Despite the efforts of freshman Mads Stroem, who took first in the men's 20-kilometer freestyle, the University of Colorado ski team was unable to take home the title for the second consecutive year and finished fourth at the NCAA Skiing Championships.

Denver carried a huge lead entering the day and only further distanced itself from the pack, winning the title with 556 team points. Vermont was the runner-up, finishing with 487 ½ points, while New Mexico was third with 458 ½ points. The Buffs then followed with 402 ½ points, 10 ½ ahead of host Utah.

"We didn't deliver and now we know what to do next year," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "Trophies don't matter between second, third or fourth place, it's all the same. We always aim for the best, we came here to defend our title. We didn't shoot for second place."

Stroem earned his second win of the season by finishing the 20k in a time of 43:49.0, over 7 seconds better than second-place finisher Max Olex of Alaska-Fairbanks. The Nordic freestyle championship marks the 88th time a Buff has claimed an individual title, the most in NCAA history. Stroem was also named a two-time first-team All-American for his win and his work in the 10k classic, in which he finished fourth.

Teammate Rune Oedegaard was near the front but fell off in the last two kilometers, ultimately taking 15th in a time of 44:16.1

"I was just trying to save as much energy as possible for the last lap," Stroem said. "I know I'm really strong on the uphills, so I was waiting and waiting and then on the first uphill of the last lap, Rune and I opened a gap. I asked Rune if he wanted to be in front and he said he didn't have any energy, so I knew I had to leave him."

Freshman Camilla Brautaset led the CU women in their 15k version, finishing 11th in a time of 41:58.5, while fellow frosh Maja Solbakken came across the line moments later to finish 12th. Another freshman, Lucy Newman, finished in 47:11.6, good for 36th.

CU sophomore Jessica Honkonen led the Buffaloes in the women's slalom, taking All-American honors by placing fourth in 1:40.32. Teammate Thea Grosvold was also in the top-10 of the event, taking ninth in a time of 1:41.80.

"We have a very balanced team on the men's side, and on the women's Nordic, we need to do some recruiting most likely," Rokos added. "We have a good team and we can work it into perfection for next season."

NCAA Championship team scores (Final, 8 events)—1. Denver 556; 2. Vermont 487.5; 3. New Mexico 458.5; 4. Colorado 402.5; 5. Utah 392;

6. Dartmouth 261.5; 7. Northern Michigan 239; 8. Alaska-Anchorage 235; 9. Montana State 224.5; 10. Alaska-Fairbanks 144; 11. New Hampshire 140; 12. Middlebury 125.5; 13. Colby 77; 14. Harvard 61; 15. Williams 47; 16. St. Olaf 41; 17. St. Scholastica 29; 18. Michigan Tech 21; 19. St. Michael's 16; 20. Bowdoin 15; 21. Plymouth State 10; 22. Bates 7; 23. St. Lawrence 0.

Men's 20K Freestyle (40 finishers) —

1. Mads Stroem, CU, 43:49.0; 2. Max Olex, UAF, 43:56.3; 3. Mats Resaland, UNM, 44:00.3; 4. Pierre Guedon, DU, 44:01.2; 5. Patrick Caldwell, Dart., 44:01.3; 6. Fredrik Schwenke, NMU, 44:01.4; 7. Aljaz Praznik, UNM, 44:01.5; 8. Paul Schommer, CSS, 44:01.6; 9. Sawyer Kesselheim, MSU, 44:01.7; 10. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 44:01.9. Other CU Finishers: 15. Rune Oedegaard, 44:16.1; 36. Arnaud Du Pasquier, 47:33.8.

Women's 15K Freestyle (36 finishers)— 1. Eva Severrus, UNM, 40:15.1; 2. Rosie Frankowski, NMU, 40:16.9; 3. Sylvia Nordskar, DU, 40:32.9; 4. Linda Danvind-Malm, UVM, 40:40.7; 5. Anja Gruber, UVM, 41:05.4; 6. Sloan Storey, UU, 41:15.1; 7. Paige Schember, St. Olaf, 41:23.1; 8. Anne Hart, Dart., 41:28.7; 9. Marine Dusser, UAA, 41:34.6; 10. Alice Flanders, MTU, 41:40.2. CU Finishers: 11. Camilla Brautaset, 41:58.5; 12. Maja Solbakken, 42:07.4; 36. Lucy Newman, 47:11.6.

Men's Slalom (32 finishers)— 1. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 1:53.34; 2. Trevor Philp, DU, 1:54.11; 3. Jonathon Nordbotten, UVM, 1:54.89; 4. Niko Harmanen, UAA, 1:55.35; 5. Sean Horner, UNM, 1:56.15; 6. Travis Dawson, UVM, 1:56.21; 7. Andy Trow, Utah, 1:56.45; 8. Coley Oliver, UNH, 1:56.47; 9. Sebastian Brigovic, DU, 1:56.55; 10. Kevin Drury, UVM, 1:56.62. CU Skiers: 21. Andreas Haug, 2:04.19; 32. Kasper Hietanen, 2:49.08. Disqualified (1st run): Henrik Gunnarsson.

Women's Slalom (29 finishers)— 1. Kristina Riis-Johannessen, UVM, 1:37.89; 2. Kate Ryley, UVM, 1:38.24; 3. Elise-woien Tefre, UVM, 1:40.32; 4. Jessica Honkonen, CU, 1:40.32; 5. Kristine Haugen, DU, 1:40.66; 6. Randa Teschner, UNH, 1:41.47; 7. Tianda Carroll, DU, 1:41.67: 8. Devin Delaney, DU, 1:41.71; 9. Thea Grosvold, CU, 1:41.80; 10. Mateja Robnik, UNM, 1:41.95. Other CU Finisher: 27. Brooke Wales, 1:58.82.

Contact Camera Staff Writer James Melillo at melilloj@dailycamera.com