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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Ute skiers set for NCAA run

By Tom Quinn

For the second year in a row, the Skiin’ Utes will send a full team of 12 skiers to the upcoming NCAA National Championships. Because only two other schools — Colorado and Dartmouth — will send full teams, the Utes have a good chance of improving on last year’s eighth-place finish.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said U head coach Eli Brown. “We’re in a position to do very well at the National Championships.”

The Utes wouldn’t be in such a good position were it not for a strong showing at last weekend’s NCAA Regional. Although they slipped to a distant third after finishing the first day just eight points out of first place, the team as a whole skied well enough to make a name for itself on the national scene.

Sophomore alpine skier Kyle Kung started the Utes off on the right foot with a second-place finish in the men’s slalom. His heroics, along with those of Tague Thorson and Kyle Darling, gave Utah three skiers in the men’s top 20.

Junior Kim Stephens, who had been on the championship bubble for most of the season, clinched a berth at the Big Dance by finishing second in the women’s slalom. Teammate Chirine Njeim was hot on her tail and finished just one-tenth of a second behind.

“It’s always nice to have good results in the championship season,” Brown said.

But as good as the Alpine team was, the Nordic team may have been even better.

Freshman Snorri Einarsson led one of the best team efforts in recent memory, finishing second in the men’s 10K freestyle. Sophomores Fabian Figi and Even Sletten joined him in the top 10, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively.

The dynamic duo of Sara Schweiger and Sarah MacCarthy led the women’s Nordic team with a pair of top-10 finishes, while Annelies Cook rounded out the Utes’ top three with an 18th-place effort.

Despite impressive showings by Einarsson and company, Utah did not have the depth to keep up with eventual champion Denver and archrival Colorado in terms of total points. The Utes ultimately finished third, 35 points behind the former and 21 short of the latter.

With the NCAA Regional out of the way, the Utes will now focus on the upcoming national championships, which will be held in New Hampshire, a Mecca of sorts for East Coast skiers.

Defending national champion Scott Veenis highlights a talented men’s alpine team, while junior Stephens will lead the Utah women. The fact that the rest of the Skiin’ Utes are either sophomores or freshmen makes Stephens the team’s most experienced skier by default.

Einarsson and Schweiger will likely be the top finishers for the men’s and women’s Nordic teams. Figi, Sletten and MacCarthy will also contribute.

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