The University of Utah ski team is in 5th place after the opening day of the NCAA Championships, but no one is worried. The defending champs are still poised to repeat.

After the men's and women's giant slalom on Wednesday, New Mexico led with 162 points, followed by University of Colorado with 159, Middlebury with 153, Dartmouth with 150, Utah with 145 and Vermont in 6th with 137 points."Seventeen points isn't much at this point to make up," said Pat Miller, director of skiing at Utah. "We had a few problems, but overall we're in pretty good shaped."

The biggest problem skiers faced was snow conditions. It snowed heavily early in the week and then warmed up on Wednesday. Race-course conditions, said Miller, were soft and hard to ski.

What set Utah back was that Alicia Howard fell during her run and had to hike to reach gates. This pushed her back to last place.

Dartmouth's David Viele and Colorado's Caroline Gedde-Dahl skied to victories in their respective giant slalom competitions

Viele trailed by .09 seconds after the first run but got the victory when leader Thomas Vonn of St. Lawrence fell in the second run. Viele finished with a two-run time of 1 minute, 48.45 seconds.

Middlebury's Forest Carey was second in 1:48.95 and Christian Chedel of Vermont was third in 1:49.02.

Utah's Ryan Forsyth was 6th, Mike Elvidge was 11th and Alain Britt-Cote was 28th.

Gedde-Dahl, a former member of the Norwegian national team, had the fastest first run and second-fastest afternoon time in dispatching Dartmouth's Jennifer Collins by .66 seconds. Gedde-Dahl finished in 1:52.50 to Collins' 1:53.16. Erica MacConnell of Vermont finished third in 1:53.20.

Utah's Sabrina Lawrence was 6th, Marianne Winge was 10th and Howard was 34th.

The Utes have struggled all season with the giant slalom. It's strongest events this year have been the cross country followed by the slalom, which, as Miller pointed out, "Are coming up. We'll have an opportunity to move up."

The men's and women's classical cross country was held early Thursday, the slalom will be on Friday and the event will finish on Saturday with the freestyle cross country.