Wasatch Citizens Series on track for a record season
The Black Diamond Wasatch Citizens Series is on track for a record season.
Three races, three sunny winter days, and three perfectly groomed tracks have been big factors in generating three big turnouts. 269 skiers rose to the challenge of Soldier Hollow’s Olympic trails on Saturday for a 10-kilometer free technique (skate) cross country ski race.
Athletes from the University of Utah dominated both the men’s and women’s fields, but many locals were on top of the podium for their age groups.
With racers from under-8 to over-80, and with classes for sit skiers and Special Olympians, there were lots of winners.
UU Ski Team standout Bjorn Riksaasen, a sophomore from Norway, quickly moved to the front of the pack and was first across the finish in 23:00.
The women’s race was also dominated by a University skier. Freshman Julia Richter, a former German National Team member, led the field with a time of 26:31.
The most exciting finish of the day was for second and third among the women. Former Dartmouth College skier and current Utah Nordic Alliance board member Julie Davenport, and Park City veteran Roxanne Toly, were neck and neck as they approached the line.
The winner in a cross country ski race is the person who gets the first body part (usually a toe) across the finish line. With perfect timing, Davenport thrust her foot forward for the victory. Thankfully, the timing crew had a video camera running to capture the moment.
The outstanding performance of the day was turned in by Skylar Patten, a Park City 17 year old. He finished in second place, less than a half minute behind Riksaasen and far ahead of the rest of the field. Patten is one of the top junior skiers in the Intermountain Region and is certain to be on the team that heads to Anchorage in March for the Junior Nationals.
A couple of other Parkites are on track to be on the regional Junior National team. Sabine Wilson has been on the podium in all the under-16 JN qualifier events, and has dominated that age group in the first three Wasatch Citizens Series races. Wes Campbell also looks good to qualify for the under-16 JN team. A victory in this race was his second in WCS events this season.
Younger Park City Ski Team juniors took home many of the medals. Emma Garrard’s group was there in force and ready to ski fast. Pearl Page and Allison Berry topped the under-8 class for the third WCS race in a row.
In the next older group Natalia Szwaikun finally beat Tegan Hoffman, in an extremely close finish, after coming in second to her in the first two races.
Among the boys, Lucas Fassio and Milo Page have been alternating between first and second in series events among the under-10 boys. This week it was Lucas’ turn to take home the gold. Ethan Campbell rounded out the podium. Sevi Miller remains undefeated in the under-8 class.
The next event in the Black Diamond Wasatch Citizens Series is a 10-kilometer classic technique race at Mountain Dell on Saturday, February 9.
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The International Ski Federation has approved a tentative World Cup schedule for women’s Nordic combined for the first time ever. The first World Cup season is scheduled for 2020. Men have been competing at the Olympic level since 1924.