Freshman Cassidy Gray won the morning race, the first GS race of her career, on the strength of the fastest second run in the field. She started 18th, moved up to third after the first run and from there took the victory. The Buffs in fact had three of the fastest four second runs in the field. Junior Stef Fleckenstein, also racing her first GS of the season after returning from a shoudle injury, had a similar outcome, starting 16th, moving up to fifth and then using the second-fastest second run to finish fourth. Sophomore Emma Hammergaard finished eighth on the strength of the fourth-fastest second run and senior Andrea Arnold finished 10th while junior Kaitlyn Harsch took 19th.
The wheels then began to come off. After not finishing the second run of the first race, senior Isabelle Fidjeland didn’t start the second race after some soreness in her knee. Fleckenstein, Harsch and Hammergaard didn’t finish the first run and Arnold, Gray and Olivia Gerrard didn’t finish the second run. Gray had the fastest first run and looked to be on her way to another victory. Gerrard also did not finish the second run of the first race. Arnold and Hammergaard are also nursing injuries and not 100 percent.
The Buffs scored 94 points in the first race, moving past Alaska Anchorage, who was second after the conclusion of the Nordic competition in this meet in January, before a zero in the second race slipped the Buffs to fourth behind the Seawolves and Montana State. Utah leads the meet with 527 points with UAA (441) and MSU (392) ahead of CU’s total of 382. Behind the Buffs are Denver (297), Alaska Fairbanks (218), Westminster (211) and Colorado Mountain (54).
The second race was more volatile to the entire field, as 30 of the 37 collegiate skiers finished the first race while just 20 of the 37 finished the second race.
WHAT IT MEANS: What’s becoming a trend for the alpine teams this season went to the extreme on Thursday with the Buffs having their best performance of the season in the morning race and perhaps one of the worst in program history in the second race. Having skiers race two races is not the norm in collegiate skiing and is only being utilized this season due to COVID restrictions of keeping the overall number of racers at the venue to a minimum. The good news is this meet is the last time skiers will have to do that, as both postseason meets will return to the normal program of events with one race per day for skiers. One the bright side, the Buffs proved their women’s alpine team can compete with anybody. Hopefully the second race is a one-time occurrence and is now out of their system. In the bigger picture, the high finishes from the first race should help significantly in NCAA qualifying, but some skiers also needed a solid second result, which they will now just one one more opportunity for at the RMISA Championships.
UP NEXT: The men’s alpine team is up next with two GS races on Friday to close out the RMISA Invitational at Utah. Teams will remain in Utah for the RMISA Championships, set for next Friday and Saturday also here at Park City.
- After having the best alpine performance of the day, scoring 94 points in the morning race, the Buffs had all seven skiers not start or finish the second race and scored a zero. Entering the day, the Buffs were third behind Utah (394) and Alaska Anchorage (319) with 288 points. After the first race, the Buffs moved into second ahead of UAA, 382-372, while Utah still led with 457 and MSU was fourth with 321. As it stands after the third day of the meet, Utah has 527, UAA 441 and MSU 392 ahead of CU’s 382.
- Scoring for the Buffs in the morning race were Gray (40), Fleckenstein (31) and Hammergaard (23).
- Gray picked up her first college win in her first college GS race. She joins Mikaela Tommy accomplishing that feat, which Tommy did two years ago in her first GS race at Montana State. Prior to Tommy, you have to go back 19 seasons to Tove Pashkowski in 2000 to win her first collegiate GS race.
- Fleckenstein picked up her 12th career top five finish, taking fourth in the first race of the day. Seven of her 12 top fives have come in GS action. She’s now finished in the top five in the last six GS races she’s finished.
- Hammergaard picked up her seventh career top 10 finish, fourth in GS, in her career and fourth top 10 of 2021 now with two each in GS and slalom.
- Arnold picked up her third top 10 of the season, all in GS, and ninth of her career, where six have now come in GS.
- Harsch had her fifth top 20 of the season in the first GS race, taking 19th, and her third in GS action after finishing 13th in both GS races at Aspen to open the season.
- Fidjeland unfortunately has not finished any of her four races this week in Utah, taking DNF’s in both slalom races Monday at Snowbird and now two more in GS races Thursday.
- Gerrard didn’t finish either race on Thursday and now has finished one race this season in four attempts, taking 20th in the first slalom race Monday at Snowbird.
TEAM STANDINGS (Through 6 of 8 Races): 1. Utah 527; 2. Alaska Anchorage 441; 3. Montana State 392; 4. Colorado 382; 5. Denver 297; 6. Alaska Fairbanks 218; 7. Westminster 211; 8. Colorado Mountain 54.
WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM #1 (30 collegiate finishers)—1. Cassidy Gray, CU, 1:55.55; 2. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 1:55.99; 3. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:56.28; 4. Stef Fleckenstein, CU, 1:57.23; 5. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 1:57.76; 6. Katie Parker, UU, 1:57.91; 7. Kristiane Bekkestad, MSU, 1:58.28; 8. Emma Hammergaard, CU, 1:58.31; 9. Georgia Burgess, UAA, 1:58.70; 10. Andrea Arnold, CU, 1:58.77. Other CU Finishers: 19. Kaitlyn Harsch, 2:00.75. Did Not Finish Second Run: Isabelle Fidjeland, Olivia Gerrard.
WOMEN’S GIANT SLALOM #2 (20 collegiate finishers)—1. Julia Toiviainen, WMC, 1:59.82; 2. Hannah Saethereng, WMC, 1:59.90; 3. Lana Zbasnik, WMC, 2:01.12; 4. Sona Morvacikova, UU, 2:02.11; 5. Henriette Resen, WMC, 2:02.54; 6. Tegan Wold, MSU, 2:03.38; 7. Georgia Burgess, UAA, 2:03.78; 8. Nellie Talbot, MSU, 2:03.84; 9. Reece Bell, DU, 2:04.38; 10. Rebecca Fiegl, UAA, 2:04.88. Did Not Start First Run: Isabelle Fidjeland. Did Not Finish First Run: Emma Hammergaard, Stef Fleckenstein, Kaitlyn Harsch. Did Not Finish Second Run: Andrea Arnold, Cassidy Gray, Olivia Gerrard.
— to cubuffs.com