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 / https://www.instagram.com/p/BteSEjRHYA-/)

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)

2019 U.S. World Junior, U23 and U18 Championship Teams Announced (Press Release)


National Nordic Foundation Press Release

Perfect Scores! Both Gus Schumacher, Alaska Winter Stars and Kendall Kramer, Fairbanks XC swept the junior races to claim the top spot for the 2019 World Junior Championship Team, in Lahti, Finland.


2018 Junior Nationals Wraps Up with Relays

Ben Ogden does a backflip after his New England team won the U18 men’s 3 x 3.3 k classic relay on the last day of 2018 Junior Nationals in Midway, Utah.(Photo: Weymuller Photography)

The fourth and final day of 2018 U.S. Ski & Snowboard XC Junior National Championships took place on Saturday with the 3.3-kilometer classic relays at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah.

Saturday, March 10: complete results

3.3 k classic relays

The U16 men’s 3 x 3.3 k classic relay on the last day of 2018 Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

U16 women: 

In the closest race of the day, Pacific Northwest reigned in the U16 women’s relay, with Isabel Max, Fiona Max and Annie McColgan (all of the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation) winning by 3.1 seconds in 38:23.2. Isabel tagged her sister in third, then Fiona raced up to first, which McColgan held to the finish, just ahead of Alaska’s Kendall Kramer in second.

Kramer teamed up with Quincy Donley and Ivy Eski for second place (+3.1), while Rocky Mountain placed third (+6.9) with Katy Jane Hardenbergh, Haley Brewster and Tai-lee Smith.


U16 men: 

Will Koch won every race of the week, anchoring the New England U16 men’s team to the victory in 33:18.8. Koch had been tagged in first by teammate Aidan Burt, after Finn Sweet skied them into third by the first exchange.

Intermountain (Aidan Rasmussen, Elijah Weenig and Kai Mittelsteadt) placed second (+29.4) while Pacific Northwest (Travis Grialou, Ian Delong and Walker Hall) claimed third (+32.7).

The U18 women’s 3 x 3.3 k classic relay podium at 2018 Junior Nationals, with Pacific Northwest’s Ella-Sophie Kuzyk, Gretta Scholz and Novie McCabe in first, New England’s Charlotte Ogden, Sophia Laukli and Mae Chalmers in second, and Alaska’s Heidi Booher, Aubrey Leclair and Molly Gellert in third. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

U18 women: 

Pacific Northwest also scored a victory in the U18 women’s relay with Ella-Sophie Kuzyk, Gretta Scholz and Novie McCabe (all of the Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation) in 36:46.4. For McCabe, it was her third-straight win of the week, and she anchored the team to first after being tagged in second. New England finished 44.9 seconds later for second place with Charlotte Ogden, Sophia Laukli and Mae Chalmers. Alaska rounded out the podium in third (+1:31.1) with Heidi Booher, Aubrey Leclair and Molly Gellert.


U18 men: 

For his second win of the week (and fourth top-two finish), Ben Ogden anchored his New England team (with James Kitch and Gregory Burt) to first in 24:41.1, while Rocky Mountain (Collin Wilson, Cameron Wolfe and Garrett Butts) finished 25.8 seconds later for second place. Rocky Mountain was first after the first two legs with Wilson and Wolfe. New England had two teams on the podium with Joshua Valentine, Isaac Freitas-Eagan and Conor Munns combining for third place (+44.9).

The U20 women’s 3 x 3.3 k classic relay podium at 2018 Junior Nationals, with New England’s Callie Young, Phoebe Sweet and Rena Schwartz in first, Rocky Mountain’s Chelsea Moore, Gracelynn Shanley and Marit May in second, and Intermountain’s Sofia Shomento, Ariana Woods and Annika Landis in third.(Photo: Weymuller Photography)

U20 women: 

U18 skier Callie Young anchored New England’s U20 women’s team to the win in 36:23.8, teaming up with Phoebe Sweet (also a U18) and Rena Schwartz (U20). Sweet had put them in eighth at the first exchange, and Schwartz raced the fastest second leg to bring the team to fourth. Young then clocked the third-fastest last leg to take the win.

Rocky Mountain finished 13.9 seconds back in second place, with U18 skiers Chelsea Moore and Gracelynn Shanley and U20 athlete Marit May. Shanley had skied them from fifth to second on the second leg, before May finished second behind Young.

Intermountain’s Sofia Shomento, Ariana Woods and Annika Landis took the third step on the podium in third (+17.1).


U20 men:

Hunter Wonders scored his third win of the week with Team Alaska in the men’s U20 relay, winning by 14.8 seconds in 21:54.7 minutes with Dawson Knopp and Canyon Tobin. All three are Alaska Pacific University teammates. Knopp started the team off, tagging them in second at the first exchange, and Tobin raced up to first, a position Wonders held to the finish.

New England placed second in that race with Adam Witkowski (a U18 skier), John Henry Paluszek and Adam Glueck. Rocky Mountain reached the podium in third (+22.8) with Noel Keeffe, Wyatt Gebhardt and Nolan Herzog.

Hunter Wonders anchoring the Alaska U20 men’s team to first in the 3 x 3.3 k classic relay at 2018 Junior Nationals in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)


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Junior Nationals Day 3 Skate Mass Starts

Will Koch (New England/Stratton Mountain School) leading the U16 men’s 5 k freestyle mass start on Friday at 2018 Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

The 2018 U.S. Ski & Snowboard XC Junior National Championships continued on Friday at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, with 5, 10 and 15-kilometer freestyle mass starts. Below is a recap of Day 3 of racing at SoHo:

Friday, March 9: complete results

5 k freestyle mass start

Will Koch (New England/Stratton Mountain School) racing to the win the U16 men’s 5 k freestyle mass start on Friday at 2018 Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

U16 men: 

Will Koch of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) continued his undefeated streak as he won his third-straight race at 2018 Junior Nationals. He dominated the U16 men’s 5 k mass start with a 39.9-second win in 17:16.3. Cooper Lennox of Mora High School raced to second place and Logan Moore of the Durango Nordic Ski Club reached the podium in third (+51.2).


U16 women:

After placing second in Tuesday’s 5 k classic, Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks NSCF-FXC moved up to the top step of the podium with a win in the 5 k freestyle mass start in 20:15.7. Vail Ski Club teammates Emma Reeder and Haley Brewster followed in second (+15.7) and third (+27.4), respectively.

Kendall Kramer (Alaska/Fairbanks NSCF-FXC) racing to the win in the U16 women’s 5 k freestyle mass start on Friday at 2018 Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)


10 k freestyle mass start

U20 women:

Anja Maijala, an University Alaska Fairbanks freshman representing the Midwest division, raced to the win in 30:09.8, while Annika Landis of Middlebury College and the Intermountain division followed 8.5 seconds later in second place. Erin Moening of Northern Michigan University/Midwest was next across the line in third (+27.8).


U18 women: 

Freestyle sprint champion Novie McCabe of the Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation picked up her second-straight win, this time in the freestyle distance race, finishing first in 33:37.6. She broke away to win by more than a minute, while Luci Anderson of Loppet Nordic Racing followed in second (+1:17.5), and Mara McCollor of Wayazata Nordic placed third (+2:07.9).


U18 men: 

Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars raced to a 5.2-second victory over Ben Ogden (SMS), finishing in 21:32.2. Johnny Hagenbuch of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) placed third (+13.3).


15 k freestyle mass start

U20 men: 

Hunter Wonders tallied his second win of the week by 6.1 seconds over his Alaska Pacific University (APU) teammate Canyon Tobin, finishing first in 33:30.6. Xavier Mansfield of Northern Michigan University and the Midwest division took third (+8.4), just three seconds ahead of Patrick Acton of Michigan Tech/Midwest in fourth while Wyatt Gebhardt of the Steamboat Springs Winters Sports Club was another 0.9 seconds back in fifth.

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2018 Junior Nationals Open with Classic Distance Races, Then Skate Sprints

Luke Jager (25) leading his U18 men’s skate-sprint semifinal with Scott Schulz (l), Ben Ogden (second from l) and Johnny Hagenbuch (12) on Wednesday at 2018 Junior Nationals in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

The 2018 U.S. Ski & Snowboard XC Junior National Championships opened on Tuesday at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, with 5- and 10-kilometer classic individual starts. Racing continued on Wednesday with freestyle sprints. Below is a recap of the first two days of racing at SoHo.

Tuesday, March 6: Complete results

10 k classic

U20 men: 

Nineteen-year-old Hunter Wonders of Alaska Pacific University (APU) posted a 12-second win in 23:35.3 minutes, while the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC) had two athletes on the podium with Noel Keeffe in second and Wyatt Gebhardt in third (+40.0).


U18 men:

Ben Ogden, 17, of the Stratton Mountain School (APU) won by 14.4 seconds with a time of 23:01.5. Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars (AWS) finished second and his Alaska division teammate Luke Jager (APU) placed third (+52.2).


5 k classic

U16 men:

Will Koch (SMS) took the win in 13:26.1, 15 seconds faster than fellow Vermonter Finn Sweet of the Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club. Wiley Corra of the Durango Nordic Ski Club reached the podium in third (+25.5).


U20 women: 

The U20 women’s 5 k classic podium at 2018 Junior Nationals, with Annika Landis (c) in first, Jordi Floyd (l) in second and Rena Schwartz (r) in third. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

Annika Landis, a 19-year-old Middlebury College skier representing the Intermountain division, finished in 15:49.7 for the 5 k victory. Jordi Floyd (SSWSC) placed second (+21.2) and Rena Schwartz of the Green Mountain Valley School finished third (+35.7).


U18 women:

Steamboat skier Waverly Gebhardt, 16, posted a 2.3-second win over Novie McCabe of the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Education Foundation with a winning time of 15:10.5. Molly Gellert (AWS) was just another 0.3 seconds back in third (+2.6).


U16 women: 

Sydney Palmer-Leger of the Sun Valley Ski Educational Foundation (SVSEF) won the women’s 14-15 category with a time of 15:21.2. Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks NSCF-FXC placed second (+25.8) and Libby Tuttle (Loppet Nordic Racing) joined them on the podium in third (+32.1).



Wednesday, March 7:

1.4 k freestyle sprints:

Qualifier results

U16 women: 

Logan Smith (SVSEF) scored a 0.31-second victory in the U16 women’s A-final, finishing first in 2:57.93. Lexie Madigan placed second and Sun Valley had two on the podium with Sydney Palmer-Leger notching her second-straight top three in third place (+5.47). Results

Novie McCabe (Methow Valley) racing to the win in the U18 women’s freestyle sprint A-final on Wednesday at 2018 Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: Weymuller Photography)

U18 women:

A day after placing second in the 5 k classic, Novie McCabe (Methow Valley) won the U18 women’s A-final in 3:06.55, 2.09 seconds ahead of Sarah Morgan of the Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy in second, while Annabel Hagen of the Jackson Hole Ski Club followed in third (+4.3). Results


U20 women: 

Jordi Floyd (SSWSC) also moved up another step to first place in her A-final, which she won in 3:08.74. Sofia Shomento, of Dartmouth College and the Intermountain division, finished second (+1.41) and Jenna Difolco (Fairbanks NSCF-FXC) placed third (+9.02). Results


U16 men:

Will Koch (SMS) won his second-straight race with a win in the U16 men’s A-final in 2:34.95. Kai Mittelsteadt (Bridger Ski Foundation) finished 0.29 seconds back in second place and Walker Hall (Methow Valley) reached the podium in third (+7.6). Results


U18 men:

James Kitch of the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) pulled off a 0.11-second victory over Ben Ogden (SMS), winning the A-final in 2:47.21. Just 0.74 seconds out of first, James Schoonmaker (Auburn Ski Club) took third. Results


U20 men: 

A day after placing second, Noel Keeffe scored a victory in the A-final in 2:40.27, just 0.33 seconds ahead of his Steamboat teammate Wyatt Gebhardt, while Hunter Wonders returned to the podium as well in third (+0.81). Results

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U23 & Junior World Championships Photos at FlyingPointRoad.com

An extensive collection of photos from U23 and Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, is now posted on FlyingPointRoad.com. Here is a direct link to the gallery.

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U23/Junior Worlds Skiathlon and Relay Videos

Relive all the action in 30 seconds or less from the last two days of racing at 2017 Junior/U23 World Championships at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. Here we have the 15/30-kilometer U23 skiathlons and junior relays, filmed and edited by Kirk Nichols of The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA).

Read more about these races

U23 women’s 15 k skiathlon:

U23 men’s 30 k skiathlon: 

Junior women’s 4 x 3.3 k relay:

Junior men’s 4 x 5 k relay:

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Junior Worlds Skiathlon Videos

Kirk Nichols of The Utah Nordic Alliance put together the following 30-second highlight videos  from Friday’s 10/20 k skiathlons at 2017 Nordic Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah, including American Katharine Ogden’s race for third place in the women’s 10 k skiathlon.

Women’s 10 k skiathlon:

Men’s 20 k skiathlon:

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U23 Worlds 10/15 k Skate Videos

The following videos include highlights from Thursday’s 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle individual starts, the first distance race of U23 World Championships at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. Filmed and edited by Kirk Nichols of The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA).

Men’s 15 k freestyle:

Women’s 10 k freestyle:

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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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Quarry Road Eastern Cup Results and Photos

FasterSkier is seeking regional contributors to write and submit race recaps from around the world. Please email info@fasterskier.com if interested. Special thanks to FlyingPointRoad for submitting the following photos. More photos can be found on Flyingpointroad.com.


The second Eastern Cup of the season was held last weekend, Jan. 14-15, at the Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine. Below is a brief recap of the results, along with some photos provided by FlyingPointRoad:

On Saturday, Hannah Miller of Bowdoin College won the A-final of the women’s 1.3 k sprint, with Taryn Hunt-Smith (Dartmouth Ski Team) placing second and Lucy Hochschartner (St. Lawrence University) taking third. Zoe Snow (Dartmouth), Alexandra Lawson of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS), and Hannah Cole (Williams Ski Team) also reached the A-final, finishing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

In the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint A-final, Fabian Stocek took the win ahead of his Dartmouth teammates Andrew Nadler and Koby Gordon, respectively. Three Williams skiers rounded out the final with Dylan Syben in fourth, Jack Schrupp fifth, and Hans Halvorsen sixth.

In the U18/U20 women’s sprint, Callie Young (Craftsbury Nordic) won the A-final, ahead of Mae Chalmers (SMS) and Annika Martell (Colby College).

James Kitch (Cambridge Sports Union) won the U18/U20 men’s A-final, with Russell O’Brien (Bowdoin) following in second and Nicholas Wilkerson (Frost Mountain Nordic) in third.

Lillian Bates (Dublin XC) topped the U16 girls A-final, and Magdalena Lelito (Mansfield Nordic Club) took second and Ingrid Miller third.

Joshua Valentine (Gunstock Nordic Association) won the U16 boy’s A-final, and Will Koch (SMS) placed second and Timothy Cobb (Mansfield Nordic) third.

On Sunday, Laurel Fiddler of Bates College scored her first Eastern Cup win in the women’s 10 k classic mass start in 31:41.2. Snow notched second (+11.0), and Hunt-Smith tallied another podium in third (+19.0).

Jørgen Grav (Ford Sayre) won the men’s 15 k classic mass start in 40:17.7, edging Eli Hoenig (Williams) by 2.9 seconds. Stocek placed third (+10.3) to end the weekend with back-to-back podiums.

In the U16 girls 5 k classic mass start, Charlotte Ogden (SMS) captured the win in 15:51.9, ahead of Olivia Cuneo (Green Mountain Valley School) in second (+15.5) and Abigail Streinz (Outdoor Sports Institute) in third (+1:17.1).

Valentine recorded another victory in the U16 boy’s 5 k classic mass start, and Koch repeated in second (+6.4) and Griffin Wright (Craftsbury Nordic) took third (+25.5).

Complete results

(FlyingPointRoad photos (select photo and then click again to enlarge))

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U.S. Nominates Team for U18 Trip to Norway

Along with its Junior and U23 World Championships teams, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) recently released its nominations for its U18 Nordic Nation’s Trip to Orkdal, Norway, for the Nordic Nations Junior Championships (officially, Nordisk Jr. Landskamp, which translates to Nordic Junior Superbowl) at the Knyken Skisenter. The trip spans from Jan. 22-Feb. 1.

The U.S. trip will be led by Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) coach Chris Harvey and include three days of races: a freestyle sprint on Jan. 27, 5/10 k classic on Jan. 28, and men’s and women’s relays on Jan. 29.

Six men and six women were nominated. For the men’s team, two Alaska Pacific University (APU) skiers — Luke Jager and Canyon Tobin — were named, along with Ben Ogden of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS), Nolan Herzog (Ski Club Vail), Noel Keeffe (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club), and Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars (AWS).

For the women, the list includes Ezra Smith (Summit Nordic Ski Club), Margaret Gellert (AWS), Anna Lehmann (SMS), Bridget Donovan (Ski Club Vail), Lucinda Anderson (LNR), and Sofia Shomento (Bridger Ski Foundation).

Sydney Palmer-Leger (Park City Nordic Ski Team) qualified for the trip, but due to her age (14 years old) is not eligible to attend.

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Relay Hill Climb Caps Off Junior Nationals; New England Wins Alaska Cup

The Midwest U20 women’s relay, with Margie Freed, Mikaela Keller-Miller and Caroline Brisbois, racing to first place in the relay hill climb at 2016 Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis. Freed was fastest of the U20 women to the top of Mt. Telemark in 6:39.2, and she was dubbed "Queen of the Hill." (All photos: CXC)

The Midwest U20 women’s relay, with Margie Freed, Mikaela Keller-Miller and Caroline Brisbois, racing to first place in the relay hill climb at 2016 Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis. Freed was fastest of the U20 women to the top of Mt. Telemark in 6:39.2, and she was dubbed “Queen of the Hill.” (All photos: CXC)

(Press release)

Note: This recap has been corrected to reflect that Far West’s JC Schoonmaker was dubbed U16 men’s “King of the Hill” on Saturday, March 12.

CABLE, Wis. (March 12, 2016) — The final competition of the 2016 USSA Junior National Championships concluded with a grueling Relay Hill Climb race up Mt. Telemark. The pressure was high, as this race not only determined the Junior National Champion relay teams, but also the “king and queen of the hill” as well as the winner of the coveted Alaska Cup.

New England claimed the Alaska Cup, which is the award for the team who wins the most points overall, throughout the four days of competition.

In the U20 men’s hill climb, Max Donaldson, Travis Cooper and Luke Cvoncara representing team Alaska edged New England (Lewis Nottonson, Kamran Husaid and Land McKenny) for the Junior National Relay Hill Climb title by 1.7 seconds, followed by Midwest (Nick Gardner, Tamer Mische-Richter and Will Bodewes) who finished third. Team Alaska was led by Cooper, who had the fastest time, skiing the hill climb in just 5:40.8. Cooper also had the fastest time and was crowned “King of the Hill” for the U20 men.

In the U20 women’s relay, the Midwest team (Margie Freed, Mikaela Keller-Miller and Caroline Brisbois), charged up the hill to claim a convincing first place finish as well as the Junior National Relay Hill Climb title. The team was led by Freed who skied the hill climb in 6:39.2, which was the fastest in the U20 female class and made her “Queen of the Hill”. The strong Midwest team finished 16.3 seconds ahead of teammates and the second Midwest team (Sarah Bezdicek, Abigail Drach and Mattie Watts), followed by New England (Lauren Jertberg, Kaelyn Woods and Katie Feldman) who finished third.

Intermountain (Brooke Dunnagan, Anna Gibson and Sofia Shomento) claimed the U18 female Junior National Champion Relay Hill Climb title. The team was led by Dunnagan who skied the climb in a time of 6:52.5, which made her “Queen of the Hill for the U18 women. Intermountain dug deep to claim the victory 15.7 seconds ahead of New England (Leah Brams, Makenzie Rizo and Rena Schwartz) and Alaska (Anna Darnell, Magalen York and Jenna Difdeo), who finished third.

In the U18 men’s relay, Alaska (Hunter Wonders, Canyon Tobin and Tracen Knopp) hammered their way up Mt. Telemark, to secure the Junior National Relay Hill Climb. The team was led by Wonders, “King of the Hill,” who skied the fastest time for the U18 men in a time of 5:32.0. Wonders edged Mid-Atlantic skier Karl Schulz by 0.2 seconds who was the second-fastest hill climber of the day for U18s. Alaska skied to a first place finish just 11.1 seconds ahead of Mid-Atlantic team (Shulz, Bryce Harman and Henry McGrew), followed by New England (Daniel Steinz, Adam Glueck and Will Rhatiann), who finished third.

Alaska (Luke Jager, Ti Donaldson and Gus Schumacher), battled to the top to claim the U16 men’s Junior National Relay Hill Climb title by 17.6 seconds over Far West (JC Schoonmaker, Hayden Halvorsen and Nate Cutler). Schoonmaker was fastest of the U16 man and dubbed “King of the Hill” with a time of 5:44.5. Rocky Mountain placed third, with Cameron Wolfe, Jimmy Colfer and Collin Wilson.

In the U16 female relay, Midwest (Abigal Jarzin, Kelly Koch and Lucy Anderson) dominated the hill climb to claim the Junior National Relay Hill Climb title. The team was led by Koch was crowned “Queen of the Hill” who skied the hill in a time of 6:49.7, which was also the fastest time for the U16 females overall. Midwest finished 19.2 seconds ahead of New England (Anna Lehmann, Callie Young and Laura Appleby), followed by New England (Phoebe Sweet, Charlotte Ogden and Mae Chalmers) who finished third.

Results: Men’s and Women’s Hill Climb

For more photos of the 2016 USSA Junior National Championships, click here!

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Freestyle Sprints Mark Final Day of Individual Racing at JNs

The U18 men's freestyle sprint final, which Alaska's Hunter Wonders won. (All photos: CXC)

The U18 men’s freestyle sprint final on Friday at 2016 Junior National Championships in Cable, which Karl Shulz of Mid-Atlantic (101) won. (All photos: CXC)

(Press release)

CABLE, Wis. (March 11, 2016) — The third day of the USSA Junior National Championships competition continued Friday with hard-fought sprint races on the grueling 1.3-kilometer course at Telemark Trails.

Logan Diekmann (Intermountain) U20, Sarah Bezdicek (Midwest) U20, Hannah Halvorson (Far West) U18, Karl Shulz (Mid-Atlantic) U18, Scott Shulz (Mid-Atlantic) U16 and Sydney Palmer-Leger (Intermountain) U16, claimed the Junior National freestyle sprint titles.

In the men’s U20 sprint, Diekmann dominated throughout the day all the way to the finals. Diekmann started the day strong, posting the fastest qualifying time, which advanced him to the heats. Diekmann won his heat and then skied to the win in the finals, finishing 3.75 seconds ahead of Dylan Syben (Far West) and Bill Harmeyer (Pacific Northwest) who finished third.

“This may be my final Junior Nationals and I couldn’t be happier about my race,” said Diekmann. “It has been a goal of mine to be on top of the sprint podium. I felt good physically and mentally. This race means a lot to me and my team but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and family members. This is truly a wonderful way to finish out an incredible season.”

“Today was a great day, I am really happy to have had the best race I could have had with a bunch of cool racers/friends,” said Syben. “So far racing this week had been hard but I am happy to finish the individual races with good results going into the relay. Thanks to all the volunteers!”

“The race was awesome,” said Harmeyer. “Special thanks to the volunteers who helped keep the course intact. Couldn’t have pulled it off without them! Thanks to my parents who have helped me from the start! Good end to the season!”

In the U20 female sprint, Bezdicek started the day off strong and ended it even stronger. Bezdicek skied the fastest U20 female qualifying time, then won her heat, which advanced her to the finals. Bezdicek claimed the Junior National freestyle sprint title just 2.74 seconds over Lauren Jortberg (New England) and Abigail Drach (Midwest) who finished third.

“It was really warm out there, but the course help up thanks to all the volunteers,” said Bezdicek. “It was a fun and hard final!”

“I’m really excited to be on the podium and really feel good,” said Jortberg. “I haven’t been too excited about my previous races here, but stoked to end the individual races feeling awesome! I’m super excited for the relay tomorrow with New England. New England has awesome wax techs and coaches! I’ve had incredible skis!”

Halvorsen dominated the U18 women’s freestyle sprint. Halvorsen qualified second, won her semifinal heat which advanced her to the finals. Halvorsen skied to a convincing overall freestyle sprint title, 7.30 seconds ahead of Amanda Kautzer (Midwest) and Brooke Dunnagan (Intermountain) who finished third. Halvorsen has had an outstanding season, competing at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway and the U18 Scandinavian Championships in Oteppa, Estonia, in February.

“I am so excited to have a race come together like this today,” said Halvorsen. “After a lot of hard work and an abundance of support from my family, friends, teammates and coaches, I am so happy to have a strong race. This is what I live for!”

“I was slightly disappointed about the first two races of JNs, but am psyched about today’s race as I haven’t sprinted at all this season due to biathlon racing,” said Kautzer, who represented the U.S. at Biathlon Youth/Junior World Championships in Romania this season. “Our coaches gave us great skis today and all the coaches and especially my parents were great with cheering!”

“So far, this week has been really exciting! The conditions have been changing a lot and has required us to be very flexible,” said Dunnagan. “Skate sprinting is one of my favorite events to compete in. I felt really good today and can’t wait for tomorrow’s relay!”

Shulz dominated the U18 men’s freestyle sprint, starting with the qualifier through to the finals. Shulz had the fastest U18 qualifying time and the second fastest qualifying time of the day, just five seconds behind U20 skier Diekmann. Shulz won his quarterfinal and semifinal heats, which advanced him to the finals. Shulz skied to a convincing victory, 4.53 seconds ahead of Daniel Streinz (New England) and Tracen Knopp (Alaska) who finished third.

“This was the best race of the season,” said Shulz “While I was in the starting pen for my quarterfinal heat, my younger brother Scott came in and won the U16 men’s sprint title and that gave me the final motivation I needed to believe I could go all the way with him.”

“My race was good, but not my best,” said Streinz. “ My season has been going well, I got a top 10 on the U18 trip to Estonia. The New England team is strong so it’s a fun team to be on. I like spring skiing so JNs is always a fun time.”

“Today felt great,” said Knopp. “I feld smooth and strong the whole day. The first day was bad but the next couple race I have felt good. The season has been good too. Solid training and racing”

Scott Schulz was the inspiration to his older brother Karl as Scott claimed the Junior National freestyle sprint title for the U16 men. Schulz qualified strong, finishing fourth which advanced him to the finals. Schulz grabbed first ahead of Samuel York (Alaska) and Thomas Gebhards (Intermountain) who finished third.

“Sweet!” said Schulz. “I had a great season and this was the perfect way to end it!”

“I had an awesome season and trained hard,” said Gebhards. “I am glad to have been able to still compete in this race and that they could pull off the race. I’d like to thank all the race volunteers for their countless hours of service.”

It was a close race between the U16 women for the Junior National freestyle sprint title. Palmer-Leger claimed her second national title by 1.5 seconds over Abigail Jarzin (Midwest) and Margaret Gellert (Alaska), who finished third. Palmer-Leger, Jarzin and Gellert were in the top three of the qualifiers and continued to fight hard and stay strong until the finals.

“I had an awesome season, trained hard to make it to Junior Nationals,” said Palmer-Leger. “Happy to get another chance to race in such a big race. I want to thank my parents and coaches that have worked very hard to help me become a better skier.”

“This season has had many ups and downs but I’m super happy to have had a strong race today,” said Jarzin. “Thankful for my coaches who have helped me become the skier I am today.”

The final race of the 2016 Junior Nationals continues Saturday with a relay hill climb starting at 9 a.m. Central time. The races will be streamed live, courtesy of Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC).


U20 Men

U20 Women

U18 Women

U18 Men

U16 Men

U16 Women

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Junior Nationals Resumes with Freestyle Individual Starts

The U20 men's 15 k freestyle podium on Thursday at 2016 Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis., with Max Lachance, Max Donaldson and Lewis Nottonson. (All photos: CXC)

The U20 men’s 15 k freestyle podium on Thursday at 2016 Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis., with winner Max Lachance (c), runner-up Max Donaldson and Lewis Nottonson in third. (All photos: CXC)

(Press release)

CABLE, Wis. (March 10, 2016) — After hundreds of volunteers gathered at Telemark Trails to shovel snow and restore the course, after a spell of unseasonably warm temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday, the 2016 USSA Junior National Championships freestyle distance races went on successfully on Thursday.

Max Lachance (Intermountain) U20, Sophia McDonald (Intermountain) U20, Hunter Wonders (Alaska) U18, Anna Darnell (Alaska) U18, Luke Jager (Alaska) U16 and Sydney Palmer (Intermountain) U16, claimed the Junior National individual freestyle victories.

In the U20 men’s 15 k freestyle race, it was a battle for the victory, as first through third were within 3.1 seconds of each other. Lachance edged Max Donaldson (Alaska) by 1.6 seconds to claim the Junior National freestyle distance title. Lewis Nottonson (New England) followed close behind in third, just 3.1 seconds out of first. This is Donaldson’s second podium at the 2016 Junior National Championships, after finishing second in the classic individual start on Monday.

“I’m in disbelief!” said Lachance. “Definitely happier with my season now! The course was really fast!”

“It was a tough battle the whole race”, said Donaldson. “It was fun trading off the lead with Max. Endless thanks to the volunteers for making a hard fast course possible today.”

The women’s U20 10 k race was another battle to the podium, as first through fifth were within 10.2 seconds of each other. McDonald (Intermountain) edged Abigail Drach (Midwest) by 1.7 seconds, to claim the Junior National freestyle distance title. Mattie Watts (Midwest) followed close behind in third, just 8.7 seconds behind first. This is Drach’s and Watts’ second podium after Drach claimed the Junior National distance classic title on Monday, while Watt finished second overall. The U20 women had to complete three loops around the course, which made up the grueling 10 k.

“I am so impressed with how all the volunteers have worked really hard to pull this event off with the lack of snow!” said McDonald. “It was a fun and hard race!”

“It was a hard race with steep uphills and technical downhills, but I really enjoyed racing the 10k skate,” said Drach.

“The course was in incredible shape!” said Watts. “Thank you to all the volunteers for all their hard work to help put on an amazing race!”

In the men’s U18 10 k, Wonders claimed his second Junior National title, after winning the individual classic race on Monday. Wonders skied to a convincing first place finish, 44.1 seconds over Karl Schulz (Mid-Atlantic) and Wyatt Gebhardt (Rocky Mountain) who finished third. The U18 men had to complete three laps of the 3.75k loop.

The race felt great, I took it out hot and just tried to hold on,” said Wonders.

“The race felt awesome, one of the hardest and best races of the season,” said Schulz. “I went out hard and finished harder!”

The U18 women skied an impressive 10 k, as first through third had the three fastest times out of the U18 and U20 women. Darnell (Alaska) grabbed the Junior National individual freestyle title just 0.6 seconds ahead of Hailey Swirburl (Rocky Mountain) and Leah Brams (New England) who finished third. This is both Swirbul and Brams’ second podium at the 2016 Junior National Championships. Brams claimed the Junior National individual classic title on Monday, while Swirbul finished third overall.

“I felt great about my race, I focused on having fun and going hard and my coaches killed it with fast skis!” said Darnell.

“There is no podium performance without so much hard work behind the scenes,” said Swirbul. “Unbelieveable coaches, wax testers and teammates throughout the year are what have give me this opportunity! Thanks to all!”

“I felt pretty good about my race!” said Brams. “My skis were rippin’, but the hills were TOUGH!”

In the U16 men’s 10 k race, new faces were on the podium. Jager (Alaska) claimed the Junior National individual freestyle title 17.3 seconds ahead of James Clinton “JC” Schoonmaker (Far West) and Ti Donaldson (Alaska) who finished third.

“Our skis were feeling really good and that helped make the entire race feel solid,” said Jager. “I was getting splits from our coaches that all of my teammates were killing it, which encouraged me to dig a little deeper. I was pretty surprised with the result, but couldn’t be more stoked. The race was hard but also fun.”

“On Monday I didn’t really have the best race, so today I just wanted to come out and give it my all and I think I did that so I’m really happy,” said Schoonmaker. “This whole trip has been great despite the weather conditions, but its just awesome we got to race today and I’m super grateful for all the volunteers and everyone out here.”

“This whole season, I’ve been thinking about this race alone,” said Donaldson. “When today finally came, I couldn’t help feeling butterflies in my stomach. However, I forced myself to retain my focus and concentrate on skiing my absolute best. It worked! Also, HUGE shoutout to all of the volunteers who sacrificed their time to work on such an awesome course.

In the final race of the day, the U16 women battled to the finish in a tough 5k race. Palmer-Leger (Intermountain) claimed the Junior National individual freestyle title just 3.1 seconds ahead of Novie McCabe (Pacific Northwest) and Margaret Gellert (Alaska) who finished third.

“The whole season I have been working very hard to make it to Junior Nationals,” said Palmer-Leger. “The first race went okay, but this second race I concentrated and focused on getting top three. My coaches have been a huge help in getting me where I am today. Also, a huge shoutout to all of the volunteers who spend so much of their time working on the course.”

“I have had a really amazing season this winter. I had an amazing racing today and I was super excited to finish top three,” said McCabe. “This trip has been really fun and I have loved racing here. The courses are super fun and have lot of great hills. I am so lucky to be racing here and I am super excited to start racing next season.”

“It was really awesome coming off of a bad race on Monday, and be able to race competitively with the best female U16s in the Nation today,” said Gellert. “It’s always fun to end the season with a race where you feel good! I am so lucky to be a part of such a great team (Alaska Winter Stars) and travel with my teammates from Alaska.”

Competition continues Friday, with a freestyle sprint. The races will be streamed live, courtesy of Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC).


U20 Men

U20/U18 Women

U18 Men

U16 Men

U16 Women

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Warm Weather, Melting Snow Postpones Junior Nationals Day 2

Warm temperatures and the resulting wet snow has led organizers to push back Wednesday’s races at Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis., and change the formats to a freestyle individual start on Thursday, freestyle sprint on Friday, and potential freestyle relay on Saturday.

Junior Nationals opened Monday with 5/10 k classic individual starts.

Wednesday’s races were canceled during a coaches’ meeting early Tuesday evening. The wet snow is causing drainage problems on the trails at Telemark and making it difficult to bolster with manmade snow. The stadium is reportedly a puddle, which could force organizers to move the start to a different area and also affect the length of the course loops.

On Wednesday, the forecast in Cable called for a high of 37 degrees Fahrenheit with scattered showers.

More details will be posted when they become available.

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New Junior National Champions Crowned at 5/10 k Classic in Cable

Nick Gardner (Midwest) skiing to a 35-second victory in the U20 men's 10 k classic individual race on Monday, the first day of Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis.

Nick Gardner (Midwest) skiing to a 35-second victory in the U20 men’s 10 k classic individual on Monday, the first day of Junior Nationals in Cable, Wis.

(Press release)

CABLE, Wis. (March 7, 2016) – Warm weather and tough conditions greeted the skiers as the 2016 USSA Junior National Championships kicked off Monday, on the historic and grueling Telemark Trails.

Nick Gardner (Midwest) U20, Abigail Drach (Midwest) U20, Hunter Wonders (Alaska) U18, Leah Brams (New England) U18, Mae Chalmers (New England) U16, and Gus Schumacher (Alaska) U16, claimed the coveted 5- and 10-kilometer classic individual Junior National titles.

The men’s U20 10k race had first tracks and the coolest temperatures of the day as Gardner (Midwest) skied to a convincing first-place finish 35.1 seconds ahead of Logan Diekmann (Intermountain) who was second and Max Donaldson (Alaska) who finished third.

In the men’s U18 10k race, Wonders (Alaska) claimed the Junior National classic title 26 seconds ahead of Nolan Herzog (Rocky Mountain) and Xavier Mansfield (Midwest) who finished third. Wonders also had the fastest time of the day overall on the 10k course. Wonders has had an exceptional year competing in the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway and the U18 Scandinavian Championships in Otepaa, Estonia in February.

In the women’s U20 5k race, Drach (Midwest) dominated the race to claim the Junior National classic title 32.5 seconds ahead of Mattie Watts (Midwest) and Lauren Jortberg (New England) who finished third.

In the women’s U18 race Brams won the women’s race overall and claimed the Junior National classic title just 4.8 seconds ahead of Mackenzie Rizio (New England) and Hailey Swirbul (Rocky Mountain) who finished third. Brams also had the fastest time of the day for the U20/U18 women’s 5k race.

The U16 races became more challenging as the temperature increased, causing the course to become soft. In the men’s 5k race, Schumacher (Alaska) claimed the victory by 6.8 seconds over Ben Ogden (New England) and Conor Munns (New England) who finished third.

In the women’s U16 5k, Chalmers (New England) claimed the Junior National individual classic title just 3.9 seconds over teammate Anna Lehmann and Abigail Jarzin (Midwest) who finished third.

Competition continues Wednesday with a 1.3/1.0k classic sprint. The races will be streamed live, courtesy of Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC).


U20/U18 Men

U20/U18 Women

U16 Men

U16 Women


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Making Lemon-Aid: A Guest Post by Coach Howden

Kieran, Bella, Pat, Alec & Madi in Holmenkollen on their way to the Statoil cup in Hovden, Norway. (Photo: Ron Howden/Team Hardwood)

Kieran, Bella, Pat, Alec & Madi in Holmenkollen on
their way to the Statoil cup in Hovden, Norway. (Photo: Ron Howden/Team Hardwood)

By Team Hardwood Coach Ron Howden 

What do you do when qualification races don’t go the way you wanted and you don’t make either trip to Europe?

A. Go home and feel sorry for yourself

B. Get upset and give up skiing

C. Race domestic NorAms

D. Get on a plane and go to Norway and Sweden

E. C & D

On Jan. 17 when Cross Country Canada published the teams for the junior European trips and 3 of the 4 athletes that I coach didn’t qualify,  we went back to the house where we were staying and had a team meeting and I asked them the question above.  All three of them came up with the same answer: E.

For Bella, Madi and Kieran this is their last year in Junior, they were hoping to make the world junior team and if not then the B-tour.  As so many other athletes they were dedicated to their training in the summer, found a way to balance their training, racing and University through the fall and raced well in the early season.  By the time world junior trials came around they all raced as hard as they could, but in the end others were faster on that day.

When we sat down after the race we all decided that we were not going to let others determine our fate, if we were going to succeed in this sport then we had to work with the ups and downs.  This one decision set the wheels in motion for the plan for the rest of the season.

Step one, look at the FIS calendar and find the best time to go to over to Europe and the best races to go to and how we can blend that with the two Noram’s that are in Quebec.  We decided on the following schedule

  • Jan 30 & 31 – NorAm Mont Ste. Anne
  • Feb 5-7 – Eastern Canadian Championships – Gatineau
  • Feb 12-14 – Statoil cup – Norway
  • Feb 19-21 – Intersport cup- Sweden

Step two, send a few emails to get entered for the races, book accommodation and rent a car.

Step three, pay for the trip. Amazingly the whole trip was about the same cost as they would have paid if they went on one of the planned trips so it was in the budget they set for the season.

As their coach I am super proud that these three athletes were able to accept the decision, make a new plan and refocus.  As a result they were able to turn an unfortunate result into an incredible learning experience that will last with them for a lifetime.

The road to achieving your goals will be filled with successes and disappointments; it is how we deal with these that make us a better skier.

(Ron Howden is head coach and technical director of Team Hardwood, a nordic developmental program based out of Barrie, Ontario.)


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YOG Wrap: Three Medals for Korea’s Magnus Kim; Hunter Wonders 8th in 10 k Skate

Magnus Kim racing to gold in the men's 10 k freestyle at 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Kim is the son of a Norwegian and Korean couple and races for South Korea. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Magnus Kim racing to gold in the men’s 10 k freestyle at 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Kim is the son of a Norwegian and Korean couple and races for South Korea. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Given the choice, who would you ski for: Korea or Norway? Dual citizen and most recently, dual gold medalist at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, Magnus Kim, found the answer easy. He chose Korea.

“They [Norwegians] actually like me representing Korea because people think this is an opportunity to develop the sport,” 17-year-old Kim said in an Yonhap news press release. “In Norway, most people welcome the idea of promoting skiing to other countries.”

The son of a Norwegian and Korean couple, Kim won his second gold medal last Thursday, Feb. 18, in the men’s 10-kilometer freestyle individual start. He completed the 2 x 5 k course in a time of 23:04.8, the next best finisher, Vebjørn Hegdal of Norway, 16 seconds behind.

“I had thought about winning a medal in this event, but I didn’t expect to collect two gold medals and one silver,” Kim said.

Along with Thursday’s gold medal in the 10 k, Kim also collected a silver medal in the preceding classic sprint and a gold medal in the cross-country cross sprint.

Thursday’s bronze medal went to Igor Fedotov of Russia, who finished 54.4 seconds back from Kim’s winning time.

American Hunter Wonders, of Anchorage, Alaska, raced to a top-10 finish in the 10 k for his best finish at this year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG). He placed eighth (+1:43.7), two-tenths of second behind Finnish skier Remi Lindholm in seventh (1:43.5).

The second North American in the men’s 10 k was Canadian Levi Nadlersmith, who finished in 28th (+3:13.8).

“The Youth Olympic Games has been an amazing experience to be a part of!” Nadlersmith told Cross Country Canada. “I have learned an incredible amount from this opportunity to compete for Canada.”

In the women’s 5 k freestyle individual start, Russia’s Maya Yakunina won her first Youth Olympic Games gold medal, winning the event in a time of 12:58.8.

Though the win was what Yakunina  “wanted to achieve” while on course, she stayed focused on the 5 k at hand.

“I tried not to think about the medal. I just wanted to do my best on the course and see what the result would be,” Yakunina said in an interview with Youth Information Service (YIS).

Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Academy) racing to 17th in the women's 5 k freestyle at 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Academy) racing to 17th in the women’s 5 k freestyle at 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Winning China’s first medal in a YOG cross-country event was Chi Chunxue, finishing 31.1 seconds behind Yakunina’s time to take silver.

“Everyone wants to win gold, but you have to strive and really work hard for it,” Chunxue said to YIS. “Here [at the YOG] I met so many excellent athletes and this will inspire me to work even harder in the future.”

Thursday’s bronze medal went to Finland’s Rebecca Immonenen, who finished 37.1 seconds back from Yakunina’s time.

“It is unbelievable that I won bronze,” Immonenen told YIS. “This means so much to me.”

The two North American women in Thursday’s 5 k, Canadian Annika Richardson and American Hannah Halvorsen both bagged top 20’s, finishing 16th (+1:11) and 17th (+1:15), respectively.

“It was one of those magical days where I found I could access my reserves and my mental toughness easily,” Richardson told Cross Country Canada. “I love that I finished racing here at YOG on a high note.”

The10 k freestyle race on Thursday marked the final individual cross country event for both the men and women YOG competitors.

Results: Men | Women


Friday brought cross-country skiers, ski jumpers and nordic-combined competitors together for the YOG’s first nordic mixed team normal hill/3 x 3.3 k relay.

Each team fielded five athletes: a female jumper, a male jumper, a nordic-combined athlete, a female cross-country skier, and a male cross-country skier. The three jumpers combined jump result determined the nordic-combined skier’s start time in the event’s skiing portion.

The skiing portion included 3 x 3.3 k legs. The first leg was skied by the team’s female cross-country competitor. Leg 2 was skied by the nordic-combined athlete. The third and final leg was raced by the team’s male cross-country competitor.

Taking the gold in the event was the Russian team, with ski jumpers Sofia Tikhonova and Maksim Sergeev, female cross-country skier Maya Yakunina, nordic-combined skier Vitalii Ivanov, and male cross-country skier Igor Fedotov, winning the relay race in 26:16.9.

Yakunina finished Leg 1 in first in a time of 8:45.1. Ivanov jumped to seventh place, Tikhonova jumped to second, and Sergeev ninth.

“This team competition is very important and I’m glad that I was able to do my part well,” Tikhonova told YIS regarding her performance on Friday.

Russia’s combined team jumps put Ivanov on course 35 seconds behind Slovenia, the team with the best jumps of the day, with female jumper Ema Klinec, male jumper Bor Pavlovcic, nordic-combined athlete Vid Vrhovnik, female cross-country skier Anja Mandeljc, and male cross-country skier Luka Markun.

Russia’s Ivanov then skied the sixth-fastest second leg in a time of 8:42.2 and tagged off to Fedotov, who anchored the Russians to first with the sixth-fastest third leg time of 8:14.6.

“Everything was wonderful and I was very happy when I crossed the line,” Fedotov told YIS. “Maya did a great job putting us in [position to challenge] the first position and the ski jumpers also did well.”

Following Russia’s first place finish was team Norway with silver. Female jumper Anna Odine Strøm, male jumper Marius Lindvik, female cross-country skier Martine Engebretsen, nordic combined athlete Lurås Einar Oftebro, and male cross country skier Vebjørn Hegdal made up the Norwegian team. They finished 21.1 seconds behind Russia.

“I saw the other guys were really tired in the long hill and I saw a really big opportunity there,” Hegdal told YIS regarding his relay leg. “ It’s amazing, it’s really cool to take silver as a team.”

Third place went to Germany, just one-tenth of a second ahead of Slovenia in fourth place and four-tenths of a second behind Norway.

Female jumper Agnes Reisch, male jumper Jonathan Siegel, female cross-country skier Anna-Maria Dietze, nordic-combined athlete Tim Kopp, and male cross country skier Philipp Unger garnered the bronze medals for Germany.

“I’m so happy, we had the perfect team and we all worked together,” Unger said to YIS after the race.

The Americans finished eighth (+2:09.8), with ski jumpers Logan Sankey and Casey Larson, Halvorsen, nordic-combined skier Ben Loomis, and Wonders.

Halvorsen skied the seventh-fastest first leg, 58 seconds back from Yukinina’s time. Loomis and Sankey both posted the 11th-best jumps, and Larson jumped to seventh. Their combined jumps put Loomis on course 1:59 back from Vrhovnik. Wonders anchored for the U.S., skiing the second-fastest third leg of the day in a time of 7:59.6.

Sankey wrote on Twitter that she was “stoked for the team event.”



Norway's Fredrik Qvist Bucher-Johannessen during leg two of the mixed relay biathlon event at the YOG on Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Norway’s Fredrik Qvist Bucher-Johannessen during leg two of the mixed relay biathlon event at the YOG on Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

The final day of competition for this year’s YOG included the biathlon mixed relay.

Two women and two men competed for each team, with the women skiing 6 k and the men skiing 7.5 k.

Winning the event gold medal in a time of 1:18:35.6 was the home team: Norway. Out on course first for the team was Marit Øygard, skiing the fifth-fastest first lap in a time of 19:15 after missing three prone shots (0+3) and two standing (0+2).

Øygard tagged off to Marthe Krakstad Johansen, who skied her leg the fastest in a time of 18:42.2 after cleaning prone and missing two in standing (0+2).

Next up for Norway was Fredrik Qvist Bucher-Johannessen, who was the fourth fastest to complete the third leg, skiing the 7.5 k in a time of 20:44.7 after missing three prone shots (0+3) and one standing (0+1).

Guttorn Sivert Bakken anchored Norway to gold, posting the third-fastest fourth leg after cleaning both stages.

“It was an extremely good event, all three of [my teammates] had a really good race and I had the extra time that I needed to get the gold,” Bakken told YIS.

Germany took silver, 7.6 seconds behind Norway, with first leg Juliane Fruehwirt, who missed three prone shots (0+3) and two standing (0+2). Franziska Pfnuer skied the second leg for Germany and cleaned both stages, then tagged Simon Gross, who completed the third leg with one penalty in prone (0+1). The final German was Danilo Riethmueller, who had the fastest-fourth leg in a time of 19:40.3 and one miss in prone (0+1) and two standing (0+2).

“It’s a little bit more emotional, because you fear and you hope with the others when they are at the shooting range. It was so amazing,” Fruehwirt told YIS.

Italy's mixed relay biathlon team after winning bronze at the YOG on Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Italy’s mixed relay biathlon team after winning bronze at the YOG on Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: YOG/Facebook)

Rounding out the podium was team Italy with the bronze medal. Samuela Comola cleaned both stages then tagged Irene Lardschneider, who cleaned prone and had two misses in standing (0+2).

Italian biathlete Cedric Christille got on course next, skiing the third leg in a time of 20:52.7, with one prone miss (0+1) and two standing (0+2). Italy’s final skier was Patrick Braunhofer, who skied the 7.5 loop in a time of 19:50.4 after cleaning prone and missing one shot standing (0+1).

“We were hoping for a medal since the start,” Braunhofer said to YIS. “When it becomes reality, it is impossible to describe. The first thing I thought arriving at the finish line was that everyone in the team had done a perfect job. Today we really had the perfect race.”

The Americans finished seventh, 6:20.6 behind Norway.

Chloe Levins started first for the U.S., cleaning prone and missing one shot standing (0+1). Levins passed off to Amanda Kautzer, who had a single prone miss (0+1) and two standing (0+2).

The first male on course for the U.S. was Vasek Cervenka, who used all three spares in prone and skied two penalty laps (2+3) and missed one shot standing (0+1).

Anchoring the Americans was Eli Nielsen, who skied a penalty lap (1+3) and one missed shot standing (0+1).

The Canadians placed 16th (+11:04.6), with starter Tekarra Banser, cleaning prone and missing two shots standing (0+2). Banser tagged off to Gillian Gowling, who had four penalty laps followed by two standing misses (0+2).

Leo Grandbois was Canada’s first male on course in a time of 21:12.3, with one missed shot prone (0+1) and two standing (0+2). Ben Churchill anchored the Canadians with two missed prone shots (0+2) and two standing misses (0+2).


— Gabby Naranja

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