The University of Colorado ski team is in fourth place after the first day of the NCAA Championships in Park City, Utah, on Wednesday and coach Richard Rokos is OK with that.
"We are not leading but we are not losing," Rokos said after the Buffs placed three skiers in the top 10 of the giant slalom races. "You can lose it on the first day and we didn't do that."
Utah, which is hosting the championships, leads after the first two races with 165 points. The University of Denver and New Mexico are tied in second with 130 points. CU, which won the NCAA team title last season, is right behind with 127.5 points. Vermont is a distant fifth at 101 points.
DU sophomore Kristine Haugen repeated as the individual champion in the women's giant slalom with a two-run time of 1 minute, 56.39 seconds. Utah teammate Kristiina Rove (1:56.95) and Chloe Fausa (1:56.98) rounded out the top three.
CU's top finisher in the women's race was sophomore Brooke Wales. She finished fifth in 1:58.86 to earn All-America honors.
"I wanted to be on the podium, but conditions were pretty tough," Wales said, alluding to warm temperatures that impacted the course's condition.
CU sophomore Jessica Honkonen was ninth in 1:59.97 and fellow sophomore Thea Grosvold rounded out the women's effort in 22nd in 2:01.53.
On the men's side, the Buffs had three top 12 finishes. Sophomore Henrik Gunnarsson finished fifth in 2:00.41 and earned first-team All-America honors. Senior Andreas Haug finished 11th in 2:01.25, one one-hundredth of a second out of 10th place and All-America honors. Sophomore Kasper Hietanen was right behind him in 12th in 2:01.56 .
Utah freshman Mark Engel, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, won the men's giant with a time of 1:58.56.
The Buffs' quest to repeat as NCAA champions continues Thursday with two Nordic races. The women's 5K and the men's 10K classical events will take place at Soldier Hollow Resort in Midway, Utah. The slalom races are set for Friday, again in Park City, and the championships conclude Saturday with the Nordic freestyle races in Midway.
Team Scores (2 of 8 events) — 1. Utah 165; 2. Denver and New Mexico 130; 4. Colorado 127.5; 5. Vermont 101; 6. Alaska-Anchorage 62; 7. Middlebury 58; 8. Dartmouth 54; 9. Montana State 48.5; 10. New Hampshire 45; 11. Colby 29; 12. Harvard 27; 13. Williams 15; 14. St. Michael's 4; 15. Plymouth State 1; 16. St. Lawrence 0.
Women's Giant Slalom (29 finishers) — 1. Kristine Haugen, DU, 1:56.39; 2. Kristiina Rove, Utah, 1:56.95; 3. Chloe Fausa, Utah, 1:56.98; 4. Kate Ryley, UVM, 1:57.25; 5. Brooke Wales, CU, 1:58.86; 6. Rebecca Nadler, Harvard, 1:59.03; 7. Karoline Myklebust, UNM, 1:59.03; 8 Courtney Altringer, UNM, 1:59.66; 9. Jessica Honkonen, CU, 1:59.97; 10. Randa Teschner, UNH, 2:00.10. Other CU Finisher: 22. Thea Grosvold, 2:01.53.
Men's Giant Slalom (31 finishers) — 1. Mark Engel, Utah, 1:58.56; 2. Armin Triendl, UNM, 1:59.70; 3. Niko Harmanen, UAA, 2:00.09; 4. Trevor Philp, DU, 2:00.25; 5. Henrik Gunnarsson, CU, 2:00.41; 6. Jonathon Nordbotten, UVM, 2:00.57; 7. Sean Horner, UNM, 2:00.66; 8. Espen Lysdahl, DU, 2:00.84; 9. Kevin Drury, UVM, 2:01.22; 10. Jorgen Brath, Utah, 2:01.24. Other CU Finishers: 11. Andreas Haug, 2:01.25; 12. Kasper Hietanen, 2:01.56.