Rose Kemp has finished in the top 10 in all four of Utah's races to start her senior season.
Jan. 20, 2013
Einar Ulsund turned in his third straight podium effort out of four races this season to lead the University of Utah ski team to a third-place finish at the Denver Invitational after Sunday's Classical races.
Seven out of eight Utah competitors on the day finished among the top 10 as the Utes completed the Denver Invitational in third place in the overall team standings with a combined total of 796 points, which was 37 shy of runner-up Denver. Colorado ended up in first place with 852 points.
"I am extremely impressed with how the entire team prepared and executed today," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "Everyone charged right off the line and established their positions early. We had several breakthrough results and the overall team score is impressive."
Utah was first in the team standings of today's men's 15-km Classical race as the Utes accumulated 123 points, which was 18 ahead of Colorado. All three of Utah's scoring skiers were among the top six and all four Ute competitors on the men's side finished eighth or better.
"Today was thumbs up for sure. I'm really happy for everyone," Sweeney said. "Confidence and spirits are way up. I am looking forward to our training week and being back with our Alpine counterparts who have been training hard. We are also keeping our fingers crossed for [freshmen] Tucker [McCrerey] and Sloan [Storey] who open at World Junior Championships this week."
"We had seven out of eight racers finish in the top 10 today," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "That kind of day speaks for itself. The entire team is starting to come into form and I have been very impressed and pleased to see them work together to achieve these results. We still have some work to do in the coming weeks, but this was a very solid weekend for us."
Ulsund placed second, which was his third consecutive podium effort. The Trondheim, Norway native has finished fourth or better in each of Utah's first four races to start this season.
"It was a hard day today, like yesterday, with a good pace set from lap one," Ulsund said. "I tried to make a push at the end, but Rune [Malo Oedegaard] beat me to the finish. I'm excited how well the whole team is right now with everyone top eight. Things are looking good for the upcoming races."
Senior Miles Havlick and freshman Niklas Persson were the next Utes to finish in fifth and sixth place, respectively. Havlicks's fifth-place effort was his third top-five finish this season and the 26th of his career at Utah. Persson, a Falun, Sweden native, turned in a sixth-place finish for his highest placement of this young season.
Freshman Noe Bellet posted his fourth consecutive top-10 performance to start his Ute career with an eighth-place effort, which was a season-best placement so far for the 2013 campaign.
The Utah women's Nordic team ranked third among its competitors in the 10-km Classical race with 104 points as three of four Utes placed 10th or better.
Senior Rose Kemp, a Boise, Idaho native, claimed fourth place for her second top-five effort this season and she has placed 10th or better in all four races in 2013.
"We had an amazing day today, putting four men in the top 10 and three ladies in the top 10," Kemp said. "The men's team started its race first and set the bar high for the ladies, but we stepped up to the plate. I started my race conservatively, while staying with the leaders. On the last lap, I was in position to fight for second place, but broke my pole so the girl I was chasing got away and I tried to catch her with another girl on my tail. We sprinted to the finish and she took third by a toe-length. Despite the broken pole, it was a great day for racing and I was excited for our whole team."
Parker Tyler and Anna Svendsen followed in eighth and 10th place, respectively. Tyler's eighth-place finish was a season-best performance as well as her seventh career top-10 effort for Utah. Svendsen's 10th-place finish was her first career top-10 performance as a Ute.
"Today was a great day to be a Ute," Tyler said. "Our team fought hard on a very challenging course and as a result, both the men's and women's team's packed into the top 10. The performances today showed how tough this team is and I am so proud of everyone."
After taking next weekend off, the Utes' Nordic crew begins the New Mexico Invitational in Red River with the 5/5-km Classical races on Friday, Feb. 1 followed by the 10/10-km Freestyle events on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Fans can follow McCrerey and Storey at the FIS Nordic Junior Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic here.