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Eastern Canadian Championships Attract Nearly 800 in Points Race Before STC

Julien Locke (l) celebrates his second-career NorAm win in the freestyle sprint at 2016 Eastern Canadian Championships on Friday at Nakkertok near Ottawa. (Photo: W. James MacLean)

Julien Locke (l) celebrates his second-career NorAm win in the freestyle sprint at 2016 Eastern Canadian Championships on Friday at Nakkertok near Ottawa. Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (behind) placed second, and Jesse Cockney (r) was third. (Photo: W. James MacLean)

By Gerry Furseth

Julien Locke of the Black Jack Ski Team overpowered a tactical freestyle sprint final to win the second NorAm of his career on Friday at the Nakkertok South trails near Ottawa on the opening day of Eastern Canadian Championships.

Despite a remarkably low snow year and freezing rain in the preceding week, the organizing committee and volunteers were able to host what is expected to be the largest International Ski Federation (FIS) points event ever held in North America. With 783 athletes registered, it is likely that this will top the current record holder, last year’s NorAm Easterns.

This is the last weekend for Ski Tour Canada (STC) selections (except for the NorAm overall leaders) and the pressure is on for the top athletes.

“Fast conditions at Nakkertok today,” Locke wrote in an email, “with sugary climbs and icy downhills.”

All six male finalists finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in the 1.5 k sprint. Locke won in 3:12.40 after qualifying fifth in 3:09.87. Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore) placed second, 0.22 seconds back. Jess Cockney, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national senior development team, took third in his first non-European race this season, just nine-hundredths of a second behind Boehmler-Dandurand.

According to Locke, Knute Johnsgaard, another AWCA and U23+ development skier also coming off World Cups in Europe, “pushed the pace a bit on the first climb but then it all came back together before the second time up,” Locke wrote.

ILocke moved up in the field over the second half of the course and followed Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) on the final descent, then carried his momentum across the line to take the win.

“There was a lot on the line with Canada Ski Tour selections and a broken pole at the top of the last climb ruined any chance I had of a podium finish,” Stewart-Jones wrote on Facebook on Friday after placing sixth, 1.45 seconds behind Locke.

Johnsgaard finished fourth, 0.99 seconds back from the win. “I feel I was the strongest in the field but was tripped up on the last hill and was sprawled out on my stomach as everyone skied by,” wrote Johnsgaard, the top qualifier in 3:07.43. He went on to win the first quarterfinal then place second to Locke in their semifinal.

Cockney improved as the day progressed after qualifying in 12th, 6.12 seconds off Johnsgaard’s qualifying pace.

“It’s been really frustrating to be this slow [in qualifying] compared to where I have been the last few years,” Cockney wrote in an email. “I found some better speed for the heats and skied the course well.”

He won both his quarterfinal and semifinal, ahead of the second-fastest qualifier Simon Lapointe (Quebec Ski Team) and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay), who placed second respectively in each heat.

In the final, Shields ended up fifth, just 0.23 seconds ahead of Stewart-Jones.

The next stop for Locke is U23 World Championships in Romania at the end of this month.

“Today was my last sprint before departing for Europe (Feb. 12) and was great preparation for U23s,” Locke wrote. “It was great to have Knute, Andy and Jess back racing after their time on the World Cup.”

Results: Brackets | Qualifying

In the women’s 1.4 k freestyle sprint, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) won the qualifier in 3:19.18 before dominating each one of her heats, including an action-packed final, which she won in 3:17.29.

Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second, 3.36 seconds behind, after repeatedly trading places with Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (AWCA/NDST), who took third, 3.97 seconds back. Jackson took the lead at the start of the second lap.

“Maya and I came into the hill close together and were holding pace until the hill pitched up and we switched to offset and she started to pull ahead,” Jackson wrote in an email. “I was a bit frantic to get on her tail, missing a couple pole plants trying to accelerate, then face planted and completely lost contact and any chance of winning.”

Bouffard-Nesbitt was happy with her podium after qualifying fourth, 7.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.

“I was happy with how I raced tactically,” she wrote. “I was right where I wanted to be off the start and held my position in second until halfway through the course where Jenn Jackson went flying by.

“On the last uphill Jenn tripped herself up and I passed her to take second, but after the last downhill into the finish she flew by me again and she carried more speed than me going into the last 100m,”  Bouffard-Nesbitt added. “[Jackson] skied the final well today and she earned that second place.”

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) and Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) were out of contention early, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

“I got tangled up 200m out of the start in the final with Alannah Maclean and we both fell,” Beatty wrote in an email. “By the time we were able to untangle ourselves we were 10+ seconds back from the other ladies.”

The second-fastest qualifier, 1.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones, Beatty had won her quarterfinal and placed second to Jackson in their semifinal. In the final, Beatty was able to catch Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NDST), but Browne edged her by 0.35 seconds for fourth, 7.4 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.

In an email, Browne described having low energy after qualifying in sixth, winning her quarterfinal then advancing in fourth as a lucky loser out of her semifinal, behind MacIsaac-Jones, Bouffard-Nesbitt and Maclean, respectively.

“My only tactic was to stay in contact with the group in the A final,” Browne wrote. “I didn’t manage to do that, but I’m still happy with my 4th place, which I wasn’t expecting with the day I was having.”

After the sprints, 434 younger racers born in 1998 or later opened their weekend with a prologue time trial.


Results: Brackets | Qualifier

Complete results


Stowe SuperTour Moved to Craftsbury

After unremitting rain on Wednesday in Stowe, Vt., the U.S. SuperTour races scheduled to take place this weekend, Feb. 6-7, at the Trapp Family Lodge trails have been moved to the 2.5-kilometer race loop at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

“The Stowe Nordic organizers, as well as many of the Stowe volunteers will also be there to help run the races. The C’bury courses are in actually really great shape, considering all the rain we got in NE [Wednesday]!” Amie Smith, high-performance director of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), wrote in an email on Thursday.

Images of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s race loop may be found at the NENSA Facebook page or the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Snow Report page. Currently, there are 4 k of groomed trails open.

Racing kicks off Saturday with a women’s 5 k freestyle individual start and a men’s 10 k freestyle individual start.

Sunday marks the second day of racing with a women’s 10 k classic individual start and a men’s 10 k classic individual start.

A complete schedule of events may be found here. Live timing will be provided by Bart Timing and may be found here.

Canada Names U23/Junior World Championships and Junior B-Tour Teams

An empty stadium on Sunday at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, after temperatures below -25 degrees Celsius led to the cancellation of the final day of NorAm racing and U23/Junior World Championships trials: the skiathlon. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

An empty stadium on Sunday at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, after temperatures below -25 degrees Celsius led to the cancellation of the final day of NorAm racing and U23/Junior World Championships trials: the skiathlon. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Cross Country Canada named its U23/Junior World Championships and Junior B-Tour teams earlier this week, despite the final day of trials being canceled due to extremely low temperatures on Sunday (with a high around -25 degrees Celsius) in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Two of the three NorAm and selection races took place at Lappe Nordic last week, with freestyle sprints on Thursday, Jan. 14, and classic distance races on Friday, Jan. 15.

According to a press release, the following athletes have been selected to this year’s Junior and U23 World Championship Teams competing in Rasnov, Romania, from Feb. 22–28. Francois Pepin of the Pierre Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH) will head up the group as team leader.

Of note, none of the U23-eligible National Senior Development Team members — Cendrine Browne, Dahria Beatty and Katherine Stewart-Jones — are on the list. With the Ski Tour Canada World Cups starting the week after U23 World Championships, they likely opted to focus on those races instead, and are currently on the World Cup circuit (and racing this weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic).

Further below is the list for Canada’s Junior B-Tour Team, which will compete at German National Championships in Oberhof as well as OPA Cup races in Campra, Switzerland, from Jan. 24–Feb. 8, with team leader Chris Manhard, of the Callaghan Valley Training Centre.

U23 World Championships

  • Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH)
  • Kendra Murray (Whitehorse)
  • Frédérique Vézina Club (CNEPH)
  • Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Julien Locke (Blackjack)
  • Scott Hill (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Alexis Dumas (CNEPH)
  • Jack Carlyle (AWCA)
  • Angus Foster (NDC Thunder Bay)

Junior World Championships

  • Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/NST Junior Team)
  • Hannah Mehain (Sovereign Lake Nordic/NST Junior Team)
  • Sadie White (NDC Thunder Bay/NST Junior Team)
  • Natalie Hynes (Whitehorse)
  • Joey Foster (CNEPH/NST Junior Team)
  • Antoine Blais (Skibec)
  • Phillippe Boucher (CNEPH/NST Junior Team)
  • Ryan Jackson (Team Hardwood)
  • William Dumas (Skinouk)

Junior B-Tour Team

  • Molly Miller (Kimberley)
  • Mia Serratore (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Anna Goodwin (Hollyburn)
  • Laura Leclair (Chelsea Nordiq)
  • Claire Grall-Johnson (Nakkertok)
  • Etienne Hébert (Montériski)
  • Samuel Greer (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Gareth Williams (Telemark)
  • Julian Smith (NDC Thunder Bay)
  • Eric Byram (Winsport)


Sandau Keeps NorAm Streak Alive, Women’s Podium Repeats in Classic Distance Race

Kevin Sandau dominating again.  (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Kevin Sandau (AWCA) racing to his fourth NorAm distance win in as many races this season at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

By Gerry Furseth

The Lappe NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, continued Friday with classic individual starts, and the resulting podiums had a familiar look.

Kevin Sandau of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) won the 15-kilometre men’s race in 42:10.67, extending his unbeaten streak in NorAm distance races to four wins in as many races this season.  Scott Hill of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) placed second, 31.64 seconds back, followed by Para Nordic World Cup Team member Brian McKeever (+1:00.59).

The weather was warmer than Thursday: -11 degrees Celsius (12 Fahrenheit) when the men started, and fresh snow overnight made waxing easier.

[I’m] always a bit apprehensive racing in Lappe as the trails are confusing and a bit hard to memorize,” Sandau wrote in an email. “But after racing here over the past decade I feel like I’m finally starting to familiarize myself with the courses.”

Sandau’s race plan was to start hard. “The course descends pretty much right at the start and the first climbing section is just under 2km in, so that’s a lot of distance I didn’t want to lose time on,” he wrote. “Our support team killed it with the skis today and I could climb up the hills in the track pretty effortlessly.”

Despite having a lead early, Sandau pushed the pace to the end. “Feeling was really good today, and I was seeing stars at the top of climbs,” he wrote.

Hill, 21, achieved his second NorAm podium since placing second in a skiathlon a year ago in Duntroon, Ont. Friday’s second place puts him in contention for a spot on Canada’s U23 World Championships team, which will be racing next month in Romania.  

McKeever seems to be on a lighter racing schedule this season. After the race, McKeever, 36, tweeted, “Hoo boy…racing always hurts, but especially when you’re old! Fun day on the trails, though. Servicemen did a great job!”

Men’s results

Andrea Dupont leading in the series leader's bib. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

Andrea Dupont in the NorAm leader’s bib on her way to winning Friday’s 10 k classic by 15 seconds at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

In the women’s 10 k classic on Friday, the podium was identical to Thursday’s sprint. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won in 33:06.45, Jenn Jackson (NDC TBay) was second, 15.12 seconds behind, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) completed the podium, 30.8 seconds back in third.

By the time the women raced, 41 men had done three laps and 82 juniors had done two laps, and the course had changed.  

With fresh snow over night the track did not set up at all and all the big climbs were herringbone by the time the women started,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Today was a mental toughness day for the women :)

My strategy was to go out hard and try and hold my pace,” she added. “I definitely faded in the second lap, but I had caught Sophie in the first lap, so we were able to work together a bit in the second lap. It’s always nice to have company when you’re hurting.”

Jackson felt her race went well, writing in an email, “It wasn’t a knock-out performance, but I had some good dig in the last 3k.”  

Jackson went with a conservative start.

Similar to Houghton, the course started off with a long double pole descent,” Jackson explained. “In that race I went hard off the line and sort of blew my wheels off, so today the goal was to ski the first third comfortably, get into a race effort for the middle part, then go for broke and empty the tank.

The track broke up badly on most of the climbs and it was soft beside the tracks for double pole, so I had to adjust my technique from a hard kick-glide and lots of double pole to more shuffling and light feet to herringbone the climbs.”

The skiathlon is scheduled for Sunday, but with a predicted high of -18 degrees Celsius; schedule or format changes may be necessary.

Women’s results

Complete results 

More photos by Martin Kaiser.

Dupont, Locke Top Thunder Bay NorAm Sprints

The Open Women's Podium.  Jenn Jackson, Andrea Dupont, Sophie Carrier-Laforte, Ember Large.  Photo Credit: Martin Kaiser

The women’s sprint podium on Thursday at the Lappe Nordic NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with (from left to right) runner-up Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay), winner Andrea Dupont (RMR), Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) in third, and Ember Large (RMR) in fourth. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

By Gerry Furseth

The NorAm series resumed with the U23/Junior World Championships trials and first domestic races of 2016 at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with freestyle sprints on Thursday. After a delay to wait for more comfortable temperatures, Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won the 1.3-kilometre qualifier in 2:59.79 on her way to winning the A-final in 3:00.69.  Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second overall, 0.22 seconds back, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) took third (+0.85).

I am glad the organizing committee had the forethought to delay the start of the qualifier,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Because of that the day went off without a hitch.”

According to Cross Country Canada, the marked Dupont’s 36th NorAm sprint.

“The highlight of my day was seeing first hand my team mate, Ember [Large], literally crush the climb in the quarter final,” Dupont wrote. “It made me do a double take and made me think about how I was skiing the climb. There are always things to learn:)” Large would go on to finish fourth after qualifying fifth.

Jackson, racing in her first season as a senior, earned her ticket to U23 World Championships in Romania in February with a tactical final.

Andrea went out fast so I tucked into second through the winding descent then at Pylons (the one big climb) was able to move up alongside [and] then ahead of her by midway up the climb,” she wrote.

Large moved to the front by the top of the climb.

“I moved in behind [Large] as the group bunched back up before we came back into the stadium,” Jackson explained. “I carried good speed into the finishing straight but Andrea is a great glider and took advantage of the fast finish to get ahead of me at the line.”

Dupont viewed the tactics differently, writing “There weren’t a ton of tactics at play as there was little draft on the long winding downhill and then the long climb could fit 3 skiers wide.”  

The only woman who qualified in the top seven not in the A-final was Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay), who won the B final after apparently falling in her semifinal.

Open Men's Podium.  Evan Palmer-Charrette, Patrick Stewart-Jones, Julien Locke, Angus Foster, Russell Kennedy.  Photo Credit: Martin Kaiser.

The men’s podium at the Lappe Nordic NorAm freestyle sprint in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with (from left to right) fourth-place finisher Evan Palmer-Charrette (NDC Thunder Bay), runner-up Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA), winner Julien Locke (Black Jack), Angus Foster (NDC Thunder Bay) in third, and Russell Kennedy in fifth. (Photo: Martin Kaiser)

The men raced on the same course, although the temperature rose from -17  to -11 degrees Celsius by the time the men reached the final.  Julien Locke (Black Jack) collected his first NorAm win in style, separating from the field to finish in 2:25.87, 2.94 seconds ahead of Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA).  Angus Foster (NDC TBay) was third, 3.79 seconds behind, for his first senior NorAm podium.

“The goal was to qualify for U23’s and finish at the top of the podium,” Locke wrote. “The shape is good right now, the skis were fast and everything came together quite nicely.”

Locke raced at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Michigan, earlier in the month as preparation, finishing third in the freestyle sprint.

In Thunder Bay, he explained he approached the heats tactically. 

“I kept the pace under control in the 1/4 and semi, both times moving up right at the end,” Locke wrote. “The final started off quite slowly so I bided my time and worked my way up through the corners on the descent. I hit the final climb at the front and pushed the pace from about halfway up.”  

Locke was one of several athletes who complimented the race organization. “While the course was not very difficult, Lappe did a great job making a fun course with a twisty working downhill before the final climb and finishing straight,” he wrote.

Foster won the qualifier by a whopping 4.93 seconds in 2:27.11. “By the cheers I was getting I knew I was having a good one,” Foster wrote, “and after that I just tried to keep things going through the heats.”

“Evan [Palmer-Charrette] started fast off the line [in the final] and had a little gap going into the downhill, with Julien and I following,” Foster explained. “[Locke] had a good move over the top and Patrick passed me to go with him. I managed to hang on and had a good finish to push it in for 3rd.”

In his first NorAm races since starting the season on the World Cup in Europe, Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) was feeling better than at U.S. nationals, but not entirely happy with his form.

“In retrospect I wish I had skied more tactically and saved more punch for the finish,” he wrote of his decision to race from the front in the quarterfinal and semifinal.  Somppi won the B-final with a more tactical approach to place seventh overall.

Kevin Sandau (AWCA) probably had the most unusual day to end up 20th.

“My binding snapped off my ski just as I was entering the finishing lanes in the qualifier,” Sandau explained. He broke a pole as well, so he “had to scooch leg with one pole/one ski like a jackrabbit past the finishing line. Somehow I still managed to qualify so a bit of a silver lining there.”

Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/NJST) and Joey Foster (CNEPH/NJST) won the junior finals to qualify for Junior World Championships in Romania.

Complete results | Heats | Qualification

Nishikawa, Killick on the Podium: Planica OPA Cup Notes and Quotes

Canada’s Emily Nishikawa (National Development Team) racing to 30th in the women's 10 k freestyle at 2015 World Championships for her best result in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Canada’s Emily Nishikawa (National Development Team) racing to 30th in the women’s 10 k freestyle at 2015 World Championships for her best result in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

By Gerry Furseth

Emily Nishikawa collected the first two OPA Cup podiums of her career last weekend, Jan. 9-10, to lead the Canadians at the Planica OPA Cup in Slovenia. World Cup skiers Nishikawa, Graeme Killick, Jess Cockney and Lenny Valjas joined up with Canada’s B-Tour group at the European equivalent of a NorAm event. The three-race weekend was a major focus of the U25 B-Tour.

Nishikawa, who was fourth in Friday’s sprint, took bronze in both Saturday’s 10-kilometre classic and Sunday’s 10 k freestyle.

I was happy with my race today,” Nishikawa, of Canada’s senior national development team, wrote after Saturday’s race. “It wasn’t my very best performance, but I fought hard.”

“Overall I think the weekend went really well,” she added on Sunday. “I’m looking forward to racing there again next weekend in the World Cup.”

Killick, also on the NST development team, joined Nishikawa on the podium Saturday, taking third place in the men’s 14 k classic before finishing fifth in Sunday’s 14 km freestyle.

I felt like my form is coming back after the sickness,” Killick wrote. “I haven’t raced in a while so it was good to get one going today.”

Despite the less-than-ideal weather, Killick was happy with the day.  “Our team did a great job with the skis today, I was able to ski smooth through the whole course.”

The OPA Cup, also known as the Alpen Cup, offers a unique Continental Cup (COC) racing experience outside North America.  The 28 senior women in Sunday’s race represented 12 countries.  At least 10 World Cup regulars of each gender raced.  Combining all age groups, 165 men and 79 women raced.  In comparison, next week’s NorAm in Thunder Bay has 250 athletes registered, but will likely have about three countries represented and only one athlete who has raced a World Cup this season.

Heidi Widmer, racing for Switzerland this season after starting her career in Canada, described the differences in an email.  “The coaches and athletes drift between COC and World Cup much more frequently because it makes sense logistically. It provides much more frequent and higher caliber racing and racing in more competitive fields fuels more competition and improvement.”

More quotes from the weekend after the results summary.

Complete results: Saturday | Sunday

Women’s 10 k classic
1 Victoria Carl, GER, 30:04.9
2 Julia Belger, GER, +6.6 seconds
3 Emily Nishikawa, CAN, +30.9
17 Dahria Beatty, CAN, +2:21.8
19 Maya Macisaac-Jones, CAN, +2:58.7
24 Cendrine Browne, CAN, +3:23.2
28 Katherine Stewart-Jones, CAN, +4:02.3

Men’s 14 k classic
1 Alexis Jeannarod, FRA, 35:52.1
2 Richard Jouve, FRA, +2.1 seconds
3 Graeme Killick, CAN, +6.9
24 Knute Johnsgaard, CAN, +1:36.4
35 Jess Cockney, CAN, +1:54.8
71 Andy Shields, CAN, +3:59.1

Women’s 10 k freestyle
1 Giulia Sturz, ITA, 25:27.2
2 Caterina Ganz, ITA, +25.2
3 Emily Nishikawa, CAN, +26.3
9 Cendrine Browne, CAN, +58.0
16 Dahria Beatty, CAN, +1:29.2
22 Katherine Stewart-Jones, CAN, +2:00.5
25 Maya Macisaac-Jones, CAN, +2:47.0

Men’s 14 k freestyle
1 Clement Parisse, FRA, 31:20.9
2 Valentin Chauvin, FRA, +9.5 seconds
3 Paolo Fanton, ITA, +28.0
5 Graeme Killick, CAN, +50.8
25 Knute Johnsgaard, CAN, +1:37.4
55 Andy Shields, CAN, +2:42.8


On the Planica courses, snow and weather:

“It was raining during our race, but the course held up really well especially given the number of racers on such a short course (2km loops).

“[On the sprint course,] there is a fast downhill with a corner right off the start.”

– Nishikawa, who placed fourth, third and third again

“It’s a brand new [sprint] course in Planica, it’s very tough but fair.”

– Lenny Valjas, Canadian World Cup Team member

“The course held up extremely well today, I was very impressed! I had good kick the entire way through and in exchange sacrificed some glide.

“I am really looking forward to the 10k skate tomorrow on the same course. It is a very hard course and with the success I’ve had in skate races in Canada this season, I am really looking forward to seeing what sort of performance I can put forward here.”

– Dahria Beatty (U23 Development Team)

“The conditions changed during our race because it was raining so … my wax wasn’t working too well.”

– Cendrine Browne (U23 Development Team)

“I think the snow changed a lot from when I tested to the race. The first lap I was able to stride most of it but after that I had a lot of trouble and ended up slipping a lot.

“The course is also a lot of fun. There are a lot of fun twisty downhills and the uphills are great for striding!”

– Katherine Stewart-Jones (U23 Development Team)

“We raced on a <2km loop today so I was able to get a sweet ride off a French guy for the first two laps. It felt really easy to follow him but as soon as I got to the top of one of the hills I was suddenly totally fried.

“We had rain last night and it’s raining now so it’s interesting. We had really good skis, the techs did a superb job with the klister.”

– Andy Shields (Thunder Bay NDC)

“The short 2k loop meant that a lot of terrain was compacted into a little course. A great course nonetheless and really happy with my skis today.”

– Widmer

“I was really looking forward to the skiathlon race this weekend but because of lack of snow it was switched to an individual skate.”

– Knute Johnsgaard (U23+ Development Team)

On racing in Europe:

“Racing here in Europe is way harder than in Canada and I just have to get used to it. I was surprised by how the girls were going so fast in my quarter final.

“Two minute sprints are not my strength…. I guess I’m also not used to them because in Canada they are much longer.”

– Browne

“It was a great learning experience. Today I got to ski with Emily for a bit. It was fun to try and hold on and to experience the difference in speed.

“The biggest difference is that in a NorAm there are rarely ever 30 women entered in a race so you always have a chance at the heats whether you have a good qualifier or not.

“The highlight of the trip has been being able to watch the Tour De Ski live on TV.”

– Stewart-Jones on enjoying the differences, like Eurosport being part of the cable package at every hotel

“Only missing the semis by 0.5 seconds and sitting in the lucky loser position for a while gave me the confidence that I can fight for those top spots here if I have a really good day.”

– Beatty

“I am having a lot of fun, learning until my brain hurts everyday but missing my family a lot at low points too.”

– Widmer, who moved in Switzerland to join her new team

“Going into the race I knew it was a tough field for an OPA.”

– Shields, on the names on the start list

On the races:

“My race today was definitely not my strongest performance. It was a five lap race. Lap one felt good but I got a bad cramp when I started climbing on the second lap and I was able to refocus well after that. I struggled a lot on the 3 middle laps fading on the top section of each lap but was able to refocus better on the final lap. Overall it was felt like a sub par performance but there were lots of good learning points and I am very happy to have the opportunity to be racing in such a competitive field.

“Even though the result was 1 better today I was happier with how I skied yesterday.

“I fell on the first lap and got tangled with another skier on the second lap and fell again in the same place. Then part way through the race my back seized. I was lucky to have Cendrine to ski with for the last two laps to motivate me to keep moving. It was great to see Emily and Cendrine both have good races.”

– Beatty on the distance races

“I felt good but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough kick. I don’t think I chose the right pair of skis for today’s conditions.

I am so happy about today’s race. I raced really well technically and was feeling very powerful and full of energy. Being at 25 seconds off the podium really shows me that I am in good shape and that everything is possible.”

– Browne, happier on Sunday after two tough days

“I felt a lot better than yesterday. I was able to ski efficiently and keep my technique together. It was a good hard effort and definitely a step in the right direction.”

“Unfortunately you can’t always be at your best. I’m staying positive and hoping the shape will come together.”

– Stewart-Jones, also happiest on Sunday

“[The] prologue was brutal. My legs were super blown and I was not able to break through the feeling. Really disappointed and will readjust and go forward to improve for the World Cup next week!

“My race was pretty good for the first couple laps then nothing left to offer.”

– Widmer on the sprint and the skate respectively

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.


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.


Nishikawa Leads Canada in Fourth in Planica OPA Cup Sprint, Valjas 10th

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NDST) led the way for Canada to start the OPA Cup weekend in Planica, Slovenia, finishing fourth in the freestyle sprint on Friday. Slovenian World Cup skier Vesna Fabjan won both the qualifier and the final.

Fabjan, who earned the individual-sprint bronze at the 2014 Olympics was recently 10th in Stage 1 of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Fabjan won in 2:43.37 on Friday, 0.43 seconds ahead of Italy’s Gaia Vuerich and 1.42 seconds ahead of Greta Laurent, another Italian World Cup regular. Nishikawa finished 6.22 seconds back from the win.

“I was happy with my racing today,” Nishikawa wrote in an email. “I wasn’t too sure what to expect as I haven’t done many sprints this year.”

Nishikawa was a lucky loser twice on the new course, which starts with a fast descent.

“I would be off the back in the first part of the course, and make my way up in the climbing sections,” she explained.

Nishikawa is looking forward to Saturday’s classic distance race, the discipline which is where most of her past successes have come.

Canadian-born but racing for Switzerland this season, Heidi Widmer qualified in 16th, 9.93 seconds behind Fabjan’s top qualifying time of 2:45.50, followed by Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) in 17th (+9.97), and Nishikawa in 18th (+10.91). Maya Macisaac-Jones was 28th, Cendrine Browne 30th, and Katherine Stewart-Jones 31st.

In an email, Stewart-Jones wrote that she is looking forward to the classic race after a shortage of classic striding on the NorAm circuit.

“The course is also a lot of fun,” Stewart-Jones wrote. “There are a lot of fun twisty downhills and the uphills are great for striding!”

In the men’s sprint, France’s Baptiste Gros won in 2:22.32, 1.67 seconds ahead of Russia’s Gleb Retivykh. The second of four French skiers in the final, Jay Renaud completed the podium in third.

The main goal for Canadian World Cup skier Lenny Valjas was learning the new course before next weekend’s World Cup at the same venue.

“It’s a brand new course in Planica,” he wrote. “It’s very tough but fair.”

Valjas ended the day in 10th, after finishing fifth in his semifinal, 0.34 seconds away from a lucky loser spot.

“I took a few days off after Oberstdorf [Stage 4 of the Tour de Ski] so I felt a little flat this morning trying to go fast,” he explained. “By the heats I started to feel better but just missed advancing to final by a small margin.”

Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/NDST) qualified 16th, 5.4 seconds behind Gros and 0.58 seconds ahead of Valjas in 19th. Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) was 37th (+8.37) and Jess Cockney (AWCA/NDST) was 45th (+9.53).

Johnsgaard and Shields are on Canada’s B-tour to learn about racing in Europe.

“It was only my second time ever skiing in the heats in Europe and I definitely skied like a rookie,” Johnsgaard wrote. “I don’t have great speed but I can push hard through the whole course.”

Johnsgaard got behind at the start of his quarterfinal, and learned from the experience.

“If I sneak into the heats in the world cup next week, I’ll be more patient and hopefully make one successful move instead of 3 wasted efforts,” he wrote.

Johnsgaard had been looking forward to the skiathlon, but the snow conditions forced a format change to individual start skate.

Shields was also learning by experience. “I had an interesting dilemma with my race ski choice,” he wrote. “I had a pair that were fast but handled very poorly on the icy-ish manmade snow, and I had another that were slightly slower but handled really well. I went with the skis that handled well, but I should have tested some of my teammate’s skis to see if I could get the best of both.”

All the athletes are looking ahead to World Cup races on these courses the following weekend. “It’s an amazing venue,” Valjas wrote, “and should be fun next weekend.”

Complete results | More info and photos

— Gerry Furseth

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.


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.


U.S. Nationals Distance Race Preview: Part 2

HOUGHTON, Mich. — The theme of experience versus young talent continues in the women’s field for the 20 k mass start freestyle event at the 2016 U.S. Cross Country Championships. Check out the previous blog post, Part 1 for a look at the men’s field.  U.S. nationals falls after Period 1 of SuperTour racing including two race weekends at West Yellowstone and Sun Valley.

For the women, Craftsbury Green Racing Project looks to continue their momentum from the first two days of racing in Caitlin Patterson and Kaitlynn Miller. Patterson dominated the women’s 10 k classic and placed third in freestyle sprint this week at U.S. Nationals. However, she did not win a  SuperTour distance race during Period I, taking third in the Sun Valley 10 k classic and sixth in the first 10 k of the season, a skate race, in West Yellowstone.

Miller has posted personal bests all week at nationals and her fourth-place finish in the freestyle sprint final shows she has skating fitness and confidence.

Chelsea Holmes of Alaska Pacific University (APU) is the distance leader in Period 1 of the SuperTour and is looking for another podium to add to her third-place finish in the 10 k classic this week. Holmes has been the most consistent distance racer this season, taking a win in Sun Valley and second in West Yellowstone.

Becca Rorabaugh of APU hasn’t finished beyond 11th in a SuperTour distance event since 2014, making her one of the most consistent female racers on the circuit and a serious contender for the podium in Houghton. So far this season, Rorabaugh has claimed second in the distance race in Sun Valley, ninth in West Yellowstone, and 11th in the 10 k classic at nationals.

Leading the young guns is Katharine Ogden of Stratton Mountain School (SMS) who topped Holmes at West Yellowstone in the only freestyle SuperTour distance event yet this season. The 18 year old took sixth in the 10 k freestyle at nationals last year in addition to sixth place in the skiathlon at Junior World Championships.

Hannah Halvorsen of Sugar Bowl Academy is currently the top U18 skier at nationals and hopes to hold the position to earn a spot on the Youth Olympic Games team. Halvorsen notched fifth place in the skate sprint and 11th in the 10 k classic this week and is looking for a strong distance race to punch her ticket to Lillehammer, Norway.

Eliska Hajkova, a coach on the Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team, impressed last year at nationals, taking third in the classic mass start. This season she has two top-10 finishes in SuperTour distance races and sixth place in the nationals 10 k.

SMST2 teammates Anne Hart and Erika Flowers look to build on strong showings in the first two days of racing. Both Flowers and Hart notched top-10 finishes in both the 10 k classic and the freestyle sprint, highlighted by Hart’s runner-up finish in Monday’s sprint.

Other contenders likely to be in the mix include Mary Rose of the Sun Valley Gold Team, APU’s Rosie Frankowski and Jessica Yeaton, Liz Guiney (CGRP), and College Cup Grand Champion Vivian Hett of Northern Michigan University.

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.

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

Canadians Jump into Austria Cup: Nishikawa, Cockney Win 5/10 k Classic

Emily Nishikawa (1st) and Dahria Beatty (2nd) on the women's 5 k classic podium at Sunday's Austria Cup in Villach, Austria. (Photo: CCC)

Emily Nishikawa (1st) and Dahria Beatty (2nd) on the women’s 5 k classic podium at Sunday’s Austria Cup in Villach, Austria. (Photo: Cross Country Canada)

By Gerry Furseth

While the Tour de Ski and U.S. nationals are grabbing most of the headlines this week, a group of Canadians have been training in Obertilliach, in the Tyrol region of Austria.

“There is 6km of beautiful terrain and Europe’s first snowfall came a few nights ago,” Dahria Beatty of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian National U23 Development Team wrote in an email.

The group, dubbed Canada’s U25 European B-Tour,  has been preparing for the OPA Cup races this Friday through Sunday (Jan. 8-10) in Planica, Slovenia, followed by the Planica World Cup a week later.

“[The] Austria Cup wasn’t originally on the plan,” Beatty wrote, “but when we found out it was near by some of us opted to change up our training plan a bit and get in an extra race.”

Canada's Jess Cockney (c) beat out two Austrians in the men's 10 k classic on Sunday to win the Austria Cup race by 7.9 seconds. (Photo: Cross Country Canada)

Canada’s Jess Cockney (c) beat out two Austrians in the men’s 10 k classic on Sunday to win the Austria Cup race by 7.9 seconds. (Photo: Cross Country Canada)

On Sunday, four Canadians made the short drive to Villach. Jess Cockney (AWCA/NST B-Development Team) won the men’s 10-kilometre classic in 28:24.5 minutes, 7.9 seconds ahead of Austria’s Philipp Leodolter in second. Another Austrian (and like, Cockney, a 2014 Olympian)  Max Hauke placed third, 24 seconds back. Thirty-eight men finished, the vast majority of which were from Austria.

“I was really happy to have a distance race again since I don’t get that chance often anymore,” Cockney, who started the season on the World Cup circuit, wrote in an email, neatly summarizing the downside of the European opportunity that left him “quite disappointed” with his skiing.

“I have some positives I’m drawing on lately in training and we have some great chances in the next couple weeks racing [in] Slovenia,” he added.

After Slovenia, Cockney will return to Canada to compete in the NorAm series and prepare for the Ski Tour Canada in March.

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST B-Development Team) beat out 30 other women in the 5 k classic to win in 15:09.6, 18.2 seconds ahead of Beatty in second. Austria’s Barbara Walchhofer placed third (+25.2). Maya Macisaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) finished sixth for Canada, 55.8 seconds back from Nishikawa.

“It was fun to put a race bib on and get in a hard race effort before the OPA Cup races next weekend,” Nishikawa wrote on Sunday. “I started hard in today’s race and really tried to hold the pace, but I think I faded a bit in the last km.”

“I’m happy with my season so far,” the World Cup regular added. “I have been feeling better and better with each race weekend.”

The three-loop 5 k race was a bit chaotic, Beatty explained, with laps of 1.7 k “so lots of people on course at the same time,” she wrote. “I pushed hard the whole way. It was a great way to get the travel body prepped for next weekend. Emily caught the 20 seconds on me at about 3.5km and then we skied together to the end. Tracking didn’t seem to be a thing so there was lots of switching tracks and practice adapting.

“The trip has been great so far, awesome team and good weather,” she added.

Most of the training group, which also includes Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NST U23 team), Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay/NST U23), Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/NST U23+), and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay), will head to Planica and then to Nove Mesto for a second World Cup weekend. Nishikawa, who has spent the whole season as the lone Canadian woman in Europe, is enjoying having training partners again.

“It’s great to have more women on the team now!” she wrote.

Results: Women’s 5 k | Men’s 10 k

NorAm Period I Review: Results, Photos and Video

Period I of the Haywood NorAms is done and the first set of team selections are complete.

The NorAm opener was held in Canmore, Alberta, with three races: classic distance, classic sprint, and freestyle mass start. Sovereign Lake in Vernon, British Columbia, then hosted a freestyle sprint and 10/15-kilometer freestyle interval starts. After five races in nine days, Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) dominated the women’s races with three victories to take the lead in both sprint and overall in the NorAm standings. Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) and Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NDST) are tied for second on both lists.

On the men’s side, Kevin Sandau (AWCA) won all three distance races to lead the overall, followed by Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/NDST) with four podiums, while Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) completed the top three. Shields is leading the NorAm sprint standings with a win and a third place, followed by teammate Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) and Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore).

Complete standings at Cross Country Canada

Team Selections

In the eyes of the International Ski Federation (FIS), the NorAm series is Canada’s Continental Cup. Most team selections rely on the Canadian Points List (CPL), which is calculated using FIS formulas, or the NorAm standings.

For the U25 B-Tour, six athletes earned spots to race in Europe during Period II: Beatty, Browne, Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay), and Johnsgaard qualified as national-development team members with at least one podium finish. Shields and Maya Macisaac-Jones (RMR) qualified as the top overall finishers not on the NDST.  These athletes will join Emily Nishikawa and Jess Cockney, who are already in Europe.  The estimated trip cost to each athlete is $2,500 Canadian dollars.

Canada’s Youth Olympic Games team has already been announced.

The Ski Tour Canada selections are ongoing, using CCC’s outlined formula. Canada’s quota for Ski Tour Canada is 10 women and 12 men, including the NorAm overall leaders. Athletes can qualify by (in order of priority) achieving a World Cup podium, World Cup Red Group status, a top 30 ranking in Period III of the World Cup, or scoring World Cup points (in the top 30) this season.

Assuming this doesn’t fill all of Canada’s quota, the NorAm overall leaders are selected next, followed by the CPL leaders in distance and sprint. According to CCC, the cost for non-World Cup team members is 595 euro for flights, 125 Swiss Francs per day for accommodations, $30 Canadian dollars per race day for wax support, $35 Canadian dollars for shipping a ski bag to Canmore, travel to Ottawa and travel home from Canmore. On the day of publication, this is about $2,900 Canadian dollars or $2,100 US dollars.

U23 and Junior World Championships selections are made almost entirely from the selection trials, held in Thunder Bay on Jan. 15-18.

Sovereign Distance Race Video (on Pacing)

Photo Collections

Canmore, courtesy of W. James MacLean

Sovereign Lake sprint, distance 1 and distance 2 collections, courtesy of Marie-Ève Bilodeau-Corriveau (BUFF Canada) and XTS Photography

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


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

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

Miller, Grav, Patterson, & Turgeon Win at Eastern Cup Openers

Kaitlynn Miller of Craftsbury after winning the women's sprint. (Photo: John Lazenby)

Kaitlynn Miller of Craftsbury after winning the women’s sprint. (Photo: John Lazenby/Click here for his Craftsbury Eastern Cup gallery)

Note: If you’re interested in sending in a summary or photos of a regional race in your area, we’re interested in posting them. Contact

CRAFTSBURY, Vt. — The New England Nordic Ski Association’s Eastern Cup circuit kicked off this weekend in Craftsbury, Vt., with a pair of freestyle races on a loop of manmade snow. Well over 400 racers from the Eastern U.S. and Canada made their way to the Northeast Kingdom for competitions which included all age classes.

Senior and college athletes had the chance to race against the best competition in the East, with many athletes home for the holidays, while for the juniors the two days of racing are part of an eight-competition series which will determine qualification for the New England team to Junior Nationals.

Saturday’s sprint was delayed after icy road conditions left many team vans and individual vehicles at the bottom of the hill a half mile from the venue. But once action got going — two and a half loops around a course that included one steep hill on every lap — Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project and Joey Foster of the Team Hardwood had the fastest qualification times.

Sprint heats were reduced to four skiers because of the narrowness of the course, so just 16 moved on to the open quarterfinals. There, Kaitlyn Miller bested teammate Patterson (+0.33) for the win with Katharine Ogden of the Stratton Mountain School placing third (+4.65) and Emily Hannah fourth (+10.98).

“We mostly trained through the Eastern Cups, because there are certainly much bigger races coming up on our radar,” Patterson wrote in an email. “Still, the Eastern Cup weekend was a really good opportunity to put on a bib and ski hard, to continue to get back in touch with racing overall and especially with sea-level racing which requires more tempo and constant pushing of the limits.  So as much as the results of the races weren’t so important to me, the effort and the chance to match up against a pretty competitive field of women was valuable preparation for Nationals and the rest of the season.”

For the men, Joergen Grav of the University of Vermont came out on top, just 0.16 seconds ahead of teammate Jack Hegman. Raleigh Goessling of the University of New Hampshire was third and Koby Gordon of the Stratton Mountain School fourth.

Oivia Cuneo of the Green Mountain Valley School won the U16 girls’ heats, and MacKenzie Rizio of the Stratton Mountain School was tops in the U18/U20 heats (although other U18 and U20 athletes made it into the main draw). Adam Witkowski of the Stratton Mountain School won the U16 heats, and Henry Harmeyer of the University of Vermont won the U18/U20 heats.

On Sunday the whole field contested five kilometer skate races, five laps of a slightly different loop than the sprint course. It had snowed throughout Saturday and Saturday night and so for the first time all weekend, athletes saw hard packed snow and midwinter-like ski conditions.

In the women’s 5 k, Patterson bested Stratton Mountain School T2’s Annie Pokorny by 19.1 seconds for the win. Patterson hopes that this is a good sign for the rest of her season.

“I was ok with how I matched up against the competition in the early Supertours, but not thrilled — I had set my expectations a bit higher than the results I achieved,” Patterson wrote in an email. “It’s not unusual for me to start the season slowly, which definitely happened in West, but I was encouraged by my progress in Sun Valley’s races and even more by how I felt and raced this weekend. I’m waking up, feeling better each race and stronger and fitter than ever… I’m confident that after a few more weeks of preparation I’ll be entirely ready to compete at my best at Nationals.”

Miller and Ogden placed third and fourth, with Cendrine Browne of the Pierre Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) fifth.

In the men’s 5 k, it was Alexis Turgeon who took the win. The Skinouk athlete hadn’t been on a podium in three years, and was thrilled to take top honors. He hadn’t been thrilled with his races at the season opening NorAms in Canmore, Alberta, but sees that things might be turning around.

“I got into Silver Star [the second NorAms] with no big expectations,” Turgeon wrote in an email. “In Silver Star if your’e not in good shape the altitude and the course reminds you pretty fast!… The 15k went really well, best race for me since being a junior. 3rd U23 and 8th overall, I am really satisfied! Last weekend in Craftsbury was a chance for me to figure out if Silver Star was a oneshot deal… I figured out not! The field was far from being a NorAm, but just to get that feeling of being able to attack and recover during a race is great.”

CNEPH teammate Olivier Hamel finished second, just half a second behind Turgeon. Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier made it a podium sweep for CNEPH by finishing third, +2.8. Ian Moore of the University of Vermont placed third and Goessling of UNH fourth.

For Turgeon, the next goal is U23 World Championships.

“Just how I’m feeling lately training and racing tells me this winter will be fun and competitive,” he wrote. “My goals are to make the top 30 at U23 world championships and to get a spot on the Canada Ski Tour in March.”

— Chelsea Little


Women’s sprint qualifying

Men’s sprint qualifying

Sprint heats

Women & girls 5 k

Men & boys 5 k

Joergen Grav, the men's sprint winner, on course. (Photo: John Lazenby)

Joergen Grav, the men’s sprint winner, on course. (Photo: John Lazenby/Click here for his Craftsbury Eastern Cup gallery)