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Utes get bogged down in own ski races

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It was not, as they say, a good day for ski racing, especially not for the men of University of Utah's alpine team in their very own racing invitational.

For the women, in both alpine and cross country—even though the snow was soft, it snowed continuously and the courses were rough—it was a great day.

In the alpine, the men had one 16th-place finish and two DNS, or did not starts, for a second run, where the women finished an impressive 3-5-10-22.

In the women's cross country, finishes were 3-5-7-12. The men did not do as well and posted finishes of 1-15-36.

The results were that the Utes finished third and just two points shy of tying for second. The University of Denver won with 568 points, followed by the University of Colorado with 488 and Utah with 486. Alaska Anchorage was fourth with 452 and the University of New Mexico was fifth with 421.

In the women's giant slalom, Florence Roujas of Denver won the event with a two-run total time of 2 minutes, 10.48 seconds. Second was Pia Rivelsrud, also from Denver, in 2:10.53.

April Mancuso, third after the first run for the Utes, and held on to finish third overall with a time of 2:11.15.

Teammates Lina Johansson was 5th (2:12.51) and Kimberly Stephens was 10th (2:14.34). Rowena Bright was 22nd.

Heavy snow the past few days made racing difficult. Racers prefer a hard, packed surface. Instead, it was bumpy and, in places, soft and snow-covered.

It was more difficult for the men, who skied in a slalom on the Olympic run at Park City Mountain Resort. Timothee Theaus of Western States College won the event with a two-run total time of 1:40.12, and Carl Rixon Jr. of the Western Division was second in 1:40.40.

Down the list in 16th was Utah's Gaspar Perricone, two seconds behind the leaders.

Ben Thornhill, winner of Thursday's GS, and Mark Heinrich-Wallace did not show up for their second runs in Friday's slalom. Both skied out of the course on their first runs and had to hike back into the course to continue racing.

Utah coaches said that that the two lost so much time that there was little to be gained by making a second run and, possibly, risking injury.

Daniel Sonntag of Utah nipped Erling Christiansen of Colorado by half a second to win the men's 10 kilometer free ski event with a time of 27 minutes, 11.5 seconds. Christiansen's time was 27:12.

Utah Jess Kiesel was 15th.

In the women's 5K, Mandy Kaemph of Alaska, who won Thursday's classical, also won this event in a time of 15:13, Trine Lundamo of New Mexico, second on Thursday, finished second again.

Sandra Gredig of Utah was third in 16:14.4. Teammates Ashley McQueen was 5th, Barbro Hatlevik was 7th and Nicole Naef was 12th.

Utah coach Kevin Sweeney said he expected a strong showing from Denver and also expected to see the Utes come out in the first event with a strong showing.

One good finish in the men's GS would have left the Utes in a solid second of the 10 schools entered. The Utes were picked by coaches in a pre-season vote to win the national title.

The Utes will now travel to Alaska to compete in the Anchorage Invitational.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com