University of Utah ski team hosts the Utah Invite where various teams compete in Nordic ski racing at Soldier Hollow, in Heber Utah on Sunday and Monday, January 10-11, 2015

 

The University of Utah’s ski program has consistently been on top nationwide in its ability to produce results at exceptional levels. Along with gymnastics, the university’s skiing has a storied reputation in the powerhouse institutions of NCAA athletics. Names like Ohio State football, UCLA basketball and UCONN women’s basketball come to mind when the conversation of the greatest athletic programs in the country come up. Utah skiing is no exception. With elevated altitudes with which to work and a plentiful supply of slopes to practice on, the university’s ski team is at a natural advantage over their contenders in the NCAA. The challenge: how does a program with a consistent berth in national championship brackets step their game up to match its competition?

Utah’s program is looking to stay in the running for the best in the nation and has for many years. The team has won 12 national titles and countless individual awards have been claimed by Utes in the program’s 64-year history. It has been in the top 10 in the nation for all but 12 years of that time span. 12 national championships nearly put the U on par with the University of Alabama’s football program, who the NCAA credits with 14 national championships. Utah’s ski program consistently ranks above the entire country in its performance, both as a team and amidst individual athletes. It always consists of the top skiers in the country, Olympians and other exceptional athletes.

The ski program is littered with Olympic talent and has been since the program’s inception in 1954. Recently, Annelies Cook made an appearance with Team USA at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. Dominic Demschar and Veronika Mayerhofer were in Sochi as well, representing Australia and Austria, respectively. Greats of the program include multiple Olympic appearances from skiers like Marvin Melville, William Allen Spencer and Kathy Kreiner, who took home a gold medal for Team Canada in 1976.

As the university’s skiing team looks to the future, they seek to develop on the stellar talent that they’ve accumulated through recruiting. Senior Martin Bergström has dominated in his time with the Utes, earning a multitude of podium appearances and individual national championships in his time with the Utes. When the team won the National Championship just a year ago, Bergström won his own national awards in both classic and freestyle skiing. The winner of six podium wins looks to lead a Utah team to another national championship and add to the vibrant history of Utah’s presence on the slopes.

The success of Utah’s skiing program adds a charm to the university that is not found in most other schools around the country. When one thinks of a successful sports program, one imagines successes in sports like football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and etc. Utah’s greatest athletic success, however, lies in its lesser-known sports. Understanding the merit with which these skiers operate provides one with a fresh perspective on the excellence of Utah’s athletic prowess.

z.janis@dailyutahchronicle.com

@ZachJanis

Zach Janis
An avid sports fan with a knack for writing, Zach is in charge of the sports desk for the Chronicle, and a junior at the University of Utah. Zach is studying Music Education and Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. When not advocating for the Oxford comma, Zach spends his time calling play by play for various sports around the University, and hopes to become a broadcaster after earning his degree.

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