This past weekend brought the first NCAA qualifier race weekend of four in the Midwest. Northwoods Nordic Ski Club and CAVOC hosted the CCSA in Rhinelander, WI. The trails were in fantastic shape due to the many hours the trail crew and volunteers put in. The big talking point for the weekend was the changes made to the racing schedule and distance due to the cold weather. Extreme cold weather caused the organizers to move the shortened mass start classic to Saturday, and interval starts to Sunday. In addition to switching days, start times were moved to the warmest parts of the day in the afternoon. The steps taken by the race organizers proved effective, as both races were able to go off as planned!
Saturday was the warmer of the two days with highest reaching into the single digits. Finding kick was not going to be an issue with the cold weather and hard tracks that CAVOC had up to offer. Finding fast skis was the challenge for the coaches. NMU and MTU clearly found the correct combination as they made up the entirety of the podium in both genders. In the men’s race, there was a seven-man pack for most of the race represented by NMU, MTU, and CSS. It was Zak Ketterson (NMU) who proved victorious on the day and took the win. Closely followed behind was team mate Kjetil Bannerud and Kristofer Vollset (MTU). It was a similar affair in the women’s mass start with a pack of 5 ladies through the first half of the race. As the second lap started, 3 women started to break away from the rest. It came down to the wire, but Nicole Schneider (NMU) proved once again to be the cream of the crop and had the fastest time of the day. Sarah Goble (MTU) finished very closely behind in 2nd place and Abigail Jarzin (NMU) finished 3rd.
Sunday brought another round of cold weather that forced many competitors not to toe the line. While these decisions were made by the athletes and coaches, the races were still successful none the less. The first race of the day was the women’s 5km skate. After a second place finish in the previous day, Sarah Goble (MTU) rose to the occasion and took the top step on the podium on day 2 of racing. Teammate Amanda Kautzer narrowly edged out Sadie Peterson (UWGB) for second place. This was Peterson’s first trip to the CCSA podium in her collegiate career. It was a close race in the men’s field for the podium. MTU Redshirt Mitch Delong was the fastest skier on the day. Teammates Patrick Acton and Thomas Bye rounded out the CCSA Podium.
MTU took advantage of the cold temperatures over the weekend and locked up both the men’s (190 pts) and women (186 pts) overall team titles. On the women’s side, it was host school UWGB finishing in 2nd (147 pts) and CSS in 3rd (144 pts). It was a flip of the other side of the podium in the men’s field with CSS taking 2nd (168 pts) and UWGB taking 3rd (130 pts).
It will be another short break for the athletes with another weekend of racing on tap. The second CSSA NCAA qualifier will take place back in Ishpeming at Al Quall Recreational Area. Hosted by NMU, the races will be a 5/10 km freestyle interval start on Saturday and a 15/20 km classic mass start on Sunday.