Iverson bags four medals at JOs

Three local skiers race well at championships

— As Mark Iverson walked away from the Suntrac Nordic Ski Center in Ishpeming, Mich., Saturday, the clinking of the four medals that hung around his neck spoke for itself.

Iverson, an 18-year-old cross-country skier from Steamboat Springs, received four medals in as many events last week during the Junior Olympics. He competed in three individual races and a team relay in the older juniors class for the Rocky Mountain Division.

Iverson, who trains out of Anchorage, Alaska, was the No. 4 finisher in a sprint event March 5.

He placed No. 7 in a 15-kilometer freestyle race March 7. There were 55 competitors in the freestyle event.

On Friday, Iverson came in fourth in a 10-kilometer classic race and guided his Rocky Mountain team to a second-place finish in a team relay Saturday.

Fifty-five skiers competed in the male classical and 22 teams competed in the relay. Iverson competed in a field of 52 skiers in the sprint.

The top-10 finishers in the individual events were awarded medals while the top five teams in the relays were given medals.

In the male classical race, Iverson finished in a time of 00:30:06.3. Jesse Carlstrom, of the Alaska Division, took first with a time of 00:29:17.6.

"I'm really happy with the way I skied," Iverson said. "I know that I could probably have skied a little faster (because) I have in the past.

"But I am happy with my season. I'm going to train my butt off this summer and really shoot for the World Junior Team next year."

Two other local skiers competed in the Junior Olympics last week, including 18-year-old Jessica Philip and 15-year-old Austin Ross.

Philip and Ross are both students at Steamboat Springs High School and members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Iverson also is a member of the Winter Sports Club, though he trains in Alaska.

Philip, who competed in the women's older juniors division, came in 24th in the female sprint and 10th in the 10-kilometer female freestyle.

She finished in a time of 00:33:18.4 in the freestyle event. The first-place finisher in the women's older juniors freestyle event was Kikkan Randall of Alaska. Randall finished in a time of 00:30:29.4.

Philip also was the No. 16 placer in the 5-kilometer female classic and helped lead her team to a fourth-place finish in the relay.

"I was really happy with my 10-K skate (freestyle)," Philip said. "It's been a goal of mine all year to (place in top 10), but a difficult one to achieve.

"I'm very happy about the way the season ended and it kind of gets me more and more excited for next year and the possibilities there."

Both Iverson and Philip made their fifth appearances at the Junior Olympics this past week, and they each have one more year of eligibility remaining to compete in the national event.

Ross, who made his first-ever trip to the Junior Olympics last week, came in 45th in the sprint and 38th in a 5-K freestyle race.

Ross competes in the J2 division, which is the age 14-15 class.

The older juniors are ages 18-19 and the J1 skiers are 16-17 years old.

In the J2, 5-kilometer male classical race, Ross finished in the No. 43 position.

His time in the freestyle race was 00:15:27.9.

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