Nordic team leads CU Buffs to victory in New Mexico Invitational

Backed by a sweep of the men’s and women’s 5K classic events, and an individual slalom race victory by junior Nora Christensen on the alpine side, the Colorado ski team claimed a 6½-point victory at the New Mexico/Drew Judycki Memorial/Jade Enterprises Invitational on Sunday.

The CU women’s Nordic team placed four finishers inside the top five of the standings of the 5K classic held at Crested Butte to give them a 19-point margin of victory in the race. It was a bit closer on the men’s side, but with three Buffalo finishers in the top six, Colorado won the men’s race by a four-point margin over Utah.

“In general it was a solid day and nice to bounce back and leave here on an upbeat note,” CU head Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said.

That gave Colorado a 57-point lead in the meet after 6 of 8 events, with the men’s and women’s slalom races still underway at Red River, N.M.

Thanks in large part to Christensen’s second slalom victory of the winter, the alpine teams scored just enough to hang on for the meet victory, CU’s second in three team meets this year. Colorado’s 6½-point winning margin over Denver was the closest margin of victory for the Buffs since winning the 1999 NCAA West Regional Championship by four points over DU.

The win was also CU’s 60th regular season meet victory since the sport went coed back in 1983 and the Buffs moved past Utah (59½) for the most regular season wins in the West region.

Men’s 5K classic race

The men’s race was the first one completed on Sunday and the Buffs helped build off the five-point lead CU carried in the team meet standings from Saturday. Colorado won the race with 92 points, a four-point margin over Utah and a 17-point margin over Denver.

CU got the win in the men’s race thanks to placing three finishers in the top six.

Freshman Alvar Alev led the Buffs with a third-place finish, recording the first podium finish of his career. Junior Petter Reistad was right behind in fourth and freshman Sondre Bollum placed sixth.

Senior Ian Boucher finished in 20th, his best classic result of the season, and freshman Tyler Terranova was 21st, recording his best result in any race of either discipline this winter.

Women’s 5K classic race

The women followed the men’s lead and had a dominant showing in their 5K classic, going 2-3-4-5 atop the leaderboard. That scored 102 points for the women and the Buffs have now scored 100 or more points in all three team 5K classic races this winter. No other RMISA Nordic team, men’s or women’s, has scored over 100 points in any race this year.

“It is hard to put a finger on it because I wouldn’t say off the top of my head we are much better in classic, but the results certainly show we have done well in all the classic races for whatever reason,” Cranmer said of the success in classic races this winter. “We feel good about it, maybe there is a little confidence there too, but beyond that I don’t know, maybe everything it just dialed in there a little bit better on those days.”

It ended up being a 19-point margin of victory for the CU women’s Nordic team, as Utah was second with 83 points and the Utes were led by race winner Guro Jordheim.

Colorado freshman Hedda Baangman was second and sophomore Anne Siri Lervik came in third to record her second podium finish of her career. For Baangman, she has now hit the podium in all three 5K classic races this season (won the other two).

Christiana Rolandsen placed fourth, her best classic result of the season, and Ane Johnsen was fifth, her top result since the Montana State Invitational in January of 2017.

Women’s slalom race

Christensen’s win helped CU as a team pick up 79 points to finish second in the women’s race. Isabella Fidjeland placed ninth, her first top 10 of the season, to earn 22 points and Megan McGrew was 15th, netting 17 points for the Buffs.

Tonje Trulsrud, who won the women’s slalom on Saturday, did not finish her second run Sunday.

Men’s slalom race

Colorado as a team finished in fifth place in the men’s race with 52 points.

Saturday’s race winner Ola Johansen started out strong and posted the fastest time in the field on the first run, but did not finish his second run. Bobby Moyer also did not finish run No. 2.

CU then only had three finishers — Max Luukko in eighth, David Ketterer in 10th and Joey Young in 29th. Young was troubled in his first run when he had to climb back up the hill to get a missed gate.