Ortiz eighth at World Championships | VailDaily.com

Ortiz eighth at World Championships

Snow. Mountain-running race. Just like home for Eagle’s Anita Ortiz.

Ortiz was definitely in her own element Saturday at the World Mountain Running Trophy Championships at the Alyeska Resort near Girdwood, Alaska – and it showed.

She finished eighth, the highest finish ever for an American woman in the World Championships.

“It feels awesome,” Ortiz said. “It was a really great race. There was four-and-a-half inches of snow on the course, so I felt like I was at home. I felt great. It was a gnarly course, really mucky. There were lots of runners slipping around, but I was running great.”

Credit that to a last-minute, shoe change.

“At the last second, I took off my race flats and put on my old training shoes, which have big nubs,” Ortiz said. “The course was pretty much straight up and down. Because I changed my shoes, I could go all out. While people were sliding on the downhill, I was fine, running fast.”

Ortiz’s previous best finish at this event was 11th. And this year’s finish was no easy feat, given the nature of the course.

“It was 7.7 kilometers up and down,” said Anita’s husband Mike. “The course gained 3,000 feet and coming down it was steep. It was a 16-degree grade.”

One nice advantage for Anita Ortiz is that the course started at sea level and went 3,000 feet up, which, by Vail standards, is oxygen-rich air.

“That was definitely helpful,” Ortiz said with a laugh.

The United States team finished 11th overall as a team. Melissa Moon of New Zealand won the race. In second place was Angela Mudge of Scotland.

Next up for Ortiz will be the snowshoeing season. But, in the meantime, a little celebration is in order.

“We’re going take some beer down to the hot tub,” Ortiz laughed. “Onto the important things.”

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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