CU earns the lead in the Montana State Invitational
The first NCAA race series of the season is underway. The alpine portion of the Montana State Invitational took place this past weekend at Big Sky Resort, Mont. Although the Nordic events will not be completed until Sunday, Jan. 15, University of Colorado – Boulder (CU) has taken a narrow lead with 334 points. The Buffaloes showed consistency throughout each gender and event, collecting eight top-10 finishes. Only the University of Denver (DU) had more, with ten.
Both genders raced giant slalom on Sunday. U.S. Ski Team athlete Nick Krause took home the win overall, but Samuel Dupratt from the University of Utah took home the win for collegiate athletes. He was followed closely by three Buffaloes, Ola Buer Johansen, Max Luukko and David Ketterer. Dupratt finished with an overall time of 2:09:59. Johansen was just 0.10 seconds back and Luukko rounded off the collegiate podium, 0.49 seconds behind Dupratt.
“With our guys finishing two, three, four, that is very strong and on the ladies’ side, we were second, ninth and 16th, so not a bad day,” CU Boulder Head Coach Richard Rokos said.
Speaking of giant slalom, no one could keep up with Westminster College senior Ann-Kathrin Breuning in the women’s race. She won both runs to come away as the clear GS leader. She was followed by CU athlete Tonje Healey Trulsrud, 0.84 seconds behind and DU athlete Kristine Fausa Asberg, 0.93 seconds back.
Breuning knew she had the speed to win a university race last year, and if it was going to happen it was going to be at Big Sky. Previously her best finishes had been two third-place results last year in Montana. She had a leader bib in mind throughout the entire summer, she said and it came earlier than expected.
“I guess in the beginning, it’s the easiest,” she said of getting earning the lead spot for GS. “I guess I knew I could do it, but it’s always a lot of things coming together.”
CU’s freshman David Ketterer’s offseason training is already paying dividends. Ketterer is currently leading the NorAm slalom standings, and he went to Big Sky ready to lead the Buffaloes in his best event. Having already come in fourth a day earlier, Ketterer won the slalom on Monday with authority. After the first run, he led by 1.12 seconds, ahead of DU’s Alex Leever. Ketterer took advantage of the good snow in the first run, and he knew that he had skied well, but he did not expect to be leading, let alone by such a vast margin. He thought that one of his teammates might be.
Ketterer held onto the lead easily. Garret Driller from Montana State University (MSU) finished second, 1.27 seconds behind, and Nick Santaniello from DU pushed his teammate Leever off of the podium and finished, 1.91 back in third place.
“Obviously David’s win is outstanding, and it just documents his current ability,” Rokos said. “On his side, he is so much further ahead of the field, it is almost crazy. It’s not typical, even in this league, that you have a second-and-a-quarter separation between the first and second guys, it is amazing.”
The women’s slalom did not have as clear of a leader after one run. The University of Denver’s Monica Huebner led Bruening by 0.41 seconds. They would remain the top two skiers at the end of the day as well, and CU athlete Tonje Healey Trulsrud found her way onto the podium in the second run to add to her team’s point total. Bruening and Trulsrud finished 0.71 seconds and 1.00 second behind Huebner, respectively.
The University of Colorado amassed 334 points over the weekend to take the lead, followed by DU with 308 and the University of Utah with 286.5.
“I think it is pretty important to start with a win to get in the good winning spirit,” Ketterer said about his team’s performance. “We don’t have too many guys on the team, so it’s pretty important that we deliver at the right time, but I think we have quite a strong team and if we do our jobs, then we can win.”
A day prior to the invitational, a qualifying GS race was held at the same resort, which did not count towards team point totals in the event, but does count towards NCAA seeding at the end of the year.
For the men, CU’s Johansen took the win, followed by his teammate Luukko, 0.34 seconds behind, and Dupratt, 0.54 seconds out. It was serendipitous as these same three athletes would share the podium a day later in the Invitational GS.
Bruening took home the win for the women, followed by Roni Remme from the University of Utah, 0.06 seconds back and Trulsrud, 0.41 seconds behind.
The RMISA skiers return to action beginning on Thursday, Jan. 12, as Utah hosts the alpine portion of the Utah Invitational, beginning with the women’s giant slalom on Thursday, Jan. 12. The Nordic teams head to the Montana State Invitational with the freestyle races starting on Saturday, Jan. 14.