VASA: Hallstrom leads youth movement in 12K

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpLars Hallstrom wins the men's 12k during Saturday's 43rd annual North American Vasa Festival of Races at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City. The freestyle skiing events, fat bike races and junior vasa races were held on Saturday, while the classical skiing races were held on Sunday.

TRAVERSE CITY – Lars Hallstrom blazed the trail on Saturday morning, being the first person to cross the finish line at the 43rd annual North American Vasa.

Hallstrom, 21, took home the top overall finish in the 12K freestyle race in 35 minutes and 57 seconds, winning his second straight VASA short race freestyle title.

The University of Michigan student praised the course conditions and said this year stood out from the previous six races in which he has participated.

"These were the best conditions I have seen," Hallstrom said. "There have been a few bad ones that I have been up here for, so it is nice to have fresh snow and fairly nice weather."

The young gun said the course started extremely fast and gradually slowed down as the race went on, but everything worked out for the two-time winner. Hallstrom placed second in 2016, so he has been at the front of the pack for some time.

Traverse City's Jacob Dean placed second overall in 37:44, keeping with the youth movement at the podium — he is only 19.

Nicholas Amato (Suttons Bay) took home third in 39:41, Sean Brownell (Traverse City) took fourth in 42:43 and Andrew Dyte (Grawn) placed fifth in 42:53.

Each of the top five finishers are 22 years old or younger.

Sports Writer