DU’s ski team has already generated a successful start to their 2016 season with podium finishes from a variety of skiers. Both the Alpine and Nordic ski teams have produced top results in the races they’ve competed in so far. After finishing second at the NCAA Championships last year, behind in-state rival University of Colorado-Boulder, the Pios are looking to reclaim the title to add to their national record of 22 NCAA Championship titles.
Senior alpine skier, Kristine Haugen, who finished third in both the slalom and giant slalom at the NCAA Championships last season says, “I have trained a lot more over the summer so I felt much more prepared and confident coming into this season.”
Haugen finished first in the women’s race at the Utah Invitational on Jan. 6 and got third place in the slalom at the Montana State Invitational on Jan. 11. She said about her success, “Everything before the Steamboat Springs [location of the NCAA Championships] is preparation, so even though I’m doing well now, its all just stepping stones for the ultimate goal at the end of the season.”
The Norwegian native feels that her last season is make it or break it so she’s adapted a determined mentality in hopes to propel her and the rest of the team to win the National Title. “We know we have a lot of talented individuals and are capable of winning [the National Championship], so having that kind of confidence makes you train harder because you know you’re capable of something bigger.”
Alongside Haugen on the Alpine team, sophomore, Erik Read (Calgary, Alberta) and freshman, Tuva Norbye (Oslo, Norway) placed first in the Montana State Invitational. Both athletes picked up Skier of the Week honors following their winning performances.
On the Nordic ski team, junior Moritz Mandlener (Sulzberg, Bavaria, Germany) earned his second straight podium finish after the Utah Invitational where he placed third in the 15 km with a ski time of 38:24.8. Additionally, Mandlener finished third in the men’s 10 km at the Soldier Hollow with a 23:41.9 time. Mandlener notes, “I try to see these races as a great opportunity to get in shape and work on specific tasks, such as technique or race tactics.”
Mandlener, similar to Haugen, is eager to compete for the title, he says, “The ultimate goal for [our] team is to with the National Championships in March in Steamboat. Naturally, each one of [us] has personal goals, as well. I placed 2nd in one of the races at the NCAAs last year, so the next step is to win. It is an extremely competitive field of skiers and there is still a lot of work ahead to achieve [our/my] goal.”
Mandlener is pleased with the progress the Nordic team has made so far with help from the coaching staff, explaining, “People are at different states of [their] development. Dave (head coach) and Hakon (assistant coach) are doing a great job in bringing everybody on the same page and helping [us] in [our] development, both as students and as athletes. That creates an atmosphere, where everybody can thrive and show their full potential. Even though [we] had a tough start on the Nordic side this season, [we] want everybody to expect [us] to win the National Championships again this year.
Denver faces the reigning National Champs at the CU Spencer Nelson Memorial Invitational from Jan. 22-23. Support the Pios on their quest to capture the 2016 title and tally onto their record for NCAA Championships titles.