Einar Ulsund earned his second consecutive third-place finish on Saturday in Minturn, Colo.
Jan. 19, 2013
Einar Ulsund turned in his second straight top-three finish in the men's 10-km freestyle and the Utes had a total of five top-10 finishes on the day as the University of Utah ski team competed in the Denver Invitational on Saturday.
"I am impressed with our results in the top 10 today," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "This was a challenging course at altitude and it really affected everyone differently. If you pushed too hard too early, you paid for it. I also feel we may be a bit tired from our overall effort at US Nationals, however we were solid and earned several excellent NCAA qualifying points. I feel we are still getting our feet underneath us so overall I am optimistic. It was good racing today and the race organizers did an excellent job with their first RMISA event at this venue. Tomorrow's mass start on this technical course will be extremely aggressive."
Utah maintained fourth place in the team standings of the Denver Invitational with a combined total of 569 points during the first three events. The Utes trail third-place New Mexico by five points, while host Denver remains in the lead.
"Einar was on the podium again in this race, and the entire men's team placed in the top 10," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "The depth and consistency of the men's performance today is all any coach can hope for. Overall, spirits are high today and we're all gearing up for a challenging mass start on a very technical course tomorrow."
The Utes were second among the men's Nordic squads with 108 points, which included four top-10 efforts.
Ulsund, a Trondheim, Norway native, finished third for his second consecutive podium finish and he has finished fourth or better in each of the first three races of this season.
"The race today was great for me, but really difficult," Ulsund said. "I knew it was going to be really close for that last podium place so I was pushing as hard as I could during the final kilometers. I must also thank my teammates for all of the support and the coaches for great skis."
Utes filled spots eight through 10 in the individual standings, led by senior Miles Havlick, who took eighth place for his third straight top-10 effort to start 2013. The Boulder, Colo., native has placed 10th or better 30 times during his career as a Ute.
Freshman Noe Bellet followed Havlick in ninth place. Bellet has finished among the top 10 in each of the first three races of his collegiate career.
Newcomer Niklas Persson posted his best finish of the season to this point with a 10th-place effort for his first career top-10 performance.
The Utah women's Nordic crew registered 85 points on the day, which stood fifth in the meet standings.
"On the women's side, we are generally in a period of rebuilding after some illness," Holt said. "However, Rose's seventh-place finish is another solid result and it's great to see her establish herself as a consistent contender in the women's field."
Senior Rose Kemp continued her impressive start to the 2013 campaign as she turned in a seventh-place performance to lead the way for the Utes. The Boise, Idaho native has now placed 10th or better 11 times over her career with Utah.
"Today, we were happy to be skiing in sunshine and warmer weather, especially after negative temperatures last week," Kemp said. "The ski course here in Vail is very technical and full of tight corners and steep uphill climbs. Overall, I had a fun day working my way into a good position by the second lap of the course. Another skier caught me and I led us both over the last two kilometers as fast as I could go because I was determined to not let her pass. This helped me land a spot in the top 10.
"The rest of our team did really well. We are getting stronger every week and our boys are constantly landing in the top 10 so there is a good feeling here on the Nordic side."
Parker Tyler was the next Ute to finish as she placed 14th for her second top-20 effort of the season and the 19th of her career with Utah. Marta Larsen followed in 21st, while Anna Svendsen was 24th.
The Utah Nordic team wraps up the Denver Invitational with the 10/15-km Classical races tomorrow at Minturn, Colo.