Senior Rose Kemp turned in her fourth career podium finish on Saturday at the UNM Invite.
Feb. 2, 2013
RED RIVER, N.M. - Three Ute Nordic skiers were among the top three to help the University of Utah ski team remain in first place at the New Mexico Invitational after 10-km freestyle races on Saturday at the Red River Resort.
After two days of competition, the Utes are atop the team standings of the UNM Invite with 457 points, which is 27 points ahead of runner-up Colorado. Utah is in first place of the men's standings with 265 points and its women's team is in third place with 192 points.
"We absolutely charged today in the 10-km Skate race," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "Personal-best results were posted and we were able to demonstrate that the squad is well balanced in both the classic and skate disciplines. I was impressed with the team leadership as well as the outstanding efforts by my entire staff this weekend. We all synched well and there is really good energy within the team. UNM did a great job in hosting this weekend. We compete at home on the Soldier Hollow Olympic course next weekend so it is all about rest, recovery and race preparation this upcoming week. The team will fly home to maximize rest and attend to academics while the staff transports the gear."
Led by senior Miles Havlick's second-straight victory, the Utah men's Nordic squad posted a meet-high 130 points in its 10-km Freestyle race. Utes took the first two spots on the leaderboard, while all four of Utah's competitors placed among the top 10 for the second straight day.
"I am really happy with the team's showing this weekend," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "In addition to a handful of exceptional individual results, it is great to wrap up the weekend with the team victory. I think that is a nice representation of our team feel right now, and I think we're in a great shape as we head into our own meet at SoHo next weekend.
"There aren't many challenges left for Miles to tackle on the RMISA circuit, but until now, the double victory has eluded him. Winning both of the races is a huge accomplishment in a field that is this competitive, and I am thrilled to see him pull that off. In addition, Einar (Ulsund) was on the podium both days, and none of the men finished out of the top ten. They are really impressive right now.
"On the women's side, it is great to see Rose Kemp reclaim her spot on the podium today's race. She's been so close in several races this year that we knew she could be there, but mentally, that's just a nice hurdle to clear. And once again, Sloan (Storey) has earned a shout out for another top 10."
This was the first time in Havlick's career that he won both races in a single meet and the second time in his career that he has won back-to-back races. The Boulder, Colo., native achieved the feat by winning the 21-km Freestyle at the Denver Invite on Feb. 13, 2011 before taking the 10-km Freestyle crown at the RMISA Championships on Feb. 25, 2011.
"New Mexico did a top-notch job organizing the races this weekend," Havlick said. "I'd like to send a huge thanks to the organizers in addition to the coaches for putting together some great skis the past two days. Today was personally one of my best individual start races ever. I recovered well from yesterday and felt comfortable for a majority of the race. As a team, it doesn't get much better than today as well. We really showed that the Utes came to play this weekend and we are looking forward to carrying our success into next weekend's races at our home venue of Soldier Hollow."
Ulsund continued his impressive season for the Utes as he record a second-place finish for his fifth straight podium effort. The Trondheim, Norway native now owns a pair of second-place finishes in 2013 and has placed fourth or better in all five races for the Utes this season.
Freshman Niklas Persson posted another strong result for the Utes, an eighth-place finish for his fourth straight top-10 performance during his debut season at Utah.
Persson's classmate, Noe Bellet, immediately followed with a ninth-place finish to extend his extremely consistent freshman campaign for the Utes. Bellet has been among the top 10 finishers in each of this season's first six races.
Utah's women's Nordic skiers placed third in its 10-km Freestyle race today after combining for a total of 99 points, led by Kemp.
Kemp extended her stellar season with a third-place finish for her second podium performance of 2013. The Boise, Idaho native has also finished fifth or better in four of six competitions this year. Kemp now owns four career podium finishes and has placed fifth or better eight times as a Ute.
"Today was a beautiful, sunny day that fired up the spirits of our team," Kemp said. "The men's team started out the day again with a strong performance and the women's team was excited to follow. I felt very good during my race and stuck to my race plan. I was able to hold onto third place by skiing with the second-place woman for the last two kilometers. This really helped me cement a place on the podium. It was a fun day for our entire team."
Storey registered her third-straight top-10 finish with a season-best-tying eighth-place effort. Storey, a native of Hailey, Idaho, has been 10th or better in three out of the four races she has competed in during the 2013 season.
"Today's race was definitely a challenge, which always makes racing more fun," Storey said. "We all discussed the difficulty of the high altitude and how effective pacing can make a difference so that was definitely my goal going into this race; just playing it smart and efficiently and not getting overwhelmed by the altitude. I kept reminding myself when racing that everyone was feeling this way and that the racers who stayed tough would prevail. It was awesome to see how well the men's team did, which I think helped push the women's team even more. It was a solid weekend for the Utes."
The Utes will host the Utah Invitational in four successive days next week. Ute Alpine skiers start the meet with giant slalom races on Wednesday in Loveland, Colo., followed by the slalom competition on Thursday. Utah's Nordic crew will start its U. of U. Invite slate with the 5/10-km Classical on Friday at Soldier Hollow, followed the 15/20-km Freestyle next Saturday.
The New Mexico Invitational continues with Slalom races next Saturday and Sunday in Red River.