The University of Utah sent a minor tremor down the spines of visiting coaches Saturday as they looked up on the scoreboard after the first run in the women's GS. No matter what the men did, this was unnerving.
The Utes entered seven women in the field of 47 in the women's event that featured skiers from all the top skiing colleges and universities in the Western U.S. Sitting in places one through seven were the designated Utes."Now that," said one coach, shaking his head, "is depth."
Those results and good finishes in the men's GS and the men's and women's freestyle cross country, a new event in NCAA skiing, put the Utes, once again, up as winners of their own Utah Ski Invitational.
Utah had 623.5 points, followed by the University of Colorado with 582.5, Wyoming 529, New Mexico 494 and Alaska-Anchorage 464. BYU finished in 10th place out of 10 schools with 52.
On the strength of solid finishes Saturday in the cross country freestyle, Utah out-pointed challenging schools in all nordic events. On the strength of total domination in the women's alpine, Utah beat all comers in two GSs.
On Friday, the college teams competed in the individual diagonal-stride cross country, which replaced the usual individual anything-goes race. Saturday's freestyle replaces the traditional team relays. Or, this was another individual race only under the usual anything-goes (i.e., skiers can slide, glide, skate, run, anything they want to get ahead) rules.
Taking first for the second day in a row was Per Jakobsen of Colorado, with a time of 1:09.45 over the 20 kilometer course. Second was Nils Hult of Alaska-Anchorage in 1:09.46 and third was Utah's Luke Bodensteiner in 1:09.52.
In the women's 15K freestyle, Mari Seppala of New Mexico was first in 1:03.09. Utah's Kim Csizmazia, Kari Anne Aas and Chris Ryan finished four, five and six, respectively.
The course was good, but racers had to fight extreme cold and blowing and falling snow. Alpine racers at Solitude skied under the same conditions.
In the women's GS, Anke Freidrich, of West Germany, who only signed with Utah four weeks ago and was not listed on the scoring team, won in 1:42.23. She was followed by Katja Lesjak of Utah in second, Lina Benjaminsen of Wyoming, who came from eighth after the first run to finish third, then Utes Heidi Dahlgren in fourth and Gillian Frost in fifth.
Freidrich was as excited about her win Saturday as she was about coming to Utah. A former Utah skier and friend of Freidrich from West Germany, Sonja Stotz, told her about the Utah program.
"I wrote and I was told to come. I was very excited," she said. "It is the best thing that could happen to me. I like it very much."
Like a Utah teammate, Brent Nixon, who tied for first in the men's race, Freidrich had the most problem Saturday with visibility. Blowing and falling snow made it difficult to see too far ahead on the course.
Nixon started for the second day in a row as the first skier out of the gates. Saturday he took advantage of it and was fastest skier on the first run. His teammate, Oivind Ragnhildstveit was fourth.
Fritz Schlopy of Colorado was third after the first run, but posted the fastest second run to tie Nixon with a time of 1:39.89.
Third was Tom Collins of Anchorage.
The Utah Winter Games continue today with an elite race at Deer Valley, a cross country marathon at Jeremy Ranch, snowboarding at Powder Mountain and a disabled ski race at Park West.
The Games will continue through the week with the final event scheduled for next Sunday.