Emma Garrard wins XC finale | ParkRecord.com

Emma Garrard wins XC finale

Dave Hanscom, For The Park Record

For the second time this "winter," Soldier Hollow bailed out the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series. With essentially no snow on White Pine’s farm course, last Saturday’s race was moved to the 2002 Olympic venue, which still boasts more than four kilometers of excellent manmade snow.

Despite a pre-race snow squall that left a coating of wet sticky snow on the previously fast granular surface, Park City Nordic Ski Team coach Emma Garrard found conditions to her liking. Her speedy time of 51 minutes, 55 seconds for the 16-kilometer free technique (skate) event was faster than almost all of the men. The runner-up was Parkite Roxanne Toly.

The winner of the men’s race was perennial Nordic standout Barry Makarewitz. With U.S. Ski Team athletes at the World Championships in Sweden, the University of Utah team in Alaska for Regionals and the older juniors in McCall, Idaho, at a Junior National Qualifier, other local skiers were able to take advantage of the opportunity to get on the podium.

Just a few days before the race, there was no certainty there would be enough snow to hold it. Fortunately, Soldier Hollow had one really cold night and their stalwart snowmaking crew was able to cover the areas that had begun to melt out. With colder weather having finally arrived, it now looks like their cross-country skiing and tubing will be good for several more weeks.

One of the most exciting races of the day was in the 55-year-old men’s class. Park City skiers Paul Smith and Bruce Allen have battled one another for years. Bruce dominated the rivalry for a long time, but Paul has come out ahead in more recent encounters. On Saturday, the two skied together for the whole race, with one taking the lead, then the other. In the end it was Bruce’s day, as he surged ahead in the final kilometer for the win.

Among the juniors, Lucas Fassio continued his winning ways. This was his third gold medal of the season, which made him the overall winner for the year. Points are accumulated in the five Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series races, with the best four used to determine results for the whole season. Lucas also had a second-place finish, so he easily topped his age group.

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Other Park City skiers who led their classes over the winter included Roxanne Toly, who finished ahead of rival Anita Merbach in the open women’s class. Deborah Wagner and Cyndi Schwandt finished ahead of the other 60-year-olds, and Nancy Fichter led the next older group with four wins. Jenae Rasmussen and Savanna Fassio were first and second in the 14-15 class.

On the male side of the ledger, Robert Lazzaroni accumulated more points than any other 45-49 year old, and Paul Smith took advantage of the fact that Bruce Allen didn’t participate in any of the classic technique events to win their division.

All in all, it was a successful season for the series. One race had to be postponed a week, and two were moved to Soldier Hollow’s manmade snow. As a result of the lack of snow for people to train on, participation was down relative to recent years, but the series certainly fared better than some other parts of the country.

A final event for junior skiers between 6 and 16 years old is coming up this weekend. The Intermountain Youth Ski Festival will be held at Soldier Hollow (where else?) on Saturday and Sunday. It includes two days of ski racing, tubing and other fun activities to wrap up the winter.