Elite Racing Weekend Recapby Mary Kozloski
January 31, 2017
FALUN, Sweden (January 28-29, 2017) - The U.S. walked away with another strong weekend of races. Saturday, Kikkan Randall was back in her element, leading the U.S. team with a fifth place finish in the 1.4k freestyle sprints. While Jessie Diggins led the team on Sunday with a 10th place finish in the 15k classic mass start.
The U.S. had a strong sprint day on Saturday, qualifying four out of seven women and two out of four men. Randall qualified 26th and got back into her sprinting groove, finishing second in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Randall and Diggins went head-to-head in a tough heat consisting of Norway’s Maiken Falla and Mari Eide, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson and Hanna Falk. Randall continued to fight and stayed consistent, finishing second behind Falla. An unfortunate fall between Falk and Diggins, landed her fifth in the heat, leaving her unable to advance to the finals and finishing 10th overall. Sophie Caldwell finished 16th, followed by Sadie Bjornsen in 19th and Ida Sargent in 25th.
A photo finish determined the women’s podium in a fierce final heat. Sprinting queens, Nilsson and Falla did not back down throughout the whole sprint, forcing them to lung through the finish line. Nilsson stole first by a toe leaving Falla in second and Norway’s Heidi Weng in third. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski finished fourth just ahead of Randall who finished fifth and Sweden’s Jonna Sundling, sixth.
In the men’s 1.4k freestyle sprint, U.S. men Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell qualified 18th and 25th guaranteeing them a spot in the quarterfinals. Newell was in a fast quarterfinal heat, consisting of Italy’s Federico Pellegrino, Norway’s Finn Krogh and Russia’s Nikita Kriukov. Newell and Kriukov lunged for a photo finish to determine third, which Newell stole by a toe. Despite the close finish, Newell did not move on as a lucky loser landing him in 16th overall, while Hamilton finished close behind in 18th.
Another photo finish decided the men’s final heat, for first through fourth. Pellegrino claimed another sprint title, edging Norway’s Emil Iversen by 0.06 seconds, while Norway’s Sindre Skar finished third.
Sunday’s competition kicked off with a 15/30k classic mass start. Four U.S. women grabbed World Cup points, for an impressive distance classic race. Diggins led the U.S. finishing tenth overall, followed by Bjornsen in 21st, Rosie Brennan 24th, Liz Stephen 29th, Caitlin Patterson 32nd, Ida Sargent 32th and Elizabeth Guiney in 49th.
“It was my least favorite conditions today,” said Diggins, “with the tracks really hard to find kick in and getting really sugary as they broke down. The conditions gave me another chance to work on my striding and improve my classic racing! But like yesterday, I was so impressed with our service team and my skis were great!
Despite tough classic conditions, Diggins dug deep and hung on to a lead pack to help her fight to the end. Diggins and Finland’s Anne Kylloenen battled for ninth until the finish, but it was Kylloenen who had the final boost of energy to secure ninth. Norway swept the podium in the women’s competition, as Marit Bjoergen stole her 105th individual World Cup win just 0.5 seconds ahead of teammate Ingvild Oestberg and Heidi Weng who finished third.
“Early on I tried to go with the leaders,” explained Diggins, “but then settled into a great pack of girls to ski with and it came down to an exciting sprint at the end.”
Revenge was the theme of the men’s 30k classic mass start as Norway’s Emil Iversen finally claimed first, after falling to second in Saturday’s sprint race. Iversen claimed first just 3.7 seconds ahead of teammate and World Cup leader Martin Sundby and Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson who stole third from Norway’s Sjur Roethe, denying Norway of a second podium sweep. Erik Bjornsen led the U.S. men finishing 35th, followed by Noah Hoffman in 37th, Matthew Gelso in 44th and Andy Newell in 53rd.
The World Cup circuit will travel to Peyong Chang, Korea, February 3-5, where athletes will compete in classic sprints, a skiathlon and a team sprint. These races will be a test run for the Peyong Chang venue, before the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
“I’m really looking forward to some rest and then a quality training camp with some family time in Valadalen, SWE for the next few weeks!” said Diggins. “My boyfriend is here cheering me on and coming to camp with me, and then my parents come next week so I have so many great things to look forward to!”
Men’s 1.4k Freestyle Sprint
Women’s 1.4k Freestyle Sprint
Men’s 30k Classic
Women’s 15k Classic
Marit Sonnesyn of Plymouth, MN skied to an impressive 10th place finish in the 42k Dolomitenlauf freestyle race in Obertilliach, Austria, January 24, 2017 which was the opening Worldloppet race in Europe.
The French dominated the races as eight out of the first ten places in the men’s competition went to France. In the men’s competition France swept the podium as Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux from Haute-Savoie Nordic Team stole first just two seconds ahead of Candide Pralong from Team GEL interim Rossignol and Guigonnet Loic who finished third.
Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis, MN) of Team Gregg was the defending champion in the women’s competition, and was registered for the event, but after qualifying for World Championships coming up in February, she decided to focus on that race and opted to stay in the U.S. and race the Ski Rennet in Minneapolis, MN. Aurelie Dabudyk is now the new defending champion of the women’s race, who finished just ahead of Switzerland’s Rahel Imoberdorf and Seraina Boner.
MARQUETTE, Michigan (January 28, 2017) - Unseasonably warm temperatures leading up to the 19th annual Noquemanon Ski Marathon nearly wiped away the course, but with hard working race organizers and volunteers tending to the course, the race was able to go on with shortened distances. The 50k was 31k, and the 24k was only shortened by one kilometer.
In the 50k (31k) classic, the defending champion, CXC’s Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie, MN), stole the winning title again, just 1.1 seconds ahead of Chris Pappathopoulos (Sun Prairie, WI) with a time of 1:31:35.3 and Northern Michigan University’s Frederik Schwencke who finished third.
“The noque was blessed with a big snow fall the morning of the race that made for some beautiful conditions to race in,” said Bratrud. “That being said, leading the race through the snow was pretty tough and I was unable to break the field. In the end I was able to get the victory so it was a successful weekend!”
Isabella Howden (Barrie, ON) claimed the women’s 50k (31k) classic title with a time of 1:44:38.6. Howden also won the Seeley Hills Classic in Seeley, WI earlier in January. Howden secured first just 11.2 seconds ahead of CXC’s Felicia Gesior (Waukesha, WI) and Rebecca Davis (Homer, MI) who finished third.
A close finish also determined the winner of the men’s 50 (31K) freestyle race. Zachary Nelson (St. Paul, MN) edged Jacob Beste (Minneapolis, MN) by just 1.4 seconds for the win with a time of 1:30:53.6, while Zach Varty (Elk River, MN) finished third. Jenna Dickinson (Duluth, MN) skied to a convincing first place finish with a time of 1:44:14.9 for the women’s 50 (31k) freestyle race. Dickinson was over 25 seconds ahead of Vicki Asmus (Marquette, MI) who finished second and Lindsey Kriete (Milwaukee, WI) who was third.
In the 24k (23k) classic, Andy Liebner (Cheboygan, MI) dominated the men’s competition, finishing over eight minutes ahead of second place, with a time of 1:17:50.0. Mike Wiitala (Ann Arbor, MI) was second while Jeremy Steele (Negaunee, MI) finished third. Joan Rundman (Hancock, MI) had an impressive race, finishing eighth overall and first for the women’s 24k (23k) classic with a time of 1:33:36.8. Rundman had a six minute lead over second place, Amelia Schankwitz (Bozeman, MT), while Molly Stewart (Queensbury, NY) finished third.
Daniel Dehlin (Marquette, MI) claimed the men’s 24k (23k) freestyle win, with a time of 1:03:35.6. Dehlin skied to a convincing win, three minutes ahead of Kevin Tarras (Grawn, MI) and Ethan Hall (Marquette, MI) who was third. Lindsey Dehlin (Marquette, MI) dominated the women’s 24k (23K) freestyle race with a time of 1:07:07.1. Dehlin was third overall and won the women’s race by over eight minutes, ahead of Hanna Torvi (St. Paul, MN) and Jan Haase (Calumet, MI) who was third.
The Noquemanon also marked the second race in the 2017 CXC Marathon Cup - presented by AVANT Techno, which connects some of the biggest cross country ski events across the Central region into one cohesive competition. The CXC Marathon Cup series continues February 4th with the City of Lakes Loppet in Minneapolis, MN.
EISA - University of New Hampshire Winter Carnival
JACKSON, New Hampshire (January 27-28, 2017) - The University of New Hampshire Winter Carnival, kicked off the second weekend of competition for the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association with a little surprise competition from the West. The University of Utah, who had a weekend off of racing in their division, joined in on the fun this weekend and even went away with a few wins. Minnesota native Alayna Sonnesyn, who skis for the University of Vermont had another strong weekend with two second place finishes.
“The UNH Winter Carnival was so much fun,” said Alayna Sonnesyn. “There was a lot of natural snow, a tough thing to come by out east, so conditions were great for the races.”
Competition kicked off on Friday with a 5/10k classic. In the women’s competition, University of Utah’s Guro Jordheim (Hemsedal, Buskerud, Norway) grabbed first by just 6.8 seconds ahead of University of Vermont and Plymouth, MN native Alayna Sonnesyn and University of Utah’s Merete Myrseth who finished third.
“The course is a blast, lots of gradual climbing and then some super fast and technical downhills,” explained Sonnesyn, “sometimes getting more air over the top of hills than you'd want in the middle of a race. But it was great! You had to go out really fast in the 5k classic as that was where you could make up the most time. Then recover really fast wherever you could and get going up the next hill.”
In the men’s 10k classic, the University of Utah was on top of the podium again. Martin Bergstrom (Pitea, Sweden) dominated the race, winning by over 30 seconds ahead of teammate Martin Mikkelsen (Harstad, Norway) and University of Vermont’s Ian Moore who finished third. Minocqua, Wisconsin native Kevin Bolger, who skis for the University of Utah, claimed a spot in the top ten, finishing sixth overall.
The UNH Winter Carnival concluded on Saturday with a 15/20k freestyle mass start. In the women’s competition, University of Utah’s Merete Myrseth fought hard for the winning title and got her revenge after finishing third on Friday. Myrseth skied to a convincing win 17.3 seconds ahead of Sonnesyn and Dartmouth’s Lydia Blanchet who finished third. Abigail Drach, St. Paul, MN native who skis for Dartmouth, landed in the top ten, finishing 10th overall.
“You had to be smart about the 15k skate because if someone made a breakaway it was pretty easy for the chase group to catch back up to them on the downhills,” explained Sonnesyn. “That meant that if you wanted to gap the group, you had to mean it and really go for it. We had a few guest skiers from the University of Utah join us for the weekend. This was cool because it brought in more competition and really got the skiers excited to race. Overall, yet another very fun weekend of carnival racing out east!”
A photo finish determined the men’s competition after a grueling 20k race. Dartmouth’s Fabian Stocek (Jilemnice, Czech Republic) and Colby College’s Zane Fields were forced to lunge through the finish line. Stocek edged Fields by just 0.03 seconds to steal first, while University of Utah’s Mikkelsen finished third. Bolger and Luke Brown, St. Paul, MN native, grabbed top ten finishes, claiming fourth and ninth, respectively.
Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association competition continues February 3-4, with the University of Vermont Carnival’s freestyle sprints and 10k classic.
Women’s 5k Classic
Men’s 10k Classic
Women’s 15k Freestyle
Men’s 20k Freestyle
CCSA/Midwest JNQ - Duluth Hilltop Invite
DULUTH, Minnesota (January 28-29, 2017) - The CCSA and JNQ athletes met for the Duluth Hilltop Invite facing tough conditions due to unseasonably warm temperatures. The races were adjusted to freestyle races for both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s competition kicked off with a 10/5k freestyle race. Northern Michigan’s women’s team swept the podium as Nicole Schneider skied to a convincing first place finish overall and for the U20 women, over 22 seconds ahead of teammates Vivian Hett and Sophie Schimpl who finished third. Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team’s Abigail Jarzin (Green Bay, WI) was fifth overall and first for U18s ahead of Loppet Nordic Racing’s (LNR) Kelly Koch (Burnsville, MN) and Mara McCollor (Plymouth, MN). Sarah Olson (Coon Rapids, MN) finished first for U16s ahead of Leah Rudd (Plymouth, MN) and Elizabeth Tuttle (Pine Springs, MN) who was third.
“The conditions were very different than what I'm used to!” Explained Nicole Schneider. “The course felt mainly of ice instead of snow... I think that it was good to practice racing on difficult conditions like this. It's what makes you tough! It was a fairly short race (5km), so my plan going in was to attack on every flat and climb and not let up on the downhills. I'm on the NMU ski team, and my teammates just so happen to be my biggest competitors in the CCSA region! My coaches were giving me splits based off of their times, and doing so gave me lots of motivation.”
In the men’s 10k freestyle race, Northern Michigan University’s Gaspard Guenot (Le Cerneux-Pequignot, Switzerland) claimed another win 12.9 seconds ahead of College of Saint Scholastica’s Reitler Hodgert and Northern Michigan University’s Lars Sonsterud who finished third overall and first for U20 men. Mitchell DeLong (Calumet, MI) was first for U18s and finished eighth overall ahead of Patrick Acton (Eagan, MN) and Ryan Steger (Eagan, MN) who was third. James Schneider (Plymouth, MN) was first for the U16s 5k race, just seven second ahead of Peter Moore (St. Paul, MN) and Henry Hall (Minneapolis, MN) who finished third..
Competition concluded Sunday with another set of 5/10k freestyle races. Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team’s Abigail Jarzin won the women’s 10k race overall and also grabbing the win for U18s as well. Jarzin secured the win by just 8.3 seconds ahead of LNR’s Kelly Koch (Burnsville, MN) and Michigan Tech’s Carolyn Lucca who finished third, while Dottie Anderson (Golden Valley, MN) won for U20 and was fourth overall. Sarah Olson skied to another first place finish in the 5k for U16 girls, 11.4 seconds ahead of LNR’s Kasia Bednarski and Olivia Dreger (Marathon, WI) who finished third.
“The snow felt icy but since we have been skiing on ice in Green Bay it wasn't much of a change,” explained Abigail Jarzin. “The course was really fun and it was great to be racing around a bunch of my teammates and friends from around the region. Also a huge shoutout to Coach Scott for always doing an awesome job waxing my skis!”
One second determined the winner of the men’s 10k freestyle race on Sunday. Patrick Acton (Eagan, MN) and University of Wisconsin’s Kyle Marshall fought hard throughout the race, but it was Acton who had the final push to secure the win by just one second over Marshall, while Kyle Hanson (Houghton, MI) finished third. Acton not only won the race overall, he also won for U18s ahead of Luc Golin (Medina, MN) and Ben Olson (Coon Rapids, MN). The College of Saint Scholastica’s Jack Christianson won for U20s, just ahead of Eric Houck (Houghton, MI) and Shad Kraftson (Bayport, MN).
Competition for the CCSA continues February 4-5 in Houghton, MI for the CCSA Championships. The JNQs are headed to Minneapolis, MN February 18-19, for the 2017 Mayor’s Challenge at Theodore Wirth Park.
About the author...
Mary Kozloski is from Green Bay, WI and is a UW Green Bay Ski Team Alumni, where she skied and studied Communications and Business Administration for four years. Mary continues to love and stay connected to the sport through writing. She is a travel and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys exploring everything Colorado has to offer, which she has called her new home state since fall of 2016.