Colorado Athletics

BIG SKY & BOHART RANCH, Mont. - The Colorado Buffaloes and Utah Utes, long time foes in the skiing world and soon to be conference cohorts in all other sports in the Pac-12, battled it out Sunday at the 2011 Montana State Invitational. In the end, the Buffs topped the Utes by just nine points, 921-912, in the closest meet in Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association history under the current scoring format.

The Buffs held a 37 point lead over Utah after the first day of action as both teams dominated the action. The two teams continued the domination in Nordic action as Utah cut into the Buffs slim lead. Utah scored 131 points to Colorado’s 108 in the women’s 15K classic race and then edged the Buffs by a single point (122-121) in the men’s 20K classic race, cutting the overall lead down to just 13 points at 728-715.

In slalom action, neither team won the individual title or won the race as a team, unlike the first six races. Utah outscored Colorado 105-97 in the women’s slalom race but the Buffaloes edged the Utes by four points in the men’s slalom race (96-92) to give the Buffs the nine point victory.

It is the closest meet in the RMISA since the current scoring format was adopted prior to the 2010 season. The previous close was a 15 point victory by New Mexico over Denver (850-835) in the 2010 Utah Invitational. Overall it’s the closest meet since the 2008 New Mexico Invitational when Denver edged Colorado by 3.5 points, 591-587.5.

Behind the Buffs and Utes, New Mexico finished third with 786 points while Denver took fourth with 764 points. Alaska Anchorage racked up 658 points in fifth place while host Montana State finished sixth with 603 points and RMISA associate member Westminster College, competing in alpine only, finished with 324 points.

In women’s Nordic action, Utah’s Maria Graefnings continued her early season domination with a nearly two-and-a-half minute win against the field in the women’s 15K classical race, winning in a time of 48:23.3. Colorado’s Eliska Hajkova (50:49.6) came in second for the second consecutive race while Utah’s Sarah MacCarthy also took the podium in third (51:02.5). Alaska Anchorage’s Laura Rombach took fourth in 51:06.6 and New Mexico’s Christina Hellberg rounded out the top five in 51:11.5.

The Utes placed three in the top six to win the race, racking up 131 points and bringing the overall race even tighter. Colorado (108) and Alaska Anchorage (105) both hit triple-digits while New Mexico (97) was just shy of that mark.

Utah took the sweep of individual titles in Nordic action Miles Havlick winning in a time of 58:37.4 in the 20K classic race, 12.6 seconds ahead of Colorado’s Vegard Kjoelhamar (58:58.0) as the two flopped Saturday’s placements and topped the rest of the field by over a minute. New Mexico’s Martin Kass took third in 59:58.6 while Utah’s Didrik Smith brought home fourth in 1:00:10.2 and Colorado’s Jesper Ostensen fifth in 1:00:55.5.

Utah edged Colorado by a single point to win the race, 122-121, while New Mexico had a good showing with 111 points.

In women’s slalom action at Big Sky, Denver’s Sterling Grant won her second slalom race of the season in 1:35.76 while Utah’s Eva Huckova brought home second in 1:35.94. Westminster College’s Sandy Tschofen brought that school its first podium appearance in RMISA action in a time of 1:36.69. Denver’s Ida Dillingoeen took fourth in 1:36.97 and New Mexico’s Kate Williams rounds out the top five in 1:37.18.

On the strength of those two top five finishes, Denver won the race with 118 points while Westminster College broke triple figures for the first time and took second with 107 points, followed closely by Utah with 105 points. Colorado was just shy of the 100-point barrier with 97.

New Mexico’s Petter Brenna won his first race of the season in men’s slalom action with a time of 1:27.64. Denver’s Seppi Stiegler took second in 1:27.84 and Alaska Anchorage’s Andreas Adde was third on the podium in a time of 1:28.08. Denver’s Grant Jampolsky took fourth in 1:28.14 and Colorado’s Fletcher McDonald rounded out the top five with a time of 1:28.21.

New Mexico won the race racking up 116 points, just three ahead of Denver’s total of 113. In the race for the overall meet title, Colorado outscored Utah 96-92 as both finished just shy of the 100-point total.

The Buffaloes have now won the last three RMISA meets (not counting NCAA meets with more teams), having won the RMISA Championships and the Nevada Invitational to conclude the 2010 season.

Next up for RMISA skiers is the conclusion of the Utah Invitational next weekend at Soldier Hollow. Headed into Nordic action, the Buffs hold a slim nine point advantage over Utah, 444-435, while New Mexico (417.5) and Denver (412) are both still in the mix.