Utah still first at CU Invitational
Wilson places fourth at men’s slalom with a time of 1:55.13
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- Ryan Wilson turned in a podium finish and Utah maintained its place atop the team standings after the final Alpine event of the Colorado Invitational, the men's slalom, Thursday at the Breckenridge Ski Resort.
The Utes accumulated 98 points on the day to maintain third place in the men's slalom event standings. Two Ute skiers were among the top 10 to push Utah's overall total after the Alpine events in the Nelson Memorial Invitational to 469, which stands first. The Utes are 29 points ahead of host Colorado heading into this weekend's Nordic races.
"I am extremely excited about how the entire alpine squad has opened the season," Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "It was a big hit for us to lose Jeremy [Elliot] and Eian [Sandvik] to injury so I know the athletes felt pressure to step it up. I like how balanced the alpine women are skiing in both the giant slalom and slalom. The men struggled a bit today, but I also know they are very strong in slalom. The alpine team is experienced and has excellent leadership. It's early and we are still getting used to new race equipment, testing the waters on the RMISA circuit and understanding our competition. What is most important right now is putting up good NCAA qualifying results and we certainly are off to a superb start."
"I really need to congratulate the whole team for a great performance at the CU Invitational," Utah Head Alpine Coach Jaka Korencan said. "This is the best season opener for the Alpine Utes in a long time. I couldn't be more proud of these young women and men. They are really working hard, staying focused, and are motivated more than ever before. They are competing for the team and their two injured teammates, Eian and Jeremy, whom we tremendously miss on the mountain.
Our women have proven that they are the best team out there. They are just on fire right now. I could say the same for the men, even though we had a couple of mistakes in today's slalom. I'm still extremely confident that our men are capable of great results in slalom and they are all looking forward to the weekend."
Wilson took third place in the individual standings of today's men's slalom race. The Red Wing, Minn., native now has four podium finishes in his career. He got off to a fast start on the day by posting the fastest first-run time of the entire meet.
"The conditions were demanding due to soft snow and I was excited to be able to put two runs together," Wilson said. "I have been struggling a bit in slalom so it is a good confidence-building result for me to see where I stand among the competition. We are all excited for the DU Invite and are looking forward to having all of the guys ski how we know we can."
"It was a great job today by Ryan, who was leading after the first run and finished third overall, which is an awesome result," Korencan said. "In the second run he skied for the team and with a conservative run, he still managed to finish on the podium."
Senior Torjus Krogdahl followed Wilson's lead and turned in his second consecutive top-10 finish as he took 10th place in the men's slalom event, his second straight 10th-place result. The Oslo, Norway native now has finished in the top 10 of the individual standings 17 times over his career.
"Torjus had a couple of mistakes in each run, but still finished strong," Korencan said. "I feel he is just testing the limits right now and building his confidence. I expect him to be on top very soon."
Senior Nick Cohee took the 19th position for the 24 top-20 finish of his career. This was the 10th time he finished among the top 20 in a slalom race as a member of the Utah skiing program. Freshman Tim Hribar finished in 34th, the first time he finished outside the top 10 in his three races this year.
"Both Nick and Tim had a few big mistakes today, which resulted in big-time loss," Korencan said. "I feel they will show us very soon what they are capable to do in slalom.
"The team is going to have a day off tomorrow and get some well deserved rest. They are all extremely motivated, focused, healthy and ready to attack this weekend at the DU Invitational."
Utah's Alpine skiers will head to Winter Park, Colo., to compete in the Denver Invitational on Saturday (giant slalom) and Sunday (slalom).
Ute Nordic competitors will make their season debut this weekend as the CU Spencer Nelson Memorial Invitational continues at the Howelsen Hill Ski Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
"I anticipate the Nordic team will open well tomorrow," Sweeney said. "It's a good race course and we are in good shape. The challenge for us is that we have not raced much this season. Everyone is anxious to kick off the season. The RMISA is very strong this year so I know competition will be fierce. As with Alpine, the Nordic team needs to get a few starts under its belt to really feel confident. We also will not start Maria [Graefnings] here, which will have an impact. I think we will have some exciting team scores playing back and forth for the podium. This is healthy and exciting collegiate skiing at its best."
The 5/10k Freestyle race with an interval start will kick things off on Friday, followed the 15/20k Classical race with a mass start on Saturday.