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Nationals Notes: Friday Brings Maiden Voyage for New Kincaid Sprint Course

Throwback Thursday: Erik Soederstroem (UAF) glides across the line with teammate Tyler Kornfield (UAF) outlunging Mike Hinckley (APU/Rossignol) for second in the classic sprint final at 2010 U.S. nationals at Kincaid.

By Gavin Kentch

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Wednesday saw the first races of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, the 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle interval starts. Friday brings the first sprint day, with qualification for the skate sprint going off at 10 a.m. local time, slightly before the sun officially rises at 10:10 a.m. (Welcome to Anchorage in January.)

To help you get ready for sprinting, here’s U.S. nationals chief of competition and longtime Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) operator/groomer Matt Pauli with some thoughts on the theory and practice of sprint course design and operation, and what athletes can expect to see on the new-and-improved Kincaid sprint course. Hint: Advances in classic skiing technology in the past decade have something to do with it.

(FasterSkier spoke with Pauli in-person in early December, sitting in a wood-paneled Pipeline-era ATCO trailer nestled near the NSAA Operations Bunker just up the hill from the Kincaid Stadium. This interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.)

FasterSkier: So let’s start at the beginning. When was the first sprint race at Kincaid?

Matt Pauli: Actually and formally, at 1999 JNs [Junior Nationals], they initiated the first prologue, which was a short event, but not quite a sprint. I think Rob Whitney was racing then; I think he cleaned up that day. But the way the sprint rules evolved, you started seeing them in early World Championships in ’99, probably 2001, and then the first Olympics in 2002. So it evolved from there.

FS: So it’s the Kikkan Era, basically.

MP: It’s that, and maybe it’s a specialization era, too. I think that’s what I notice. … It’s just evolving, the way I think the sport has always evolved.

FS: Can you tell us about the history of the sprint loop at Kincaid?

MP: You look at [the hill to the immediate northeast edge of the main Kincaid Stadium] – some people call it the Junior Nordic Hill, I call it the Play Hill, and I think it’s more or less going to be taking the name of the Gong Hill – that all used to be trees. The only trail going through it was Margaux’s Loop. And that was it.

So I think Bill Spencer was in a little bit on clearing, and what we can do with that area. I think also Ben Powell, Mike Miller, me to a lesser extent. Then shortly after that we started getting the snowmaking, and those types of things. I can’t put an exact date on when the area was cleared out, but certainly it had to be in 2005, 2006, because that’s when the first piping started going up there for snowmaking. That was the vision, to go up that way.

FS: When you say, “Let’s design a sprint loop,” I’m taking it as a given that you pretty much have to start from the stadium, because that’s where all the infrastructure is. Taking that as your starting variable, what else do you think about in setting up the sprint loop?

MP: Certainly for the athletes, [you think about] technical challenge, testing all the different techniques, turning techniques, ascending, descending. Providing areas where athletes can overtake each other. Ensuring that it’s a sprint loop that falls within a time frame that it doesn’t become a distance course.

What I’ve heard, and information passed on to me, and just what I’ve observed when I’ve got to serve on juries at World Cups and such, is you’re looking at 3 to 3 1/2 minutes [time for an athlete to ski the sprint course]. And that way it gives the spectators something to see, it gives the athletes good recovery time before the next heat, and it keeps the competition, particularly World Cup, World Championships, anything that’s televised, within a certain time period. Spectator-friendly – they’ve got to see it. That’s the whole reason, I think, behind it. Another big reason is that you want to be close to the spectators, you want people to see the competition.

There’s probably a myriad of other things that you can throw in there for homologation, but the general theory is: competitiveness, fair, safe, spectator appeal, and in some instances TV appeal, too.

The old sprint course at Kincaid, used from the late 2000s through last season. The largest climb, of 17 meters vertical gain, comes in the course’s first climb starting at around the 200-meter mark, with smaller rolling hills following. (Screenshot: 2017 Seawolf Invitational race program)

FS: So that was the first sprint loop, and we all skied on it for a decade or so, and there were two national championships held on it (in 2009 and 2010). So, did it work? Was it a course that did the things you just described?

MP: I think it worked, up until getting some comments last year about double poling. And deep back in my mind, I already knew that, just from every fall I used to attend the FIS meeting in Zurich, just to get an idea. And I remember last fall, 2016, the FIS hierarchy, Vegard Ulvang, just producing all these videos of youngsters starting to double pole just about everything, and how classic technique “needs to be preserved.”

And knowing that here at Kincaid we just have – we’re a nonprofit, in a public park, you just can’t do what you want. It has to be feasible, and it has to meet whatever plan they have for the park, as well. So I knew right away that I wasn’t going to be cutting new trails. I might be working on some trees – or, as we like to call them, “shrubs” – to make it a better course, make it a safer course when you throw the safety aspect in there.

The whole aspect is that we’re not going to be doing wholesale trail work. So I think, from the Zurich meetings, and knowing that watching [the classic sprint at] Besh Cup last year, watching actually Besh Cups throughout the last three or four years, watching college races that decide to run a sprint – I never thought our sprint course was a bad course, ’cause I got anecdotal good feedback saying, “Hey, this is really spectator-friendly.” … I think for the most part, our sprint loop is pretty much visible during the competition.

FS: If the course works well, why change it? Is it safe to say this is largely responsive to changes in classic skiing over the past decade?

MP: Yeah, that has a pretty significant bearing on it.

The new sprint course at Kincaid, to be officially used for the first time on Friday morning, Jan. 4. The largest climb is now 24 vertical meters, and occurs after 750 meters, roughly the midway point of the course. (Screenshot: U.S. nationals course maps page)

FS: Let’s talk about the new course. Can you just walk me through what it looks like, and what it’s designed to do, and how it came to be?

MP: Now, the climbs that are associated with this one, I met with [USST Development Coach] Bryan Fish and [U.S. Ski & Snowboard nordic domestic program director] Robert Lazzaroni, they passed through on their way home after Spring Nationals [in April 2017]. … I said, “This is what I think would work pretty well.” And that meant starting higher up on the plain [in the central stadium area] by the Lekisch tunnels, and cutting up in front of the Gong Hill, toward the Bunker Tunnel. And then dropping down to what we call the low point, or the Frog Pond.

And then climbing out of there again – that climb sets it up that, number one, I’m trying to limit double poling the entire thing. Throwing that dogleg in there for the final, you take that left-hand turn and you still have to climb to the top, you’re going to lose all your momentum there in a double pole. And there’s no way, on some of those 17 to 19 percent grades, you’re going to be able to pick up that momentum. Certainly you can herringbone up it, that’s a diagonal technique. But I think from a standpoint of pushing your way up it in a double pole – maybe in another couple of years. (laughs) It’s only going to evolve. But that’s, I think, one of the main reasons to switch things around.

 

It still follows the same line of coming back off the top, the men going behind and the women coming across what I call the Saddle, where the gong is, and then dropping down back into the north end of the stadium. And doing a really good 180 at the bottom. There’s a big arc right there. It’s wide, it’s not off-camber. There’s some narrow bits coming back into the main race trail, where the old sprint loop used to finish. But once you get there … if that’s a chokepoint, if we have to widen in regards to snow or what you have to.

But it just follows the regular path in. Which is a good finish from the standpoint of, you know, you have a 1.5, 2 percent [uphill] grade to the finish [on the final straightaway through the stadium to the finish line, visible in the background of the top photo in this article].

And you know, I would like to see 3 percent, actually. But I’ve been in stadiums at championship venues that had 5 percent. I think that, for having a 100-meter straight stretch, it just so happened to work out. And certainly the grade’s kind of changed with the artificial snow on top, when we push that out – but at the same time, we still keep the original finish zone [in front of the timing building].

FS: Is it quote-unquote “good” or “bad” that you have to change the course like this to react to changes in classic skiing, or just neutral?

MP: I think it’s neutral. Certainly any time you go through a homologation, there’s a cost involved. I have to get an inspector out here, and … that’s a $600 fee. And each certificate application, each certificate, has a fee. So there’s always those costs that can be borne by the event, borne by the Organizing Committee. I’m not getting paid, but I still gotta collect the data. And then at that point it becomes time. Because I have to – I’m not a map guy, so I go to my friends at CRW Engineering, and I can bug the hell out of them, and they go, “Oh, I’ll put someone right on it.” So there’s certainly people’s time involved.

FS: We’ve talked about changes in classic skiing over the past ten years, and why that was a main reason for changing around the sprint course. This is getting sort of inside baseball, but are there different considerations for a skate sprint than a classic sprint? Would there be anything stopping you from running two different sprint courses in one championships?

MP: The parameters for a freestyle sprint are more liberal, because we know we’re not going to be doublepoling. So that’s why you see city sprints, that’s why you see – you can basically have a freestyle sprint on a flat course, because the parameters say so. As the [homologation standard] tables indicate, there are some differences in what we would look at for classic and freestyle.

For right now, it’s just convenience. I would gladly go back to the old sprint for the freestyle. But then it means that the teams and the athletes are going to lose a ski depot. Because that’s what I designed at that south end of the stadium by the Lekisch tunnel – none of the courses go over that anymore, unless of course we’re going [on a snowmaking loop for all races]. But it’s an area where athletes, coaches, and technicians can set up their ski depot for testing skis, switching out skis, because it has direct access to the waxing areas. So that’s the main reason we’re using the same course.

Now the coaches agreed, down at the [USSA] Congress last spring, that since the freestyle sprint is first, I’m not going to have the opportunity – they’re not going to have an opportunity for training on a classic sprint course. Because the freestyle sprint is the second event, and the classic mass is the race after that. [And the classic sprint is the day immediately after that.] And I pointed that out, and apparently we can live with that. From my standpoint, I have a hard time living with that, because I haven’t had the opportunity to dial in. So, we’re going to do our best. … I just want to ensure that the course is safe, and as dialed in as I can.

*   *   *

The sprints start Friday morning with the qualification round from 10–11:30 a.m. Alaska time. The heats are scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. The heats for the junior races are scheduled to begin in the mid-afternoon, following the flower ceremonies for the senior races.

 

FasterSkier updates:

http://fasterskier.com/

http://twitter.com/fasterskier

https://www.instagram.com/fasterskier/

 

Start lists and results:

http://www.superiortiming.com/2018/01/2018-u-s-cross-country-ski-championships/

 

Live-streaming:

http://www.facebook.com/usskiandsnowboard/

http://www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/

(should be the same feed, hosted in two different places)

 

General news and updates:

https://www.anchoragenordicski.com/nationals18/

Nationals Notes: Eve of 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships

Athletes getting in some race prep in the southern half of the Kincaid stadium as seen on Thursday afternoon. (Photo: Gavin Kentch)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — One day before the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, all the pieces are in place for a successful race week. Now it’s all about the weather cooperating.

Following two weeks of seasonal temperatures in the 20s and teens Fahrenheit, readings at the Kincaid Park weather station on Tuesday around 2 p.m. were around 40 degrees F. While the above-freezing temperatures and a strong south wind (which blew consistently at 20 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 37 mph) are making for thin snowpack outside of Kincaid, coverage on the snowmaking loop appears ample enough for the entire week. Everything except the top few inches of the snowpack should still be relatively firm, given the cold temperatures over the preceding two weeks.

Tuesday’s weather appears to be largely a one-day warmup. Temperatures are expected to fall back below freezing at some point Tuesday night and to stay there throughout the race week, with temperatures a seasonally appropriate 15 to 25 degrees, if closer to 30 to 32 degrees tomorrow. In the short term, current forecasts call for the possibility of a “wintry mix” on Tuesday night, with a chance of snow showers on Wednesday. Humidity is forecast to be 90 percent throughout the evening and during both races tomorrow, which is unremarkable for a venue that sits less than a kilometer from the Pacific Ocean.

Race organizers recently announced the course for Wednesday’s distance raceIt has an official length of 2.5 kilometers, but the course map provided suggests that the length may be a bit longer at 2.69 k, which would make Wednesday’s 10/15 k freestyle races 10.8 k for the women and 16.1 k for the men. The race will have a total climb of 292 meters for women and 438 meters for men, according to a 2018 U.S. Nationals press release.

In the same press release, organizers provided additional information on race-day logistics, including start times. The women’s race starts at 10 a.m. Alaska time on Wednesday, while the men start at 12:30 p.m. (10/15 k freestyle start lists: Women | Men)

The update has additional information regarding parking, warm-up areas, athlete areas, and other logistics (plus: food trucks!).

FasterSkier will have two reporters on site throughout the week, and will be providing daily coverage from Jan. 3-8. For additional information, see the links below.

 

FasterSkier updates:

http://fasterskier.com/

http://twitter.com/fasterskier

https://www.instagram.com/fasterskier/

 

Start lists and results:

http://www.superiortiming.com/2018/01/2018-u-s-cross-country-ski-championships/

 

Live-streaming:

http://www.facebook.com/usskiandsnowboard/

http://www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/

(should be the same feed, hosted in two different places)

 

General news and updates:

https://www.anchoragenordicski.com/nationals18/

— Gavin Kentch

U.S. Cross Country Championships Begin Wednesday, Jan. 3

America’s athletes are arriving. The trails are being groomed.

The L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships begin January 3

(Press release)

ANCHORAGE, AK – The top cross-country skiers from across Alaska and America will compete for more than prestigious national titles in the 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships, which begin Wednesday, January 3, and continue through Monday, January 8, at Kincaid Park. The races will also be used as part of the selection process for Olympic berths as well as to determine roster spots on the FIS Junior World Championship, U23 Championship and U18 Scandinavian Cup teams.

The competitions will feature two freestyle and two classic events for men and women. The top American in each race will be crowned national champion. While primary selection for the 2018 Olympic Cross Country Team will come from World Cup races, some final spots can be determined from Nationals results. Olympic team nominations will be announced the week of January 23.

Here is some media-specific information to assist in covering the events, whether from Kincaid Park in Anchorage or from afar.

Events schedule: All races at Kincaid Park; schedule subject to change

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, January 3

Men’s 15 k freestyle interval start; Women’s 10k freestyle interval start

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, January 5

Men’s and women’s freestyle sprints

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, January 7

Men’s 30 k classic mass start; Women’s 20k classic mass start; Junior men’s 10k classic mass start; Junior women’s 5k classic mass start

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, January 8

Men’s and women’s classic sprints

Find a full schedule – race days and off-days – at www.anchoragenordicski.com/wp- content/uploads/2017/11/2018- US-Nationals-Event-Schedule- Coast.pdf.

  • Results from every race will be posted in a timely manner at www.anchoragenordicski.com/ nationals18/results/. Photos with captions will also be posted there as they are available.
  • In addition, a race day recap press release will be sent at the end of each event day. The releases will include quotes, attached photos and more. On non-race days, additional news, updates or sidebars will be sent in media advisories, as appropriate.
  • The races will be livestreamed by CXC Skiing/X-Country Live. U.S. Ski & Snowboard will host the livestream at www.facebook.com/ usskiandsnowboard/ and it will also be shared at the 2018 Nationals Facebook page, www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/ . Timing will be provided by Superior Timing.
  • For media attending the events, credentials will be available. Please send requests to media@usnationals2018.com; you will be added to a list and informed on when/where to receive your credentials. You may also be provided with a bib that identifies you as media for when you are in the racing areas.
  • There will be a media working area with electricity and internet access available upstairs in the Kincaid Park chalet.
  • Results from the freestyle races and the classic distance events will be used to determine the teams for the 2018 FIS Junior & U23 World Ski Championships in Goms, Switzerland, January 28-February 3. All races in Anchorage are also part of the 2017-18 SuperTour and points will count towards the overall SuperTour titles, Olympic Winter Games selection and international World Cup starts. The long distance and team championships will take place March 23-28 in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Additional 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships event, race and athlete information is available at:

Nationals Notes: Firm and Fast Conditions on Kincaid Snowmaking Loop (Updated)

A snow gun makes snow at bottom right, with the sledding hill in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the background, in this view from in front of the Kincaid chalet Thursday afternoon, Dec. 28. (Photo: Gavin Kentch)

(Note: This post has been updated to include comments from 2018 U.S. nationals organizing committee chair Joey Caterinichio and confirm that the races will be held on a manmade loop.)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Five days out from the opening race of 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, snowmaking loops are being prepared to serve as the race courses next week at Kincaid Park.

“The races will occur on the man-made loop,” Joey Caterinichio, chair of the 2018 U.S. nationals organizing committee, wrote in an email on Saturday. “If any snow is to accumulate over the course of the week and regular courses can be used, the OC will continue to evaluate to expand off the man-made loop but it will take multiple inches of accumulation.”

With teams arriving early and registration opening on Sunday, the race schedule remains unchanged. The event begins Wednesday, Jan. 3, with 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle individual starts.

“The race course will maximize the technical climb we have and be the hardest course that can be used,” Caterinichio wrote. “Currently COC Matt Pauli met with local coaches who gave input and a good course is being designed and will be released.”

That potential course profile will likely be ready on Sunday, she added.

According to Kincaid grooming updates from the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage (NSAA), no grooming has occurred anywhere other than the snowmaking loops since Dec. 20, when three lighted trails were snowmachine-groomed. On its website, NSAA has not mentioned doing any grooming on the FIS distance courses (which have basically no overlap with the three trails groomed) during the month of December.

The full FIS distance courses are technically skiable; this reporter skied them earlier this week on an old pair of training skis. While coverage is good snow in some places, there is also substantial dirt and ice in other places, and the snowpack is so thin that classic tracks could not be set. The snowmaking loops are in substantially better condition. There are approximately 3.5 to 4 k of snowmaking terrain available, depending upon the specific course configuration.

Training course for Sunday, Dec. 31 and Monday, Jan. 1 at Kincaid Park. Photo was taken by Google in April 2011; those are not the current trail conditions. (Photo: 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships)

According to the U.S. nationals schedule of events, courses will be marked for training on Sunday, Dec. 31.

“For practice for the next two days, a one-directional course is being marked for warm up, one that allows course preview of the sprint course and skiing most of the 3.7 KM,” Caterinichio wrote. “On Tuesday, this course will be set for the distance that will change some from the next two days.”

If the distance courses occur entirely on the snowmaking loop, the courses should be in superb shape. Coverage of manmade snow is impeccable, and recent cool temperatures have left the courses firm and fast.

The courses will also ski somewhat differently than the full FIS courses. They will not feature the minutes-long climbs of the standard FIS distance courses; the 7.5 k FIS course at Kincaid includes three “A” Climbs. They will instead feature smaller hills, and more rolling to flat sections between them. A much greater proportion of the course will be “working sections,” and there will be greatly reduced opportunities for recovery.

The courses should be relatively fast; the last high-level races held exclusively on Kincaid snowmaking terrain, in December 2015, saw the winners (Jessica Yeaton and Scott Patterson) cover 10 k in 22:05 and 15 k in 32:27, respectively, in a freestyle individual-start distance race. The courses may also encourage some competitors in next Sunday’s classic distance races to forego kick wax in favor of double poling, depending on conditions on race day.

Despite the differences in elevation profile, Adam Verrier, a 1994 Olympic cross-country skier, thinks that snowmaking-loop distance races will still provide a reasonable qualification process for picking various championship teams.

An Anchorage resident, Verrier knows the Kincaid trails as well as anyone; he qualified for the 1994 U.S Olympic team at the Olympic trials races held at Kincaid Park. (“In those days, the Olympic Trials were a make-or-break thing,” he wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “In both 1992 and 1994 (and I think probably 1998 also) the best two out of four races were scored, and the skiers with the best results were on the team and those who didn’t do well enough that week did not make the team – end of story.”) Verrier has largely stayed in Anchorage since that time and never stopped racing; he has won effectively every significant skiing or mountain running race in southcentral Alaska. He will be serving as chief of announcing in the Kincaid Stadium during next week’s races.

Verrier wrote to FasterSkier with his thoughts on the implications of a snowmaking loop-only U.S. nationals:

If the snowmaking loop is used for distance races, and if they get all the hills squeezed into it that they can, is it hilly enough to separate the Olympic-caliber skiers from others who can hang in there on flatter courses but would get dropped on Olympic-style hilly courses?  Regardless of whether a snowmaking loop course can meet homologation standards, I think there is enough of a profile on that loop to separate the best skiers – the best climbers – and can reasonably be used as a tool for Olympic Team qualification.

. . .

In my opinion, running the US Nationals entirely on the snowmaking loop will be a reasonable qualification process for Olympic Team selection for the following reasons:

– A considerable number of Olympic Team spots have already been grabbed up (mostly by the women’s team), making this week of races less important in the overall scheme of things than if the US Nationals were used as the one and only avenue for Olympic Team qualification.

– I have seen flatter, less demanding courses used for major national and international ski races in the past, when weather conditions have dictated that courses needed to be altered due to lack of snow. Additionally, I have seen day-of-race weather (rain; heavy, wet snow, etc) alter racing conditions so that, for instance, those starting at the very front or the very back of the start list had an enormous advantage, or a skier who made a fortunate (or unfortunate) equipment selection or preparation had extraordinarily good or bad results.

– Although the play hill is not a very big climb, I think it’s steep enough to separate the better skiers, and I think it’s reasonable to predict that the winner of a race on a snowmaking loop distance course would also win on a course that uses Elliot’s Climb, Hairpin and the Lekisch.

In my opinion, if the races were to be held on a snowmaking loop that packed in as much climb as possible, the results would be quite similar to what we’d see on the courses that were originally planned for these races. In my opinion, there is enough climb on that snowmaking loop that it would not be possible to “fake it” and qualify for an Olympic berth without being worthy of selection. I just don’t see how you could get on the US Nationals podium on a snowmaking loop distance course without actually being fit and prepared enough to win on a homologated course with longer, more sustained, but less steep climbs.

As race organizers wrote on the main U.S. nationals website, “The nation’s top nordic skiers are starting to arrive and train at the Kincaid Park trails …” The race office opens on Saturday, Dec. 30, and courses will be marked by 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31, according to the schedule. Races begin with the freestyle individual-start distance races on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

— Gavin Kentch

* * *

For more updates, check out:

Grooming and snowmaking: NSAA grooming report | User-submitted trail reports | Kincaid Stadium webcam | NSAA temperature guidelines for operating snowmaking equipment

Weather: Long-range forecast (weather.gov) | Long-range forecast (yr.no)

Main U.S. nationals site for updates: U.S. nationals

Nationals Notes: Cold Weather Returns to Anchorage

Fresh tracks and recent grooming are visible in the Stadium area at Kincaid Park, Thursday morning, Dec. 21, 2017, in this screenshot capture from the NSAA webcam. (Screenshot: AnchorageNordicSki.com)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — With less than two weeks to go until the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, race organizers have emphasized their commitment to holding the races in Anchorage while mentioning the possibility of a backup venue, an hour-drive away, if racing at Kincaid Park becomes untenable.

Organizers posted the following update on the U.S. nationals website earlier this week:

All races will be held as scheduled-

• Snow is currently falling in the Anchorage bowl. Snow production is continuing at Kincaid park. There are currently 2.5km of skiable terrain and this terrain is being groomed.

• All competition events will be held. Revisions to the race courses may be considered by the jury.

• If conditions deteriorate and are no longer viable at Kincaid park, Government Peak Recreation Area trail system, 1 hour driving distance of Anchorage, will be the backup site.

It snowed roughly two inches in Anchorage on Tuesday of this week, with no new snow since then. That was the first significant snowfall in Anchorage in the month of December.

The first half of the month wasn’t just snowless, it was also historically warm. As the National Weather Service wrote on Facebook on Dec. 15, “At Anchorage the average temperature is more than 19 degrees above normal and is the first time that the first two weeks of December has averaged above freezing.” Rain was not uncommon in the first half of this month.

The first weekend of Besh Cup races, the race series used to select Team Alaska skiers for Junior Nationals, last week was moved 300 miles north to Fairbanks on four days’ notice. In explaining the reason for the change, Cross Country Alaska discussed the need to preserve Anchorage’s snow for nationals.

After all that, colder temperatures returned to Anchorage at the start of this workweek. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19, saw snowmaking resume at Kincaid. There was also the natural snowfall on Tuesday, which the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) wrote came to “1-1.5 inches” of accumulation at Kincaid. Following warmer temperatures and no snowmaking on Wednesday, the snow guns were running again on Thursday.

In a Thursday morning grooming update, NSAA wrote, “The SML [snowmaking loop] and Play Hill have been groomed this morning. With these colder temperatures, the crew is concentrating on making snow. They are working in the Stadium and heading toward the Chalet.”

As U.S. nationals chief of competition Matt Pauli explained earlier this month, the next planned step in snowmaking would be to expand coverage toward the chalet and generally west of what is currently covered.

Also Thursday, in a separate update, NSAA added, “It seems that the groomers are back in business, at least for a little while.  Some of the Lighted Loops at Kincaid have been resurrected, however with the U.S. National’s quickly approaching and with colder temperatures, the crew is focusing on making more snow.”

As the update on the nationals message board noted, all planned competitions at U.S. nationals will be held, but changed courses may be considered as necessary. The sprint loop is currently 100 percent covered with machine-made snow. While the distance courses (the longer FIS-certified loops of 5 and 7.5 kilometers) are mostly outside the direct reach of the snow guns, Pauli previously discussed ways of bolstering the snowpack, if needed, on the distance courses, such as moving manmade and/or natural snow onto those courses.

As of Thursday, the full distance courses had not been groomed since Tuesday’s snowfall. They currently feature a one-inch skiff of fresh snow on top of an icy base. Regarding plans to potentially use these courses during race week, U.S. nationals Organizing Committee Chair Joey Caterinichio wrote in an email to FasterSkier, “Kincaid snow production continues, temperatures have cooled making this easier and viable. Using our FIS designated race courses is the desired goal and plans continue to prepare the courses. Revisions to race courses may be determined by weather and jury at a later date.”

“Kincaid is a go,” Caterinichio noted. “We have snow and are making more.”

She explained that teams are skiing daily at Kincaid, wax trailers are arriving, and the preparation for the major event is in full force.

“It will be great and will be at Kincaid. Live timing and live steaming are planned,” she wrote.

The backup venue, Government Peak Recreation Area, has a packed base of 6-8 inches, according to recent grooming update, with double classic tracks set in preparation for the upcoming Icicle Double community race series

While the Competition Loop at Government Peak is not International Ski Federation (FIS)-homologated, Ed Strabel of the Mat–Su Ski Club wrote in an email to FasterSkier that it does feature a FIS-worthy total climb of 185 meters over 5.13 k, or 36 meters of climbing per kilometer. This is slightly hillier than the 7.5 k FIS course at Kincaid (35 m/km), and substantially hillier than the shorter snowmaking loop.

The first race of U.S. nationals is the distance skate race on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

— Gavin Kentch

* * *

For more updates, check out:

Grooming and snowmaking: NSAA grooming report | User-submitted trail reports | Kincaid Stadium webcam | NSAA temperature guidelines for operating snowmaking equipment

Weather: Long-range forecast (weather.gov) | Long-range forecast (yr.no)

Main U.S. nationals site for updates: U.S. nationals

Nationals Notes: Conditions Suboptimal Three Weeks Out, But Time and Hope Remain

The logo for 2018 U.S. Nationals, featuring a subtle “Road to PyeongChang” Olympic motif in the upper left corner

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Just over three weeks out from the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, organizers are responding to warming temperatures with a primary goal of providing athletes with a challenging course and as much good skiing as possible. The first races are set for Jan. 3 in Anchorage, Alaska. 

The current state of the trails

There are roughly 50 kilometers of ski trails at Kincaid Park, the city-owned park at the western edge of the Municipality of Anchorage. Approximately three kilometers of trails, centered on the Stadium, have the capacity for snowmaking. Roughly two out of three of those kilometers currently have a decent base of manmade snow. That said, dirty spots are already emerging in several areas of the loop, and there is an increasing amount of dirt and debris in the snow – racers in yesterday’s citizen race tended toward Swix HFBW, Toko Moly, or other additives to help combat dirty snow.

The other ca. 48 k of trails in the park have a base of roughly 1.5 inches of hardpacked, snowmachine- and skier-groomed natural snow. Coverage is good; virtually no rocks or debris are visible on any of the trails, though long grasses and weeds are sticking through in several spots. But the 48 k of non-snowmaking trails are effectively impassable right now, following temperatures above freezing for most of the past nine days as well as intermittent rain that together left the trails icy and foreboding. (Before that, there was great skiing throughout the park for most of the month of November, following Anchorage’s first real snowfall on November 5.)

There are two sprint and two distance races at U.S. nationals. The sprint races are run on a course starting and ending in the Stadium; the sprint course is currently 95 percent covered with manmade snow. (Stay tuned for FasterSkier’s preview later this month of the new sprint course, set to make its competitive debut at Besh Cup #1 this weekend and its championship-level debut at this year’s U.S. nationals.)

The distance races are planned to occur on 5- and 7.5-k courses homologated by the International Ski Federation (FIS). If you’ve done a FIS distance race at Kincaid in the past decade, such as U.S. nationals in 2009 or 2010 or the college races last spring (but excepting Spring Series 2014, which was on different trails due to snow conditions), you probably raced on these courses.

If U.S. nationals were to happen tomorrow, the 5- and 7.5-k FIS courses would not be usable, barring sufficient scarifying to enable skiers to get a purchase on the 95 percent of each course that takes place off of the snowmaking loop.

What happens next

Given that firm base and good coverage on the FIS trails, it wouldn’t take much snowfall between now and Jan. 3 to make the full courses available. If it snows 6 inches in the next two to three weeks, and returns to seasonable temperatures of well below freezing, then the rest of this article is presumably moot, and the distance races take place on the FIS distance courses as originally planned. (Sample longterm Anchorage forecasts here and here, if you’d like to play armchair meteorologist. Short-term, here is a discouraging article from yesterday’s Anchorage Daily News headlined, “Ready the rain gear, Anchorage, we’re headed for a warm week.” Though temps are supposed to cool down again by the end of this workweek.)

Kincaid: not very cold right now. Screenshot from Kincaid weather station on Monday morning.

But if the weather doesn’t change, there is no meaningful snowfall between now and January, and the whole race series has to take place on manmade snow, what happens then?

“I do have a plan,” Matt Pauli told FasterSkier in an in-person interview Friday morning. Pauli is chief of competition for the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships. He has been an operator/groomer for the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) for many years, and has been involved with NSAA events dating back to at least the World Cup weekend in March 1983.

“I don’t want to call it a homologated snowmaking loop,” Pauli explained, but his goal would be to feature some climbs and to make the snowmaking loop as challenging as he can.

“I want to still make it as competitive as possible,” Pauli noted, “at least put some ‘B’ Climbs into the equation and we can have at least some height differences that are acceptable.” (The current version of the snowmaking loop includes the climb to the top of the Gong Hill, which is a climb of 24 vertical meters. This is by far the largest climb on the snowmaking loop. According to the FIS Homologation Manual, a ‘B’ Climb has a partial height difference of 10 to 29 meters.)

“I just don’t want to have to create distance,” Pauli clarified. “We can create lots of distance out here, but then it’s basically flat. … I don’t want it to ski like a golf course.”

(The winning time in Friday’s Anchorage School District high school boys classic race, which did not climb all the way to the top of the Gong Hill, was 12:35 for a two-lap course that was a total of 5.4 k long. At 2:20 per kilometer for classic skiing, this may be said to be getting pretty close to golf course speeds. That said, a grain of salt is necessary there simply because the pacesetter, Gus Schumacher, is no ordinary high school boy; he won the race by more than a minute over a strong high school field.)

One unknown factor here is whether or when temperatures will drop cold enough for the NSAA operations staff to turn on the snowmaking equipment again. NSAA has historically said that it decides when to make snow in accordance with this temperature matrix. It most recently made enough snow during the month of November to cover, as explained, roughly 2 out of 3 kilometers of the standard snowmaking loop. NSAA has said that its snowmaking abilities are limited to roughly 1/3 of potential capacity due to limited water at the site.

There was not extra snow made and stored during November, as sometimes happens in advance of national championships.

Kincaid: definitely snow-covered, but getting a little dirty. A growing patch of dirt and ice is visible in the background of this capture from the NSAA webcam, taken Sunday afternoon and showing the center of the Stadium. (Screenshot: NSAA webcam)

“Hopefully we get those cold temperatures so we can get the snow guns running again on the west side” of the snowmaking loop, Pauli explains, “over by the play hill in front of the chalet. I’d like, certainly, to utilize that portion. That would expand the loop and what else I’ve traced out.”

He estimated that would give him about a 3 1/2 k loop.

“Certainly we can get up to 4 [kilometers] and such, but that’s kind of two-way traffic, flat, or adding extra flat, which I really don’t want to do. I think athletes want to be working the entire time … not to dispute that double poling is still defined as a classic technique. But at the same time, I think we’d like to see it expand out to the [normal] trails.”

Pauli’s goal for next month’s races is clear: “to have as much good skiing as possible.” But he is currently reluctant to run a PistenBully on the main FIS trails to try to chop up the ice.

“It’s hard to put heavy equipment on any of the trails we have now,” he said, “because we just don’t have the base. If this stuff freezes solid though, and with the rain we get, and any snow accumulation, anything we put on, then we’ll have a pretty bombproof base that’s going to prevent rocks and such.”

While Pauli cares deeply about protecting the base and covering rocks, he’s less concerned with “things like grass and leaves”, he said.

Other options

Pauli is also open to potentially snowmachine grooming on Elliott’s Climb, a sustained climb leaving from the north end of the Stadium that would space out a mass start field, add an ‘A’ Climb not available on the snowmaking loop, and provide another 2+ k of race course (counting the roundtrip up Elliott’s Climb and back down Rollercoaster to the Stadium).

“So if we can snowmachine groom going up Elliott’s Climb,” he notes, “that’s certainly gonna be in the mix. Because I think we can have a freestyle race, if it cools off, and we drag it with our snowmachine equipment. And then utilize the rest of the snowmaking loop, and dial that in.”

As for invoking more ambitious measures, those are still some ways off in the future. “Windrowing snow, meaning actually snowblowing snow and creating windrows and then snowblowing those into tubs and getting those out on the course? Not going to make that call for another week or two, probably two weeks or so,” Pauli explains.

“Firing up the snow guns” that are centered on the Stadium and trails immediately next to it? “We can’t haul that stuff out, but we can certainly fortify and expand what we’ve got out here. But hauling manmade snow right now, when we don’t have any base, just would wreck it.”

Bringing in snow from the nearby airport? That’s not on the table.

“I know people say, ‘Oh, why don’t you just haul snow from the airport?’ Nobody wants to ski on snow with deicing fluid, gravel, and sand in it,” Pauli says. “And I don’t think the city wants that type of snow dumped on their park. Because it all has to go someplace. So if we have to scrape out snow from the woods here, what we can, if we have to windrow and haul it by tubs if we can, that’s what we’re going to do, fortify those trails. Especially for freestyle events – it might be bumpy, but I think it’s still going to be raceable. So I think we can do a good job of preparing those non-snowmaking trails.”

According to U.S. nationals Organizing Committee Chair Joey Caterinichio, there are no plans to move the event elsewhere. She was optimistic about Kincaid’s base and snowmaking opportunities in the coming week with cooler temperatures in the forecast.

Gavin Kentch

The Pre-Race Scene at Senior Nationals

 

The men's freestyle sprint final at last year's U.S. nationals in Houghton, Michigan.

The men’s freestyle sprint final at last year’s U.S. nationals in Houghton, Michigan.

SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah.–Conditions on the ground at Soldier Hollow (SoHo)? Cold.

Sipping an espresso in Deer Valley and checking weather temps in SoHo about 20 miles south, the temps on the phone read -12 degrees fahrenheit at 9:30 a.m. in Midway, Utah —  Midway is located only a few miles from the SoHo race venue. On his blog, Zach Caldwell said it was -18 degrees when he began testing. Cold.  

Throughout the day, snow guns blasted creating a mix of man-made snow to go along with the recent natural snow.

The course for tomorrow’s distance races, a women’s 10-kilometer freestyle and men’s 15 k skate, is stout; steep punchy climbs, a long grueling uphill, and little rest or recovery to balance the lactate loads. Although not the same 5 k loop to be raced during World Juniors contested from Jan. 28 – Feb 5, 2017 at SoHo, Saturday’s distance course meets international racing standards.

For veteran U.S. nationals athletes, like Jennie Bender of the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF), the chance to race a new course, but familiar venue is warmly welcomed.

“I’m excited that I’ve been feeling good with my distance skiing so, I’m looking forward to tomorrow as well as the classic sprint,” Bender said to FasterSkier on Friday. “This is a big week for all of us and I’m excited to be back in Soldier Hollow.”

Nineteen year-old Stratton Mountain School skier Katharine Ogden is in SoHo not for World Junior qualification, she’s pre-qualified, but for some race strategy reinforcement.

“For this series I don’t have too many concrete goals because I auto-qualified for World Juniors, Ogden told FasterSkier in Soldier Hollow on Friday. “Now it is more getting the hang of racing here and trying to have some sweet races, but there is not much riding on it for me.”

Although the pressure may be dialed back a degree for the former Junior Worlds participant, Ogden said she still has some task at hand. “I think what I will work on will be trying to dial in the pacing and know how to get close to the redline, but not blow up,” Ogden added. “I’ll be  practicing that, which is much harder here than at home at sea level.”

Soldier Hollow’s top point sits a few hundred feet shy of 6,000 feet.

U.S. Ski Team (USST) development coach, Bryan Fish is attending Senior Nationals as both a USST representative here to calculate points for potential World Junior, U-23 Worlds, and World Championship qualifiers, as well serving as a race juror. Part of his USST role is to shepherd skiers like Ogden who have pre-qualified. FasterSkier asked Fish, who works with Ogden on the U.S. Ski Team D-team, what advice he’ll be giving her.

“This is not just this week, the year and year after year is to always learn,” Fish said. “To learn and make sure what you are learning out there is pacing, we are racing at altitude. She typically has been a good altitude racer. But it is a different course and it takes some different pacing on some long climbs and that is one of her strengths. So one of the things that I will tell her to is make sure that she is appropriately pacing it, staying consistent, staying smooth and continuing to think in the mood set that this is one race, it is an important race, it is Nationals. But this is one step along the path way.”

Another coach here mentoring, inspiring and guiding athletes towards their season goals is Alaska Pacific University (APU) head coach, Erik Flora. While Ogden’s prequalification may take some pressure off her performances, for Flora’s athletes and many other competitors, much more is at stake. As Flora explained, the week may mean World Cup racing is on the horizon, or that it’s time to head home to hone in on training.

“In the U.S. this is a pretty good pivot point in the season,” Flora told FasterSkier in Soldier Hollow on Friday. “If someone races really well, they get to go on to [World] Championships. If they don’t, then it’s time to go home and start working…[towards] the next step.”

For many of Flora’s top athletes — including Chelsea Holmes, Scott Patterson, the Hanneman brothers, Reese and Logan, as well as junior skiers Thomas O’Harra, and Hunter Wonders — making teams, such as U-23s or World Juniors, rides on their results this week.

“I think just about every single [APU athlete here] is coming here trying to make a team,” Flora added. “A lot of the season is on the line.”

The women’s 10 k kicks-off at 9:00 a.m. MST sharp Saturday morning, while the men’s 15 k is scheduled to start at noon MST. Live timing will be provided for the event and may be found here.

–Jason Albert and Gabby Naranja

2018 U.S. Nationals, 2019 Junior Nationals Set for Anchorage

David Norris (APU) leads the Anchorage Tour race through the southern edge of the stadium at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2016. (Photo: Rob Whitney)

David Norris (APU) leading the Anchorage Tour race at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, in March 2016. (Photo: Rob Whitney)

Soldier Hollow in 2017, Kincaid Park in 2018. That’s the schedule for upcoming U.S. Cross Country Championships, following the recent announcement that U.S. nationals will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, in January 2018. The country’s top skiers will be headed to Utah in January 2017, for national championship races that will also help determine who goes to world championships in Lahti the following month. A year later, racers will be headed north to Anchorage, with final selections for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang potentially on the line alongside national championships.

The Alaska Dispatch News also reported that the 2019 Junior Nationals will be held in Anchorage as well.

U.S. Nationals were last held in Anchorage in 2009 and 2010. The 2009 races are remembered for unseasonable cold (even for Anchorage in January) that led to only two out of four races being held. In 2010, all four races were held in normal conditions, and Holly Brooks – until recently a local Masters ski coach – punched her ticket to her first Olympics.

Junior Nationals were last held at Kincaid in 2008. They were last held in Alaska in 2013, at Birch Hill ski area in Fairbanks.

— Gavin Kentch

Packer Takes Classic Sprint Title at U.S. Nationals, Leads Strong APU Showing

HOUGHTON, Mich.– Eric Packer of Alaska Pacific University edged teammate Reese Hanneman to take his first national title. Didrick Fjeld Elset of Michigan Tech University finished just ahead of Tyler Kornfield (APU) to break up a near podium sweep by APU. The podium placings were determined down the homestretch of a tight final as the top four skiers finished within 1.05 seconds.

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) took fifth and recent MTU graduate Haakon Hjelstuenm, now skiing for Lyn Ski, rounded out the final in sixth.

Results

Miller Takes First National Title in Classic Sprint

HOUGHTON, Mich.–Kaitlynn Miller of Craftsbury Green Racing Project won her first national title in the classic sprints over Anne Hart (SMST2) and Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation). Miller cruised through the heats, winning both her quarterfinal and semifinal before going on to a convincing overall win by 1.24 seconds over Hart. It was the second sprint podium of the week for both Hart and Bender, as Bender took the freestyle sprint title and Hart was second on Monday.  Today’s win tops a week of personal best placings at a national championship by Miller.

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury GRP) just missed her fourth podium of the week, claiming fourth place. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) was fifth followed by Natalia Naryskina (CXC) in sixth.

Results 

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

 

 

 

Patterson Claims Second U.S. Title of the Week in 20 k Skate Mass Start

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) outsprinted Chelsea Holmes of Alaska Pacific University (APU) to win the 20-kilometer freestyle mass start at U.S. Cross Country Championships. Katharine Ogden of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) claimed the final podium spot in third.

A lead group of six including Patterson, Holmes, Ogden, and SMST2 skiers Erika Flowers and Anne Hart, as well as Eliska Hajkova (Boulder Nordic Junior Racing) was established after the first 10 k lap. Holmes pushed the pace on the climbs, but was not able to shake Patterson and Ogden. Patterson pulled away in the last 100 meters to claim her second national title of the week after her victory in Sunday’s 10 k classic individual start.

She won in 1:01:03.5, 4 seconds ahead of Holmes. Ogden was another 4 seconds back in third.

Hart claimed fourth, followed by her teammate Flowers, and Hajkova was sixth.

Results

Elliott Back to Old Self, Wins U.S. Nationals 30 k Mass Start

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Tad Elliott of Ski and Snowboard Club of Vail skied away from the field in the final kilometers of the men’s 30-kilometer freestyle mass start to take the national title. Brian Gregg (Team Gregg) held off Canadian Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) to take second.

Northern Michigan University had two in the top six with Adam Martin in fourth (making the American podium in third) and Jake Brown in sixth. Scott Patterson (APU) placed fifth and Kevin Sandau (AWCA) was seventh.

The lead group of 11 was shattered in the final kilometers when Elliott attacked. A former U.S. Ski Team distance specialist, Elliott has not finished in the top five of a SuperTour race since November 2014 in West Yellowstone, Mont.

Results

U.S. Nationals Distance Race Preview: Part 1

HOUGHTON, Mich. — The 2016 U.S. Cross Country Championships is well underway and the next races up are the men’s 30-kilometer and women’s 20-kilometer freestyle mass starts on Thursday. In both the men’s and women’s races, the favorites include several veteran racers and as well as young up-and-comers. U.S. nationals falls after Period 1 of the U.S. Super Tour which included two weekends of races at West Yellowstone, Mont., and Sun Valley, Idaho.

In the men’s race, Scott Patterson of Alaska Pacific University (APU) is one of the skiers to beat as he is the distance SuperTour leader after Period 1, punching his ticket to race on the World Cup later this month. Patterson is coming off commanding victories in the 15 k classic at Sun Valley Super Tour and the 15 k classic this week at nationals. However, Patterson was bested by Brian Gregg and Matt Liebsch at the only SuperTour freestyle distance event so far this season in West Yellowstone.

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg) is a major contender after winning the 15 k freestyle at West Yellowstone Super Tour, which allowed him the opportunity to compete in the World Cup 30 k freestyle in Davos, Switzerland. Gregg was fifth in the classic event this week at nationals and narrowly missed making the freestyle sprint final.

Matt Liebsch (Gear West) is consistently in the hunt in distance races and brings a high level of racing experience. Liebsch proved his fitness this season with a second-place finish in the 15 k freestyle at West Yellowstone and placed eighth this week in the 15 k classic at nationals.

Kris Freeman (Freebird) is always a threat and is looking to add another national title to his extensive resume after recently returning to the U.S. from racing Period 1 of the World Cup. Freeman won the 30 k classic mass start and took second in the freestyle event at nationals last year.

Lex Treinen (APU) has bagged consistent top-10 SuperTour results and is a contender for the podium with a good day. Treinen finished second in the 30 k classic mass start classic last year at nationals and narrowly missed a podium placing this year in Sun Valley.

Many young talented skiers look to make statements on the big stage. Kyle Bratrud is skiing for CXC this year and posted a fifth-place finish at Sun Valley. Previously a Northern Michigan University (NMU) skier, Bratrud took a surprise victory in the 15 k freestyle over Freeman last year at nationals and also placed fourth in the 30 k classic mass start. This year, Bratrud won’t be overlooked.

Fredrik Schwencke of NMU is looking to continue his momentum from his first two races of U.S. nationals as the Grand Champion of the College Cup. Teammates Adam Martin and Ian Torchia could also be in the mix, after finishing third and seventh in the 15 k classic this week and contributing to NMU’s domination of the College Cup.

Finally, U.S. Ski Team D-team member Paddy Caldwell, of Dartmouth and the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team, should not be discounted with consistent top-20 SuperTour results. Last year, Caldwell notched a third-place finish in the 15 k freestyle at U.S. Nationals.

Many consistent performers will likely be players on Thursday including Sun Valley Gold Team teammates Miles Havlick and Matthew Gelso as well as the strong APU contingent including Eric Packer, David Norris, Reese Hanneman, and Logan Hanneman.

Follow the action on Thursday by following FasterSkier on Twitter (@FasterSkier) or the official Twitter feed of the Cross Country Championships (@NordicNationals), watching the live stream, and following live results from Superior Timing.

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

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

Gregg Bests Field in Freestyle Sprint Qualifier

Caitlin Gregg, 1st

Caitlin Gregg, 1st

HOUGHTON, Mich. — After not starting either the classic sprint and 20 k at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships, Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) came out on top of the field in the 1.5 k freestyle sprint. With a time of 4:15.77 Gregg bested Jessica Yeaton (APU) by 2.23 seconds. In third was APU teammate Rosie Brennan, 2.26 seconds back from Gregg.

Fourth and fifth went to Craftsbury’s Caitlin Patterson (+7.26) and Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks’ Christina Truman (+12.29).

Unofficial Top 10 | Results (scroll for women’s results.)  

Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) 4:15.77

Jessica Yeaton (APU Nordic Ski Center) 4:17.90

Rosie Brennan (APU Nordic Ski Center) 4:17.93

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 4:23.03

Christina Truman (Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks) 4:28.06

Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Academy) 4:28.67

Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) 4:29.20

Joanne Reid 4:29.44

Chelsea Holmes (APU Nordic Ski Center) 4:30.01

Rosie Frankowski (APU Nordic Ski Center) 4:31.68

Blackhorse-von Jess Wins Second Sprint Qualifier of Nationals

DBHVJ_sprintskate

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess

 

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess of the Bend Endurance Academy returned to the top of the results list with a 3:32.13 in Saturday’s freestyle sprint qualifier at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships. Charging ahead of second place finisher Logan Hanneman of the University of Alaska Fairbanks by 3.52 seconds, Blackhorse-von Jess won his second qualifier of the week.

In third was Sun Valley skier Miles Havlick, who finished 4.61 behind the winning time.

Unofficial Top 10 

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) 3:32.13

Logan Hanneman (University of Alaska Fairbanks) 3:35.65

Miles Havlick (Sun Valley SEF) 3:36.74

Haakon Hjelstuen (Michigan Tech) 3:37.74

Cole Morgan (University of Vermont) 3:39.63

David Norris (APU Nordic Ski Center) 3:40.80

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) 3:41.01

Kris Freeman (Freebird) 3:42.22

Tyler Kornfield (APU Nordic Ski Center) 3:42.30

Alexander Howe (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 3:42.79

 

Pre-Race at U.S. Nationals: Final Sprint

Sprint2HOUGHTON, Mich. — It’s the final day of racing at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships and competitors are rearing to tackle the 1.5 k course in Saturday’s freestyle sprint. In stark contrast to Tuesday’s classic sprint where over seven inches of snow accumulated on the course between 8 and 11 a.m., Saturday’s sprint features a hard-packed course and relatively clear skies. Temperatures are sitting around one degree Fahrenheit and are expected to climb to 12 later today.

The men’s qualifier begins at 10 a.m. EST followed by the women at 11. Heats kick off at 12:00. Find live timing at SuperiorTiming.com.

Sprint3