Giant slalom champion and first-team All-American Scott Veenis
March 8, 2006
STEAMBOAT, Colo. -- After an incredible skiing performance on the opening day of the 2006 NCAA National Skiing Championships, freshman Scott Veenis won the national giant slalom title after winning the event with a blazing two-run time of 1:05.59.
This prestigious gold medal marks his second GS victory this season, improving upon his Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association (RMISA) MVP honor awarded earlier this season.
"Opening up with a national champion isn't too bad," said head coach Eli Brown. "Scotty has skied consistent all season and today was no exception. This win will give us the confidence I think we need to improve our team score."
"First run I started third, so it was a great track and the snow was awesome," said Veenis. "And I could let it go a little more than on my second run. I also had way better visibility (on the first run) the light wasn't as flat so you could see the bumps coming and anticipate. Second run I felt like I was holding on a lot more, and on the first run I was more aggressive."
"This today is a big confidence booster," added Veenis. " I've never ever finished a run on Howelsen Hill, so hopefully this is a good sign of things to come."
Despite severe weather conditions of snow and fog, the University of Utah currently sits in third place with an overall team score of 148 after the first day of events in Steamboat, Colo. East-coast powerhouse New Hampshire (161) and defending NCAA champion Denver (159.5) own the top slots, after competing in both the men's and women's GS events.
Utah's men's team finished first in the GS with a team score of 88, while the women's squad claimed seventh with a score of 56. In addition to first-team All-American Veenis' performance, senior Will McDonald skied tenths of a second out of All-American honors, finishing 11th with a time of 1:07.85. Hometown favorite Gaspar Perricone also headlined the Utes, racing to a 19th-place finish with a time of 1:09.23.
The women's downhillers had a tough day under the difficult weather conditions led by senior Erika Hogan's 20th-place performance with a time of 2:26.69. Teammate Kim Stephens rallied to 21st with a time of 2:27.26, while freshman Mikaela Grassl notched 23rd in 2:28.02.
Tomorrow, Utah will hope to overthrow New Hampshire and Colorado in the 5/10-km classical at Howelsen Hill resort. The women's mass start will begin at 9:30 am (MST), while the men will compete at 11:30 am (MST). The flower ceremony will take place immediately following.
NCAA Championship Team Scores -- 1. New Hampshire 161; 2. Denver 159.5; 3. Utah 148, 4. Vermont 130; 5. New Mexico 126; 6. Colorado 109, 7. Middlebury 109, 8. Dartmouth 103, 9. Bates 85, 10. Alaska-Anchorage 82; 11. Nevada 80, 12. Williams 64.5, 13. Colby 59; 14. Montana State 44, 15. Boise State 24; 16. Western State 19.