Tim Healy is a regular contributor to LetsGoDU on collegiate skiing
Nordic Freestyle concluded the final day of the NCAA Skiing Championships at Jackson Nordic Center. While DU did not win their 25th National Team Championship, they did come home with one individual national championship and nine All-American designations. Denver finished the NCAA’s in 3rd place for the overall NCAA Team Championship, trailing Champion Utah and Colorado for the title. Denver was the top alpine scoring team in the championships.
Women’s freestyle started the day and Utah dominated once again with a 1st and 3rd place finish to build a 46.5 point lead on Colorado. DU’s Hanna Ray finished 16th, Vera Norli 27th and Emma Larsson in 27th. The course appeared surprisingly good for the 10:00 am EST start.
On the men’s 20k freestyle, the Denver men’s Nordic squad responded with one of their best efforts. DU’s Bernard Flaschberger had a strong day and scored an 8th place finish with Borgar Norrud in 9th to earn two more All-American designations for Denver. Junior Ole Marius Kirkeng finished 16th for the Pioneers. Utah and Colorado each placed two skiers in the top ten so Utah was able to hold off the charging Buffalo’s who took 1st and 6th in freestyle. That gave Utah the team championship, their 14th.
2.Colorado 522 ½
4.Alaska Anchorage 411
5.Montana State 385 ½
I want to remind readers that NCAA skiing has changed over the years with these same athletes also competing this season on Olympic Development Squads, National Teams, World Cup squads, and World Championship events as well as college skiing. These are, in many cases, literally world-class athletes. While I hoped DU would finish even better in the Nordic classical discipline, despite injuries and COVID-19 impacts, the effort by our skiers over the past four days was solid.
Looking back at this season’s NCAA Championships, the highlight is Amelia Smart’s performance as she became one of DU’s greatest athletes, earning her third national championship and All-American designation to cap her incredible collegiate career. We have a solid core of future stars with sophomore Reece Bell, sophomore Eleri Smart, junior Simon Fournier, and sophomore Bernard Flaschberger.
In a COVID year, I am just glad that our skiers got to get out on the slopes and tracks in crimson and gold and do what they like to do. We are in good shape with Andy LeRoy running our alpine program and Toni Roponen guiding our Nordic skiers. Sure, we want to win the team championship every year but there is a lot of young talent on the DU squad and the future is bright.
Go DU and see you on the slopes!
Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics