Making lemonade at Soldier Hollow |

Making lemonade at Soldier Hollow

Dave Hanscom, For The Park Record

It wasn’t the race we would have preferred. With several 60-degree days during the previous couple weeks, Soldier Hollow wasn’t able to fire up their snowmaking guns to have a five-kilometer track ready in time for the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series race on Saturday, Dec. 27. So what to do?

Like the Continental Cup Nordic Combined event two weeks previous, the challenge was to turn a lemon into something a little sweeter. Soldier Hollow manager Richard Hodges once again came up with a winning suggestion.

Since the only track available was from the stadium up to the lodge and tubing hill, about 0.8 kilometers and 150 vertical feet, we decided to do a sprint race for the first time in Wasatch Citizens Series history.

In cross-country skiing, a sprint consists of two parts. In the morning, all the racers ski the course using an interval start. Basically, one skier leaves the start every few seconds, and his or her time is recorded. This is called the qualifying round.

In a normal sprint race, the top 24 qualifiers in each class go on to the quarterfinals in the afternoon. These are run as six-person heats, and semifinals and finals follow for the fastest skiers in each heat. Since our time was limited, we decided to go directly to a final heat, with the top six in each class vying for the top six places, the next six in the qualifiers vying for places 7-12, etc.

Members of the Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy showed their prowess in the head-to-head competition. The fastest skier of the day, Karsten Hokanson, blasted out of the stadium and up the hill, completing the challenging course in just 2 minutes, 17 seconds. Teammate Henry Gorman crossed the line four seconds behind. In third was former U.S. Nordic Combined Development Team member and Park City-native Tyler Smith, who is currently furthering his education and skiing career at the University of New Hampshire.

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Parkite Maddie Morgan, also a Wasatch Nordic skier, easily won the junior women’s competition. She was the only female skier to break three minutes in this classic technique hill climb. Local residents Anita Merbach and Roxanne Toly were the fastest adult women.

Several Park City juniors were on the podium in their age groups. Jenae and Aiden Rasmussen both collected gold medals. Savanna Fassio was second to Jenae in the under-16 group and Lane Myshrall finished less than a half-second behind Aiden to take home a silver in the under-14 boys’ class. Sarah Morgan followed sister Maddie’s example and handily beat the other under-14 girls with an impressive time of 3:09.

The youngest juniors only skied the course once, with each age group and gender starting together in their own wave. Lucas Fassio was far ahead of the other under-8 boys, and Emily Campbell handily won the under-10 girls’ class. Sabine Wilson and Owen McDonald both got silver medals in the under-12 divisions.

At the other end of the age spectrum, several Parkites were at the top of their classes. Isaac and Dodi Wilson, Robert Lazzaroni, Deborah Wagner, Tom Noaker and Nancy Fichter were all winners.

The sprint format usually leads to some exciting finishes, and this race was no exception. One of the closest of the day was in the men’s 55-59 division. Tyler Smith’s father, Paul, battled Torbjorn Karlsen from start to finish, with Paul taking the win by less than a second.

The next event in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 15-kilometer free technique (skate) race at the White Pine golf course track this Saturday. Thanks to the wonderful snow that’s fallen in the last few days, this race should go off as planned. We’ve had enough lemonade for one winter.