Utes bounce back in giant slalom
After a shaky start in the men’s and women’s slalom races on Monday at Park City Mountain Resort, the University of Utah Ski Team bounced back with strong efforts in Tuesday’s women’s giant slalom and Wednesday’s men’s GS.
In the women’s race, junior Chloe Fausa of Oslo, Norway, led the way, crossing the finish line ahead of every other collegiate racer in the field. Fausa finished her two runs in 2 minutes, 4.90 seconds, nearly a full second ahead of second-place Tonje Trulsrud of the University of Colorado (2:05.85).
Freshman Julie Mohagen finished 11th and senior Teagan Palmer finished 16th to round out Utah’s top three finishers. As a team, the trio amassed 75 points for the Utes, only two points behind Colorado’s 77.
Jaka Korencan, Utah’s Head Alpine Coach, wasn’t surprised to see Fausa at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the race.
"I think that Chloe is the best college GS skier here," he said. "When she’s confident, no one can catch her. She just needs to build some more confidence and start really believing in herself and she’ll be unbeatable."
On the men’s side, Utah freshman Ty Sprock led the charge, finishing third in his first career collegiate race with a time of 1:51.49. Ola Johansen of Colorado (1:51.20) and Erik Read of Denver (1:51.28) finished first and second, respectively. Sprock was excited to kick off his college career with a strong result.
"It feels pretty good," he said. "As a team, we’re more confident in the GS and it’s also our home hill, so that helped a lot."
He added that skiing well on Wednesday was no easy task. Everyone had to battle powdery snow that caused slower times all around.
"It was definitely a lot harder to ski today [than at Monday’s slalom race]," he said. "The snow was really bally and pushed away from the ski, so you had to be really balanced. The second run got bumpy, so it was kind of like two different runs and you had to adjust each run."
Sprock said he tweaked his second run to try to be more aggressive attacking the gates.
"The second run, I took it a bit straighter because I was able to trust myself on the ski a little more," he said. "I think on this hill, even if you’re not running that clean of a ski, you’re able to go pretty straight still."
Park City Ski Team alum and Utah sophomore Dominic Demschar finished seventh on Wednesday and sophomore Endre Bjertness finished 11th to round out Utah’s top three.
The Utes begin competitions at the Montana Invitational on Saturday. Korencan said he believes Utah will continue trending upward as the season progresses.
"The result sheet [from the Utah Invitational] doesn’t really show the depth of talent we have," he said. "I think that, with a little more confidence and getting back into the rhythm, we’ll show that we have a really good team."
Sprock said his confidence is growing and he hopes to capitalize on that in future races.
"I haven’t skied too well in the races before this season, so it’s pretty cool," he said. "I’m just going to do the best I can and hopefully ski like I did today and I’ll be happy."
The Utah Invitational continues Sunday and Monday at Soldier Hollow in Midway with the Nordic men’s and women’s races. Sunday will feature the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle race at 10 a.m. and the women’s 5K freestyle race at 11 a.m. On Monday, the men will compete in a 15K classic race and the women will compete in a 10K classic race.
Utah Invitational Standings
Denver — 320 points
Colorado — 318 points
Utah — 268 points
Westminster College — 258 points
New Mexico — 214 points
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Park City lost to Skyline in straight sets but were competitive against the high-flying Eagles.