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Skiing: CU Buffs slip to 2nd, still in NCAA title contention

Colorado's Emma Hammergaard competes during the women's slalom at the NCAA skiing championships at Whiteface Mountain in North Elba, N.Y., on Friday. (Dustin Satloff/NCAA Photos)
Colorado’s Emma Hammergaard competes during the women’s slalom at the NCAA skiing championships at Whiteface Mountain in North Elba, N.Y., on Friday. (Dustin Satloff/NCAA Photos)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – In a season that has been filled with adversity, the Colorado ski team was hit with a bit more on Friday.

Yet, with one day to go in the NCAA championships, the Buffaloes are still in contention for a national title.

Emma Hammergaard earned second team All-American honors in the women’s slalom on Friday, but the Buffs didn’t have as good of a day as hoped for at Whiteface Mountain.

Hammergaard was the only Buff, on the men’s or women’s side, to finish higher than 15th as CU lost its lead in the team standings. The Buffs, who led after the first and second days, are slightly behind a powerful Utah squad. The three-time defending champion Utes have scored 358 points, with CU (356.5) and Denver (346.5) in striking distance.

The national championships conclude Saturday with the Nordic classic races.

“I just tried to keep our team together and try to be in attack mode,” CU alpine coach Chad Wolk said. “I think we felt really good about what the Nordics did (Thursday) and we’re really excited. And I think we had a little bit of defensive skiing, trying to protect what we had instead of attacking and trying to secure our position.”

In the men’s slalom, the Buffs’ Filip Forejtek was on his way to one of the fastest runs of the first round when he straddled a gate near the end of the run. He had to hike part way back up the hill to get back on course to finish, but his time of 1:08.89 left him at the bottom of the standings. Forejtek, who won the national title in the giant slalom on Wednesday, rebounded to post the fastest time in the second run (55.33 seconds) and finished 29th overall with a time of 2:04.22 to secure two teams points.

“That’s the fight and I’m so impressed with him,” Wolk said of Forejtek’s impressive second run. “I know he’s feeling this one quite a bit because he had it; he was there. He just lost it a little bit and paid the price for it. But, in the end, we’ve seen it from the greatest in history.”

Also on the men’s side, Jacob Dilling was 15th (1:51.48) and Louis Fausa was 19th (1:51.96) for the Buffs. Vermont’s Mathias Tefre won the title, in 1:49.32.

Hammergaard followed up a fifth-place finish in Wednesday’s GS with an eighth-place finish in Friday’s slalom, posting a two-run time of 1:52.14

“It feels great,” she said of earning two All-American honors this week. “I’m really happy, especially with my second run today, it was really good. So yeah, I’m proud of myself.”

Also for CU, Elena Exenberger was 17th (1:53.50) and Kaitlyn Harsch was 21st (1:53.69).

Utah’s Madison Hoffman won the title (1:49.37), but the Utes countered CU’s misfortune with some of their own. Michelle Kerven missed a gate in her first run and finished 32nd.

While CU lost its lead, it goes into Saturday very much alive for the title, only about six weeks after parting ways with head coach Andy LeRoy.

“Overall, I’m really proud of the team,” Wolk said. “They’re monsters. … For us to do what we did this season (in alpine), pulling together as a group, I’m really impressed with them.”