NCAA Championships Day 1: DU Skiers face tough uphill battle

Article special to LetsGoDU by Denver Ski Team Insider Tim Healy

The 2019 NCAA Skiing Championships began Wednesday in Stowe, Vermont.

The Pioneers began their defense of their 2018 title, hoping to clinch their 25th title. But it was a challenging day for the Crimson and Gold.

On the Nordic side, Coach Dave Stewart has a new look squad. After losing some of his team members from last season to graduation and illness, Stewart fielded three skiers this year that are new to the NCAA Championships – but show strong potential. During the 10k event, Eivind Kvaale led the Pioneers to an 11th place finish while other newcomers Borger Norrud (24th)  and OleMarius Kirkeng (27th) finished back in the pack. I have nicknamed the three Norwegians –  the “Attacking Vikings” – but today was not the type of day they could attack.

For the women’s 5K Nordic event, Denver fared better with Jasmi Joensuu finishing second followed by 2018 Denver All-Americans Taeler McCrerey (15th) and Norwegian Kristine Karsrud (23rd).

But, we can expect some higher results in the following days. The Alpine team is returning all but one skier from last year’s team. The newcomer this year is freshman Simon Fournier from Canada. Fournier has been a strong presence for the Pioneers all season. Joining Fournier are Tobias Kogler and Jett Seymour. On the women’s side, DU returns all three of the dominating forces of Tuva Norbye, Andrea Komsic, and defending national champion Amelia Smart. Norbye and Smart have been consistently on top of the podiums this season, while Komsic has been stepping up her game by competing in many World Cup races as THE Croatian Ski Team (I believe she is the only female member who is at the World Cup level).

Denver (92 points) slipped to fifth place on the day, 50 points behind a key rival and first place Utah. DU’s other chief rival is Colorado (120 points) situated between Utah and Denver in the standings. That leaves Denver with little margin for error.

Since the Pioneers do not have the “home-snow” advantage, it would be a battle in Vermont. The Pioneers are putting their best possible team forward, but they do have some major personnel changes on the Nordic side. With the strength of Colorado and Utah, DU could ill afford to ‘have a day off’. Unfortunately, Denver had a tough day on Wednesday. On a positive note, the Pios should have strong results in Alpine. In my view, Utah is in the driver’s seat but that could change with a bad day on the Ute’s side. In a team event, anything can happen, especially on the ‘snow’ the northeast offers. It is too early to raise the white flag on DU’s title defense and title number 25.

Go Pioneers.