A day after a dominant performance in the classic races, Alaska once again were top dogs at U.S. Nationals, though a number of CCSA skiers turned in outstanding performances in the freestyle events at Maine’s Chisholm Ski Club.
The Nanooks again swept the association’s top spots, with Raphaela Sieber and Lex Treinen finishing as the top CCSA skiers in the women’s 20K and men’s 30K races, respectively. Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman and NMU’s Christina Turman also had outstanding races on the women’s side, while Alaska’s David Norris and the Wildcats’ Andy Liebner round out the top three CCSA skiers on the men’s side.
“Our region looks like we are reasonable strong against other regions,” Michigan Tech head coach Joe Haggenmiller said. “I am really impressed with the guys UAF and Northern [Michigan] have, and both those teams have some outstanding women too.”
“Our team may not be competing with them right now, but we are here with a really young team. They are racing hard and competing well and getting some good experience for the future. We are all finding out how much faster we need to get.”
It was a bit of an unusual day for CCSA skiers, as their ranks were nearly divided by skiers participating in the senior events and those taking part in the junior (under 20) races.
Likewise, thin snow conditions forced the race to be held in multiple laps (11 for men, 7 for women) over a 2.5K loop, making for a dizzying affair for skiers and coaches alike.
“I thought the course held up really well today,” Gustavus head coach Jed Friedrich said. “It didn’t get sugary or anything.”
For the women, the Nanooks’ Sieber finished nearly a minute ahead of her closest CCSA competitor; the German carving through the 20K course in 53 minutes and 16.7 seconds: good enough for 13th place overall.
Freeman, however, showed the form that carried her to the NCAA Championships a year ago with a brilliant race of her own, taking 15th overall with a 54:11.0. Turman, also an NCAA competitor, took 22nd with her 55:23.8.
Alaska’s Theresia Schnurr and Northern Michigan’s Marie Soderman finished off excellent weeks of their own by taking fourth and fifth place among CCSA skiers. Schnurr completed the course in 55:56.1 for 27th place overall, while Soderman took 30th in 56:37.8.
Fellow Wildcat Ingrid Fjeldheim bounced back from a difficult classic race on Wednesday to take 35th overall and sixth in the CCSA. Her time of 57:04.1 put her just in front of Michigan Tech’s Malin Eriksson, in 36th place overall.
Erikkson’s teammate, Alice Flanders, had the result of the day for the junior girls, finishing as the CCSA’s top skier with a 14:33.0 in the 10K skate.
A pair of NMU racers were neck and neck for the conference’s second spot, as Libby Ellis (14:44.7) nipped Jordyn Ross (14:44.8) by one-tenth of a second for 18th place overall. Green Bay’s Kailey Mucha took 21st overall, followed by Alaska’s Heather Edic in 22nd.
On the men’s side, Treinen bested his second-place CCSA performance on Wednesday by taking the top spot Thursday with a seventh-place overall finish in 1:11:39.6. Teammate David Norris just missed out on his second straight top-ten overall spot, coming in 11th despite a crash and a broken ski: the freshman making a positive impact in his first CCSA competition.
After taking fifth in the CCSA and 32nd overall in the classic event, NMU’s Andy Liebner continued his fine start to the season by skating to 25th on Thursday. The junior’s time of 1:14:22.6 was the third fastest in the CCSA.
Another Wildcat, Martin Baanerud, placed 30th with a 1:15:07.3, while Ray Sabo was Alaska’s third scoring skier with his 1:15:57.9 – good enough for fifth in the CCSA and 34th overall.
Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman led a trio of CCSA skiers in 39th through 41st place, respectively. Soderman’s 1:16:34.4 pushed him just ahead of Alaska’s John Parry (1:16:53.3) and Gustavus’ Jens Brabbit (1:16:57.8).
“I thought Jens had a pretty good race today,” Friedrich said. “He looks like he’s a contender again for an NCAA spot, and that’s all we can ask for. I think he is getting to where he needs to be.”
In the junior’s boys event (also a 10K skate), Alaska’s Tyler Kornfield rose to fourth with his time of 25:32.1. – a time that secured the sophomore into a spot on the U.S. Ski Team roster for the World Junior Championships.
Saint Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker also turned in an outstanding performance, taking seventh in the junior race with an excellent 25:55.5. Green Bay’s Edward Gurney took 31st overall, while CSS’ Scott Johanik and Kasey Bacso finished 34th and 37th, respectively.
The CCSA programs now head to Duluth, Minn. for the CSS Invite on Jan. 15-16.