Utah to host Pat Miller Invitational
January 3, 2014
Submitted by Brooke Frederickson
The Utah ski team opens the 2014 season hosting the Pat Miller Invitational. The alpine races will be held at Park City Mountain Resort on Jan. 4 and 5, with the Nordic races being held in conjunction with U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow on Jan. 4 and 8.
For the alpine races, the men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom will be held on Jan. 4 with the women’s GS and men’s slalom on Jan. 5. For the Nordic team, the women’s 10-kilometer and men’s 15K classic races will be held on Jan. 4 with the women’s 20K and men’s 30K freestyle races on Jan. 8.
Invitational namesake Pat Miller coached at Utah from 1974-99 and led the Utes to 10 national titles. He passed away in June at the age of 64.
"It really is an exciting time of the year because I know we have a very good team, I just don’t know how well we will stack up against the competition," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "What I’m going to tell my athletes is to take a deep breath and relax. We’re done with the preparation period and we should just enjoy competing. The main focus of these events right now is to secure really good NCAA qualifying points. Right off the bat that is our first challenge in front of us. I’m hoping we go out there and approach this first race with maturity and enthusiasm, and demonstrate that we’ve had a good preparation period."
The Utes return six All-Americans from last year’s team that finished second at the NCAA Championships alpine skiers Andy Trow, Ana Kobal and Kristiina Rove and Nordic skiers Niklas Persson, Sloan Storey and Anna Svendsen. Junior Tim Hribar and senior Eian Sandvik both served as alternates for NCAAs in men’s alpine last year and are both two-time NCAA qualifiers. Sophomores Noé Bellet and Tucker McCrerey were also NCAA alternates in men’s Nordic. Jaime Dupratt also returns in women’s alpine, who has competed at the NCAA Championships the last two years.
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Utah graduated five All-Americans from last year’s team, most notably two-time NCAA Champion Miles Havlick, but has a solid class of recruits who have been strong during fall training. Women’s alpine newcomer Chloe Fausa won a pair of NorAm Cup races and in men’s alpine Mark Engel earned a pair of top-four finishes in NorAm Cup in Vail, Colo. Lauren Samuels finished 12th in the ladies combined at the World University Games. Joergen Brath won a pair of slalom races at Snowbird. On the Nordic side, Kevin Bolger and Anna-Lena Heynen have had strong performances in time trials.