Despite a strong performance from its Nordic skiers on Saturday, Colorado came up short, finishing second in the NCAA Skiing National Championships.
Denver captured the National Championship for a third consecutive year, as the Pioneers finished out the week with 785.5 points. The Buffs trailed with 71.5 points, with an overall score of 714.
“Everyone on the team’s a little disappointed,” said senior Nordic skier Matt Gelso.
Sitting in third place after Friday’s events, Colorado needed big performances from its Nordic skiers going into the final day of competition at the Championships in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
They got just that, after strong finishes by the women’s team on the final day enabled the Buffs to jump over New Mexico to second place.
On the men’s side, Gelso came in third in the 20k freestyle event. Gelso, crowned the national champion in the men’s 10 km classic on Thursday, recorded a time of 49:23.6 on Saturday.
“I won a national championship and a third place, so I’m about as happy as I could be,” Gelso said in a news release. “I would obviously have liked to have won it, but third place, last race, I had fun. I struggled, but I still hung in there.”
Colorado had two skiers on the podium in the women’s 15k freestyle event. Junior Alexa Turzian finished second with a time of 41:09.0 and sophomore Eliska Haijkova came in third with a time of 41:42.5.
“I’m super psyched for us as a team,” Turzian said in a news release. “That’s a great finish for us.”
Colorado arrived at the NCAA National Skiing Championship ranked number one, according to Ski Racing magazine. Expectations were high—the last time Colorado hosted the National Championship in 2006, they won.
“We had more than our fair share of bad luck on the Alpine side, which is pretty much why we ended up where we were,” said Colorado head coach Richard Rokos in a news release. “But we made the mistakes that created most of that bad luck.”
But in light of the loss, at least eight Buffs won’t be returning to Boulder empty-handed.
After the event, Gelso and junior Vegard Kjoelhamar were named First Team All-American in the men’s 10km classic. Gelso also received First Team All-American honors in the men’s 20km freestyle.
In her first year participating in the NCAA Championship, freshman newcomer Joanne Reid was named First Team All-American in the women’s 5km classic and a Second Team selection in the women’s 15km freestyle.
Haijkova, named to the Second Team in the 5km, received First Team honors alongside Turzian in the 15km freestyle.
Junior Carolina Nordh received First Team-All American honors in the women’s slalom, while freshman Erica Ghent and junior Katie Hartman were named to the Second Team. Hartman was additionally honored as First Team All-American in the giant slalom.
Hartman and Gelso were two of only 10 athletes named First Team All-Americans in two events.
With all his success, Gelso is left to decide what his future has in store.
“I might ski for another year competitively,” Gelso said. “I’m going to take the next month and decide.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mark McNeillie at Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org.