Nordic series growing fast |

Nordic series growing fast

Dave Hanscom, For The Park Record

Leah Lange pushes by Karsten Beling on Saturday at Mountain Dell. Photo courtesy of Gary Fladmoe

Last Saturday was another record-breaking day for the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series. Three weeks ago both men’s and women’s course records were broken at White Pine. This time it was the number of skiers, rather than their speed, that was remarkable.

Two hundred and fifty-two racers enjoyed perfect weather and ski conditions at Mountain Dell. Our previous record for a classic technique event was 230. (For those not familiar with cross country skiing, "classic" technique involves sliding one’s skis along in parallel grooves in the snow, unlike the faster "free" or "skating" technique.)

After a stellar U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow last week, hometown star Rosie Brennan decided to stay in Utah to train, rather than compete in World Cup events in snow-starved Europe. She set the pace for the women at Mountain Dell, skiing the 10.5-kilometer course in an impressive 31 minutes, 19 seconds. Runner-up was White Pine instructor Emma Garrard, followed by Roxanne Toly and Anita Merbach.

The fastest skier on the course was Thomas Seidel. His time of 29:17 easily out-paced TUNA Head Coach Matthew Johnson and junior standout Karsten Hokanson. Also in the field this week were members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team. Adam Loomis, Parkite Tyler Smith, and Michael Ward, whose normal events only involve skating, were a bit out of their element, but it was a pleasure to have them join us for a workout.

The volunteer Mountain Dell grooming crew has mastered the art of setting classic tracks using only snowmobiles and equipment that can be dragged behind them. Many racers commented that they’d never skied in any better tracks, even at Soldier Hollow, where snow cats and power tillers are the norm.

The most exciting finish of the day was in the under-16 boys group. The top three skiers were the same as at the previous series event, but the order was different. Noah Putt remains undefeated, but rival Jesse Reid came on strong, ending up just 0.3 seconds back. That moved Drew Palmer-Leger into third place, versus a second three weeks ago.

Recommended Stories For You

Another sweep for Park City juniors was in the under-18 girls class. After a strong showing in the skate race at the U.S. Nationals, Sophie McDonald showed her classic skiing prowess by winning this race by a wide margin. Her time of 17:09 for 5.25 kilometers would have put her on the podium in the boys’ race. Brenna Egan took home the silver medal, and Julia Lazzaroni got the bronze.

Girls’ under-16 winner Leah Lange once again showed why she’s listed as one of the best skiers in the country in her age group. Coming off two second-place finishes in the U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow last week, her 17:20 almost matched Sophie’s. Runner-up in that division was mountain bike phenom Sydney Palmer-Leger. A stellar athlete in her own right, Sydney was less than 30 seconds behind Leah, despite being considerably younger than her competitors.

The Wilson family wasn’t able to duplicate its triple victory at the last series event. Daughter Sabine did her part by taking the under-12 blue ribbon by just two seconds. Isaac, her dad, had an easy time with the 40-45 men, but mom, Dodi, had to settle for a second place this time.

Several other local skiers were at the top of their age groups. John Olson won the boys’ under-10 race, Lucas Fassio had his second victory in a row in the under-8 group, and Tracy Kucherak led the under-14 girls. Adult winners were Nancy Fichter, Debbie Wagner, Lynn Ware-Peek, Gemma Arro-Ribot, Gary Fichter, Tom Noaker, and Robert Lazzaroni. John Fassio took the Men’s Novice division.

The next race in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 10-kilometer free technique event this Saturday, Jan. 25, at Soldier Hollow. A shorter course will be available for novices, so all are welcome to participate.