Utes dominate White Pine
With their invitational just a week away, the University of Utah skiers were obviously in the mood for a fast workout when they showed up for the second Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series race last Saturday. Park City native and UU Nordic Team Captain Nick Hendrickson blasted around his home course to take the victory.
Hendrickson’s time for the 16.2-kilometer course was 38 minutes, 21 seconds, just two seconds ahead of teammate Niklas Persson. His win was all the more impressive considering that the two top Nordic combined skiers in the country, Taylor and Bryan Fletcher, were right on his heels. Hendrickson is a former member of the US Nordic Combined Team, having competed in the World Championships in 2011, and is currently a sophomore at the university.
The four leaders traded places several times as they sped around White Pine’s perfectly groomed 5.4K loop. After last week’s mega-storm and the cold temperatures that followed, the snow conditions were better than have been seen during the past two winters. Fortunately it warmed up on race day, although a few frozen beards were observed at the finish.
The women’s race was dominated by UU standout Veronika Mayerhofer, who completed the course in 44:16, more than five minutes ahead of teammate Josefin Nilsson. Parkite Roxanne Toly had a strong showing for third place. Mayerhofer is a former member of the Austrian National Team and competed in the Sochi Olympics in 2014. The All-American is in her second year at the U.
Almost 300 skiers, ranging from 6 to 77, enjoyed the day. With no big junior races happening at other venues during the holiday period, the most exciting finishes were in the younger age groups. The closest race of the day was a photo finish between Park City teenagers Lane Myshrall and Aiden Rasmussen. For the first time Myshrall was able to nip his rival in a final sprint. Tate Hoefler crossed the line just two seconds later.
In the 10-11 age group, Janne Koch continued his winning ways. John Olson and Wes Campbell were just a few seconds back. Sydney Palmer-Leger and brother Drew both took gold medals in their classes, with Connor Patten runner-up to Drew. Other Parkites winning their junior divisions were Haley Batten and Lucas Fassio.
One of the most exciting adult races was in the men’s 45-49 class. Todd Hageman was the easy winner in a time of 46:03, but the battle for second was fierce. Four locals skied together for most of the race, but Thomas Cooke was able to push ahead in the final kilometer to finish ahead of US Nordic Combined coach Dave Jarrett, Isaac Wilson and Tim Briley.
Once again the Ping family went away with top honors. The part-time Parkites, who reside in Minnesota most of the year, gave the locals a lesson. Parents Megan and Ryan won the women’s and men’s 35-year-old classes in times of 51:39 and 47:02, respectively. Daughter Grace and son Jamison were also first in their age groups, while daughter Lauren took home a silver medal.
Paul Smith finished ahead of Torbjorn Karlsen in the men’s 55-59 class, and Debbie Wagner crossed the line ahead of Nancy Fichter. Other adult winners were Ross Palomaki, Sarah Brockett, and Laura Patten.
The next event in the Smartwool Wasatch Citizens Series is a 10K classic technique race scheduled for Mountain Dell on Jan. 16. In the meantime, anyone interested in watching the best collegiate racers in the West should head over to Soldier Hollow on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 10 and 11. Races start at 9:30 a.m. both days.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.