DU Ski Team Quest for Championship #25 Ends with NCAA Cancellation

Tim Healy is a regular contributor to LetsGoDU on collegiate skiing.

Denver Skiing exited Day 2 of the NCAA championships in a two-horse race in Bozeman, Montana. Denver fell behind the University of Utah following today’s men’s and women’s freestyle events. With two days remaining and several of Denver’s strongest events remaining, the NCAA pulled the plug with a nationwide cancellation of NCAA events due to the Coronavirus.

What a sad ending to an event that looked so promising for Denver.

In the women’s 5k Freestyle race, DU’s Eviliina Piippo (13:21) garnered yet another national championship for DU. Unfortunately, her teammates were far behind with Vera Norli in 28th at 15:15 and Emma Larsson at 38th with a time of 15:30.

On the men’s side, Denver scored a bronze when Bernhard Flaschberger finished third in the 10K freestyle at 23:56.2. His teammates were several minutes behind with Borgar Norrud in 19th (25:18)  and Ole Marius Kirkeng in 33rd with a time of 26:22.

This is the heartbreaking end for the DU ski team. While Utah had assumed the team lead (293-261), DU was heading into some of their best events, Alpine slalom and Nordic classical. The nearest competitor was Middlebury, nearly 60 points behind.

We exited the shortened two-day event with a handful of National Champions and All-Americans so that is a great accomplishment that was hard earned by our student-athletes. I know the skiers are proud of their individual accomplishments but they wanted to bring Denver another national championship.

This pretty much concludes college sports for this school year and it could not have been more bittersweet for our ski team. Shoutout to head coach Andy Leroy and Toni Riponen who had the Alpine and Nordic teams ready to go. At least the team got to celebrate winning the RMISA Regional Ski title in this same spot before they returned for nationals.


Like many DU fans, I was excited about winning #25. Now it is on to next season.

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Athletics


3 thoughts on “DU Ski Team Quest for Championship #25 Ends with NCAA Cancellation”

  1. Man, what a bummer! Ok, I know everything is getting cancelled, but I’m pretty sure they could have finished a competition that only had 2 days left. Geez, let’s not go overboard with this. Let the skiers ski for two more days. It’s an outdoor sport.

    Well, what’s done is done. I do hope that DU’s 3 winners in 3 events go into the books as final race results. Gotta give the new nordic coach credit for have one champion and a third place finish in the nordic events. And he needs more time to develop his team. But it continues to be mystefying how the top ski team in the country has 4 out of 6 nordic skiers picking up almost no combined points for the team. Need to improve on that next year.

    In the meantime, congrats to all of the hard-working skiers for a good year. The RMISA championship was a great accomplishment, and it was on balance a great start to these NCAA championships. These athletes work so hard, and we’re proud of our great ski team!

  2. I’m sure the NCAA did not want the added potential liability of extending some competitions already in progress while cancelling others. Once the decision was made to go big and cancel them all, they needed to bring the hammer down on everything.

    We’re coming into the first wave of a major, historic, multi-faceted global crisis – health, economic and perhaps social as well. NCAA sports are but a trifle in the bigger picture of life and death on a global scale.

    That said, I feel horrible for all of the athletes and those who shaped them, and even for us us fans, who will need to find different pastimes without sports to watch…

  3. Puck nailed it. Athletics are a great distraction from everyday life and everyday life just got a little more complicated.

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