Teela and Garrard win in Midway | ParkRecord.com

Teela and Garrard win in Midway

Dave Hanscom, For The Park Record

Jeremy Teela clings to a close lead after one lap at Soldier Hollow on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Gary Fladmoe

Skiing with more than his usual intensity, Jeremy Teela easily outdistanced the field at last Saturday’s Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series cross country ski race. Members of the University of Utah Ski Team and the U.S. Nordic Combined Team were able to stay with him for the first lap on the 5.2-kilometer course, but he skated away the second time around and opened up a thirteen-second margin on two UU skiers.

Disappointed that he was only selected as an alternate for the U.S. Biathlon Team going to Sochi next month, the three-time Olympian seemed determined to make a point. His time of 25 minutes, 47 seconds on a challenging Soldier Hollow course certainly showed that the 37-year-old isn’t over the hill quite yet.

In the open women’s class, a smiling Emma Garrard crossed the line in 31:08, more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field. A more interesting race was between Park City native Roxanne Toly and two University of Utah skiers, who battled for second place. The 52-year-old former downhill skier powered home for the silver medal, as the UU women collapsed exhausted in the snow at the finish.

Two hundred seventy skiers enjoyed a bluebird day in the Heber Valley. Thanks to low nighttime temperatures, Soldier Hollow has been able to continue making snow, and most of their trail system is now covered, despite the continuing drought. The night before the race, the groomer laid down perfect corduroy on a fresh man-made surface, ideal for fast racing conditions.

With most of the top juniors competing in Sun Valley this weekend, much of the excitement among the age-group skiers was in the older classes. One of the closest finishes was among the 55-59 men, where Bruce Allen eked out a three-second win over rival Paul Smith. This was Bruce’s first race of the winter, and he wanted it to be a good one. He started building his lead right out of the start, and was able to maintain it for the victory.

The Fassio family continued their winning ways. This week is was Savannah who joined her dad on top of the podium. She finished a tough 3.1-kilometer loop in 11:12 to take the under-14 girls’ division. Lucas lost out to a newcomer from the Soldier Hollow team, but all three were able to wrap up season titles for the series. Points are accumulated over the winter, with the top four finishes counting toward the total. With four out of five events completed, a few class winners were determined by the results of this race.

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Only three skiers have managed to win all four events in the series. Among those are two Parkites, Nancy Fichter and Tom Noaker. Debbie Wagner has come out ahead in three, assuring a close season victory in her age group over Cindi Schwandt.

Skiing to his second victory on Saturday was Julian Zgoda, who specializes in the skating events. In order to be a series champion, however, one has to be willing to classic ski as well. This involves different skis and waxes, in addition to learning and practicing the technique, so some people choose to stick with one or the other.

The final race in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series will be a 20-kilometer free technique event on Saturday, Feb. 22, 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.