Mikaela Grassl will compete in her second NCAA championships.
March 1, 2007
THIS WEEK: SKIERS PREP FOR RUN AT NATIONAL TITLE
Despite dropping to third place on the final day of the NCAA West Regional, the University of Utah qualified a full 12-skier team for the NCAA Championships for the second-consecutive season (Mar. 7-10). Utah's championship roster is extremely decorated, talented and young. Except for junior Kim Stephens (who qualified for her third-consecutive NCAA appearance), the team is made up entirely of freshman and sophomores. The Utes look to improve on last year's eighth-place NCAA finish.
"We're pretty excited," coach Eli Brown said. "We are in a good position to do well at the championships."
A new rule change makes having a full contingent of athletes even more significant. Prior to this season, the three-worst finishes by a school were not included in the final team score. This year all scores will count, and more skiers gives Utah an advantage as they pursue the team title. Colorado and Dartmouth will also ski with a full team.
Alpine qualifiers include Kyle Kung, Scott Veenis, Tague Thorson, Mikaela Grassl, Chirine Njeim and Kim Stephens. The Nordic team is comprised of skiers Snorri Einarsson, Even Sletten, Fabian Figi, Sara Schweiger, Sarah MacCarthy and Annelies Cook.
LAST WEEK: UTES THIRD AT WEST REGIONAL
Utah roared out of the gate Friday at the NCAA West Regional in Truckee, Calif., after nearly two weeks of preparation following the New Mexico Invitational. Sophomore Kyle Kung solidified his status as an NCAA Championships qualifier by posting a season-best finish in the men's slalom. The Girdwood, Alaska native's two-run time of 1:22.85 earned him second place. In the women's slalom junior Kim Stephens also ensured herself a spot on Utah's championship roster with an impressive two-run time of 1:36.61. The Park City native's second-place finish tied her career best.
Snorri Einarsson paced the men's alpine team with a time of 27:48.8 in the men's 10K freestyle in Norden, Calif, finishing third. Teammate Fabian Figi was close behind, finishing seventh with a time of 29:00.3. Even Sletten was eighth with a time of 29:07.2. In the women's 5K freestyle, Sara Schweiger led Utah with a fourth-place finish in 15:52.8. Sarah MacCarthy finsihed sixth in 16:06.4
TAGUE, HE'S IT
University of Utah freshman skier Tague Thorson finished second in the combined standings at the World University Games in Torino, Italy. Thorson was the only US skier to finish in the top-10 in all three alpine events. Thorson placed ninth in the super G, sixth in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom.
"I'm really proud of him," says coach Jaka Korencan. "He's maturing as a racer and really having a great season. Being the top American at a world event is a great accomplishment."
NEXT WEEK: NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Utes will end the season in Mount Washington Valley, N.H. at the NCAA Ski Championships. The team will look to improve on its eigth-place finish last year. The NCAA Championship was last held in the Granite State in 2003, with the Utes capturing the combined title in Hanover, N.H., the 11th title in school history. Utah is third in all-time national championships, but has won more (10) since 1980 than any other school.