Sophomore Kimberly Stephens
Jan. 11, 2006
PARK CITY, Utah -- The University of Utah ski team continues to battle for the top spot against powerhouse rivals Denver and Colorado, but managed to remain in third place after the first day of alpine events at the Alaska-Anchorage Invitational.
The Denver Pioneers (426) currently have a 20 point lead over second place Colorado (406), while Utah (368) holds on to third. Host Alaska-Anchorage (366) dropped two spots to take fourth and the Lobos of New Mexico (355) remain in fifth to round out the top-five team scores.
In his first collegiate race as a Ute, freshman Scott Veenis torched the competition to win the men's giant slalom in a blazing time of 1:58.26. Senior standout skier Will McDonald raced to an eighth-place finish in 1:59.45, while junior Gaspar Perricone finished 14th with a two run time of 1:59.97.
Freshman Kyle Kung came out with a third-place performance in the first run, but lost a ski and was unable to finish the second run. Senior two-time GS champion Ben Thornhill did not finish the first run and was out of the hunt for team points.
"Scott dominated today and that was amazing to see as a coach," said head alpine coach Jaka Korencan. "We were handicapped without Kyle and Ben and that hurt us. Overall, the men are extremely strong and are one of the best alpine teams in the country."
The women's downhill squad struggled in the slalom, finishing with only one score in the top 15. Sophomore Kim Stephens headlined the team with her 14th-place finish in 1:35.40, while Park City, Utah native Chelsea Laswell placed 21st in 1:39.24. Junior Lauren Lattimer skied into the top 25, claiming 24th with a time of 1:41.49.
Senior transfer Erika Hogan crashed in the first run and was unable to score for the Utes, while freshman teammate Mikaela Grassl took fifth in the first run but crashed and did not finish the second run.
"The women had a difficult day," remarked Korencan. "They were very disappointed, but I'm confident that they can score in the top 10. They need to get some more confidence, so we can ski to our potential."
"Tomorrow really depends on the weather," added Korencan. "They are getting a lot of snow, but the men's team is in great shape and we should be on top if we ski the way I know we can."
Tomorrow, Utah will race in the final day of the Alaska-Anchorage Invitational by competing in the men's slalom and women's giant slalom events in Park City, Utah. Race times will be all day.
Alaska-Anchorage Team Scores: 1. Denver 426; 2. Colorado 406; 3. Utah 368; 4. Alaska-Anchorage 366; 5. New Mexico 355; 6. Montana State 262; 7. Nevada 216; 8. Whitman 151, 9. Western State 148; 10. Wyoming 52; 11. Boise State 33.