STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The first day of racing at the NCAA Skiing Championships didn't go exactly as planned for the University of Colorado.

That's putting it lightly, according to coach Richard Rokos, who described the day of giant slalom events which resulted in a fifth-place team finish as a "nightmare."

The defending national champion Buffs scored 88.5 total points in the men's and women's giant slalom events, finishing 59.5 points behind the day's leader, Montana State University.

CU's in-state rival University of Denver finished Wednesday at No. 2 with 138 points, followed by the University of Utah with 123 points and Dartmouth College with 92 points.

Colorado senior Thea Grosvold eyes the next gate Wednesday during the giant slalom race in the NCAA Skiing Championships at Steamboat Springs. She finished
Colorado senior Thea Grosvold eyes the next gate Wednesday during the giant slalom race in the NCAA Skiing Championships at Steamboat Springs. She finished 16th. (Joel Reichenberger / For the Daily Camera)

On the first run of the championship, CU freshman Max Luukko finished with a time that would put him near the very bottom of the pack — No. 30 out of 32 finishers in the first run of the men's giant slalom event.

It was hard for the Buffs to recover.

"You got yourself in a hole with the first guy on the course and actually one of the fastest skiers in the whole league," Rokos said. "So it kind of puts pressure on the rest of the guys and snowballs a little bit. I think it was reflected in the rest of the day here."

CU's three men's Alpine skiers each got two chances at the giant slalom course on Mount Werner at Steamboat Ski Resort. At the end of the day, the Apine men earned the team 29.5 points.


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Freshman Ola Johansen tied for No. 10 with a total time of 1:52.53 and Luukko finished No. 22 with a two-run time of 1:53.72.

Senior Henrik Gunnarsson did not finish the second run of the day, which hurt the Buffs, points-wise.

"He had a perfect second run but he ended up on his inside ski in a place where it was an easy part of the course," Rokos said. "He mastered the technical part of it very well and he came to the easy part and lost it. So unfortunately we will be in the hunt."

CU freshman Tonje Trulsrud was the Buffs' top finisher on Wednesday, earning a spot on the women's giant slalom podium with a No. 3 finish and a two-run time of 1 minute, 59.27 seconds. Behind her, CU senior Thea Grosvold finished the day at No. 16 with time of 2:02.99 after two runs.

Freshman Nora Christensen, a last-minute replacement for injured senior Alpine skier Jessica Honkonen, finished No. 21 with a two-run time of 2:03.91.

All told, the women finished No. 4 on Wednesday, scoring 59 total points. They finished just 10 points behind the women's leader, Montana State University.

Though the sun peeked out from behind a thick blanket of clouds early in the day on Wednesday, snow began falling during the first women's run and didn't let up for the rest of the day.

Trulsrud said she was expecting sun, which made visibility difficult.

"It was rough," she said. "You couldn't see anything. You couldn't see the surface and it was bumpy because it's ice underneath but the ice was breaking. You had to be really aggressive all the way to ski fast."

At her first national championship race, Trulsrud said she was more nervous than usual, a feeling that's likely to continue when she and her Alpine teammates race again in the slalom events on Friday.

The men's and women's Nordic teams have a chance to make up some of CU's points deficit on Thursday, but if not, the Alpine team will again feel the pressure.

"It's important to do well for the team," she said. "You ski for the team and you get more nervous because you don't only ski for yourself."

Sarah Kuta: 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta

NCAA Skiing Championships

Team scoring (After two of eight events)

1. Montana State ......148

2. Denver ..................138

3. Utah .......................123

4. Dartmouth ..............92

5. Colorado ................ 88.5

6. New Mexico ............ 80.5

7. Vermont .................... 76

8. Alaska Anchorage ....... 68

9. New Hampshire .......... 63

10. Middlebury ................ 48

11. Colby ......................... 25

12. St. Michael's .............. 23

13. Williams ...................... 11

14. Plymouth State ............. 8

Men's giant slalom top 10

1 Endre Bjertness, Utah ......................1:50.85

2 David Neuhauser, Montana State.....1:50.93

3 Erik Read, Denver ..............................1:51.24

4t Dominique Garand, Vermont ..........1:51.78

4t Morten Bakke, Montana State ..........1:151.78

6 Sean Alexander, Alaska Anchorage...... 1:51.85

7 Jay Ogle, New Hampshire .....................1:52.29

8 Sebastian Brigovic, Denver ...................1:52.41

9 Thomas Woolson Dartmouth ................1:52.46

10t Ola Johansen, Colorado....................... 1:52.53

10t Rob Greig, New Mexico ......................1:52.53

Other CU individuals

22 Max Luukko...............................1:53.72

DNF Henrik Gunnarsson

Women's giant slalom top 10

1 Kristine Haugen, Denver ......................1:58.00

2 Benedicte Lyche, Montana State......... 1:58.59

3 Tonje Trulsrud, Colorado..................... 1:59.27

4 Stephanie Gartner, Montana State .......1:59.67

5 Foreste Peterson, Dartmouth................1:59.71

6 Tuva Norbye, Denver .............................1:59.74

7 Laurence St.-Germaine, Vermont............2:00.73

8 Chloe Fausa, Utah ....................................2:00.86

9 Roni Remme, Utah ...................................2:00.91

10 Julie Mohagen, Utah ............................. 2:01.41

Other CU individuals

16 Thea Grosvold...........................................2:02.99

21 Nora Christensen.......................................2:03.91