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6 DU Skiers to Watch at NCAA Championships in Steamboat

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Jordyn Reiland


Jordyn Reiland writer

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The DU ski team poses for a team photo.

Momentum has continued to shift in the right direction for the Denver Pioneers ski team, and they hope to see that success continue as they compete for the program’s 25th NCAA National Championship, right here in Colorado for the first time in six years.

Alpine Head Coach Joonas Rasanen and Nordic Head Coach Rogan Brown will travel with 12 members of the ski team—the most a team can qualify—to Steamboat Springs for the 2024 National Collegiate Men’s and Women’s Skiing Championships from March 6-9.

The team includes graduate students Florian Knopf, Henriette Saeterdal Semb, seniors Nora Brand, Hanna Ray and Trey Seymour, junior Andreas Kirkeng, sophomores Selma Andersen, Thomas Hoffman and Sara Rask, and freshmen Liv Moritz, Christian Soevik and Krystof Zatloukal.

DU competed in Steamboat earlier this season at the 2024 Spencer James Nelson Colorado Invitational, where they finished in second place.

“I think we're set up for as much success as we possibly can have, especially racing there in early February,” Brown said.

Competing in your home state can also feel like “going home in a way,” Rasanen added.

The four-day event begins at Steamboat Resort before heading to Howelsen Hill Ski Area for the remainder of the competition.

Here are six skiers to watch ahead of this week’s nationals.

Women’s Alpine skiing

Nora Brand

Nora Brand

Brand finished in the top 15 in all 12 races this year, including seven top-five placements, four podiums and two wins.

She competed on the NCAA Championship team for the first time last year, earning two All-American honors. Brand was also named the 2023 Collegiate Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame.

“We have such a strong team, and I don't think we could look any better going into [NCAAs]. That motivates me even more to try to do my best and [make] those podiums,” she added.

With this being her final opportunity to compete at the collegiate level, she has taken some time to reflect.

“It feels weird, but in the best way,” Brand said. “I know it's not going to get more fun than this, so it feels like the right thing to end my college skiing [career] here. It’s also just very, very sad to know that I'm going to miss out on all this fun the next year.”

Sara Rask

Sara Rask

Sophomore Sara Rask was recently recognized for the second year in a row as the Most Valuable Skier for the regular season in the women’s Alpine giant slalom by the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association. Last season, she also took home the MVP award for slalom.

This year, Rask earned eight top-five results and six podiums—five of which occurred just before nationals.

“If we can just have fun as a team together and trust that we know what we're doing and that we're doing good this whole year, that will also help us relax and do what we do best on the hill,” she said.

Liv Moritz

Liv Moritz

Moritz has kept herself plenty busy in her first year. In addition to racing in six events for DU, she competed for Team USA at the FIS Alpine Junior World Championships, at Nor-AM Cup events in New York and Ontario, Canada, and played on the University’s women’s soccer team.

Moritz recorded five top-20 results and two podiums to round out the season.

Last year, she helped the U.S. place fifth in the team parallel at the FIS World Junior Championship in Austria.

Men’s Nordic skiing

Andreas Kirkeng

Andreas Kirkeng

Kirkeng was named the 2024 RMISA Most Valuable Skier in both men’s Nordic classic and freestyle, capping off an especially successful regular season.

Overall, he placed in the top 10 in all 11 events, including seven podiums and five wins. He won the 20K classic at the RMISA Championships and placed eighth in the 7.5K freestyle.

“You always fight for the win, especially through the regular season, seeing I’m capable of it,” Kirkeng said. “It’s always hard to talk about results because there’s so many factors playing into it ... It’s more about just putting together a great race and ... then the results speak for itself after that.”

Florian Knopf

Florian Knopf

Knopf feels he gained his “identity” as a student-athlete during his first year at DU. Prior to joining the team, Knopf raced for the German National Team and took a gap year.

“Coming to the U.S., to a university, being able to ski here for this amazing team was super unique for me and I definitely learned a lot, especially since I'm pretty into school and it's important to me [to find] the right balance between training and school,” he said.

He placed in the top five in the first seven races of the season, three of which were second place finishes.

Knopf also represented Germany at the FIS World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, in early February.

Women’s Nordic skiing

Hanna Ray

Hanna Ray

For the first time in her career, Ray notched two top-five finishes, all while overcoming challenges this season.

She placed fifth in the 10K classic to kick off the season at the Westminster Invite on Jan. 2 and in the 7.5K distance at the CU Invitational in early February. Overall, Ray placed in the top 20 in all 11 races.

“DU has really helped me with progressing [as an athlete] and being a better person also outside of skiing, getting new friends and getting to see a different culture altogether,” she said.

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