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Wild Rumpus Sports

Fairbanks Skiers Lead Way on Home Turf in Final Besh Cup Weekend


From left, Logan Mowry, Logan Hanneman, and Ari Endestad made up the overall podium for the Besh Cup men’s classic sprint in Fairbanks, Alaska, in February 2019. (photo: Logan Mowry Instagram)

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Just how cold was it for Saturday morning’s classic sprint qualifiers at Besh Cup 5, the penultimate race of the six-race qualifying series for Team Alaska?

It was so cold that race organizers created a WhatsApp group to keep coaches and racers apprised of potential schedule changes from the race jury if things warmed up too slowly and race starts had to be delayed. It was so cold and the snow was so slow that Fairbanks local Kendall Kramer, recently fourth in the world in a World Juniors classic race, took nearly five minutes to cover a 1.6-kilometer sprint course – and qualified second. It was so cold that racers were throwing up from the shock of sprint pace efforts in these temperatures. It was so cold that the next day it was 4 above and snowing, and everyone was happy that the fresh snow had made things so much faster. It was pretty cold.

But cold in Fairbanks in February is unremarkable, and so are Fairbanks racers winning in Fairbanks. At the end of a long, trying, and, yes, cold day of sprint racing Saturday afternoon, the overall men’s podium was a clean sweep for the Golden Heart City: Fairbanks native and former University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) skier Logan Hanneman in first, current UAF skier Logan Mowry in second, and current Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks FXC skier Ari Endestad in third.

Ruari O’Brien-Holen (APU) climbs a hill in the Besh Cup classic sprint in Fairbanks, Alaska, in February 2019. (photo: Davin Holen Instagram)

For the women, Kramer of FXC took the overall win in the final, followed by University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) skier Hannah Rudd. Kramer’s FXC teammate Victoria Bassette was third to give Fairbanks skiers five out of six overall podium spots.

The day began with good news: the famed Birch Hill inversion (a meteorological phenomenon in which Birch Hill, elevation ca. 900 feet, is substantially warmer than low-lying parts of Fairbanks just a few miles away) was in full effect.

“The red thermometer on the ski center building says -1 F,” wrote race organizers in a cheery update at 8:16 a.m. Saturday morning. “So, barring a rapid drop in temperature, it seems likely that we will be able to have a race today. You might as well head up to Birch Hill if you haven’t done so already. Looks like there is more of an inversion than was forecast.”

The racers came, the temperature didn’t drop too much, and at 11 a.m. sprint qualifying began, on a 1.6 km course for U16+ racers and a 1.2 km course for U14 racers.

After 51 women had made their way through the Kikkan Randall-approved Birch Hill sprint course, UAF skier Kati Roivas of Finland had set the day’s fastest time, 4:39.54, with Kramer second. (Roivas did not race in the heats.) There was a gap of over a minute to 30th, where Hannah Cryder qualified after a brutal 5:43.19 of L4 effort. For a sprint qualifier. As discussed, it was cold and slow.

In the men’s field, 2018 Olympian Logan Hanneman paced the field of 68 U16+ racers with a 3:49.11. Karl Danielson was second, over 11 seconds back. 48.97 seconds back of Hanneman, Bradley Walters rounded out the top 30 with a 4:38.08. Hanneman’s time was over twice as slow as the best qualifying time for the previous Besh Cup sprint, 1:44.47, held on an easier, shorter, and faster course two weeks earlier.

On the shorter 1.2 km course covered by U14 racers, Sammy Legate posted her second dominant qualifying performance in as many weekends, clocking a 3:52.70 to claim the fastest U14 girls time by nearly 14 seconds. Legate’s time would have placed her eighth among U14 boys, where Murphy Kimball set the fastest qualifying mark of 3:33.51.

Left to right: Logan Hanneman (Alaska Pacific University) ahead of Canadian Evan Palmer-Charrette (NTDC Thunder Bay) during the men’s 1.6-kilometer freestyle sprint final on Wednesday at the 2017 SuperTour Finals in Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo: Max Kaufman)

In the heats, Hanneman took the win on roughly the same course on which he captured his first ever national title, the skate sprint championship at 2017 Spring Series. No times were available for the heats or final, and this reporter was only on site for Sunday’s races and so does not have first-person observations of Saturday’s finishes. But Hanneman won, with Mowry and Endestad second and third. Karl Danielson, Kai Meyers, and Samuel Delamere took places fourth through sixth in the men’s final.

The top Senior skiers were Hanneman and Mowry, then Brandon Herhusky in eighth overall (second in the B-Final). Top U20 skiers were places three through five in the A-Final: Endestad, Danielson, and Meyers. Top U18 skiers were Delamere, sixth in the A-Final, then Dale Baurick and George Cvancara, first and third in the B-Final.

Two U16 skiers made it into the overall heats: Josh Baurick, who ended the day in 24th overall, and Aaron Maves (28th). The third U16 skier was Konrad Renner, who after missing out on overall qualifying won the U16 bracket “bonus final” to place 31st overall.

For the women, Kramer led the way in an A-Final that featured two U16 and two U18 athletes alongside two Senior women. Kramer took the win, followed by UAA skier Hannah Rudd in second and U16 skier Victoria Bassette in third. Garviey Tobin (U18), UAF skier Sage Robine (Senior), and Meredith Schwartz (U16) also made the A-Final.

Kramer and Tobin led the way for the U18 podium. They were followed by Annie Gonzales, who was second in the B-Final for eighth overall. The U16 podium was Bassette, Schwartz, and Quincy Donley, who won the B-Final to claim eighth overall.

The Senior women’s podium was Rudd and Robine from the A-Final, then Roivas, who did not contest the heats after posting the fastest time in qualifying.

Distance freestyle races

Sunday morning brought an unusual combination for much of the country: 4 above and snowing. For Fairbanks, though, this was hardly noteworthy.

Winner Kati Roivas (UAF) approaches the finish line in the Besh Cup 10 k women’s skate in Fairbanks, Alaska, in February 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

“I would say it’s nothing new,” said Roivas to FasterSkier when asked if she often experienced fresh snowfall at 4° F.

She added that snow conditions on Sunday were, “Slow. It’s very slow.”

The snow may have been slow (narrator: it was), but Roivas was faster than anyone else on Sunday, opening up a lead in the U18+ 10-kilometer freestyle mass start by the end of the first gradual climb out of the stadium, and never looking back. She kept her lead through two laps of the 5 k course, covering two A Climbs and three B Climbs per lap to finish in 31:52.7, taking first in the field of 22 athletes by over a minute.

The race was “tough,” said the UAF senior. “I had had a little break from racing; I raced, I think, three weekends ago in Montana, a college race. So it was a bit of a mystery how it was going to go. But it was good.”

Roivas was staying in Fairbanks while most of the UAF men’s team, and roughly half the UAF women’s team, competed in RMISA races in New Mexico.

Behind her, APU teammates Aubrey LeClair, Garviey Tobin, and Ivy Eski made up a three-woman chase pack for virtually the entire race. It was Tobin in the lead coming up the final uphill, but LeClair pulled ahead of her by the time the three racers made their way up the final climb on the Warm-Up Loop and across an excruciating final straightaway to the finish line. (Later in the day, a U12 racer won a flat-ground sprint here in V1 technique, after his competitors’ V2 power had been sapped by the preceding climbs.)

LeClair similarly found the race “Tough,” she told FasterSkier soon after finishing 1:16.6 back of Roivas.

“But it was good,” she continued. “It was fun. I got to ski with my teammates, and that’s always fun when you get to push each other. I’d say it was a pretty good race, even though I didn’t feel super great. But I’m happy with it.”

Aubrey LeClair (right) leads Garviey Tobin, both of APU, down the finishing stretch in the Besh Cup 10 k women’s skate in Fairbanks, Alaska, in February 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

LeClair noted that she had sat out Saturday’s sprints, to avoid worsening a cold by breathing in the frigid air.

While the winner found the race “tough,” and the second-place finisher found the race “tough,” Tobin, who finished third, 1.6 seconds behind LeClair and 7.1 seconds ahead of Eski, by contrast found the race “really hard.” Her legs were “super tired from the sprint yesterday,” she told FasterSkier at the finish, “so it was a grind.”

Tobin described the snow as “slow.”

Behind Tobin in third overall, the rest of the U18 girls podium was Eski in fourth overall, then Annika Hanestad (sixth). The U20 women’s podium was LeClair (second overall), Emma Jerome (11th), and Ellie Mitchell (12th).

The Senior women’s podium was all collegiate skiers: UAF’s Roivas in first, Hannah Rudd of UAA (fifth overall) in second, and Sage Robine of UAF 15th overall) in third. The top Masters woman was M4 racer Alison Arians, in seventh overall.

25 U16 girls raced a 5 k mass start, over a single lap of the same 5 k course. The leaders featured several familiar podium finishers: Quincy Donley in first, Victoria Bassette (+22.4) in second, and Meredith Schwartz (+41.0) in third. All three athletes recorded five U16 girls podium finishes in six Besh Cup races this season.

And 13 U14 girls raced a 3 k mass start. Here Sammy Legate took her fourth victory and sixth podium of the season in 11:00.8, while Heidi Schumacher (+0.6) was narrowly behind in her fourth runner-up finish and sixth podium of the season. Zarah Laker-Morris (+23.4) was third.

Abigail Robinson (AWS) climbs a hill in the Besh Cup U16 girls 5 k skate in Fairbanks, Alaska, in February 2019. Alaska Winter Stars coach Jan Buron is at right. (photo: Juli Robinson Instagram /

The U18 and up men’s race played out similarly to the women’s 10 k: Gus Schumacher notched a wire-to-wire victory while a fight for second played out behind him. Schumacher won the 10 k mass start, held on the same two-lap course as the women’s race, in 26:33.0. Mowry and Endestad reprised their podium finishes from Saturday, taking second (+1:25.5) and third (+1:31.0) once more.

Schumacher’s last race was also a victory, if perhaps a higher-profile one: He anchored the U20 men’s world champion relay team at World Juniors in Lahti in late January, pulling away from Alexander Terentev up the final hill to secure an American victory over Russia by 3.8 seconds.

Schumacher’s margin of victory, nearly 90 seconds, was somewhat greater this weekend in Fairbanks. Nonetheless, the U20 racer found what he was looking for in Besh Cup competition.

“[I was looking] mostly just to get another race under my belt, keep that race fitness a little bit,” Schumacher wrote to FasterSkier. “Also it’s always fun to race in Alaska so I try to take advantage of those opportunities these days.”

Schumacher is undefeated in Alaska races this season, with victories in three Besh Cup Races in Fairbanks and Palmer, two Alaska Nordic Cup races in Fairbanks, and the Race to the Outhouse #1 at Hatcher Pass.

Kai Meyers, who was fourth overall, 15.9 seconds out of third, made up the rest of the U20 podium behind Schumacher and Endestad. Mowry (second overall) led the Senior men’s podium, followed by Julien Bordes (eighth) and Brandon Herhusky (16th). The top Master was Alaska Nordic Racing coach Cody Priest, who started in bib no. 36 in the seeded mass start but quickly moved up to finish seventh overall.

A field of 21 U16 boys raced a single lap of the same 5 k course. Aaron Maves took the victory here in 14:43.6, giving him a tidy six podiums in six Besh Cup races this season. He was followed by Josh Baurick (+8.6, four U16 podiums this season) in second and Eli Merrill (+21.8, two U16 podiums this season) in third.

Finally, U14 boys raced a 3 k mass start. Skyler Amy was one of two boys to break 10 minutes on the hilly course, finishing in 9:54.5. Elias Engman, in 9:59.3 (+4.8), was the other. Murphy Kimball (+10.6) was third.

Team Alaska

Sunday’s race marked the end of a successful, if logistically trying, Besh Cup qualification series. Cross Country Alaska organizers normally meet three times per winter to coordinate the three race weekends; this season’s races required eight meetings. In the end, however, the Mat-Su Ski Club, Tsalteshi Trails Association, and Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks provided six high-quality races, two sprints and four distance races, to Alaskan skiers. Two of them were FIS races. All of them were NRL (National Ranking List) races. None of them was easy.

Kendall Kramer on her way to fourth place in the U20 15 k classic mass start at World Juniors in Lahti, Finland. (Photo: Doug Stephen)

After six races and several hundred miles’ worth of travel, the following athletes were selected to represent Team Alaska at this year’s Junior Nationals in Anchorage:

U16 girls: Quincy Donley, Victoria Bassette, Meredith Schwartz, Katey Houser, Marit Flora, Neena Brubaker, Maria Nedom, Abigail Haas, and Hannah Delamere

U18 girls: Garviey Tobin, Annie Gonzales, Annika Hanestad, Ivy Eski, Maggie Druckenmiller, Tjarn Bross, Maggie Whitaker, Tatum Witter, Morgan Coniglio, Emily Walsh, Claire Nelson, and Hannah Cryder

U20 women: Aubrey LeClair, Emma Jerome, Ellie Mitchell, and Adeline Wright

U16 boys: Josh Baurick, Aaron Maves, Konrad Renner, Eli Merrill, Kai Caldwell, Porter Blei, Aaron Power, Carter Brubaker, and Noah Rehberg

U18 boys: Eli Hermanson, Everett Cason, Joel Power, Samuel Delamere, Dale Baurick, George Cvancara, Max Beiergrohslein, Jonathan Burrell, and Eric Difolco

U20 men: Ari Endestad, Karl Danielson, Kai Meyers, Josiah Alverts, Miles Dennis, and Micah Barber

Additionally, Kendall Kramer, Jenna Difolco, Adrianna Proffitt, Molly Gellert, Helen Wilson, Maja Lapkass, and Anja Maijala, for U18/U20 girls, and Gus Schumacher, Luke Jager, Ti Donaldson, Zanden McMullen, JC Schoonmaker, Maxime Germain, Michael Earnhart, and Alexander Maurer, for U18/U20 boys, qualified on the basis of their performances outside of the Besh Cup series, and are also eligible to race for Team Alaska next month.

Junior Nationals begin March 9 in Anchorage. The 2019/2020 Besh Cup series begins again in December, when skiers and their parents will once more make their way through the Girdwood Tesoro, the Turner’s Corner ice cream stand, the oversize baggage claim area of the Fairbanks airport, and other athletic stations of the cross.

— Gavin Kentch

Results and media: Classic sprint (qualifiers) | Classic sprint (heats) | Distance skate | Team Alaska points list | Podium photos

Marion Woods Takes Both Races in Peninsula Besh Cup Weekend

Victoria Bassette (left) leads Marion Woods (right) in a semifinal race at Besh Cup #3, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

SOLDOTNA, Alaska — The most famous names and lowest FIS points were gone from the results sheet for the season’s second Besh Cup weekend of Junior Nationals qualifying races, as Hailey Swirbul, Gus Schumacher, Luke Jager, Kendall Kramer, et al., were busy representing America while racing in Europe. In their stead another representation of America, a dozen bald eagles, watched over Saturday’s freestyle sprints and Sunday’s distance classic races from their perch in the trees overlooking the stadium behind Skyview Middle School on the Kenai Peninsula.

America’s top U23 and U20 skiers are presumably enjoying a healthy diet while in Lahti for World Juniors. The convocation of eagles, by contrast, owes its presence to the stadium’s proximity to the Central Peninsula Landfill just down the road.

Skate sprints

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold. It was FIS-legal, but only barely. Racers streamed into the middle school for bibs and bathrooms, then out onto the course well in advance of the 9:45 a.m. sunrise. If you have a stereotypical but justified image of coaches testing wax by headlamp in the pre-dawn cold, this morning delivered.

A field of U16+ men had bibs no. 1–88 and the morning’s first qualifying starts. A short-notice 10-minute hold ensued before bib no. 1 made it on course, as timing equipment malfunctioned in the cold. Racers began at around 10:10 a.m. Within minutes, however (approximately after bib no. 15 had started and while bib no. 16 was standing in line about to go out), another hold was imposed for additional timing troubleshooting, while racers already in the start line shivered in their Soldotna High blankets provided by race organizers, and racers not already in the start line shivered in their warmups. Qualifying eventually resumed, at 15-second intervals, with a manual start protocol featuring an old-school, hand-on-the-shoulder, don’t-leave-until-I-say-go approach.

The sprint course was short and sweet, which also meant that it was a brutal hammerfest: A few hundred meters flat out of the start, up a hill, down a hill, another hundred meters flat around a sweeping lefthand turn, then up and down another hill to the finish, potentially with enough speed to freeskate to the line.

Ari Endestad (bib no. 8) leads Miles Dennis (3) and Julien Bordes (2) in a semifinal race at Besh Cup #3, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

The course was 1 kilometer long, and skied fast in the cold and firm conditions. The morning’s 31st-place qualifier, Joseph Walling, failed to make the heats despite clocking a healthy 1:57.64 for 1km, and so skiing at more than 30km per hour. (Walling can perhaps take some solace in the fact that in the morning’s World Cup sprint race in Otepää, Estonia, Johannes Høsflot Klæbo skied his qualifier at 28.5km per hour (3:22 for 1.6km), albeit on classic skis on a World Cup sprint course.)

After roughly 88 U16+ men had put their best V2 and jumpskate to the test, it was Patrick Marbacher who posted the day’s best qualifying time of 1:44.47. There was a gap of precisely 13 seconds to 30th place, where Jordan Laker-Morris clocked a 1:57.47 to take the last qualifying spot.

The men were followed by the U16 and up women. 67 athletes later, Victoria Bassette had notched the fastest qualifying time of 2:05.15. The women’s field was not quite as tight as the men’s; there was a gap of 20.21 seconds between her and 30th-place qualifier Zoe Chang (2:25.36).

There were few surprises en route to the finals, which were held around 2 p.m. in mercifully warmer temperatures as the sun shone on the entirety of the spectator-friendly course.

The men’s final featured Marbacher (bib no. 1 for fastest qualifying time), Julien Bordes (bib no. 2), Miles Dennis (bib no. 3), Karl Danielson (bib no. 4), Eli Hermanson (bib no. 6), and Ari Endestad (bib no. 8). In the end, the biggest surprise may have been the relative ease with which Endestad skied away from the field, benefitting from some unfortunate positioning behind him to open up a gap going up the second hill. He pressed hard over the top and kept his lead to the finish seconds later, slowing up slightly to look around and celebrate before crossing the line with his first-ever Besh Cup victory.

“I went out hard at the beginning and settled into the pace,” Endestad told FasterSkier after the race. “I was really just hanging on, and then around the big corner there, people started going out wide, and I saw my line on the inside and said, ‘This is my chance.’ So I took the lead, and when I got to the hill, I just tried to go as fast as I could. When I pushed over the top, going back down, I was expecting people to be right on my tail, but they weren’t – I think the adrenaline from going up the hill made me go faster than I thought I was.”

Endestad explained that his finish-line celebration had been spontaneous, not planned.

I thought I was going to be racing to the line,” he said. “So when I looked back and saw people a ways behind me, I know how fast this downhill is, so I just stood up. I try not to be too showy, but when you’re that far ahead, you have time to do something.”

Jim Galanes (l) and Audun Endestad racing in Lake Placid in the 1980s. Courtesy photo.

Ari Endestad’s last name may be familiar to longtime fans of the sport: His father, Audun, placed 18th in the 50 k at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and won thirteen national titles, reaching the U.S. nationals podium in 1993, days before his fortieth birthday.

On the continuum from Marv Marinovich to laidback sports dad, Ari reports, his father is decidedly the latter.

“He’s been really hands-off,” Ari said. “He really waited for me to get into it. And maybe that’s why it’s taken me a little bit to get better; I know a lot of dads start to push their kids when they’re younger. But he’s not too hard on me; he’s a really chillaxed guy, he likes hunting and guiding and being outside. But once he saw I was into it, he took the opportunity to help me.”

Behind Endestad in second, Bordes explained the slowdown that left him unable to contest the finishing sprint.

“It wasn’t ideal,” Bordes said of how his race developed going up the second hill. “The guy in front of me on the final hill just slowed down quite a bit, and first took off, so there’s nothing to do about that. So I got the guy in the final stretch to finish second.”

Bordes explained that the secret to skiing the course well, in his opinion, was “The three extra pushes over the hill. That was magic. Both times. It doesn’t really matter how fast you ski on it, just so long as you’re with them, but those three extra pushes over the top, into the downhill, really changes everything. That’s what took me from third to second.”

Bordes, 21, had set as a season goal qualifying for and racing in U23 Championships, “which happen in two days,” he said on Saturday afternoon, “so I didn’t make that goal. I came here as a wax tech [for APU]; I did tons of skis, and then I hopped in the race today.”

Marion Woods (far right) leads a four-way sprint to the line over Quincy Donley (far left) and Victoria Bassette (upright in middle) in the sprint final at Besh Cup #3, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

The women’s final, held moments later, featured one of the closest finishes of the day. Marion Woods moved up from second midway through the final to come into the lead by the top of the last uphill. She kept that position as she led the first four racers to the line, staying low and employing a powerful free skate all the way to the finish to come in less than a ski length ahead of Alaska Winter Stars teammate Quincy Donley. Victoria Bassette was roughly half a ski length behind Donley for third, with Annie Gonzales about a ski length behind her in fourth. Garviey Tobin and Annika Hanestad crossed the finish line in fifth and sixth a few seconds later.

(Finishing times were not available for any of Saturday’s heats or finals. These narratives are based on this reporter’s first-hand observations; estimates of finishing gaps are based on pictures taken from the finishing area.)

The women’s final was similarly top-heavy, with five of the day’s six fastest qualifiers represented. The only absence was the day’s second-fastest qualifier, Aubrey LeClair, who placed fourth in her semifinal to miss out on the A-Final, then took the B-Final with relative ease.

The women’s winner, Woods, is a 2017 graduate of the University of Vermont, where she raced on the ski team. Along with Gus Schumacher, she makes up the entirety of what Schumacher recently termed the Alaska Winter Stars Elite Team, as two of the only post-high school skiers in the program.

I hope I’m doing Gus proud out here, holding it down in Alaska,” Woods said, speaking with FasterSkier on Saturday afternoon, roughly 12 hours before Schumacher placed 16th in the classic sprint at World Juniors. The Winter Stars Elite Team had a strong weekend.

Woods, 23, is currently in her tenth year of racing Besh Cups, and this weekend marked at least her fourth time racing on the Tsalteshi trails at Skyview Middle School. She brought that experience to bear when asked about her approach to the sprint course.

From left, Patrick Marbacher (3rd), Ari Endestad (1st), and Julien Bordes (2nd) made up the top three overall of the boys sprint final at Besh Cup #3, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)


“This course is so quick,” Woods said, “and being back with – I mean, there’s a whole group of just super fast juniors. And coming back as a Senior, I tried to just hang with them, knowing that in the last downhill there’s some room to try and get around. I know also on both of the uphills there’s some tactical spots where you can try to get around, but I realized in the first few heats it’s not super-plausible. So a lot of this course depends on the downhill. And as a nordic skier that’s always – maybe I can speak for the majority here – not our favorite. Although I’m really a big fan of downhills, so it was a fun course today.”

Woods spent her first year post-college living in Denver, “working in the city, not being an athlete at all.” But she returned to Anchorage late last summer, and turned her attention to biathlon. “So I’m training with Alaska Winter Stars, and also Anchorage Biathlon Club,” she said. “But when it comes to Besh Cups – I grew up doing Besh Cups, and they’re just such a great series. So I’m here without a rifle, just getting some races under my belt.”

While Woods aged out of juniors racing three years ago with six Junior Nationals titles to her name, Donley, 15, earned “only” one silver, in the relay, at last year’s Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow, her first ever. (Possibly relevant, last spring she was a 14-year-old competing in the U16 division, against both 14- and 15-year-olds.)

Donley has higher hopes for this year’s JNs, to be held on her home course at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. “My goal is to make it to Junior Nationals, and hopefully get a podium there,” she told FasterSkier at the finish.

Donley said that she had “an interesting start” in the final, but “was able to make it up a little bit, and then skate my way to the finish” to take second overall.

As the Anchorage Daily News headlined its coverage of the weekend, “Marion Woods sweeps Besh Cup races on Tsalteshi Trails, but young skiers shine too.” Indeed, Donley said that she wasn’t even the youngest skier in the final, pointing instead to Victoria Bassette of Fairbanks.

“It’s definitely an indication of greatness to come,” Donley said, only sort of tongue-in-cheek, when asked what her and Bassette’s presence in the final meant for the next couple years of Alaskan junior girls skiing. “There’s lots of up-and-coming fast skiers that I’ve noticed. And I used to be one of the youngest skiers, on the younger end, but now I’m seeing a lot of girls who are even younger than I am, and they’re super fast, which is awesome. It’s great to have some competition.

Woods topped the overall podium on Saturday, but also the Senior podium, as the only Senior or Master woman in the field.

The U20 women’s podium was Aubrey LeClair (7th overall), Ellie Mitchell (10th), and Emma Jerome (17th). The U18 girls podium was spots fourth through sixth in the A-Final: APU teammates Gonzales, Tobin, and Hanestad. The top three U16 skiers were Donley and Bassette, second and third in the A-Final, and then Meredith Schwartz, third in the B-Final for ninth overall on the day.

A separate semifinal, B-Final, and A-Final were held for U14 girls. At the end of the day (literally so; the last race was held nearly six hours after qualifying began), the top three here were Sammy Legate, Heidi Schumacher, and Berit Meyers, in a reprise of the morning’s three fastest qualifying times. (Legate had clocked a healthy 2:16.25 for 1km in qualifying, which was the fastest U14 girls time by over 15 seconds. It also would have been the fastest U14 boys time, by over 2 seconds, and would have qualified Legate in 14th overall had she been eligible to race against the U16+ field.)

Bald eagles overlooking the course. (photo: screenshot from Adam Loomis Instagram)

The men’s field saw less of a youth movement, as only two U16 boys cracked the top 30 to qualify for the main heats. (Separate semifinal and finals races were held for the 12 fastest U16 boys outside the top 30.) Making the top 30 were Kai Caldwell, 25th overall, and Aaron Maves, 27th overall. Konrad Renner, winner of the U16 A-Final for 31st overall on the day, rounded out the U16 boys podium.

The U20 men podium was all drawn from the A-Final: Endestad (1st overall), Marbacher (3rd), and Dennis (5th). The U18 boys podium was Hermanson (4th overall), Samuel Delamere (8th), and Everett Cason (12th).

Of the five Senior men in the field, two of them made the heats. One of them, Bordes, reached the A-Final, where he finished second overall. The other was former Nordic Combined World Cup skier Adam Loomis, who now coaches jumping in Anchorage after retiring from NoCo. Racing in his first-ever sprint, Loomis qualified in 23rd, then finished fourth in his quarterfinal en route to 18th overall. Matthew Muffoletto (45th) rounded out the Senior men’s podium.

Finally, in the U14 boys bracket, Skyler Amy, Paul Hlasny, and Murphy Kimball led the way.

Distance classic races

The next morning was even colder. When Kyle Foster led a field of four U10 boys out of the stadium in the day’s first race at 11:02:30 a.m., temperatures were probably not yet FIS-legal (the cutoff for which is -4 F). But these were not FIS races, and it really did feel warmer in the sun, and the day went off as planned. All distance races were run as interval starts, making for three interval-start distance races out of the first four Besh Cups following December’s shift to Government Peak Recreation Area, which features wide competition trails but a narrow stadium.

A combined field of 78 women racers, age U14 and up, did one lap of a 5 k course. The 5 k course began with a sharp climb out of the stadium, then covered primarily doublepole-able, undulating terrain for another 2-3 kilometers before ascending a series of steep hills. A long, gradual uphill marked some of the final few hundred meters before dropping down to the finish, and a last chance to engage in a prolonged doublepole on tired muscles in front of all your coaches.

Not quite FIS-legal temperatures on the way to the race venue Sunday morning, Besh Cup #4, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

As on Saturday, there was one Senior woman in the field: Marion Woods. And as on Saturday, Woods set the pace, taking the win in 14:34.70. Second overall was Aubrey LeClair, 10.96 seconds back. Third overall was Annika Hanestad (+16.96).

The Senior women podium was, as noted, Woods, and that’s it. The U20 podium was precisely the same as in Saturday’s sprint: LeClair (2nd overall), Mitchell (12th), and Jerome (15th). The U18 podium also saw the same three athletes as on Saturday but this time in a different order: Hanestad (3rd), Tobin (4th), and Gonzales (7th).

For the U16 girls, similarly, Donley (5th), Bassette (6th), and Schwartz (9th) showed their range, finishing in precisely the same order as in the sprint.

There was one new name for the U14 girls podium: Schumacher (32nd overall) was first and Legate (36th) was second, but Piper Sears (48th) moved up to third in Sunday’s race.

A field of 49 U14 and U16 boys raced the same 5 k course as the girls, with U16 boys taking the top 17 spots. First overall here was Josh Baurick, who finished in 13:29.08 on the firm and fast course. He was followed by Aaron Maves (+10.93) and Porter Blei (+18.53).

18th overall, and first among U14 boys, was Murphy Kimball. He was followed by Skyler Amy in 19th overall. Third place for U14 boys went to Aven Elsberg, who was 25th overall.

Finally, 55 men and boys, aged U18 and up, raced a 10 k classic interval start. It was a single-lap 10-kilometer course, a rarity in this day and age. The course had two sharp climbs within the first kilometer, but was otherwise doublepole-heavy, undulating terrain through approximately the 5 k or 6 k mark. The hills that followed were not objectively all that demanding, but the transition from 15 minutes of mostly doublepole to steep striding can be an awkward one; many racers with low start numbers were walking up the final uphills.

Victoria Bassette (bib 101) leads Marion Woods (104) in a girls semifinal race at Besh Cup #3, Soldotna, Alaska, in January 2019. (photo: Gavin Kentch)

Eli Hermanson presumably did scant walking in taking the overall win, covering 10 k in 27:33.31. He was followed by Alexander Maurer (+9.91) in second, just 0.21 seconds ahead of Karl Danielson (+10.12) in third.

After the race, Hermanson told local paper the Peninsula Clarion that he had been off his skis for a month following a late-November fall in icy conditions, and was pleased to be starting to return to form after a subpar performance at U.S. nationals earlier this month.

The U18 podium was Hermanson, Maurer, and Joel Power, who was fourth overall, 6.32 seconds off the overall podium. The top three U20 skiers were Danielson, then Saturday’s winner, Endestad (5th overall), and Kai Meyers (9th overall). There were only four Senior men in the field, led by Bordes in 7th overall, followed by Loomis (29th overall) and Muffoletto (44th).

Up next

As the final racers crossed the finish line, volunteers began taking down the course, and coaches began packing up waxing equipment. A field of racers that predominantly hailed from out of town began the trek back to the Anchorage area (3 hours driving), Fairbanks (9 hours driving, or two flights), or Juneau (flights; you cannot drive to Alaska’s capital city).

But first came a stop at Alaska’s great contribution to world cuisine, the drive-through coffee shack. (The Guardian once called “the coffee carts here” as “common as roadside moose, each with its unique brand: The Sugar Shack, Java the Hut, Fred’s Bail Bonding and Coffee Cabana.”)

“Was there a ski race or something?” said the barista at Java Junction Too, the first coffee shack encountered by an Anchorage-bound racer heading east on the Sterling Highway away from the race venue.

There had been, a reporter informed her.

“I thought so,” she said. “I’ve been getting a lot of cold, hungry customers.”

The final weekend of Besh Cup racing will be held in Fairbanks on February 2-3. The members of Team Alaska will be announced on February 3 after Besh Cup #6. Junior Nationals are in Anchorage from March 9-17.

— Gavin Kentch

Results and media: Sprints (overall) | Sprints (qualifying and heats) | Classic distance races | Current Team Alaska points list | Podium photos (coming soon)

Donley Beats the Boys in Besh Cup Weekend in Soldotna, Alaska

Elizabeth Mans (101) leads a pack up the hill in the skate sprint in Besh Cup #3 in Soldotna, Alaska, Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo: Ariana O'Harra)

Elizabeth Mans (101) leads a pack up the hill in the skate sprint in Besh Cup #3 on Jan. 21 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo: Ariana O’Harra)

Three racers were double winners on the weekend, while a field of slightly more than 200 skiers enjoyed ideal conditions for two days of racing as the Besh Cup moved to the Tsalteshi Trails in Soldotna, Alaska, last weekend. Qualifying races began in Anchorage in December with a classic sprint and a freestyle mass start. This weekend saw a skate sprint and classic interval start races.

Conditions were unremarkable for Alaska in mid-winter: Race-time temps in the teens, light snow and sunshine. Many teams’ race wax choice for Sunday was straight Extra Blue. Easy.

But the weather was also remarkable for how much worse it could have been. That weekend it snowed 32 inches in 24 hours in Moose Pass, roughly sixty miles east of the venue. Just two days earlier, it had been –25° F in Soldotna on Thursday (and –27° F on Wednesday). Virtually the entire field presumably came in relatively fresh, following the mid-week cold snap that had sent temperatures to 20 below in Anchorage and 50 below in Fairbanks, and sent many athletes temporarily inside in both places. Racing at 12° above never felt so warm.

On Saturday, the U14 girls raced a 1.1-kilometer freestyle sprint. Quincy Donley took her first victory on the weekend, setting a qualifying time that also would have led the U14 boys over the same distance and winning the final as well. Behind her were Katey Houser and Aila Berrigan.

Jenna Difolco (c), Sadie Fox (l), and Elizabeth Mans (r) on the overall podium for the skate sprint in Besh Cup #3 in Soldotna, Alaska, Jan. 21, 2017. (photo: Cross Country Alaska)

Jenna Difolco (c), Sadie Fox (l), and Elizabeth Mans (r) on the overall podium for the skate sprint in Besh Cup #3 in Soldotna, Alaska, Jan. 21, 2017. (photo: Cross Country Alaska)

The U16 girls raced a 1.2 k skate sprint. Kaya Ratzlaff was fastest in this division, followed by Annika Hanestad and Helen Wilson. For U18 girls (also 1.2 k, racing head to head against U16 and U20), Jenna Difolco took her first victory on the weekend, followed by Elizabeth Mans and Heidi Booher.

The overall podium for U16+ was U18 racer Difolco in first, UAA skier Sadie Fox (U20) in second, and U18 Mans in third.

In the U14 boys 1.1 k skate sprint, Aaron Maves and Rowan Morse reprised their sprint podium finishes from Besh Cup #1 in Anchorage. They were followed by Konrad Renner.

The U16 boys 1.2 k sprint also saw two-thirds of a repeat podium: of George Cvancara, Eli Hermanson, and Max Beiergrohslein, Cvancara and Hermanson were second and third in last month’s classic sprint.

For U18 boys, competing head-to-head in the same 1.2 k sprint, it was Josiah Alverts, Karl Danielson, and Sam York. And the U20 men, finally, were led by Tracen Knopp, Logan Mowry, and Alex Kilby. The overall podium was Knopp, Alverts, and Mowry.

Sunday saw more of the same: Donley leading the girls and beating most of the boys as well. In the U14 girls 3-kilometer classic interval start, Donley won with a time that would have placed her third in the U14 boys race. By over a minute. Marit Flora was second and Houser was third.

The U16 girls raced a 5 k classic interval start. Kendall Kramer was first, Ratzlaff was second, and Hanestad third. It was the second podium on the weekend for both Ratzlaff and Hanestad.

For U18 girls (also 5 k classic), Difolco took her second victory on the weekend, and Booher her second podium. Emma Nelson was third.

Although there were few U20 women in the field, the overall winner in the classic race was Fox (U20), with Kramer and Ratzlaff (both U16) following.

Hunter Wonders (c), Logan Mowry (l), and Hamish Wolfe (r) on the overall podium for the 10 k classic in Besh Cup #4 in Soldotna, Alaska, Jan. 22, 2017. (photo: Cross Country Alaska)

Hunter Wonders (c), Logan Mowry (l), and Hamish Wolfe (r) on the overall podium for the 10 k classic in Besh Cup #4 in Soldotna, Alaska, Jan. 22, 2017. (photo: Cross Country Alaska)

In the U14 boys 3 k classic, Maves was the final double winner with his victory there. Morse was again second. Third was Carter Brubaker.

The U16 boys raced a 5 k classic. First was Zanden McMullen, followed by sprint podium finishers Hermanson and Cvancara.

The U18 boys and U20 men, plus a handful of senior and masters skiers, raced a 10 k classic interval start. Top U18 skiers were Tristan Wiese, Andrew Hull, and Saturday’s sprint winner Alverts. Top U20 skiers, and top three overall for all skiers U18+, were Hunter Wonders, Mowry, and Hamish Wolfe. Wonders was tuning up for the Junior World Championships to be held at Soldier Hollow next week.

Racing continues at Birch Hill in Fairbanks the first weekend of February with skate interval start and classic mass start distance races. Alaska’s team for Junior Nationals will be named on the afternoon of February 5.

Results: skate sprint | classic distance

— Gavin Kentch

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Alaska High School Championship – VIDEO

Fire and Ice: The Alaska State Nordic Ski Championships 2015 started with warm, clear weather and ended with soggy rain on the man-made snow at Kincaid Park February 19-21, 2015. Skimeisters are Max Donaldson and Lydia Blanchet with West taking girls 4A and Service the boys. Homer took small school girls while Grace repeated for boys. video credit: George Tsau-Wu. “Start a Fire” by Unbroken.


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Alaska High School Championships

By: Matthew T. Pauli

Trail conditions at Kincaid Park were challenging as the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska state meet weekend approached, February 20-22.  Co-hosted by Dimond High School and the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA), changes to the original race trail selections were made.  However, an opportune snowfall on Tuesday night prior to the first race on Thursday brightened the venue and lifted everyone’s spirits.

Day one featured freestyle interval start races with the girls going 5 km and the boys 7.5 k. The girls race had Sarissa Lammers of Chugiak High School skating to a 22 second victory over Sadie Fox of Soldotna High School, winning with a time of 14:43.0.  Anna Darnell of South Anchorage rounded out the top three, another 15 seconds behind Fox.

Max Donaldson of West Valley High School in Fairbanks picked up where he left off last year and pounded out a 15 second win over Seiji Takagi of South Anchorage.  Thomas O’Harra rounded out the podium another 28 seconds back of Takagi.  The next day’s mass start classic races would determine the 2014 high school skimeisters.  The way Lammers and Donaldson were skiing, they were going to be hard to overtake.

The boys were going 10 km and Donaldson did not disappoint.  While Jake Bassett of Service High School took the overall classic win with a dominant performance, Donaldson, finishing second, increased his skimeister lead over both Takagi and O’Harra.  Takagi finished just off the podium in fourth while O’Harra repeated his third place performance of the day prior.  In the end, Donaldson defended his skimeister crown from 2013.  Takagi was vice-skimeister and O’Harra remained in third.

Lammers carried her momentum from day one into the 7.5 km classic event on day two.  She skied the entire race in the lead pack, squeaking by with a photo finish victory over Taryn Hunt-Smith of Service High School.  Fox slipped a spot to third, a solid showing nonetheless.  Lammers was crowned 2014 skimeister with Fox second and Morgan Flynn of East High School skied consistently to a 3rd place overall result.

Another sunny day greeted racers for the Saturday mixed technique relays.  Girls would go 4 X 3 km and boys would go 4 X 5 km in classic, classic, freestyle, freestyle fashion.  The girls race was hotly contested.  In the end, Service grabbed the win over South.  The boys race looked like a runaway affair with Service taking a commanding lead on the first two classic legs.  Both West Valley and South reeled in the Service squad on the first freestyle leg, leg three.  West Valley would continue to put the hammer down and took the 2014 win.  South was runner-up and Service faded to third.

In the race for team champion, 47 seconds separated South Anchorage and West Valley boys:  4:11:42 to 4:12:29.  Nearly three and a half minutes separated the South Anchorage and Service girls:  3:25:41 to 3:29:08.  This was the first team sweep for South Anchorage since 2010.


Boys champions:  South Anchorage

Runners-up:  West Valley


Girls champions:  South Anchorage

Runners-up:  Service


Boys 2A/3A champions:  Grace Christian of Anchorage (5th overall)

Boys 2A/3A champions:  Grace Christian of Anchorage (9th overall)


Link to event videos posted by Grace Christian:

State Relay Boys 2014 from Robert W Arnold on Vimeo.

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Donaldson, Blanchet Take Alaska State Meet Titles

The ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 2013 Nordic Skiing State Championships were contested February 21-23 at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska.  Hosted by the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA), A.J. Dimond High School, and the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA), the three-day event provided plenty of action at the well-known and competitive trails of Kincaid Park.

The total time of the first two day’s of racing would crown the state skimeister for both boys and girls.  Day one featured interval start races: 7.5 k for boys and 5 k for girls.  At the conclusion of the boy’s races, the boys winner was Eric Backstrum of South Anchorage followed by Jake Bassett of Robert Service and Thomas O’Harra of East Anchorage.  Just off the podium was Max Donaldson of West Valley High School in Fairbanks.  The top four were separated by 4/10th’s of a second!  The girl’s 5 k champion was Lydia Blanchet of West Anchorage.  She was followed by Marion Woods of South Anchorage.  Rounding off the podium was Morgan Flynn of East Anchorage.  While not quite the drama of the boys race, the girls result would dictate how fast the pace would be pushed during the mass start event on Friday.

Fresh snow greeted the Chief of Competition, Matt Pauli, for day two.  In addition, a vehicle (jeep to be exact), managed to plow thru a snow berm and access approximately .5 k of race trail.  Still four hours away from post time at 1100, the race trail was quickly and expertly regroomed creating even a better racing surface.  As a side note, the jeep became stuck well off the race course where the culprits were found, the police were summoned, the officers got to ride a Pisten Bully to the culprits, the culprits were apprehended and lead away in hand cuffs; trail damage and equipment use to be invoiced by NSAA later.  The PB 100 towed the jeep out while the PB 600 went about fixing the damaged trail.

So much for that drama.  Racing action ensued with the girls mass start 7.5 k. Chevron start positions were determined by Thursday result. After Thursday’s racing, Blanchet, wearing bib #1, was 20 seconds clear of Woods.  Woods definitely knew this as she lead from the gun and pushed the pace.  While the result order was reversed from the previous day, it was not enough to take over the overall skimeister position as Blanchet finished only four seconds behind in the mass start.  To round out the podium, Teagan Yutrzenka of South Anchorage put in a strong performance, finishing 20 seconds after Blanchet.

What was assumed to be a strategic race for the boys 10 k (2X5 k loops) became a lesson taught by Donaldson of West Valley.  Tanner Ramey, hoping to make up a 14 second deficit after the first day of competition, opened up with a strong first lap, trailed closely by Donaldson.  Racers began each lap with Elliot’s Climb at approximately the 700 m mark of each lap.  It was here that Donaldson put the hammer down and created the exclamation point that would make him the first state skimeister from West Valley since 1982.  O’Harra of East would move up a spot to second, just holding off Jacob Volz of West.

Racing concluded with the mixed technique relays.  The South girls handled the 3 k loops easily, besting Service by 2.5 minutes.  Wearing trucker caps furnished by their coach, Christina Turman, the West Valley boys ski’d the 5 k loops easily and etched their school’s name on the state championship trophy for the first time since 1993.

By Matthew Pauli

2013 HS Nordic Skiing State Championships from Smith Services Alaska on Vimeo.

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Video: Alaska State Nordic Ski Championships

February 23-25, the Alaska High School Championships were held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.


Hannah Boyer (Fairbanks) three-peated as Skimeister girl just ahead of Marion Woods (Anchorage) while Isaac Lammers (Chugiak) was boys skimeister.


For Teams, Service won for boys and West Valley girls large schools while Grace won for small schools.



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Boyer Repeats, Novak and Flaharty Flip-Flop in Alaska JOQ

Hannah Boyer (NSCF/FXC – OJ) repeated as the winner in the second day of Besh Cup racing at Birch Hill, while Jack Novak (APU – OJ) and Saturday’s winner, Tyson Flaharty (Goldstream Sports – SR) traded places.

Boyer’s victory margin was only seven seconds, considerably less than her 45-second win on Saturday. Novak crossed the line just a few ski lengths ahead of Flaharty.

The women’s 10Km was much more of a pack race than normal for the women’s field.  At the finish of the first 5Km lap, fourteen women were still in a group at the front of the race.  On the second lap Boyer pushed the hills and was able to establish a gap over her competition.  Runner-up was Sarah Freistone (AWS-J1), just two seconds ahead of the second OJ, Kinsey Loan of APU.  UAF red-shirt skier Kryston McPhetres (ANR-OJ) was fourth overall, 5 seconds ahead of UAF redshirt senior Theresia Schnurr and 11 seconds ahead of Bree Mucha (ANR-OJ).  Masters skier Melissa Lewis was seventh and first master, and Megan Edic (NSCF/FXC-OJ) was eighth overall.

[Read more…]

Boyer, Flaharty Win Alaska JOQ on 2013 Junior Nats Course

Locals Hannah Boyer (NSCF/FXC) and Tyson Flaharty (Goldstream Sports) used their familiarity with the newly upgraded competition trails at Birch Hill to post comfortable victories in the women’s 5Km and men’s 10Km, respectively on Saturday.

Men's winner Tyson Flaharty (Goldstream Sports)

Boyer’s (OJ) time of 17:55 was 45 seconds ahead of second place Sarah Freistone (J1-ANR), while Flaharty (SR) had 68 seconds in hand over the men’s runner-up (Jack Novak, OJ-APU)

Lydia Blanchet (J1-APU), Kinsey Loan (OJ-APU), and Eliza Rorabaugh (OJ-NSCF/FXC) rounded out the top five in the women’s 5Km. Behind Novak were Austin Hess (J1-AWS), Kyle Hanson (J1-NSCF/FXC) and John Glen (J1-AWS).

The race start had been postponed from 11AM until 2PM based upon the weather forecast that predicted low temperatures in the morning before warming up as clouds moved in. The followed the forecast to the hour, with the temperature at 2PM sitting at a USSA and FIS “legal” temperature of -2F/-19C, warming up to +7F/-14C for most of the second half of the race.

The races were held in interval start format in classic technique on the new “Black Funk 5Km” loop. This loop was created over the summer by utilizing several existing trail segments, creating some new trail, and modifying some existing trail. Reviews by coaches and athletes were universally positive.

There is still a little work to be completed in summer 2013 to get the trails into their final configuration and appearance. However, today’s course was a very good representation of the final product. The trail meets all standards required for certification by the International Ski Federation.

Hannah Boyer (NSCF/FXC), women's winner.

The trails have been upgraded in anticipation of the 2013 US Ski and Snowboard Association Junior National Championships and the 2014 Arctic Winter Games. This was the first real test of the trails in a high-level competition. Several of the skiers who raced today will be competing on these trails in 13 months as members of the Alaska Team at the 2013 JN’s.

Tomorrow’s race will start as scheduled at 11:00AM, given the current forecast. Approximately one hour following the race, the Alaska Teams to the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse and the 2012 Junior Nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah will be named. In addition to the naming of the teams, the Besh Cup awards, given for season-long performance in the Besh Cup series, will be presented. The team selection and awards ceremony will be held in the Assembly Room of the Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center.

Complete results (scroll to bottom)

Current rankings for AWG and JN team selection can be found at

Photos courtesy Bert Boyer

– John Estle, FXC


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Arctic Winter Games XC Skiing Concludes

The Arctic Winter Games, a bi-annual winter sports competition for young athletes from Arctic regions, featured four days of cross-country ski racing in Grand Prairie, Alberta.  The Games officially conclude on the 14th, but all cross-country competitions have been completed.

Complete ski results from the Games can be found at   Many athletes from Alaska competed against Canadaian provinces and Greenland, among others.

The event website can be found here.

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New England Holds Commanding Lead in Alaska Cup

With two races down at the 2010 Junior National Championship in Presque Isle, ME, New England has come out strong.  With a total of 946 points the New England team is clearly the team to beat.  The Alaskan team showed strength in the FOJ class during the sprints and in both boys and girls J1 classes during the classic distance race.  They lurk in second with a total of 584 points, while the Intermountain Division is holding on to third with 385 points.

Complete Alaska Cup Points.

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Flaharty and Korthauer Win Besh Cup #6

Tyson Flaharty (FAST) made it two for two with a victory at the wire, and the Alaska Nanooks Aurelia Korthauer led from wire to wire to win in the final race of the Besh Cup series at Birch Hill. Following the race, Cross Country Alaska announced the teams selected for the 2010 Junior Olympics in Presque Isle, Maine and the 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

The weather on Sunday was a bit cooler than on Saturday — in the single digits above zero, rather than in the high teens to mid-20’s. However, the temperatures were perfect for rock-hard tracks and bomb-proof kick, a critical need if skiers wanted to get a good result on the very challenging courses which included some steep hills which tested the best skiers ability to run straight up and avoid herringboning.

The combination of the great conditions, challenging and well-prepared courses, and excellent race organization drew rave reviews from the competitors and the visiting coaches and parents. Hats off to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks race crew for another great production. It wouldn’t happen without the great, knowledgeable, skilled, experienced and energetic volunteers.

The start of the women's 10km.

The start of the women's 10km.

In the women’s 10Km, Aurelia Korthauer celebrated her birthday by taking the lead from the gun. For the first couple of kilometers her teammate Teresia “Te-Te” Schnurr and ANR’s Kinsey Loan kept pace, but by the time the skiers returned to the stadium at the end of the first lap, just before the 4Km mark, Korthauer had a huge lead that would only grow for the rest of the race. Both Schnurr and Loan would pay for their attempt to stay with Korthauer, as they faded to eighth and twelfth, respectively.

Meanwhile, many of the out-of-town Junior 1 and Older Junior high schoolers went out overly ambitiously, and were reeled in and then dropped by the UAF skiers who train regularly on the Birch Hill trails, as well as by local skier Hannah Boyer (FXC/WVHS). Pacing was crucial, and skiers who waited until finishing the climb out of the Black Funk loop to put down the hammer did well. Anna Coulter, who was just back of the three leaders early was the runner-up, Boyer moved up to third, Alaska Nanook Elisabeth Angeles ended sixth, and UAF redshirt skiers Heather Edic and Rebecca Konieczny placed ninth and tenth, just behind Schnurr, giving UAF six of the first 10 positions. Korthauer’s winning margin was 1:48.

The start of the men's 10km.

The start of the men's 10km.

The men’s 10Km followed a very different pattern, with a lead pack forming early, and the outcome of the battler for first in doubt until the final meters. Initially FAST’s Tyson Flaharty, David Norris and Logan Hanneman joined up with APU coach Dylan Watts to form the lead pack, with ALaska Nanook Tyler Kornfield close behind. However, by the time they had finished climbing out of the Black Funk and ascending the Ramp, it was a duel between Flaharty and Watts, who traded the lead for much of the rest of the race. Norris, just back from Junior World Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany, was relatively comfortable in third, but Nick Treinen (AWS), who hitched a ride with Norris on Saturday, reeled in Logan Hanneman to make a very tight race for fifth place.
Meanwhile, Kornfield, who had great success on these trails at the 2009 ASAA State High School Championships, looked like he was showing the effects of racing and traveling the the Junior World Championships, was slowly fading backward, and finished eighth.

Finish of the men's race.

Finish of the men's race.

Flaharty and Watts came down the finish lane side-by-side and Flaharty had the extra gas at the end, taking a close, but clear victory. Norris was third, and Hanneman, after getting caught by Treinen, was able to pull away at the end and snag fourth.

The other notable local result was by Pat Nugent (FXC/LHS)who needed a good result to make the JO team. Nugent appeared to be struggling at times, but worked his way up to a position that would assure him a spot on the team, and put on a hard sprint at the finish to hold his finish rank.

In the J2 Boys’ 5Km race, Lathrop HS’ Kyle Hanson cemented his position on the JO team with a third-place finish, one of his best results of the season. John Glen and Austin Hess (both AWS) placed 1-2. Among local skiers, Erich Hoefler (FAST) and Riley Troyer (WVHS) placed 5-6, and Kuba Grzeda was 10th.

Anchorage area skiers dominated the J2 Girls’ 5Km, with Marion Woods (AWS), Celia Haering and Mackenzie Flynn (both APU) taking the podium positions. Mikayla Hamlin (FXC) was the top Fairbanks skier in 10th.

Other class winners were:
J3’s – Lydia Blanchet and Jacob Bassett (APUNSC)
J4’s – Jenna DiFolco (JNC/NSCF) and Tracen Knopp (ANR)
J5’s – Amber Hajdukovich (JNC/NSCF) and Gus Schumacher (AWS)
J6’s – Halene Johnson (Weller) and Rudy Schumacher (AWS)

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Pierson and Flaharty Win Besh Cup #5

The Alaska Nanooks’ Julia Pierson and Team FAST’s Tyson Flaharty were the winners in Saturday’s Besh Cup racing on the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Saturday’s event was an interval start (15-second intervals) event in free technique. Sunday’s race will be a mass start event in classic technique, beginning at 11:00AM. Sunday’s race is also the final event in the 6-race qualifying series that determines who will qualify for the Alaska teams to the 2010 Junior Olympics in Presque Isle, ME, and the 2010 Arctic Winter Games in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

When the decision was made Wednesday night to hold the races as scheduled this weekend, the temperatures were very cold, but the forecast was positive. The weather changed as predicted, and even earlier than scheduled, so that temperatures at the start were in the mid-teens, and the mercury even touched +20F before the racing was concluded for the day.

The course used was the tradiitonal “Three Hills” course, using the Blue Loop, the East Ramp/Tower Direct climb, and the White Bear/White Bear Access ascent back to the stadium. This is the same course that will be used for the ASAA state high school championship girls 5Km interval start event at the end of this month.

Pierson beat her red-shirt teammate, Raphaela Sieber by only 0.3 seconds over the 5Km distance to take top honors. Next behind Sieber was Celia Haering, a J2 from Alaska Pacific University NSC (APU) at 15:02.4. Fairbanks Cross Country (FXC)/West Valley HS teammates Marisa Rorabaugh (1st OJ) and Hannah Boyer (1st J1) were fourth and fifth in 15:10.1 and 15:12.9, respectively.

Behind Haering in the J2 class were Stephanie Kirk of Alaska Nordic Racing (ANR), Marion Woods of Alaska Winter Stars (AWS), Maranda Merkes of Soldotna HS, And Eliza Rorabaugh (FXC/WVHS). Jessie Yeaton (OJ), Kryston McPhetres (J1/ANR) and Mackenzie Kanady (J1/AWS) rounded out the top five for J1/OJ girls.

The USSA points penalty for the women’s 5Km was 116.65.

The J1-OJ-SR-MA men did two laps of the women’s 5Km course. Tyson Flaharty of the Fairbanks Alaska Ski Team (FAST) was 21.9 seconds faster than APU coach Dylan Watts (25:55.8 to 26:17.7). FAST’s David Norris was third and was first in the J1/OJ rankings, Alaska Nanook John Parry of Whitehorse was fourth, and Nick Treinen (AWS) was 2nd OJ and 2nd in the J1/OJ rankings.

Three J1 skiers, Logan Hanneman (FAST), Forest Mahlen and Jack Novak (both APU), rounded out the top 5 in the J1/OJ group.

The USSA points penalty for the men’s 5Km was 60.78. The minimum penalty for regional NRL events for men is 55 points, so this was a very good opportunity for skiers to earn some excellent points with a fast race.

In the J2 boys 5Km, AWS took 1-2 with Austin Hess (14:08.0) and John Glen (14:20.2). Lathrop HS’ Kyle Hanson had an excellent race, placing third in 14:23.7. Douglas Watts (West Anchorage HS) and Jake Prince (AWS) were fourth and 5th.

Local skiers Kuba Grzeda (FAST/WVHS) and Riley Troyer (WVHS) helped their qualifying rankings by placing 6-7, and Eric Hoefler (FAST) was 9th. Eight J2 boys (and eight girls) will go to the Junior Olympics and four J2 boys (and 4 J2 girls) will go to the Arctic Winter Games.

APU’s Jacob Bassett and Tanner Ramey and FXC’s Max Donaldson filled the J3 podium, and Tracen Knopp (ANR), FXC’s Benjamin Koenig and Louis Bassett (APU) were on the steps for J4’s.

Lydia Blanchet (APU), Sarissa Lammers (ANR) and Taryn Hunt-Smith (APU) placed 1-2-3 in the J3 Girls class and Amber Lenze, Jenna DiFolco and Maya Yoshikawa (all Fairbanks Junior Nordic Competition Group/JNC) were on the J4 podium.

Among the littlest skiers, the J5 winners were Gus Schumacher and Amber Hajdukovich, and the J6 winners were Rudy Schumacher and Halene Johnson.

NOTE: Photos Courtesy of Bert Boyer

J2-J1-OJ-SR-MA Women 5Km
1. Julia Pierson, UAF,14:41.0
2. Raphaela Sieber 14:41.3
3. Celia Haering, APUNSC,15:02.4
4. Marisa Rorabaugh, FXC,15:10.1
5. Hannah Boyer, FXC,15:12.9
6. Jessie Yeaton 15:18.8
7. Kryston Mcphetres, ANR,15:24.0
8. Mackenzie Kanady, AWS,15:40.7
9. Tristan Ramey, AWS,15:43.2
10. Davya Flaharty, NSCF,15:51.4
11. Heather Edic 15:52.4
12. Emily Rogers, AWS,15:55.1
13. Rebecca Konieczny 16:03.0
14. Allison Ross, AWS,16:03.6
15. Stephanie Kirk, ANR,16:06.0
16. Greta Anderson, APUNSC,16:11.1
17. Marion Woods, AWS,16:11.3
18. Morgan Bender, ANR,16:15.5
19. Anna Price, AWS,16:19.2
20. Bree Mucha, ANR,16:20.0
21. Rebecca Mamrol, AWS,16:20.3
22. Kimberly Del Frate, ANR,16:20.4
23. Jasmine Clock, ANR,16:21.6
24. Megan Baker, AWS,16:27.8
25. Maranda Merkes, Soldotna HS,16:35.8
26. Brittany Hippe 16:44.2
27. Sarah Cresap, APUNSC,16:44.5
28. Eliza Rorabaugh, FXC,16:48.2
29. Amelia Hennessy, APUNSC,16:48.7
30. Mykaela Mcmullen, AWS,16:51.2
31. Becky Butler, AWS,16:52.6
32. Teagan Yutrzenka, AWS,17:05.2
33. Mackenzie Flynn, APUNSC,17:06.4
34. Deanne Martin, Soldotna HS,17:13.8
35. Elizabeth Whisenhant, FXC,17:13.9
36. Amanda Del Frate, ANR,17:14.7
37. Megan Edic, FXC,17:15.1
38. Bonnie Scott, ANR,17:22.9
39. Mikayla Hamlin, FXC,17:26.6
40. Tsaina Mahlen, APUNSC,17:30.5
41. Erica Barnhart, APUNSC,17:31.3
42. Ema Mayo, FAST,17:34.0
43. Alexandra Okeson, APUNSC,17:36.5
44. Christi Schmitz, North Pole, AK,17:39.6
45. Heidi Rader 17:44.6
46. Sheryl Loan, ANR,17:48.3
47. Jacqueline Klecka, ANR,18:00.6
48. Crystal Pitney 18:20.5
49. Kelly Schmitz, North Pole, AK,18:32.0
50. Kimberly Fitzgerald, Lathrop HS,18:40.1
51. Helen Sudkamp-walker, FXC,18:48.1
52. Claire Ferree, FXC,18:53.8
53. Shannon Wyatt 19:11.3
54. Jeanette Klecka, ANR,19:30.9
55. Madeline Button, FXC,19:52.1
56. Sarah Lilly, West Valley HS,19:58.2
57. Kristan Kelly 21:57.0
Junior 2 Boys 5Km
1. Austin Hess, AWS,14:08.0
2. John Glen, AWS,14:20.2
3. Kyle Hanson, Lathrop HS,14:23.7
4. Douglas Watts, West HS,14:29.0
5. Jake Prince, AWS,14:31.4
6. Jan (kuba) Grzeda, FAST,14:37.5
7. Riley Troyer, West Valley HS,14:37.6
8. Schyler Knopp, ANR,14:43.4
9. Erich Hoefler, FAST,14:43.7
10. Eric Backstrum, AWS,14:44.5
11. Alex Loan, ANR,14:52.4
12. David Mcphetres, ANR,15:05.3
13. Jack Parke, APUNSC,15:20.2
14. Lucas Michael, ANR,15:24.4
15. Auberin Strickland, Palmer HS,15:28.5
16. Hugh Cosgrave, AWS,15:31.6
17. Brandon Kowalski, FXC,15:57.0
18. Bobby Signor, Fairbanks Jr. Nordic,16:29.2
19. Josiah Martin, Soldotna HS,16:42.2

J1-OJ-SR-MA Men 10Km
1. Tyson Flaharty, FAST,25:55.8
2. Dylan Watts, APUNSC,26:17.7
3. David Norris, FAST/NTG/FISCHER,26:30.0
4. John Parry, UAF,26:38.4
5. Nick Treinen, AWS,26:45.9
6. Logan Hanneman, FAST,26:47.6
7. Forrest Mahlen, APUNSC,26:55.9
8. Jack Novak, APUNSC,27:02.3
9. Henri Soom, University of Alaska Fairbanks,27:04.6
10. Silas Talbot, AWS,27:14.2
11. Isaac Lammers, ANR,27:23.4
12. Bobby Miller, APUNSC,27:23.6
13. Ray Sabo, UAF,27:24.8
14. Cole Talbot, AWS,27:38.0
15. Carl Smith, ANR,27:45.7
16. Patrick Nugent, FXC,27:53.7
17. Erik Soederstroem, UAF,27:57.7
18. Don Haering, APUNSC,27:58.5
19. Neil Liotta, AWS,28:00.7
20. Kyle Barnhart, APUNSC,28:01.0
21. Nathaniel Knapp, APUNSC,28:04.3
22. Sam Dougherty, AWS,28:07.0
23. Noah Hagen, AWS,28:12.8
24. Lars Arneson 28:17.9
25. Cody Priest, AKSR,28:19.9
26. Peter Mamrol, AWS,28:21.5
27. Travis Semmens, ANR,28:28.4
28. Galen Johnston 28:32.9
29. Stefan Hajdukovich, FXC,28:35.7
30. Erin Phillips, APUNSC,29:01.1
31. Eric Ryan, AWS,29:02.8
32. Andrew Arnold, Grace Christian,29:03.9
33. Benjamin Fitzgerald, ANR,29:11.6
34. Dunedin Strickland, ANR,29:13.6
35. Hunter Jackinsky, ANR,29:24.0
36. Scott Wheeler, APUNSC,29:29.1
37. Anders Nyquist, ANR,29:31.6
38. David Durst, FXC,29:42.8
39. Erik Gorman 29:48.5
40. Vanya Rybkin, FXC,29:51.1
41. Ian Wilkinson, Fairbanks, AK,29:55.4
42. William Coleman, NSCF,30:00.2
43. David Edic, NSCF,30:12.8
44. Werner Hoefler, FAST,30:19.0
45. Jani Lane, AWS,30:30.7
46. Dan Bradley, ANR,30:33.6
47. Wyatt Mayo, FAST,30:36.3
48. Bad Bob Baker 31:49.5
49. Davis Dunlap, ANR,31:53.5
50. Bryce Monaco 31:55.4
51. Kipp Wilkinson, FXC,32:06.0
52. Mike Hajdukovich, Fairbanks, aK,32:47.9
53. Zach Keskinen, West Valley HS,33:05.3
54. Michael Kowalski, FXC,33:06.8
55. Gerry Hovda 33:54.5
56. Mark F Smith 33:55.0
57. Bruce Talbot, NSAA,35:12.3
58. James Lilly 36:16.1
59. Gunnar Knapp, NSAA,36:35.9
60. Matt Stoller 37:55.8

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Sprint Day JOs

TRUCKEE, CA—The 2009 Junior Olympics officially kicked off today with the skate sprint competition at Auburn Ski Club. [Read more…]

JO Coverage From The Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage Daily News has been providing excellent coverage of the Junior Olympics, including photo galleries.  Here are links to the stories and photos….

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Sprint Qualifier Photos – Alaska

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JO’s Classic Sprint

We are excited to welcome all the athletes to Kincaid Park, racing on our home courses. We wish the snow conditions would have been better, but, thankfully we’ve been spared by mother nature and with lots of hard work by the organizers we had an exciting and competitive sprint race. We were impressed by the level of fitness of the other divisions, especially New England who ended the day 2 points ahead on Alaska Cup standings. Nice job! We were stoked to to have two National Champions (Amy Glen and Becca Rorabaugh and many skiers into the final rounds in all divisions.

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