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Top 10 Athletes of 2014-15: #4 Veronika Mayerhofer - Skiing

The freshman skier from Austria ranks #4 on our list of top 10 athletes of 2014-15

Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

Veronika Mayerhofer arrived on campus last year as a 22 year old freshman. A member of the Austrian ski team since 2006, she is a veteran skier, who had spent the years most normally would spend in college, instead focusing on professional ski racing back in Europe.

In 2009 she finished fifth in the 5-km classical race at the European Youth Olympic Festival. She placed second in the 5km classical and freestyle races at the Austrian ski championships. She finished 13th in the 2014 skiathalon at the U-23 World Ski championships. She trained for and competed in the 21014 Sochi olympics for Austria as part of the 4x5k relay team that finished 13th.

After the olympics Mayerhofer decided to make a change and attend university in the United States. Mayerhoffer, whose sister Johanna had skied for Vermont, emailed Utah coach Abi Holt, which is how she arrived on Utah's radar. The Utah coaches were happy to add her to Utah's nationally known skiing program.

Mayerhoffer wasted no time in becoming a prolific skier for the University of Utah. In her first season skiing for the Utes, Mayerhoffer finished on the podium ten times and never placed lower than fourth the entire season. She finished with five second place finishes including the 10-km classic in Salt Lake City, 5-km classic and 5km freestyle at Alaska and the 15-km at the Rocky Moutian Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) championship. She also finished with four total wins, including winning the 15-km classic at Colorado and winning both the 10-km classic and 5-km freestyle races at New Mexico.

She finished the season as first team All-RMISA, the RMISA Women's Nordic MVP and a two time All American. She was named RMISA skier of the week following the meet at Colorado and was named National Collegiate All-Academic team. In the NCAA championships, she led the way for Utah, finishing a close second in a thrilling photo finish in the 15-km classic race. She needed no photo finish in the 5-km freestyle race as she became the NCAA champion winning by 13 seconds. Her national championship in the 5-km freestyle race was the first for Utah since 2012. She was named the United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association (USCSCA) Nordic skier of the year to end the season.

Mayerhoffer has commented on the challenges of switching environments from the grind of competing for the Austrian national team to a college ski team environment, but said she enjoys having more balance in her life. The psychology major said she enjoys that college skiing emphasizes the team more than the individual, noting the support from her teammates really helped her throughout the course of the season.

Mayerhoffer has three years of eligibility remaining and looks poised to continue her career as a top female competition in collegiate skiing.