STOWE, Vt. — The University of Utah ski team is officially the best in all the land once again.
The strongest squad this season in the western United States, the Utes on Saturday captured the national title at the 2019 NCAA Skiing Championships in Stowe, Vermont, finishing well ahead of the second-place and host Vermont Catamounts.
Utah concluded with 530.5 points, while the Catamounts finished with just 476. The Colorado Buffaloes finished in third with 455 points and the Dartmouth Big Green had 447.
Utah’s victory marked the ski program’s 13th national championship overall (12th NCAA) and second in three years after it won the title in 2017 (it finished fourth in 2018). Prior to that, the Utes had been perennial contenders, but hadn’t won it all since 2003.
The title comes in the program’s first season under Fredrik Landstedt, who, when he was tabbed as director of skiing last summer, was new athletic director Mark Harlan’s first major hire.
“It was a great win, for sure,” Landstedt told the Deseret News by phone on Saturday evening. “After four days of racing you’re exhausted, but winning definitely helps. It’s just a big smile on everyone’s face. The team really came together.”
This weekend, Utah took a one-point lead after Wednesday’s opening day of competition behind a championship-winning performance from freshman Julia Richter in the 5-km freestyle. Dartmouth then jumped ahead of the Utes after Thursday’s second day of action, as it led Utah by 6.5 points.
Then Utah took charge. On Friday, Richter and Maximilian Bie had podium finishes, and five skiers total earned All-American honors as the Utes finished the day a whopping 65.5 points ahead of second-place Colorado.
For comparison’s sake, just 11 points separated the Buffaloes and fourth-place Vermont.
“I was a little bit nervous before that day, for sure, but I felt pretty confident that we’d have a good day,” Landstedt said. “I didn’t realize it would be that good of a day as we actually had on Day Three.”30 comments on this story
Despite the huge lead heading into Saturday, Landstedt stressed that his team still needed to perform well to seal the deal, and Utah did just that, led by Roni Remme’s second-place finish in the women’s slalom.
“The last day, I was really super impressed that the Alpine team could handle the pressure,” Landstedt said. “We just finished it off.”
While the Utes are always in the mix nationally, Landstedt feels particularly good about the group he has moving forward to next season, as not too many of this season’s contributors, especially on a strong Nordic team, are graduating.
“The goal,” he said, “is to always be up there.”