U Skiers on Top of Invite After Alpine Events

If this weekend’s Montana Invitational was any indication of things to come, then the biggest competition for Utah’s Jernej Bukovec to reclaim his NCAA slalom title is at his side every day in practice.

Led by a first-place finish in the men’s slalom by freshman Pierre Olsson, the Utah ski team rests in first place after alpine competition at the Invitational in Bozeman, Mont.

The nordic (cross country) portion of the invitational gets underway Jan. 9 and 10, with Utah leading Denver University by four points at 275-271. Colorado, the team that tied Utah in the preseason polls for second place, fell to fifth place with 221.5 points following the alpine races.

Olsson, a newcomer from Borlange, Sweden, racing in his first collegiate competition, added a second-place finish in the giant slalom. Bukovec, who earned All-American status in both the slalom and giant slalom last year as a sophomore, finished tied for fourth and 11th in the two events.

Another freshman, Josh Whitman, came across the finish line eighth in the giant slalom and was 20th in the slalom. Senior Scott Woodland, who has been battling back problems, raced to a seventh place finish in the giant slalom.

For the women, junior Petra Svet claimed first place in the giant slalom event. Svet, a native of Slovenia, did not finish in the slalom, the event she won at the 2001 NCAA championships.

Junior Annik Boulva skied to a team-best third-place finish in the women’s slalom, but she ended in 35th in the giant slalom.

Other top women’s finishers included a fifth-place finish for sophomore April Mancuso in the slalom, and a sixth-place tie for Madaileine Sparks-Krebs in the giant slalom.

The Montana Invitational is now in the hands of the nordic teams, which have many questions to answer in their first meet of the year.

For the men, All-American and Olympic hopeful Torin Koos may not race. That means Utah needs a performance from senior captain and All American Petter Svendsen. Zack Simons, who has been training with the U.S. Developmental Ski Team, also needs to shine.

There are even more questions for the women, who enter the meet with only two returners and five newcomers. Jorunn Oye, a Norwegian newcomer who was impressive in Norwegian Cup competition, is expected to race well.

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