A classic day for a classic race | ParkRecord.com

A classic day for a classic race

Submitted by Dave Hanscom
The Utah Nordic Alliance
Ben Slawson, left, races Xander Burkemo, right, to the finish line of the men’s 18-24 category race. Burkemo won by 0.3 seconds.
photo by Gary Fladmoe

It wasn’t a record, but pretty close. Two hundred and nine skiers toed the starting line on Saturday at White Pine Touring Nordic Center for the season’s first Black Diamond Wasatch Citizens Series race. The classic event had to be moved from Soldier Hollow, due to insufficient snow over there, but with such incredible skiing conditions in Park City, we were able to hold the race. The weather and track couldn’t have been better.

The closest race of the day was between the two fastest people on the track. TUNA skier Ben Slawson battled Soldier Hollow’s Xander Burkemo for the entire race, but lost at the finish by a boot length. Xander’s toe thrust across the line made the difference. Their excellent time for the 10.6K race was 28:37. Third fastest performance of the day was turned in by Men’s Open winner Logan Chamberlain.

In the Women’s Open race, former Park City Ski Team star Brenna Egan took the honors. Just 7 seconds back was Soldier Hollow standout Pearl Harvey, with Park City’s Julia Lazzaroni in third. Brenna, a former Junior National All-American, returned to her hometown course from the University of New Mexico. As a member off their team, she qualified for and skied in the 2018 NCAA Championships last winter.

The other tight finish of the day was between Park City veteran Roxanne Toly and TUNA Board member Jen Santoro. This race also came down to a toe thrust, with Roxanne nipping Jen at the finish.

In the best news category, Ray Groth returned to ski racing after a couple of years away. During that time, he underwent a heart transplant! Ray is one of our first Wasatch Centurions, having skied in more than 150 WCS events.

That’s second only to his brother Rich, a Parkite who’s way ahead of everyone else with almost 175. Ray’s new heart worked well enough for him to place second in the 70-74 division, with a 5.3K time of 35:11. Amazing!

We also had our first 80 year old competitor. In his 126th WCS race, Steve Swanson glided around the White Pine loop in an excellent 26:20. An energizer bunny for sure!

Also, this was race number 100 for long-time Park City resident Cyndi Schwandt. Her first attempt at a track race was in 1984 when a friend convinced her to try the sport on her telemark skis. That was such an unpleasant experience that it took her 7 years to return (on the right equipment). Another Parkite, Nancy Fichter, has 99, and will get her award next month.

A couple of local families topped their classes. Isaac Wilson handily won the 45-49 age group, finishing more than a minute and a half in front of Todd Hageman. His daughter Sabine led the 14-15’s by a similar margin.

John and Lucas Fassio dominated the Rec and 10-11 divisions, respectively.

It was great to see so many junior skiers on the track, with 15-20 in each 2-year age group. It’s particularly encouraging to see so many of them mastering classic technique, which is the basis for our sport. The three successful junior programs – TUNA, Park City Nordic, and Soldier Hollow – are the key to the future of Nordic skiing in Utah.

The next event in the Black Diamond Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 15K free technique (skate) race, also at White Pine. Let’s hope this early season weather holds up and brings us another great winter of cross-country skiing at all the local areas.

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