A classic day at Soldier Hollow
It wasn’t the course we would have preferred. With the Soldier Hollow stadium and nearby trails cluttered with huge whales of man-made snow, and snow guns going strong, cross country skiers had to deal with a few obstacles at the first Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series race on Saturday.
But thanks to the storm that rolled through last week, plus a Herculean effort on the part of Scott Peterson, the SoHo groomer, 99 percent of the course had a perfect classic track on a cold foggy morning in the Heber Valley. The natural snow had set up nicely to provide a firm base for the track setter.
Local athletes dominated the 10.2-kilometer event. The only three men to break 30 minutes were members of the Park City Nordic and Wasatch Nordic ski teams, both headquartered at the Utah Olympic Park. Junior skiers Kyle Beling, winner in a speedy 29:24, Karsten Hokanson, and Henry Gorman handily outdistanced their older rivals. All that year-round training with coaches Gordon Lange and Bill Hokanson seems to be paying off.
Fastest woman of the day was White Pine instructor Emma Garrard, returning after taking a year off with a new baby. That obviously didn’t slow her down. Her time of 34:17 on the hilly course easily out-paced rivals Roxanne Toly and Anita Merbach.
The Wilson family made a clean sweep this week. Sabine picked up where she left off last winter with an outstanding time of 11:11 for the 2.2-kilometer loop, good enough to beat all of her under-12 male and female competitors. Dodi and Isaac both won their 40-year-old divisions by comfortable margins.
The under-16 age groups were completely dominated by Parkites. Noah Putt, the only skier to break 18 minutes for the 5.3K course, crossed the line in an outstanding time of 17:33. Drew Palmer-Leger was a minute back in the runner-up spot. Equally impressive was Leah Lang’s 10:04 time, which gave her a nearly two minute lead over second place skier Sydney Palmer-Leger.
Savanna Fassio got the blue ribbon for the under-14 girls. Brenna Egan, Julia Lazzaroni, and Lindsey Adams were on the under-18 women’s podium. Brenna’s very impressive time of 35:28 for 10.2 kilometers was fast enough to beat almost all the men. The intense training that led to her third place finish in the Utah High School Mountain Biking Championship last month obviously elevated her strength and endurance.
At the other end of the age spectrum, several Parkites were at the top of their classes. Marit Glenne, Gary and Nancy Fichter, Deborah Wagner, Tom Noaker, and Andrea Putt were winners. Robert Lazzaroni, new Nordic Program Manager at the Utah Olympic Park, took home a gold medal, as did Todd Henneman, who recently left a 20-year career at Jan’s to open Storm Cycles, a biking (and cross country skiing) business coming to Redstone this spring.
The next event in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 15 kilometer free technique race at the White Pine golf course track on Dec. 28.
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