Colorado freshman David Ketterer made history Friday and, in the process, helped catapult the Buffaloes back into the hunt for the title during the third day of competition at the 64th annual Skiing Championships in Franconia, N.H.
Defending champion Denver became the third different leader in as many days, as the Pioneers have scored 419 points, with Utah, the top team at the midway point, now second (384½) while Colorado remained in third (377). The Buffaloes pulled 19½ points closer to the lead and trail by 42.
While a significant margin to make up, in 2013, CU trailed by 54 points heading into the final two events and would go on to win by 43, the largest comeback and reversal in NCAA history.
Ketterer became just the fifth skier in NCAA history to sweep the giant slalom and slalom titles in the same year, as he won the slalom in convincing fashion in a two-run time of 1:49.23. He merged the third fastest morning run and the second quickest in the afternoon to defeat Vermont's William St. Germain (1:49.63) by four-tenths of a second.
He also joined two other Buffaloes as the only two to win their first two NCAA races, though he is the first alpine skier to accomplish the rarity: Per Kare Jakobsen won a pair as a sophomore in 1988 (men's cross country and relay) and Line Selnes swept her events in 1998 (women's classic and freestyle). Ketterer is also just the eighth CU skier to have a pair of podium finishes (top three) in his first two NCAA races.
The Colorado men won the slalom with 80 points, besting Denver (71) and Utah (39) and in the process tightened up the standings after the midway point among the top three from 61½ points to 20½. But the DU women scored 83 points in their slalom, topping the Buffs (57) and Utah (44) and in the process wrestled the lead away but it's much tighter heading into Saturday's Nordic action.
"Well it is not done yet, but we definitely moved up," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "David did a great job and I think the whole team did. We didn't have too much room for error and it was either we could go for it and kill it and take the chances that we would lose it all, or stay in the game and hope that even if there is a little slack that Nordic's will be able to gap it tomorrow. So I think right now we are still in good position to look for a good day tomorrow."
Rokos has an appreciation for what Ketterer accomplished this week, having been around college skiing now for 30 years.
"(Winning both the GS and slalom) doesn't happen too often," he noted. "The last time it happened was in 2008 (John Buchar from Denver). It is a very unique opportunity because it just displays the great skiing ability on his side. Again, he can do it."
"It is fantastic," Ketterer said of his sweep. "I was kind of in a position where I had to win, or was expecting a pretty good result after the season with a couple of wins. So I was a little bit under pressure that didn't necessarily make it any easier, so I'm even happier now to be here and win both races to earn as many points of possible for the team."
Along with Ketterer's success, CU had two other skiers earn All-America honors Friday.
Sophomore Nora Christensen repeated the success she found as a freshman in Steamboat Springs last year, placing fifth in the slalom; she is the first Buffalo women's alpine skier to earn back-to-back first-team All-America honors in the slalom race since Lucie Zikova, who earned first-team honors in all four seasons of her career from 2005-08. She posted a two-run time of 1:58.07, just one one-hundredth of a second out of fourth; Vermont's Paula Moltzan won in a time of 1:56.57 clocking.
On the men's side, sophomore Max Luukko earned second-team All-America honors just as he did two days ago in the giant slalom. He finished eighth in the slalom with a two-run time of 1:50.59, in the middle of a tightly bunched trio as there was only eight one-hundredths of a second separating the seventh-through ninth place finishers; Vermont's Max Roeisland edged Luukko by six on-hundredths of a second for seventh while Luukko was two one-hundredths faster than Middlebury's Rob Cone.
Luukko has now earned All-American honors in three of his four NCAA races (two slaloms and one GS).
Also helping CU win the men's race was fellow sophomore Ola Johansen, who rebounded after not finishing Wednesday's giant slalom. He skied smart and placed 14th in a 1:51.99; that was right behind two DU skiers, one one-hundredth of a second back of Tanner Farrow and eight one-hundredths behind Pioneer Alex Leever.
Thus, showing just how close ski meets can be, three DU skiers bested three Buffs by a combined tenth of a second, which amounted to an 8-point swing in the standings for the Pioneers.
Sophomore Tonje Trulsrud and freshman Isabella Fidjeland both improved greatly on their bib seeds in the race to help the Buffs pick up points on Utah, who had an eighth- and 12th-place finisher, but the third Ute scorer, Chloe Fausa, only earned two points as her time was hurt on the first run when she missed a gate and had to hike back up to clear it.
Trulsrud was timed for her two runs in 1:59.49 and placed 13th, while Fidjeland finished 23rd, up nine spots from her bib seed. She had a two-run time of 2:02.39.
As often is the case, the title will come down to Saturday's Nordic competition. The freestyle races with mass starts will finish off the meet with the men up first with their 20-kilometer race at 8 a.m. MST, which will be followed by the women's 15k at 10 a.m.
NCAA Skiing Championship
Team Scores (6 of 8 events)— 1. Denver 421; 2. Utah 386½; 3. Colorado 380; 4. Dartmouth 313; 5. Vermont 279; 6. Montana State 264; 7. New Mexico 155½. 8. Northern Michigan 120; 9. Alaska-Anchorage 110; 10. New Hampshire 108; 11. Middlebury 89; 12. Colby 86½; 13. Williams 62½; 14. St. Michael's 56; 15. Plymouth State 49; 16. Alaska-Fairbanks 39; 17. Bates 29; 18. Colby-Sawyer 15; 19. St. Scholastica 12; 20. Michigan Tech 11; 21. Bowdoin 0.
Men's Slalom (33 finishers) — 1. David Ketterer, CU, 1:49.23; 2. William St.-Germain, UVM, 1:49.63; 3. Erik Read, DU, 1:49.92; 4. Thomas Woolson, Dart., 1:49.97; 5. Endre Bjertness, Utah, 1:50.09; 6. Tanguy Nef, Dart., 1:50.39; 7. Max Roeisland, UVM, 1:50.53; 8. Max Luukko, CU, 1:50.59; 9. Robert Cone, Midd., 1:50.61; 10. Guillaume Grand, St. Michael's, 1:51.47. Other CU Skier: 14. Ola Johansen, 1:51.99.
Women's Slalom (31 finishers) — 1. Paula Moltzan, UVM, 1:56.57; 2. Andrea Komsic, DU, 1:57.08; 3. Foreste Peterson, Dart., 1:57.46; 4. Monica Huebner, DU, 1:58.06; 5. Nora Christensen, CU, 1:58.07; 6. Alexa Dlouhy, Dart., 1:58.18; 7. Benedictine Lyche, MSU, 1:58.21; 8. Roni Remme, Utah, 1:58.45; 9. Genevieve Frigon, UNH, 1:58.96; 10. Stephanie Gartner, MSU, 2:17.7. Other CU Finishers: 13. Tonje Trulsrud, 1:59.49; 21. Isabella Fidjeland, 2:02.39.