RUMFORD, MAINE – A quick turnaround after a long day of racing Thursday didn’t faze Northern Michigan’s Monica Markvardsen as the junior skier made it two CCSA top spots in two days on Friday, finishing as the conference’s top skier in the women’s 20K classic at U.S. Nationals. Alaska’s Tyler Kornfield, who earned a bronze medal in the freestyle sprints earlier in the week, led the charge for the CCSA men, storming to a tenth-place overall finish in the men’s 30K race.
“Monica is finally healthy again this year,” Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim said. “She struggled a bit with overtraining and maybe overreaching last year, but she’s gaining in confidence and is really improving. It’s fun to watch.”
Despite facing a 9 a.m. start after skiing 10K less than 24 hours ago, Markvardsen quickly picked up where she left off, never dropping out of the top 20 in the race on her way to a 16th overall finish.
“Everyone competing in this sport has a pretty high level of fitness, but being able to compete in back-to-back races like this has a lot to do with experience as well,” Fjeldheim said. “The athletes that eat right, rest and do what they need to do to recover between races usually do well.”
Alaska’s Marit Rjabov earned her first CCSA podium of the season, completing the Historic Black Mountain course in 1:11:06.1. Fellow Nanook Aly McPhetres finished third among conference skiers, completing her 20K in 1:12:24.6.
In the tightest finish in the mass start event, Alaska’s Rebecca Konieczny nipped Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski by a tenth of a second, earning 33rd place. The Nanooks’ Crystal Pitney wasn’t too far behind the 34th-placed Frankowski, either, crossing the line just a second later with her time of 1:12:27.8.
Alaska’s Heather Edic continued her steady start to the season with a 36th-place overall finish in 1:13:17.1, while Michigan Tech sophomore Sarah Daniels placed eighth in the conference (38th overall) with her time of 1:14:05.6. Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross and Michigan Tech’s Christina Mishica rounded out the top 10 for the CCSA, respectively.
On the men’s side, Kornfield earned his first CCSA win of the season and a top-10 overall finish with his time of 1:28:23.2 over the 30K course. Northern Michigan’s Kjell Christian Markset continued to impress in his first CCSA event; the freshman earning 12th-place overall and second in the conference in 1:28:26.6.
Another first-year student-athlete, Alaska’s Ludwig Schott, took 29th overall in 1:31:48.4, making him the CCSA’s third-best skier in the event. Northern Michigan’s Erik Soderman was next across the line – the NCAA qualifier from a year ago taking 33rd overall with a time of 1:32:08.8.
Alaska’s Logan Hanneman, the conference’s top skier in Thursday’s freestyle race, took 35th overall and fifth in the CCSA with his time of 1:32:32.4. A pair of NMU skiers followed him across the line, with George Cartwright and Chris Bowler earning the race’s 36th and 37th spots, respectively.
“Kjell is a real character, and a really talented classic skier,” Fjeldheim said. “We are glad to have George back, and our other returning skiers like Erik and Chris have been looking really good as well.”
A fifth-year senior for the Nanooks, Alex Morris ended a solid stay at U.S. Nationals for himself with a 44th-place finish in 1:34:32.6. Alaska’s Ian Wilkinson and Green Bay’s Edward Gurney rounded out the top ten for the CCSA.
After a well-earned day off tomorrow, the CCSA skiers wind up U.S. Nationals with the classic sprint races on Sunday, before heading off to Duluth for the second NCAA qualifier of the season – the Hilltop Invitational on Jan. 14-15.