The Buffs weren't bad, but they just weren't good enough, as they finished as national runner up for the third year in a row.
DU claimed its NCAA-record 24th all-time championship in skiing with 604 points - the most since the current scoring format was adopted in 2014. CU finished second with 563 points, which is its best total in the last five years.
"We came here to win and we didn't make it, so we can't be happy right now," CU freshman Alvar Alev said.
Alev certainly did his part Saturday, finishing as runner-up in the men's Nordic freestyle race to earn first-team all-American honors.
It was a great comeback or Alev, who finished 31st in the classical race on Thursday. After a strong start to that race, Alev said he's not sure if he went through dehydration or heat stroke, but his body struggled to get to the finish line.
On Saturday, he didn't have any issues, as he finished the 20K race in 54 minutes, 23 seconds, just two seconds behind Northern Michigan's Ian Torchia.
"Today I felt good," he said. "After Thursday I was really disappointed. Today, I felt like I was ready to win. Unfortunately, I didn't make it, but at least I gave it a try. Second, that was good. Like I said, we didn't win as a team, so that's like a small prize for me.
Petter Reistad (ninth) and Sondre Bollum (10th) both earned second-team all-American honors for the Buffs, putting all three of their men's Nordic skiers into the top 10. DU, however, had all three of its racers in the top seven and increased its lead.
In the women's 15K freestyle race, all three Buffs finished in the top 11, led by Petra Hyncicova's sixth-place finish. She and Christina Rolandsen (seventh) earned second-team all-American honors, while Anne Siri Lervik was 11th.
Dartmouth's Katharine Ogden won the 15K freestyle title to go with the 5K classical championship she won Thursday.
For Hyncicova, it was a disappointing finish to what has been an otherwise great winter.
She won both Nordic titles a year ago and then placed top two in five of her first six races for the Buffs this season. Hyncicova then took time away from the Buffs to ski for her native Czech Republic in the Winter Olympics.
This week's NCAA championships was Hyncicova's first competition since the Olympics and she was sixth in both Nordic races.
"I feel really tired and I'm happy this season is over because it was a lot," she said. "I enjoyed every bit of it and I was trying to do everything here at the NCAA, but I guess I didn't have that much energy left. It was a great winter and a great season.
"I wish I would be on the podium (top three) and made more points for the team, because we really deserved to win this year because we are a great team. We just needed all of us to do well and we kind of missed some good luck this week."
The Buffs, overall, did do well, but had to tip their caps to DU.
"It's a little bit disappointing because we were still hoping before the last race that we could make it, but we have to admit, DU, they were better than us," Hyncicova said.
The Pioneers were the top scoring team in both alpine (299) and Nordic (305).
"Yeah, they definitely deserved it, no doubt," Alev said. "They had all the good events and we had some issues, like me on Thursday. They definitely deserved it."
In the 36 years since NCAA skiing went coed, this is the 16th time CU has finished first or second. The Buffs are second to DU with 19 championships, the most recent in 2015.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.