One of the most storied snow-sport programs in the country gets its much-anticipated start today as the University of Utah Ski Team opens their 2019 campaign in the mountains of Colorado.
The team will begin the new year with a Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) qualifying giant slalom event at the Colorado Invitational. Although it won’t count towards any team scoring, it is a huge opportunity for skiers to earn points towards qualifying for the NCAA Championships at season’s end. The giant slalom, the first event of the meet, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 10, with the slalom race happening the next day. The whole event spans four days, with the slalom taking up Thursday and Friday, and the Nordic portion happening over the weekend.
The Nordic portion of the event will include 5-km and 10-km freestyle races, as well as 10-km classic races, which take up the last day of the event.
While Utah usually finds themself on top of the skiing world, especially in the Western United States, the Colorado Invitational will serve as a chance to get a good look at the new coaching staff for the Utah Ski Team. New to the program is Director of Skiing, Fredrik Landstedt, and with over 26 years of experience, including a NCAA championship run in 2004 with the University of New Mexico. The team also welcomes two new coaches to both Alpine and Slalom teams, including Utah alum/national champion Miles Havlik and JJ Johnson, a recent coaching hire of the U.S. Ski Team.
When it comes to skier representation, the Utes are nothing short of stacked. The women’s ski team will see all three NCAA competitors return from their run last season, which was a tandem filled to the brim with national recognition. American Guro Jordheim was the 2018 RMISA Women’s Nordic Athlete of the Year, and she took fourth place at the 2018 NCAA Championships in both the 5-km classic, and 15-km freestyle events.
The four-time All-American will be returning with sophomore Mariah Bredal, another All-American with eight top-10 finishes in her debut campaign last year.
Bredal competed in her first NCAA Championships last season, as did sophomore Leah Lange. The returner out of Park City, UT saw a podium finish in her first year with the team, placing second in the RMISA Championships.
Also returning to the team is Julia Richter, who spent last season with the German National Team.
The men’s side of the Ski Team also sees no shortage in talent. While there are three newcomers to the men’s team, all three have a wealth of talent in their events. Maximilian Bie comes to the team from Norway, as does Ola Jordheim, who joins his sister Guro on the team. American Noel Keeffe is also new to the team, out of Steamboat Springs, CO, where the team is competing this weekend.
Mark Engel will also make his first appearance with Utah in over four years, after taking time to compete with the U.S. National team, and even competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The meet will also see the college debuts of Austrailian Katie Parker, Eirin Engeset and Katie Vesterstein.