Health and fitness are a couple of the top priorities for the University of Utah ski team as its ultimate goal is to win another national team title. The alpine and nordic skiers and their coaches know this requires time, dedication and support every step of the way.
Skiing is a dangerous sport that makes it important for athletes to take care of themselves. Assistant alpine coach Jeremy Elliot said they deal with minor injuries on a weekly basis and that chronic injuries are expected each year. Knowing this, the ski team has two full-time physical therapists who travel with them to practices and competitions. The Utes also have access to nutritionists, sports psychologists, strength coaches and academic advisors. The university ensures that all aspects of the athletes’ lives are well balanced.
“Without the support of the U, it would be very hard to do what we do,” Elliot said. “It’s a pretty incredible opportunity for the [ski team].”
Junior alpine skier Martin Grasic enters the new year and season with the goal to stay healthy and fit. He plans to make use of the hot and cold hydrotherapy area at the Sorenson training facility to accomplish that. He also wants to eat his best.
“This year I have thought a lot more about it,” Grasic said. “I think that has helped since I’ve been back on snow and kind of been mentally more engaged.”
Grasic moved from Canada to compete for the Utes, and he has since made his mark, qualifying for the NCAA Championships every year. However, due to team limitations, he held an alternate position. This year, Grasic’s goal is to compete at the championships, earn a top 10 finish and push the team towards victory. He said it will take consistency and require the team to follow the racing process to get there.
Summer or winter, the team finds ways to train year-round. When there is no snow, individuals take it upon themselves to travel overseas to places like Chile or New Zealand to get workouts in. Elliot explained that it’s against NCAA rules to hold team practices outside of the season, so it’s up to the athletes to maintain their health and to stay in shape during the offseason.
“That’s on their own time,” Elliot said. “If the NCAA rules change in the future that could be a game changer.”
Snow or no snow, the nordic and alpine skiers are dedicated to reaching their goals. They set personal and team expectations prior to starting their new season.
The team’s accomplishments, such as earning the History-Maker Award, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Team of the Year Award and 11 NCAA Championship titles, the most recent one in 2017, act as evidence that the Utes put in the time and effort required to be successful.