PARK CITY — The University of Utah welcomes the country's best collegiate skiers to the state for the NCAA championships this week.
The Utes head into the event having just won the NCAA West regional.
“The biggest thing about winning regionals was it was just a huge confidence booster,” said Utah director of skiing Kevin Sweeney. “We didn’t do anything special at regionals. We just charged hard. We need to minimize mistakes to score points at the NCAAs because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the field this close.”
Eight schools qualified for the championships, which begin Wednesday. Joining Utah are Alaska-Anchorage, defending champion Colorado, Dartmouth, Denver, Montana State, New Mexico and Vermont.
The Nordic events will be held at Soldier Hollow on a course similar to the 2002 Winter Olympic route. Spectators will have a great view of the course, including infamous Hermod’s Hill.
“This is going to be a great championship, but the wrench in things is we’ve lost a lot of snow with the warmer weather,” Sweeney said. "Soldier Hollow and Park City have worked hard to preserve the courses."
All-Americans Niklas Persson, Sloan Storey and Anna Svendsen lead Utah’s Nordic team. Persson’s lone win of the season came at Soldier Hollow. Storey was second in the 5K classic at regionals and finished fifth in the event at last year's NCAA championships. Svendsen has three top-five finishes this season.
In downhill, Kristiina Rove, Chloe Fausa and Mark Engel are fresh off wins at regionals. Rove was this year’s regional women’s Alpine MVP. Fausa had three first-place finishes, including one at Park City. Engel is a former U.S. ski team member.
“We are a very balanced team with potential to score well in every discipline,” Sweeney said. “I told the team if we can get everybody to score in the top 12, top 15, we’re going to be right in there.”
NCAA championship schedule
Wednesday, March 5 at Park City
Women’s giant slalom, 9 a.m.
Men’s giant slalom, 12:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 6 at Solider Hollow
Women’s 5K classic, 10 a.m.
Men’s 10K classic, 12 p.m.
Friday, March 7 at Park City
Men’s slalom, 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Women’s slalom, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 8 at Soldier Hollow
Men’s 20K freestyle, 10 a.m.
Women’s 15K freestyle, 12 p.m.