U skiers hit the slopes of Wyoming

After a somewhat disappointing opening weekend, the Ute ski team will get a chance for redemption this week in Wyoming.

Ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the 2003 national champions finished third in the Ute Invitational last week.

“We are a little disappointed with our performance, but I feel very good about this group,” U head coach Kevin Sweeney said. “This was a tough weekend, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives.”

The Utes now head out on the road to Jackson, Wyoming for the Alaska-Anchorage invitational.

Denver and Colorado, the two teams who finished in front of the Utes last week, will be in the field.

While the third-place finish was not what the U wanted, there were some promising results.

U All-American Ben Thornhill brought home first place in the giant slalom, highlighting the men’s alpine effort.

April Mancuso, also an All-American, finished third in the giant slalom and fifth in the slalom. Another All-American, Lina Johansson, took fifth in the giant slalom.

“I didn’t feel very well, but overall the team skied well,” Johansson said.

“This was a long, tough weekend, but I’m pleased with our results” head alpine coach Aaron Atkins said. “We looked solid and I’m looking forward to our next invitational.”

The nordic team performed up to par as well. The Utes won the 5-kilometer freestyle, and were bolstered by some big individual performances.

Sandra Gredig led the women, finishing third in the freestyle and sixth in the classical. Ashley McQueen came in fifth in the freestyle.

“The women’s cross country team looked great this weekend,” Sweeney said. “Sandra skied very solid overall and it was exciting to see Ashley performing well.”

Daniel Sonntag was the top male performer, winning the 10-km freestyle, and finishing ninth in the classic.

While the team was not completely satisfied with their showing, the worst news for the Utes came before the Utah Invitational. Alpine star Andi Weiser tore up his knee in a training run and will be lost for the season. The junior had surgery earlier this week, and is petitioning the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility.

“This is a big loss for the squad,” Sweeney said. “I sure do want him to recover well and be back in the gates for us next season. He is dynamite for this team.”

Sweeney will shake up the lineup a little bit for this weekend’s invitational. New recruit Magnus Carlsson will start for the nordic team.

Following this weekend’s competition, the Utes have a week off before skiing in the Denver Invitational Jan. 28.

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Utah Invitational Skiing Results1 Denver 568.02 Colorado 488.03 Utah 486.04 Alaska-Anchorage 452.05 New Mexico 421.0