STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Denver took the lead after its team finished 12 solid runs in the slalom races on day three of the NCAA Skiing Championships. The Pioneers’ Erik Read won the individual men’s slalom championship, while Monica Huebner took third and Kristine Haugen earned sixth on the women’s side.
“It definitely finished the night a little better than it started for us. I was hoping for some huge numbers and we definitely had some athletes step up,” Denver head coach Andy Leroy said. “We’re happy with the points we put up today.”
Reed made a time of 1:24.66 to beat out Colorado’s Henrik Gunnarsson by just two-hundredths of a second for the top podium spot.
“I knew it was going to come down close and sure enough two hundredths is barely anything and luckily I was on the right side,” Reed said.
Gunnarsson had the stronger first race clocking 40.34 in comparison to Read’s 40.64. Reed pulled ahead in the second race with 44.02, while Gunnarsson hit 44.34.
“My first run was a bit conservative in my opinion. I was third, but right in the mix. I just skied solid the whole way down,” Read said. “I knew it was going to come down to the second run and it did. It was super tight. I knew this course favored me because it was open and I could really take it down the fall line and trust that it was a very similar set to what we trained on last night. The same guy set the course so I knew I could take some confidence in that. In the end it was just barely enough.”
Huebner and Haugen also had strong races that helped propel their team into first place at the end of the third day.
“For Kristine Haugen to finish her career first, first, first, first, second, third, fifth, and sixth is just incredible,” Leroy said. “Monica, the defending champion from last year, has had a tough season, to come in here and end up on the podium today was really uplifting. She’s such a strong skier, so strong mentally to come here and close it out like she did.”
Utah’s Julie Mohagen took the individual championship for the women’s slalom Friday night with a time of 1:29.63. She faltered on her second run, but was able to maintain control and pulled off her first NCAA individual championship win.
“I knew I had a big lead and I knew it was going to be tight if I did,” Mohagen said. “I just tried to give it my all and not hold back.”
At the end of the day, Denver totaled 405.5 points to pass Montana State University who has held the lead for the past two days. The Bobcats now hold second place with 390 points. Utah takes third with 362, and host team Colorado is not far behind with 340.5 points.
Saturday will conclude the NCAA Skiing Championships in Steamboat Springs with the men’s 20K classic and women’s 15K classic. The men’s race starts at 9 a.m. MT and the women’s race follows at 11 a.m.
“I’m excited to watch our Nordic team put their best foot forward,” Leroy said. “The fact that we ended tonight still in contention for a championship feels good.”