Feb. 21, 2010

 

Courtesy of Colorado

TRUCKEE, Calif, - The University of Colorado ski team topped itself here Saturday, posting 13 top 10 finishes, or two more than it had Friday and including a second straight win by Matt Gelso in Nordic competition, pulling away from No. 1 ranked New Mexico in easily winning the final Nevada Invitational.

The No. 2-ranked Buffaloes, poised to take over the top spot after their second win this winter, won with 913.5 points, well ahead of the Lobos (834) with No. 4 Denver (752), Utah (728.5) and Alaska-Anchorage (701) rounding out the top five. The Buffs had 24 top 10 finishes and three wins this weekend, while UNM had 16 and two individual victories. Montana State (619.5) and host Nevada (583.5) completed the field, as the Wolfpack, barring a change of mind by the administration or the emergence of a big donation, will eliminate skiing as a varsity sport after this winter.

"It was a great day for the Buffaloes," head coach Richard Rokos said. "Pretty much all four teams performed almost to perfection. The Nordic girls redeemed themselves in a great way, and the Nordic guys continued the way they skied on Friday. Matt being a double winner was great in home environment, especially for his last collegiate races here.

"On the alpine side, the guys skied very solid and enjoyed a great race," Rokos added. "We improved our qualifications and appear to be in good shape for NCAA with two more slaloms ahead of us (one of which is Sunday in a special qualifier). The girls didn't have a great first run and didn't leave themselves much slack, but made up for it on the second run. So this meet was a great confidence boost. Everyone is pumped and ready to roll."

This was the final competition ahead of next weekend's Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association Championships, which will also serve as the NCAA West Regional. Colorado will host the event in Steamboat Springs Feb. 26-27, with RMISA Qualifier No. 2 the only remaining event prior to the regional; that will be a slalom that will take place Sunday, also at the Sugar Bowl where Saturday's similar race took place.

Gelso, a senior from Truckee, added Saturday's 20-kilometer freestyle trophy to the one he captured in classical Friday, the first back-to-back wins of his collegiate career as well as by a Buffalo male , alpine or Nordic, in the same meet since Kit Richmond won both in the 2008 RMISA Championships.

He won with a classic sprint at the finish, as after 12.4 miles of skiing, he edged UNM's Marin Kaas by 9/10 of a second in winning in a 44:27.1 time. The first eight finishers were just 11 seconds apart, with the top 16 separated by only 24 seconds.

"It felt good to win on the home course for sure, especially since Nevada won't have a team next year and this is the last set of races here." Gelso said. "Compared to yesterday's race, it was a little bit harder. The snow was super fast so it was hard to get gaps forming in the race. I felt a little tired, but it worked out okay because I was able to go hard.

"In a mass start, you can't just figure out your own pace, if somebody goes hard right out of the gate, you kind of have to do it or risk falling behind and not being able to catch up."

Gelso was greeted by four teammates in less than 20 seconds, as five Buffaloes in all posted top 10 finishes. Junior Jesper Ostensen (6th, 44:36.5), sophomore Reid Pletcher (7th, 44:37.1), freshman Ian Mallams (8th, 44:38.4) and junior Vegard Kjoelhamar (10th, 44:42.2) skied in right behind Gelso. For Mallams, it was his career-best and first top 10 effort. Junior Patrick Neel rounded out the CU men, placing 21st in 46:10.9.

"We've had four in the top 10 a few times the last few years, but I'm not sure if we've had five," Gelso added. "It's a great show of strength, especially since the race was so tight and that first place was only 15 seconds ahead of 10th place. But we definitely want to have our best races at regionals and then the NCAA's. We're building up our peak fitness so that we're strong at regionals and then so we can be at the top our game at NCAA's."

The CU women may not have had a winner Saturday, but posted the second best finish possible, a sweep of the two through four spots for 132 team points. Sophomore Eliska Hajkova finished second for the fourth time this winter, posting a 38:03.1 clocking, trailing only Denver's Antje Maempel who won in 37:54.6. Junior Alexa Turzian took third in 38:13.3, while freshman Joanne Reid skied to a career collegiate best fourth place in 38:26.1.

Sophomore Katie Stege was 25th in 42:33.0 to complete the Buff women's efforts on the day.

"It was a really good day. Obviously, you're always striving for more, but that was a really good day," CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. "To see Matt win again was awesome. It was such a tight race; it could've gone either way. When you're mixing it up and it's that close, some of it is luck and some of it is positioning, but we had five guys in the top 10; that was an awesome day.

For the girls, holy smokes," he added. "Antje is obviously in great shape and congratulations to her for winning, but 2-3-4 was awesome. To see Joanne because she was back in the pack a little bit to break away in the end was great. Joanne broke away about a half-kilometer, I think she saved some energy and made the right move at the right time. Team effort wise, yeah, you always want to win individually, but team wise, it was a great day."

In the men's slalom, junior Gabriel Rivas equaled his giant slalom effort on Friday in taking second in a two-run time of 1:18.05; Alaska's Andrea Adde won in 1:17.93. Rivas was in second place after the morning run, trailing Adde by .05, buy couldn't make up the ground on the second run, which was so closely contested that just .07 was the difference between the first and fifth fastest times the second time down the mountain.

Senior Drew Roberts was sixth in 1:18.84, moving up nicely from 14th at the start and ninth after the morning run. Sophomore Eric Davis tied for eighth in 1:19.13, also climbing up the standings after starting 23rd and 16th after the first run.

Sophomore Taggart Spenst just missed a top 10 finish by .13 of a second, snaring 11th in 1:19.34. Seniors Stefan Hughes (15th, 1:19.79) and Arman Serebrakian (17th, 1:20.00) and freshman Spencer Nelson (25th, 1:23.77) rounded out the Colorado men's efforts.

The women's slalom saw New Mexico dominate with three finishers in the top five, led by Malin Hemmingsson who won in 1:26.18. The Buffaloes had a rough first run, with three skiers struggling in different ways, but rallied to snag two top 10 efforts. Junior Katie Hartman, who was 14th after the first run, blitzed the field with fastest time for the second run (45.19), rallying for a seventh place finish in 1:7.54. Junior Carolina Nordh was ninth in 1:28.47, with CU's third scorer, sophomore Jennifer Allen, finishing 14th in 1:29.76.

Freshmen Khyla Burrows (21st, 1:31.50) and Erika Ghent (30th, 1:45.20) and sophomore Joelle Chevalier (33rd, 2:46.43) also posted finishes in the slalom for the Buffs, while freshman Sara Hjertman did not race Saturday.

After Sunday's slalom qualifier, the seven schools will reconvene in Steamboat for the RMISA's. The giant slalom and classical races are set for Friday, with the freestyle races Saturday afternoon and the popular slalom races at night to conclude the event later that same day. All events will take place at Howelsen Hill, with the exception of the GS, which will be run on Mt. Werner.

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA SKIING: Dartmouth rallied from 59 points down at midway point to eke out a victory in the Williams Carnival Saturday in Hancock, Maine. Vermont held the day one lead only to see the Big Green rally to win their fifth meet in as many tries this winter. On the strength of 12 top 10 efforts, Dartmouth finished with 892 team points, two ahead of Vermont, while New Hampshire was third with 705. The EISA Championships will take place this weekend in Middlebury, Vt. Colorado is the host of this year's NCAA Championships, set for March 10-13 in Steamboat Springs.

Nevada Invitational Team Scores (Final; 8 events)-1. Colorado 913.5; 2. New Mexico 834; 3. Denver 752; 4. Utah 728.5; 5. Alaska-Anchorage 701; 6. Montana State 619.5; 7. Nevada 583.5.

Men's Slalom (37 finishers)-1. Andreas Adde, UAA, 1:17.93; 2. Gabriel Rivas, CU, 1:18.05; 3. Andreas Kilde, DU, 1:18.29; 4. Torjus Krogdahl, Utah, 1:18.53; 5. Petter Brenna, UNM, 1:18.60; 6. Drew Roberts, CU, 1:18.84; 7. Chris Barber, MSU, 1:19.06; 8. Eric Davis, CU and Martin Harris, UNR, 1:19.13; 10. Christopher Acosta, UNM, 1:19.21. Other CU Finishers: 11. Taggart Spenst, 1:19.34; 15. Stefan Hughes, 1:19.79; 17. Arman Serebrakian, 1:20.00; 25. Spencer Nelson, 1:23.77.

Women's Slalom (34 finishers)-1. Malin Hemmingsson, UNM, 1:26.18; 2. Eva Huckova, Utah, 1:26.49; 3. Lindsay Cone, DU, 1:26.61; 4. Anne Brusletto, UNM, 1:26.92; 5. Kate Williams, UNM, 1:26.93; 6. Katie Hartman, CU, 1:27.54; 7. Anna Kocken, 1:27.60; 8. Jennie Vanwagner, DU, 1:27.75; 9. Carolina Nordh, CU, 1:28.47; 10. Alexandra Parker, UAA, 1:28.49. Other CU Finishers: 14. Jennifer Allen, 1:29.76; 21. Khyla Burrows, 1:31.50; 30. Erika Ghent, 1:45.20; 33. Joelle Chevalier, 2:46.43.

Men's 20k Freestyle (36 finishers)-1. Matt Gelso, CU, 44:27.1; 2. Martin Kaas, UNM, 44:28.0; 3. Harald Loevenskiold, DU, 44:32.3; 4. Martin Liljemark, Utah, 44:33.0; 5. Simon Reissmann, UNM, 44:36.2; 6. Jesper Ostensen, CU, 44:36.5; 7. Reid Pletcher, CU, 44:37.1; 8. Ian Mallams, CU, 44:38.4; 9. Didrik Smith, Utah, 44:41.0; 10. Vegard Kjoelhamar, CU, 44:42.2. 2 Other CU Finishers: 21, Patrick Neel, 46:10.9.

Women's 15k Freestyle (29 finishers)- 1. Antje Maempel, DU, 37:54.6; 2. Eliska Hajkova, CU, 38:03.1; 3. Alexa Turzian, CU, 38:13.1; 4. Joanne Reid, CU, 38:26.1; 5. Kate Dolan, DU, 38:32.1; 6. Mari Elden, DU, 38:28.6; 7. Maria Graefnings, UNR, 38:44.7; 8. Laura Rombach, UAA, 38:49.0; 9. Mellie Park, MSU, 39:06.1; 10. Kaelin Kiesel, MSU, 39:12.9. Other CU Finishers: 25. Katie Stege, 42.33.0.