Sophomore Jess Kiesel competed in the NCAA Championships last season as a freshman.
Feb. 12, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY - Ute skier Jess Kiesel will miss the rest of the season due to a serious heart injury. Kiesel recently underwent a successful surgery procedure and is hopeful to rejoin the team sometime next year.
"This is a huge loss for the team," said Head Coach Kevin Sweeney. "We just have to dig down. I don't have any doubts that we'll regroup and give the title our best shot. It's a reality check all across the board. In some ways, it's really simple. Jess is alive right now and we just need to go out and race real hard and fast to celebrate that."
The Sun Valley, Idaho, native was in his second year competing in the cross country events at the U. Last year, he helped lead Utah to its 11th national championship, placing 14th in the 20-km classical and 33rd in the 10-km freestyle events. He was ranked third in the classical and sixth overall in the Western Regional rankings. Kiesel also skied fourth in the 15-km classical and 14th in the 10-km free-technique competition at the RMISA Regional Championships.
This will be the second blow to the Ute roster this season. Earlier this year, junior downhill skier Elisha Stephens was involved in a season ending knee injury at the Nevada Invitational.
"We continue to take some big hits this year," added Sweeney. "The loss of Jess has all of us a bit scared. We are very thankful that he is still with us. It was a pretty scary week for us all as we were down in New Mexico racing knowing Jess was going in for surgery. I don't think we were 100-percent focused on the races. It was great to hear his voice, saying the surgery went as well as it could have. I want him back on the team as soon as possible. He's a great kid and a great athlete."
Click on the link below to read an essay Kiesel wrote about his heart condition.