University of Utah/University of Alaska Anchorage Invite Results
The Western collegiate skiing season was underway again last weekend at an Invitational meet that was jointly staged by the University of Utah and the University of Alaska Anchorage. The cross-country events were held at Soldier Hollow. The Olympic venue has not seen that much natural snow this year, but the Soldier Hollow staff put together a beautiful 4.2 km loop on man-made snow based around the biathlon stadium. Although the course profile was a little easier than the trails used for the Olympic events, but the course still managed to follow a steady climb for the first full kilometer of the loop. Temperatures near freezing made the snow fast and the course was a blast to race on.
The action got underway on Sunday with a 4.2 km race for women and a 8.2 race for men. Estonia’s Katrin Smigun, now skiing for the University of Utah, took top honors, with a time of 10:35.4. Katrin has been skiing some of the best races of her career on the World Cup this season, finishing as high as 16th in a recent World Cup race. Being the younger sister of Kristina Smigun has not been easy for her, though. The Estonian press’ expectations for her have reportedly taken the fun out of racing at that level and she chose to pursue her education here in the states. The tight times in this weekend’s races show how tough the racing is in the Western Conference: UAA’s Mandy Kaempf finished in second place, 11.7 seconds behind Smigun. University of New Mexico had the strongest team results of the day, with Martina Stursova, Jenny Wissting and Kristina Strandberg finishing 3rd, 4th, and 6th.
University of New Mexico’s Johan Rydquist won the men’s 8.4 km skate race in a time of 19:16.3. He was closely followed by Utah’s Ryan Quinn and Zach Simons, who finished in 19:21.3 and 19:21.7, respectively. Tobias Schwoerer (UAA), Lars Krogsveen (UNM) and Martin Bartnes (DU) took the next three places. With Utah’s Torin Koos finishing 7th, the Utah men took the team win for the day.
Monday’s events were mass start classic races, with the men skiing four laps (16.8 km) and the women skiing three (12.6 km). In the men’s race, Rydquist again took the win—finishing nearly 20 seconds ahead of Utah freshman Jess Kiesel. Torin Koos rebounded to finish another second back in third. With Tobias Schwoerer in third and Zach Simons in fourth, Utah again took the men’s team win. Katrin Smigun was also a double winner of the weekend, finishing nearly 40 seconds ahead of UNM’s Wissting. Kristina Strandberg, Mandy Kaempf and Muriele Huberli rounded out the top five.
Western Conference racing continues this weekend in Bozeman at the Montana State University Invite.