Colorado surges to claim invitational
ASPEN, Colo. – On the strength of a 2-3-4 finish in the women’s 21K freestyle race, the University of Colorado edged Utah as those two schools surged away from Denver and New Mexico to win the 2011 University of Denver Invitational. The 21K race for the women is the longest of the season by six kilometers.
Headed into the day, those four teams were within six points of each other. Colorado ended up winning by 10 points, the second closest meet since the scoring was changed prior to last season. CU finished with 879 points to Utah’s 869. It wound up being a tight race every two placements as Denver (808) edged out New Mexico (806) for third place, Montana State (660) over Alaska Anchorage (652) for fifth place and Westminster College (253) over Wyoming (243) for seventh place. Westminster participates in only alpine events while Wyoming is Nordic only.
Utah skiers won both of the races, which was actually one big race, a 21K jaunt from Snowmass Villiage, Colo., to Aspen, Colo., in the largest cross country race in Colorado with over 550 participants. Maria Graefnings won her seventh race out of eight this season while Mile Havlick won his fourth.
In the men’s race, Montana State came out on top, winning its first race of the season on the strength of two podium appearances. Behind Havlick and his time of 59:23.8, MSU’s Tyler Reinking took second in 59:27.7 and Michael Schallinger took third in 59:55.8. They were followed closely by Denver’s Andrew Dougherty (59:57.0) and Utah’s Tom Smith (59:58.8) as the only five skiers to finish in under an hour. MSU raced up 117 points to Utah’s 113 while Colorado finished 6-7-9 to earn 103 points.
On the women’s side, Graefnings beat CU’s Eliska Hajkova by just 16.3 seconds as the two topped the rest of the field by over two-and-a-half minutes. Graefnings won in a time of 1:05:44.3 with Hajkova clocking in at 1:16:00.6. CU’s Joanne Reid, who won the classical race, took another podium with a time of 1:08:39.3, beating her teammate Alexa Turzian by just over a second (1:08:40.6). Alaska Anchorage’s Jaime Brogna rounded out the top five just behind Turzian in a time of 1:08:42.2.