Pre-Nationals Race Recap

CCSA News, Race Results |  

A warm weekend in Houghton, Michigan for the first big match up in the CSSA this season, and it was an excellent preview for U.S. Nationals which is at the beginning of January. It was a highly competitive field on both Saturday and Sunday, with cameos from Stratton Mountain School’s Elite Team members, Ian Torchia and Alayna Sonnesyn and Eastern Colligate skiers who came back to the Midwest for a holiday break.

Women's A Final Heat on Saturday

Women’s A Final Heat on Saturday

Saturday was the exciting skate sprints, with qualifiers in the morning, and heats in the afternoon. Sonnesyn crushed the qualifier, being the fastest skier by 7 seconds. Malin Börjesjö (NMU) was 2nd, and Amanda Kautzer (MTU) was 3rd.  In the heats, Sonnesyn continued her winning streak with a pair of NMU women- Börjesjö and Kateřina Hynčicová on her tail. Kautzer and Sarah Goble (MTU) rounded off the A final for the CCSA, both in their first races of the season after competing in the NCAA Cross-Country Championships earlier this fall. First-year CSS skier Maja Petersson led her team in a strong 15th and Lara Ketterer led GB in 32nd.

CSS's Gus Schatzlein and NMU's Matt Bourne battling it out in the finish

CSS’s Gus Schatzlein and NMU’s Matt Bourne battling it out in the finish

NMU’s redshirting Zak Ketterson led teammates Kjetil Bånerud and Tobias Moosman in the sprint qualifier. This is Moosman’s first year at NMU, along with his first year racing in the US, and he was very excited to race hard in Houghton. “Before the sprint race my body was feeling great, and I knew that I was going to be able to push myself to the limit. Going into heats means focusing on many things because you are surrounded by five guys and everything can happen within seconds!”

Aleksi Leino and Adam Witkowski led MTU’s team- an impressive showing from Witkowski, who is coming back from a big injury.

MTU's Amanda Kautzer leading NMU's Malin Börjesjö

MTU’s Amanda Kautzer leading NMU’s Malin Börjesjö

NMU won the final, with Ketterson, Bånerud, Mathias Rolid, and Moosman taking spots 1-4. Tech’s Reid Goble and Leino rounded out the A final. Tech’s Witkowski was the next CCSA athlete who had a great day in the heats. He wrote, “My goal for the day was to execute a good qualifier and to learn the tactics of how the heats would play out. My body was feeling pretty good throughout the day and I definitely learned some new things about the course so it was both a good day of racing and a productive day of learning.”  Tamer Mische-Richter, Emil Book Bratbak, Ryan Steger led CSS, all doing well in the semifinals and Sam Myers led GB’s team in 14th place and Peter Carlen was the lone St Olaf skier in 58th.

Ian Torchia, Kjetil Bånerud, and Zak Ketterson leading the men's 10k

Ian Torchia, Kjetil Bånerud, and Zak Ketterson leading the men’s 10k

On Sunday, rising temperatures were the talk of the stadium. The highs of the day were projected to be around 40 degrees (Fahrenheit), but luckily the early races and dry snow allowed for teams to use hard kick wax (instead of the dreaded klister). The men raced the 2 lap course first at 9:00, and right away, Bånerud, Ketterson, and NMU alumni Torchia pushed the competition. Leading the chase pack was Rolid, Goble, Bratbak, Moosman, Leino, Patrick Acton (MTU), and Xavier Manfield who all rounded out the top 10.

Sonnesyn showed her Midwest racing experience on Sunday, by taking charge of the women’s 10-kilometer race. Börjesjö finished her strong weekend 30 seconds back from Sonnesyn, but 30 seconds ahead of the next CCSA skier, redshirt skier Sophia Mazzoni (MTU). Goble and Hynčicová led the rest of the CCSA’s finishers in the top 10. Hynčicová, who is a sophomore said, “I felt quite tired this whole week, but when I started the [races], I felt that the race season started, and my body felt it too.” Freshmen Emma Stertz and Lara Ketterer were the top finishers for their teams, CSS and GB.

Now with finals done, racers get a week of rest to celebrate the holidays. Teams will return to Houghton for the U.S. National Championships, starting January 2nd. U.S. Nationals not only allows skiers to qualify for World Junior and U23 Championships trips, but it is the first CCSA points race that counts for qualifying for NCAAs.