Denver Fades in Final Day of NCAA Skiing Championships

Unfortunately, Denver’s Achilles heel surfaced early Saturday morning in the women’s 20k classical event at the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, NY. Utah (103 points) and Colorado (79 points) tore up the 20K classical course while our Pioneers (25 points) struggled to maintain contact with the leaders. Denver finished 8th as a team in the event and all hopes of a 25th NCAA Team Championship all but evaporated.

The powerful Utah squad put three skiers in the top five in a dominant display of strength and depth.  Utah has relied on its Nordic side to drive team points for the overall title over the past six seasons. DU only placed two qualifiers in classical while CU and Utah had full squads of three for the event. Denver’s Hanna Ray finished 17th with Selma Anderson in 20th.  This result all but guaranteed a Utah team title and left the Denver program wondering how to bolster their Nordic team performances in the future to compete with CU and, especially, Utah going forward. Utah has emerged as the top collegiate force, winning a total of 16 team titles and 5 of the last 6.

For me, the men’s classical race was nearly an afterthought following the disappointment of the women’s side. East coast skiers finished 1-2-3 in the men’s 20k. DU’s Bernhard Flaschberger finished 8th, Andreas Kirkeng finished 16th and Elijah Weenig in 24th. Dartmouth won the event with 77 points with Utah in third with 65 points, sealing the team championship for the Utes.

The Utes finished with 526 team points to Colorado’s 491.5 and Denver’s  416.5. Denver will graduate Bernhard Flaschberger in Nordic and Simon Fournier in Alpine. On the women’s side, Vera Norli and Emma Larsson in Nordic and Eleri Smart in Alpine will graduate this year as well.

Again, this is a time to reflect on areas of improvement for next season when DU will have to fill several open spots, and reexamine recruiting and training for the Nordic events if DU hopes to return to the top of the podium.

As always, Go Pioneers!

2 thoughts on “Denver Fades in Final Day of NCAA Skiing Championships”

  1. That “Achillies Heel” has been there in plain sight for some years now — it didn’t arrive on Saturday. Why these DU coaches cannot seem to recruit top 10 level women’s Nordic skiers remains a mystery to me…

  2. DU has had years when they have dominated nordic, with the men taking the top 3 spots in a race one time. That was when we were winning national titles 3 or more years in a row. When the drop off in nordic happened, I actually wondered whether DU was intentionally not trying in that event, so that the NCAA wouldn’t cancel NCAA skiing because of DU dominance. I know that sounds crazy, but I wondered it. There is no reason for DU to not have a nordic team where all 6 skiers finish in the top 12 in every race in the NCAA championships. Our new AD needs to figure this out, and get it fixed.

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