Utah Ski Team Wins Third Consecutive National Championship


University of Utah ski team member Sydney Palmer-Leger in a race. (Courtesy Utah Athletics)

By Max Valva, Sports Writer


Nearly two weeks after the RMISA Championships took place, the University of Utah ski team headed back home to Utah to participate in the 2022 NCAA Skiing Championship. The championship consisted of four days’ worth of events, two nordic and two alpines. The nordic events took place in Midway, Utah at Soldier Hollow, while the alpine events took place in Park City. 

Those who qualified got to experience cool temperatures that featured mostly sunny skies which was a relief after Wednesday’s giant slalom event was postponed to Thursday due to poor slope conditions caused by the inclement weather conditions. After four days of tough competition, the Utes came out victorious, winning their third-straight National Championship this past Saturday.

Even with the weather delay, the Utes kicked off their championship weekend with a promising start. By the end of day one the Utes led the championships with a score of 286.5, twenty-five points ahead of second-place Colorado. Utah sophomore and Olympian Novie McCabe won her first NCAA title as she finished in first place in the women’s 5k classic at Soldier Hollow on Thursday. Her total of 40 points was enough to make her the winner of the 79th individual title in Utah ski team history.

Junior Sophia Laulki, who placed second, earned her first All-American team honor after an impressive performance that had her put at a point total of 35.5. Sophomore Sydney Palmer-Leger finished in sixth which earned her a spot on the All-American second team.

It’s really not surprising out of them,” said Nordic coach Miles Havlick on the team’s performance Thursday. “I think Novie really carried her form from regionals. Just looked so sharp, especially up the last climb. She really paced it out well. Sophia was just a few seconds off. Very solid out of Sophia and those two have just been incredible all year. Sydney was just a few seconds behind them. Very solid day for her and I’m sure she’s going to be hungry for more on Saturday.”

After the postponement, Thursday also featured the giant slalom event in Park City. Four Utes made it on to All-American teams after finishing within the top six. On the women’s side, Katie Parker finished on the podium with a third-place finish, and Kaja Norbye put up a fifth-place finish with a combined time of 2:04.00.

For the men, junior Gustav Vøllo recorded a second-place finish which earned him his second All-American finish in his career. Senior Joachim Lien earned his fourth All-American honor with his sixth-place finish.

Vøllo spoke on his love for the sport. “It’s a team sport and that’s what I love about it,” he told Utah Athletics. “Getting points for your team is such a good feeling. It’s more than just the personal achievement today and I’m really happy I could score that for the team. I’m also happy for my teammates who did a great job to carry us into the lead now, halfway, so I think it will be fun to get into the last part.”

Vøllo used the motivation he has for the sport in Friday’s competition as well, in which the final alpine event of the season took place. Vøllo helped the Utes maintain first place as he finished second in the men’s slalom, earning his third career All-American honor and his second of the weekend.

Not surprisingly, Joachim Lien also earned his second All-American nod of the championship, as his 23 points were good enough to earn him eighth place. For the women, freshman Kaja Norbye earned her second All-American honor of the weekend as well, finishing in sixth place. All of these contributions put Utah’s point total at 405 going into the final day.

With it being the final alpine action of the season, Director of Skiing Fredrik Landstedt had a lot of good things to say about the coaches and the team as a whole. “Alpine has been incredible,” he said. “This year JJ and Mary Joyce did an incredible job, and the whole team has really been doing the perfect job out there, and that’s to score the necessary points. They’ve come together as a team, and that’s what makes a winning group. It’s just that team spirit and team-first. It’s not about the individual glory, it’s all about scoring the points necessary to win. It’s just been incredible watching the Alpiners.”

Saturday’s nordic event that took place at Soldier Hollow was not only the last nordic event of the year but also the event that sealed the deal on what has truly been another incredible championship run by the Utah ski team. The combined 173 points that the nordic team put up was more than enough to maintain first place and to win the 2022 NCAA Skiing Championships. The ski team was able to capitalize on the truly dominant season this has been for Utah Ski.

A great deal of their success can be credited to director Fredrik Landstedt, who took over the program in 2018 and has won three titles with the Utes and five all-time. But success also comes from the performance of athletes, which the members of the Utah ski team have proven throughout the season with their remarkable efforts every meet and resilience through another season affected by COVID-19 not only in the collegiate level but in Olympic competition as well.

This truly has been a special season for the team, and Ute Nation should be proud of the remarkable athletes we have on this campus.


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