FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Led by Rehemaa, Zikova, CU claims RMISA Championship

Led by Rehemaa, Zikova, CU claims RMISA Championship{mosimage}DONNER SUMMIT, Calif. – A record nordic performance and a sixth win from its star sophomore skier carried the University of Colorado ski team to the
title Feb. 24 in the 2006 RMISA Championships/NCAA West Regional.

Colorado claimed its first NCAA west title since 2002, as the Buffaloes amassed 577 points to defeat runner-up New Mexico by nearly 30 points. The Lobos took second with 547½, edging defending NCAA champion Denver (533). Alaska-Anchorage (465½) and Utah (373) rounded out the top five in the 10-team meet.

Colorado’s nordic teams paved the way for the Buffaloes win, as they earned 322 points, their most since the current scoring format was adopted in 1998. In fact, CU’s top-four cross- country point totals have all occurred in the last four meets this winter, including the previous record of 321 in its own invitational held at Steamboat last month, the same site of the NCAA Championships in two weeks.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a while, and it came to us in a big way,”
CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “We can savor this for the rest of the
weekend, but our goal always has been and is to win the national championship.”

There was one piece of bad news for CU. Colorado did not qualify a full 12-skier team for the NCAA’s for the third straight year, coming up short on the men’s alpine team. Denver, New Mexico and Utah qualified full teams from the West. However, CU will race 11 at Steamboat, one more than it had last year when it finished sixth.

“Considering the strength of our other three disciplines, where we qualified all three of our athletes in the top four,” said Rokos. “”hat should definitely help overcome being one short. It’s motivation for a stronger push, and I don’t see any drawbacks at this point.”

In the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle race, senior Jana Rehemaa continued
her dominant run as she won her fourth consecutive event. In winning by
almost a minute over Denver’s Anna-Karin Maeki in 42:47.9, she became
just the third CU skier to sweep the RMISA/regional cross-country titles,
and only the second women, joining Mari Storeng, who did so in 2002. The only other Buff to accomplish a regional sweep was John Skajem, who won the
slalom and the GS in 1986.

Rehemaa is peaking at the right time, as her four straight wins are also the
first four of her collegiate career.

“I’m just skiing,” a modest Rehemaa said. “Training was good last summer
and fall, and it’s paying off with the results. It took me a while to get
back into things [after attempting to qualify in January for the Estonia
Olympic team]. I didn’t feel so good[at CU’s meet in January], but I am feeling better now. It always feels good to win.”

In the men’s 20 km freestyle, CU senior Erling Christiansen, as predicted by
Cranmer the day before, had his best finish of the season in finishing
second in 50:00.3; New Mexico’s Dirk Grimm won in a sprint finish,
edging Christiansen by a half-second. In a classic battle, the top four skiers in the race, were separated by just 1.7 second after 12.4 miles of skiing.

Christiansen, who battled illness for the first half of the season, has
steadily improved as the three-time All-American scored his third top five
effort of the year, and his best since earning runner-up honors in the
freestyle race at last year’s NCAA Championships.

“I felt slightly faster. Yesterday I was still a little sick, but today I
felt like things were finally coming back to normal,” Christiansen said, adding, “I would love to end my career with a win at home in the NCAA’s.”

Sophomore Kit Richmond was at the tail-end of the final quartet, finishing
fourth in 50:01.5, as he was edged by New Mexico’s Geir-Endre Rogn in a photo finish. CU senior Henrik Hoye following
up his classical victory Thursday with a fifth place effort in 50:08.5.

Lucie Zikova returned to the winner’s circle in the slalom, as the CU
sophomore overcame the 36th starting position to post the fastest first run down the Sugar Bowl layout in winning for the sixth time this winter, adding to her record count for a CU alpine woman and pulling to within one of the overall alpine mark of seven by Toni Standteiner in 1991.

Zikova, whose 17th place finish in Thursday’s giant slalom is her only
finish other than first or second in 2006, cruised to nearly a full-second

CU Freshman Lisa Perricone bolstered Zikova’s effort with a third place finish in 1:20.71, as Denver’s Florence Roujas (1:20.68) was wedged between the two CU underclassmen.

In the men’s slalom, New Mexico and Denver swept the top five spots, as the
Lobos’ Tor Fodnesbergene won in 1:14.24, ahead of teammate Lars Loeseth.

Next up are the NCAA Championships, set for Steamboat Springs March 8-11.
The University of Colorado is the host institution for the event, which
returns to the state of Colorado for the first time since Steamboat played
host in 1993.

Rokos and his assistants have most of the spots for the NCAA’s decided:
Bryan and Patrick Duran are the men’s alpine skiers; Rehemaa, Grevsgaard,
Palanova, Christiansen, Hoye and Richmond will be the nordic skiers; and
Zikova and Perricone are locks on the women’s alpine squad. The last spot
will be filled by one of two juniors, Mocellin or Taylor.

1. Colorado 577
2. New Mexico 547½
3. Denver 533
4. Alaska-Anchorage 465½
5. Utah 373
6. Montana State 345
7. Nevada 336½
8. Western State 226½;
9. Whitman 216
10. Boise State 66

Women’s 15 km Freestyle
1. Jana Rehemaa, CU, 42:47.9
2. Anna-Karin Maeki, DU, 43:44.8
3. Nicole Naef, Utah, 43:49.1
4. Kristin Soenstegaard, CU, 43:50.7
5. Kasandra Rice, UAA, 43:53.4
6. Marit Rognmo, UNM, 43:55.4
7. Crystin Jaques, UNM, 43:56.5
8. Laura Valaas, WC, 44:04.2
9. Lenka Palanova, CU, 44.44.3
10. Ashley McQueen, Utah, 44:54.7

Men’s 20 km Freestyle
1. Dirk Grimm, UNM, 49:59.8
2. Erling Christiansen, CU, 50:00.3
3. Geir-Endre Rogn, UNM, 50:01.4
4. Kit Richmond, CU, 50:01.5
5. Henrik Hoye, CU, 50:08.9
6. John Stene, DU, 50:09.78
7. Kjetil Dammen, UAA, 50:11.5
8. Benjamin Sonntag, UAA, 50:12.7
9. Lutz Preussler, UNR, 51:41.5
10. Jedd Young, UNM, 51:42.6

Women’s slalom
1. Lucie Zikova, CU, 1:19.74
2. Florence Roujas, DU, 1:20.68
3. Lisa Perricone, CU, 1:20.71
4. Erika Hogan, Utah, 1:21.05
5. Karin Ohlin, UNM, 1:21.15
6. Stefanie Klocker, UAA, 1:21.25
7. Mikaela Grassl, Utah, 1:21.33
8. Kristina Repcinova, UAA, 1:21.49
9. Claire Abbe, DU, 1:21.68
10. Zuzana Charvatova, BSU, 1:21.70.

Men’s slalom
1. Tor Fodnesbergene, UNM, 1:14.24
2. Lars Loeseth, UNM, 1:15.16
3. Francesco Ghedina, DU, 1:15.20
4. John Buchar, DU, 1:15.46
5. Todd Ligare, DU, 1:15.73
6. Luke Patterson, UNR, 1:15.78
7. Hannes Zirknitzer, WC, 1:16.05
8. Josh Bryan, CU, 1:16.52
9. Timothee Theaux, UAA, 1:16.84
10. Andre Hokholt, WSC, 1:16.

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