CU ski team wins title in memory of Spencer Nelson

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMarch 12, 2011
Peter Nelson watched the CU ski team nab its 18th title in Stowe, Vt., on Saturday.
CU head coach Richard Rokos (left) holds the NCAA championship trophy with Peter Nelson.
Curtis Snyder/University of Colorado

The University of Colorado's crown was dedicated to his 20-year-old son, Spencer, who died in a tragic fall while hiking the Maroon Bells near Aspen late last summer. Spencer Nelson was a sophomore on the team whose talent, dedication and spirit have not been forgotten.

“It was our goal to do this for Spencer from the beginning, and we were consistently accomplishing that goal throughout the season,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “Every single run, every single meet, everybody kept it in their minds. In the end, we accomplished it and it was the biggest satisfaction to follow through. It was a high goal from the start to want to do this for him and his family.”

The golden Buffaloes supplanted the University of Denver, which has won the last three titles in the sport. Colorado defeated runner-up University of Utah by 80.5 points, the fifth widest margin of victory in NCAA ski history.

CU coach: This one's for Spencer.

The ski team brought the first NCAA title to Boulder in 1959 under the direction of then-coach Bob Beattie, who lives in Woody Creek.

"This is CU’s sixth title in skiing since the sport went coed in 1983, all under Rokos, as the Buffaloes previously won titles in 1991, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2006; Colorado had won 11 NCAA men’s and one AIAW women’s titles before the genders merged. Overall, it is the school’s 24th national championship, including three in men’s cross country (2001, 2004, 2006), two in women’s cross country (2000, 2004) and one in football (1990)," according to David Plati, the University of Colorado's associate athletic director.

The six national titles under Rokos leaves the coach one behind Bill Marolt, who coached the ski team to seven consecutive championships from 1972-78. Marolt hired Rokos in 1990.

“In my career personally, this is the most outstanding of my 21 years," Rokos told the university's website "Spencer’s death put a cover on the season, we all felt awful and lots of people realized, it moved their spiritual thinking to a different level, this was an unbelievable experience for everybody. We dedicated the season to Spencer and we achieved that goal. So it’s a lesson that if you work hard, you can achieve those goals."

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