MIDWAY, Utah – A disappointing final day of the NCAA ski championships left the Colorado Buffaloes with their lowest finish in eight years.
On Saturday, CU struggled in the freestyle Nordic races at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center and landed in fourth place in the final team standings, ending a streak of six consecutive top-three finishes. It was CU’s lowest finish since placing fourth in 2014, which was the last time Utah hosted the championships.
Utah became the first team since Denver from 2008-10 to win three consecutive national titles. The Utes, who have won four of the past five championships, finished with 578 points. Vermont (511.5) was second, followed by Denver (436.5) and CU (435).
“I think the overall end place is legitimate,” CU head coach Andy LeRoy said. “It is what we posted out there on the hill, so I can’t take away from the fact this ties for one of lowest performances that we put forward in decades. The points are real. We had hoped for something better, but for sure on the hill, on the slopes of the Nordic track this past week we did not perform as well as we could have and it shows on the scoreboard.”
For the Buffs, the highlight on the final day of competition came from freshman Hanna Abrahamsson, who placed seventh in the women’s 15K freestyle, earning second-team All-American honors. She posted a time of 38 minutes, 53.3 seconds.
Utah’s Sophia Laukli won the title with a time of 36:35.7, while teammate Novie McCabe was second. CU’s Anna-Maria Dietze was 20th (40:41.6), with Weronika Kaleta placing 22nd (40:54.0).
“In the beginning, they started very fast, and I was just trying to keep with them,” Abrahamsson said of the Utah skiers. “But they are Olympians, the two first girls, so they are really, really strong.”
Fatigue and a few other racers caught up with Abrahamsson, but she said, “I’m actually satisfied with the race, even though I was not feeling that good. I really did my best and I fight with everything I had today. I didn’t give up even though I was so tired. I have had better feelings before, but I’m proud of my fight anyway.”
Abrahamsson earned first-team All-American honors with a fifth-place finish in Thursday’s classical race. She capped her freshman season with top-seven finishes in all 11 of her races.
“I didn’t know what to expect before I came here since I’d never met these people before,” said Abrahamsson, who is from Sweden. “I’ve done my best. There are a lot of things that’s new for me: new country, new skiing on altitude, a new city where I live, new routines and teammates and everything. This year is much about just get into the routines and doing the best you can about it.”
In the men’s 20K freestyle, CU was led by Magnus Boee, who battled through a non-COVID illness and placed 17th with a time of 44:17.2. Boee came into the week as the defending national champion in both Nordic events. He was third in Thursday’s classical race.
Also for CU on Saturday, Will Koch was 23rd (44:57.6) and Fredrik Nilsen was 35th (46:08.8). Vermont’s Ben Ogden won the title (43:00.5) to complete a sweep of the Nordic championships this week.
It wasn’t the overall result LeRoy wanted in his first season as the Buffs’ head coach, but he said he’s looking forward to a positive future.
“Disappointed in the overall placement but absolutely encouraged by the athletes and how they’ve gone about it, how they’ve grown and where the program is headed,” he said. “For sure it stings a little bit to hoist the fourth-place trophy on our way out of town.”