Elite Racing Weekend Recapby Mary Kozloski
February 7, 2017
HOUGHTON, Michigan (February 4-5, 2017) - The Michigan Tech trails played host to the CCSA Distance Championships where Northern Michigan University (NMU) ruled the men’s and women’s competition on Saturday’s 5/10k individual classic as well as Sunday’s 15/20k mass start skate races. CXC’s Kyle Bratrud also joined in on the fun, adding to the competition and taking both of the overall titles for the men’s 10k classic and 20k skate.
“These races provided me with an opportunity to continue sharpening my form for the World Championships in a few weeks times,” explained Bratrud. “Once again, Houghton provided perfect cold skiing conditions with easy kick, firm tracks, and a solid skate deck.”
Saturday kicked off with a 5/10k individual classic race, where the racers competed against the clock and the course. In the women’s competition, first place was determined by just five tenths of a second. NMU’s Kristen Bourne made an impressive come back after fighting mono for the majority of the season, edging teammate Nicole Schneider for the win, followed by Vivian Hett who grabbed third. NMU dominated the top seven. Caroline Brisbois was fourth, Sophie Schimpl fifth, Sophie Mcdonald sixth, Sarah Bezdicek seventh, followed by Michigan Tech University’s (MTU) Carolyn Lucca and Sonja Hedblom in eighth and ninth and University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s Bree Mucha rounded out the top ten, finishing tenth overall
In the men’s 10k classic, CXC’s Kyle Bratrud dominated the race, winning by over one minute.
“My goal was to attack the classic race from the gun and hang on for the win,” said Bratrud.
In the men’s collegiate overall competition, NMU swept the podium as Fredrik Schwencke skied to a convincing first place finish. Schwencke had a 0.40 second lead over teammate Zak Ketterson and Sam Ellefstrom who finished third. Michigan Tech’s Tom Bye stole fourth from the College of Saint Scholastica’s (CSS) Reitler Hodgert who finished fifth, while MTU’s Tomi Mikkonen was sixth. NMU’s Lars Sonsterud finished seventh, followed by MTU’s Gaspard Cuenot in eighth, CSS’s Ryan St. Clair ninth and NMU’s Leo Hipp grabbed a top ten finish.
“Starting with the classic race, I started the race pretty much as fast as I could and skied really fast in the first 5K,” said Zak Ketterson. “In the 2nd 5k I lost time to teammate Fredrik Schwencke who is a defending NCAA champ and a very strong skier especially in classic.”
The CCSA Distance Championships concluded on Sunday with a 15/20k freestyle mass start. In the women’s competition, another battle between NMU’s Kristen Bourne and Nicole Schneider took place on the Tech Trails for the coveted CCSA distance champion crown. After 15 grueling kilometers, Bourne had the final push to claim her second winning title of the weekend just one tenth of a second ahead of Schneider and Schimpl who finished third. Once again, NMU monopolized the top seven, where Caroline Brisbois was edged out of a podium spot again claiming fourth while Vivian Hett finished fifth. Sophie Mcdonald was sixth, Sarah Bezdicek seventh, MTU’s Carolyn Lucca eighth, Sonja Hedblom ninth and CSS’s Kelsey Dickinson finished tenth.
In the men’s 20k freestyle, CXC’s Kyle Bratrud controlled the competition, winning by nearly three minutes ahead of NMU’s Zak Ketterson.
“In the skate race, I wanted to make an attack early in the race (7k) and see if I could grind off the front and get a solid workout in,” explained Bratrud. “My energy level, skis, and technique all felt good so I'm super satisfied with the weekend. Always fun racing with the CCSA boys. Now it's time to make the final preparations in training for Lahti!”
Ketterson edged MTU’s Gaspard Cuenot by just 5.5 seconds to win the CCSA freestyle distance championship, followed by Fredrik Schwencke who finished third. MTU’s Tom Bye missed out on the podium by just 4.2 seconds finishing fourth, while NMU’s Sam Elfstrom was fifth, University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s Kyle Marshall was sixth, CSS’s Reitler Hodgert seventh, NMU’s Leo Hipp was eighth followed by teammate Lars Sonsterud in ninth and MTU’s Tomi Mikkonen in tenth.
“In the 20k, we (Freddy, Gaspard, Tom Bye and I) tried to ski with Kyle Bratrud in the first lap but realized we wouldn't be able to stay with him, so we let him go and settled into a pack with us four,” said Ketterson. “It was a decently fast pace the whole race, but we definitely were all saving something for the last 400M or so as we knew it'd come down to a sprint finish. I luckily felt very strong in the last 200m and was able to ski away from the pack a bit. Good weekend overall, happy for my team's good results.”
Competition continues February 11-12 in Rhinelander, WI for the CCSA Championships Relays.
STOWE, Vermont (February 3-4 2017) - Great snow conditions greeted the University of Vermont’s Winter Carnival for a weekend of hard fought competition from the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) athletes. With another weekend off for the SuperTour competitors, a few senior athletes joined the competition in Stowe. Eden Prairie, Minnesota Native Abigail Drach who skis for Dartmouth, had an outstanding weekend finishing seventh in the freestyle skate sprints on Friday and third in the 10k classic on Saturday.
“Skiing Stowe this weekend was absolutely beautiful and picture perfect!” Said Abigail Drach. “It was made even better by the great race volunteers and supportive coaches!”
Friday’s competition kicked off with freestyle sprints, where heavy snow made for a tough sprint day. In the women’s competition, University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Silje Wilson (Hamar, NOR) won the sprints just ahead of University of Vermont’s Jana Klaiber (GER) and Dartmouth’s Lydia Blanchet who was third. Drach snatched a spot in the top ten, finishing seventh overall.
“I am usually happy to just qualify in sprints so I enjoyed getting in more sprint experience going through the rounds with others,” explained Drach. “In my quarterfinal I tried to stay behind the lead and finish in the top two, and in my semifinal I tried to implement the same strategy, but did not succeed. I was glad that I was able to make it so far in a sprint race!”
In the men’s sprints, Dartmouth’s Fabian Stocek (Jilemnice, CZE) won just ahead of Benjamin Lustgarten (Burlington, VT) and Tad Elliott (Durango, CO) who finished third. Chicago, Illinois native Andrew Nadler who skis for Dartmouth , had an impressive sprint day grabbing a spot in the top five, finishing fifth overall.
Competition concluded Saturday with a 10k individual classic race. In the women’s 10k, Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury, VT) skied to a convincing first place finish 19.1 seconds ahead of UNH’s Elizabeth Gill (Bozeman, MT) and Drach who finished third. Ely, Minnesota and Lake Nebagamon, WI natives Amy Bianco and Olivia Amber, who both ski for Colby College, grabbed top tens finishing eighth and ninth, respectively.
“In the 10k interval start classic I was able to have great kick up the hills, being able to stride up everything,” said Drach. “There have been so few classic races this year where I have not needed klister! I tried to work on pacing in this race and not go out too hard, I lesson I learned from races last weekend. With racing every weekend I try to take away what I did well and what I can improve upon in every race. In interval start races my tactics are usually just to try to pass every person that I see!”
In the men’s 10k interval classic race, Benjamin Lustgarten dominated the race by nearly one minute ahead of Kris Freeman and Dartmouth’s Stocek who finished third.
Competition for the EISA continues February 10-11 with the Dartmouth Carnival.
Women’s Freestyle Sprint
Men’s Freestyle Sprint
Women’s 10k Classic
Men’s 10k Classic
World Juniors/U23 Championships
SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah (January 31-February 2, 2017) - The USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and U23 Cross Country Ski World Championships came to the U.S. for the first time in 31 years. Despite the large gap in time, the iconic Soldier Hollow Nordic Center has played host to many renowned competitions throughout the years and was able to add one more. Awesome snow made for perfect courses and intense competition for the Junior World Championships and U23 World Championships. The U.S. had several breakthrough performances making for an unforgettable week of competition. Three Midwest natives, Adam Martin (Marquette, MI, Northern Michigan University), Nichole Bathe (Madison, WI, University of Alaska Fairbanks) and Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, MN, University of Vermont) represented the United States on the U23 World Championships Team.
“Racing in the U.S against people from all over the world, was a really cool experience,” said Nichole Bathe. “It was really awesome to see the American flag everyday on the course and have all the volunteers and announcers know your name and hometown. Overall the atmosphere was amazing and something I will never forget!”
“The races were a lot of fun last week, we could not have done as well without the work of the wax techs, coaches, and volunteers,” said Alayna Sonnesyn.
The first day of competition kicked off on January 31st with classic sprints. Nichole Bathe had an impressive day, qualifying 14th overall securing her a solid spot in the quarterfinals, but was unable to move on from there, landing her in 18th overall and third for the U.S. just behind Jesse Knori (Wilson, WY, University of Colorado Ski Team) and Kelsey Phinney (Ketchum, ID, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation). Sonnesyn and Martin did not compete in the sprints, to prepare for the distance races later in the week.
“The sprint went well for me, as I was hoping to get through the quarterfinals, but was happy with where I ended up!” Said Bathe.
The 10/15k freestyle tested racers endurance and was the second competition of the U23 World Championships. Alayna Sonnesyn had a strong race, finishing 33rd overall and third for the U.S women behind Phinney and Knori, while Bathe finished 39th overall and fourth for the U.S.
“Personally, I was hoping for a little more with my races but coming from sea level only a few days before was a tricky situation to be in,” mentioned Sonnesyn. “Racing back at Soldier Hollow made the races seem less intimidating, but the competition was still as high as ever. It was an honor to race in the stars and stripes and definitely setting new goals for the future!”
Adam Martin scored in the top 25 in the men’s 15k freestyle, finishing 22nd overall and second for the U.S. team, behind Patrick Caldwell (Lyme Center, NH, Stratton Mountain School) who had an impressive top ten finish, placing ninth overall.
“It was really cool to race U23s in America at Soldier Hollow,” said Adam Martin. “I was content with my races and happy to finish in the top 20 for the first time in the skiathlon.”
Competition for the U23 World Championships concluded February 4th, with a 7.5km/7.5km and a 15km/15km Skiathlon. In the women’s competition Sonnesyn was second for the U.S. and 31st overall just behind teammate Knori who was 30th overall and the top U.S. finisher. Bathe also had a strong race, finishing third for the U.S. and 33rd overall.
“The two distances races were really tough, I learned a lot about racing and tactics and they made me really excited to have one more year as a U23!” Said Bathe. “I also want to extend a huge shoutout to the coaches and waxing staff who sent us out in amazing skis every time they really set us up for success every time we touched the course!”
In the men’s skiathlon, Martin had another impressive race finishing 15th overall and third for the U.S. men behind Caldwell who scored another top ten and was first for the U.S, while John Hegman (Huntington, VT, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) was second and 11th overall, missing the top ten by just 20 seconds.
Women’s Classic Sprints
Men’s Classic Sprints
Women’s 10k Freestyle
Men’s 15k Freestyle
Women’s 7.5km/7.5km Skiathlon
Men’s 15km/15km Skiathlon
2017 HAYWOOD NORAM CANADIAN EASTERN CHAMPIONSHIPS
GATINEAU/CANTLEY, Quebec, Canada (February 3-5, 2017) - The 2017 Haywood NorAm Canadian Eastern Championships concluded Sunday, February 5th after three days of exciting competition. This race event combines several of Canada’s most prolific race series including the NorAm Series, Buff NorAm Sprint Series, FIS Regional Cup Series, Québec Cup, Ontario Cup, National Capital District Series, and Ontario and Quebec University/College races. Stillwater, Minnesota native, Anne Hart who skis for the SMST2 Team had an exceptional weekend of racing, grabbing wins in both the 10k classic and 15k freestyle, as well as a second place finish in the 1.3k freestyle sprints.
“With a big gap in Super Tour racing, I was looking for a good concentration of quality racing at sea level to prepare for the Michigan SuperTours,” explained Anne Hart. “So I was excited to see that Ottawa (one of my favorite cities) was playing host to the Eastern Canadian Ski Championships, a three day race weekend with a pursuit at the end. The first part of the season was pretty tough mentally and physically for me, so I was really excited to go to a new venue and hit some clean slate reset races, and these were exactly what I got!”
Competition kicked off Friday with freestyle sprint races. The women’s 1.3k freestyle competition was determined by a photo finish between Sophie Carrier-Laforte (Quebec) and Anne Hart. In the final stretch it was Carrier-Laforte who had the final push to lunge a toe further than Hart to steal the win just four tenths of a seconds ahead, while Katie Weaver (British Columbia) was third.
In the men’s 1.4k sprint, Etienne Hebert (Quebec) secured the win 2.46 seconds over Dominique Moncion-Groulx (Quebec) and Ricardo Izquierdo-Berner who finished third.
Saturday began the distance races, where competitors raced on a 5km course for the 10/15k classic race. Hart got her revenge against Carrier-Laforte after being edged out of first in the freestyle sprints. Hart claimed the 10k classic champion title just 9.3 seconds ahead of Carrier-Laforte, followed by Maya Macisaac-Jones who was third.
The men’s 15k classic also ended with a final lunge, to determine the champion. After three laps around the 5k course, Andy Shields (Ontario) won by a toe, 1.1 seconds ahead of Ricardo Izquierdo - Bernier and Russell Kennedy (Alberta) who was third.
The 2017 Haywood NorAm Canadian Eastern Championships concluded with a 15/20k pursuit. Racers once again skied on a 5k course for the pursuit. Anne Hart claimed her second win, skiing to a convincing first place finish 20.3 second lead over Macisaac-Jones and Carrier-Laforte who finished third.
“Each race I felt more and more confident in my abilities, skiing big and strong but also relaxed,” said Hart. “The culminating day, a 15K skate pursuit, we faced some challenging snowy conditions. But I’ve learned a lot about snowy conditions this year, and was able to charge out of the gate, put a big enough gap on my pursuers that they couldn’t see me, and practice my pain cave skiing. Looking at splits and videos, I’m pleased at where my fitness is, and my ability to keep my technique good even at the end of 15 Kilometers. I’m excited to head back home with some rebound confidence, and hit the Ishpeming, MI SuperTours full force”
In the men’s 20k, Russell Kennedy (Alberta) claimed the overall pursuit race over Shields and Mancion-Groulx who was third.
BOULDER MOUNTAIN TOUR
(Photo: Nils Ribi)
SUN VALLEY, Idaho (February 4, 2017) - The 42nd Boulder Mountain Tour competitors were greeted with 24 inches of new snow with continuing snowfall the day of the race, setting the racers up for a challenging day. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Caitlin and Brian Gregg of Team Gregg skied the 34k race where Caitlin dominated the women’s competition while Brian finished second overall, just one second out of first. The Greggs also participated and won the Co-Ed Team sprints on Saturday.
“The grooming crew did an incredible job preparing the course with multiple passes,” said Brian Gregg. “When we tested skis in various locations on the drive to the start we were impressed by the firmness of the platform. The snow kept falling though and by race start an inch or two covered the trail and it just accumulated from there.”
After 34k of grueling weather, Silas Talbot (Bozeman, MT) edged Brian Gregg for first, while Sawyer Kesselheim finished third. Duluth, Minnesota native Nick Power grabbed a spot in the top 15, finishing 13th overall.
“A group of four of us broke away about 12km into the race,” said Brian. “I was able to get a small gap and win both preems but whoever skied in front was burdened with breaking the trail. I chose to lead the final kilometers since passing was so difficult but that wasn't successful.”
Despite tough conditions, Caitlin Gregg claimed the winning title by over one minute ahead of Erika Flowers (Belgrade, MT, SMST2) and Mary Rose (Ketchum, ID) who finished third. Pulaski, Wisconsin native Deedra Irwin who skis for Sun Valley Ski Foundation was fourth.
Caitlin broke away from the lead pack of women after winning the second preem. She gets stronger with each kilometer of the race. It is always fun to share a podium together. The snowy conditions made for a unique race this year. We are now living and training at 9,100 in Frisco, CO in preparation for the World Championships (Caitlin) and the Birkie (Brian)
“This year the Boulder Mountain Tour fell during the first week of my PRE-World Championships altitude block, explained Caitlin Gregg. “After spending a few weeks at home and sea level it was a fun challenge to return to altitude and get in another long race effort. During the race we had significant snow falling but my skis were great and my body just felt better and better throughout the course. The Boulder Mountain Tour had a deep field this year and it was fun to practice my pack skiing and feeding with the other top ladies in the event.”
“The snowy conditions made for a unique race this year,” said Brian. “We are now living and training at 9,100 in Frisco, CO in preparation for the World Championships (Caitlin) and the Birkie (Brian).”
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.