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CU Buffs narrow gap at NCAA ski championships

Strong showing in slalom puts Colorado in position to make run at national title

Colorado's Filip Forejtek was second in the men's slalom at the NCAA championships in Francona, N.H., on Friday.
Courtesy NCAA
Colorado’s Filip Forejtek was second in the men’s slalom at the NCAA championships in Francona, N.H., on Friday.

FRANCONA, N.H. – Colorado didn’t add another national champ to its stellar history on Friday, but the Buffaloes did make up some ground in the race for a team title at the NCAA skiing championships.

At Cannon Mountain, CU’s Filip Forejtek was runner-up in the men’s slalom, while Stef Fleckenstein was fourth in the women’s slalom, helping the Buffaloes remain in second place and move closer to Utah in the team standings.

Through six of eight events, Utah has 398 points, with CU just 24.5 points back, at 373.5. The championships conclude Saturday with the men’s and women’s Nordic freestyle races.

“The slalom day is always nerve racking,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “Anything can happen and obviously everything happened, so it’s a scary moment and for me, it never changed in 30 years.

“For us it was good race and being (24.5) points behind Utah, that’s a tough proposition  this year because Utah is invincible, but everything is possible and freestyle is our better race, so we’ll see how the kids will do.”

Utah led by 66.5 points going into Friday, but CU outscored the Utes, 121-79 in the slalom. On the men’s side, CU and Utah both had skiers that didn’t complete their runs, while the Utes also missed valuable points when Gustav Vollo was disqualified on his second run.

Forejtek scored 37 points for the Buffs and just missed out on his first national title, finishing his two slalom runs in a total of 1 minute, 29.15 seconds – just .06 of a second behind Vermont’s Mathias Tefre.

Forejtek had the fastest time in the first run, but had to get conservative in his second run to maximize his scoring potential for the team.

“I wanted to finish; at the same time, I wanted to push, I wanted to win,” he said. “But second place it is. It’s also nice. I focused on finishing, which makes me ski a bit more defensive, more cautious. That’s what we all need to do here at NCAAs. We need all the points.”

Forejtek, who was seventh in Wednesday’s giant slalom, reached the podium (top three) for the seventh time this season. He earned two All-American honors this week and has three in his career.

Louis Fausa finished 11th for the Buffs, in 1:31.03, while senior Joey Young wrapped up a disappointing final meet. Young, who fell during the giant slalom on Wednesday, was disqualified before his second run in the slalom on Friday.

Fleckenstein backed up her second-place finish in Wednesday’s GS with a strong performance Friday, completing her slalom runs in 1:41.40.

“The first run, I was just skiing more conservative because I really wanted to ski without mistakes,” she said. “The second run, I knew that both the girls ahead of me had made it down with clean run so I was like, there’s nothing to lose at this point; may as well go for it a little more. It worked out, but the course was really bumpy, so it was kind of just like a fight for the second round.”

After battling injuries early in the season, Fleckenstein finished strong and posted six top-five finishes.

“My season started a little later than everyone’s just because of injuries,” she said. “It was really nice to race and I think I just enjoyed every race, honestly.”

The Buffs’ Cassidy Gray, who won the GS on Wednesday, was 13th in the slalom, with a time of 1:43.17. Emma Hammergaard wasn’t far behind, placing 16th (1:44.70).

Now, the Buffs will hope the Nordic team can come through and rally for a victory on Saturday.

“I think it’s really important that we closed the gap a little bit going into the Nordic and it gave them, hopefully, a little bit more inspiration going into the races that they know we’re that much closer,” Fleckenstein said. “I think we did a really good job today and hopefully the Nordics are excited by where we stand.”

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM STANDINGS (Through 6 of 8 Races): 1. Utah 398; 2. Colorado 373.5; 3. Denver 346; 4. Montana State 314.5; 5. Vermont 299; 6. Alaska Anchorage 265; 7. Westminster 212; 8. New Hampshire 174; 9. Plymouth State 134; 10. Boston College 121; 11. Northern Michigan 100; 12. St. Lawrence 93; 13. Alaska Fairbanks 75; 14. Michigan Tech 39; 15. St. Scholastica 25; 16. Colby 21; 17. Clarkson 0.

MEN’S SLALOM (29 collegiate finishers)—1. Mathias Tefre, UVM, 1:29.09; 2. Filip Forejtek, CU, 1:29.15; 3. Simon Fournier, DU, 1:29.90; 4. Joachim Lein, UU, 1:29.99; 5. Louis Muhlen-Schulte, MSU, 1:30.07; 6. Tommy Kenosh, SLU, 1:30.36; 7. Aage Solheim, MSU, 1:30.57; 8. Will Bruneau-Bouchard, UNH, 1:30.61; 9. Hunter Watson, PSU, 1:30.69; 10. David Frisk, UVM, 1:31.01.  Other CU Finisher: 11. Louis Fausa, 1:31.03.  Disqualified First Run: Joey Young.

WOMEN’S SLALOM (30 collegiate finishers)—1. Amelia Smart, DU, 1:38.90; 2. Justin Clement, UVM, 1:40.91; 3. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:41.16; 4. Stef Fleckenstein, CU, 1:41.40; 5. Reece Bell, DU, 1:41.65; 6. Rebecca Fiegl, UAA, 1:41.87; 7. Josefine Selvaag, UVM, 1:42.01; 8. Francesca English, UVM, 1:42.08; 9. Kristinae Bekkestad, MSU, 1:42.10; 10. Katie Vesterstein, UU, 1:42.59.  Other CU Finishers: 13. Cassidy Gray, 1:43.17; 16. Emma Hammergaard, 1:44.70.

Colorado’s Stef Fleckenstein was fourth in the women’s slalom at the NCAA championships Friday in Francona, N.H. (Courtesy of NCAA).