Senior Jessica Honkonen saw her career come to an abrupt end Saturday after she injured her knee in a training accident at Howelsen Hill. The University of Colorado Ski Team arrived in Steamboat Springs earlier in the day in preparation for the 2016 NCAA Championships, which CU hosts starting Wednesday.
"She is smiling but her heart is crying," CU coach Richard Rokos said. "It's kind of a typical injury for skiing. She came from the flat part of the course down to the steep section and she was a bit in the back seat. The edge of her ski caught, it popped off before she crashed, she was on her feet when her knee went. She knew what the feeling felt like so she knew right away something was wrong."
Honkonen, a fourth-year senior from Espoo, Finland, has skied for the Buffs at the NCAA Championships each of her first three seasons and was instrumental in helping the Buffs win the NCAA Championship in both 2013 and 2015. She was the 2015 RMISA Individual Slalom Champion and in 2014, she was the top seeded slalom skier in the RMISA.
A four-time All-RMISA selection and three-time All-American, she established herself as one of the top slalom skiers in the nation. In 51 career races, she finished 48 and had 33 top 10 finishes, seven podium appearances and two race victories. In 27 career slalom races, she finished 23 and hiked twice, and in the other 21 races she compiled 18 top 10 finishes, 13 top five, seven podiums and two race wins.
Since the injury happened before the deadline of Monday at 4 p.m., the Buffs are able to replace Honkonen with freshman Nora Christensen for the championships. Christensen joined the team on Saturday.