Senior Miles Havlick won his fourth consecutive race on Saturday at Soldier Hollow.
Feb. 9, 2013
MIDWAY, Utah - Senior Miles Havlick earned his fourth consecutive victory, Einar Ulsund placed third and the University of Utah ski team improved to second place after the 15/20-km Freestyle races of the Utah Invitational Saturday at Soldier Hollow.
The Utes finished in the runner-up position in the Utah Invitational overall team standings with a total of 845 points. Utah finished behind only invitational champion, Colorado. Utah led all teams in the men's 20-km Freestyle with 131 points, while the Utes were third in the women's 15-km Freestyle with 90 points.
"The Utah Invitational results are a real confidence-builder for the entire team, both Alpine and Nordic," Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said. "I am extremely impressed with our efforts as our overall team score is becoming more and more competitive. I like our trend and motivation as we get closer to the [RMIS and NCAA] Championships.
"I am proud of the Utes this weekend," Utah Head Nordic coach Abi Holt said. "The home meets can be tricky because although we carry the home course advantage, it can be a challenge to maintain a narrow focus on ski racing in the midst of "normal life." This team has done a pretty good job of staying focused on the skiing for these past few days.
"Miles, Einar, and Niklas [Persson] fought quite a battle out there today. I think the 20-km SoHo mass start is one of the toughest races on the circuit. It is head-to-head racing on an incredibly challenging course. Today, these guys demonstrated that they are physically, and mentally, at the top of the RMISA circuit. Of course, Miles' photo-finish victory was both a crowd-pleaser, and a perfect way to wrap up his career as a Ute at SoHo.
"The women posted a decent day. Anna [Svendsen] needed that top-15 finish to boost her overall standing, and Rose [Kemp] just stays steady in her role as our top woman this year. Sloan [Storey] is in need of a little recovery right now, but with next weekend off of racing, I think everyone will be ready to put their best foot forward at the RMISA Regional Championships in a couple of weeks."
In addition to four consecutive victories, Havlick's victory in the 20-km Freestyle capped off sweeps at the New Mexico and Utah Invitationals. Havlick has now won five races in 2013 and 11 over his career. This was the second time in Havlick's career that he has won both races in a single meet and the first time in his career that he has four consecutive competitions. The Boulder, Colo., native won both races at the New Mexico Invitational last weekend, starting with the 5-km Classical on Feb. 1 and the 10-km Freestyle on Feb. 2 in Red River, N.M.
Ulsund joined Havlick on the podium in third place for the second consecutive competition for his seventh top-three effort of the year. The Trondheim, Norway native has finished fourth or better in all eight of Utah's races this season.
Freshman Niklas Persson came in sixth place to tie for his best finish of the year. The Falun, Sweden native also took sixth in the 15-km Classical race at the Denver Invitational on Jan. 20.
Utah's freshman duo completed the team's effort on the day as Noe Bellet followed in 21st and Tucker McCrerey was close behind in 23rd.
"It was an awesome race today and there were a ton of Utah supporters out there cheering, which definitely eases the pain while going up the notorious Soldier Hollow hills," Havlick said. "The organizers this weekend put on a flawless event both days so a huge `thank you' to all involved. It was great to ski the majority of the race today with Einar and Niklas while demonstrating the Utah dominance this season at our home venue."
Senior Rose Kemp led the way for the Utes once again as she posted a sixth-place effort in the women's 15-km Freestyle race. The Boise, Idaho native has been in the top 10 in all eight of Utah's competitions this season and has also been Utah's top finisher in all eight events in 2013 as well.
Junior Anna Svendsen was the next Ute finisher with a 14th-place finish for her second consecutive performance among the top 15. She has finished 15th or better for the Utes three times in 2013.
The Utah Alpine crew wraps up New Mexico Invitational action today and Sunday in Red River, while the RMISA/NCAA West Region Championships will be held Feb. 22-24 in Bozeman, Mont.