Jan. 18, 2010


Courtesy of Colorado

BOZEMAN, Mont. — Five more top 10 finishes, led by junior Gabriel Rivas’ third place effort in the men’s slalom, paved the way for the University of Colorado ski team to win the opening meet of the winter, as the Buffaloes claimed the Montana State Invitational here Sunday afternoon.

Colorado won the meet with 903 points, outdistancing New Mexico (835) and Denver (822). Utah claimed fourth with 713, followed by Alaska-Anchorage (706), Nevada (608) and Montana State (599); with Whitman and Wyoming dropping out of NCAA-sanctioned competitions, there are just seven schools in the west with NCAA programs.

CU did not have an individual winner in any of the eight events, a bit unusual, but was buoyed by 21 top 10 efforts, while New Mexico managed 16 and Denver 12. The Buffs did have four runner-up finishes.

The win was the 48th in 118 meets under 20th year head coach Richard Rokos, his seventh in a season opener; it was only CU’s second season opening win since 1999.

“Our goals aren’t changing, the first is to qualify as many skiers as possible for the NCAA Championships and improve those seeds of those who have qualified,” Rokos said in noting the Buffs have already qualified a handful of performers after just one meet. “But winning a meet of this kind does help to build our confidence.

“It is good to see the guys skiing fast overall, and we have the potential to ski well against anybody,” he continued. “The girls were good again, consistent again and in general are skiing well. The good thing is we still have some room for improvement. The Nordics performance in this meet was nothing short of outstanding, so we are off to a good start.”

Rivas suffered a severely bruised calf muscle the first day of the season in the giant slalom in Park City last Monday, and missed the next days’ slalom. He decided to ski through the pain and mustered a pair of sixth place finishes in Friday’s GS qualifier and Saturday’s GS portion of the MSU meet. Sunday, he finished third in the slalom, his signature event as he is the defending NCAA champion. His two-run time was 1:31.96, just two-tenths of a second behind Denver’s Leif Haugen and 1/100th of tick behind Utah’s Torjus Krogdahl.

Senior Drew Roberts posted his best finish of the young season, claiming ninth in 1:33.92, with sophomore Eric Davis coming in 13th in 1:34.52 to place as CU’s third scorer. Seniors Stefan Hughes (20th, 1:35.65) and Arman Serebrakian (24th, 1:37.50) followed, with sophomore Taggart Spenst finishing 33rd after having to hike a bit 2:15.81. Freshman Spencer Nelson fell during his second run and did not finish.

In the women’s slalom, freshman Erika Ghent posted her fifth top five finish in as many races this winter, claiming fourth in a 1:40.60 clocking; Utahs’ Eva Huckova won in 1:39.76.

Freshman Sara Hjertman tied for sixth in 1:40.95 and junior Carolina Nordh eighth in 1:41.09, as the Buffs fell just one point short of winning the women’s slalom as a team; New Mexico got the better of the Buffs by 111-110.

Junior Katie Hartman finished 12th in 1:41.40, with freshman Khyla Burrows 21st (1:43.64) and sophomore Jennifer Allen 23rd (1:45.07). Sophomore Joelle Chevalier had some troubles on her second time down the mountain and did not finish.

Though it is still like comparing apples and oranges, Colorado’s 903 points won the 7-team west competition, while Dartmouth won the east’s first carnival with 957 points in a meet that featured 15 schools. But the two are using the same scoring base for the first time in recent memory, so some comparisons could be made le1ading up to the NCAA Championships in Steamboat Springs this March 10-13.

The alpine teams will return to Boulder on Monday, while the Nordic teams head to Soldier Hollow to compete in the Nordic portion of the Utah Invitational this Friday and Saturday. New Mexico won the alpine events earlier this week with 467 points; CU holds down fourth some 97 behind with 370. The Buffs bested the Lobos in Nordic action this weekend by 86 points, so CU will have to better that margin to catch UNM.

Montana State Invitational Team Scores (Final; 8 events)—1. Colorado 903; 2. New Mexico 835; 3. Denver 822; 4. Utah713; 5. Alaska-Anchorage 706; 6. Nevada 608; 7. Montana State 599.

Men’s Slalom (33 finishers)— 1. Leif Haugen, DU, 1:31.76; 2. Torjus Krogdahl, Utah, 1:31.95; 3. Gabriel Rivas, CU, 1:31.96; 4. Martin Harris, UINR, 1:32.78; 5. Grant Jampolsky, DU, 1:33.29; 6. Olivier Lacaille, UNM, 1:33.65; 7. Andreas Adde, UAA, 1:33.70; 8. Thomas Schwab, UNM, 1:33.73; 9. Drew Roberts, CU, 1:33.92; 10. Chris Barber, MSU, 1:34.10. Other CU Finishers: 13. Eric Davis, 1:34.52; 20. Stefan Hughes, 1:35.65; 24. Arman Serebrakian, 1:37.50; 33. Taggart Spenst, 2:15.81. Did Not Finish (2nd run): Spencer Nelson.

Women’s Slalom (34 finishers)—1. Eva Huckova, Utah, 1:39.76; 2. Lindsay Cone, DU, 1:39.94; 3. Kate Williams, UNM, 1:40.45; 4. Erika Ghent, CU, 1:40.60; 5. Alexandra Parker, UAA, 1:40.88; 6 (tie). Sara Hjertman, CU, and Anne Brusletto, UNM, 1:40.95; 8. Carolina Nordh, CU, 1:41.00; 9. Malin Hemmingsson, UNM, 1:41.06; 10. Jacqueline Hangl, UNM, 1:41.17. Other CU Finishers: 12. Katie Hartman, 1:41.40; 21. Khyla Burrows, 1:43.64; 23. Jennifer Allen, 1:45.07. Did Not Finish (2nd run): Joelle Chevalier.