Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature

Pioneers win 20th skiing national championship

University of Denver women’s Nordic skier Antje Maempel (Stuelzerbach, Germany) won her second NCAA individual championship with a victory in the 15K freestyle on Saturday, leading the Pioneers to their second-straight NCAA Championships and record 20th team title overall.

After entering the day with three teams within three points, Denver pulled away in the final two events and beat second-place Colorado by 56.5 points. DU collected 659 points in the eight events, while CU (602.5) surged from fourth place when the day began to edge New Mexico (602). Alaska-Anchorage (584) and Vermont (573) rounded out the top five.

“Every Nordic skier went out and performed as well as they possibly could,” Nordic head coach David Stewart said. “Every person was the best they’ve been all season, when it mattered most. Most importantly all of our skiers, both Nordic and alpine, came into this championship looking to do what they needed to win as a team. I could not be more proud of everybody on the team.”

Maempel won by just 0.5 seconds over CU’s Alexa Turzian to become just the second DU women’s skier to sweep the Nordic titles. Lisbeth Johnsen took the classical and freestyle titles at the 1996 NCAA championships. Maempel’s titles marked the 72nd and 73rd NCAA individual title in Denver history, second only to Colorado’s 80.

“Antje was the MVP of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association this season, and she really showed it this week,” Stewart said. “She only had two wins during the season, but she skied well consistently, and she really knows how to train in a way that puts her in the best position to succeed at the championships, and she came away with two wins.”

Annelise Bailly (Ruffieu, France) earned a spot on the All-American first team with a fourth place finish, and Kate Dolan (Bozeman, Mont.) came in 28th. Both Bailly and Maempel have earned All-American honors in all four events over the past two NCAA Championships.

Mike Hinckley (Anchorage, Alaska) earned All-American second team honors with a sixth place finish in the men’s 20K freestyle. Harald Loevenskiold (Oslo, Norway) came in 19th and Dan Clark (Anchorage, Alaska) was 24th. Colorado earned its second individual title, as Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men’s freestyle.

“The women’s Nordic team was remarkable, and the men’s team today showed the best fight I’ve seen out of them all year,” DU alpine head coach Andy LeRoy said. “As a coach, I was happy to see the Nordic team finish out the championship. The alpine teams ended the championships the last two years, and it was great to see our Nordic teams step up and clinch the title for us. All of our skiers stuck together as a team this week, through the good and the bad, and in the end we were the last team standing.”

Notes: Six of Denver’s 20 team championships have come this decade, as the Pioneers won in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2009. The 2009 NCAA Championships marked the first meet that Denver won this season. DU was second in both the Colorado and Denver invitationals, fourth in the Seawolf Invitational and NCAA West Regional, and fifth in the UAA Invitational…Maempel was the sixth Denver skier since 2000 to sweep both events. Adam Cole (2007) and John Buchar (2008) swept men’s slalom and giant slalom. Pietro Broggini (2000), Ola Berger (2002) and Rene Reisshauer (2005) all swept the men’s classical and freestyle…The Denver ski team’s 20 national titles are the fifth most by any team in any sport. Only Oklahoma State wrestling (34), USC outdoor track (26), Iowa wrestling (21) and Yale golf (21) have won more championships.

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