Senior Miles Havlick won the RMISA 20-km Freestyle title on Saturday in Bozeman, Mont.
Feb. 23, 2013
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Senior Miles Havlick took home his second career RMISA title in the men's 20-km freestyle and three other Utes were among the top three as the University of Utah ski team remained in control of second place at the NCAA West Region/RMISA Championships.
In addition to Havlick's victory, the Utes posted a pair of runner-up finishes in the giant slalom races as well as a third-place effort in the men's 20-km Freestyle event. The Utes enter the final day of competition in second place in overall team standings with a total of 625 points, while Colorado remains atop the team standings.
"Today ranks right up there as one of my most memorable days as a coach," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "Conditions were challenging with much new snow in the morning, however everyone charged and we put up some very excellent team points and also secured several NCAA Championship slots. This is what I really wanted to see as we get this close to the NCAA Championships. The team is skiing exceptionally well and we have very strong leadership and camaraderie. A couple of mistakes, bad luck and illnesses have prevented us from scoring or absolute best, but I am optimistic these will be under control for Vermont. My staff also did an outstanding job this weekend, so kudos to them for their hard work and commitment to the whole team. I'm very excited for the alpine team in slalom tomorrow!"
Four Utah skiers were among the top five of the men's 20-km Freestyle race as the Utes racked up a meet-high 135 points in the event. Havlick was in first place for his sixth victory of the year and the 12th of his career. The Boulder, Colo., native has been third or better eight times in 2013 and 27 times during his career.
"I am ecstatic about our team performance today," Havlick said. "It was amazing looking back during the race and seeing Einar [Ulsund], Niklas [Persson], and Noe [Bellet] right behind me. It is rare to have a team as consistently strong as this one. Now is the time to rest and recover and focus on ending the collegiate season with our best races of the year!"
Ulsund registered his fourth straight third-place run to join Havlick on the podium. He has now been on the podium nine times in 2013.
Persson rounded out Utah's scoring effort as he placed fourth for his best finish of the season. His previous best finishes were sixth-place efforts in the 15-km Classical on Jan. 20 at the Denver Invitational and in the 20-km Freestyle on Feb. 9 in the Utah Invite.
Bellet was the fourth Ute among the top five as he placed fifth. He has now finished fifth or better in two competitions this season.
"What a way to wrap up the RMISA season!," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "It was a quintessential Bozeman blizzard out there this morning, with whiteout conditions and snow blowing sideways. Those kind of conditions shift the Nordic ski race away from being a strictly physical event, and add an intensely mental component. You have to be tough on all fronts to succeed in an event like today's race, so I am extra pleased with today's success.
"I could not be more proud to see our men turn in the 1, 3, 4, 5 showing that they had today. Miles, Einar, Niklas, and Noe have pushed one another all season, and they have all played a role in the group's success. It was very satisfying to watch them finish that race as I view them in training-- as a unified team of strong skiers. I am truly looking forward to seeing how this men's team will fare at the NCAA Championships.
"On the women's side, Rose [Kemp] posted another standout performance. I awoke this morning uncertain of whether or not Rose would race, and she skied her way to fourth place! Rose has grown into an incredibly solid, steady competitor. It is a real pleasure to watch her showcase her abilities this year, and I think she will be one to watch at NCAAs in Vermont."
Utah picked up 90 points in the women's 15-km Freestyle as Kemp once again led the way with a fourth-place effort. The Boise, Idaho native has been Utah's top finisher in each race this season and she has been fifth or better in six races this year and 10 times during her career.
"Pulling up to the race today was a bit discouraging as well as exciting because it was dumping snow!," Kemp said. "I knew it would be a tricky race so I planned to race smart and I executed that plan. I stuck with a group of girls and skied as relaxed as I could and then made a break from them on the last hill. It was great to have a solid result for Utah today and the rest of the team performed exceptionally as well!"
In the Alpine events, Utah earned two top-five placements in the women's side of the giant slalom as Kristiina Rove turned in her best finish of the season with a second-place effort, which was also the first time the Espoo, Finland native has finished on the podium this season.
"I was very happy that I was able to perform despite the tough conditions," Rove said. "It was awesome that the Nordic team was able to come out and support us after their race. The team really stepped it up for regionals and we are excited to keep it going into NCAA Championships."
Sophomore Ana Kobal joined Rove in the top five with a fifth-place effort, which was her sixth top-five effort of the year.
Senior Jeremy Elliot finished as the runner-up in the men's giant slalom for his fourth podium finish of the season and the seventh of his career. Elliot posted the eighth-fastest first-run time of the day, but came back to tie Denver's Grant Jampolsky for the second-best time of the second run.
"I'm super happy about today's race!," Elliot said. "I had a bit of a disadvantage on the first run, because of my late start position and a rough course, so I really didn't have any expectations. I took a more conservative approach and navigated around the bumps and holes in the course and moved up from starting 27th to finish eighth on the first run. Then on the second run, I attacked a little harder to try to pick up a few more spots, and moved all the way up to second, so I was really pleasantly surprised with the day!"
Tim Hribar followed in 12th to earn his fifth top-20 effort of the year, which was also the 10th such performance of his career.
The NCAA West Region/RMISA Championships conclude with the slalom races tomorrow at Bridger Bowl.