Ski team shows strong results at Invitational

Chloe+Fausa+skis+during+the+Pat+Miller+Invitational+at+Park+City+Mountain+Resort+on+Jan.+5.+Photo+by+Brent+Uberty.

Brent Uberty

Chloe Fausa skis during the Pat Miller Invitational at Park City Mountain Resort on Jan. 5. Photo by Brent Uberty.

Chloe Fausa skis during the Pat Miller Invitational at Park City Mountain Resort on Jan. 5. Photo by Brent Uberty.
Chloe Fausa skis during the Pat Miller Invitational at Park City Mountain Resort on Jan. 5. Photo by Brent Uberty.
The Utah ski team, which finished last season as the runner-up at the NCAA Championships, kicked off its season over the weekend in the opening portion of the Pat Miller Invitational at Park City Mountain Resort.

The Utes hosted eight schools from around the West and finished the weekend atop the leaderboard with a score of 520.5 with one day of competition remaining. Denver, which edged Utah for the NCAA title last season, is in second with a score of 484.

The women’s side of the team carried the Utes over the weekend, placing first in both the slalom and giant slalom. The men finished the events in second and third places, respectively.

“I feel really good,” said freshman Chloe Fausa, who placed first overall in the giant slalom with a time of 1:56.84. “We have a really strong team this year, so this is a very good start to the season. We worked really hard on the dryland training and had a really good preseason. We’re looking forward to a good season.”

Freshman Mark Engel led the men in both events. He finished fifth overall in the slalom but said there’s room for improvement.

“We all could ski a little faster,” he said. “We had a little more to give out on the hill and made some mistakes. For me personally, I’m used to tighter courses and icier snow. It’s wavy, more of a groove today, and I had to get used to that. For the rest of the team, they just need to trust themselves more. I’ve seen them ski better than they did. We’re pretty satisfied, but we all want to get better.”

Head Alpine coach Jaka Korencan said he was pleased overall with the first two days of his team’s season.

“On the women’s side, we did extremely well. Both sides [had] a couple of mistakes, but we have proven that they are one of the top of the NCAA right now,” he said. “On the men’s side, we were a little short. We have a good team, but we just didn’t attack the course. This was probably the best opener we’ve had in a long, long time.”

Moving forward, Korencan said his team just needs more experience in order to get better. The Utes will have one advantage come postseason, though, as the same hill they competed on over the weekend will be the site of the NCAA Championships at the end of the season.

“We have the talent and really deep talent,” he said. “Now it’s all about staying healthy and motivated through the whole season.”

The invitational was named in honor of former head coach Pat Miller, who passed away last June at the age of 64. Miller coached the team from 1976-1999. He built a dynasty and led the Utes to nine of its 10 national championships.

“It’s a sad situation that he left us so early, but it’s a great feeling that we were able to dedicate the race to him,” Korencan said. “He’s a part of us and will always be a part of us. It’s a great thing for the team and a great thing for Pat Miller.”

The invitational will conclude on Wednesday at Soldier Hollow in Midway with the 30k Freestyle Nordic race for the men and the 20k Freestyle Nordic race for the women.

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