Colorado is on track to winning their 18th NCAA National Championship in skiing.
CU displayed a strong performance at the 58th annual NCAA Skiing Championships in Stowe, Vt., to lead all schools with a team score of 647 points, 84.5 points ahead of second-place Utah.
The 80-points plus lead is the largest through six events at the NCAA’s since 2003.
The Buffs are ranked 2nd in the nation, while the No. 1 ranked ski team, Vermont, sits in 5th place.
Much of the momentum was due to five top 10 finishers and two first-place finishes. Entering the championship with a record 81 individual champions, the Buffs made it 83 thanks to the stellar performances of a pair of juniors.
Junior Eliska Hajkova was the winner of the women’s 15k classical, while junior Reid Pletcher won the men’s 20K classical. This was only the second time in school history that a pair of skiers won the same event in two categories. (Categories being male and female events)
“This is definitely a team thing,” Pletcher said. “My first race wasn’t up to my expectations, so I wanted to go out there today and do well for the team. We’re having a really good and consistent year that was my main motivation.”
Hajkova, who joins five other individual female winners in the classical competition, was keen on making sure she outlasted Utah’s Maria Graefnings, who finished in second in the event.
“I do think I’m a little bit of a better sprinter, and was hoping I would be today, so it was important to stay up with her,” Hajkova said. I really left it up to Maria to make a move at the end of the race. When she did, I just gave it everything I had and got the win.”
CU last won an NCAA national championship in skiing in 2006.
“Absolutely it’s a great day to be a Buff,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “We just demonstrated we have the strongest Nordic team. Now we will see what will happen in alpine — slalom can be the big equalizer, though it was our stronger event throughout the year.”
Saturday’s events will included the slalom races for men and women all morning long.
NCAA Championship Team Scores (6 of 8 events)—1. Colorado 647; 2. Utah 562.5; 3. Dartmouth 500; 4. New Mexico 492; 5. Vermont 451.5; 6. Denver 409; 7. Alaska-Anchorage 408.5; 8. New Hampshire 222; 9. Montana State 190; 10. Northern Michigan 185; 11. Alaska-Fairbanks 157; 12. Middlebury 154.5; 13. Bates 126; 14. Williams 115; 15. Colby 97; 16. St. Lawrence 51; 17. Michigan Tech 45; 18. Wisconsin-Green Bay 31; 19. Maine-Presque Isle 27; 20. Harvard 26; 21. Gustavus Adolphus 10.
Women’s 15K Classical (39 finishers)— 1. Eliska Hajkova, CU, 53:33.5; 2. Maria Graefnings, Utah, 53:37.5; 3. Jaime Bronga, UAA, 54:09.6; 4. Zoe Roy, Utah, 54:17.5; 5. Joanne Reid, CU, 54:35.8; 6. Amy Glen, UVM, 54:39.1; 7. Rosie Brennan, Dart., 54:50.2; 8. Sofie Jonsson, UNM, 54:58.0; 9. Laura Rombach, UAA, 55:00.6; 10. Martine Weng, UNM, 55:09.7. Other CU Finisher: 14. Alexa Turzian, 55:24.8.
Men’s 20K Classical (39 finishers)— 1. Reid Pletcher, CU, 1:05:31.4; 2. Erik Bjornsen, UAA, 1:05:35.7; 3. Vegard Kjoelhamar, CU, 1:05:37.0; 4. Tor-Hakon Hellebostad, UNM, 1:05:39.3; 5. Didrik Smith, Utah, 1:05:39.7; 6. Miles Havlick, Utah, 1:05:53.6; 7. Nils Koons, Dart., 1:06:04.4; 8. Andy Liebner, NMU, 1:06:11.2; 9. Martin Kaas, UNM, 1:06:14.8; 10. Jesper Ostensen, CU, 1:06:21.9.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Esteban L. Hernandez at Esteban.firstname.lastname@example.org.