Utes Near Top Despite Early Struggles

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The Utah ski team has begun their 2017 right where they finished 2016 — on the podium.

The Utes have been impressive in both Alpine and Nordic events this season, despite having a young and inexperienced Nordic side.

“We have had a lot of learning experiences that you expect with a young team,” said head Nordic coach Abi Holt. “Our kids went home for the holidays, and all came back sick, which put us at a disadvantage for the early events of the season. We only had one-third of our team healthy enough to compete at our first event which makes it difficult to put out a good product.”

Holt believes that the team will vastly improve as their health improves.

“When we are healthy, we compete really well, and have had some awesome finishes,” Holt said.

One standout for the Nordic team this season has been Kevin Bolger. Bolger finished second in the 15 km freestyle at the Utah Invitational before claiming the top spot in the classic sprint. He would also go on to win the 10k freestyle at the Montana State Invitational.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised by Kevin’s success this year, but I am very impressed,” Holt said. “He came into the season with some goals, and has surpassed them so far.”

While Bolger is the highlight so far, the rest of the team looks to be on the podium when they are able to recover from illness.

On the Alpine side, Chloe Fausa looks to finish her career on top. She won the giant slalom at the Utah Invitational, joined on the men’s side by freshman Sam Dupratt.

“We are always good on the GS side,” said head Alpine coach Jaka Korencan. “Our goal is to bring our skiers onto the podium on the slalom events. They are getting more reps and getting time on their skis which will really help us get those victories in the slalom events.”

While some have struggled with slalom this season, Julie Mohagen has slotted two top 10 finishes, including a second place finish in the RMISA qualifying race.

The Utes finished the tournament they hosted in third place, and followed it up with a second place finish at the Montana State Invitational. Both coaches stressed how early the season was, and they are confident in the success of the team moving forward.

The Utes will now look forward to the Seawolf Invitational beginning Jan. 25 in Girdwood, Alaska. The competition will begin with giant slalom on Jan. 25-26 with the slalom race on Jan. 27.

b.marshall@dailyutahchronicle.com

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