Steamboat Springs Estonia's Jane Rehemaa was introduced to an American sports tradition Saturday when her University of Colorado teammates lifted her up on their shoulders.
"That was pretty cool," Rehemaa said.
Rehemaa didn't carry the burden of bringing the Buffs their 17th NCAA team championship in skiing, but the talented cross-country skier and CU senior was the most dominant athlete at the 2006 NCAA Skiing Championships.
On Saturday, after a late surge, Rehemaa won her second individual title in this year's championships, taking first in the 15-kilometer freestyle race in 46 minutes, 27.4 seconds.
She also won Thursday's 5-kilometer classic race.
"I felt kind of tired today, so I couldn't break away before, so I tried in the last kilometer," Rehemaa said. "I definitely wanted to win both of them."
The field was close through the first lap, but Rehemaa, University of Alaska-Anchorage skier Johanna Turunen and Middlebury College's Evelyn Dong distanced themselves from the pack by 30 seconds at the end of the second lap.
The trio had more than a minute lead by the end of the third and final lap.
"I think we just kept skiing, and the other girls couldn't keep up," Rehemaa said. "We broke on the second lap, and it was just the three of us."
Rehemaa said she saw the conclusion of the men's race, so the CU women knew they needed to ski well to lock up the NCAA team championship. Considering the CU women's Nordic team was one of the most dominant contingents in Steamboat Springs, the celebration began before the start of the 15-kilometer race at Howelsen Hill.
"That put more pressure on us because we wanted to race well, too," Rehemaa said.
The University of New Mex-
----ico and the University of Denver were chasing CU heading into Saturday's Nordic races, but outstanding efforts from the Buffs eliminated any chance the Lobos or Pioneers had at catching them.
It was CU's 17th team skiing title but the first in NCAA history for a team not fielding a full squad. The Buffs fielded two male Alpine skiers instead of the usual three, forcing Colorado to start from behind.
"We lost the momentum be----fore we started," coach Richard Rokos said. "I think the momentum started shifting Thursday after the Nordic races. They got us out of a hole. Friday night, we improved our standings slightly. It was great to see the effort. All four days, we went through some anger, anxiety and joy at the end of it."
The title was Rokos' fifth as a coach.
Four athletes from Steam--boat or with Steamboat ties were on this year's CU team. Pat Duran was supposed to be the third men's Alpine racer, but he shattered his femur in training and could not compete. Joshua Bryan and Lisa Perricone, however, contributed to the team's title run. Perricone, a walk-on at CU, scored significant points for the team, finishing fifth in the giant slalom and fourth in the slalom at Howelsen Hill on Friday night.
"She came in January, and I didn't have a scholarship for her," Rokos said. "Obviously, this is a tough situation for me because I'm in debt now with her."
Joel Adams did not compete but is a member of the CU squad.