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A lot has happened since the last FAST blog post. Ok, yeah, that’s inevitable, since I last posted almost four weeks ago. But anyway, a lot of things happening is both a good and a bad thing; it means that I don’t have much time to update the blog, but when I finally get around to it, there should be plenty to talk about. And that “finally getting around to it” time is now upon us.

As most of you probably know, we just finished up with Nationals Championships in Anchorage. About a week prior to the first race, it was threatening to get a little cold in Fairbanks, so some of us FAST athletes loaded up and decided to head to Anchorage earlier than we were planning to. It turned out to be a good decision; the cold came in right as we left, and chased us at least to Cantwell. In tribute to Steinbock Racing’s weak -16 car-thermometer-shot, I offer our own version, AK Style:

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Being in temperate Anchorage was perfect for our race preparation. We were able to ski the courses many times and familiarize ourselves with them. Since the course organizers thought it necessary to route every single race over the same trails, it wasn’t too hard to learn the ins and outs.

The first race on the schedule was the Skate Sprint. Most of us have skied this course many times at Besh Cups, so it was nice to feel fairly comfortable with it. It turned out to be a pretty solid day; four FAST guys qualifying in the top 30 overall, including my high-school-junior-brother Logan. David and I both notched our best Senior National results to that point, with 19th and 14th respectively.

David showed us a little bit of what was to come later in the week, by showin off some manly skiing. He attacked his heats from the gun and gapped everyone; unfortunately, he also paid for it at about 300 meters to go. Here he is leading on the only real climb:

photo credit Bert Boyer

photo credit Bert Boyer

 

 

Of the four races, the 15k interval start skate race was probably the most bland. Bland because we didn’t have any headlining results. But maybe, in a way, it wasn’t so bland, because we all had solid finishes and still weren’t that phsyched about it. Finishing 26th in what is probably my worst discipline seemed great at the time, but by the end of the week, seemed, well, weak.

Things shortly took a turn for the exciting, when the Senior men raced a 30k mass start classic. To steal a phrase from a certain Fasterskier employee, David Norris is a “huge baller”. This is because his points are so good that he actually pre-qualified for the World Junior team before Senior Nationals. And because of this “baller” status, he was able to skip the Junior 10k and enter the mans race. Good thing he did too, because he ended up working over the entire mens field except for James, Kris, and Bryan Cook. Heres a shot of D-Money himself, still a Junior mind you, skiing off the front with the 30k National Champion and the dude who was 4th at World Championships:

photo credit Bert Boyer

photo credit Bert Boyer

 

 

 

When most people consider you a sprinter, it is difficult to talk yourself into a good 30k result. But that’s exactly what I had to do in order to make the U23 World Championship team; this would be only my second 30k ever, and definitely the most critical. As it turned out, I had a really good race, skiing in the pack that was chasing the leaders for a while, and then skiing through some heavy hitters towards the end to end up 9th. The best part was that, with David’s 4th, the two youngest guys in the top 10 were both FAST skiers.

The European travel teams were named based off of these first three races. Each race was scored within the J1, Junior, and U23 categories using the World Cup points system (100,80,60,etc), and then each skiers best two races were kept. Like I mentioned, David was a given for the World Junior team before the week even started. Logan was skiing solid all week, beating many World Junior contenders and finishing in the Top 10 Juniors; all while being a first year J1. He easily qualified for the US Scandanavian Cup team that will be going to Finland in the next few weeks. I was the only one who made things close. Racing insane specialists like Simi, Pete, Tad, and Noah leaves someone like me in the “blah” zone as far as points go. But luckily my sweet 30k gave me the points boost I needed, and I was able to make the U23 World Championship team.

The final race was the classic sprint. David, Logan and I were approaching it with a pretty low-key attitude, since we had already made our goal teams. However, Tyson needed some revenge. David, Tyson and I all made the Top 30, and then in typical fashion, those two got put in the same heat:

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Tyson moved on, and made the B Final, which was actually super stacked. I ended up feeling really good, which was a huge surprise after that 30k. What was even crazier was eliminating some Olympics contenders in the rounds, and making the A Final. By eliminating them, I was actually just sending them to Tyson’s B Final, which he wasn’t so happy about.

But the craziest thing was the A Final; there I was, lining up against the other Top 5 sprinters in the country, and they are all from Alaska! It’s like a Besh Cup final! I have sprinted against Tyler and Eric, oh, probably a bazillion times, and then the Nanooks, who I ski with in Fairbanks a bunch, and then Mikey, whos the hometown sprint maniac. It was pretty tight the whole way:

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Anyways, as it turned out, I was fourth overall, which was mind boggling. That meant that I had to go do drug testing. As soon as I crossed the line, my “USADA escort” locked on and followed me everywhere, and even had to read me some of my rights:

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Because Erik Soderstrom (a Swedish import skiing for UAF) won, that meant I was on the American podium:

 

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Logan just missed the Top 30, and got to do his damage in the Junior heats. He was having some weird stomach issues, and needed a little encouragement:

 

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Even though he felt horrible, he moved all the way through and was in the juniors A Final:

 

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He likely would have won, if he hadn’t face planted himself within the first 300 meters of the course. However, he skied back into contact and couldn’t quite out-lunge Jordan Buetow, who was also sprinting well, for second.

All in all, it was a really great week. Personally, I was jazzed to put together four races that were all good results. If the scenario had been like last year, with only one race being held, I would have been content with any of these four results, and I think most of FAST can say the same.

To cap it all off, I was completely astounded when I heard my name called for the Sprint Team that will represent the United States at the Canmore World Cup. I was absolutely 0% expecting this, so it was a crazy moment. However, it will be the highlight of my short ski career to go and race against the guys we watch on Universal.

All in all, a very successful mission for us. Team FAST has an athlete in all three travel teams (Scando, World Juniors, and U23s). FAST had an American podium and a wicked 30k 4th. And now, FAST is on the World Cup!

2 Responses to “Nationals Rundown”

  1. Mark Holmes Says:

    Congrats to you guys. Nice to see all the hard work pay off with some fantastic results. Good luck as you train for the next competition.

  2. Kuba Says:

    You guys are going to be killing it for like the next decade. Awesome job mates.