2019-2020 Season Opener Recap

CCSA News, Race Results

A busy race weekend across the Midwest proved that the competition between the CCSA teams and individuals will be very close this year. With lows dipping around -17 degrees Fahrenheit in Duluth, the College of Saint Scholastica (CSS) had a strong home race weekend in the chilly opener. In the Upper Peninsula, the more tropical weather (temperatures in the 20s) did not take away from the stiff competition between Northern Michigan University (NMU) and Michigan Technological University (MTU).

Bratbak (1), Schatzlein (2), and Matelich (3) had a CSS podium sweep (CSS Instagram)

Bratbak (1), Schatzlein (2), and Matelich (3) had a CSS podium sweep (CSS Instagram)

CXC Opener – Duluth, MN

CSS opened up the racing season with a big bang, claiming the top three spots in the skate mass start on Saturday. Emil Book Bratbak, CSS’s NCCA qualifier last year, took the lead from the start and won by 12 seconds. “We were really excited to race on our home course here in Duluth, where we’ve done a lot of training so far this year. For my part, Saturday’s race felt pretty good, and I managed to focus on my technique and working very well through important sections of the course” wrote Emil. CSS showed its strength with teammates Gus Schatzlein and Nick Matelich both having phenomenal days, finishing within 2 seconds of each other. Shad Kraftson led a strong Green Bay (GB) squad as the 8th CCSA skier, and Peter Carlen was the lone St Olaf skier racing Saturday.

The CSS men taking charge in Saturday's Skate Race (Jackie Schneider, Skinnyski)

The CSS men taking charge in Saturday’s Skate Race (Jackie Schneider, Skinnyski)

On the woman’s side, GB’s Lara Ketterer was the first collegiate woman across the line in her debut CCSA race. Because of GB’s final exams, Ketterer said that it was a short race weekend for her, as they only raced on Saturday so they could get home in time for their tests. Regardless, Ketterer had a successful first race in the US. “The race was pretty hard for me because the course was hard with fewer parts to recover. However, it was fun and there were a lot of people who cheered for us”. CSS teammates Emma Stertz, Samantha Benzing, and Maja Petersson took spots 2-4 and Cheresa Bouley led the St Cloud State University team.


Two CSS women racing Saturday (Jackie Schneider, Skinnyski)

On Sunday, the field was much smaller, due to the cold temperature, and Schatzlein followed up his strong Saturday performance by leading the collegiate field in the classic sprint, placing 3rd overall in the final. The young guns led the women’s race with freshmen Mae Barnes and Stertz battling for 1 and 2. “Personally, my mindset was wired to push my limits while focusing on what I can do to get from point A to B the fastest. The cold on Sunday was a battle in itself, but the team atmosphere stayed positive and my focus never faded”, Barnes wrote.

NMU Opener- Ishpeming, MI

Kjetil Bånerud left a strong impact on the field this weekend, taking both wins on Saturday and Sunday. These results were a bit of a surprise for Bånerud, “I didn’t know how fast I would race this first weekend after a little rough fall with a hip injury and a longer period of sickness.”

Goble and Banerud racing on Saturday

Goble and Banerud racing on Saturday

Despite that, he dominated the college field by 37 seconds in the skate race Saturday, and almost 50 seconds in the classic race on Sunday. “I am always a little excited to get the season started. What I was most happy about this weekend was that I pushed all the way and was able to stay focused throughout both races.” On Saturday, MTU’s Reid Goble and Patrick Acton went 2 and 3, with Mathias Rolid (NMU) following behind in 4th.

First-year athletes dominated the woman’s side, with the top 6 women racing in their first CCSA race. NMU’s Malin Börjesjö won her first CCSA race on her new home course, “ I have been very nervous because you never really know how your shape is until you lay there in the snow after finishing.” Despite this, Börjesjö finished 8 seconds over MTU’s Henriette Semb, followed by NMU’s Molly Miller, Hilde Eide, and Savanna Fassio took spots 3-5.  Anabel Needman and Oda Hovland rounded off Tech’s top 3.


Anabel Needham starting Saturday’s skate race


On Sunday, Mathias Rolid was second to the strong Baanerud, with Goble, Maurus Grond (NMU), and Action in pursuit rounding off the top 5. Hilde Eide was the fastest around the course in the woman’s race, beating Saturday’s champ, Börjesjöby a second and a half. Close behind was Semb, followed by Tech’s Sophia Mazzoni, Hovland, and NMU’s Miller.

Coming Up…

As the college athletes wrap up their winter semester, they also have the next weekend races hosted by MTU to think about. The CCSA will travel up to Houghton to compete in a skate sprint and classic distance mass start on the new U.S National Championships course. Nationals, the first week of January, will be the first official NCAA qualifying race for the CCSA.