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Posts Tagged ‘US Nationals’

Blackhorse-von Jess, Bjornsen Take Skate Sprint Titles at Nationals

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

MIDWAY, Utah — Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) and Sadie Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific Universty/U.S. Ski Team) won the final races at U.S. Nationals, taking the wins in the freestyle sprints at Soldier Hollow.

Blackhorse-von Jess, who was third in the classic sprint last Wednesday, was elated to have finally won the national title he has wanted for so long. Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) took second place and Alex Howe (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) took third.

This is Sadie Bjornsen’s second title of the week. She and Sophie Caldwell (SMS T2) lunged for the line in a photo finish and after video review Bjornsen was declared the freestyle sprint winner. Caldwell took second and Jennie Bender (CXC) took third.

The women’s freestyle sprint podium: 1. Sadie Bjornsen 2. Sophie Caldwell 3. Jennie Bender



1. Sadie Bjornsen

2. Sophie Caldwell

3. Jennie Bender

4. Becca Rorabaugh

5. Annie Hart

6. Caitlin Gregg










The men’s freestyle sprint podium: 1. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess 2. Erik Bjornsen 3. Alex Howe


1. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess

2. Erik Bjornsen

3. Alex Howe

4. Logan Hanneman

5. Sylvan Ellefson

6. Tad Elliott


Summit Timing heat results.







Caldwell Wins Nationals Skate Sprint Qualifier (Updated)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Sophie Caldwell (SMST2) en route to winning the 1.3 k skate sprint qualifier at U.S. nationals in Soldier Hollow.

MIDWAY, Utah — Sophie Caldwell (SMS T2) posted the fastest freestyle sprint qualifying time on Tuesday morning at U.S. Nationals, nipping Caitlin Gregg (CXC) by 0.63 seconds. The top two women crushed the field; Annie Hart (Dartmouth) came through in third +4.62 seconds behind Caldwell.

“That felt good,” Caldwell said after cooling down.

She could tell she was having a good prelim when she tell she was gaining on Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST), the only starter in front of her.

“I tried to start out really relaxed because I heard a lot of the boys were blowing up on the course,” she said. Her only strategy was to “just hammer over that steep hill, recovered on the down and then have a strong finish. I think it went pretty well.”

Though she was tired after the classic sprint on the first day of Nationals, Caldwell feels that she has since recovered.

“After the classic sprint I was really stiff and tired but I think everyone was; it was a tough day. Since then I’ve felt fine,” she said.

Experience from the classic sprint heats on day one of Nationals has taught everyone to be careful of the downhill draft.

“I think there’s a big slingshot effect on that hill regardless of whether it’s skate or classic so even if you have a gap going into it you can get sucked up,” she said. “And I think unless you put a gap on the field early on I think having a really strong finish will be important.”

The below screenshot, unofficially, are the women’s top 30 that will move onto the heats. Men’s quarterfinals begin at 12:30 MST and the women directly follow.

Top 30 women. Live timing at Summit Timing.

Bjornsen Posts Fastest Nationals Skate Qualifier (Updated)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) in qualifying.

MIDWAY, Utah — Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) looked quick on his feet at Soldier Hollow and came through the finish with the fastest qualifying time of the men’s freestyle sprint field. Brian Gregg (CXC), in an impressive showing for a usual distance-specialist, had the second-fastest time of the day about 3 seconds behind Bjornsen. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) was third.

“I’m feeling really tired actually,” Bjornsen said after the qualifier. “I didn’t ski much of a warmup, and it went well.”

Looking ahead to the heats, he said he’d have to talk strategy with his coaches. ”

“I don’t want to get passed on the downhill so if that means sitting behind someone, maybe kind of blow them up on the first hill,” Bjornsen said. “We’ll see.”

Other quotes:

On the lengthened course (from 1.3 to 1.7 k) compared to the classic sprint: 

“I knew that would be an advantage for me. My fitness is pretty good right now, I just didn’t want to slow the pace down, though. I’ve been trying to work on my sprinting, going out hard so I kept with that strategy.” — Bjornsen, 1st

“It’s better a little longer. It’s still short, quote-unquote, but it’s A. elevation, and B. that first climb is like a minute and 15 seconds long, which is not insignificant.” — Blackhorse-von Jess, 3rd

On personal bests:

“My focus was definitely this year on the distance races so it’s sweet. Somebody said, ‘Hey nice job, you’re in second,’ at the finish and I thought they were joking. It is helpful that I had Peter Kling [APU] right in front of me so I was able to try to catch up to him, but the skis were really good. It’s nice having a little bit longer; that works well for me.” — Gregg, 2nd

“We’ll see how the heats go, but it’s nice to end nationals so far on a good note, but still looking forward to the heats. It would be magical to move on so I want that to happen.” — Tad Elliott (SSCV/Team HomeGrown/U.S. Ski Team), 15th

On pushing through the pain:

“Just felt really good to lay it down. It hurts, hurts a lot. … I was just trying to stay smooth on the V2 and glide as much as I could, focus on that instead of I guess like time and where I was. It’s a hard week of races, and that’s what U.S. nationals is, but I think I came into it really well prepared and everything went as planned. I got my goals accomplished and it feels pretty awesome.” — Ben Saxton (F.A.S.T.), 8th

On training:

“I’ve been training a lot with [Sam] Naney this summer and Scott Johnston and MOD and all those guys, and we’ve been doing a lot of speed work, which I think has helped a little bit on the sprinting, but that’s definitely by far the best qualifying I’ve ever had. Pretty sure I just cut my sprint points in half (laughs) because I started 36th.” — Brian Gregg


Men’s top 30, unofficially. Live results at Summit Timing.


Bjornsen Breaks Through to Claim First National Title in 15 k Free

Friday, January 4th, 2013

MIDWAY, Utah — He came to Alaska Pacific University as a sprinter two years ago, but on Friday at Soldier Hollow Erik Bjornsen proved he’s become one of the best all-around skiers in the country, winning the 15 k freestyle by 6 seconds ahead of defending champion Tad Elliott (SSCV Team HomeGrown/USST). Matt Gelso (SVSEF) earned his first career Nationals podium in third (+15.6).

Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) and Matt Gelso (SVSEF) skiing for the third time up Hermod’s Hill.

“I’m just so excited, I’ve never been top 10 in a distance race at Nationals,” Bjornsen said, grinning from ear to ear. “I woke up this morning just wanting revenge from the classic race.”

He started one bib behind Gelso, and when Bjornsen caught the latter they worked together to push the pace throughout the grueling 5 k course. It wasn’t quite the Olympic 5 k, but it was plenty hard. Skiers looked like they were hurting up Hermod’s Hill, which had rock-hard corduroy on a frigidly morning in Midway.


1. Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) 37:02

2. Tad Elliott  (SSCV/Team HomeGrown/USST) +6.0

3. Matt Gelso (SVSEF) + 15.6

4. Brian Gregg (CXC)  +48.3

5. Patrick Johnson  (SVSEF)  +1:01.2

6. Torin Koos  (BSF)  +1:24.8

7. Bryan Cook (CGRP) +1:29.7

7. Dylan McGuffin (CGRP) +1:29.7

9. David Norris (MSU) +1:32.6

10. Mark Iverson (APU) +1:32.8


US Nationals Classic Sprint Wax Recommendations

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

The final day of the 2012 United States Cross Country Ski Championships once again challenged the techs as they needed to dial in the perfect kick without sacrificing too much glide as fast skis were critical today.  Here is what some of the top brand industry wax techs were recommending.

US Cross Country Ski Championships, Freestyle Sprint Wax Recommendations

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The temperatures overnight dropped allowing Black Mountain to start their snow guns around 9:00PM last night and as we arrived on the course early this morning it was clear that winter had arrived, manmade at least.  The morning temperature was holding around 18ºF and there is a strong wind out of the south.  The course is hard and firm.

As the athletes start to pour on the warmup laps the wax techs at this point have made their choices for the skis.  Here is what some of them are saying:




Photos from Women’s 30k

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Kikkan Randall (USST) won a close race over Marie Graefnings in the final US National Championship race of the season. Here are a few quick photos from the day.

Morgan Arritola (USST) leading early

Kikkan Randall (USST) taking a turn at the front.

Maria Graefnings - 2nd place.

Randall brings it home.

Tad Elliott National Champion By One-Tenth

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Individual start races don’t get much more exciting than this.  Tad Elliott (CXC) started out of the gate fast and did not take his foot off the gas until he crossed the finish line 1:10:16 later just one-tenth of a second faster than APU’s Lars Flora.

Elliott, who held a margin over his nearest competitors throughout the race, skied most of the race by himself, working his way through the field, while Flora shared the work with third place finisher Noah Hoffman (USST, 1:10:19) and others in a relatively large pack.  Elliott may have captured the title with his final lunge at the line, which brought him crashing to the firmly packed snow.

Michael Sinnott (SVSEF), who was the first racer on course, came through the lap and picked up Brian Gregg (CXC).  The two remained together for most of the race and ended up finishing fourth and fifth both in a time of 1:11:13.

Complete results will be found here when available.

Tad Elliott (CXC) on his way to the Men's 30km Freestyle title. Photo: Kris Dobie.

Check back later for a complete race report and photos.

Snow Guns N Pick Axes: US Nationals Rolls On

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Volunteers spent endless backbreaking hours shoveling snow on the course, and it looks considerably better than it did on Sunday here in Rumford, ME for the classic distance races.  Even the US Ski Team’s own Matt Whitcomb and Liz Stephen helped out yesterday, and Whitcomb said his back is feeling it today.  As we previewed the course, Whitcomb was on his way out again; shovel and pick axe in hand.

We touched base with several coaches, and it sounds like most everyone would be on a klister binder covered with some variety of violet klister.  And while the tracks still have visible dirt mixed in with the manmade snow, they are firm and consistent.

The second day of the US Nationals Championships gets started in 30 minutes.

Thursday’s Mass Starts at US Nationals Could Switch Formats

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Thursday’s mass start skate races planned for the 2011 U.S. Championships in Rumford may be switched to an interval-start format, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Nordic Director John Farra.

As of Tuesday evening, the races were still planned to go off as originally scheduled, Farra said: 30 k mass start for the men, and 20 k mass start for the women. But with organizers likely limited to a 2.5-kilometer loop, that format leaves potential for the leaders to run into lapped traffic late in the race.

“It’s a legitimate concern, and we’ll talk about it,” Farra said, though he added that it was important to first see how the course skied in Wednesday’s individual-start classic races.

Farra also said that he had encouraged coaches to give their feedback on whether the course could support a mass start race.

In interviews with FasterSkier on Monday, both CXC Head Coach Jason Cork and athlete Garrott Kuzzy said that they were concerned about the potential for traffic on the 2.5 k course in a mass start race.

With fast conditions, Cork said that the loop could take as little as five minutes to ski.

“It’ll get pretty congested out there,” he said. “You’re going to be lapping people two, three laps in.”

Kuzzy suggested that officials pull lapped racers, but on Tuesday, Farra said that that wasn’t an option.

“Removing people from the national championship event when they get lapped is not an option in my playbook,” he said. “Not when athletes have invested the kind of money to get here.”