Leah Lange leads Langlaufers | ParkRecord.com

Leah Lange leads Langlaufers

Dave Hanscom, For The Park Record

Leah Lange tucks and glides during a Wasatch Citizens Series race at Soldier Hollow on Saturday.

Leah Lange is on a roll. Her top performances at the National Cross Country Championships in Michigan earlier this month resulted in her being selected to represent the U.S. at the Junior Worlds in Romania in three weeks. She continued her winning ways (by wide margins!) against Intermountain junior competitors in a Junior National qualification race at Bogus Basin a week ago, and repeated that in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series on Saturday at Soldier Hollow.

Leah’s time of 29 minutes, 45 seconds for the 10-kilometer free technique (skate) race was 19 seconds faster than runner-up Tristin Lowe. A former Soldier Hollow and college competitor, Lowe is currently head coach of the SoHo competition team. Rounding out the top four were Park City skiers Roxanne Toly and Emma Garrard.

In the men’s race, former Michigan Tech coach and now Salomon marketing guy Josh Korn turned in the fastest ski of the day. His time of 26:53 was just two seconds better than perennial winner Barry Makarewicz. To make the race even more exciting, under-18 winner Drew Palmer-Leger was able to stay with the leaders and finished between them.

Soldier Hollow skiing is at least as good as it was for the 2002 Olympics. With almost 20 inches of natural snow on the ground, plus having a better than normal winter for snow production, the entire trail system is open for business and groomed to perfection. Let’s hope the weather gods smile on us again next winter when the World Junior Nordic Championships come to Utah.

Once again the under-16 juniors provided much of the excitement at Saturday’s race. At their last meeting in a series event, Lane Myshrall beat Aiden Rasmussen in a photo finish. This time the two were almost as close, but both lost in a final sprint to Logan Chamberlain, who claimed victory in 13:49 for the 5K dash. Tate Hoefler rounded out the Park City top-four sweep.

Skiing up in the under-16 class, 13-year-old Sydney Palmer-Leger easily won her 5K race in 14:41. The next three places were the close ones. Savanna Fassio lost in the stretch to Soldier Hollow skier Lina Farra, with Jenae Rasmussen missing a podium by just four seconds.

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Other local juniors winning their classes were Haley Batten, whose 32:14 for 10K was good enough for the under-18 gold, and Stine Koch, who had her second series victory against the under-14s with a 10:52 for 3.2K. Her brother Janne Koch continued his unbeaten streak with a fourth WCS win in the under-12 class, and Lucas Fassio also has four firsts in the under-10s.

Adult Parkites who won their divisions included Sarah Brockett in the youngest group and Marit Glenne in the oldest. Deborah Wagner, Cyndi Schwandt and Nancy Fichter had their fourth clean sweep for medals in the 65-69 class. Tom Noaker won another contest against the 65-69 men, and Steve Bowling got a blue ribbon in the next younger group. Todd Hageman won his second series race of the winter against the 45-49s.

The most competitive age group continues to be the 55-59s, where Paul Smith, Bruce Allen and Torbjorn Karlsen led the pack again this week. This was Smith’s fourth victory, but his Park City friends aren’t making it easy for him.

The final race in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 20K free technique event on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the White Pine Farm. A shorter course will be available for novices and youngsters, and an end-of-season party and lunch will follow at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

In the meantime, about 700 of the top junior skiers in the West will be at Soldier Hollow for a Junior National qualifying event. They’ll start out with a sprint race on Friday, Jan. 29, and finish up with a distance event the next day. This is a great opportunity to see some future Olympians in action.