Skiers Go Back to Montana in Search of Win

Pierre Olsson and the U alpine team did their part, now it’s up to the nordic skiers to bring home first place at the Montana Invitational.

The invitational continues today and Thursday in Bozeman, Mont., with the cross-country portion concluding the competition.

The alpine team took a slim 275-271 lead over Denver, the preseason favorite to capture the NCAA crown.

However, the results for the U, ranked third in the nation in preseason polls, didn’t throw ski coach Kevin Sweeney.

“I’m not surprised. We have a great alpine team,” Sweeney said.

Olsson, a freshman competing in his first meet, raced to a first-place finish in the slalom and a third in the giant slalom.

Petra Svet had a first-place finish of her own, with her top placing coming in the giant slalom.

But Sweeney said it could’ve been better.

“The alpine team certainly had great results, but they had a little bit of trouble,” he said.

Svet, the reigning NCAA slalom title-holder, went out of bounds for a DNF (did not finish) in the event.

Scott Woodland was bothered by a bad back, and “dynamite skier” Elisha Stephens, a freshman out of Park City, Utah, is recovering from knee surgery. Sweeney anticipates Stephens will be ready for the next competition Jan. 13 and 14.

Still, the alpine team left the nordic team on top in Utah’s first collegiate competition of the year.

But there are questions with the nordic team, especially on the women’s side.

Only senior Gretchen Domek and junior Maria Lundamo return for the U, which has five newcomers filling in the gaps.

That’s not to say the newcomers aren’t talented.

Finn Jaana Kettunen joins the U after racing favorably at the World Junior Championships in both the classic and freestyle disciplines. Meanwhile, Tromso, Norway native Sara Svendsen joins brother Petter Svendsen on the Utes.

Olympic hopeful Torin Koos will race today, but is questionable for the second day.

“I don’t want to overuse him. He did a lot of racing in Europe with the World Cup. He’s had lots of travel and time zone changes,” Sweeney said. The coach will rest the Olympic hopeful so Koos can gear up for his quest for a Top 10 finish at the Winter Games.

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