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Skiers Looking To Regain NCAA Crown

Discussion in 'University of Colorado News and Olympic Sports' started by cmgoods, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. cmgoods

    cmgoods Olympic Sports Mod Club Member

    Oct 15, 2011
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    Joanne Reid, with eight wins, leads the Buffaloes into the NCAA Championship.

    Photo Courtesy: CUBuffs.com
    [h=1]Skiers Looking To Regain NCAA Crown[/h] Release: 03/05/2013 Courtesy: David Plati, Associate AD/Sports Information



    MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - The 60th Annual NCAA Skiing Championships are set to begin here Wednesday, and the University of Colorado ski team is out to recapture the national title it couldn't defend in Montana a year ago.

    The Buffaloes cruised through the west this winter, winning all five invitationals, just the second time in the program's history, which if it is served, bodes well: in 1995, the Buffs swept the west and went on to win the NCAA's.

    The Buffaloes are among the usual favorites, joined by Denver and Utah from the west, with defending champion Vermont also pulling off a sweep, winning all six eastern carnivals. Dartmouth and New Hampshire had fine seasons, but are faced with participating one short of the maximum 12-skier limit. (All six western schools have a full complement of performers).

    UVM is looking to accomplish something that has been done just once, which the Catamounts did in 1989 and 1990: win back-to-back national championships. Just because the meet is taking place in the east, it doesn't guarantee an eastern school will win: of the 26 championships held in the northeast, only six have been won by a school native to the region.

    Colorado is seeking its 19th title in skiing, as it has won six coed, the last in 2011, 11 men's and one women's (an AIAW crown in 1982). The school has won 24 overall national championships representing four sports (three men's cross country, two women's cross country and one football in addition to the ski titles) and is thus seeking its 25th national title.

    This is the youngest team Colorado has ever brought to the NCAA's, with seven freshmen having made the trip here last Friday when CU arrived to begin training on the slicker, icier eastern snow. Just two seniors are here, with two juniors and a sophomore rounding out the squad. Five of the frosh are alpine skiers, including all three women.

    "Taking seven freshmen is a sum of everything of what has happened to us this season," head coach Richard Rokos said. "We are taking a podium and experience in Joanne (Reid), Eliska (Hajkova) and Rune (Oedegaard), and the only other returning skiers are Andreas Haug and Andreas Hoye. They both are very experienced racers and were steadily improving throughout the season. All the rest are new to the collegiate circuit but not without chances to finish in the top three places. Maria Nordstroem, Brooke Wales, Jessica Honkonen and Gustav Nordstrom already have documented their ability to do it, and Henrik Gunnarsson, Kasper Hietanen and Thea Grosvold are perfectly capable of doing it."

    Rokos has taken a calculated risk, as his alpine men excelled far better in the slalom than the giant slalom, so he selected the best three out of five who qualified predicated upon how many points they could score in the two races combined, as opposed to a higher finish versus a lower one.

    "It was a very unusual season for the alpine team," he said. "Our top two skiers barely competed; last year's NCAA GS champion Adam Zika redshirted after suffering a knee injury and undergoes a second surgery next week. Shane McLean was fourth in the RMISA qualification point standings, but she missed the last month and stayed home suffering from effects of a concussion sustained in training. And Fletcher McDonald and Max Lamb, second and third (respectively) on the RMISA slalom list are staying home due to a lack of GS results.

    "This looks like absolute rollercoaster, he added. "We are leaving home the best qualifiers and most experienced collegiate skiers, yet we were able to win all meets and the regional championship due to consistency in all events and a top result by Nordic skiers. Rune and the Nordic ladies were phenomenal taking a podiums in every race while the rest of the team, both alpine and Nordic almost always at least three in the top 10, and that is where the core points come from."

    CU women's Nordic team might be the most dominant unit in the nation; it certainly was in the west. Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer's troops had all 10 winners, eight by Reid and one each by Hajkova and Nordstroem. Combined, they registered 23 top five and 31 top 10 finishes in 40 races. Oedegaard was the only other Buff, alpine or Nordic, to win a race this winter, as he was victorious three times.

    Rokos isn't overly worried about the differences between the eastern and western snow. "There is no difference ... it is white in both places," he mused. "We have had opportunity to train and race on water injected snow here in Colorado, so coming to typical icy eastern conditions is not a shock for us. Besides, our freshmen skied in their home countries until recently and conditions there are more eastern-like than western. Most of them are still adapting to western conditions where the sun and a blue sky are trademarks."

    The giant slalom races will open the NCAA Championships on Wednesday, March 6, with the women's first up at 7:30 a.m. MST; the second run will follow and then the men's race will commence at 11:00 a.m., with the second run to follow. The classical races open the Nordic events on Thursday, March 7, with the women's 5-kilometer race at 8:00 a.m. MST, and the men's 10k version at 10:00 a.m. The slalom races are set for Friday, March 8, with the women's first run at 7:30 a.m., followed by the men's first run at 8:15 a.m.; the second runs will follow at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., respectively. The freestyle races will finish off the NCAA meet on Saturday, March 9: the women's 15-kilometer mass start is set for 8:00 a.m., with the men's 20k race following at 10:00 a.m.

    "The goals are the same, and have not changed the past 20 years if ever," Rokos said. "It would be impossible to justify all the effort, sacrifices and injuries unless the ultimate goal is on your mind all the time. And that goal is to win NCAA title, without question."

    "What will happen at the NCAA Championship is always the result of many things, which includes a great portion of luck," he concluded. "In the four days at NCAA's anything can happen."

    from cubuffs.com

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