The University of Utah Utes and the defending national champion Colorado ski team have created a new Pac-12 rivalry this year on the slopes.
On Monday in Anchorage, Alaska, the Utes showed just why they are one of the Buffs’ biggest competitors in the NCAA.
With six top 12 finishes in the men’s and women’s 10-kilometer freestyle events, the Utes were able to take first place from CU at the conclusion of the University of Alaska Anchorage Invitational nordic segment.
Utah now stands atop the leader board with 470 points, but the Buffs are in no way out of reach of victory in the overall tournament, ending Monday with 448 points.
Though the Buffs may not be atop the overall standings, individual CU skiers still performed well. Senior Eliska Hajkova finished the women’s 10K in second place, while sophomore Rune Oedegaard finished on the podium in third in the men’s competition.
“It was a reasonably good day,” CU Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said to the Sports Information Department. “You always hope for better when you don’t win or go three in the top five, but I thought it was a solid day overall. The conditions were really good, totally fair, there were no waxing issues.”
The Buffs are competing this week without one of their lead cross-country performers, senior Vegard Kjoelhamar, who stayed in Boulder due to illness. Even without their leader, the men’s cross-country team performed well on Monday and placed three skiers in the top 10: sophomore Andreas Hoye, senior Ian Mallams, and Oedegaard.
“The guys, with three in the top 10 and four in the top 12, that’s a good day,” Cranmer said to the SID. “Rune said those guys (ahead of him) were going fast today. He’s more comfortable, he’s a better classic skier and is more comfortable with a mass start instead of interval, but he got another podium, another solid performance.”
The Invitational continues through Friday, with the giant slalom races on Wednesday and the slalom competition on Friday. The Buffs know that there is more to focus on than just the races later this week however.
“We’ll do some training tomorrow and keep the volume up,” Cranmer said. “We don’t want to peak yet, we want to keep the lid on super top performances and save them for later in the season. We’ll keep training through this period, there’s still a month left until the end of the year. No one wants to be at 100 percent right now. Some volume training keeps that under control. We’ll focus on both training and racing, but not overtraining.”
All statistics and quotations courtesy of the University of Colorado Sports Information Department.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org.