US Nationals Previewby Bruce Adelsman
January 5, 2017
The US Cross-Country Ski Championships are January 7-12 at Soldier Hollow, in Midway, Utah. Soldier Hollow hosted the Olympics back in 2002, and since has hosted many Junior National and US National competitions. They also will be hosting the FIS Nordic Junior/U23 World Championships at the end of the month. While snow was a bit of a concern a few weeks ago, snowmaking and some big storms have filled out the course (although as of Thursday, the skiers had not had access to the distance race courses). Perhaps the only concern is some warm weather for the week, but the only impact there would most likely be waxing issues.
- Soldier Hollow, Midway, Utah
- Sat Jan 7 - Freestyle Distance
- 9 am Women's 10K
- Noon Men's 15K
- Sun Jan 8 - Classical Sprints
- 9 am Men's qualifying, women's qualifying
- 1 pm Heats
- Tue Jan 10 - Classical Distance
- 10 am Men's 30K, Jr Men's 10K, Women's 20K, Jr Women's 5K
- Thu Jan 12 - Freestyle Sprints
- 10 am Men's qualifying
- 11 am Women's qualifying
In addition to winning national titles, skiers will also be competing for spots on a number of prestigious international competition teams:
U18 Nordic Juniors Countries Competition (Nations/Scando Cup) - Orkdal, Norway, Jan 22-Feb 1
Skiers under the age of 18 (up to 6 women and 6 men)
World Junior Championships - Midway, Utah, Jan 3-Feb 5
Skiers under the age of 20 (minimum 6 women, 6 men)
U23 World Championships - Midway, Utah, Jan 3-Feb 5
Skiers under the age of 23 (up to 6 women and 6 men)
More details on the trip qualifications
As usual, there is a strong contingent of Midwest skiers signed up to compete. Leading the list is a pair of Olympic veterans, Caitlin and Brian Gregg. The Gregg's are in strong form and are hoping to earn some World Cup starts this season. Caitlin's strong skate history makes her a solid favorite on Saturday. Former State Champ Annie Hart, SMS, dropped the hammer in Houghton just before the holidays and should be in the mix at Soldier Hollow. NMU fields yet another strong team this season, with Adam Martin leading the way for the men's squad and Vivian Hett for the women. Former NMU star Kyle Bratrud, CXC Team, has shown a return to form this season and could make his way to the podium. Another former State Champ, Ben Saxton, now with SMS, is also looking much improved this winter - watch for him in the sprint finals.
Some other skiers to keep an eye on: Alayna Sonnesyn, Univ of Vermont, and Wayzata native, had some impressive opening races at Craftsbury; incoming freshman, Zak Ketterson, NMU, has already been competitive with his collegiate peers; Kevin Bolger, Univ of Utah, posted some top results at West Yellowstone; Abigail Drach, Dartmouth, also logged some good numbers at Houghton in December; Felicia Gesior, CXC Team, has been skiing well in her first post-grad season; Rosie Frankowski, APU, may be back in the mix this winter too.
A few of the Midwest's top juniors are hoping to earn some spots on the U18 or World Junior teams. Perhaps some of the strongest candidates are Kelly Koch, Burnsville, Xavier Mansfield, Spring Lake Park, and Anders Sonnesyn, Wayzata.
Missing from action this week: Erin Moening, St. Paul Highland Park, is recovering from recent shoulder issues, and NMU star Ian Torchia is taking a medical redshirt due to a recent illness.
View the full entry list
Best of luck to all the Midwest competitors!
We have a team of independent photographers out at US Nationals, and hope to provide some same day coverage from most of the races.