The Utah skiing team came back from third place in the Utah Invitational standings to win the invitational on Monday afternoon at Solder Hollow. The team was led by strong performances by Veronika Meyerhoffer and Sloan Storey in the Nordic Classical portion. The team finished the day with three podium appearences and seven top-ten finishes.
Sloan Storey, a senior from Hailey Idaho and team captain, picked up her first career victory in the Women's 10-km classic. Veronkia Meyerhoffer, last year's collegiate skiier of the year, finished second. Storey and Meyerhoffer raced out to a 16 second lead on the competition and maintained the lead down the stretch in their 1-2 finish. Storey said after the race, she and Meyerhoffer had panned on using the strategy of breaking away from the pack early together and using each other as motivation to finish off the race. Not far behind the two front runners were fellow Utes Natalia Mueller, Josefin Nilsson, and Anna-Lenen Heynen. The trio finished seventh, ninth and thirteenth respectively, giving Utah four finishers in the top ten.
On the men's side, senior Niklas Persson finished second in the 15 km classic. Persson entered the final lap in a group of three that pulled away before finishing second. Behind Persson, Kevin Bolger and Noe Bellet finished in the top ten, with eight and ninth place finishes. Three other Utes rounded out the group, with Oscar Ivars finishing 16th, Nick Hendrickson 19th and Tucker McCrery coming in 21st.
Utah entered the day six points behind both Colorado and the University of Denver. Colorado surged to a 14 point lead after the man's classic race giving them the advantage heading into the Women's classic race. The tandem performance by Storey and Meyerhoffer combined with Mueller and Nilsson finishing in the top ten, pushed the women Utes to 102-75 victory, which pulled Utah as a team into first place and securing the Utah Invitational title.
Utah finished the invitational with 362 points beating Colorado who finished second with 619 points. Denver came in third place with 579 points and Montana State and New Mexico rounded out the top five with 492 and 479 points respectively. The win finished off a remarkable comeback a Utah sat in fifth place after the first day of competition and was out of first place by as much as 72 points at one point.
The alpine portion of the team was in Bozeman for the day for the alpine portion of the Montana State Invitational. The team had a pair of top ten finishes in the slalom with Joregen Brath finishing tenth in the men's slalom and Roni Remme finishing ninth in the Women's. Utah currently sits in third place in the Montana State Invitational at the conclusion of the alpine portion. The current leader is Denver with 344 points, in second is Colorado with 311 points, while Utah has 273 points. Utah is 71 points behind, so a comeback similar to the one in the Utah Invitational will be needed to comeback and win. The competition will conclude next weekend on January 17th and 18th when the nordic events are held.