PARK CITY, Utah -- Utah is in first place with 165 points after the first day of competition on Wednesday at the 2014 NCAA Skiing Championships. New Mexico and Denver are tied for second with 130 points while Colorado is fourth with 127.5. Vermont has 101 points to round out the top five.
The men’s and women’s giant slalom events were claimed by Utah’s Mark Engel and Denver’s Krsitina Haugen, respectively. The races took place at Park City Mountain Resort, one of the venues used for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
The Utah women scored 87 points while the men had 78, winning both sides. It’s Utah first Day 1 lead at the NCAA championships since 1996. It is also the second-largest first-day lead since 1983—when the men’s and women’s competition was combined. The widest margin is 42.5 points by Denver in 2010.This is the third time the host school has led after day one in the last 25 years. Vermont is the last team to do so, twice, in 1997 and 2005.
Kristine Haugen of Denver won the women’s giant slalom title, becoming the fifth skier in NCAA history to win the event on two occasions and the fourth to claim back-to-back titles. Haugen, who had a combined time of 1:56.39, finished .56 seconds ahead of the pack. She had the best first run (1:00.27) by .25 seconds and the second-fastest late run (56.12) by one one-hundredths of a second.
Utah claimed the other two podium spots with Kristina Rove placing second (1:56.98) and Chloe Fausa finishing third (1:56.98).
The course conditions on CB’s Giant Slalom changed during the women’s second run as temperatures climbed into the low 40s under the late-morning sun. All but one of 29 racers that finished did so in under a minute. Five competitors—four from eastern schools—fell and did not complete the final run as skiers struggled to adjust to the softer snow while pushing the tempo.
On the men’s side, the course firmed up in the middle of the first run as light clouds rolled in. The top eight times came from competitors nine to 23, four of those going under 58 seconds. As skies become even more overcast for the second run, the bumpy hillside and tough set-up led to everyone finishing in over a minute.
Engel had a combined time of 1:58.56, defeating Armin Triendl of New Mexico (1:59.70) by 1.14 seconds. Niko Harmanen of Alaska-Anchorage placed third in 2:00.09. Trevor Philp of Denver, a member of the Canadian Olympic team who had not lost a collegiate race this season, placed fourt 2:00.25.
Engel, who battled a back injury for most of his two years as a member of the U.S. Ski Team, is a 22-year-old freshman at Utah. He had the top time during both runs, coming down the hill in 57.28 seconds early and 1:01.56 the second time around. Engel near fell at the top of the course during his second run, but made an athletic save to stay on his inside ski.