The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay (UWGB), College of Saint Scholastica (CSS), and St. Cloud State University (SCSU) represented the CCSA at the Gitch Gami Games in Cable, WI this past weekend. This race venue is unique in that the starting line will be skied across by thousands of skiers in one month by competitors in the largest cross country race in North America, The American Birkebeiner. The racers seem to get a little bit of adrenaline at this venue due to the stadium set-up and loud cheering by many spectators.
The Saturday races consisted of Classic Sprints. It was a cold start to the morning, but the race organizers were able to go on with the race as scheduled and put on a great event. The collegiate racers, qualifying 11 of the 14 total collegiate racers into the heats, dominated the men’s field. Green Bay made a big push in the heats by moving 6 out of 7 men into the semi-finals. The day ended with a Green Bay double podium with Jake Ajax and Tom Woolhouse in 1st and 2nd overall, followed by teammate Cory Rouw in 5th place (3rd collegiate).
It was a similar affair in the women’s race with a big portion of the heats consisting of collegiate athletes. It was Scholastica that made the moves in the heats to bring 5 women in the semifinals. The day ended with the 24th fastest qualifier Samatha Benzing moving all the way up into 2nd overall, followed by teammate Hannah Bettendorf. Nicole Gilman finished off the CCSA Podium in 8th overall. The overall winner on the day was Lucinda Anderson from LNR.
The Sunday races brought a two-hour delay due to the cold. This allowed the coaches some extra time to dial in the athlete’s skis and get ready for a great day of racing. Both men and women completed 3 laps of a 3.3k loop. In the men’s race teammate Emil Book Bratbak, and Nicholas Matelich (CSS) broke away from the field during the first lap and skied with each other for the rest of the race. It was Jack Christianson (CSS) that made a big move during the second half of the race to close the gap down to less than 10 seconds to finish in 3rd place.
The women’s was broken apart early by the pace set by the back-to-back overall winner Lucinda Anderson (LNR). This was the only podium shared by more the one CCSA school for the weekend. Sadie Peterson (UWGB), Cecelia Boyle (CSS), and Maddie McKeefry (UWGB) finished 4th, 7th, and 10th respectively.
The Gitchi Gami Games provided a good opportunity for CCSA skiers to fine tune as they head into next weekend’s Rhinelander CCSA race. On tap is a 5/10 km Skate Interval Start and 15/20 km Classic Mass Start.