March 13, 2010

By Lynn DeBruin
Special to the NCAA.com

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - In a setting where old-time Olympians from Billy Kidd to Otto Tschudi held front-row seats under the lights, leave it to a freshman to steal the spotlight at the NCAA Skiing championships.

That's what Andreas Adde did Friday night at Howelsen Hill in Ski Town USA.

The Alaska-Anchorage skier took gold in the slalom with a combined time of 1 minute, 14.91 seconds - just 12 hundredths of a second ahead of Utah's Torjus Krogdahl.

Vermont's David Donaldson was third in 1:15.30.

"It felt good all the way down," said Adde, who grew up in Norway but came to the U.S. for a ski scholarship and an education.

"The snow was so nice. Conditions were perfect."

Adde wore bib No. 1 and took advantage of a smooth course on his first run to build up a slight lead. It was enough in the end.

"If you would have asked me four weeks ago, I'd say I did not expect this," Adde said. "But I won the last two slaloms in the West (except regionals), so I was hoping for it."

The favorite probably was University of Colorado junior Gabriel Rivas, the defending champ who was coming in on a hot streak, having hit the podium in five of the last six slalom races.

But he slid off the course at gate 39, just eight from the finish, and was disqualified for not properly hiking back up and around the missed gate.

"I went down on my hip and tried to let it go, but I let it go a little too much," said a dejected Rivas.

That it happened so close to the finish hurt even more.

"I was that close. I thought I was done. In my head, I was done too soon," Rivas said.

University of Colorado team captain Arman Serebrakian saw the disappointment in Rivas' face and heard it in his voice.

"I've known him two years and I've never seen him that bummed. He had taken it upon himself to get us back in this (team race)...and it was just a freak kind of thing," Serebrakian said.

Another favorite, University of Denver's Leif Haugen, who raced for Norway in the Vancouver Olympics and won the giant slalom on Wednesday, was out of it early after falling near the bottom of the course. He was 24th after the first run, and skied conservatively on the second to aid the team in points.

With just two events left Saturday, the Pioneers have 589.5 points, with New Mexico second (535). Colorado fell to third with 504, followed by Utah (496) and Vermont (39.5).

DU coach Andy LeRoy was confident his team could hold on for the three-peat.

"I think tomorrow's going to be a very nice day for us," he said.
On a night when mittens served as beverage cozies and bonfires lit up the night sky, the rowdiest and loudest cheers were reserved for hometown favorite Drew Roberts, a CU senior who was racing his final collegiate event.

"I could hear it halfway down the hill," he said of cheers from dozens of friends and family. "It was a good way to go out. I couldn't ask for more. It was fun having all my friends and family here."

Roberts was 10th after the first run at 37.60, but his second run left him in 15th overall.

"It was a little too conservative," Roberts said. "When our top guy (Rivas) went out in the first run, we needed points. But I felt like I skied well."