SUN VALLEY, Idaho – A dominant racing weekend for the Utes came to a close on Sunday. The Nordic portion of the Montana State Invitational wrapped up with a 10/15K classic mass start and a second straight women’s podium sweep for the University of Utah.
Novie McCabe, Sydney Palmer-Leger, and Sophia Laukli from first to third, respectively, in the women’s 10K – giving the Utes a perfect score in the women’s race and a 123-point lead in the overall team standings. The second straight sweep, coming on the heels of freestyle racing on Saturday, is the first time a Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) team has had a double sweep in the same discipline in the same meet since 2013.
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“It was a great weekend for the Nordic team,” said director of skiing Fredrik Landstedt. “Solid does not really capture it being up by 123 points. The team is really feeding off each other’s performances. Just an incredible team spirit and a group of super hard-working athletes.”
Utah has won all five RMISA women’s races this season. Sunday was the first individual win of the season for McCabe and the sixth of her career. Laukli had her first victory as a Ute on Saturday, and Palmer-Leger took each of the season’s first three races at Soldier Hollow. It was a particularly noteworthy weekend for McCabe and Laukli, who were on the podium both days this weekend less than two weeks removed from the Tour de Ski competition in Europe.
In the men’s 15K race, Samuel Hendry took the No. 2 spot to lead the Utes. Luke Jager was fourth, and Bjørn Riksaasen tallied a 10th-place effort for Utah. With a third-place freestyle performance on Saturday, Hendry has hit the podium in both of his college races in 2022 and 11 straight, dating back to last season. Hendry was among the Utes to make their respective season debut on Saturday after returning from the Nor-Am competition.
In 2021, Palmer-Leger has logged podium finishes in nine straight collegiate competitions.
With a commanding lead for Utah in the team standings, the alpine portion of the Montana State Invitational begins on Tuesday, Jan. 18, with the giant slalom. It’ll mark the RMISA opener for alpine races and start a busy week, too, as there will be six days of alpine competition in the next eight days. Utah’s Nordic team is now idle until the Alaska Fairbanks Invitational, slated for Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 1-2 in Fairbanks, Alaska.