The MTU CXC CUP races showed a competitive start to Midwest racing at both the Junior and Collegiate level. There was an impressive 450 plus racers in all of the events that took place over the weekend. The skiers and spectators lucked out unusual warm and sunny weather. The race course has good snow cover and fast conditions despite a “low” snow fall total so far this year in Houghton.
The Saturday race for the women consisted of an interval start 5k classic. Staying undefeated so far this season, Sarah Goble (MTU) was the fastest collegiate skier in a time of 15:56.4. In what was the closest finish of the season so far, Nicole Schneider (NMU) finished in 2nd only +0.6 seconds behind Goble. NMU teammate Nadine Matter closed the CCSA podium at 16:06.9. Fastest time of the day belonged to Mara McCollor from Minneapolis Ski Club with a blazing time of 15:38.5.
The men completed two laps of the 5k course. Kjetil Stuge Baanerud (NMU) had good form on the day and led the 127 person field in a time of 26:25.8. Following closely behind and rounding out the podium sweep were teammates Zak Ketterson and Ian Torchia. Ketterson and Torchia were +4.8 and +8.0 seconds behind Baanerud, but still had a comfortable lead of more than 30 seconds to the 4th place finisher.
Day two provided excitement with the first mass start races of the season. The womens 10km skate was an exciting affair with a large group of women skiing together for most of the race. At the halfway mark there was a group of 5 skiers that managed a break from the rest of the field (Goble [MTU], Schneider [NMU], Ensrud [NMU], Jarzin [NMU], McCollor [MSC]). In what was a repeat performance of the day prior, Goble continues her streak with another win topping Schneider in a dramatic sprint to the finish by 0.2 seconds in a time of 30:09.2. Ensrud was the best of the remaining members of the 5 person group 4.9 seconds back.
The mens race was a slightly more tactical affair with NMU using some team skiing that lead to a second podium sweep in a row. The early breakaway group consisted of Zak Ketterson (NMU), Ian Torchia (NMU), Mathias Rolid (NMU), and Gaspard Cuenot (MTU). The three NMU teammates took turns sharing the workload on the front for 6km before finally breaking Cuenot after the hairpin on the second lap. Ketterson and Torchia skied then away from Rolid on the back section of the course and made for a second exciting finish on the day. Ketterson beat out Torchia to the line by +0.8 seconds in a time of 25:29.1. Rolid finished +39.7 seconds back in a time of 26:08.8.
The CCSA takes a short break from racing to celebrate the holidays. The next races that take place will be the first NCAA scoring races at Senior Nationals in Craftsbury, VT on January 3rd-8th. The qualifier races are a 10/15km classic interval start and a 20/30km freestyle mass start.