Colorado's Anne Siri Lervik has been on a roll lately, but that wasn't enough to prevent some doubt creeping into her mind as the NCAA skiing championships approached.
"My brain is kind of put together that it's never good enough," the sophomore said. "You never know in skiing when you are on the start."
Lervik managed to push that doubt aside on Thursday, as she finished second in the women's Nordic classical race to lead a strong performance by the Buffs in Steamboat Springs.
"It feels so good," Lervik said. "It's the best result I've had so far in college, so it came on the perfect day and I'm really excited about that."
Led by Lervik and Petter Reistad, who was second in the men's race, the Buffaloes took over the top spot in the team standings at the halfway point of the NCAA championships. With 276 points, the Buffs have a narrow lead over Denver (267), with defending champion Utah in third (237).
Lervik earned first-team all-American honors for her performance, while Petra Hyncicova (sixth) earned second-team all-American honors and Christina Rolandsen finished 11th.
Dartmouth's Katharine Ogden cruised to the win, crossing the finish line in the 5K race in 14 minutes, 47.2 seconds. Lervik finished in 15:34.1.
This was the ninth consecutive top-five finish for Lervik, who was third in both Nordic races at the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) championships/West Region last month.
Her recent run of success helped her to gain some confidence.
"Last night I just decided that, 'OK, I'm going to race tomorrow no matter what and I'm just going to give 100 percent of what I have,'" she said.
Hyncicova came in as the defending national champ, but was also competing for the Buffs for the first time since mid-January. She took a break from the Buffs to compete at the Winter Olympics last month for her home country of the Czech Republic.
"After a month of not being in altitude, it's pretty hard to get used to it again in one week," said Hyncicova, adding she's feeling fatigue from her busy schedule. "I was trying to go a little bit easier in the beginning and then go harder, but my body didn't work that well."
Reistad earned first-team all-American honors for the third time in his career with his best-ever finish at nationals. He and Utah's Martin Bergstrom both went with a double pole technique, which requires significant upper body work.
"I think it was a pretty bold choice to do so, but it paid off and the two guys that double poled were at the top of the podium," Reistad said. "He was a better guy than me today."
Bergstrom finished in 27:37.1 to claim the title for the second year in a row, while Reistad was 8.5 seconds behind.
Reistad was fourth in both Nordic races last year and earned second-team all-American honors in both races in 2016. In this one, he said a large contingent of CU fans — and teammates — cheering the Buffs on motivated him.
"That helped me a lot," he said. "That was really cool."
Sondre Bollum finished seventh for the Buffs to earn second-team all-American honors, and Alvar Alev was 34th.
While not all the Buffs had their best day, it was a good day overall for CU, as it vaulted into the lead. CU faced a significant deficit at the midpoint the last two years.
"It's could be one way or another — you can the hunter or the hunted," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "(The team race) stays open and it's good, because it makes the race more exciting. Tomorrow's slalom can change a lot of things."
Following Friday's slalom, the championships conclude Saturday with the Nordic freestyle races.
2018 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Howelsen Hill
Team scores — 1. Colorado 276; 2. Denver 267; 3. Utah 235; 4. Dartmouth 217½; 5. Vermont 190; 6. Montana State 143; 6. Middlebury 143; 8. New Mexico 140; 9. Alaska-Anchorage 99; 10. Northern Michigan 86; 11. New Hampshire 47½; 12. St. Michael's 36; 13. Williams 33; 14. Alaska-Fairbanks 32; 15. Plymouth State 22; 16. Colby 19; 17. St. Lawrence 12; 18. Michigan Tech 10; 19. Bates 6; 20. St. Scholastica 4; 21. Bowdoin 3; 22. Boston College 2; 23. Harvard 0.
WOMEN'S 5K CLASSICAL — 1. Katharine Ogden, Dart., 14:47.2; 2. Anne Siri Lervik, CU, 15:34.1; 3. Hailey Swirlbul, UAA, 15:38.2; 4. Guro Jordheim, Utah, 15:40.4; 5. Jasmi Joensuu, DU, 15:41.6; 6. Petra Hyncicova, CU, 15:52.5; 7. Mariah Bredal, Utah, 15:54.6; 8. Anna Fake, MSU, 15:57.2; 9. Lydia Blanchet, Dart., 15:57.8; 10. Vivian Hett, NMU, 16:00.5. Other CU Finisher: 11. Christina Rolandsen,16:01.5.
MEN'S 10K CLASSICAL — 1. Martin Bergstroem, Utah, 27:37.1; 2. Petter Reistad, CU, 27:45.6; 3 . Dag Frode Trolleboe, DU, 27:51.8; 4. Eivind Kvaale, DU, 28:16.0; 5. Ian Torchia, NMU, 28:23.3; 6. Callan DeLine, Dart., 28:33.6; 7. Sondre Bollum, CU, 28:35.2; 8. Sindre Tungesvik, UNM, 28:36.9; 9. Luke Brown, Dart., 28:38.6; 10. Kjetil Baanerud, NMU, 28:48.8. Other CU Finishers: 31. Alvar Alev, 29:59.5.