Junior Gaspar Perricone
Feb. 24, 2006
DONNER SUMMIT, Calif. -- In the final day of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association championships, the University of Utah ski team remained in fifth place after battling in the slalom and freestyle. The Utes amassed a total of 373 points, with Colorado (577) and New Mexico (547) claiming the top two podium finishes.
"Our main goal was to qualify an entire team for NCAAs and I think we did that today," said head coach Eli Brown. "The alpine teams performed well and we had some really good results with the cross country team."
With five podium finishes and eight top 10 performances this season, freshman sensation Scott Veenis was honored with the 2006 NCAA West Regional MVP award. This award is given to the exceptional skier, posting the most consistent results of the season. The Massanutten, Virginia native skied second in the first run of the SL, but had difficultly in the second, placing 22nd overall with a time of 1:22.50.
"It was very exiting to see Scoot win the MVP," said Brown. "He has skied strong all season and is well deserving of the honor. The men had some troubles but overall look really good, which is great to see late in the season."
The women's alpine squad skied very consistent in the SL, led by senior All-American Erika Hogan's fourth-place finish with a two-run time of 1:21.05. This marked a season-best for the Holmes, New York native. One of the most exciting results of the day was freshman Mikaela Grassl's seventh-place performance, which potentially qualified her for the third spot on the women's NCAA roster. Sophomore Kim Stephens finished 21st with a time of 1:24.69, while teammate Lauren Lattimer skied 28th in 1:27.24.
On the women's cross country side, junior Nicole Naef headlined the team in the 15-km freestyle, skating her way to a third-place finish. This marked her third podium finish in the FS this season. Senior Ashley McQueen placed 11th, while clinching a spot on the NCAA roster. Freshman Sara Schweiger raced to an 18th-place performance and teammate Anna Sprague grabbed 35th. Senior Linda Pettersson was unable to finish and dropped out midway through the race.
"The women were really fired up for the mass start today," remarked Brown. "Nicole raced extremely well and it is very exciting to have Ashley on the NCAA team this season. She has been with us for four years and it will be great to see her compete at the NCAAs. Seniors Linda and Anna have given a lot to this team over the course of the season and it has been great having them on the team."
The men's cross country team consisted of only two racers today, with junior Fabian Figi not competing due to illness. Ute skiers Erik Gjomle and Jess Kiesel remained neck-and-neck the entire duration of the 20-km freestyle, finishing 31st and 32nd respectively.
"The men had a really rough day," said Brown. "Fabian was unable to race today, but we really want to rest him for NCAAs. Erik and Jess had a good performance, but we are hoping for a better performance at the NCAAs."
Next up, Utah will have two weeks to prepare and make its final adjustments before venturing off to the 2006 NCAA National Championships, March 8-11. This year's stage is set in Steamboat, Colo. Race times are TBA.
RMISA CHAMPIONSHIPS/NCAA WEST REGIONAL TEAM SCORES - 1. Colorado 577; 2. New Mexico 547.5; 3. Denver 533; 4. Alaska-Anchorage 465.5; 5. Utah 373; 6. Montana State 345; 7. Nevada 336.5; 8. Western State 226.5; 9. Whitman 216; 10. Boise State 66.