Colorado’s ski team will take aim at another national title this week.
Coach Richard Rokos leads the Buffaloes into the 67th annual NCAA Ski Championships Wednesday through Saturday in Bozeman, Mont. Montana State is host of the event, which takes place at Bridger Bowl (alpine races) and Crosscut Mountain (Nordic).
CU is seeking its 21st national title in skiing and its first since 2015. Rokos, in his 30th season as head coach, has led the Buffs to eight national titles.
“We’re in this every year to win it, our goal never changes,” Rokos said in a press release by CU. “Winner takes it all, and that’s why we compete. It doesn’t matter of the makeup of the team, experienced or not at NCAA’s. Our collegiate competition season might be shorter than most other sports (usually nine to 10 weeks), so it can be more intense. The only way to justify the effort, sacrifices and injuries is to have the ultimate goal on your mind all the time. And that goal without question is to win the NCAA title.”
Going into nationals, the Buffs are one of just three teams bringing a full, 12-skier team. Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) rivals Denver and Utah also bring full squads, while Montana State will have 11 skiers. From the east, Dartmouth, Middlebury and Vermont all bring 11 skiers each.
Only two teams – Colorado in 2006 and Denver in 2008 – have won the team title without a full squad.
Utah is the defending champion, while DU won in 2018. Both teams are seeking their third titles in the last five years.
During the RMISA season, Utah won all three regular season events, while Denver edged the Utes in the RMISA championships. CU was second in two events and third in the other two.
Of the 12 Buffs set to participate in nationals, seven have previous NCAA Championship experience, including men’s Nordic skier Sondre Bollum and women’s Nordic skier Anne Siri Lervik, who will both compete for the third time.
Bollum was top-10 in both Nordic races at the 2018 nationals, while finishing top-21 in both last year. Lervik was runner-up in the classical race in 2018 and 11th in freestyle; she was top 28 in both events last year.
Senior Mikaela Tommy comes in as one of the favorites in the alpine races. She won the five of six giant slalom events this year, including at the RMISA championships, and was second in the other. In the slalom, she had three top-three finishes. At the 2019 nationals, Tommy was fourth in the giant slalom and third in the slalom.
Sophomore Stef Fleckenstein had one victory and 10 top-five finishes in women’s alpine this season.
In men’s Nordic, freshman Magnus Boee has three victories this season, as well as seven top-five finishes. Junior Hedda Baangman has nine top-10 finishes and four top-fives in women’s Nordic races.
CU skiing preview: NCAA Championships
WHERE: Bridger Bowl (alpine races) and Crosscut Mountain (Nordic), Bozeman, Mont.
ALPINE SCHEDULE (all times Mountain): Wednesday – Women’s giant slalom, 9 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.; Men’s giant slalom, 10:15 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Friday – Women’s slalom, 9 a.m.; Men’s slalom, 10:15 a.m.
NORDIC SCHEDULE: Thursday – Women’s 5K freestyle, 10 a.m.; Men’s 10K freestyle, Noon; Saturday – Men’s 20K classic, 10 a.m.; Women’s 15K classic, Noon.
CU COACH: Richard Rokos, 30th season
CU ALPINE PARTICIPANTS: Men – Filip Forejtek, So.; Teddy Takki, So.; Joey Young, Jr.; Women – Stef Fleckenstein, So.; Emma Hammergaard, Fr.; Mikaela Tommy, Sr.
CU NORDIC PARTICIPANTS: Men – Magnus Boee, Fr.; Sondre Bollum, Jr.; Ryan Jackson, Sr.; Women – Hedda Baangman, Jr.; Anna-Maria Dietze, Fr.; Anne Siri Lervik, Sr.
NOTABLE: There will be 148 skiers from 23 teams competing. … This is the first time since 2012 that the nationals have been in Bozeman. Vermont won the title that year; that was the most recent title by a team from the east. … Denver (2014, 2016, 2018), CU (2013, 2015) and Utah (2017, 2019) have combined for the last seven championships. … CU has 19 NCAA championships and one AIAW women’s championship. … In NCAA skiing history, Rokos ranks third among coaches with championships, behind Denver’s Willie Schaffer (13) and Utah’s Pat Miller (nine). … Two of CU’s championships came in Bozeman: 1960 and 1998. … CU has finished first or second 10 times in the last 14 years, with three third-place finishes and one fourth place finish. The Buffs are the only team to finish top four in the last 14 years. … CU had seven skiers earn first-team All-RMISA honors: Boee, Dietze and Lervik in Nordic; Fleckstein, Forejtek, Tommy and Young in alpine.