Buffs win Nordic title

The Colorado ski team, winners of 16 NCAA titles, accomplished something it had never done Saturday. The Buffs won their first ever national cross country skiing title. The effort moved the Buffs from seventh going into the final day of races to fourth at the 51st NCAA Championships, which included slalom, giant slalom, classical and freestyle competition. New Mexico won the title, followed by Utah and Denver.

Led by junior Tor Erik Schjellerud, who finished second in the 20-k classical race with a time of 53:16.7, the Buffs placed five finishers in the top six places of the classical races in Truckee, Calif., Saturday.

"It was a phenomenal performance today, simply dominating," CU head coach Richard Rokos said. "Everyone went out and had fun, skied comfortably, helped each other out and it was just great scenery to see. There's nothing like watching your team's uniforms cross the line in bunches at the end of the race."

The effort moved the Buffs from seventh going into the final day of races to fourth at the 51st NCAA Championships, which included slalom, giant slalom, classical and freestyle competition. New Mexico won the title, followed by Utah and Denver.

Especially heroic was the effort of CU sophomore Erling Christiansen, who fell at the start of Saturday's classical race, but recovered and overtook 25 skiers to finish fifth, and earn all-America status.

"In cross country skiing there is no mercy," Rokos said. "No one will give you any slack, or give you the right of way, they make your life miserable. So for him to pass 25 skiers, his life was miserable 25 times. To his credit, it was a tremendous effort."

Overall, CU landed eight skiers on the all-America list, including first-teamers Christiansen, Erika Hogan (giant slalom), Muriele Huberli (classical), Jana Rehemaa (freestyle and classical) and Schjellerud (classical). Three others earned second-team mention: Claire Critchley (classical), Henrik Hoye (freestyle) and Erin McEachren (slalom). Top five finishes earn skiers the first-team honor, while finishing sixth through 10th nets a second-team honor.


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