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Wild Rumpus Sports
 

Longtime BEA Executive Director Husaby Steps Down

Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) staff

(Press release)

The Bend Endurance Academy (BEA) Board of Directors announced today that Ben Husaby, its founding Executive Director, has decided to step down from his position after eight years of leading the organization. BEA is a Bend-based non-profit organization that offers kids the opportunity to learn, play, compete, and explore the outdoors through their participation in endurance sports. Under Husaby’s direction, BEA has grown to serve nearly 1,000 participants annually in programs ranging from play-based pre-school groups to professional-level competition training in the disciplines of Nordic skiing, cycling and climbing.

“It has been such an honor to have been a part of a truly remarkable organization.  I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished in a relatively short period time.”  Husaby goes on to say, “We have great coaches and families, van-fulls of kids and a new facility.  Now is the perfect time for me to step aside.  I have been tied to the sport of Nordic skiing, coaching, and youth education for over 35 years and it’s time to ski off into the woods for myself again and let the next generation of leadership forge ahead.”

“It has been an honor to work with Ben as BEA has grown and evolved over the last several years.” Board President, Cris Himes, commented. “Ben is truly driven by the mission of the academy to get kids outside and active.  He has left a lasting impact on BEA’s culture and values, and his recruitment of some of the best professionals in their disciplines to BEA will be part of his immeasurable legacy.”

Husaby will be directing the organization through September 1 in close coordination with the board and the organization’s three program directors and associate director. A Board Executive Search Committee will oversee the recruitment and selection of the right individual to lead BEA into its next stage of development.

“Ben helped build a strong and dedicated community of parents, kids, coaches and staff that supports kids and young adults in their sports and other adventures.  He’s leaving us with a team of excellent staff, an expanded training facility, and a solid financial foundation.” Himes said. “BEA has a bright future and I’m excited to continue to guide it as we get more and more members of the community involved in and inspired by our mission.”

Kornfield, Kern, Norris, and Miller Win at Ishpeming SuperTour

Two days of SuperTour races and a Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) race were held this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, Mich., with SuperTour freestyle sprints and 5/10-kilometer classic races on Friday and Sunday. It was the fourth stop on the circuit, including U.S. nationals, and the last one before the season-ending SuperTour Finals.

Interestingly, the sprint finals included just four skiers (as opposed to the regular six) and Tyler Kornfield beat out two of his Alaska Pacific University (APU) teammates and Paddy Caldwell of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite Team for the win in 3:44.30 minutes. Caldwell finished second (+1.14), Reese Hanneman (APU) third (+4.2), and David Norris (APU) fourth (+9.27).

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) won the qualifier in 3:38.32, but was eliminated after finishing third in his quarterfinal. Logan Hanneman (APU) qualified second (+1:33) and reached the semifinals, where he placed third in his heat. Kornfield qualified third (+3.23). Thirty-seven men competed in the master/senior men category.

In the women’s final, 19-year-old Julia Kern (SMS Elite) topped two Craftsbury Green Racing Project senior skiers, Caitlin Patterson and Kaitlynn Miller, as well as Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) for the win in 4:04.27. Kern edged Patterson by 0.11 seconds, Bender finished 3.28 seconds back in third, and Miller took fourth (+4.57).

Erika Flowers (SMS Elite) won the qualifier in 4:13.31, but was eliminated after placing fourth in the semifinals. Kern was second fastest in qualifying (+1.67). Twenty-two women competed.

On Sunday, Miller captured the win in the women’s 5 k classic individual start, beating her teammate Patterson by 6.4 seconds in 14:29.9. Craftsbury swept the podium with Liz Guiney in third (+17.0). APU’s Rosie Frankowski, originally from Minneapolis, Minn., raced to fourth (+51.8), Kern was fifth (+1:05.4), Anne Hart (SMS Elite) sixth, Canada’s Lisle Compton (NTDC Thunder Bay) seventh, Flowers eighth, Becca Rorabaugh (APU) ninth, and Bender 10th. The field was much deeper Sunday, with 60 women finishing.

In the men’s 10 k, Norris notched a 3.8-second victory over Adam Martin of Northern Michigan University, finishing in 25:29.7. Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) reached the podium in third (+6.8) and Caldwell missed it by 1.5 seconds in fourth (+8.3). Evan Palmer-Charrette (NTDC Thunder Bay) was the top Canadian in fifth (+11.7), Scott Patterson (APU) finished sixth, Jack Hegman (SVSEF) seventh, Michael Somppi (NTDC Thunder Bay) eighth, Logan Hanneman ninth, and Gaspard Cuenot (Michigan Tech) 10th.

The last SuperTour races of the season — SuperTour Finals, a.k.a. Spring Series — will take place in over a month, March 27-April 2 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Results: FridaySunday

 

 

Hegman, Rose Win 38th Baldy Hill Climb

The 38th annual Baldy Hill Climb — presented by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) in Sun Valley, Idaho — wrapped up this past Saturday, Sept. 24, with two SVSEF Gold Team members reaching the top of the podium.

A total of 196 competitors completed the course’s 1.9-mile climb up Sun Valley ski hill’s Warm Springs run (which rises 3,140 vertical feet and tops out at 9,020 feet above sea level), with Mary Rose and Jack Hegman topping the women’s and men’s races, respectively. Rose was this year’s fastest woman, finishing the climb in 44:13 minutes. The second woman of the day, just 1.48 seconds behind Rose, was her SVSEF teammate Deedra Irwin. Kristen Monahan was the third woman across the line, 2.34 seconds off Rose’s winning time.

In the men’s division, Hegman dusted the field, finishing in 35:31, 24 seconds ahead of SVSEF teammate Rogan Brown. Third went to SVSEF veteran Matt Gelso, who crossed 34 seconds behind Hegman.

The men’s current course record is held by Miles Havlick, set in 2014 with a time of 35:04. The women’s standing record was set in 2010 by Morgan Arritola with a time of 39:53.

Results

Stephen Wins Third Straight XTERRA Trail Run Nationals, Second Red Bull 400

Liz Stephen after winning her third-straight Red Bull 400, a 400-meter race up the K120 ski jump at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. "Fun day at the #Utaholympicpark at the #RedBull400 today!" Stephen captioned the photo on Facebook. "Glad the sun popped out for the finals!" (Photo: Tom Kelly )

Liz Stephen after winning her second-straight Red Bull 400, a 400-meter race up the K120 ski jump at Utah Olympic Park on Saturday in Park City, Utah. “Fun day at the #Utaholympicpark at the #RedBull400 today!” Stephen captioned the photo on Facebook. “Glad the sun popped out for the finals!” (Photo: Tom Kelly )

Sometimes a big engine is a big engine regardless of the sport. Two weekends ago on Sept. 18, U.S. Ski Team (USST) veteran and two-time defending XTERRA Trail Run national champion, Liz Stephen, who lives and trains in Park City, Utah, made it a three-peat. 

The 13-mile course was laid out on Snowbasin Resort outside of Ogden, Utah. A trail-running race suited to those accustomed to thick sea-level air it was not. With a beginning elevation of 6,133 feet and topping out at 7,300 feet coupled with a total gain of approximately 2,200 feet over 21 kilometers, the course suited Stephen’s climbing efficiency.

The fastest time on the day was male runner Patrick Smyth from Santa Fe, N.M., in a time of 1:14:48. Stephen was the 10th overall finisher — and the first women — in a time of 1:31:08. Despite being 2 1/2 minutes off her time last year, Stephen finished a whopping 8:17 minutes ahead of the second-place women, Amber Schultz (1:39:25), of Ogden. Stephen’s USST teammate and fellow Park City resident, Noah Hoffman, placed seventh overall and third in his 25-29 age group in 1:24:06.

Having recently returned from a three week on-snow training camp in New Zealand, Stephen illustrated once again that when it’s up, up, up, she’s ready to go.

Stephen told the Park Record that although she’s not training specifically for running events, a race effort is still a race effort — it keep athletes sharp.

“The [XTERRA] race was more to go out, have fun and to just remind your body [how to race],” she said. “I think it’s really important to remind your body, and actually your brain more, how to race and how it feels.” 

This past Saturday, Sept. 24. Stephen proved to be unbeatable once again at the Red Bull 400, a 400-meter race straight up the K120 ski jump at Utah Olympic Park (UOP) in Park City, Utah. The race starts at 6,870 feet above sea level, making it the highest-altitude Red Bull 400 in the world.

UOP hosted the race for the first time last year, which Stephen won by seven seconds over Veronika Mayerhofer, of the University of Utah. This year, Stephen won by 44 seconds over Megan Foley with a winning time of 4:52.9. Stacey Armijo of the Philippines placed third (+56.1) and world-champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson placed fourth (+1:05.4).

In the men’s solo final, U.S. Nordic Combined and University of Utah skier Nick Hendrickson (Sarah’s brother) placed third (+32.2) with a time of 4:28.4.

Most of the U.S. Cross Country Team, including Stephen and Hoffman, will convene in Park City for another national-team training camp Oct. 17-31.

Results:

XTERRA Trail Run National Championship

Red Bull 400

‘Mission Accomplished’ for Harvey, Nishikawa in Classic Mass Starts

The women's 30 k classic mass start podium, with winner Emily Nishikawa (c), runner-up Cendrine Browne (r), and Katherine Stewart-Jones (l) in third, all of the Canadian Senior Development Team. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

The women’s 30 k classic mass start podium, with winner Emily Nishikawa (c), runner-up Cendrine Browne (r), and Katherine Stewart-Jones (l) in third, all of the Canadian Senior Development Team, after the final race of 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

(Press release)

(Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from any and all of the races at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals. Please email your best to info@fasterskier.com with photo credit and caption info.)

WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Emily Nishikawa and Alex Harvey are the big winners as Canadian Ski Nationals came to a close in Whitehorse on Saturday.

The Olympic veterans proved they are the top women’s and men’s cross-country skiers in the country after smashing the field in the grueling 30- and 50-kilometre classic mass starts to cap off a long 2015/2016 season.

Nishikawa, a 26-year-old senior national development team skier, captured her third gold medal of the week in the women’s marathon. The 2014 Olympian led wire-to-wire in the four laps around the 3.75 k track. The hometown girl thrilled the Whitehorse crowd with a golden time of 1:43.12.17.

“That was a fun way to cap off the season.  It has been so great getting the opportunity to race Nationals in Whitehorse,” said Nishikawa. “I had another great race today, and had a lot of fun out there!  It has been inspiring watching the up and coming racers compete here. A huge congratulations to all as well as a big thank you to the volunteers for making this event such a success.”

Cendrine Browne, of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH) and national U23 team, was the next-best finisher more than three minutes off the pace in second (+3:45.55). Katherine Stewart-Jones (Thunder Bay NDC/NST) continued her steady finish to the season with another podium finish in third (+6:26).

The 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals men's 50 k classic mass start podium, with winner Alex Harvey (c), runner-up Graeme Killick (r) and Ivan Babikov (l) in third, after the final race of the week in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

The 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals men’s 50 k classic mass start podium, with winner Alex Harvey (c), runner-up Graeme Killick (r) and Ivan Babikov (l) in third, after the final race of the week in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

Harvey, meanwhile, will leave Whitehorse and the 2015/2016 season with a perfect record at 2016 nationals. Having won his first three starts, Harvey battled through the ultimate test at the national championships – a 50 k classic mass start for the men – where he edged out two of his World Cup teammates at the finish line.

Working well-ahead of the field as a pack of three, Harvey, Graeme Killick (NST) and Ivan Babikov (World Cup Team) jostled up and down the rolling Whitehorse terrain for the final Canadian Championship crown.

When all was said and done, it was the most successful Canuck on the men’s team this year, Harvey, of CNEPH, coming out on top with a time of 2:20:20.1.

“Mission accomplished,” said Harvey. “I’m happy to be done now. I’m pretty tired – exhausted actually both physically and mentally. Four wins though – you can’t ask for much more.”

Killick went head to head with Harvey until the finish, but came a 0.71 seconds short of taking down the leader of the men’s team.

“I was happy to challenge Alex a bit in the final metres but his finish is world class, and something I will try to work towards for next year,” said Killick. “It was nice to finish the season in Whitehorse on one of the most beautiful venues we get to ski at in Canada. They always manage to put together a fun, and well-organized week.”

Babikov finished seven seconds off the pace in third (+7.73). Both Killick and Babikov had solid performances this spring, cranking season and career-best performances during the eight-race Ski Tour Canada.

Marie Corriveau, of the national junior team and CNEPH, won the junior women’s 20 k in 1:07:42.069. Quebec’s Antoine Blais won the junior men’s 30 k race in 1:32:39.716.

Complete resultsWomen’s 30 k | Men’s 50 k

Beatty, Harvey Golden Again with Skate Sprint Wins in Whitehorse

Alex Harvey (r) after edging Lenny Valjas and Julien Locke for the men's freestyle sprint title on Wednesday at Canadian Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. Valjas placed second and Locke was third. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

Alex Harvey (r) after edging Lenny Valjas and Julien Locke for the men’s freestyle sprint title on Wednesday at Canadian Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. Valjas placed second and Locke was third. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

(Press release)

WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Dahria Beatty and Alex Harvey are on a golden run in Canada’s north. Beatty captured her second straight victory, while Harvey completed the golden hat trick on Wednesday in the 1.2-kilometre freestyle sprints at Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse.

Mentally and physically exhausted following a long competitive season that culminated with the punishing eight-race Ski Tour Canada (STC), the 22-year-old Beatty has somehow discovered another gear to win back-to-back gold medals at the national cross-country skiing championships. She took down the nation’s best women on Wednesday on the two-lap sprint course she grew up on in her hometown.

“I felt so tired in the qualifier this morning and struggled to put everything forward, but I just kept getting better as the day went on,” said Beatty, who posted her first victory in Tuesday’s 10 k freestyle race, and also had a silver medal on the weekend. “I’m thrilled to have another victory at home. There were so many school kids out today cheering us on, and the support has been great here in Whitehorse.”

Beatty, part of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national U23 development teams, lined up against six of Canada’s top female sprinters in the head-to-head women’s final for two laps around the 600-metre course which features one large climb, tight corners and a downhill into the stadium that leads to the uphill finish.

A notoriously slow starter in skate sprints, Beatty was third in the opening lap behind Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (National Senior Development Team) and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers). The pack of six stuck together on the first climb, but it was the second climb where Beatty and Bouffard-Nesbitt made an attack on the group. Beatty jumped ahead in the final downhill and never looked back, skate sprinting to the finish line.

Bouffard-Nesbitt claimed the silver, while MacIsaac-Jones, who had a top-30 finish of her own at the STC, was third.

With the next generation of Canada’s elite cross-country skiers on full display on home snow over the last three weeks, Beatty and others are starting to make a claim they are ready to make the giant leap to the next level of racing. One of a group of young women cranking out personal-best performances at the STC, Beatty shocked the world to qualify for the World Cup classic sprint heats in Canmore, Alberta, where she went on to finish a career-best 15th.

“I think the whole Tour was amazing and definitely a good confidence booster for me,” said an exhausted Beatty. “It showed me that if I put my mind to finding that extra gear inside me, and putting it all out there, that I can produce good results.

Emily [Nishikawa] is a very strong skier, but I think we have a group of girls now ready to join her at the World Cup level. At least we are certainly ready to try. I think it is time we have a real women’s team over in Europe which is definitely going to make us stronger together if we continue to push each other.”

Nishikawa, a 2014 Olympian who also hails from Whitehorse, captured the first two victories of the week at the premiere domestic racing festival. A distance racer by trade, Nishikawa was the lone woman representing Canada full time on the World Cup this year. At home in Wednesday’s sprint, she placed 13th.

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/National Junior Team) leading her junior women's qualifier on Wednesday at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. She went on to win the junior women's final. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/National Junior Team) leading her junior women’s qualifier on Wednesday at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse, Yukon. She went on to win the junior women’s final. (Photo: CCC/Twitter)

It was a clash of the Canadian titans in the men’s sprint final with many of the top names in the sport rumbling on the skinny skis in the head-to-head heats around the 1.2-kilometre track.

Toronto’s Lenny Valjas was determined to end Harvey’s golden run in Whitehorse. The World Cup teammate met in the final, but in the end, it was Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., rattling off his third consecutive victory in as many races, winning by 0.19 seconds over Valjas.

“I knew Alex wanted to have good races every day, and was a bit nervous for the sprint, so that gave me motivation to put up the best day I could. I did everything I could to give Alex a run for his money today,” said Valjas. “I just put the pedal down the whole way around and was hoping to get some separation from him. I attacked that first hill, but he did get by me on the last hill. It gave him the lead and I couldn’t get by him again.”

It was Valjas’ second silver medal of the week behind the leader of the men’s national squad. He also finished second behind Harvey in the 15 k classic interval start.

“This has been a very serious week for us and everyone is skiing at a very high level. We are all teammates, but when the gun goes off we are all there fighting hard for the top of the podium,” added Valjas. “Whitehorse, in my opinion, is one of the best places in the country to have Nationals. When the weather is good it is hard to find a better place in Canada, and the volunteers have just put on an amazing event for us.”

Julien Locke, of Nelson, B.C., skied to the bronze medal in men’s sprint action.

Marie Corriveau, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., won the junior women’s sprint. Joey Foster, of Midland, Ont., was the top junior men’s sprinter on the day.

The junior and juvenile boys and girls will hit the start line for their sprint races Thursday. The final elite races are set for Saturday with the 30/50 k classic mass starts.

Complete results | Women | Men

Current World U23 Rankings List After U.S. Nationals Day 3

HOUGHTON, Mich.–With the completion of the third day of racing at U.S. nationals on the Michigan Tech trails, the World Under-23 rankings are out and provided below.

2016 U23 Women’s Rankings After U.S. Nationals Day 3 

2016 U23 Men’s Rankings After U.S. Nationals Day 3 

Current World Junior, Youth Olympic Games, and U18 Trip Rankings After U.S. Nationals Day 3

HOUGHTON, Mich.–The third day of racing at U.S. nationals wrapped up on Thursday with the 5/10/20/30 kilometer freestyle mass start races. Current rankings for the World Junior and Under-18 trips are provided in PDF documents below.

The top male and female athletes on the U18 list are the qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games.

Stay tuned for the Under 23 rankings.

2016 World Junior Trip Men’s Rankings Day Three

2016 World Junior Trip Women’s Rankings Day Three

2016 U18 Trip Men’s Rankings Day Three

2016 U18 Women’s Rankings Day Three

 

 

 

Current Rankings for the World U23, World Juniors, Youth Olympic Games, and U18 Trips After Day 2

With two days of racing at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Mich. complete, the current rankings for the World Under-23, World Juniors, Youth Olympic Games, and the Under-18 trip are provided below. In order to qualify for a trip, athletes generally must accumulate 115 to 120 result points.

For more information on the selection criteria for the 2016 U23 World Championships taking place in Rasnov, Romania, click here.  More information regarding the selection criteria for the 2016 World Junior Championships may be found here. Selection criteria for the 2016 U18 trip in Otepää, Estonia provided here. Selection procedures for the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway is available here.   

Below are links to the PDF documents for the current athlete result points, separated by gender.

2016 YOG Boy’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 YOG Girl’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 U18 Trip Boy’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 U18 Trip Girl’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 World Junior Trip Men’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 World Junior Trip Women’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 U23 Trip Men’s Ranking List Day Two

2016 U23Trip Women’s Ranking List Day Two

Yeaton Double Poles to Besh Cup Sprint Win, Dominates 10 k Skate

Bernie Nelson (l) coaching Australian national-team skier, Alaska Pacific University member and former MSU athlete Jessica Yeaton (r) at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Bernie Nelson)

Jessica Yeaton (r), an Australian national-team skier, Alaska Pacific University member and former MSU athlete, with coach Bernie Nelson at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Bernie Nelson)

The following recap of Besh Cups 1 & 2 was submitted by Matthew T. Pauli, chief of competition for the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage.  If you’re interested in sending in a summary or photos of a regional race in your area, email info@fasterskier.com.

***

ANCHORAGE — The Cross Country Alaska Besh Cup race series kicked off this past weekend with classic sprints and freestyle interval start races at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska.  The series serves as the junior national and Arctic Winter Games qualifier series and is one of the highlights of the Alaska state-wide race schedule.

Low-snow conditions forced the hosts, the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA), to confine competition courses to the snowmaking loops at and adjacent to the Kincaid Park stadium.  The NSAA operations crew and volunteers worked diligently over the last two weeks to produce enough snow tfor skiing to occur in Anchorage.  Environmental conditions cooperated with adequate air and dew point temperatures to keep snow production operating 24 hours a day.

Classic sprints on Saturday saw Jessica Yeaton double-pole (in what appeared  to be one of only a handful of women to do so) through the qualification and all heats to win by wide margins in the U18 and older competitor category.  Representing the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center (APUNSC) and Australia, Yeaton’s qualification time produced a 20-second margin of victory.  In the A-final and last race of the day, Australia provided a one-two punch as Casey Wright secured second followed by Stephanie Kirk.

The men’s U18 and older qualification round was dominated by the APUNSC.  Reese Hanneman, as well as all the top qualifiers, double-poled the 1350-meter course.  The top 12 qualifiers all moved on to the A & B finals.  An A-final, 5 of 6 athletes representing the APUNSC, saw Hanneman best his teammate Eric Packer in second and brother and teammate Logan Hanneman in third.

The U16 girls winner was Molly Gellert of Alaska Winter Stars (AWS) followed in second by Heidi Booher of Alaska Nordic Racing (ANR) and Amber Hajdukovich of FXC (Fairbanks Cross country).  Gus Schumacher of AWS put the hammer down in the U16 boys event with a stellar qualifier and complete control of all heats in route to victory in the U16 class.  Luke Jager of APUNSC was second followed by Andrew Hull of AWS in third.

Day 2 featured an interval-start format contested over a 3.1 kilometer course.  The multiple-lap event saw U18 and older women racing 10 k while men raced 15 k.  Yeaton made it a brace for the weekend as she won by over a minute to second-place Kirk.  Lauren Fritz changed up the podium from the day before and came in third.  In men’s action, the APUNSC again showed their prowess by placing 9 in the top 10.  Scott Patterson bested teammate David Norris by 25 seconds while Tyler Kornfield, known as a double national champion sprinter, rounded out the podium for third place.

Gellert and Booher made a statement on why they are the current top of class for the U16 girls field as they finished 1-2 in the 5 k event.  An exceptional result was put up by U14 Kaya Ratzlaff of FXC as she finished third in the mixed U14,16 seeded race.  Gus Schumacher skied to a 26 second victory in the U16 boys class with Ti Donaldson of FXC second and Jager repeating his podium finish from Saturday, for third.

Complete results can be found at www.crosscountryalaska.org.

Besh Cup racing continues Jan. 23-24, 2016 at the Lookout Mountain venue in Homer, Alaska, with freestyle sprints and classic distance races.

Havlick, Caitlin Gregg Top USST Mini Tour in Park City

Miles Havlick of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) and Caitlin Gregg (U.S. Ski Team/Team Gregg) finished ahead of the pack Tuesday in the final pursuit of a three-day mini tour, hosted by the U.S. Ski Team (USST) at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. By winning the freestyle pursuits (approximately 9 kilometers for the women and 14 k for the men), Havlick and Gregg claimed the unofficial mini-tour titles.

The USST was willing to publicize the top-three finishers for each event: Gregg, a 34-year-old USST rookie, placed first overall among the women, followed by Sophie Caldwell in second and Jessie Diggins in third. Both Caldwell and Diggins are teammates on the USST and Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team.

Havlick, 25, beat out Simi Hamilton (USST/SMST2), who was second overall, and Brian Gregg (Team Gregg), who placed third. In addition to winning the freestyle pursuit, Havlick won Monday’s 15 k classic mass start and placed third in the opening freestyle sprint (behind USST veterans Andy Newell and Hamilton, respectively).

Hamilton was second again in the classic mass start and Newell placed third.

In the women’s mini tour, Caldwell won the skate sprint on Day 1, Gregg placed second, and Ida Sargent (USST/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was third. On Day 2, Diggins won the women’s 15 k classic mass start, followed by Sargent in second and Caldwell in third.

According to USST Head Coach Chris Grover, the inaugural camp-ending tour went “really well.” About 15 men and 15 women finished the tour, and he wrote in an email that it was a “great group of athletes in the entire camp and excellent competition each day. The weather was also perfect.  People are for sure getting tired after 2 weeks of camp and the Tour but that was of course expected.  Now it’s time for a little rest and for the snow to fly!”

The USST camp ended Tuesday. The team will meet up again in just over two weeks on Nov. 13 in Gällivare, Sweden.

Men’s final tour standings:
  1. Miles Havlick (SVSEF)
  2. Simi Hamilton (USST/SMST2)
  3. Brian Gregg (Team Gregg)
Women’s final tour standings:
  1. Caitlin Gregg (USST/Team Gregg)
  2. Sophie Caldwell (USST/SMST2)
  3. Jessie Diggins (USST/SMST2)

Day 1 (Sunday): Freestyle Sprint

Men’s results:

  1. Andy Newell (USST/SMST2)
  2. Hamilton
  3. Havlick
Women’s results:
  1. S. Caldwell
  2. Gregg
  3. Sargent

Day 2 (Monday): 15 k Classic Mass Start 

Men’s results

  1. Havlick
  2. Hamilton
  3. Newell

Women’s results

  1. Diggins
  2. Ida Sargent (USST/Craftsbury Green Racing Project)
  3. S. Caldwell

Day 3 (Tuesday): 9/14 k Freestyle Pursuit

Men’s results

  1. Havlick
  2. Hamilton
  3. B. Gregg

Women’s results

  1. C. Gregg
  2. S. Caldwell
  3. Diggins

Canada Winter Games: Two Gold and a Silver for Quebec in Skate Mass Start

Raphaël Couturier, of St-Jean-Chrysostome, Quebec, and Anne-Marie Comeau, of Abitibi, Quebec, notched victories in Thursday’s men’s and women’s 15- and 10-kilometer freestyle mass starts, respectively, on the third day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Couturier crossed the finish line in 35:13.6, with a 7.7 seconds lead over Evan Palmer-Charrette, of  Thunder Bay, Ontario, in second, and David Palmer, of Rossland, B.C., in third (+ 12.2). This was Couturier’s second medal after a bronze in Monday’s 10 k classic interval start.

On the women’s side, Comeau stopped the clock at 26:36.1, collecting her first medal at these Games. After losing Monday’s 7.5 k classic interval start by less than a second, Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, edged Maya MacIsaac-Jones, of Athabasca, Alberta, by one tenth of a second, for second place (+21.2). Stewart-Jones collected her third silver medal at these Games. Annah Hanthorn, of Yukon, winner of Monday’s 7.5 k classic interval start, missed the podium by two tenths of a second.

Saturday marks the last day of racing with the traditional relays.

Mass start results: Men’s 15 k freestyle / Women’s 10 k freestyle 

— François Léger Dionne

Canada Winter Games: Day 4 Biathlon & Day 1 Cross-Country Recaps

On Friday, Feb. 20, the biathlon races at Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia, ended with the traditional relays at the Otway Nordic Centre.

On in men’s 3 x 7.5-kilometer relay, the province of Quebec took gold, ahead of Alberta and Ontario. Félix Bérubé-Larochelle, of Lac-Mégantic, Zachari Bolduc, of Laval, and Teo Sanchez, of Wakefield, combined for the win in 1:04:25. Fifty-five seconds behind were Alberta skiers Jakob Chambers, Adam Runnalls and Ben Churchill, of Calgary. Ontario’s third-place finishers Jason Richard Lawton, of Orleans, Toby Quinn, of Thunder Bay, and Alexandre Dupuis, of Ottawa, finished 2:07 back from the winners.

In the women’s 3 x 6 k relay, British Columbia was victorious over Quebec and Alberta. Tekarra Elissa Banser, of West Kelowna, Claire Agnes Lapointe, of Pince George, and Emily Maria Dickson, of Burns Lake, triumphed on home soil with a time of 1:00:06. Quebec’s Charlotte Hamel, of Sherbrooke, and sisters Sarah Poisson-Grégoire and Anabelle Poisson-Grégoire, of Lac-Mégantic, finished two minutes behind. Alberta’s Kristen Chicoine, Darya Sepandj and Kendall Amy Chong, of Calgary, raced to bronze 3:05 behind the winners.

Relay results: Men’s 3 x 7.5 k | Women’s 3 x 6 k | Photos (courtesy of Daniel Guay, Lake Superior Biathlon team coach)

Complete biathlon results

***

Monday marked the kickoff for cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games. Knute Johnsgaard and Annah Hanthorn, both of Yukon, notched victories in the men’s and women’s 10- and 7.5-kilometer classic interval starts at the Otway Nordic Centre.

Johnsgaard’s winning time of 25:48.1 was followed by Scott Hill, of Toronto, Ontario, who came in second place (+29.5), 5.3 seconds ahead of Raphaël Couturier, of St-Jean-Chrysostome, Quebec, in third.

Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, came close to winning the event, finishing seven-tenths of a second off Hanthorn’s winning time of 22:33.10. Kendra Murray, of Whitehorse, Yukon,  placed third, 14.5 seconds back from Jones.

Results: Men’s 10 k classic | Women’s 7.5 k classic 

Complete cross-country results

— François Léger Dionne

Day 2-3 Biathlon Recaps from Canada Winter Games (with Photo Gallery)

Matthew Hudec, of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and Leilani Tam Von Burg, of Ottawa, Ontario, notched victories on Tuesday in the men’s and women’s 10- and 7.5-kilometer biathlon sprints, respectively, on the second day of biathlon at the Canada Winter Games  in Prince George, British Columbia.

For Tam Von Burg, it was her second win in as many races so far at the 2015 Games.

The next day, Alexandre Dupuis, of Ottawa, and Emily Maria Dickson, of Burns Lake, B.C., started second and rose to first in the men’s 12.5 k and women’s 10 k pursuits.

At the Otway Nordic Centre on Tuesday, Hudec topped Dupuis by 24.5 seconds and Jules Bernotte, of Sherbrook, Quebec, in third (+34.8) for the men’s sprint win in 26:18.8.

The next day, Dupuis won the men’s pursuit by 18.9 seconds over Hudec in 35:45.4. Just 0.9 seconds back from Hudec, Teo Sanchez, of Wakefield, Quebec, placed third.

Tam Von Burg collected a 55-second victory in the women’s sprint over Dickson, while Nadia Moser, of Whitehorse, Yukon, was 1:01.7 back in third.

On Wednesday, Dickson went on to edge Tam Von Burg by 0.8 seconds in the women’s pursuit, and Moser once again rounded out the podium in third (+1:20.6).

Tuesday’s sprint results: Men | Women

Wednesday’s pursuit results: Men | Women

Photo galleries: Tuesday’s sprint & Wednesday’s pursuit (courtesy of Daniel Guay, Lake Superior Biathlon team coach)

Sandau, Nishikawa Top Both Distance Races at Eastern Canadian Champs (with Photos) 

Emily Nishikawa winning the women's 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Emily Nishikawa winning the women’s 15 k classic mass start by nearly a minute and three seconds on Sunday at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

Note: This recap has been updated to include the correct time back and note Jenn Jackson’s crash in the women’s A-final.

Kevin Sandau and Emily Nishikawa racked up two more wins apiece this season at the NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships this past weekend in Gatineau, Quebec.

Sandau and Nishikawa, both Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian National Development Team (NST-Dev.) skiers, swept the men’s and women’s distance races, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday at Nakkertok Nordic.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men's 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

NorAm leader Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) on his way to winning the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint on the first day of Eastern Canadian Championships on Jan. 30 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Photo: Fred Webster)

On Friday, Jan. 30, Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) won the men’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint and Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) topped the women’s 1.4 k sprint in soft, deep snow after about 10 centimeters (4 inches) fell the night before.

Somppi went on to place second in Saturday’s 15 k freestyle and third in the 10 k classic mass start. He qualified for the sprint in sixth, 2.59 seconds behind the top men’s qualifier Sébastien Boehmler-Dandurand of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH), the fastest in the fresh snow in 3:58.81.

“The sprint race was tough with soft conditions after a fresh snowfall on Thursday,” Somppi explained in an email. “The qualifier in particular was very soft on the big climb, which you do twice on the sprint course at Nakkertok. My legs felt a little heavy in the qualifier when I tried to really go and I was worried how I would feel in the heats.”

In the quarterfinals, Boehmler-Dandurand topped Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad), and Somppi  edged Evan Palmer-Charrette (Thunder Bay NDC), and all four advanced to the semifinals with eight others.

There, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) topped Somppi by 0.18 seconds, and both advanced to the A-final, along with the second semifinal winner, Andy Shields (NDC), and Sandau as the runner-up. Lucky losers with fast-enough times from the first semifinal, Boehmler-Dandurand and Julien Locke (Black Jack) moved on as well.

Somppi explained he raced strategically in the final, getting out to a strong start and taking the lead.

“Leading was good to avoid crashes or broken poles as the course was a little difficult to pass on, especially in the softer snow,” he wrote. “However there was a headwind on parts of the course and it was easy to blow your legs out leading so I kept the pace controlled and everyone else seemed pretty content with that for the first half of the race.”

Shields attacked the second time up the big climb, he explained.

“I was able to stick right on him, get his draft on the downhill and slingshot by him into the finish,” Somppi added. “I felt strong in the finish, but it was certainly a tactical win for me.”

Somppi won by 0.5 seconds in 4:07.10. Shields, his former teammate at Lappe Nordic, was second, and Sandau took third (+2.2). Kennedy placed fourth (+4.0), Boehmler-Dandurand was fifth (+8.98), and Locke was sixth (+14.85).

“I was delighted to see how soft the tracks were when I arrived in the morning because I knew it played to my advantage,” Shields wrote in an email. “The snow was very broken up on the climb which meant we had to pace things pretty conservatively on the first climb. But on the second time up the hill, it was really fun to blast away from the pack if I could.

“Somppi managed to cover my move on the last climb and worked the draft coming downhill into the final straight,” he added. “I was pretty happy with my first NorAm podium in two years and our Lappe 1-2.”

In the women’s 1.4 k sprint, Widmer topped the qualifier by 8.73 seconds in 4:22.95. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) qualified second, and Jennifer Jackson (NDC) posted the third-fastest time.

Widmer went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before rocking the A-final as well, beating out Dupont by 0.75 seconds in 4:07.11. Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) placed third, 10.72 seconds back, Kendra Murray (Carleton University) was fourth (+11.28), Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) fifth (+17.66), and Jackson finished sixth (+2:21.78) after a crash.

“The steep climbs had a lot of deep, soft snow to navigate,” Widmer wrote in an email. “It wasn’t the prettiest skiing I’ve ever done, but it did the trick. … I skied from the front for my quarter and semi final. In the final, Jen Jackson had a brilliant start and I tucked in behind her and Andrea Dupont. On the first time up the steep hill I pulled behind and passed them. I just went from there and didn’t look back.”

On Saturday, Widmer placed second in the 10 k freestyle individual start, 4.7 seconds behind Nishikawa, who won it in 30:15.8. Widmer started 1:15 behind Nishikawa and explained she started getting splits off her around 7 k, at which point she heard she was 20 seconds down.

“It is always extra motivation to push harder,” Widmer wrote. “Maintaining speed through the transitions was my main goal for today. There was quite a bit of navigating to do with so many racers on course at 15 second intervals. My distance racing usually means a really fast fast lap and hanging on to that pace as long as possible. I tried a different strategy today and it worked well. I’m glad that I had a decent distance day today because I’ve been struggling this season.”

After skipping the sprint, Nishikawa was pleased with her weekend and explained she felt better after Sunday’s 10 k classic mass start win than on Saturday.

“I have been training hard for World Champs, and haven’t done much hard intensity prior to Saturday’s race so I felt a little flat.  But today I felt much better,” Nishikawa wrote after winning the mass start by more than a minute. “I am really excited to get over to Europe and get back racing on the World Cup.”

While she won Saturday’s 10 k skate by nearly five seconds, Nishikawa was almost a minute and a half faster than Dupont in third (+1:28). Brittany Webster (AWCA) placed fourth (+1:45.4), and Murray was fifth (+2:29).

2015 Eastern Canadian Championships podiums:

Friday, Jan. 30:
– Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint:
1. Somppi, 2. Shields, 3. Sandau
– Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint:
1. Widmer, 2. Dupont, 3. MacLean

Saturday, Jan. 31: 

– Men’s 15 k skate interval start:
1. Sandau, 2. Somppi, 3. Carlyle
– Women’s 10 k skate interval start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Widmer, 3. Dupont

Sunday, Feb. 1:

– Men’s 15 k classic mass start:
1. Sandau, 2. Shields, 3. Somppi
– Women’s 10 k classic mass start:
1. Nishikawa, 2. Murray, 3. Webster

The next day, Nishikawa won in 31:29.1, 1:02.56 faster than Murray in second. Webster was third (+1:04.57) after skiing in the top four throughout the race. Hicks placed fourth (+1:04.68) and Dupont was fifth (+1:25.23).

In an email, Webster explained that her podium on Sunday was her first classic race of the year after recovering from a stress fracture in her leg.

“I have only JUST begun to classic ski again,” she wrote. “My first workout was last week, and this race was the first time I have classic skied without any pain!!! YES!

“The week boasted sub-par results for me, but honestly, I really felt like I ‘won’ my races out on the course,” Webster added. “Trailblazer coach Rick Dickey told me something I will never forget, and that is to make a race plan, and execute 100%. If you did that, you won your race. That’s what I did! My body felt great this weekend, I just need some more miles in my race legs. It will come, and I think it will come fast.”

Sandau won the Saturday’s 15 k skate by 15.2 seconds over Somppi (in 38:18.9) and Sunday’s 15 k classic mass start by 24.24 seconds ahead of Shields (in 41:20.67).

After starting near the back of the 125-man pack, Sandau led the interval start from start to finish.

“The trails are a bit flatter for my liking in Nakkertok but today I felt like I could push the flat sections and stay aggressive,” he wrote on Saturday. “A lot of the race just felt fast paced and high tempo for me, I could keep the RPM’s high and really hurt the body but still have good speed over the tops.”

He shared Saturday’s podium with two AWCA teammates, Somppi in second and Jack Carlyle, who was 1:05.5 back in third. Shields placed fourth (+1:22), and Kennedy was fifth (+1:34.6).

On Sunday, Sandau followed Abbott closely in second on the first of four laps, then led each loop thereafter, posting lap times that were consistently within four seconds of one another. With one lap to go, Shields as his closest challenger was 16.42 seconds behind.

“Because the race got shortened to a 15km from a 20km due to a he cold, I figured there wasn’t any time to play games and have some slow paced sections out there, so I tried to push all the climbing sections and keep the flats quick,” Sandau wrote on Sunday. “I skied to the front at about 2.5km and just kept the pressure on for the remainder to try to open the gaps up a bit. If it came to a sprint finish at the end I wasn’t going to fare well against the other guys in that.”

Shields finished second and explained he was “very happy” with his second podium of the long weekend.

“Things got tactical within the chase pack, but I made a very decisive move on the second last climb to claim second place,” Shields wrote. “Overall the weekend was exactly what I needed at this point in the year. I’m waiting to hear if I will be selected for a B-tour trip in the Baltic States which leaves Canada on Feb. 9th.”

Somppi was 32 seconds back in third for his third-straight podium of the weekend. Kennedy placed fourth (+35.53), and Bob Thompson (NDC) was another second back in fifth (+36.78).

“I was in a good position in second skiing behind Kevin on the first lap when unfortunately I took a crash and lost some positions and time,” Somppi explained.  “I worked hard to get back to the group but just didn’t have it in me today to stick with Kevin. Happy I was able to finish on the podium. It was a mental battle skiing with a tired body today. Great to share the podium with teammates and my roommate.”

Results: 

Friday: Men’s 1.5 k skate sprint | Women’s 1.4 k skate sprint

Saturday: Men’s 15 k skate | Women’s 10 k skate

Sunday: Men’s 15 k classic mass start | Women’s 10 k classic mass start

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

Freeman, Patterson Win Close Classic Mass Starts in Craftsbury

Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess was fourth, David Norris fifth, and Lex Treinen sixth to give APU four of the top six.  (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged APU’s Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Another APU skier, Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (BEA) was fourth, David Norris (APU) placed fifth, and Lex Treinen (APU) was sixth to give APU four of the top six. (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

By Colin Gaiser

Kris Freeman (Freebird) had the finishing speed to hold off Alaska Pacific University’s Eric Packer and Reese Hanneman in the men’s SuperTour 30-kilometer classic mass start on Friday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vt.

Freeman won in a time of 1:23:32.9, while Packer came in just 0.1 seconds behind and Hanneman finished 5.7 seconds back to lock up third place. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) was fourth (+7.5) and David Norris (APU) rounded out the top five (+8.9).

In the women’s 20 k, which had just 14 finishers, Caitlin Patterson of the local Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) led a tight pack of skiers at the finish and won in 1:05:48.8. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) was 2.9 seconds back, and Anja Gruber (Far West Elite Team) took the final spot on the podium (+4.3).

Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) was right behind in fourth (+5.2), Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) took fifth (+6.0), and Rosie Frankowski (APU) finished in sixth (+7.3) in the back of the lead pack.

Freeman wrote in an email that the men’s race remained tight with about 10 k to go, compelling him to increase the pace at the start of the final 10 k lap. He led during the lap’s most significant climb, though Packer was right beside him at the top. The pack of Freeman, Blackhorse-von Jess, and the three APU skiers then reformed in the long following descent.

“With the group back together it was cat-and-mouse on some rolling terrain until we got to a large hill with 1 k to go,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman wrote that he mounted his final attack about a kilometer from the finish.

“Reese, Dakota, and Eric were right on me when I went but only Eric stuck with me. I had a few seconds on him with 100 m to go and I eased up a bit so it was close but not as close as the time indicates. There was no lunge to the line,” Freeman explained.

Packer wrote in an email, “I was hoping to use my double pole finish to catch [Freeman], and almost did, but I ran out of track and he edged me to the line. He was the stronger skier today.”

However, Packer explained that he was “incredibly happy” with his result and his body felt strong throughout the race.

Hanneman wrote that the fresh snow on the course made it a very tactical race where multiple racers took turns in the front of the pack.

“I was feeling pretty strong, and had more of a punchy style where I was able to do a couple really aggressive attacks where I could gap the field in a short amount of time,” Hanneman explained.

However, after Freeman began his attack and picked up the pace during the final lap, it became a race to keep up with him — and only Packer was able to challenge him down the final stretch.

In the women’s race, Patterson — winning on her 25th birthday — wrote in an email that she stayed out of the lead and decided to conserve her energy throughout the race, but stayed within the main pack of eight skiers.

“I dug deep to stay with them, knowing that if someone could make a break for it at the top of that big hill and get over the other side ahead, it might be the decisive move,” she explained. “No one really went for it, although the pace was definitely kicking up, but the pack came back together mostly on the downhill and rolling section.”

Patterson explained she was in fourth while taking the final sharp curve about 400 meters before the finish, but her momentum carried her past the skiers in the left, inside track. After establishing some breathing room, she switched to the other track and managed to out-double pole the pack on the final, downhill 100-meter stretch.

Because the finish was so close, Patterson wrote that it “came down to how much energy and speed we could muster for that last 400 m, with a little bit of luck and good positioning playing into the mix as well.”

SuperTour racing continues in Craftsbury on Sunday with classic sprints. The Craftsbury Marathon will take place Saturday.

Results: Men’s 30 k | Women’s 20 k

Nishikawa, Sandau Win First-Ever NorAm at Lake Louise

Day 1 of the NorAm Western Canadian Championships in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

Day 1 of the three-day NorAm Western Canadian Championships from Jan. 15-18 in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

By Gerry Furseth

The NorAm ventured to Lake Louise, Alberta, for the Western Canadian Championships Thursday through Sunday, a test event for the 2016 Tour du Canada World Cup stage.

Unlike most Continental Cup events, the course does not meet International Ski Federation (FIS) homologation standards.  The trails are much narrower than the 4-metre minimum and there is a distinct lack of climbing.  What Lake Louise does offer is scenery that makes more traditional venues like Canmore and Whistler Olympic Park look boring in comparison. The 2016 World Cup event in Lake Louise is still pending approval from Parks Canada.

Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) double poling to second place in the 10 k classic at NorAm Western Canadian Championships on Thursday in Lake Louise, Alberta.  (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

Brian McKeever (Canadian Para-Nordic Team) double poling to second place in the 10 k classic at NorAm Western Canadian Championships on Thursday in Lake Louise, Alberta. (Photo: Martine Zilligen/CCC)

The men started off Thursday with a 10-kilometer classic interval start on a single loop. Kevin Sandau (Alberta World Cup Academy/NST-Dev.) edged out Brian McKeever (National Para-Nordic Ski Team) by three seconds for the victory in 26:25.7.  Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) was third, 23.1 seconds behind.

Sandau was happy to get a victory on a course that he didn’t think suited his strengths.

“I had both skate and classic skis waxed in case I decided to double pole it,” Sandau wrote in an email. “While a few guys did end up using skate skis, my coaches and I made the call to use kick wax 10 minutes before my start.”

“I’m glad I chose to do that as after only skiing the course once yesterday, the few climbs were a bit longer than I remembered.”

McKeever chose skate skis and seemed happy with his choice, tweeting, “Fun race in Lake Louise today. Double polling almost got me the W, but feel short in a close one to @KevinSandau. A good battle!”

Somppi used classic skis to continue his run of third-place finishes.

“I had planned to double pole,” he wrote. “However my classic skis were feeling really good when I tested them so I decided to classic on slippery skis with minimal drag.

“I think it wasn’t the best decision.  They were plenty fast but I wasn’t able to take advantage of being on classic skis on the climbs because my kick wasn’t good enough to really power up them.  If I did it again I would probably double pole the race.”

Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) led at the 4 k timing point on classic skis, before fading to seventh, 41 seconds back.

“I went a bit lighter on the grip and had a great first half to the race, but then had to use a bit more energy trying to climb than I thought I would have to and lost a bit of time.”

The decision between classic and skate skis for distance races has not usually been difficult in North America. On an unusual single-loop course, Sandau and Johnsgaard skied the second half together.

“[My] race plan was sort of just to floor it the whole way,” Sandau wrote. “I was lucky enough to catch my 30-second guy near the halfway point, and because he was double poling I was able to keep my speed up sitting in behind him for the flatter section.”

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad), who started 30 seconds ahead of Sandau, had a different strategy.

“It was my first time double poling a distance course so I just made sure I left enough energy for the uphills later in the course,” Johnsgaard wrote.

Like McKeever, Johnsgaard would choose skate skis again, despite finishing sixth, 38 seconds back on skis that didn’t give him all the advantage he expected.

“The AWCA [team] nailed their skis today as Kevin’s classic were at least as fast as my skate,” he wrote.

Continuing with the unusual, the women’s race was the same length as the men’s.

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) continued her strong season with another clear victory in the women’s 10 k classic in 30:14.1, clocking the fastest checkpoint times at 4 k and 9 k.

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) was second, 38.9 seconds behind, after recovering five seconds on Nishikawa in the final kilometer.

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST-U23) completed the podium, 1:21 back from Nishikawa.

None of the women responded to email for comment by press time.

Results: Men | Women

Photos

Duntroon NorAm Mini-Tour Recap: Jones, Cockney, Nishikawa, and Sandau Tally Wins

Two weeks ago, the NorAm mini tour at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario, was in jeopardy of not happening — with insufficient snow to run the event with nearly 450 racers expected, according to Cross Country Canada. Cold temperatures and plenty of snow came through, however, and three days of racing took place from Thursday, Jan. 8, to Sunday, Jan. 11.

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) cruising through the finish for the NorAm classic sprint A-final win on Jan. 10 at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) cruising through the finish for the NorAm classic sprint A-final win on Jan. 10 at Highlands Nordic in Duntroon, Ontario. (Photo: CCC)

Two-time Olympian Perianne Jones and Jesse Cockney, also of the Canadian National Development B-team and coming off World Cup races in December, notched classic-sprint victories on Saturday.

During Sunday’s 10/15-kilometer freestyle interval starts, two other Alberta World Cup Academy skiers, Emily Nishikawa and Kevin Sandau (both on the national development team) topped the podium.

Jones was the fastest women’s qualifier in the 1.5 k sprint on Saturday in 3:57.71, 4.85 seconds ahead of Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers), who advanced to the quarterfinals in second.

Jones went on to win the senior women’s A-final by 10 seconds over Dupont, and Cendrine Browne, of the national U23 team and Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH), placed third, after already qualifying for Canada’s U23 World Championships team.

“It’s always nice to come out on top. Duntroon is a special place for me,” Jones wrote in an email after Saturday’s race. “My whole family was here today including my grandparents and aunt and uncle. So it was fun to put things together for them. My first coach Heinz Neiderhauser passed away here 7 years ago, and it was the first time being back on these trails since then, so I like to think I may have had a little extra help out there.”

Browne was ecstatic about her best-ever sprint. In an email, she explained that she set a goal of making the A-final.

“I never had a good result like this one in sprints,” Browne wrote. “I always said I wasn’t a sprinter, but after today I will stop saying that! … Before the final, my coach told me: All you have to do in this heat is have fun. That was true. I was there, I was in the A final, I could go down, only up. And I did! I was behind Perianne Jones till the last 150 meters. Then Andrea Dupont passed me on the final stretch.

“It feels so good to be on top of my game and to feel so strong,” she added. “I am so happy. I was literally smiling and jumping after my race today.”

Bob Thompson of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) won the 1.8 k men’s qualifier in 4:12.10, just 0.47 seconds over Raphaël Couturier (CNEPH), who prequalified for U23 World Championships. Thompson, Cockney, and Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) each won their quarterfinals, but Nakkertok’s Sébastien Townsend edged both Thompson and Cockney, respectively, in a semifinal photo finish to put himself in position for selection to U23 Worlds.

Black Jack’s Julien Locke won the second semifinal by a second over Stewart-Jones. In the senior men’s A-final, Cockney attacked on the last climb to pull out a three-second win over Stewart-Jones, and Thompson finished third.

“The race today was sort of all over the place,” Cockney wrote in an email. “I stumbled a few times in the heats and fell in the qualifier but there were good feelings in between all the sloppy skiing.”

That night, Cockney and Stewart-Jones, the early season NorAm leader, were headed to Europe in advance of the World Cup sprints Jan. 17-18 in Otepää, Estonia.

“Physically I didn’t feel great and felt like I was still tired from the 30km,” Stewart-Jones wrote in an email, referencing Thursday’s 30 k skiathlon, in which he placed 12th. “I just tried to race smart and take advantage of every opportunity I could get and in the end I came out with the best possible result I could have on [Saturday] so I’m happy with that.

“The season has been going really well as far as sprinting goes,” he added. “I have yet to hit my stride in distance but I’m sure that will come. Now I’m getting the opportunity to race some World Cups so I’m pretty excited about that!”

Thompson, who achieved his second NorAm of the season and is currently third in the NorAm rankings, explained that Cockney “made a big move on the last climb I couldn’t match and Patrick got ahead on the last downhill and I couldn’t make up the gap before the line.

“I felt strong all day and was really happy to have won my first sprint qualifier,” he wrote. “I had big hopes for the A-final and am pleased to get another NorAm sprint podium. I’ve been working on my sprinting for the last few years and it feels great that it is paying off.”

National junior team member Maya McIssac-Jones (RMR) edged Sophie Carrier-Laforte (Skinouk/NST Junior Team) in the junior women’s 1.5 k qualifier by 1.14 seconds in 4:12.12. MacIsaac-Jones went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before claiming a sizable A-final victory over Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok/NST Junior Team), who qualified in third and won her quarterfinal and semifinal as well. With her classic-sprint win, McIssac-Jones qualified for Junior World Championships. Annah Hanthorn (YST/NST Junior Team) placed third.

Julian Smith (NDC Thunder Bay) was the fastest junior men’s 1.8 k qualifier by 5 seconds over teammate David Askwith in 4:20.23. Smith went on to top his quarterfinal and ultimately the final by 1.5 seconds over Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (CNEPH/NST Junior Team) in second. Joey Foster (Team Hardwood) placed third overall, after edging Smith in the semifinal to advance to the final.

The senior men's 15 k freestyle podium on Sunday, Jan. 11, at the NorAm in Duntroon, Ontario, including winner Kevin Sandau (second from r), Michael Somppi (r), Raphaël Couturier (third from l) in third, and Graeme Killick (second from l) in fourth. (Photo: CCC)

The senior men’s 15 k freestyle podium on Sunday, Jan. 11, at the NorAm in Duntroon, Ontario, including winner Kevin Sandau (second from r), runner-up Michael Somppi (r), Raphaël Couturier (third from l) in third, and Graeme Killick (second from l) in fourth, and Andy Shields (l) in fifth. (Photo: CCC)

Sandau, E.Nishikawa Top Distance Skate Races

On Sunday, Sandau posted the fastest splits throughout most of the men’s 15 k freestyle to win in 45:18.2, 24 seconds ahead of AWCA teammate Michael Somppi, also of the national-development team. The top U23 of the day, Couturier placed third (+42.2).

“I knew it was going to be a hard 15km but I was looking for some redemption from Thursday’s mishap,” Sandau wrote in an email on Sunday, referencing his eighth place in the 30 k skiathlon. “From early on I grabbed the lead and just tried to grab more time on the climbing sections where I felt particularly good.

“My classic skis were abysmally slow in the pursuit and right from the start I switched into survival mode,” he added. “After trying to close the gap down on Killick and taking lead for most of the first skate lap, I eventually gassed myself. … My season and fitness seems to be trending upwards. I feel the fitness was still there and Sunday sort of proved that to me. I missed the chance to race in [at the Jan. 24-25 World Cup in] Rybinsk, but right now focussing on Westerns and Easterns and just trying to race as much as possible.”

Somppi explained he gave Sunday’s race “everything I had and was hoping for a victory, but Kevin was too strong for me,” he wrote. “He had a really strong performance.  Overall my weekend was very solid, but unfortunately I needed better than solid to qualify for the Rybinsk World Cup races. I’m really happy with the consistency but I’m still searching for some next level performances. I don’t feel I’ve had any kind of big peak for any races yet this year.”

Thursday’s skiathlon winner, Graeme Killick (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) placed fourth, 54.6 seconds behind Sandau.

“I struggled with the slow conditions and the body was a little fatigued,” he explained in an email “I know the skate individual is something I need to continue to work on.

“I was really happy with the weekend,” he added. “The conditions leading into the pursuit were very slow with a pretty easy classic course so I was a little nervous about trying for a break. When I managed to get away on the last lap of the classic I felt quite strong and ended up putting time on the field for the next few laps.

“I had a rough start in the early World Cups but was able to have some better races finally in Davos. I was on the edge of making it into the points but it was encouraging to have some close races and get to know the world cup speed. I am looking forward to getting some mass start opportunities in the second half of the season.”

Another World Cup racer, Nishikawa won her second of three races in Duntroon — the women’s 10 k freestyle — by a commanding 1:03.2 minutes over Browne in second. Jones was just 0.5 seconds behind Browne in third.

“I started hard, and was able to hang on to that pace for the entire race,” Nishikawa explained. “My lap times were very consistent. I pushed myself really hard, and am happy with the result.

Overall, it was a pretty good weekend in Ontario. I am back in Canmore now, looking forward to racing here this weekend.”

In an email on Tuesday, Browne wrote that the 10 k went better than she expected.

“I was starting to get a little tired after doing two big races but I told myself that everybody was tired and that I didn’t have any excuse,” she wrote. “I just gave everything that I had left and it gave a very good result! I couldn’t believe it, another senior podium! … My three races were some of the best races I ever did. I still think this is all a dream! But then I remind myself  all the hard work I did in the past few years and then tell myself that I earned every medal I won. These medals are the proof of all my hard work. I am so so proud of myself for these accomplishments.”

Jones didn’t have many expectations for Sunday; she didn’t ski the course beforehand, but she called the 10 k “great training” and “really fun.”

Before heading back to Canmore early this week, she planned to visit her grandfather briefly in Midland, Ontario.

“I’ll race at Westerns, and do some good training, and then hopefully head over to Europe at the beginning of February,” Jones wrote. “Nothing has been decided quite yet, but I’d like to get some more racing in, both sprints and distance races.”

After making the U23 World Championships team, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR) placed fourth on Sunday, 1:29.2 behind Nishikawa.

“I set out on my last lap in third, in contention with Cendrine and Peri for second place,” she wrote. “Our splits were pretty tight, and then I totally lost it on the last lap. I think I ran out of gas on the climbing section of the last lap and managed to lose 20+ seconds on the girls. I’m really happy with how I raced the first three laps, and I know how I can improve on the last one, so a really positive day for me!”

Katherine Stewart-Jones rallied for her third-straight Junior World Championships bid, winning the junior women’s 5 k freestyle by 37.9 seconds in 18:05.6. Eliza-Jane Kitchen (BC Ski Team) placed second, and MacIsaac-Jones was third (+40.9).

Izquierdo-Bernier punched his ticket to return to World Juniors as well, winning the junior men’s 10 k freestyle by 34.1 seconds over fellow CNEPH and national-junior team member Zachary Cristofanilli in 31:20.1. Skibec’s Edouard Reed-Métayer placed third (+56.9).

Results: Saturday’s classic-sprint qualifier | final results | Sunday’s freestyle interval starts

— Gerry Furseth contributed reporting

Brennan, Blackhorse-von Jess Sweep U.S. Nationals Sprints, Win Skate Finals

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Anyone following the final U.S. Cross Country Championships races on Saturday wasn’t seeing double: Rosie Brennan of Alaska Pacific University (APU) and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) indeed topped the podium in the second-straight 1.5-kilometer sprint of the week.

Blackhorse-von Jess qualified first in the freestyle sprint, then won his quarterfinal and semifinal before rocketing to the front of the pack in the men’s final. He edged Tyler Kornfield (APU) by 1.16 seconds for the win in 3:31.02. APU had two on the podium and three in the top five with Reese Hanneman in third (+2.57) and Lex Treinen in fifth (+4.1).

Kris Freeman (Freebird) finished just five-hundredths of a second behind Hanneman to place fourth (+2.62), and Håkon Hjelstuen (Michigan Tech/Norway) was sixth (+6.23).

Brennan clinched her third-straight title of the week, a first since her APU teammate and U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall won all four races at the 2010 nationals in Anchorage, Alaska.

Brennan qualified third, then dominated her quarterfinal and won her semifinal as well before dropping the women’s final field to win by 6.1 seconds over Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) in 4:04.97. Last year’s skate sprint champion Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) finished just 0.32 seconds after Gregg in third.

APU took three out of the top five with Chelsea Holmes in fourth (+7.77), her best-ever sprint result at nationals, and Becca Rorabaugh in fifth (+10.3). Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) rounded the final in sixth (+16.18).

Men’s A-final

1. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy)3:31.02
2. Tyler Kornfield (APU) (+1.16)
3. Reese Hanneman (APU) (+2.57)
4. Kris Freeman (Freebird) (+2.62)
5. Alexander Treinen (APU) (+4.1)
6. Haakon Hjelstuen (Michigan Tech/Norway) (+6.23)

Women’s Final

1. Rosie Brennan (APU) 4:04.97
2. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) 4:11.07 (+6.1)
3. Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) (+6.43)
4. Chelsea Holmes (APU) (+7.77)
5. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) (+10.3)
6. Erika Flowers (SMST2) (+16.18)

Final results | Complete results

Brennan, Blackhorse-von Jess Break Away to Win U.S. Nationals Classic Sprints

Tuesday's classic-sprint national champions: Rosie Brennan and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess congratulate each other after the finals in Houghton, Mich.

Tuesday’s classic-sprint national champions: Rosie Brennan and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess congratulate each other after the finals in Houghton, Mich.

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Rosie Brennan, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy), both Dartmouth College graduates, attacked the 1.5-kilometer classic-sprint course on Tuesday at Michigan Tech Trails to win the women’s and men’s finals at U.S. Cross Country Championships by about six seconds apiece, respectively.

Brennan led APU’s 1-2 podium finish, with Becca Rorabaugh in second, 6.82 seconds out of first. Liz Guiney of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) notched her first U.S. nationals podium in third, Anne Hart (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) achieved a career-best fourth, as did Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Academy) at senior nationals in fifth, and Heather Mooney (Middlebury) in sixth.

In the men’s race, Blackhorse-von Jess broke away in the final in a similar fashion as Brennan — both of which steadily gapped the field on the climbs — and ended up winning by 6.29 over U.S. Ski Team D-team member Ben Saxton, also of the SMST2 Team.

The men’s qualifying winner Håkon Hjelstuen, a Norwegian exchange student studying engineering at Michigan Tech University, skied strong all day to make it to the final, where he placed third, 0.83 seconds after Saxton. Two University of Vermont (UVM) skiers made the final with Cole Morgan placing fourth and Jørgen Grav ending up fifth. Miles Havlick of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team rounded out the A-final in sixth.

Results

Women’s A-final:

1. Rosie Brennan (APU) 4:52.72
2. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) 4:59.54
3. Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 5:03.21
4. Anne Hart (Stratton Mountain School) 5:05.62
5. Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Academy) 5:07.88
6. Heather Mooney (Middlebury College) 5:08.08

Men’s A-final:

1. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) 4:06.16
2. Benjamin Saxton (SMST2/USST) 4:12.45
3. Håkon Hjelstuen (Michigan Tech/Norway) 4:13.28
4. Cole Morgan (University of Vermont) 4:16.77
5. Jørgen Grav (University of Vermont) 4:17.75
6. Miles Havlick (Sun Valley) 4:17.96