Utes’ Olympic Dreams Begin


(Courtesy Utah Athletics)

By Max Valva, Sports Writer


This past week marked the beginning of the Olympics for skiers. Skiers from around the world have been training for their entire lives to prepare for the task ahead of them in Beijing. A program-record twelve skiers both current and former members of the Utah ski team are competing for their respective countries this Olympics. This contributes to the 38 Olympic athletes with ties to the University of Utah, more than any other university in the world. 

Olympians Kevin Bolger, Keely Cashman, Luke Jager, Sophia Laukli, Mo Lebel, and Novie McCabe will be representing team USA; while Tomas Birkner (Argentina), Snorri Einarsson (Iceland), Katie Parker (Australia), Roni Remme (Canada), and Katie Vesterstein (Estonia) will compete for their respective countries while representing the Utes at the same time. Utah athlete Madison Hoffman would have represented Australia if not for her unfortunate injury in a race this January.

The Women’s Giant Slalom was the first alpine event for the Olympics which took place last Sunday, February 6th. Utah Olympian Katie Vestersetin represented Estonia and placed 34th with a total time of 2:10:44. The 22-year-old showed heart and was able to finish a race something that 31 of the 80 participants were unable to accomplish.

Vesterstein had a busy week as she and fellow Ute Katie Parker representing Australia competed in the Women’s Slalom on Tuesday, February 8th. Although neither of them were able to finish the event it’s worth noting their efforts in competing in an Olympic Event.

Lady Utes Roni Remme (Canada) and Keely Cashman (USA) competed in the Women’s Super-G event on Thursday, February 10th. Both of them racked up a top-30 finish with Remme finishing 24th with a time of 1:15:78 and Cashman placing 27th with a time of 1:15:99.

The last alpine event that took place this week was the Men’s Giant Slalom which featured Utah’s Tomas Birkner from Argentina. Even though he did not finish the run he was able to represent his home country as the only Argentinian competing in this event.

Stay tuned as the Alpine team will be competing in more events throughout this next week.

The Nordic/Cross Country Skiers also competed throughout all of last week. Last Sunday the first Nordic event, the Men’s 30km took place and featured Utah’s Snorri Einarsson from Iceland. With a time of 1:22:50, Einarsson was able to record a top-30 finish placing at 29th.

U.S. Olympians Kevin Bolger and Luke Jager participated in the Men’s Freestyle Sprints on Tuesday, February 8th. They finished a respective 17th (Bolger) and 25th (Jager) in the event out of the 90 men who participated. This marks another impressive finish for the Utes.

On February 11th another Nordic event with a Utah participant took place. Novie McCabe finished 24th in the Women’s 10k Classical. This event hosted the most amount of participants out of any other event with 98th participants, so finishing 24th was quite impressive. The sophomore did not disappoint in her first Olympics as she helped the U.S. finish 6th place in the Women’s 4×5 Relay on Saturday. Her efforts helped the USA finish as the highest North American team in a sport dominated by the Europeans.

There was also a relay for the men’s side this weekend, as Utes Luke Jager and Kevin Bolger built off their previous Olympic success with efforts that helped the U.S. place 9th. This top ten finish is especially impressive as they almost broke the two-minute mark with a time of 2:02:56.

There will be more Nordic events throughout the rest of the week as the Utes will continue their quest through the competitive Olympics.


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