The western NCAA skiing regional championships kicked off today Thursday with alpine events hosted by the University of Utah at Park City Mountain Resort. Nordic events will be at Soldier Hollow early next week.
The last year has been an interesting one in the world of sports, collegiate skiing has been no exception.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions casting a shadow on all competitions, collegiate skiing kicked off in January across the country in the NCAAs western, central, and eastern divisions.
The University of Utah has managed to go undefeated this season, winning the first four Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association invitationals of the year, which combine scores from men’s and women’s alpine and cross-country competitions.
The RMISA regional championships kicked off on Thursday with men’s and women’s alpine racing at Park City Mountain Resort. Alpine competition runs through Friday before the nordic teams take to Soldier Hollow starting Monday, February 22nd.
University of Utah Director of Skiing Fredrik Landstedt told KPCW he likes his team’s chances heading into the championships.
“Yeah, we have a good chance for sure,” Landstedt said. “Our goal is to win every meet, really, and so far this year we’ve been doing that and of course, we want to win the regional championships. It’s always tough because everyone knows, especially in alpine skiing, anything can happen. You can straddle a gate or ski out or crash and you can lose your best skier or your top two skiers. You know, lots of things can happen, but we believe our team is so strong that even if we have some of the top skiers, something happen to them, we still have very good depth on the team so we can still score lots of points.”
Unlike many other collegiate sports, individual athletes qualify for the NCAA skiing national championships, with a maximum of 12 men’s and women’s alpine and cross-country athletes allowed per team. Regionals are the final chance of the season for athletes to qualify for the national championships.
The 2021 NCAA skiing championships are scheduled for March 10th-13th and will be hosted by the University of New Hampshire.
Landstedt said just pulling a ski season off at all was a big undertaking, but said skiing is lucky to be an outdoor sport and is not restricted by the use of indoor facilities like many other collegiate sports have been.
All athletes and coaches competing must undergo testing before competition, fill out online health forms, and wear masks and physically distance when not moving on their skis.
“We’ve been actually having a pretty normal college season,” he said. “We worked out in the fall, lots of meetings to work out the best possible protocols to make safe competitions. We’ve been having very safe competitions considering what is going on, and, of course, the best place for anyone to be right now is to be outside and to be skiing, that’s probably the safest and best location. Outside sports, they’re a little fortunate there that they don’t have to be in a gym or a place inside where it’s more crowded.”
Although spectators will not be allowed at either PCMR or Soldier Hollow, interested fans can track the action live here.