Collegiate Racing Recap: CCSA, EISA, RMISA by Mary Kozloski
February 5, 2018
HOUGHTON, Michigan (February 3 - 4, 2018) - The Central Collegiate Ski Association raced on the rigorous trail of Michigan Tech University, for a 5/10k individual classic on Saturday and a 15/20k freestyle on Sunday. Once again, Northern Michigan University’s Vivian Hett (Burnsville, MN) proved she is force to be reckoned with in the region. Hett grabbed both of the freestyle and classic titles and the NMU’s women swept the podium on Saturday and Sunday. CXC’s Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie, MN) joined in on the races, winning both of the 10k individual classic and the 20k freestyle mass start. Kjetil Banerud (Oslo, Norway) of NMU was first for the collegiate men in the 10k individual classic, while Gaspard Cuenot (Le Cerneux-Pequignot, Switzerland) of Michigan Tech University grabbed the men’s 20k freestyle mass start win.
Competition kicked off Saturday with a 5/10k individual classic race. Cold temperatures and fresh snow made for hard tracks and ideal conditions for classic racing. From the start of the women’s 5k, Hett hammered throughout the race.
“5km races feel very short so it was important to push my pace the entire race,” explained Hett. “Most of the course required striding, which definitely played to my advantage, because the snow was just too slow to double pole, due to the cold temps. About halfway through the race I received splits that I was tied with my teammate, Kristen, so I tried to give every ounce of effort into the final two long climbs into the finish!”
Hett dominated the race by 19.6 seconds ahead of teammates Kristen Bourne (Lake Elmo, MN) and Anikken Alnaes (Akershus, Norway) who was third.
In the men’s race, Banerud also had a commanding lead over the collegiate competition, finishing 19 seconds ahead of Lars Soensterud (Oslo, Norway) who was second. MTU’s Tom Bye (Eden Prairie, MN) had an impressive race finishing third overall.
“The whole MTU team had a lot of energy coming into our home weekend!” Said Bye. “I had Gaspard in front of me to chase and I was able to close down on him a few seconds to snag the last podium spot. The MTU boys were super competitive having 4 of the top 10. My strategy for the day was to start hard and hang on, constantly reminding myself that I had to keep pushing through our climbing dominant course.”
Bye was able to edge NMU’s Leo Hipp (Forest Lake, MN) by 2.8 seconds, denying NMU of a men’s podium sweep for the men’s 10k. Hett and Banerud were both recently named Athlete of the Week by CCSA due to their performances over the past few weekends.
Racing concluded with a 15/20k freestyle mass start, once again temps were frigid which made for slow skating.
“Day two was another sweet day for MTU, having 6 of the top 9,” said Bye. “It was like a typical workout with the boys because anywhere I looked was a fast Tech suit.”
Gaspard Cuenot of MTU wasn't going to let Banerud get his second podium of the weekend, as he skied to a convincing first place finish 13.2 seconds of Banerud, while Mitchell Delong of MTU finished third.
“Mitch Delong was the first to make a move in on the second lap, he skipped his feed and sprinted down hairpin,” said Bye. “Some skiers had rockets on their feet [Mitch and Gaspard] and were able to work together on the last lap to string out the lead pack and the veteran Gaspard played the race well and had more energy to sprint away from the entire field.”
The women’s 15k freestyle mass start finish was not as predictable, as the top four were just seven seconds apart and the winner was determined by a photo finish.
“Throughout the race, a few people, including myself, tried to break away from the lead pack but it seemed almost impossible because the slow snow made you tired so quickly,” explained, Hett. “With that, I knew the race was going to come down to the last few kilometers of the race.”
In the final stretch Hett and teammate Sarah Bezdicek (Osseo, MN) were battling it out to the finish.
“I tried to stay steady and hold the pace for most of the race and then up the last long climb, I went for it and tried to break from the group,” said Hett. “It was successful but I have to give some credit to my teammate, Sarah, for pushing me so hard at the end!”
At the finish line, Hett was able to lunge a bit further to snag the win just 0.8 seconds ahead of Bezdicek, while Bourne finished third. Bezdicek had an impressive day, nailing her first college podium.
“Overall it was a great race and I'm excited for Conference next weekend in Rhinelander!”
The CCSA will be traveling to Rhinelander, WI for the CCSA Conference Championships February 10 - 11, 2018.
Sidenote: Three Northern Michigan University skiers, Ian Torchia (Rochester, MN), Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, MN) and Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, MN), competed in the FIS U23 Championships in Goms, Switzerland Jan 28 - Feb 2. The standout performance of the week was Torchia’s result in the 10/10k skiathlon, where he finished 27th overall and was the first U.S. U23 male.
CRAFTSBURY, Vermont (February 2-3, 2018) - After a spell of warm weather and challenging conditions the past few weekends in the East, the EISA finally had races with frigid temperatures at the University of Vermont Carnival over the weekend. The 15/20k freestyle mass start and 5/10k individual classic races were hosted at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center after originally being scheduled for the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Alayna Sonnesyn of University of Vermont (UVM) who was competing on her home turf, extending her winning streak this weekend. Zane Fields of Colby College continued to show his strength, as he remains undefeated in freestyle races in the EISA. Peter Holmes of University of New Hampshire had an impressive weekend claiming his first podium of the season in the 10k classic. There were several Minnesota natives in the top 25 this weekend as well, including Abigail Drach (Eden Prairie, MN) of Dartmouth, Margie Freed (Apple Valley, MN) of UVM, Renae Anderson (Golden Valley, MN) of Bowdoin College, Skylar Tupper (Minneapolis, MN) of Colby College, Ellie Hands (Stillwater, MN) of Bowdoin College, Luke Brown (Minneapolis, MN) of Dartmouth, Jan Ketterson (Bloomington, MN) of Dartmouth, Will Bodewes (Minocqua, WI) of University of New Hampshire, Nick Gardner (Stillwater, MN) of Williams College and Scott Harrison (Mound, MN) of Colby College.
The UVM Carnival kicked off with a 20/15k freestyle mass start. In the women’s race, Sonnesyn dominated the competition and once again proved she is unstoppable as she crossed the finish line over one minute ahead of her competitors. Katharine Ogden of Dartmouth was second finishing nearly 30 seconds ahead of Evelina Sutro of UVM who was third. Four Midwest natives were in the top 20, Abigail Drach grabbed a spot in the top five, finishing fifth, while Margie Freed was tenth, Renae Anderson was 13th and Ellie Hands of Bowdoin was 20th.
“This weekend I was mentally prepared for the mass start race,” said Freed. “My coaches had gone over strategy, and it seemed about time we had a longer race. It was nice to ski with a pack during the race, although there was a lot of shuffling between 6th and 20th place which kept things interesting.”
In the men’s 20k freestyle, Zane Fields won the race by 8.7 seconds over Adam Luban of Middlebury, while Luke Brown of Dartmouth was third. Jan Ketterson of Dartmouth finished 11th, just 12.9 seconds out of the top 10 and Will Bodewes of University of New Hampshire was 24th.
Competition concluded on Saturday with a 5/10k individual start classic. Sonnesyn claimed her second win of the weekend but Katharine Ogden did not her concede the victory without a tough fight. Sonnesyn and Ogden were neck and neck but Sonnesyn edged Ogden by three tenths of a second, while Abigail Drach finished third. Margie Freed grabbed her second top ten finish in eighth, Renae Anderson was 19th and Skylar tupper of Colby College was 22nd overall.
“The classic race felt a lot lonelier and shorter than the freestyle race,” explained Freed. “I was confident with the wax and tried to keep my teammate who started in front of me, in view. Also, it was fun to have so many parents at the races, including my own, since it was the UVM home carnival.”
In the men’s 10k classic, Peter Holmes skied to a convincing first place finish 20.6 seconds over Friday’s freestyle distance winner Zane Fields. The fight for the final spot on the podium was a battle as third through fifth place were just one second between each other. Peter Wolter of Middlebury edged Luke Brown by less than one second, while Callan Deline of Dartmouth finished fifth. Nick Gardner of Williams College finished 16th and Scott Harrison of Colby College was 24th.
Competition continues for the EISA with the Dartmouth Carnival, February 9-10.
Sidenote: Andrew Egger (Minneapolis, MN) of Colby College was the only Midwest athlete from the EISA region who competed in the FIS U23 Championships in Goms, Switzerland. Alayna Sonnesyn qualified for the U23 trip due to her outstanding results at U.S. Nationals in January, but choose to stay in the U.S. to continue racing the collegiate circuit.
CRESTED BUTTE, Colorado (February 3 - 4, 2018) - The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association met in Crested Butte, Colorado for the New Mexico Invitational, where athletes raced a 21k freestyle and a 5k classic. Linn Eriksen of University of Denver (DU) grabbed her first win of the season in the 21k ,while Haakon Hjelstuen of University of Utah (UU) secured another freestyle win for the men. Hjelstuen is currently undefeated in the distance freestyle races. Guro Jordheim of UU collected her third win of the season in the women’s 5k classic, while Martin Bergstrom won the men’s 5k classic. Minnesota natives Carolyn Lucca (Duluth, MN) of University of New Mexico (UNM) and Michaela Keller-Miller (Plymouth, MN) of University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) were in the top 20 in the freestyle race and in the top 25 in the classic race.
Competition kicked off Saturday with a 21k freestyle race. In the men’s race, Hjelstuen skied to a convincing first place finish, 12 seconds ahead of teammate Martin Bergstrom and Sindre Tungesvik of UNM who finished third. Linn Eriksen of UU and Emma Tarbath of Montana State University (MSU) were neck and neck in the final stretch but Eriksen had the final push to create a small gap by the finish line. Eriksen was able to edge Tarbath by 5.8 seconds to claim her first podium of the season, while Guro Jordheim of UU finished third. Carolyn Lucca had her best race of the season so far grabbing a spot in the top 15, finishing 11th overall, just 52.5 seconds out of the top 10. Michaela Keller-Miller was in the top 20 as well, finishing 18th overall.
“It was really exciting to have a career best in the 20k skate race,” said Lucca. “The race was pretty unique in that all the college skiers started together as part of the Alley Loop race. I had a blast weaving through people and skiing through the streets of Crested Butte. My parents actually flew out to see the races so it was even more special to cap of the day with a great result!”
The University of New Mexico Invitational concluded with a 5k classic. UU’s Bergstrom grabbed his fourth win of the season to lead the RMISA men’s region. Bergstrom won by 49.1 seconds over Dag Frode Trolleboe of DU, while Alvar Alev of University of Colorado, Boulder (CU) was third. Guro Jordheim won the women’s 5k classic by just 6.8 seconds ahead of Hedda Baangman of CU followed by Anne Siri Lervik of CU who was third. Carolyn Lucca of UNM led the Midwest women in 21st, while Michaela Keller-Miller of UAA was 22nd.
“The 5k classic race the next day was just college skiers and it was a perfect sunny day for skiing,” said Lucca. “Our team ended up doing really well, which was super exciting! I am so grateful to have the opportunity to ski for the University of New Mexico and hope to carry the momentum from this weekend to the rest of the season.”
The RMISA travels back to Colorado February 10 - 11, for the Denver Invitational hosted at Maloit Park Trails. Races include a 5/10k classic on Saturday followed by a 5/10k freestyle on Sunday.
Sidenote: Hannah Rudd (Plymouth, MN) was the only Midwest athlete from the RMISA region who competed in the for the FIS U20 World Junior Championships which is also in Goms Switzerland Jan 28 - Feb 2.
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.