The Utah ski team flew out of the gates at the first day of the NCAA Championships in Colorado, where sophomore Endre Bjertness took first in the men’s giant slalom.
Bjertness, who has been one of the top alpine skiers on the men’s team, earned the fastest run of the day on his first try, and finished off the event by holding onto the lead with a strong finish. The sophomore is now the second Utah men’s skier to take first in the giant slalom in three years for the Utes, with Mark Engel also earning that honor in 2014.
It was also Utah’s 71st individual championship in the program’s history.
Utah director of skiing Kevin Sweeney wasn’t hesitant to mention how proud he was of Bjertness, who has had a great campaign in 2016, with this win definitely taking the cake.
“A huge congratulations to [Bjertness] for skiing a superb race today,” Sweeney said in a press release. “His win is, without a doubt, motivating all of us right now. We are in the hunt, and our position is 100 percent competitive. No matter how well you prepare for the championships, you get surprises. It feels great to get the first race under our belt, and I congratulate the alpine squad for this lead-off.”
It was also a solid day for the women’s alpine team as well, with Chloe Fausa, Roni Remme and Julie Mohagen finishing in the top-10, with Remme and Mohagen earning their first All-American honors in their careers.
Sweeney was very impressed by the women’s team and hopes to see more consistent results in the top from the Nordic team tomorrow.
“Super solid performance by the women, all scoring in the top ten,” Sweeney said in the release. “That is for sure a dynamite team accomplishment today, considering how heavy the snowfall was second run. The Nordic team is extremely fired up to take the tag from the alpine and lead the charge tomorrow.”
The Utes finished the day in third place behind Montana State and Denver but are hopeful they can reclaim the lead with the men’s 10k and women’s 5k freestyle races on Thursday.