Utes take second at Utah Invitational
After ending its season by hosting the NCAA Championships at Park City Mountain Resort and Soldier Hollow in March, the University of Utah ski team started this season at the same venues last weekend at the Utah Invitational.
Overall, the Utes’ results were a mixed bag, according to Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney. Though the team finished second overall, beating third-place Denver and losing to Colorado, Sweeney would like to see more consistent results in the future.
"I think we need to be a little bit more consistent in every discipline," he said. "What this weekend really demonstrated is how competitive it really is. We need to try to score three people in the top-10 [in every event] and if we’re able to do that, we should be able to come out on top."
Still though, Sweeney was pleased with the way the first events of the season went, especially for the women’s alpine and cross-country teams.
Freshman Veronika Mayerhofer and junior Sloan Storey finished second and third, respectively, in the women’s 10-kilometer classic race at Soldier Hollow on Monday morning to punctuate a great week for the women’s cross-country team.
Meanwhile, on the alpine side, senior Kristiina Rove finished third in slalom on Sunday and sophomore Chloe Fausa finished second in giant slalom on Friday.
"Overall, I’m very pleased with how the women skied, both alpine and cross-country," Sweeney said. "It was a really good opener for us. One thing that stands out overall is we had some really good results from our veterans, but at the same time, we had some nice results from new team members as well."
By getting plenty of top-10 results and a few podium finishes during the Utah Invitational, Sweeney said there’s less NCAA Championship-qualifying pressure on the top athletes now, which should help them ski looser the rest of the year.
"They had some really good NCAA qualifying points," he said. "It’s really nice to get that done early in the season. It takes some pressure off and allows them to train knowing that what they’ve been doing is the right thing."
In the men’s competitions, one skier in particular stood out to Sweeney — 2014 Olympian and former Park City Ski Team member Dominic Demschar.
"Certainly, it was fantastic to see Dominic ski the way he did in this opening event," he said. "He was also skiing fast early in the week."
Demschar took second place in the giant slalom on Saturday, the only podium Utah men collected during the Utah Invitational. Though there were plenty of top-10 finishes to go around, Sweeney would like to see the Utah men challenge for more podium spots this season.
"There’s room for improvement on both the men’s squads," he said. "We weren’t consistent and I think that’s an area we want to focus on and work a little on that."
Sweeney was complimentary of the work done by both PCMR and Soldier Hollow, working with minimal snowfall to ensure the events could be held in the best conditions possible. Though the full course at Soldier Hollow wasn’t available and the PCMR races had to be moved from the Eagle run to PayDay, Sweeney said it was still a great event.
"I feel very fortunate that, yes, the events were compromised a little bit due to the lack of snow and cold weather we’ve had, but the end result came off extremely well," he said. "I know for a fact that the coaches from the other schools were very impressed. The races were quality and, for the most part, the courses held up."
Now the squad heads to Colorado for the Colorado Invitational. Sweeney said he was excited to see if the Utes could deliver a little payback to the Buffaloes by winning the Colorado Invitational after Colorado won the Utah Invitational.
"Colorado has a great team and Denver is also skiing really well," he said. "It’s a lot of fun and I think it’s going to be really competitive every weekend."
The Colorado Invitational and the RMISA giant slalom qualifiers will be held Jan. 23-27 in Steamboat Springs and Eldora, Colorado.
The Youth Sports Alliance will host a team scramble golf tournament on June 3 at Victory Ranch in hopes of raising funds for its scholarships and youth programs.