A classic day for a classic race
Parkites perform well in near-perfect conditions
The Utah Nordic Alliance
The right word to describe the conditions at Saturday’s Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series race is amazing. The snow was cold and dry, and thin clouds kept the temperature below 15 degrees. After a huge storm early in the week, the Mountain Dell grooming crew had worked until late on Friday night to make sure the classic grooves were firm and smooth.
The women’s race was one of the most interesting. Park City’s Maddie Morgan led for most of the two laps around the 5.25-kilometer loop, but University of Utah skier Josefin Nilsson stayed right on her tail. The senior Ute from Sweden was able to eke out a three-second victory in a time of 35:57.
After graduating from the Park City Winter Sports School in the fall, Morgan is taking the winter off from academics before heading to the University of New Hampshire in the fall. She’s training with her Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy team for one more winter to help her prepare for collegiate-level competition. Saturday’s performance would indicate that she’ll be ready.
On the men’s side, experience also won out over youth. In this case, it was 55-year-old veteran Barry Makarewicz who demonstrated to Wasatch skier Daniel Fischer and Parkite Connor Patten that good classic technique takes many years to perfect. Makarewicz’ time of 32:11 put him almost a half-minute ahead of the local 18- and 19-year-olds.
The junior boys groups had the most exciting finishes on Saturday. In the under-16 class, the top three skiers were within a single second of one another. Lane Myshrall won the sprint to the line, with Skylar Patten and Logan Chamberlain hot on his tail. Their time of 15:44 for one lap was a fast enough pace to have put them in the running in the adult group. They’re certainly a trio to watch.
It was payback time this week for Lucas Fassio. Rival Jamison Ping won the under-10 division in the first two series events by an average of about two seconds. This week, it was Fassio’s turn to cross the line in first place, by just one second. With two more races to go, nobody’s ready to predict who will end up with the overall season title.
Reed Chamberlain was easily the fastest under-14 skier of the day, but the battle for second and third came down to a photo finish between Parkite Janne Koch and Salt Laker Joseph Bonacci. Photos and video showed that Koch’s toe was just the length of his ski boot ahead of Bonacci’s.
Local girls also took home gold medals. Sarah Morgan fared a little better than her older sister by winning the under-16 class by over a minute. Jenae Rasmussen and McKinley Hibl had similar success among their under-18 and under-14 competitors.
Many adult age groups were led by Park City skiers. Christine Schwartz, Dodi Wilson, Kirsten Whetstone, and Marit Glenne all took home gold medals. Cyndi Schwandt was the fastest 65 year old, with Deborah Wagner edging out Nancy Fichter for the silver in that class.
On the men’s side, Ryan Ping turned in a fast time of 36:41 to take the 40 year old victory, and Todd Hageman was just 20 seconds back to lead the 45’s. Paul Smith and Jordan Swenson topped the 55 year olds, and the 60’s were swept by Steve Evans, Geir Vik, and Steve Bowling. Tom Noaker finished far ahead of the other 65 year olds as usual.
The next event in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 10-kilometer free technique race at Soldier Hollow on Feb. 11. In the meantime, the fastest junior Nordic skiers in the world will be at that venue for the rest of this week. It’s is a great opportunity to see them in action there, as well as on the Utah Olympic Park jumping hill.
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Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, announces he will step down in June
Charlie Sturgis announced he is stepping down from his role as executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, effective in June.