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The word “dominance” comes to mind when people mention the CU ski team.
The 2007 team has won all of its meets thus far and appears to be on the fast track to another national title.
Returning champions in sports often enter the next season with a lot of confidence. This can have a negative impact on their work ethic and results if they do not stay focused.
Junior Nordic skier and finance major Kit Richmond, the reigning NCAA freestyle champion, talked about being the defending team champions and the effect that might have on this year’s team.
“I feel like we are pretty modest about it. But at the same time, we have a really good work ethic as a team,” Richmond said. “The new people understand that what we did last year was something special, and they want to do it again.”
Head coach Richard Rokos has guided the Buffs to five national titles during his 16-year tenure. He has also coached 22 individual national champions and 130 All-Americans during the same span.
“We need to maintain the momentum. I think it’s a team with the ambitions and perspective to repeat,” Rokos said. “I think that even though we lost some key skiers from last season, we are on the way to replacing them and maintaining the same level of competitiveness.”
The Buffs lost some elite seniors to graduation, including Jana Rehemaa. Rehemaa won both her events at the 2006 NCAA Championship.
The team returns a host of talented skiers, such as junior Alpine competitor Lucie Zikova. Zikova tied a school by winning seven races last year.
Coach Rokos said he thinks everyone will contribute this season.
“I hope everybody has a big year. I don’t want to single out anybody. But obviously, so far people that are posting great results are Maria Grevsgard and Matt Gelso on Nordic and Lucie Zikova and Stefan Hughes on Alpine,” Rokos said. “Everybody else is so close that it could change during the season.”
This year’s squad has the demeanor of a very goal-oriented and self-motivated team.
“We wake up at 5 and leave the ski building at 6 to train up at Eldora,” said sophomore open-option major Lisa Perricone. “We set up the course while it is still dark and come back from training around 11:30 to go to school.
As the season wears on, the Buffs realize they are the favorite to repeat.
“We are the team that everybody else wants to beat. I think everyone else is gunning for our team more than any other team,” Perricone said. “But in a way, that just makes it more fun for us.”
The CU ski team is perennially successful, and Coach Rokos attributes the achievements and consistency to team camaraderie.
“It is something where we are building as coaches for conscious togetherness. We want mutual support and a feeling of being proud of what we do here,” Rokos said. “In skiing, this is not typical.”
The Buffs’ next action will be this Friday and Saturday at the Denver Invitational in Winter Park.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Ben Dignan at Benjamin.Dignan@thecampuspress.com.