Oedegaard Wins Again, Buffs Maintain Lead At CU Invite
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—The men’s Nordic duo of senior Rune Oedegaard and sophomore Mads Stroem finished 1-2 for the fourth straight race and four women finished in the top eight as the University of Colorado ski team maintained its lead here Saturday at its own Spencer James Nelson Memorial Invitational.
A solid day from Utah meant that the Buffs only gained a single point over the Utes, and now lead at the half-way point of the meet with 362 points to the Utes 337, a 25 point cushion. Those two teams, however, have broken apart from the pack, as Alaska Anchorage and Denver are tied for third with 251 points, 111 behind the Buffs, while Montana State and New Mexico are tied for fifth with 228 points.
“It was a good day, we’re happy with it,” Nordic coach Bruce Cranmer said. “It’s nice to ski well in your home meet and with NCAAs being here next year, having some more confidence. Everybody feels like we’re getting a little better each race, that’s what you want to have happen, not the other way around.”
Oedegaard won the 20K classical mass start race in a time of 54:22.1, by 18.6 seconds over teammate Stroem, who defeated two other skiers in a sprit to the finish to take runner-up honors. Stroem’s time of 54:40.7 was just one-tenth of a second ahead of Utah’s Niklas Persson while New Mexico’s Mats Resaland was just four-tenths back of Stroem.
“As I said to coach after the race, I’ve never felt this good for a college meet,” Oedegaard said. “It’s been a good experience. This course is a lot tougher than people think, after three laps other skiers were tired, so I pushed hard out of the third lap and nobody followed, so that’s a good feeling.”
They were both part of the lead pack that included a dozen or so skiers the first two laps, then thinned down to four or five by the end of the third lap. On the first uphill of the final lap, Oedegaard broke away, leaving Stroem, Persson and Resland behind.
“With Rune breaking away, I just stayed in the back of the lead pack and prepped myself for the sprint at the end,” Stroem said. “It doesn’t matter which of us wins, you can’t get any more points than going 1-2, so that’s perfect.”
“Mads isn’t going to chase his teammate down, he skied strategically,” Cranmer said. “He did what he needed to do to gets second. He’s really good at sprinting, he’s willing to kind of chill out for a while and take it to a sprint at the end.”
The duo has now finished 1-2 in the men’s Nordic races all four races this year and in seven of 12 career races together dating back to last season. Oedegaard also won his 17th career race, breaking a tie with former alpine star Lucie Zikova for second most wins in CU history, behind only Maria Grevsgaard and her 24 career wins.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve never had a pair of guys that’s been this dominant,” Cranmer said. “And this is a strong field, it’s not like they’re not racing against good skiers. There are a lot of strong skiers, but for them to be as good as they have been, it’s a neat thing to see.”
Stroem has been sick since the Buffs returned from the season opening races in Utah, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to ski on the weekend.
“I felt better today, I’m still not 100 percent but two podiums in two days, I can’t complain,” Stroem said. “I didn’t know how my body was going to respond, being sick for the last 10 days or so.”
Sophomore Jackson Hill was CU’s third scorer in 12th place in a time of 56:46.3, giving the Buffs 96 points and beating the Utes by 10 points. Sophomore Max Scrimgeour finished 20th in 58:15.4 and freshman Ian Boucher took 26th in 59:35.5.
The women’s race was a battle between the Buffs and Utes, who together accounted for nine of the top 11 spots in the final standings. The Buffs were led by freshman Petra Hyncicova, who was fourth in a time of 48:08.7.
“I know Petra was happy with fourth,” Cranmer said. “She hasn’t run a lot of distance races before, so it’s good to see and she was happy with that.”
She was followed closely by a stampede of Buffaloes as sophomore Maja Solbakken finished sixth in 48:42.1, freshman Ane Johnsen seventh in 49:04.7 and freshman Jesse Knori eighth in 49:55.2.
“It’s a good feeling to race well yourself, but to do it as a team is really an amazing feeling,” Solbakken said.
“It’s an amazing feeling to look around and see your teammates skiing with you,” Hyncicova added.
Knori earned her first career top 10 finish in just her fourth race back after not racing for nearly 18 months due to injury and illness.
“It’s awesome, she had a tough year last year, she had a lot going on,” Cranmer said. “It’s really good for her, I’m sure she’s thrilled about it.”
“It was nice to feel like a racer again,” Knori said. “I was hoping for a top 15, it’s nice to hit a groove again, and helping the team out, I can’t complain.”
Sophomore Camilla Brautaset finished 22nd in 52:36.2 and sophomore Lucy Newman took 24th in 53:24.8.
The Nordic portion of the CU Invitational is now complete and the action now turns to Eldora for three days of alpine racing, starting Sunday with the men’s and women’s slalom races. The CU meet will conclude Monday with giant slalom races and there will then be an RMISA Qualifier GS race on Tuesday.
The next action for the Nordic teams will be next week at New Mexico. The classical races there are schedule for a team start, a rarity in college skiing and a chance for the Buffs to figure out different tactics to use.
“I’ve never had a team start before, it’s going to be so much fun,” Stroem said. “We need to figure out some tactics, knowing we have two of the fastest skiers, hopefully we can help get a couple other guys into the top 10.”
“I’m excited to see how we will do,” Oedegaard said. “I think it will be an advantage for us, we’re a strong team with fast skiers. We will try to keep our group together as long as possible and then ski fast at the end and get individual results from that. But it’s more important to get three guys from the team high up than to get an individual win, so we will talk about tactics.”
Colorado Invitational Team Scores (4 events)—1. Colorado 362; 2. Utah 337; 3. Alaska Anchorage & Denver, 251; 5. Montana State and New Mexico, 228.
Men’s 20k Classical (30 finishers)—1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 54:22.1; 2. Mads Stroem, CU, 54:40.7; 3. Niklas Persson, UU, 54:40.8; 4. Mats Resaland, UNM, 54:41.1; 5. Moritz Madlener, DU, 54:59.5; 6. Noe Bellet, UU, 55:06.5; 7. Kevin Bolger, UU, 55:23.3; 8. Forrest Mahlen, MSU, 55:24.6; 9. Sawyer Kisselheim, MSU, 55:31.8; 10. Clement Molliet, UAA, 55:32.6; 11. Aljaz Praznik, UNM, 56:07.7; 12. Jackson Hill, CU, 56:46.3; 13. Dag Trolleboe, DU, 57:04.4; 14. Erik Axelsson, MSU, 57:17.2; 15. Etienne Richard, UAA, 57:17.3; 16. Christian Otto, UNM, 57:18.4; 17. Oscar Ivars, UU, 57:20.3; 18. Tucker McCrerey, UU, 58:14.9; 19. Nick Hendrickson, UU, 58:15.3; 20. Max Scrimgeour, CU, 58:15.4; 21. Mario Roncador, UAA, 58:36.9; 22. Kyle Beling, UNM, 58:44.2; 23. Noah Anderson, MSU, 59:00.7; 24. Alex Mahoney, UAA, 59:04.9; 25. Joergen Brevik, DU, 59:28.3; 26. Ian Boucher, CU, 59:35.5; 27. Martin Muan, MSU, 59:59.3; 28. Andrew Arnold, UAA, 00:17.5; 29. Christian Shanley, DU, 01:15.2; 30. Sam Miller, DU, 04:21.9.
Women’s 10k Classical (26 finishers)— 1. Veronika Mayerhofer, UU, 47:14.0; 2. Sylvia Nordskar, DU, 47:38.1; 3. Emilie Cedervarn, UNM, 47:46.9; 4. Petra Hyncicova, CU, 48:08.7; 5. Sloan Storey, UU, 48:31.1; 6. Maja Solbakken, CU, 48:42.1; 7. Ane Johnsen, CU, 49:04.7; 8. Jesse Knori, CU, 49:55.2; 9. Anna-Lena Heynen, UU, 50:06.4; 10. Josefin Nilsson, UU, 50:32.7; 11. Natalia Mueller, UU, 50:50.9; 12. Manon Locatelli, UAA, 51:06.5; 13. Mackenzie Kanady, UAA, 51:20.6; 14. Selma Ashland, DU, 51:31.4; 15. Anika Miller, MSU, 51:34.7; 16. Annie Liotta, MSU, 51:54.9; 17. Patricia Sprecher, UAA, 52:06.6; 18. Isabella Smith, MSU, 52:08.3; 19. Lina Hultin, MSU, 52:14.9; 20. Kathrin Schratt, UAA, 52:15.9; 21. Heleene Tambet, UNM, 52:16.2; 22. Camilla Brautaset, CU, 52:36.2; 23. Gretchen Buckholder, MSU, 52:59.1; 24. Lucy Newman, CU, 53:24.8; 25. Julia Hayes, MSU, 54:14.9; 26. Hanna Slotte, UAA, 55:08.9.