Tuesday, January 27, 2004
You can hear the excitement in Erik Jorgensen's voice when he talks about the Colorado Mountain College ski team's drive to get back to the national championships.
After just missing his chance to qualify for the biggest race of the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association season last year, he is focused on making the trip to the national championship this year. It's a trip he hopes to make with the rest of his teammates.
"It was disappointing for sure," Jorgensen said of last year's Western States Regional. "We had the talent to get (to the nationals), but we had a bad second day, and it hurt us."
It may have hurt Jorgensen the most. At first it looked as if the skier had qualified as an independent, but a glitch in the way the overall results were interpreted kept him at home with the rest of the team. He credits that near miss for inspiring his performance this season.
"I worked harder in the off-season, and I've been working harder in practice just to get a shot to go back and prove what I can do. Getting to nationals is our team's goal this season, and we want to show everyone that CMC is for real," Jorgensen said.
The team showed its colors last weekend during a giant slalom race in Winter Park. The CMC team placed second to the University of Colorado in two days of racing.
Ben Reeder led the CMC team both days with a seventh on Saturday and a fourth Sunday. He got some help from Marty Williams, who was 15th and 11th, and Jorgensen, who was 20th and 18th.
Jorgensen said the finish was nice for the team, but he knows the skiers can do better. He is hoping the squad can top another giant slalom race scheduled for Telluride this weekend.
"The men's team is really starting to hit its stride," coach George Thomas said. "The guys realize that as a team they can beat the other schools. Now they have to set their sights on winning at the regional championships."
It's a goal that the veteran Jorgensen thinks is within reach.
"Everybody on the team is a lot more serious this year," Jorgensen said. "They are focused and determined to do well."
Jorgensen, the CMC captain, said this year's team has more depth and talent than in the past. He said all of the squad's eight members were capable of contributing to the team's success at any time.
Last weekend the team got solid showings from Reeder, Williams and Jorgensen.
Chris Grover (33rd and 25th), Casey O'Donnell (36th and 35th), Ryan Armento (40th and 36th), Adam Knapp (50th) and Matt Bukatko (71st and 29th) were not far behind.
The CMC women's team also is closing in on regional and national success.
Last weekend the girls finished fifth thanks in part to Brittany Marsh's seventh in Saturday's race and her eighth Sunday.
Other top results came from Traci Jones (15th and 13th), Kim Sawyer, (28th and 27th), and Erika Wohlge (37th and 34th).
Both teams will head to Telluride this weekend for a pair of giant slalom races. Colorado Mountain College is part of the Rocky Mountain Division of the U.S. Collegiate Ski Association, which hosts eight races in Colorado.