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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 info@fasterskier.com.

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

Results:

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)

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Methow Valley Nordic Hosting Online Auction Fundraiser

The Methow Valley Nordic Team is launching an online auction fundraiser on Nov. 20.

The Methow Valley Nordic Team is launching an online auction fundraiser Nov. 20-29.

(Press release)

The Methow Valley Nordic Team in Winthrop, Wash., is gearing up for the upcoming ski season with an online auction fundraiser.  Methow Valley Nordic Team started over 25 years ago and continues to develop kids who love to Nordic ski. Famous alumni include Sadie and Erik Bjornsen and Brian Gregg.

With over 100 kids signed up for this year’s program and snow in the hills, Methow Valley Nordic Team is off to a strong start for the 2015-16 ski season! Dryland training for the Team has been taking place throughout November and a crew of skiers will head to Silver Star, B.C., for our annual Thanksgiving training camp.  Competitions will begin in mid-December with some skiers focusing on qualifying for Junior Nationals to be held in Cable, Wis., in March and others aiming towards Biathlon trials in December where they hope to qualify for international biathlon races.  Many other MVNT members will work on furthering their skiing skills and enjoying the snow.

Methow Valley Nordic Team annual online auction opens for bidding on Friday, Nov. 20 and will close on the 29th.  The auction is at http://www.32auctions.com/MethowValleyNordic.  Items range from “Ski Dreams” with athletes to clothing to packages.  With something for everyone, this is a good way to kick off holiday shopping!

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Skiing Before Opening Day at Sovereign Lake (FS Report)

Lots of the juniors were out getting snow time at Sovereign Lake last weekend. A skier with the Vancouver-based Hollyburn Jackrabbits leads a skier from Larch Hills Nordic (in Salmon Arm) in this photo.(Photo: Gerry Furseth)

Lots of the juniors were out getting snow time at Sovereign Lake last weekend. A skier with the Vancouver-based Hollyburn Jackrabbits leads a skier from Larch Hills Nordic (in Salmon Arm) in this photo. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

VERNON, British Columbia — Sovereign Lake and Silver Star are not officially opening until Nov. 12, but that hasn’t stopped local skiers from getting on snow in the provincial park.

Reports of skiable snow began to trickle in on Oct. 26.  When FasterSkier arrived at Sovereign Lake on Saturday, Nov. 7 to investigate, about 25 kilometres of trail within the park was rolled and reasonable for classic skiing.  Intermittent snowfall during the day and another 10 cm overnight allowed the groomers to start serious work preparing the race trails for the NorAm races in December.

The early season trail work is focussed on building a base and preserving the snowpack.   Until opening day, set tracks and smooth skating lanes are a rarity.  Despite the marginal early season conditions and closed day lodge, there were at least 50 skiers out each weekend morning.

— Gerry Furseth

By late Sunday morning, there was more than 10 km of skating-friendly trail at Sovereign Lake. The Upper World Cup loop used for the December distance races was rolled but not set. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

By late Sunday morning, there was more than 10 km of skating-friendly trail at Sovereign Lake. The Upper World Cup loop used for the December distance races was rolled but not set. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

Both Sovereign Lake and Silver Star plan to open as scheduled on Nov. 12 (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

Both Sovereign Lake and Silver Star plan to open as scheduled on Nov. 12 (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

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West Yellowstone Grooming Update

Nov. 5, 2015 at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone

Nov. 5, 2015 at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone (Courtesy photo)

West Yellowstone – Rendezvous Ski Trails – 11/5/2015 Grooming Report

(Press release)

Those who have been missing the fluffy, white snow of winter are smiling this week. The 8+ inches of heavy, wet snow received earlier in the week is setting up a great base for early season skiing on the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone, Montana. Trails groomed: Rendezvous, Biathlon Range, Deja View, both Sprint Loops, Drewski, Jerry’s and the Doodle. Almost all trails have classic and skate. Some trails may still be a little soft in the center, but most of the classic looks very good. Early season conditions, so ski with care.

More snow is the forecast for the coming week, with continued cool temperatures to hold the base. Only two weeks until the Annual West Yellowstone Ski Festival, and things are looking bright!

For current trail conditions visit Skirunbikemt.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Havlick, Caitlin Gregg Top USST Mini Tour in Park City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 1 (Sunday): Freestyle Sprint

Men’s results:

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

Day 2 (Monday): 15 k Classic Mass Start 

Men’s results

  1. Havlick
  2. Hamilton
  3. Newell

Women’s results

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

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

Men’s results

  1. Havlick
  2. Hamilton
  3. B. Gregg

Women’s results

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

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Valjas, Nishikawa Win Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Lenny Valjas sprints to a sizable win in the 2015 Frozen Thunder classic sprint on Oct. 26. (Photo:Pav Sudrich/CCC)

Lenny Valjas sprints to a sizable win in the 2015 Frozen Thunder classic sprint on Oct. 26. (Photo:Pav Sudrich/CCC)

(Press release)

The 2015/16 race season got underway on Monday with the WinSport Frozen Thunder classic sprint race at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. It will be a historic season for Canadian skiing, featuring Ski Tour Canada 2016, a series of 8 World Cup ski races that will finish in Canmore on March 12.

The Frozen Thunder course is made up of snow preserved from the previous season with the addition of natural and artificial snow when available. This season’s course is a little shorter than in the past at 1 kilometer, due to warmer temperatures last year that limited artificial snow production.

Many of Canada’s top racers were in attendance for the races that were held at temperatures just a bit above 0 degrees Celsius.

The Frozen Thunder loop at the Canmore Nordic Centre in late October 2015. (Photo: Drew Goldsack/CCC)

The Frozen Thunder loop at the Canmore Nordic Centre in late October 2015. (Photo: Drew Goldsack/CCC)

The event began with an individual time trial that seeded the athletes for the “Kings Court” heats that followed to determine final position.  The “Kings Court” format ensures that athletes get 3 additional opportunities to test their sprinting abilities on the day. After each of the Kings Court heats, the top 2 athletes move up the “ladder” and the bottom 2 move down to determine the final order.

Lenny Valjas continued his strong performances winning each of the heats and comfortably capturing the 2015 WinSport title. Local skier Jesse Cockney captured silver representing Foothills Nordic and 3rd went to his team mate Ivan Babikov who was a bit surprised to do so well for a change, in a sprint event.

“Frozen Thunder sprint, season opener…..aaaand I made it to the Final. #Podium #Whaaaaat,” Babikov wrote on Instagram.

In the morning time trial, Valjas of Team Hardwood and Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse set the standard with 4 second margins over their nearest competitors. Time trial results

The top junior man was Gareth Williams of Telemark Ski Club, with Canmore’s Ty Godfrey in second and Dan Merlo of Black Jack in third.

On the women’s side, Nishikawa continued her strong performances from last year, with the sprint win, followed by Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers and Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse.

The junior woman’s event was won by Katie Weaver of Hollyburn, with teammate Annika Richardson in second and Delphine Duvernay-Tardif of Montériski in third.

Complete Results

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CCC Names Pierre Lafontaine as New CEO

 

(Press release)

CANMORE, Alberta — From the lanes in the pool to making his tracks on the Nordic ski trails, medal-winning sport leader Pierre Lafontaine will take over December 1 as Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada’s (CCC) new Chief Executive Officer, the Board of Directors announced on Monday.

One of Canada’s most distinguished sport leaders, Lafontaine brings a wealth of international experience with him to the cross-country skiing community, having served as CEO and national coach of Swimming Canada from 2005-13, followed by two years as CEO of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Lafontaine has achieved success working in all levels of the sport system across Canada, the United States and Australia – from national team athletes to youngsters getting introduced to the sport at the club level. Prior to taking the reigns of swimming in Canada, Lafontaine spent three years as head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport.

“CCC has enjoyed unprecedented success in international races, along with the development of coaches and athletes across Canada and the participation of recreational skiers in the past 10 years. We are committed to continuing our growth and success, and I can’t think of a better man to lead a new era for our sport in this country than Pierre,” said Jamie Coatsworth, Chair of the Board, CCC.

“Pierre is a passionate, decisive and pragmatic leader who is a proven performer at all levels he has touched in sport. We are counting on him to provide the necessary leadership and guidance our sport requires in its continued quest to build a medal-winning program, while introducing more people to cross-country skiing.”

Lafontaine is widely acclaimed as an innovative leader in the swimming community; not only in athlete and coach development, but also in building the critical relationships with key stakeholders, including Own the Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee, to develop world-leading high-performance programs. Under his guidance, Lafontaine has achieved podium results as a CEO and coach at major international events from the Olympics and Paralympics to World Championships, PanAm and Commonwealth Games.

“There are many synergies between swimming and cross-country skiing. They are technically-driven sports that have athletes with great engines who are fiercely dedicated to achieving excellence,” said Lafontaine, who will relocate to Canmore from Ottawa. “Similar to swimming in the Summer Games, cross-country skiing is one of the most iconic winter Olympic and Paralympic sports. I believe we have an opportunity to be a real powerhouse and position our sport, in its rightful place, as a constant pillar in the Canadian sport scene.”

Working with a team of highly dedicated individuals at Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada, Lafontaine will develop a long-term strategic plan that will focus on facilitating the continued development of the sport from the grassroots to elite levels.

“Cross-country skiing is an amazing sport, and we need to build this organization on the same principles we would build our country: strength, determination, values, and be family-oriented,” added Lafontaine. “We already have great Canadians in our program. Working with the provincial sport organizations and clubs, we need to focus on getting more of our people working together, providing mentoring to our coaches at all levels with the ultimate goal of being the best in the world.”

One of Lafontaine’s main priorities will be on delivering the tools and resources athletes need to excel.

“Creating an effective structure and great environment to develop – both on and off the snow – will result in great performances,” said Lafontaine, who added the short-term goal will be ensuring athletes have everything they need for 2018, while implementing a solid structure for 2022 and beyond.

“We need to work hard to maintain our strong relationships with existing corporate and sport partners, while finding innovative ways to bring new sponsors that want to be part of a great family that is focused not only on skiing for medals, but encouraging people of all ages across Canada to ski for life.”

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Women’s Ski Jumping USA to Expand Relationship with USSA

Womens Ski Jumping USA

(Press release)

PARK CITY, Utah (September 21, 2015) – Women’s Ski Jumping USA (WSJ-USA) is pleased to announce an expanded relationship with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA). Beginning on October 1, 2015, USSA will assume responsibility for coaching and other operations affecting the women’s ski jumping program.

“The best direction for WSJ-USA is one that best serves the athletes,” said Peter Jerome, interim President of Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “I am pleased that USSA will be taking responsibility for the national women’s ski jumping program, including the employment and contracting of our two national team coaches, Alan Alborn and Vasja Bajc, and our partnership with UOP for our development coach, Lindsey Van. WSJ-USA will focus our organizational efforts on cultivating and supporting development programs and athletes―with an emphasis on the successful Fly Girls development program. This expanded partnership is a clear win for both organizations and will increase operational efficiency, while simultaneously addressing the specific needs of a wider range of athletes and athletic abilities.”

Women’s Ski Jumping USA’s Fly Girls program recently concluded its second summer development program and will continue to operate and be funded directly by WSJ-USA.

Members of the WSJ-USA board look forward to working with USSA to expand fundraising efforts and solidify back office operations to raise visibility of the sport in the U.S. market. “Women’s Ski Jumping USA has done a remarkable job in raising awareness for the sport across the US and in providing a foundation for the women athletes leading up to their Olympic debut in Sochi,” said USSA Executive Vice President, Luke Bodensteiner. “We greatly respect the organization’s new focus in looking to the future with an emphasis on development through Fly Girls. Together we feel that the right next step for the program is to more actively integrate with the existing systems of USSA, while working jointly to raise money to support the program.”

USSA is providing direct athlete support to ski jumpers Nita Englund (Florence, WI) and Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, UT), who have achieved national team criteria. Additional women’s ski jumping athletes may be competing on the World Cup tour and will be able to continue to take advantage of the elite level coaching provided through the program.

The top U.S. ski jumping athletes will next be in Lake Placid, NY on October 10-11, 2015 for the Flaming Leaves Festival, which features the normal hill event of the U.S. Ski Jumping Championship.

 

Media Contact:
Kathryn Zwack, WSJ-USA Board Communications Committee

Women’s Ski Jumping USA is the primary support organization for the U.S. women’s ski jumping program and for the U.S. national team, officially called the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team. The organization administers and finances the team’s coaching, travel, training, equipment, and the Fly Girls junior development program. The mission of Women’s Ski Jumping USA is to support and run a successful and sustainable team and to grow participation in the U.S. women’s ski jumping program through the facilitation of national development efforts to produce the best women ski jumpers in the world. In addition, WSJ-USA aspires to remain an influential voice in advocating for gender equality in sport.

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Park City Nordic Receives Multiple USSA Distinctions

 

Earlier this month, the Park City Nordic Ski Club was awarded USSA Club of the Year. (Photo: PCNSC)

Earlier this month, the Park City Nordic Ski Club was awarded USSA Club of the Year as well as Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year. (Photo: PCNSC)

Utah Olympic Park Sport Club Park City Nordic Ski Club awarded 2015 USSA Club of the Year and 2015 Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year;

Both FLY Freestyle and Park City Nordic Ski Club receive USSA Gold Certification

(Press release)

Earlier this month, the Park City Nordic Ski Club was awarded USSA Club of the Year. (Photo: PCNSC)

Earlier this month, the Park City Nordic Ski Club was awarded USSA Club of the Year. (Photo: PCNSC)

PARK CITY, Utah (May 18, 2015) – Utah Olympic Park Sport Clubs celebrates a week of exciting announcements. Park City Nordic Ski Club (PCNSC) was awarded 2015 USSA Club of the Year and 2015 Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year on Friday, May 15 at the annual USSA Club Excellence Conference Chairman’s Awards Dinner. During the same conference, FLY Freestyle and PCNSC also received Gold Club certification from the U. S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

PCNSC was selected as 2015 Club of the Year from a list of 430 clubs across 30 states and all disciplines. USSA has been presenting the Club of the Year award since 1998 and FLY Freestyle was the 2012 recipient. PCNSC was also awarded 2015 Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year.

“This is a testament to the hard work of all the coaches, athletes, and families that are a part of PCNSC. We couldn’t be more pleased to receive such honors from the USSA,” said PCNSC Program Manager, Robert Lazzaroni. “We have some of the best coaches in the country in Nordic combined, ski jumping, and cross country skiing. They really deserve this recognition.”

PCNSC offers year around programs from age 7 thru adult, with a strong emphasis on “Sport for Life.” PCNSC has doubled in number of participants over the last two years.  PCNSC ranked 8th at Junior Nationals this year and PCNSC XC girls team is ranked 2nd in the country. Two PCNSC alumni represented the United States at the World Nordic Champion in 2015.

FLY Freestyle joined PCNSC in the celebration as both sport clubs earned the highest level of podium certification—the Gold Club certification. The podium level certification process involves a rigorous self-study and peer review of best principles and practices for ski and snowboard clubs. All Silver and Gold club candidates had an on-site visit and review conducted by USSA High Performance staff and club consultants who are leaders in the ski and snowboard club world. The certification process not only recognizes club excellence, but also gives a clear roadmap for all clubs to become stronger organizations. This is a strategic part of USSA’s plans to support clubs, be a more club-based organization and better understand the challenges and opportunities that exist for clubs in every corner of the country.

Award winners from the 2015 USSA Club Excellence Conference Chairman’s Awards Dinner on May 15 in Park City, Utah. (Photo: PCNSC)

Award winners from the 2015 USSA Club Excellence Conference Chairman’s Awards Dinner on May 15 in Park City, Utah. (Photo: PCNSC)

“The podium certification process was not an easy one,” said Utah Olympic Park Sport Program Manager, Matt Terwillegar. “It required us to really evaluate every aspect of our sport club programs and doing so has helped us uncover opportunities and areas where we can continue to improve the club experience for our athletes, coaches, and community.”

PCNSC and FLY Freestyle offer summer programs for all ages. Information and registration is available online at UtahOlympicLegacy.org.

About Utah Olympic Park

Built for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Utah Olympic Park is located 28 miles east of Salt Lake City in Park City, Utah. Today, Utah Olympic Park is a vibrant multi-use facility focused on developing and growing winter sport participation in the state of Utah. Designated an Official U.S. Olympic Training Site by the United States Olympic Committee, the venue provides year-round competition and training facilities for Olympic and development level athletes. For the public, the venue features a variety of adventure activities including bobsled rides, zip lines, alpine slide, ropes courses as well as Olympic-heritage exhibits in the Alf Engen Ski Museum and Eccles 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. For more information about the venue, please visit UtahOlympicLegacy.org or call 435-658-4200.

About Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation

Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation is a Utah non-profit 501(c)(3) organization responsible for managing and maintaining world-class facilities and providing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to participate and excel in winter sports. Inspired by the success and momentum of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the Foundation has turned its focus toward embracing, engaging and involving Utah’s youth in winter sport. The Foundation supports national sport organizations and community recreational winter sport programs, as well as subsidizes the operation of two Olympic legacy venues – Utah Olympic Oval and Utah Olympic Park. For more information, please visit UtahOlympicLegacy.org or call 435-658-4200.

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Sovereign Lake Spring Fling: May 15 to 18

 

The Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre as seen on April 26, 2015: sunshine at last, with more snow clouds approaching in the distance. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

The Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre as seen on April 26: sunshine at last, with more snow clouds approaching in the distance. (Photo: Gerry Furseth)

The Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre in the southern interior of British Columbia is changing it up for 2015, with significant changes to the traditional May snow camp week.

New for this year’s Spring Fling Ski Weekend from May 15-18 is a ‘casual’ sprint race, similar to the Canmore’s Frozen Thunder sprint last year where everyone gets three heats.

Also new is the requirement that skiers register by May 10 at Zone4.  If the weather or an insufficient number of registrations forces the club to cancel, fees will automatically be refunded.

FasterSkier went to inspect the trail conditions on April 25.  The skiing was great in fresh falling snow during the morning, but accumulating snow made for a more challenging afternoon.  It was a hard wax day for classic, but at the warmer end of the wax box.

If you are feeling the urge to get some snow time to kick off the new training year in style, there are two options for visitors.

Elevation Camp

Train high and sleep high by staying at Silver Star resort.  The advantages are more elevation (the accommodations, like the ski trails, are just above 1600 metres), convenient access to the National Altitude Training Centre (weight room, climbing wall, movie theatre), and a ten-minute drive to skiing.  It is also the cheapest time of year to stay at the resort, as there is too much snow for the mountain bikers and not enough snow for ski in/ski out.

High/Low Camp

Sleep low and train both high and low by staying in the town of Vernon, 1,250m (4,100 ft) and 25 minutes drive below the ski area.  The advantages are easy beach access for swimming (because no one works on their tan anymore, right?) and lots of mountain biking and road biking options.  The big elevation difference delivers spring conditions on the mountain and summer in the valley bottom.

— Gerry Furseth

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Canada Winter Games: Relay Golds for Ontario and Quebec

Ontario was victorious in Saturday’s men 4 x 5-kilometer relay while Quebec earned gold on the women’s side on the fourth-and-final day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan, Scott Hill, Jack Carlyle, and Evan Palmer-Charrette put together a winning time of 48:14.9 for Ontario, ahead of the men in blue representing Quebec (Dominique Moncion-Groulx, Julien Lamoureux, Philippe Boucher, and Raphaël Couturier), which placed second (+43.4). British Columbia’s Julien Locke, Colin FerrieDavid Palmer, and Geoffrey Richards took third (+1:35.1).

In the women’s 4 x 3.75 k relay, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Andrée-Anne Théberge, Anne-Marie Comeau, and Marie Corriveau notched a win for Quebec in 41:25.4. They edged British Columbia’s silver medalists Katie Weaver, Molly MillerHannah Mehain, and Eliza-Jane Kitchen by 32.6 seconds, and the Yukon team (Kendra MurrayHannah DeulingNatalie Hynes, and Annah Hanthorn) finished 44.2 seconds behind the winners in third.

Relay resultsMen’s 4 x 5 k / Women’s 4 x 3.75 k 

— François Léger Dionne

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

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

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

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

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

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

— François Léger Dionne

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Canada Winter Games: Ferrie, Jackson Win Classic Sprints

Colin Ferrie, of Kimberley, British Columbia, and Jenn Jackson, of Mihurst, Ontario, both came out on top in Tuesday’s classic sprints, on the second day of cross-country skiing at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia.

At the Otway Nordic Centre, Ferrie took the gold on the 1.5-kilometer course in 3:29.57, edging Scott Hill, of Toronto, Ontario, in second (+0.13) and Simon Lapointe, of Gatineau, Quebec in third (+0.76).

With her winning time of 3:50.97, Jackson, also the fastest in qualification, topped Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Quebec, by 1.90 second, and Marie Corriveau, of Quebec, Quebec, in third (+2.66), in the women’s 1.4 k classic sprint.

Results: Men’s 1.5 k sprint | Women’s 1.4 k sprint

— François Léger Dionne

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CCC Mourns Loss of Larry Sinclair

(Cross Country Canada press release)

Larry Sinclair, a founding member of Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club in Duntroon, Ontario, passed away on Monday after battling cancer. (Photo: CCC)

Larry Sinclair, a founding member of Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club in Duntroon, Ontario, passed away on Monday after battling cancer. (Photo: CCC)

Larry Sinclair

It is with great sadness that Cross Country Ontario and Cross Country Canada announce the passing of Larry Sinclair. As a young man, Larry competed both at the provincial and national level. The Sinclair family name was synonymous with cross country skiing in Collingwood. Larry’s dad, Jim was very involved as a coach and in sport development and Larry’s brother Shawn and sister Shelly have always been and still are heavily involved in officiating and management in the sport.

In the late ’70s and ’80s, Larry turned his focus from competing to coaching. Larry started out as the coach of a successful University of Guelph ski team introducing the sport to many and developing lasting friendships, through his quiet and humble enthusiasm and passion for excellence.

His interest in university sport was always strong and he led the first Canadian team to the World University Games, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria. He was also an innovator, leading several junior, provincial team trips to Europe to help young athletes gain valuable international experiences. Future National Team members such as Al Pilcher and Darren Derochie and others really benefitted from this experience.

Larry was a wax technician with the Canadian team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics and also assisted on other National Team assignments. In Canada, Larry led Southern Ontario and Ontario for many years as Head Coach and is a past recipient of the Heinz Niederhauser Coaching Award for excellence in coaching. It was fitting as Heinz was one of Larry’s important mentors, as he grew up as an athlete and coach.

Larry was instrumental in the development of the sport as an independent entity in Ontario. CCO was formed allowing it to directly access provincial funding moving it away from a bureaucratic model where funding was filtered through the alpine dominated Provincial Ski Association and the Ontario Ski Council.

In the ’90s, Larry turned more of his attention to the coaching of coaches and administration and as a course conductor was a key figure in nurturing the development of many young coaches. Many of those he worked with went on to be coaches and course conductors themselves, positively affecting the lives of many more coaches and athletes.

Larry was always actively interested in the equipment aspects of the sport, his “museum” collection of old Fischer racing skis and his work with Ski Trax on equipment reviews were among his more personal interests. He was the SkiTrax Buyer’s Guide editor for over a decade dating back to the first guide launched in October 1991. He oversaw the transition to a North American guide in 1995 and travelled to Scandinavia in 1999 visiting a half a dozen companies for the Factory Tour series.

Benjamin Sadavoy, Ski Trax editor and publisher described Larry as “a true pioneer and a legendary soul that was quick to laugh. We couldn’t have done it without him. SkiTrax joins the ski community in sending condolences to his family and friends.”

As the founding member of the Highlands Trailblazers Ski Club, Larry has mentored athletes and coaches to great achievements and inspired many young athletes to pursue racing. You also always knew that Larry would be able to find a place for you to stay the night when you were passing through the area. “Larry`s Farmhouse” has always been one of the key overnight stops for the avid racer and developing coach.

The Highlands Nordic facility has developed into one of the finest, all privately funded, cross country facilities in the country and has hosted multiple Ontario Cups, OFSAA Championships, and the Canadian National Championships. It was a family operation with any profits in a volatile, weather related business, going back into the further development of the facility itself.

Most recently, the facility hosted the World Junior/U23 Trials where some of us were fortunate to have a last visit with Larry. Being able to see the quality and quantity of racers competing at the event and meeting old friends, gave Larry great pleasure over the weekend.

Larry was inducted into the Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in November 2014. He brought his passion for skiing to his latest role as Cross Country Ontario High Performance Chair where again his love of coaching was demonstrated.

The ski community has lost a great champion of racing and athlete development and builder of the sport. He was a kind and generous person, always willing to help out and get the job done. Our sincerest condolences to his wife Pat, daughters Kelly and Megan, and the Sinclair family as we all mourn their loss.

Funeral arrangements will be announced as they become available. A celebration of Larry’s life will be planned for the spring.

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Somppi Wins Back-to-Back at Western Canadian Championships; Nishikawa Takes 4th NorAm Win

Biathlon Canada's Scott Perras glances back at Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) during the men's 20 k freestyle mass start on Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

Biathlon Canada’s Scott Perras glances back at Michael Somppi (AWCA/NST-Dev.) while leading the men’s 20 k freestyle mass start on Sunday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

By Evan Girard

CANMORE, Alberta — This past weekend’s NorAm Western Canadian Championships wrapped up the test run for when the Tour de Canada brings the World Cup to Canmore and Lake Louise, Alberta, next year.

Saturday’s 1.3 k Freestyle Sprint

Above-zero temperatures and sunny skies made for extremely fast conditions for Saturday’s sprint in Canmore. The course was a genuine sprint loop at 1.3-kilometers long and with virtually no flat sections.

Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) posted the fastest qualifier time for the senior men. By the end of the day, Michael Somppi of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national development team pulled away from the field and take his place atop the podium, winning the A-final in 2:43.11.

“I made a split-second decision and attacked before anyone else behind us [Black Jack’s Julien Locke and I] caught up,” Somppi said. “Fortunately it was enough to get some separation and I was able to hang on in the finish stretch to win.”

The fight for second place was the excitement sprints are known for with the remaining five skiers within a second of one another. Locke was the skier with the best reach, finishing second, 1.68 seconds after Somppi.

“My strategy in the heats was to stay relaxed and try to make it to the A-final without spending all my energy to get there,” Somppi said.

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad) took the final podium position finishing third, just five-hundredths of a second after Locke. Ian Murray (Rocky Mountain Racers) was the surprise of the final, finishing fourth, 2.32 seconds after Somppi, after qualifying in 24th, 15 seconds off the pace.

The top qualifier, Shields took fifth, one-hundredth of a second behind Murray. Sébastien Townsend (Alberta World Cup Academy) rounded out the final in sixth (+2.59).

A new rule change regarding false starts in sprint heats changed the woman’s race significantly on Saturday. The rule states that a false start merits a written warning, and any other false start that season results in an automatic disqualification.

The top women’s qualifier, two-time Olympian Perianne Jones (AWCA/NST-Dev. B) fell victim to this rule with a false start in her quarterfinal, which took her out of the competition. The women’s favorite of the day was now out of the running, this greatly changed the race dynamic.

“Things might have been faster off the start [with Jones in the final] but we had a tactical heat.” Andrea Dupont (RMR) said on Sunday. “I led off the start then tucked in behind. I thought about making an early move, but on this course its all about the finishing straight and I was able to attack and get in front.”

Dupont was quick to capitalize on the absence of Jones, cruising to a decisive A-final win in 3:07.03, 2.17 seconds ahead of Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST-Dev.) and RMR teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt 3.39 seconds back in third.

“My legs felt tired in qualifying, I just couldn’t push.” Bouffard-Nesbitt said. “I was just pumped to feel a little better in the heats.”

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NST U23) took fourth (+4.08), biathlete Sarah Beaudry (Biathlon Alberta Training Center) was fifth (+5.89) and Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) placed sixth (+12.63).

15/20 k Freestyle Mass Start

Sunday morning’s conditions were drastically different from the day before; a dusting of fresh snow and strong wind made the 20 k men’s race and 15 k women’s race a true test of endurance.

Sixty men took to the soft tracks first, and halfway through the race, three men broke away from the pack and would remain in front for the remaining 10 k.

Somppi and Kevin Sandau, both development-team members and AWCA teammates, were familiar leaders in the NorAm distance race. Biathlete Scott Perras (Biathlon Canada) was a new face in the usual mix.

“I really tried to break up the group on the uphills; I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint.” Perras said afterward. “I have always been a good climber and felt strong today”

Perras tried to force Somppi to lead into the final downhill but Somppi stuck behind and pushed for the victory in 55:56.50, 2.39 second ahead of Perras. Sandau grabbed the last podium spot in third, 8.9 seconds after Somppi.

“I would have liked to be a bit more aggressive on the final seven kilometers but didn’t have much left in the tank,” Sandau said, adding he might have picked the wrong skis for the day because he had to work very hard to stay with Somppi and Perras.

In fourth, David Palmer (Black Jack) finished his 20 k race nearly 52 seconds behind Somppi. Another Black Jack skier, Colin Ferrie finished fifth (+54.42) and Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) rounded out the top six (+1:11.2).

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) leading the women's 15 k freestyle mass start at Western Canadian Championships on Sunday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NST-Dev.) leading Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR) during the women’s 15 k freestyle mass start at Western Canadian Championships on Sunday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

The women spread out early in the race, as Emily Nishikawa, who won Saturday’s B-final for seventh overall in the sprint, pushed the pace early in the first lap. Only Bouffard-Nesbitt attempted to go with her. Nishikawa remained in the lead the entire race, winning it by nearly a minute and a half in 46:30.89.

Bouffard-Nesbitt stuck in second for the rest of the race, holding off Beatty and Dupont to finish there, 1:27.5 behind Nishikawa.

“I’ve been really tired with all the racing lately; this is my sixth race in 11 but I felt strong today and was able to go out there and push,” Nishikawa said, adding of the tough conditions: “Racing is racing, you have out there and push.”

Nishikawa said she has used this weekend as preparation for next years Tour de Canada: “It’s a like our own mini-tour,” she said. “I was tired racing yesterday but I talked to my coach and we are using these races to prepare for next year.”

A very strong last lap brought Beatty into third place, three seconds behind Bouffard-Nesbitt and 1:30.9 behind Nishikawa. Dupont finished another 8.5 second later in fourth, Hicks was fifth (+2:42.9) and  Amanda Ammar (Canmore Nordic) took sixth (+2:56.6).

Results: Saturday’s sprints  (Brackets) | Sunday’s mass starts

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Nishikawa, Sandau Win First-Ever NorAm at Lake Louise

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

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

By Gerry Furseth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results: Men | Women

Photos

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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

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Hajkova Top Women’s Qualifier in U.S. Nationals Classic Sprint

Eliska Hajkova (BJNRT) racing to the fastest qualifying time in the women's 1.5 k classic sprint at U.S. Cross Country Championships on Tuesday in Houghton, Mich.

Eliska Hajkova (BJNRT) racing to the fastest qualifying time in the women’s 1.5 k classic sprint at U.S. Cross Country Championships on Tuesday in Houghton, Mich.

HOUGHTON, Mich. — University of Colorado grad and Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team (BNJRT) coach Eliska Hajkova topped a field in a slow-and-snowy 1.5-kilometer women’s classic-sprint qualifier at the U.S. Cross Country Championships on Tuesday, 1.16 seconds ahead of Rosie Brennan, of Alaska Pacific University (APU) with an unofficial top time of 5:18.63.

Junior Julia Kern of the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) qualified third in 5:21.51, Liz Guiney of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) clocked the fourth-fastest time (5:22.17), and Anita Kirvesniemi (College of St. Scholastica) came in fifth (5:23.19).

About 16 seconds separated first from 30th. The men’s 1.5 k qualifier starts at 11 a.m. EST, and the heats kick off at 12:30 p.m.

Top 10 (unofficial)

1. Eliska Hajkova (Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team) 5:18.63
2. Rosie Brennan (APU) 5:19.79
3. Julia Kern (Cambridge Sports Union) 5:21.51
4. Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 5:22.17

5. Anita Kirvesniemi (College of St. Scholastica) 5:23.19

6. Vivian Hett (Northern Michigan University) 5:23.56
7. Corey Stock (Dartmouth Ski Team) 5:24.91
8. Annie Pokorny (SMS T2) 5:25.27
9. Jessica Yeaton (APU) 5:25.82
10. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) 5:26.24

Complete results/live timing

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Sovereign Lake NorAm – More Notes, Quotes, and Photos

Dramatic weather caused a lot of changes in the first two NorAm weekends.  The Whistler Olympic Park NorAm moved to Sovereign Lake, then moved to Friday/Saturday, then scrambled to find volunteers the weekend before Christmas.

FasterSkier’s photographer for the weekend, who is also a Level 2 race official, spent Saturday, Dec. 21, volunteering at the start line.  FasterSkier’s BC writer missed the Friday sprints and didn’t finish transcribing quotes before the holidays hit.

At long last, here are the rest of the quotes and photos.  The distance race was an freestyle individual start, 15 km (three laps) for the women and 30 km (six laps) for the men.  The course was held on the Upper World Cup 5k loop, considered relatively easy as World Cup courses go, but known to test pacing on individual starts.

Dahria Beatty (AWCA-NST/Whitehorse)

Distance:

It went really well.  This is the first time I have ever done a 15k individual [start], so it was something new.  And actually, [it was] a lot like my first distance race ever at Sovereign.  My coach said go out like it’s 10k.  I went out fast, and since it’s soft conditions, I really tried to think about technique and the advice I was given is ‘glide’. Maximize your glide. So I just thought of both power and glide, and got some good splits on the first lap. There was a lot of people starting in front of me that I could just track down. I just tried to kind of pick people off, it gave me something to focus on. My glasses got snow all over them, so I kind of had to go more by feel, and I’m more of a feel person than visual anyway. I focussed on weight shift on the hills and pushing over every crest because the downhills were quite slow. Yeah, my first good race of the season, so I’m happy with that.

Season so far:

It had a pretty slow start. Well, I had a really great first race back in October in the Frozen Thunder sprint, I was third behind Ida Sargent and Perianne Jones, so that was a really good start. After my November volume block, I had a bit of a slow start in Bozeman, I fell in the sprint qualifier and got all tangled up and missed qualification. The legs were a little lacking. The last week in Rossland, it still wasn’t great, but it was a bit better. Yesterday [in the sprint], was the first day I felt that my body was back. I just had really bad tactics in the final. I won my quarter, I won my semi, I was feeling good, and then unfortunately couldn’t put a final together and the girls just skied away from me. Today, I was kind of finally able to set things in the direction I want to go for the season.

Season goals:

My main goal is the U23 championship, this is my first year as U23, and my stretch goal is I’d like to have a top 12 finish. I would definitely like to be competitive, I had a top 15 at junior [worlds] last year and I’d kind of like to stay at that level and keep moving up. Then I’d like to stay in Europe and race the B-tour. If I’m really lucky, a race at world champs, but that would be a really big goal.

Training:

It was great this year, I think I finally, with age, my zone 1 and zone 3 training levels are kind of going up, moving up slowly.  It was great having Heidi [Widmer] and Alysson [Marshall], Brittany [Webster] and Emily [Nishikawa] as training partners this summer. I was able to train zone 1 with more of them.  Having them for intensity, they are some of the strongest girls in the country and we’re always pushing each other.  It’s great always to have that competition in training as well as at races.

Emily Nishikawa’s first World Cup points:

It was hugely inspiring, seeing that. Seeing her have a top 30 in a classic race, which I know is her strength. Coming from Whitehorse, coming from the same club and program as Emily. It’s usually my strength as well. Seeing that makes us all feel like if we had a good day, we could be there right with her. It’s great for Canadian skiing and it’s kind of bringing this next group up with her to join her over there in the next few years.

Dahria Beatty winning

Dahria Beatty leads Alysson Marshall into the finish to win the women’s 15 k freestyle interval start on Saturday. (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Brittany Webster (AWCA/Highland Trailblazers)

Distance:

It was pretty good, it was my first one back.  I actually started Bozeman, but I got a call that I have a stress fracture in my foot so I’ve been dealing with that for a while.  I only recently discovered that I could skate for about an hour without pain, that was about a week ago, so I’ve been on and off my skis every other day.

I would say it wasn’t too bad considering I haven’t really been skiing, so I’m happy.

Joining AWCA:

I’ve been on my own for about three years now, and I was saying the other night to Heidi [Widmer] that it is really nice to be on a team.  I originally come from a high school that was huge on team atmosphere, so I’ve missed that the last few years.

Season goals:

To be honest, the first goal is to heal the stress fracture in my foot.  After that, I want to get my shape back to the best that it can be.  If it takes time, then it takes time.  I willing to accept that, who knows when that will be, but I guarantee I will work hard.  I love racing so I will be out there as much as possible.

Brittany Webster in second

Brittany Webster finishing in second place (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Cendrine Browne (CNEPH-NST/Fondeurs Laurentides)

Distance:

Today was a really great race for me, I started fast and I tried to keep that pace.  Third place is really good for me, it’s only my second year in U23 so I am really happy.

Season so far:

I have a really great season so far, it has been a great start for me.  I am really happy.

Season goals:

I want to go to the U23 worlds in Kazakhstan and I would like to be part of the B-tour, the national team B-tour.

Heidi Widmer (AWCA/NST )

Distance:

My race was what I wanted out of today, coming back from a little bit of time off from a cold.  I just wanted to really grit today, that my goal that when the going got tough to just dig in a little deeper.

The conditions today [were] really made for the stronger skier.  To ski as strong and relaxed as possible.  My race was good and hard, as it should be.

Season so far:

The season is touch and go. I had a strong start in West Yellowstone, I missed two weekends of racing because I came down with a bit of a cold, and this is my first weekend back since then.  Two fourth place finishes, it’s part of the job, you have to know that with the highs come quite a few lows.  I am looking forward to having this trend upwards in January/February.  In the past those have been my lows, so I think this season will favour having my strongest racing in January and February.  Which is what I’m after.

Season goals:

This season my target events are world cup starts.  Specifically, there’s a sprint in Otepaa, Estonia, skate sprint in Rybinsk, Russia, and then as well as world championships in Falun.  There’s also a skate sprint in Lahti.  I have goals of getting my foot in the door in the skate sprint, that’s my strongest event.  The world cup is a bit [of a] daunting goal out there, but I feel confident that is definitely possible. 

Alysson Marshall (AWCA-NST/Larch Hills)

Distance:

It was a tough one out there for me today.  Long distance skate on soft snow is not my favourite, but I survived and kind of got better as the race went on.

Sprint:

Yesterday was was decent until the final. The final, yeah, I just left Olivia [Bouffard-Nesbitt] get away and we ended up having a pretty tactical, rough heat that it was tough to get around.  I had the energy but not the tactics to get around and when I finally did it was too much of a gap to bridge.

Season so far:

[It is going] pretty well, I had a few really good races, I was definitely happy with that.

Season Goals:

World champs is obviously a big one this year, but I am honestly wanting to race well in whatever opportunities come.  It’s just kind of race well wherever I am.

Changes from recent ‘poor’ seasons:

I had a bunch of thyroid stuff going on and we finally got me in the right range for racing.  [We] changed a few things in training this year, so I think it’s all just coming together again.

Training changes:

A little less strength, a little less volume, a little more intensity.  That was more what the focus was this year.

Kris Freeman (Freebird)

Freeman skipped the Friday sprint to focus on the distance race.

Distance:

It felt really good today, I went out with what I thought was a pretty quick pace and I was actually able to speed up and the body was just able to feel better and better as the race went on so I was really psyched.

Were you hearing splits out there?

No, I didn’t really know exactly what was going on. I think what it was, is that I was leading by about 30 seconds for most of the race so I think people just thought I knew that. I just wanted confirmation, but I never got it.

Did you have a race plan?

Well I knew Brian [Gregg] was going to go out hard and try to catch me because he was starting only 30 seconds behind me and he actually put 10 seconds on me in the first lap. But I had a little reserve and I think I skied really fast in the second lap and then I took off from there.

Right after the race you went out and started skiing at a fairly good tempo, is that related to diabetes? It’s a different cool down than most people do.

Today I needed to change my insulin pump right after the race. It was making a noise that tells me it wasn’t functioning properly so I had to switch it out. So I went straight to the cabin, changed my pump out and blood sugars were fine. And then I was good.

So it’s not a normal cool down?

I don’t have a normal cool down. I have to test my blood sugar and cool down accordingly.

Season so far:

I am really happy with the last two weeks. You know the first two weeks were okay I I’ve had what I feel are three really good races in a row now and I’m hoping the momentum just keeps going

Training changes:

[I am] more relaxed.  I’ve been using the first beat technology from Galanes Sport Systems and that has helped me monitor how tired I am and when to recover. As a training tool it has been really valuable. It tells me when to back off and when to go harder.

Kris Freeman winning

Kris Freeman winning, again (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus)

Freeman and Brian Gregg were traveling together for the NorAm races, and had both announced a goal to win the 30 km race.  Gregg’s parents live in Methow Valley, and took advantage of the much shorter drive when the venue changed.

Family:

It was really fun to have the whole family here today, or most of the family.  I’ve got, my brother and sister drove up late last night, with the [venue] change, they’re coming from Seattle, originally they were going to come up and watch the race in Whistler.  And my mom and dad, they were doing splits, and it worked out really well.

Kris [Freeman] and I planned on just doing the 30k, we’ve been travelling together for the NorAm circuit, so it’s kind of fun to go 1-2 today.

Distance:

I thought it was pretty good.  The first lap was pretty hot, started relatively quickly to see how things were feeling.  I’ve had a little bit of a chest, like the beggings of a cold.  I kind of wanted to see, what’s that like, if I pushed that.  Top of the course, I was fifteen [seconds] up on Kris, he only started 30 seconds ahead of me.  I kind of pushed it, to try to catch him, but it was a little hot.  He brought all that back and more on the second lap, and then settled in and just skied my own race.

Season so far:

It’s been a good start.  It’s been pretty consistent. I was hoping to have a win by now.  I’ve had two seconds in skate races.  It’s a good start.

Season goals:

My goal is to get to world champs, and I’d like to do the individual start 15 skate.  We’ll see how that goes.  I was pretty far back from Bird, he had a pretty good gap today so that’s not going to be good for points, for qualifying for that.  Next focus is to really do well at [US] Nationals, it will be important to [making] that team.

Being an Olympian:

That has been a huge goal of mine for such a long time, so that was fantastic to have that work out.  This year, things have been a little bit busier, all the things I put on the back burner, so I had a pretty busy spring, taking care of some obligations and some things I said I would do, but hadn’t quite done in the last four years.  Yeah, really encouraging and I am looking forward to the next Olympics in Pyongchang.

There was a really fun race here in Silver Star, the race that helped put me on the Olympic team and so it’s nice to be racing here in Silverstar [again].  Yeah, and a little bit nicer weather. [Last year, Gregg won on a -19 Celsius day that only the photographers liked.]

Gregg Family

The Gregg family. The twin in the center is Brian.

Michael Somppi (AWCA/Lappe)

Distance:

It was good I started out pretty strong trying to catch Graham Nishikawa in front of me and kind of planned once I caught him to work with him for a while. And then Kris freeman kind of upset that plan when he came through, [but] I knew I had to fight and stay with him as long as I could. After a while with [Freeman] he was one skating really strong so I had to regroup and fight out the last two laps on my own.

How long did you ski with Kris?

About a lap, a full lap, so 5k

Season so far:

My season is going alright; sprinting I’m having a little trouble with right now, I didn’t have the best luck yesterday and not having the snap yet really for sprinting but distance skiing is really coming around and it was a really good effort today.

Sprint:

Yeah, well with the new snow yesterday morning it made everyone ski in one track really cause that was the fast track, it got skied in and it was really tough to pass. If you went in the track that wasn’t skied in it was just no chance, it was way slower. I had a tough start in my quarter final heat, I was stuck in third and I couldn’t make a move so I tried to make a move in the finish and I accidently went into a un skied-in lane and I got kind of stuck in the finish. Yeah it was a tough day, you don’t usually see in a men’s final everyone coming in in one lane but that’s what it was yesterday, you had to have a good start and stay in front

Season goals:

I think I’m on track with my distance performance.  I’d like to have some better sprint performances to help my NorAm rankings. But distance is really where my goals are, performing on the internationals level, and I think my distance from is coming on well and I am looking forward to the races in January.

Michael Somppi

Michael Somppi was fastest Canadian in third. (Photo: Frances Weeks)

Knute Johnsgaard (Yukon Elite Squad)

How big is your squad this year?

It’s just Colin [Abbott] and I. And we are here with the Yukon Ski Team though, so there are six of us together at these last two NorAms.

Distance:

My race was nothing special, a little improvement on last weekend; I’ve had some really bad luck this week. I’ve broken poles, skied almost a full lap in Rossland with one pole, broke a basket, fell twice, and then  [Friday] I had a pretty disappointing incident where I got cut off really bad twice in the sprint heats. I was pretty sure I was going on but the TD didn’t call anything so that was pretty disappointing. So I’ve had some pretty bad luck. I’m just happy to finish the race with nothing else going wrong here.

Season so far:

My fitness is really good. I am really confident in the training that I did over the summer. I am looking forward to improving my results over the next few NorAm’s because I don’t think it was anywhere close to my potential

Season goals:

My main focus will be U23 and trying to improve on my results there from last year and hopefully make it onto a B tour. And maybe make it back in time for Canada Games.

Colin Abbott (Yukon Elite Squad)

On his retirement:

That was a myth, I’ve headed back to school full time at Carleton University and finishing up my degree program there in Environmental science by the end of this year. It seemed like the right time to do it. I’m not a U23 anymore so it was a good opportunity to continue skiing at a high level while getting a degree done so I’m pretty happy with it so far.

Distance:

It was tough, really tough. This was the first 30k individual start I’ve ever done and there was no part of it that was easy. I came from close to sea level a couple days ago so the altitude was really hard. I wasn’t really able to pick it up when the fast guys caught me so that meant it was a lot of lonely skiing out there.

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Gregg Nabs Top Spot in Nationals 10 k; APU Places Three in Top-5

Caitlin Gregg (l) of Team Gregg/Madshus leads Rosie Brennan (r) of APU. Gregg ultimately finished first while Brennan ended her day in third.

Caitlin Gregg (l) of Team Gregg/Madshus leads Rosie Brennan (r) of APU. Gregg ultimately finished first while Brennan ended her day in third.

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) outlasted blowing wind, chilling temperatures, and strong competition to win Sunday’s 10 k freestyle at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships. After spending the fall in Europe on the World Cup circuit, Gregg returned to domestic racing and held her own against a strong Alaska Pacific University women’s team including Chelsea Holmes and Rosie Brennan.

With a time of 30:31.5 Gregg finished 12.1 seconds ahead of Holmes, who also placed second to Gregg in 2014 at the U.S. nationals 30 k mass start in Soldier Hollow. In third place was Brennan (+12.7). Brennan broke a pole in the first kilometers of the race and skied the first 4 k with a mismatched pole until coach Erik Flora gave her a new one. Gregg who started two places behind her, eventually caught Brennan and the two skied together through the mid-section of the race. While Brennan was able to pull away from Gregg in the final laps, she was unable overcome the deficit.

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) and Jessica Yeaton (APU) finished fourth and fifth.

Racing continues Tuesday with the re-schueduled 1.5 k classic sprint.

Results

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