Garrard wins third straight series |

Garrard wins third straight series

Submitted by Dave Hanscom

Despite near blizzard conditions Friday evening, the weather for Saturday’s Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series cross-country ski race at the White Pine Farm was perfect. Unlike at the Round Valley Roundup the week before, the wind abated after midnight, the snow quit an hour before the start, and by the time the race was half over, the sun was poking through the clouds.

White Pine’s groomer drove the cat around the track at about 7 a.m., so the base was quite firm. The leaders had to ski through an inch or two of new snow for the first lap, but the surface quickly glazed over. People who had lots of structure in their ski bases and proper wax had a real advantage.

For the third series event in a row, top level triathlete Emma Garrard won the women’s race, skiing 20 kilometers in a strong 66:37. Parkite Roxanne Toly was again runner-up, just two minutes off the pace.

The outstanding performance of the day was undoubtedly that of Sydney Palmer-Leger. After easily winning her first four series events, the barely 9 year old decided to ski in the 10-11 division this week. Her time of 9:43 for 2.5 kilometers was more than a half minute faster than any other finisher in the class.

Another superb time was turned in by 17-year-old Tyler Smith, who completed two tours around the 6.6 kilometer loop in just 42 minutes, more than three minutes ahead of the second place finisher. Smith was the top junior in the Intermountain Division to qualify for the Junior Nationals in Minnesota next week.

Tyler’s dad Paul also won his age group in a tight race with two Park City

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50 to 54 year olds, Todd Henneman and Bruce Allen. Other local winners among the men were former champion adventure racer Isaac Wilson and ageless Tom Noaker, each with their fourth series victory of the season.

This was the final race in the five-event Smartwool series. Points accumulated over the winter determine placing in each age and gender category, with the best four scores out of five counting toward the total.

Clinching the title in the 12 to 13 girls class was Leah Lange, with her fourth victory. Her mother, Lori, was also a winner this week, leading the 40 to 45 women by a large margin.

Another member of the Intermountain Junior Team heading for the Nationals, Sophie McDonald, took the 14 to 15 class by a minute and a half. Her time of 23:25 was the third fastest lap time for any woman of any age. Her dad, Steve McDonald, a newcomer to the series, won the novice men class in 26:40.

In the closest race of the day, Henry Silverman beat his Salt Lake rival in the 8 to 9 year old boys group by just 0.3 second. Henry won all three of the Wasatch Citizens Series events in which he participated. Drew Palmer-Leger, who had already won four races, decided to ski in an older age class this week like his sister. He was just a few seconds out of fourth place in that group.

Another Parkite who chalked up a fourth series victory to wrap up a season trophy was Deborah Wagner, top skier among the 60 to 64 women. Lora Smith finished ahead of Lisa Palmer-Leger in the 40 to 44 age group.

The Wasatch Citizens Series is done for the winter, but Utah nordic races have other events this month. A 20-kilometer event on the North Fork Park trail system in the Ogden Valley on March 19 is a good opportunity to check out the state’s newest cross country ski area, and Solitude’s season finale will be a short race and sprint relay on March 26.