Colorado rallies to win NCAA ski crown

RIPTON — The University of Colorado posted the biggest final-day comeback in the history of the NCAA skiing championships on Saturday to earn its 18th national title at the Rikert Nordic Center.
The Buffaloes overturned Vermont’s 54-point advantage on the last day of competition to win with 708 points. Utah took second with 665 points, followed by UVM (653), Denver (629) and Dartmouth (594). Middlebury finished 10th in the 21-team field.
Colorado caught UVM in Saturday’s women’s 15-kilometer freestyle. Joanne Reid and Eliska Hajkova finished 1-2 and Maria Nordstrom took 12th to net the Buffaloes 125 points — 70 more than UVM.
Reid finished in 18:17.8, earned her first national title, and duplicated the crown her mother, Beth Heiden, won for UVM in 1983. Hajkova won a sprint with Alaska Anchorage’s Marine Dusser to finish second.
Dartmouth’s Mary O’Connell and Denver’s Silje Benum took fourth and fifth to complete the first-team All-Americans. Middlebury’s top skier, Annie Pokorny, was injured in Thursday’s 5K and pulled out early in Saturday’s race.
The men’s 20K was a tight battle. Seven contenders remained coming into the stadium, and it was a three-way sprint in the final straightaway. Miles Havlick of Utah edged Colorado’s Rune Oedegaard, whose second-place finish clinched his team’s overall title, and Utah’s Einar Ulsund to win in 50 minutes, 13.4 seconds. Just a second separated the top three.
With Utah’s fifth-place finisher Niklas Persson joining Havlick and Ulsund as first-team All-Americans, the Utes posted 133 points in the men’s freestyle — the highest single-event total in the competition.
Erik Soderman of Northern Michigan came home fourth to claim the other first-team All-America spot. Middlebury’s Benjamin Lustgarten, a Burlington resident, took eighth to become a second-team all-American.
The Panthers’ best result in the NCAA meet came in Friday’s giant slalom, in which David Donaldson came in second. The Independent will publish complete Middlebury results on Thursday.

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