Heidi Dahlgren and Anke Friedrich have a team now, and the University of Utah has two world-class skiers. At this point it would be impossible to say which side is happier about the arrange-ment.
Dahlgren and Friedrich each said that they are. Each confessed that skiing for the team is a lot more fun, has far less pressure and is something they've always wanted to do.Utah coach Pat Miller, however, can't help but smile every time he hears their names. If there was ever a stronger women's alpine team than the Utes have this year, no one remotely involved in ski racing can remember and these two skiers figure prominently in the picture.
Last Saturday, during the women's GS in the Utah Invitational at Solitude, a race featuring all the top skiing colleges and universities in the western U.S., with seven Utah racers entered, the Utes held places one through seven after the first run. Friedrich ended up winning the event and Dahlgren was third.
Friday at Snowbird, Utah entered four skiers, had one fall, then finished one-two-three, with Dahlgren first, then Friedrich and Alex von Wichman.
That's the way it's been all week during the Utah Winter Games collegiate and elite events.
For this race, Dahlgren and Friedrich were so far ahead of the rest of the pack after the first run that each shifted down a gear on the second run to eliminate all risk of not winning.
Dahlgren, a three-year member of the U.S. Ski Team with World Cup experience, admitted she went for it on her first run, but held back on the second "just to make sure I finished," she said.
She also admitted to being more nervous on the second run. Having skied so well in the first she said she felt a lot was expected of her on the second.
Asked why she left the U.S. Team and the hectic life of a world-class skier for the less glamorous life of a collegiate skier, she said it was because she felt it was time to get on with her life. She chose Utah for its mountains, the U. and the team.
"I just like skiing for a team a lot more. It takes the pressure off. It's more fun and you are more motivated," she added.
Friedrich's story is about the same. She was a world-class skier on the West German team when she wrote and asked to come to the Utah campus.
Being accepted was the answer to a wish, she said.
"I always wanted to be part of a team. It is something I have dreamed about. Last year I was under so much pressure. Now there is not so much. Now I have a team," she said.
"I'm still trying to get on my skis, but it's coming. After six races I'm skiing better. Also, I've found the snow here so much better and the races more organized. The competition is just as tough."
Thus far in her six-race Utah career she has posted one win, four seconds and one third.
Dahlgren's time was 1:34.12 after two slalom runs, to a 1:35.24 for Friedrich. Von Wichman came from sixth position after the first run to squeeze into third with a time of 1:37.33.
Michelle Buron of the Rocky Mountain Division, was the top finisher in the younger J1 class with a time of 1:38.12.
Meanwhile on the Payday run at Park City, Sun Valley's Jeff Sarchett posted his second win in as many days. His two-run time was two minutes, 26.47 seconds. Second was Lachtan Craig Thrasher of the Rocky Mountain Division in 2:26.83 and third was Brent Nixon of Utah in 2:27.72.