Utah won its 11th National Championship last season.
March 8, 2004
The defending NCAA champion Utah qualified a complete 12-skier roster and is hopeful to take home another first-place podium spot at the 2004 NCAA Championships.
The University of Nevada is hosting this year's NCAA Skiing Championships, this March 10-13, at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and Auburn Ski Club, respectively. It is the first NCAA Championships in this area in more than 40 years. Last time was when Nevada last hosted the NCAA alpine championships at Squaw Valley in 1962.
Alaska Anchorage, Boise State, Colorado, Denver, Montana State, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Western State and Whitman are the 10-teams within the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association (RMISA) that will be competing in the NCAAs.
Teams registration was last Sunday, March 7, with two days of practice on the various venues, Monday and Tuesday, March 8-9, prior to the four-day championship event.
Wednesday, March 10: 9:30 a.m. Women's Giant Slalom; 10:30 a.m. Men's Giant Slalom (Sugar Bowl Ski Resort).
Thursday, March 11: 9:30 a.m. Women's 5-km Freestyle Nordic; 10:30 a.m. Men's 10-km Freestyle Nordic (Auburn Ski Club).
Friday, March 12: 9:30 a.m., Men's Slalom; 10:30 a.m. Women's Slalom (Sugar Bowl Ski Resort).
Saturday, March 13: 9:00 a.m., Men's 20-km Classical Nordic; 11:00 a.m., Women's 15-km Classical Nordic (Auburn Ski Club).
Utah had a week off after skiing to a third-place finish at the WSU/Regional Championships in Crested Butte, Colo. Utah redeemed itself after a fifth-place opening finish. Skiers Henning Dybendal, Rowena Hyldahl and Ben Thornhill highlighted the West Regional events.
Dybendal, who has been the overwhelming favorite in the men's 15-km classical event, won yet another nordic race. The Skotselv, Norway, native has won three of the last four classical races this season.
Junior alpine skiers Thornhill and Hyldahl were named RMISA Skiers of the Week after the Regional Championships. Thornhill came away with a career best time in the men's slalom, finishing fifth, while teammate Hyldahl skied fourth in the women's giant slalom.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS SELECTION CRITERIA:
Participants are selected on a regional basis from two designated regions for alpine skiing (East and West regions), and three designated regions for nordic skiing (Central, East and West regions). Bids are awarded to regions using a formula determined by the skiing committee. A maximum of 12 student-athletes (three per gender per discipline) may participate from an institution.
QUOTING COACH SWEENEY:
"I am ecstatic that we have qualified a full team for the championships. The entire squad has been fighting tooth and nail all season. We could have given up and been happy with a mediocre season, but we have not. We will be at the championships fighting for the title and nothing less. My returnees have provided outstanding leadership throughout the regular season. I expect this to be a very important component for us when the championships get underway. We are obviously not favored to win, but I know the other veteran coaches have not ruled us out."
"We will need consistency in every discipline for us to be in the medals. We have the talent, the leadership, and the shear determination to do this. My assistants (Aaron and Jaka) have the alpine squad absolutely fired up and ready to go and the cross country team is healthy. This is going to be one exciting week of racing! I'm proud of this team and how we have all worked hard to overcome some very difficult injuries. We're as close to being ready as we can be so I'm excited for the events to begin. Go Utes!"
Freshman Lauren Lattimer will compete at the NCAAs. The downhiller suffered a knee injury during the giant slalom event at the Colorado Invitational.
Sophomore Jess Kiesel will miss the rest of this season due to a serious heart condition. The Sun Valley, Idaho, native underwent a successful surgery procedure and is hopeful to rejoin the team sometime next year.
Junior downhill skier Elisha Stephens will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury that she acquired during the slalom event at the Nevada Invitational.
Freshman Casey Simons was named to the U.S. Ski Team World Junior Championships team after torching the competition at the U.S. Nationals held in Rumford, Maine. The nordic skier earned this honor after several first-place finishes at the 2003 Junior Nationals.
Utah has been home to three RMISA Skiers of the Week this season. Utes Dybendal (Nevada Invitational), Thornhill (Regional Championships) and Hyldahl (Regional Championships) have all been honored after incredible performances this season.
Men's Alpine: Women's Alpine: Ben Thornhill April Mancuso Will McDonald Rowena Hyldahl Gaspar Perricone Lauren Lattimer
NCAA RANKED UTES:
Men's Alpine Team GS SL Ben Thornhill 7 10 Will McDonald 25 5 Andi Weiser 14 17 Gaspar Perricone 29 21