Tim Healy is a special contributor to LetsGoDU with expertise and access to the DU Ski Team. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@609Healy) as the NCAA Skiing Championships get underway.
It’s that time of year again. The second weekend of March brings us the annual NCAA Skiing National Championships and DU’s best chances to add to their already gigantic collection of national titles. This year’s championships are being held in the Pioneers’ backyard in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
The theme of this season for the Denver Pioneers has been “Redemption”. After sitting atop the standings going into the final race of the 2017 NCAA Championships in New Hampshire, Denver faltered in the last race and ended up in 3rd. The team took that collapse and vowed to take that loss and turn it into a win the next year.
Coming into this year’s championships, DU has had a phenomenal year. The alpine team had continued their domination of the slopes. The dominance all season led DU to their first RMISA (Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association) Championship since 2007. The RMISA championships were hosted last weekend on the same slopes that will host the NCAAs this weekend.
The Pioneers will be led by Tobias Kogler, Amelia Smart, Alex Leever, Andrea Komsic, Jett Seymour and Tuva Norbye on the alpine slopes. On the nordic track, Dag Frode Trolleboe, Linn Eriksen, Eivind Kvaale, Jasmi Joensuu, Lars Hannah and Taeler McCrerey will wear the Crimson & Gold.
The biggest benefit that the Pioneers bring to this year’s championships is experience. Almost all of the Pioneers that are competing are experienced in competing in major races. The only exceptions are the freshmen on the team, Amelia Smart and Jett Seymour on the alpine team. Seymour is a Steamboat Springs native, so he has some home-slope advantage to break the nerves. Head Coach Andy LeRoy is excited about his team’s position coming into the championships. LeRoy told me, “Almost every athlete we will be taking to the NCAA championships has already been on the podium this year, most have done it in both events.”
The team is led by 2018 Olympian Andrea Komsic. Komsic is coming off a strong performance for the Croatian team in PyeongChang, placing 31st in the slalom and 32nd in the giant slalom. Denver also has won NCAA title every time it has been held in Steamboat (2010, 2016) so it is safe to say that Denver loves competing in Steamboat Springs.
Expect the Pioneers to have a great championship meet. Every athlete and coach will be driven to redeem themselves from last season’s result. Denver should be out in front all four days, with host Colorado and 2017 champions Utah close behind.
My prediction is DU will come coming home with title #24 on Saturday. This is going to be a fun one to watch. Coach Leroy said it best at the end of our talk, “My expectations are high and believe we are the team to beat. I don’t have any specific athletes that we need to keep an eye on, everyone on my team is capable of winning each race with two good runs so don’t turn the channel if a Pio is on course.”
LetsGoDU will be in Steamboat for all four days of competition. Follow us on Twitter and follow me (@609Healy) to get the latest from the slopes.