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Persson Wins as Utah Skiers Score 12 Top-10 Finishes at Pat Miller Invitational

Sloan Storey finished second in the women's 10-km classical.

Sloan Storey finished second in the women's 10-km classical.

Jan. 4, 2014

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PARK CITY and MIDWAY, Utah - With 12 top-10 finishes and a win from Niklas Persson in the men's 15-km classical, the Utah ski team holds a solid lead after the first day of the Pat Miller Invitational.

Utah leads the Invitational with 362.5 points, followed by Denver (291), New Mexico (264.5), Alaska Anchorage (237) and Colorado (224) in the top five. Montana State is sixth (207), with Westminster College in seventh (106).

"I am very impressed with team effort today and ecstatic with the results," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "I think everyone was focused on getting a good race result under their belts in the first college race of the season. I also think that our maturity showed today. We looked like a very balanced team today, and that really stands out for me. We're off to a very good start."

Persson was the first of three Utah men in the top four (with four total in the top nine) in the 15-km classical, which was held in conjunction with U.S. Cross Country Nationals. He had a time of 40:13.3. Newcomer Oscar Ivars crossed the line second (40:26.4) with another newcomer, Kevin Bolger, fourth (41:18.0). Noé Bellet finished ninth with a time of 42:27.4 followed by Tucker McCrerey in 11th.

All three of Utah's skiers finished second, third and fourth in the women's 10-km classical. Sloan Story led the way in second (31:36.7) followed by Anna-Lena Heynen in third (31:56.3) and Anna Svendsen in fourth (32:39.7).

"This is a great way to open the year on our home course, and it feels good to get the RMISA season underway," Nordic head coach Abi Holt said. "I'm very happy with this start, and I hope we can carry this momentum into the races on Wednesday."

The alpine women had three top-10 results in the slalom. Kristiina Rove finished third with a combined time of 1:48.53 while Chloe Fausta was sixth (1:49.27) followed by Ana Kobal, who tied for ninth place (1:49.97). Utah had the top team women's slalom score of the day. Jaime Dupratt crossed the finish line 11th with Lauren Samuels in 14th. Teagen Palmer finished 41st.

A pair of newcomers led the way in the men's alpine, with Mark Engel finishing fifth in the giant slalom with a combined time of 1:58.74, followed by Joergen Brath in ninth place (2:00.32). Utah's third scorer was Andy Trow, who finished 20th. The men's giant slalom team score was second overall. Eian Sandvik crossed the line in 21st.

"I want to congratulate our whole team on a great performance on opening day," head alpine coach Jaka Korencan said. "It was great to see that even with mistakes, we still ranked very high. It was a difficult opening race - the snow conditions were rock hard and the terrain was extremely demanding. We haven't had much training on it and we performed extremely well under the circumstances. The men and women are really fighting hard and skiing very unselfishly. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."

The Pat Miller Invitational continues on Sunday, Jan. 5, with the alpine women's giant slalom and men's slalom (first run is at 9:00 a.m. at Park City Mountain Resort). The nordic races continue on Wednesday, Jan. 8, with the women's 20-km and men's 30-km freestyle races.

Mark Engel led the way in the men's GS with a fifth-place finish.

Kristiina Rove crossed the line third in the women's slalom.



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