“From the very beginning, we set out to win this for Spencer,” said Colorado
program director Richard Rokos at the conclusion of the races. “Spencer’s
dream was to win an NCAA championship, and he was a talented kid — one
of few young freshman skiers who qualified for NCAAs last year. We felt like
we should do this for him. His father is here today, and he will be the one who
gets the first touch on the trophy.”
The Buffs unseated DU and fended off other challengers with relative ease.
According to Rokos, this was possible because of a little luck and because
CU’s alpine squad was stronger than it had been in recent years.
“Obviously, cross country has been the strength of our team for years, and
they put a lot of points together again here,” said Rokos. “The difference this
year is that we were able to stay healthy and all our alpine skiers finished
both races — most of them cleanly. You have to get lucky [to win the week of
NCAAs], no matter how well you’re prepared.”
Indeed, under coach Bruce Cranmer, Colorado’s cross country skiers have
tallied more points than any other squad at five of the past eight NCAA cham-
pionships, but the Buffs were able to win the whole thing on only one other
occasion in that period. This year, for the first time since 1999, the downhill
Buffs matched their skinny-ski teammates by tallying more points than any
other alpine team — et voilà, another crown.
Sara Hjertman and Gab Rivas were the only Colorado alpiners to climb the
podium — Hjertman was second in the ladies’ GS, Rivas second in men’s
slalom — but the team mostly packed itself inside the top seed. Even after
Andreas Haug hiked in slalom, he still finished 20th and scored valuable
That there was not a spectacular or dominant CU win at the alpine venues
underscores the fact that the team coalesced and shone brighter as a whole
than any individual.
Down the road at Trapp’s, Eliska Hajkova proved CU’s most valuable asset.
Though Hajkova skied well all season, she spent much of the winter chasing
Utah rival Maria Graefnings. On March 9 at the women’s 5K free, Hajkova
finished second behind Graefnings again, but a couple days later, she literally skied out from behind Graefnings in the 15K classic and led all the way
to the rain-soaked finish line.
“I kept waiting for [Graefnings] to attack,” said Hajkova after the race, a little
bounce in her gait from having shed her rival. “When she did, I just had more
2011 NCAA Skiing
UVM’s Kate Ryley was the
only alpine skier to earn
double first-team All-American honors.
Denver’s GS champ, Ida Dillingoen.
SkiRacing.com APRIL 7, 2011 | 37