Feb. 27, 2010



Courtesy of Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS -- The University of Colorado ski team had one of its most balanced days of the season, with the solid all-around effort propelling the Buffaloes to the top of the standings at the midway point of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) Championships here Friday.

The meet also doubles as the NCAA West Regional as we well as the CU Invitational/Laura Sharpe Flood Memorial, honoring the Colorado sophomore who died in a training run at Eldora on April 3, 1990.

The No. 2-ranked Buffaloes racked up 435 points in the giant slalom and classical races, with No. 4 Denver in the chase at this point with 410. Alaska-Anchorage is in third (382), with top-ranked New Mexico (362) and Utah (356), rounding out the top five. The Buffaloes are gunning for their 24th RMISA title, the 10th under current head coach Richard Rokos; CU has won 11 men's, 10 coed and two women's championships under the RMISA banner.

"It wasn't a bad day overall for the team, plenty of top 10 finishes again which has been our modus operandi," head coach Richard Rokos said. "Just one win and two podium finishes, but we're balanced. So it's a good day to be in the lead because in alpine, we didn't take a podium. But Nordic was solid like they are typically. Alpine always seems to be building it when it goes well and Nordic is solid securing the high placements.

"Unfortunately, we had an injury, we were the only team without one until now, so that's disappointing," Rokos said. Sophomore Eric Davis crashed on his second GS run and suffered a severely dislocated shoulder. He was taken to an area hospital but was not required to stay overnight. "Eric is in a lot of pain. It's very similar to riding a bike at a high speed and being thrown over the handle bars. That's how hard he hit."

Senior Matt Gelso led a five top 5 and 11 top 10 finish attack for Colorado by winning his third straight race, claiming the men's 10-kilometer classical in 29:17.8, cruising to the win in 21-plus seconds. He joins Kit Richmond, who won three in a row in 2008, as the only male CU skiers to string that many victories together since Ove Erik Tronvoll opened the 1999 season with five straight wins. He is cemented in position as the second ranked Nordic skier in the west, one point behind New Mexico's Martin Kaas; Gelso could move into a tie for the number one spot with a win Saturday, but would lose the tiebreaker.

"Things are going well for me right now," Gelso said. "But more importantly, we are doing great as a team. This will serve as a great trial run for the NCAA's." Colorado hosts the national championships at the same Steamboat venues in two weeks.

Gelso had plenty of company at the top of the standings, with juniors Jesper Ostensen (3rd, 29:48.0) and Vegard Kjoelhamar (5th, 29:58.7) joining him in the top five. It marked the fourth time in nine races this winter the trio all finished in the top five.

Sophomore Reid Pletcher (13th, 30:56.5), freshman Ian Mallams (15th, 31:05.0) and junior Patrick Neel (23rd, 32:01.0) posted CU's other results for the race.

"It was an awesome race for the men," CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. "Matt seems to be right on and feeling good. He's been skiing from the front at most of these races so he's obviously been doing great. Vegard, who had been a little sick and a little off form, he's coming into form and did well in fifth and Jesper third, three in the top five, I can't complain about that, that's an awesome day.

"I think Matt's gotten healthy and been able to train how he likes to," Cranmer said of his senior. "I know he's been focusing on NCAA's with this being his last year and he really wants to ski well here. In other years it hasn't been his only focus, but certainly he's done well. All those things added up, being healthy, being able to train well. He had a little sickness, but now he's coming back strong.

"Skiing here gives everybody a chance to get a feel for the course and how to race it," he continued. "It definitely can be a little tricky here, just with a pretty solid climb in the first half of the course and then more down in the second half. You can't afford to start too slowly, but you don't want to start too fast either."

In the women's 5k version, Denver's Antje Maempel also won her third straight race and sixth of the season in posting a 16:37.8 time. Freshman Joanne Reid was CU's top finisher, skiing to fifth in 17:03.7, while sophomore Eliska Hajkova was seventh in 17:16.4. Reid's finish jumped her from ninth into seventh in the individual standings for the year, solidifying the Buffs qualifying a full six-skier Nordic team for NCAA's. Any doubt that would not happen was eliminated with her finish.

Junior Alexa Turzian was 12th (17:40.9), helping CU to second in points (102) behind Denver (113) for the race. Freshman Mary Rose (18th, 18:05.2) and sophomore Katie Stege (24th, 18:36.5) rounded out the CU Nordic women.

"The women didn't do as well as we can," Cranmer said. "I feel pretty good with how they did, though a couple of them struggled, possibly due to ski choice or wax. Joanne had a good race, finishing in the top five, which anytime you do that is good. Eliska has been finishing in the top three, so it's probably not a great race for her, but we had two in the top 10 and one other close to it, so I'm okay with that. I feel like we can ski better and it's not our best effort, hopefully we bring that here in 10 days or so."

In the women's giant slalom, New Mexico's Anne Brusletto won in a two-run time of 1:57.26, as the tightly contested race saw less than one second separate the first through eighth spots. The Buffaloes placed four in the top 10, led by junior Carolina Nordh who claimed fifth in 1:58.02, and freshman Erika Ghent, right behind her in sixth in 1:58.07.

"The first run, the snow was a little soft, but at the bottom of the hill we got to the hard stuff, so it was good," Ghent said of seventh top six finish this winter, the most by a CU freshman alpine woman since Lisa Perricone had 10 in 2006. "The second run, the snow was hard, we all knew what to expect.

"We know we can place a bunch of skiers in the top 10, we expect that of each other," Ghent added. "Even then, I still don't think we did as well as we could have. Katie (Hartman) had to hike on her second run, she could've possibly won. Carolina and I didn't have great first runs, we could've done better overall. It's awesome that we're all doing so well."

Freshman Sara Hjertman, who missed two races last week in Nevada due to illness, rebounded to finish eighth (1:58.22), while sophomore Jennifer Allen tied for 10th (1:58.52). CU's lone other finisher was junior Katie Hartman, who was actually in the lead with the fastest morning run (58.60), but fell on her second run and had to hike back up several gates before finishing. Two other Buffs, sophomore Joelle Chevalier and freshman Khyla Burrows, did not finish their first runs.

"The girls now just have to protect their qualification standing and try to improve it a little," Rokos said. "On the Nordic side, Joanne secured her qualification with her fifth place, so that's great news. It's good to have a full team at NCAA's and we're looking forward to racing in a familiar environment."

In the men's GS, Alaska's Andreas Adde won his second race in a row, and his third of his "Jekyll and Hyde" season in two-run time of 1:56.44. He had the second fastest run in the morning and the quickest the second time down, as he has been on fire lately despite five finishes in 10 races outside of the top 12 coming in. Colorado was paced by freshman Spencer Nelson, who took seventh in 1:57.57, while junior Gabriel Rivas snared ninth in 1:57.92.

Senior Drew Roberts (15th, 1:58.36), sophomore Taggart Spenst (18th, 1:58.53) and seniors Arman Serebrakian (20th, 1:58.60) and Stefan Hughes (22nd, 1:59.85) completed the CU men's effort Friday.

"Spencer did great today in improving his qualification, we are very close to getting that third (male) one qualified which will give us a full team for NCAA's," Rokos said. "The rest of the guys tried hard and the girls didn't slip any, so in that regard it was a good day."

The championships conclude Saturday at the Howelsen Hill area of Steamboat with the Nordic freestyle races (men's 20K at 9 a.m., followed by the women's 15K at 10:30) and the slalom competition, which will be held at night, something that was popular the last time CU hosted meets here in 2006. The men's first run is slated for 6 p.m., followed by the women's at 7; second runs are at 8 p.m. and 9.p., respectively. The slalom will also be run in the evening in two weeks at the NCAA Championships (March 10-13).

"A night race is different animal, you have to have a little experience with it, things come faster, gates look closer together and are coming at you faster and the feel of the speed is different," Rokos noted. "We were trying to train as much as possible at night and I hope we can benefit from that. We're looking forward to it."

"I've never been in a collegiate night race, but it should be an awesome atmosphere," Ghent said in anticipation of Saturday. "It's always exciting at Howelsen. It's a really good slalom hill, I think the best technical skiers will do really well, which is good for us, because we're good technical skiers and we've been training there, so hopefully that pays off."

ELSEWHERE IN NCAA SKIING: The EISA Championships/NCAA East Regional in Middlebury, Vt., which were supposed to start Friday, have been postponed at least one day due to the heavy snow, rains and winds (40-50 miles per hour) in the northeast.

RMISA Championship/NCAA West Regional Team Scores (4 events)--1. Colorado 435; 2. Denver 410; 3. Alaska 382; 4. New Mexico 362; 5. Utah 356; 6. Nevada 311; 7. Montana State 310.

Men's Giant Slalom (35 finishers)--1. Andreas Adde, UAA, 1:56.44; 2. A.J. Arvin, DU, 1:57.01; 3. Halfdan Falkum-Hansen, UAA, 1:57.02; 4. Thomas Schwab, UNM, 1:57.30; 5. Petter Brenna, UNM, 1:57.36; 5. Andreas Kilde, DU, 1:57.36; 7. Spencer Nelson, CU, 1:57.57; 8. Michael Mackie, MSU, 1:57.89; 9. Gabriel Rivas, CU, 1:57.92; 10. Christopher Acosta, UNM, 1:57.93. Other CU Finishers: 15. Drew Roberts, 1:58.36; 18. Taggart Spenst, 1:58.53; 20. Arman Serebrakian, 1:58.60; 22. Stefan Hughes, 1:59.85. Did Not Finish (2nd Run): Eric Davis.

Women's Giant Slalom (30 finishers)--1. Anne Brusletto, UNM, 1:57.26; 2. Nicole Poleschuk, UNR, 1:57.46; 3. Alexandra Parker, UAA, 1:57.53; 4. Lindsay Cone, DU, 1:57.63; 5. Carolina Nordh, CU, 1:58.02; 6. Erika Ghent, CU, 1:58.07; 7. Eva Huckova, UU, 1:58.18; 8. Sara Hjertman, CU, 1:58.22; 9. Petra Gantnerova, UAA, 1:58.50; 10. Jennifer Allen, CU and Jennie VanWagner, DU, 1:58.52. Other CU Finishers: 30. Katie Hartman, 2:10.13. Did Not Finish (1st Run): Joelle Chevalier, Khyla Burrows.

Men's 10k Classical (39 finishers)--1. Matt Gelso, CU,29:17.8; 2. Harald Loevenskiold, DU, 29:38.9; 3. Jesper Ostensen, CU, 29:48.0; 4. Kristian Soerlund. DU, 29:52.6; 5. Vegard Kjoelhamar, CU, 29:58.7; 6. Miles Havlick, UU, 30:15.8; 7. Martin Kaas, UNM, 30:18.0; 8. Pierre Niess, UNM, 30:25.4; 9. Didrik Smith, UU, 30:26.3; 10. Andrew Dougherty, DU, 30:41.6. Other CU Finishers: 13. Reid Pletcher, 30:56.5; 15. Ian Mallams, 31:05.0; 23. Patrick Neel, 32:01.0.

Women's 5k Classical (31 finishers)-- 1. Antje Maempel, DU, 16:37.8; 2. Maria Graefnings, UN, 16:44.0; 3. Kaelin Kiesel, MSU, 16:52.4; 4. Zoe Roy, UU, 16:56.9; 5. Joanne Reid, CU, 17:03.7; 6. Laura Rombach, UAA, 17:09.4; 7. Eliska Hajkova , CU, 17:16.4; 8. Mari Elden, DU, 17:23.9; 9. Stephanie Hiemer, UAA, 17:24.8; 10. Kate Dolan, DU, 17:26.2. Other CU Finishers: 12. Alexa Turzian, 17:40.9; 18. Mary Rose, 18:05.2; 24. Katie Stege, 18:36.5.