With a strong finish by Petra Hyncicova, Anne Siri Lervik and Christina Rolandsen in the women's 15-kilometer freestyle, the Colorado ski program captured its 28th title at the RMISA/NCAA West Regional Championship at Maliot Park in Minturn on Sunday.
Colorado won by 7.5 points over second-place Denver, whom the Buffaloes held off in the final event, with Hyncicova, Lervik and Rolandsen making up ground on three Denver racers to finish third, fourth and fifth and secure the team title.
"I'm really happy," head Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. "I think we are getting stronger as we are getting close to the (NCAA) Championships and hopefully we got that extra little gear to step it up for the championships. We were able to hang on to the win as a team, so I'm happy about that."
Entering the women's 15K freestyle, the Buffs held a 15.5-point advantage over Denver, after Petter Reistad and Mads Stroem finished third and fifth in the men's 20K earlier that morning.
Denver was right behind Colorado and had a strong contingent in the women's race. The Pioneers had the top three women in the lead of the women's race with 1.5 kilometers to go, but CU's top trio charged coming down the final hill and in a mad dash to the finish pulled ahead of DU's Sylvia Nordskar, who was in third, to finish 3-4-5 and secure the regional title.
That comeback finish narrowed the gap Denver had on the women's race, which would have erased CU's lead and given the Pioneers the title if they finished 1-2-3. Instead, CU kept DU's win in the women's race to only eight points (102-94) and thus gave the Buffaloes the overall meet victory by just 7.5 points.
"This is awesome, this whole season for the girls is awesome," an ecstatic Hyncicova said following the race. "Before the season we were maybe hoping to have three girls in the top 10, but now we all know that we can be on the podium. Anne Siri taking third and then fourth today, is great."
On the men's side, CU finished third in the 20K freestyle with 79 points, trailing Denver who scored 98 and Utah with 82.
Along with Reistad and Stroem, senior Jackson Hill was the third scorer for this Buffs as he earned 16 points with his 17th place finish Sunday. Hill or freshman Andrew Potyk, who finished 18th in Sunday's race, will likely will be CU's third NCAA qualifier on the men's side. That will be announced on Monday at 3 p.m. when the NCAA sets the qualifiers for the 2017 National Championships that are being held in New Hampshire.