As far as CU star Magnus Boee is concerned, this will be one fun season.
Boee and the Colorado Buffaloes Nordic ski team kicks off the season Monday here at the U.S. National Cross Country Ski Championships, a week of racing that includes two races that count as extra NCAA Qualifiers for the RMISA Skiers in the field. Shortly after, while some skiers head to Montana for the MSU Invitational, seven Buffs will divert to Lake Placid to take part in the World University Games.
Those two events, Boee said, will be the highlight of the early season and will give a glimpse into what we can expect from the team throughout the 2023 season.
Here at the US National Championships, nine Buffs are slated to compete in four races over six days. The Buffs will be a little short-handed with only half of the women’s alpine team in attendance while six of the seven men on the team are slated to compete.
Monday the racing will commence with the 10K Freestyle races with Classic Sprint races schedule for Wednesday (Jan. 4) a classic mass start race on Friday (Jan. 6) will be followed by freestyle sprints on Saturday (Jan. 7) to close out competition. The first two races, the 10K freestyle on Monday and classic sprints on Wednesday, will count as extra qualifiers to the NCAA Championships for the RMISA skiers in attendance.
Then World University Games will take place Jan. 12-22, 2023 in Lake Placid, N.Y. An Olympic-like event, the World University Games includes 12 sports, 86 medal events and athletes represent more than 600 universities worldwide in 50 countries and more than 2,500 athletes and coaches are expected to attend. A total of 14 Buffs are expected to compete.
“World University Games is one of the bigger events this year,” Boee said, and he also noted that most of the top skiers in the RMISA are scheduled to compete there. “And it’s in Lake Placid, where we will also compete at NCAA Championships. I’m excited for that combination of competing at the US Nationals this week and continuing to get into shape and performing well at the World University Games and getting familiar with the courses that we’ll see for the NCAAs in March.”
Boee said the depth of the RMISA is better than it’s been since he’s been here, specifically noting the strength of Denver and Utah’s teams, anticipating the Pioneer’s Andreas Kirkeng returns stronger in 2023 and noting a newcomer at Utah in French skier Tom Mancini, who has skied at the highest levels in the world.
But, Boee is also excited about the Buffs team this year, saying the depth on the Nordic side is unlike anything he’s been a part of thus far in his career.
“The depth we have this season is better than since I’ve been here,” Boee said. “In Nordic, for the guys, it’s deeper than ever, we don’t have a weak link, this year everybody will be fighting for the three spots at the NCAA Championships. And the women’s team performed very well in Canada at the US Super Tour last month. It wasn’t shocking, but maybe a little surprising, they all have so much potential and they showed that potential in Canada and I’m happy about it.”
Boee was having a solid stretch of dryland training before Halloween, when he came down with two separate illnesses that, along with high toughest class schedule to date, set him back a little bit in his training. By the time the US Super Tour races in Canada came around, he was treating them more as training opportunities than high level races. And he will also go in with the same mentality at the US National Championships.
“U.S. Nationals is still a bit early,” Boee said. “I’ll be looking at it as a good race-paced training opportunity. I’m going to try for wins for sure, but I won’t put too much pressure on myself. The U.S. athletes have maybe designed their training a little better for U.S. Nationals, it’s more important for them because selection for the U23s (World Championships) and World Cups come from these races, so for them it’s a bit more important.”
Regardless of how the start of the season goes, Boee’s goal to continue as one of the top racers in the nation and in CU history remains the same. Boee has finished 33 of his 35 races in the top 10, 80 percent of his races (28) in the top five and has 23 podium appearances and 14 race wins. He ranks in the top 10 in most of those categories. This is his fourth season, but not his final season of eligibility due to the 2020 season and the COVID Pandemic, so he’s not viewing this as his final opportunity by any means, but at the same time looking forward to it.
“I’m very excited,” Boee said. “I’m looking forward to this season, I think it’ll be fun.”
US SUPER TOUR RECAP
Overall as a team, the Buffs competed very well in Canada at the season-opening U.S. Super Tour event at Sovereign Lake tabbed the 2022 Nordiq Cup. Four races from Nov. 30-Dec. 3 which included the first two races being scored between Colorado and Utah in a friendly competition. In those four races, the Utes edged the Buffs by a score of 405-387, with the Utes really only comminating the Buffs in one race, a race that Boee lost his pole and finished well below his average.
In women’s action, the two teams tied 198-198 in the two races, which considering the Utes outscored the Buffs by 90.5 points at the NCAA Championship in March, is a great sign for the Buffaloes.
On Nov. 30, the classic sprint races were held. In women’s action, a total of 78 racers finished the qualifying race, with Anna-Maria Dietzefinishing second while Weronika Kaleta (11th), Karolina Kaleta (20th) and Elena Grissom (30th) all advanced to the heats for the Buffs.
In the quarterfinal heats, Dietze won her heat and Weronika Kaleta finished second in her heat to advance to the semifinals. Both skiers finished third in their semifinal heats to advance to the finals where Dietze took third and Weronika Kaleta fifth in the final heat.
In the team standings, Utah’s Sydney Palmer-Leger edged out Dietze for second place, giving the Utes 40 points and the Buffs 37. Weronika Kaleta’s fifth place finish ahead of Utah’s Karianne Dengerud gave CU 34 points and the Utes 31. Tied at 77, it came down to the final two skiers, and Utah’s Celine Mayer in 17th place just ahead of Karolina Kaleta in 18th place to give Utah 29 and CU 27 points, making the score 100-98.
In the men’s sprint races, Koch took fifth in the qualifier with Boee taking 11th. Hugo Hjnckfuss (31st) and Alexander Maurer (33rd) finished missed advancing to the heats. Hinckfuss did participate in the U20 heats and advanced to the seminfials and was the first skier out of the finals heat, taking seventh place.
Boee won his semifinal heat and Koch took second in his with both advancing to the semifinals. Both finished second in their semifinal heats to advance to the final heat where Boee won and Kotch took fourth.
In the team competition, Boee picked up 40 points for the win and Koch was the second finisher between the two schools for 37 points. Utah’s Walker hall finished seventh, Noel Keeffe ninth and Samuel Hendry 12th for the next three point totals in the team standings (34-31-29) and Maurer’s official 31st place gave the Buffs their final team scorer with 27 points as CU edged Utah, 104-94.
In Thursday’s freestyle race, the Buffs were led by Dietze, who picked up a win by just six-tenths of a second over Olympian Palmer-Ledger from Utah. Dietze was 15th at the first split time of the race and worked her way up to eighth place by the end of the first of two laps. She had the fastest second lap in the field and had the fastest split time in four of the 11 timing positions, including each of the last four as she caught Palmer-Leger at the finish line to pick up the win.
Hanna Abrahamsson was the next finisher for CU in seventh place. She was just ahead of Dietze at the end of the first lap in seventh place and held that position throughout the second lap. Elena Grissom finished 32nd and Kili Lehmkuhl 33rd for the Buffaloes. Neither Weronika or Karolina Kaleta took part in the race.
The top four spots were essentially swapped between the Buffs and Utes from the previous day, with Dietze picking up 40 points, then Utah finishing second and third (Dengerud) for 37 and 34 points, respectively, with Abrahamsson earning 31 points. Again tied at 77 with one racer left, former Buff and current Ute Ezra Smith was next through the line in 18th place for 29 points while Grissom earned the final 27 points, giving Utah another 100-98 victory.
The CU men struggled a bit in the men’s freestyle race with Maurer being CU’s top finisher in 12th place followed by Koch in 15th and Hinckfuss in 22nd for the scoring positions and Oyvind Haugan (28th), Luka Riley (34th) and Boee (35th) also finishing. Boee open the first heat in seventh place in the lead pack but then lost his pole and essentially took him out of contention.
Nordic coach Jana Weinberger was pleased with the overall results of the dryland training season, especially the results the team had in those races in Canada.
“I think we got a lot of good work in,” Weinberger said. “And the results in Canada were encouraging. We will be a little short-handed here for the first couple of meets. We won’t have a full contingent at US Nationals and the first meet of the season conflicts with World University Games, but come February I expect that we’ll get to full strength and put together a good team for the NCAA Championships.”
For the US Championships, the Buffs will be without Dietze, Abrahamsson and Karolina Kaleta on the women’s side and Oyvind Haugan on the men’s side. Each is still in Europe training and competing and will return to the United States the following week.
WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES
In all, 14 Buffs could compete at the World University Games, seven in Nordic action and seven in alpine.
The seven Nordic Buffs will be competing are Boee (Norway), Dietze (Germany), Haugan (Norway), Weronika Kaleta (Poland), Will Koch(United States), Alexander Maurer (United States), and Fredrik Nilsen (Norway).
On the alpine side, Alex Birkner (United States, alternate), Jacob Dilling (United States), Elena Exenberger (Austria), Louis Fausa (Norway), Emma Hammergaard (Sweden), Kaitlyn Harsch (United States) and Jack Reich (United States) will compete.