
WINTER PARK, Colo. - Colorado University withstood a strong challenge from Denver’s jumping team in the final event to win the sixth annual NCAA ski championships here Saturday.
CU’s Dave Butts, a red-haired junior from McCall, Idaho, set a new hill record of a 163 feet to win the jumping and help give Colorado its first ski title by a margin of five and eight-tenths points.
It also was the first national team championship for the Buffaloes in any sport.
Trailing by 15.4 points going into the final event, the favored Pioneers made a gallant bid in the jumping as Al Vincelette placed second, Ted Farwell, third, Martti Korhonen fifth and Mauritz Sonberg sixth.
But the outstanding performance by Butts and Norris Durham’s seventh place finish allowed Denver to pick up only 4½ points in the event.
The Pioneers gained an additional 5.1 points in the Nordic Combined (cross country, jumping) totals. Denver skiers swept the first four places in the Nordic point totals.
In the final team standings Colorado had 549.4, Denver 543.6. Dartmouth was third with 542.7, less than a point behind the Pioneers.
Utah, Western State, Nevada, Middlebury, Michigan Tech and Idaho trailed in that order.
As a team Colorado failed to win any of the six events in the three-day meet but was consistently strong in all to upset the Pioneers, who had won four of the previous five NCAA meets.
Colorado was second in the slalom, Alpine combined, cross country, jumping, and Nordic combined and third in the downhill.
A disqualification in the slalom and a fall in the downhill cost Denver valuable points in the Alpine standings and prevented the Pioneers from winning.
Bob Beattie, CU’s 26-year-old coach, credited a great team effort for the Buffs’ victory.
“Today, Butts jumped better than he’s ever done before,” Beattie said. “But that was the theme of the meet as far as we were concerned. When we needed a great performance someone came through. Frank Brown did it for us Friday in the cross-country. None of our boys really skied a great meet,” Beattie explained, “but the boys really came through under pressure when they had to.”
Peter Pytte, DU’s young coach who was acting as head coach while Willy Schaeffler served as technical consultant for the 1960 Olympic Games, took the defeat in stride. That’s the breaks,” he said. “Our boys were really jumping today, but I guess we were just too far back to catch up.”
Schaeffler came here from Squaw Valley, Calif., especially for the meet but his presence didn’t seem to help the Pioneers.
Butts also wound up as skimeister (the top four-way competitor). He had jumps of 163, 159 and 155 feet with excellent form.
Butts tied for fourth in slalom, was 12th in the downhill and 24th in the cross-country to claim the four-way title.
|All content, including but not limited to photos, logos and articles, are © Univeristy of Colorado, All Rights Reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute anything from this website without consent of the University of Colorado Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or the University of Colorado Heritage Center.|