Sunday, March 15, 2009

DU Ski Team Wins 20th National Championship

(above) DU Sophomore Antje Maempel overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race on Saturday

(above) Denver's ski team celebrates DU's 20th NCAA National Championship in Maine on Saturday

From: Denver Post

RUMFORD, Maine — Antje Maempel won her second individual NCAA nordic skiing title in three days Saturday, propelling the University of Denver to its second straight NCAA skiing championship and 20th overall.

The Pioneers, who trailed Vermont by two points going into Saturday, got 74 points from its three men and 103 points from its three women to win the team title with 659 points.

It was the second straight year Denver has claimed the team title after not leading going into the final day, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in the 11 years prior to 2008.

Colorado sophomore Vegard Kjoelhamar won the men's 20-kilometer freestyle race to lift the Buffs from fifth place to second with 602.5 points. They finished half a point ahead of third-place New Mexico.

This was the 13th time in the 56-year history of the skiing championships that DU and CU have claimed the top two places.

The University of Alaska-Anchorage took second and third place in the men's 20K, moving from sixth place to fourth with 584 points, and Vermont finished fifth with 573.

"It was an improbable and unlikely win for the team this year," DU coach David Stewart said. "We had a solid team, but I don't think anybody looked at us in the beginning of the year and said, 'They're the team to beat.' A couple other teams are really strong. But the team came here and just performed extremely well, to be honest."

Maempel, a sophomore from Stuelzerbach, Germany, overtook CU's Alexa Turzian in the final 50 meters to win the 15K classical race, two days after claiming first in the 5K freestyle race. Maempel finished in 38:35.0, just half a second ahead of Turzian.

"I was lucky because I wasn't sick or anything all season, so I could continue to practice and race all year, and it kind of worked out for a great season," Maempel said. "We were motivated to win the team title."

Maempel is the first athlete to win both women's nordic races at the championships since CU's Jana Rehemaa in 2006. Rehemaa also pulled off the feat in the same format: a 5K classical race and a 15K freestyle race.

"She's obviously an outstanding skier, and she just peaked at the right time," Stewart said.
NCAA Team Championships (all sports)

1. USC 73
2. UCLA 71
3. Stanford 58
4. Oklahoma State 48
5. Arkansas 43
6. Michigan 30
7. Penn State 29
8. Denver 27
9. Yale 25
10. Cal 24

Monday, March 9, 2009

Post's Mark Kiszla Says DU-CC Defines Colorado

(above) It was bedlam in the DU Student Section on Saturday night
photo credit: Lauryn Sprung

LetsGoDU Intro: This may be one of the best articles ever written about the DU-CC Series.

From: Denver Post
by Mark Kiszla

At a time when we all seem to be counting every penny, the best bang for the buck in Colorado sports is the sound of a DU hockey player crunching a CC Tiger against the boards.

It hurts so good. The agony of overtime is delicious. The hitting is relentless.

And, in the end, with voices in the stands screamed hoarse and college athletes with barely enough energy remaining to shake hands at center ice, Denver had tied Colorado College 1-1 on Saturday night.

"I wouldn't expect anything less," Pioneers senior J.P. Testwuide said. "The way this rivalry is, it seems to come down to the last minute, I think, every game we play them."

DU-CC hockey is why we live here.

No matter how long you have called this state home, you have not truly lived in Colorado until you have savored the sweetness of a fresh peach from the Western Slope, gazed at Parry Peak awash in alpenglow or felt bones rattle when the Pioneers collide with the Tigers in hockey.

It could be the middle of July, Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said, and his blood would still run hot about beating Colorado College.

Broncomaniacs hate Duh Raiders. Buffs talk trash with Rams. But what's the richest, proudest, loudest sports rivalry in Colorado?

Without a doubt, it has to be Tigers-Pioneers hockey.

Magness Arena is where a thousand college students wearing white T-shirts with "Denver" written across the heart will peer over the shoulder of Colorado College goalie Richard Bachman and playfully chant: "DU reject!"

This is the series where brothers Mike and J.P. Testwuide of Vail take the ice and represent by wearing the clashing colors of DU and CC on their sweaters in a game where passion runs deeper than family ties.

If you watched closely enough, you could spy the brothers exchanging winks as they skated past each other on the ice.

"I don't think I'll forget a minute of playing against those guys for as long as I live," said J.P. Testwuide, who promises to still be arguing about every glorious detail at the Thanksgiving table when he's 78 years old. "It's a story I'll carry with me forever. My brother and I talk about it all the time. We know how special it is."

When DU plays CC in hockey, a tie is like kissing your brother.

While the stumbling, bumbling Avalanche cannot give away overpriced NHL tickets to home games, there were 6,128 spectators on the nervous edge of seats when a goal by Colorado College center Chad Rau with 97 seconds remaining in the third period forced the game into overtime.

In a part of the country where college basketball doesn't matter, DU has Tyler Ruegsegger from Lakewood, Luke Salazar from Thornton and John Ryder from Colorado Springs to make the Pioneers our true winter sports heroes from next door.

As we all cover ears to let Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler mope about how new Denver coach Josh McDaniels doesn't like him, there is no whining in college hockey, where egos are small and hearts are huge.

And just when you think it's impossible for anything new in a series with 271 games of history, Colorado College coach Scott Owens pulled his goalie with the score tied.

"It's not the way the game is supposed to be played," Owens graciously admitted. But this was truly desperate hockey, because unlike fifth-ranked Denver, the Tigers must scratch and claw for every point if they are to land a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Never seen a DU-CC hockey game?

Heck, then maybe you also have not yet enjoyed the simple pleasure of washing down a cheeseburger with a blueberry milkshake at the Dairy King in Empire, or experienced the adrenaline rush of standing atop your skis while staring into that gaping canyon of moguls of the Palli run at A-Basin.

Better start a bucket list, Bubba.

In a city where our neighbors all seem to have been born someplace else, nothing in local sports shouts Colorado like the beautiful groan of the crowd when a shot clangs off the post during the heat of a CC-DU game. It is why we live here.