It was a heartbreaking championships for the Buffs on the New Hampshire slopes last week. After being named heavy favorites to win the 2017 National Championships, the University of Colorado ski team was unable to overtake the lead from Utah, as CU was awarded runner-up national champions for the second year in a row.
This would have been Colorado’s 21st national title. CU earned its spot as favorite to win after it defeating both Utah and Denver in the NCAA West Regional Championships (RMISA Championships) just a few weekends ago.
Colorado had a mixed start to the competition on Wednesday beginning with the giant slalom race, which freshman David Ketterer won. Multiple skiers were sent flying off the course on Wednesday after enduring some challenging conditions. Ketterer was able to come away with the win by a mere 11 hundredths of a second over a Utah skier.
Sophomore Max Luukko finished out his day in ninth and was Colorado’s only other finisher. Sophomore Ola Johansen crashed on one of his runs and was unable to put up a third team score to help the Buffs.
Likewise, top-seeded women’s competitor sophomore Tonje Trulsrud also fell on her second run. Trulsrud was in second place after her first run and was likely going to be a podium finisher. Sophomore Nora Christensen was Colorado’s top finisher in 15th, and freshman Isabella Fidjeland finished close behind her in 17th.
The brutality of the course seemed to put the Buffs at an early disadvantage moving into day two of the championships, as Colorado sat in fifth place behind Montana State, Utah, Denver and Dartmouth.
Despite a difficult first day, the Buffs had a solid day in the first day of the Nordic competitions. The CU women had a dominating showing in the five-kilometer classic race, even pulling a title. Junior Petra Hyncicova crushed the competition by almost 19 seconds to win her first NCAA title.
Sophomore Christina Rolandsen and senior Jesse Knori also had top finishes for the Buffs, skiing into fourth and eighth place, respectively.
Colorado also had a decent showing in the men’s 10-kilometer classic. Sophomore Petter Reistad finished in fourth for the Buffs. Senior Mads Stroem finished right behind him in eighth. Senior Jackson Hill was Colorado’s third finisher, skiing into 36th.
The Nordic team’s strong showing on day two of the competition moved the Buffs into third halfway through the competition. Colorado trailed only Utah and Denver moving into the latter half.
Day three marked the final day of the alpine competition, and Ketterer failed to disappoint once again. He went on to win the slalom competition by a solid four tenths of a second. Ketterer’s sweep at the championships gave Colorado its fifth skier in program history to win both the giant slalom and slalom at the National Championships.
Luukko also had another strong showing for the Buffs, finishing in eighth place, and Johansen finished in 14th.
The CU women also had an exceptional day. Christensen led the Buffs with a fifth place finish. Trulsrud finished in 13th, and Fidjeland was 21st.
The Buffs’ showing in day three on a very technical slalom course kept them in strong title contention moving into the final events. Denver gained control of the lead from Utah after day three and Colorado rounded out the top three.
The final day of competition was easily the most intense and had the most on the line.
The Colorado Nordic women were unstoppable in the final race, the 15-kilometer freestyle. Hyncicova also completed a sweep, after winning the event by over 21 seconds, making her the seventh Colorado woman to win a freestyle championship. Ketterer and Hyncicova became the second Buffs duo to sweep events at the championships, and the only to do it since 2008.
Rolandsen also had an outstanding finish, placing third overall. Knori was the Buffs final finisher in 28th place.
In the men’s 20-kilometer freestyle, the Buffs had another strong showing in the quest for the title. Stroem was Colorado’s top finisher in second place, only one second behind Utah’s Martin Bergstrom. Closely behind the leaders were Reistad, who finished only two seconds behind Bergstroem in fourth. Hill finished in 28th for the Buffs.
The Utes won their first national title since 2003 with 541.5 points. Colorado was second with 525 points. One point behind the Buffs was Denver with 524.
Despite its team finish, Colorado successfully swept four individual titles. Due to the mixed performance from the downhill team on the first day of competition, the Buffs were unable to come back from such a major disadvantage.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Olivia Butrymovich at Olivia.Butrymovich@colorado.edu.