Seawolf skiing takes on competition in Utah

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Casey Wright competed int he women’s 5K classic and 15K freestyle at the 2018 Utah Invitational on Jan. 18-19. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

With one of the shortest athletic seasons at UAA, the men’s and women’s ski teams are about halfway done with their regular season meets, after only three weeks of competing. The team has spent countless months training and preparing for the season, as senior Charley Field has experienced.

“The coaches have done an excellent job setting up good training spaces for us to be able to have the training we need,” Field said. “I don’t think that anything needs to change for us to be more prepared. Each of my team members [has] the potential to do amazing and have so far stepped up to the plate.”

Over the weekend of Jan. 19-20, the Nordic ski teams continued the meet that the alpine teams had competed in the weekend prior. The Utah University Invitational meet took place in Huntsville and Soldier Hollow, Utah, previously featuring the giant slalom, slalom, classical race (5/10K) and freestyle race (15/20K).

After the giant slalom portion of the weekend, UAA remained at the end of the pack at No. 7 out of eight teams. The Seawolves managed to accumulate 38 points on the men’s side and 54 points on the women’s side to finish with a total of 92 points.

The finish of the giant slalom portion proved to be successful for University of Colorado Denver, Montana State and University of Utah, who were the top three finishing teams with 176, 145.5 and 138.5 points, respectively.

On the women’s side, top finishers were Li Djurestaal (12th), Georgia Burgess (13th) and Alix Wells (15th) in the giant slalom, whereas the men had Anthony Naciuk (17th) and Erik Cruz (18th) in the giant slalom.

“The [giant slalom] went well, and I am thrilled with the result where I ended up 12th. I am particularly happy with the second run and the fact that I could keep my position from the first run even though the course was turning a lot which usually doesn’t fit me. The slalom I unfortunately straddled and needed to hike,” Djurestaal said.

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Alpine skiers also competed in the slalom. This kept UAA at No. 7 but added an additional 44 points on the men’s side and 40 on the women’s side to accumulate a total of 176, still trailing No. 1 Denver who had 329.

UAA had several successes in the slalom including Burgess (17th), Field (20th) and Wells (24th) as well as Naciuk (18th), Dominic Unterberger (19th) and Cruz (22nd).

Of these successes, Field (28 points) and Wells (27 points) currently sit at 16th and 17th on the NCAA qualification points list for the slalom.

As for the giant slalom Field currently ranks No. 6 with 63 points. Burgess, Djurstaal and Wells also make the list at 14th, 17th and 18th respectively.

Unterberger is at No. 11 on the men’s qualification list for the slalom (37 points) and No. 13 on the giant slalom list with 39 points, followed by Naciuk at No. 14 on slalom and No. 19 on giant slalom and Cruz at No. 22 on both slalom and giant slalom.

As for the Nordic portion of the meet, UAA competed in both the freestyle and classical races, a men’s and women’s team for each. With the most success being seen in the classical races, the men’s team finished with 42 points and the women’s team finished with 41 points. In contrast, the freestyle teams finished with 39 points on the men’s side and 35 points on the women’s side.

In the men’s 20K freestyle, Tracen Knopp, Zackarias Toresson, Marcus Deuling, and Toomas Kollo finished one after another to take places 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st. On the women’s side, for the 15K race, Sadie Fox finished at No. 22 with Jenna DiFolco close behind at No. 25.

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Marcus Deuling earned 12 points in the men’s 20K freestyle and 16 points in the 10K classic during the Utah Invitational. Photo credit: Skip Hickey

The Seawolves were also successful in the classic races as well, with Deuling and Kollo at a 17th and 18th finish, respectively, in the 10K classic. Fox was the top UAA women’s finisher in the 5K classic at No. 22, with Wright and Michaela Keller-Miller behind at 28th and 31st, respectively.

Ultimately, after both the Nordic and alpine components of the meet, the Seawolves finished at sixth overall with 333 points.

“The season has been very varying. Some results good and some not so good. But it has also been amazing going to all of these different places with an awesome team,” Djurestaal said.

UAA has a short break until they take off again for the New Mexico Invitational on Feb. 3-4.