Kevin Sweeney and the Ute ski team begins its 2013 season next Monday.
Jan. 2, 2013
After finishing second overall at the NCAA Championships each of the last two seasons, the University of Utah ski team is looking to continue its track record of recent success in 2013, while keeping an eye out for the 12th national title in school history at the national meet in Middlebury, Vt., Mar. 6-9, 2013.
"If certain things fall in our favor, we could be ready to vie for the title," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "The reason why I say that is we do have a nice combination of returning athletes who have demonstrated they can score well in the RMISA as well as the NCAAs. At the same time, we've brought in excellent recruits who have already competed at a very high level. When I look at this squad from an overall perspective, I do think we're balanced and able to score well in each of the disciplines, both Alpine and Nordic. If we're able to carry that through the season and go into the championships healthy, we can give the title a run. That's certainly what we're gunning for."
A combination of veteran wisdom and an energetic corps of newcomers rejuvenated Utah's team chemistry during offseason as the Utes will feature nine returners, seven of whom have prior experience at the NCAA Championships, as well as nine new team members joining the squad for their first season, but have competed in top-notch national and international competitions throughout their respective careers.
"We have a group of newcomers that knows how to compete at the NCAA level and we have this new group that's full of energy," Sweeney said. "They're pushing the juniors and seniors in workouts. They're excited to be here and have really engaged in what this program has to offer. They're happy, motivated and doing well academically so this makes the chemistry extremely positive. I really view that as strength of this team. The cohesion of such a new group has exceeded far beyond my expectations."
"I can honestly say that for nearly every discipline that the competition to see who's going to end up securing a championships spot will be exciting to watch unfold," Sweeney said. "In the big picture, I'm happy with the depth, experience and leadership we have. This is a nice position to be in and it will be important for the staff to manage this well."
The 2013 season starts next Monday, Jan. 7 with an RMISA Giant Slalom Qualifier in Eldora, Colo. Utah's Nordic team competes for the first time this season on Jan. 12 in the 15/20-km freestyle of the CU/Spencer Nelson Memorial Invitational in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Utahutes.com will break down the Alpine events for the Utes tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 3) before previewing Utah's Nordic team on Friday, Jan. 4.