Utah skiing: Utes seeking their 12th national championship
Published: March 6, 2012 11:06PM
Updated: March 6, 2012 09:49PM
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Nick Cohee, University of Utah Alpine Ski team Jan. 25, 2012 in Park City. (Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

The Utah ski team has known nothing but success in 2012.

The Utes, ranked No. 1 nationally, has won its five meets, added another first place finish at the NCAA West Region/Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Skiing Association Championships and is now going after its 12th national title beginning Wednesday at Bozeman, Mont.

“Go out with a bang,” said Senior Nick Cohee, the No. 1 men’s Alpine seed in the 2012 NCAA Championships.

Cohee, the top giant slalom qualifier, leads a veteran group who finished second in 2011.

“Confidence and momentum are huge things in sports and I have them right now,” Cohee said. “I just want to close the deal at the NCAAs and support the team as much as possible. I think we can have some success.”

The competition begins with the Nordic events Wednesday and Friday at Bohart Ranch. Alpine is scheduled for Thursday and Saturday at Bridger Bowl.

The slalom closes the weekend. Utah’s main competition is projected to come from Vermont and Pac-12 rival Colorado.

“The rivalry has just gone up a notch,” said Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney with a laugh.

The Buffaloes aside, Sweeney would just like to see his team continue what they have been doing all season.

“We don’t need to do anything special,” he said. “We just need to be in there, get as many skiers scoring in the top 10 as possible. We need consistency and a high level of performance.

This group has a lot of confidence. They have been successful and that’s what we need to continue.”

While Cohee leads the men’s alpine events, senior Tii-Maria Romar is Utah’s top giant slalom seed and ranks fourth in the slalom.

In Nordic competition, Ute senior Maria Graefnings earned the top seed in the freestyle race, while junior Miles Havlick is ranked No. 2 and earned the RMISA Men’s Nordic MVP award.

“We’re excited,” Sweeney said, hoping to get through the first races with as few mistakes as possible. “Then we should do well in second race and get [any jitters] out of their system.”

Cohee, in particular, would like to use the NCAA competition as a stepping stone to a professional career. But, first things first.

“This year I’ve just been really focusing on my mental state of being,” he said. “I want to go as far as I can in this sport. The strongest weapon I have this year is I really want it. I just believe I’m good enough to be the best.”

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter:@tribmarty

Quest for No. 12

The Utah ski team, NCAA runnerup in 2011, is attempting to win its 12th national championship.

Coach Kevin Sweeney, in his second stint as Director of Skiing at the University of Utah, is seeking his second NCAA title.

Utah is undefeated this season in five regular-season events and the NCAA Regional.