Ortiz, Kloser lead dominance at uphill | VailDaily.com

Ortiz, Kloser lead dominance at uphill

Ian CroppVail CO, Colorado
Paul Conrad/Special to the DailyRace winner Mike Kloser of Vail, left, prepares to high-five team mate and second-place finisher Josiah Middaugh of Vail Saturday afternoon at the America's Uphill on Aspen Mountain.

ASPEN – When most people get older, they slow down. Anita Ortiz and Mike Kloser have other ideas.Ortiz, 42, and Kloser, 47, won the female and male divisions in Saturday’s America’s Uphill race in Aspen.

Not only did Ortiz, who was sixth among all races, continue her dominance at the race, she also set a new record. Ortiz finished the race, which ascends 3,267 feet on Aspen Mountain, in 47 minutes, 58 seconds, almost a minute and a half better than the previous top female time.”And the old record was my own record,” Ortiz said. “That was in 2002, so it was nice to have this much further on, and still be able to do that. I feel like I’m getting older and older, and as you get older, you get slower, so I was pleased to beat it by a good margin.”Ortiz has won five of the six America’s Uphill races she’s entered. This year, Ortiz has won all but one of the snowshoe races she competed in.”This gives me a good season record,” Ortiz said of her win in what will be her final winter event before moving to running.This year, unlike in years’ past, competitors had the option of wearing shoes with crampons or other types of spikes. Before, competitors had to showshoe, Nordic or Telemark ski.”It kind of made me sad – (snowshoeing) was a traditional thing,” Ortiz said.Higher temperatures and soft snow made shoes the optimal choice for many of the 284 racers. Ortiz wore shoes with her snowshoe claws on bottom.

“I don’t know if it made me much faster – the conditions were such that there would have been no drag no matter what.”WarmupBefore Kloser edged out Beaver Creek teammate Josiah Middaugh in the race, he decided to climb the mountain for a warmup.”I skinned up on my Nordic skis at 6:30 a.m.,” Kloser said. “As you get a little older, you have to have a little more warmup. This morning, I had a good warmup and start.”Aspen’s Jonathan Severy jumped out to an early lead, but Middaugh closed in soon enough. Kloser passed Middaugh halfway up the mountain, and held his lead for the rest of the race, finishing in 43:26.Beaver Creek’s Bernie Boettcher was fourth, while teammate Josh Nota placed seventh. Along with Ortiz’s top finish, Beaver Creek cruised to a team win.

“We’ve been winning the team competition for 10 years,” Kloser said.Although he won, Kloser thought it would have been a sweeter victory if he had beaten last year’s champion, Noah Hoffman.”I was really hoping he’d be here, so I could have some vengeance,” Kloser said.Hoffman, a senior at Aspen High School, won the 3A state cross country title and recently won the classical race at the Junior Nordic Olympics, but wasn’t present Saturday.Another top finisher for Beaver Creek were Hooker Lowe, who won the 50-59 division, Scott McClarrino and Christian Kloser, 13, who was second in the 18 & under group.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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