University of Utah ski team coach Pat Miller is keeping his fingers crossed. He hopes he can snag Henrik Smith-Meyer for one more season, which at this point would make his rerun as the best ski team in the country much more likely.
Right now the three-year all-America is not even a mention in the Utah ski team guide. He is skiing for Henrik Smith-Meyer.Which is why he raced as and won as an independent in Tuesday's Utah Winter Games slalom at Snowbird. And which is why Miller would like to race Smith-Meyer one more year as a Ute, especially in March when he will be going for his fourth consecutive NCAA ski title and his sixth in seven years.
Under old rules, the NCAA would not allow Smith-Meyer to race because of his age. Even though he skied only three years, his eligibility ended four years after his 20th birthday. New rules may be voted on this month that will give the former Ute his fourth year on skis for Utah.
It would, as Miller said, "Add a lot to our team."
Smith-Meyer himself would like another year skiing for Utah. He would like, especially, to make all-America for a fourth time . . . and that goal is within easy reach. He proved it Tuesday.
On courses that were soft and turny, the former Ute beat an international field of skiers by over a full second on two slalom runs.
Good? Consider that the next four were all within a second of each other.
Smith-Meyer on the Wilbere race course clocked the fastest two runs for a combined 1:28.12.
Second was Grant Richardson of Alaska-Anchorage, in 1:29.98, third was Michael Sumanik of Canada, 1:30.91, fourth was Oeivind Ragnhildstveit, a new Utah recruit from Norway, in 1:30.94, and fifth ws Chris Gibson, also of Utah, in 1:30.96.
Despite the recent snow and the soft conditions of the course, which rutted up for the last half of the race, racers admitted that under the circumstances skiing conditions for the 121 competitors were as good as they could be.
The top finishers in the younger J1 class was Kelly Hanna in 1:35.23, followed by Ortez De Barcena in 1:37.17 and David Kong in 1:37.33.
Meanwhile, the women were holding a giant slalom at Park City, and here it was the younger skiers showing up the strong Utah ladies.
Winning the race was Megan Gerety of Sun Valley, a J1, with a time of 2:49.46 on two GS runs. Stephanie Palmer of Park City, also squeezed in under the Utah skiers with runs of 2:51.04.
The first A skier was Gillian Frost, a freshman for the Utes, in 2:51.37, who finished in third. In fourth was Vibeke Hoff, a junior and former NCAA GS champion, in 2:51.37.
On Wednesday the Utah Winter Games continue with the men heading back to Snowbird for another slalom and the women going back to Park City for a GS.
Thursday and Friday the two groups switch slopes with the women's going to Snowbird for slalom races and the men's to Park City for GS events. Also scheduled will be hockey and figure skating competition.
The Games will finish up on Sunday with cross country, telemark and ski racing, and senior hockey finals.