One year removed from collapsing on the final day of the 2017 NCAA Skiing National Championships, the University of Denver Pioneers ski team completed their season of redemption to claim their 24th National Championship, the most all-time. Rather than dominating from start-to-finish as the Pioneers have so many times, National Title No. 24 didn’t come as easily.
The Pioneers ended Day One in third behind the University of Vermont and fellow collegiate skiing juggernaut University of Colorado. DU’s Jeff Seymour was the only top-10 finisher in the Men’s Giant Slalom so it was the women who carried the day and kept the Pioneers in the race for the title. Freshman Amelia Smart won the Women’s Giant Slalom while Tuva Norbye and Andrea Kosmic finished in 8th and 11th, respectively. While it wasn’t a dominant Denver start, it was a solid, measured performance for the first day.
Denver’s Day Two performance pulled them to within just nine points of CU, the hosts of the event. DU’s men tallied 73 points to win the team 10K Classical thanks in large part to Dag Frode Trolleboe and Elvind Kvaale finishing in third and fourth, respectively. The women continued the Pios’ Day Two success with Jasmi Joensuu, Linn Eriksen. and Taeler McCrerery grabbing 63 team points to pull Denver into second place in the overall standings.
On Friday night, the Pioneers pulled into first place overall and wouldn’t let the lead go for the rest of the weekend. Amelia Smart won her second individual title of the weekend when she took first in the Women’s Slalom while Andrea Kosmic added a fourth-place finish to give DU a huge bump in team points. The men also took the Slalom title as Tobias Kogler took third while Alex Leever and Jeff Seymour both finished in the top-10. Denver was in complete control heading into the final day, as they were a year ago. They just needed to avoid another collapse.
— Denver Skiing (@DU_Skiing) March 10, 2018
And they did.
Denver won the Men’s 20K Freestyle as Kvaale, Trolleboe, and Lars Hannah finished in third, fourth, and seventh, respectively. DU also took second in the Women’s 15K Freestyle with Eriksen finishing in third, Joensuu in 9th, and McCrerey in 10th. It was the exact performance the Pioneers needed on the final day to rid themselves of the taste of heartbreak from a year ago and bring home National Championship No. 24.
Given that Denver is the best program in the country, it will be easy for the rest of the country to write this off as just another title for a juggernaut, but this was truly the best story of the season. Denver recovered from nothing short of devastation just one year ago and came back to win the national title. All fans of the Crimson & Gold should be beaming today. This is a great day to be a Pioneer.