Garrard dominates XC race | ParkRecord.com

Garrard dominates XC race

Dave Hanscom

When we heard that the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team was training in Utah last week, we hoped they would show up for the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series race at Soldier Hollow on Saturday.

No such luck. For some reason they decided it was more important to get back to Vancouver to prepare for their next Olympic events. However, a few junior skiers were pretty excited when silver medalist Johnny Spillane signed autographs and gave them some skiing pointers.

For the second series event in a row, professional triathlete Emma Garrard ran away with the women’s race. The former NCAA All-American and World University Games team member posted a time of 27:20 for the hilly 10-kilometer course, almost two minutes faster than runner-up Roxanne Toly.

Other local women who were victorious in their classes were Anna Cox in the 30-34 age group, Dodi Wilson in 40-44, Deborah Wagner among the 55-59s, Nancy Fichter in 60-64, and Marit Glenne in 65-69. Parkites Tanya Swenson, Dawn Rogers, and story teller Lynn Ware-Peek made a clean sweep in the 45-49 division. Jennifer Jackson beat out Stephanie Strohl in the Novice class with a time of 18:00 for one lap around the 5-kilometer course.

Among the juniors, 15-year-old Tristin Lowe won her final tune-up race before heading for the Junior Nationals in Maine in early March. Maurissa Weight, who handily beat all of her competition among the 16-17 year olds, is also hoping to make the trip to Maine, but at this point she’s the first alternate for the Intermountain Team.

Leah Lange lost a close one to her Salt Lake rival, so the season winner for the 10-11-girls class will come down to the final series event this weekend. Sydney Palmer-Leger posted another victory to wrap up her series title among the 8-9 year olds, and newcomer Kew Clayton came out ahead in the 5-7 group.

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The only local winners on the adult men’s side were Bruce Allen in the 50-54 group and Tom Noaker among the 60-64s. The junior boys fared considerably better. Nordic combined skier Tyler Smith posted the second fastest time of the day, covering 10 kilometers in just 27:22, only 10 seconds behind the Open Men’s class winner.

Other juniors who topped the podium were Noah Putt, who remains undefeated for the season in the 10-11 class, and Aren Burkemo, a recent qualifier for his second Junior National team in the 14-15 group.

Participation in the series continues at a record level, with 283 racers enjoying perfectly groomed Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow. At this time of year the snow is usually hard and fast early in the day, but soft and slow by noon. Fortunately, Friday night was quite cool, and the morning was cloudy, so most of the skiers were off the course in time to have excellent conditions throughout the race.

The final event in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 20-kilometer free technique (skate) race on the White Pine farm course this Saturday, February 27. Shorter distances are available for youngsters, oldsters, and novices, and lunch is included in the $18 entry fee.