CCSA Conference Championship 2022

CCSA News, Race Results

Championship season started this past weekend in Ishpeming, Michigan with the CCSA Conference Championship.

The races started Saturday with the freestyle mass starts. The women began the day with a boom, as Merle Richter (NMU) took her first CCSA win in the 15k, a big upset over Anabel Needham (MTU-2nd) and Henriette Semb (MTU-4). Hilde Eide snagged the last spot on the podium in a sprint finish with Semb, completing one of her best races of the season so far. Cheresa Bouley (SCSU) had a memorable finish in 7th, and Victoria Dybwad (CSS) continued her strong season in 12th. “I was really excited for the mass start”, said CSS’s Emma Stertz. “Head-to-head racing can feel completely different than interval start so I was excited to get more experience. I felt like I skied the race smart and had a lot of fun! Saturday’s race was my last CCSA race for the season as I’m heading out to Soldier Hollow for Junior World’s for Biathlon. It feels like the season has gone by super fast and I wish I had more time to race with my CSS teammates, but I’m also looking forward to some high-level racing in Utah.”

The men’s 20k was a close one- start to finish, with Kjetil Banerud (NMU) narrowly taking the win over Skylar Patten (MTU)- one of Banerud closest victories yet. Colin Freed (MTU) took another CCSA podium in 3rd, just under 6 seconds from the win. “I came into this weekend hoping for a win in the skate race”, commented Patten, “Kjetil has been racing so strong in the individual start races that I thought I would maybe be able to get him in a mass start if I raced tactically enough. My strategy was to sit in until the second to last climb of the last lap then attack and push all the way to the finish. I did this but pushed a little too hard too soon and was not effective enough.” CJ Young (UWBG) had one of his best results of the season in 7th, and Gus Schatzlein led the CSS men in 8th.

On Sunday, the men started the day with an individual start 10k classic race. Kjetil Banerud (NMU) took his 2nd win of the Championship, this time with over a 30-second gap on runner-up Skylar Patten. “I came into Sunday with a ton of confidence from Saturday’s race and I wanted to try and finish faster than I have been in previous races,” said Patten. “So I conserved more on the first lap to hit the second lap fast and more importantly the last 2k that is flat and full of transitions. Next week I hope to equal or better my results in the Duluth races. Then it is into peaking for NCAAs”. Xavier Mansfield took the top position for the NMU men’s team in 4th, John Schwinghamer led the deep CSS team in 7th, and CJ Young (UWGB) finished in 15th.

The women’s 5k had another upset for the weekend, with Nea Katajala (MTU) getting into her rhythm and taking the win by over 10 seconds. Teammate Henriette Semb continued her consistent season with a 2nd place, and Merle Richter (NMU) showed she was a force to be reckoned with as well, in 3rd. “I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the weekend and was just hoping to have a couple of good race efforts”, said Lauren McCollor (NMU) who finished the day in 7th. “For the 15k on Saturday, I just wanted to stay with the pack for as long as possible and see what I had left. Unfortunately, my left calf cramped up on the second big climb, I skied with it for a while but decided to drop out around 10k because it wasn’t worth hurting it more. I was pretty disappointed but excited about the race on Sunday. I went out pretty hard and just tried to hang on for as long as possible. I died a little on the last couple of shorter climbs. Overall super happy with the race! Probably the best race of my season! Excited for one last race weekend in Duluth and then probably heading to Junior Nationals in a few weeks!” Victoria Dybwad topped the CSS women’s team in 9th, and Cheresa Bouley finished the day in 16th.

There is not much rest left for these collegiate skiers as they head to Duluth, MN next weekend for the NCAA Central Regional Championships, and then a select few will compete at the NCAA National Championships in Soldier Hollow March 9th-12th.

MTU Invite Update

CCSA News, Race Results

The CCSA went up to Houghton this past weekend for another round of racing before the CCSA Conference Champs.

In Saturday’s 15k freestyle individual start, Kjetil Banerud (MTU), once again, took another win, staking his position at the top of the CCSA season points list. Colin Freed (MTU) nabbed the 2nd fastest CCSA time of the day, leading his Husky teammates Skylar Patten and Felix Cottet-Puinel into positions 3 and 4. “Going into the weekend I was hoping to go for a top 12 finish to build off of last weeks performance and was hoping to stay competitive” commented CJ Young, who had a strong 11th place for UWGB. Approaching Saturday I was hoping to push through the tops of the big climbs to carry some speed and was hoping to be the first across the finish line as I was 5th out the gate.”

On the women’s side, Anabel Needham and Henriette Semb once again rose to the top in the women’s individual freestyle 10k. Merle Ritcher (NMU) proved that last weekend’s podiums were not a fluke, nabbing the last spot on the podium for the 3rd race in a row.

In Sunday’s 5k individual classic race, Semb and Needham swapped places to take 1st and 2nd, respectively and teammate Nea Katajala swept in to grab 3rd for a MTU sweep, along with her first CCSA podium. “My expectations going into the weekend was very low, I had just recovered from covid and was thinking to just make the best out of the situation”, said Victoria Dybwad who was the top CSS woman fininisher for the weekend, in 8th. “For Saturday’s race my approach was to go out and find a good pace and use the downhill to my advantage. For Saturday’s race I had more focus on my classic technique and hold it the whole race. Also to push myself since I started first and had no one around me to push me.”

Kjetil Banerud took his 2nd win of the weekend in the men’s 10k individual classic, after creating a commanding lead, and finished with just over a 30-second lead. 2nd place was Banerud’s NMU teammate, Daniel Streinz, with his first non-sprint podium of the year. Rounding off the top three, was Emil Book Bratbak (CSS), continuing his consistent season. “My expectations leading into this weekend were simply to reproduce what I did the last weekend at Mt Itasca”, said MTU freshman Félix Cottet-Puinel . “As a new student-athlete in this system since the beginning of this semester and as a former biathlete, I just try to take experience, give everything I have and simply have fun!  In a certain way, you cannot really gain time on this course but only lose time.  Anyways, I guess I succeed in the coach’s desire: giving everything I had, because I had to spend some time on the ground after the finish line!”

Images from Chris Schmidt

The CCSA gets some time off from racing until February 12th, when the Conference Championships will be held in Ishpeming, Michigan.

CCSA Mt Itasca Weekend

CCSA News, Race Results

Coleraine, Minnesota brought frigid temperatures this past weekend, causing both Saturday and Sunday’s races to be delayed. Despite this, CCSA racing came back to the Midwest, with exciting finishes and results.

Saturday’s Skate Individual Start started out with a bang, with this season’s favorites, Anabel Needham and Henriette Semb taking the 1,2 for Michigan Tech. Merle Richter (NMU) came into 3rd, nabbing her first CCSA podium of her career. “Going into the weekend I just wanted to enjoy the variation in races (switched interval start and mass start) and have fun,” said Needham. One of our team goals this year was to sweep the podium and I really want that to happen, so having Henriette and our teammates so close to meeting this goal is so exciting! Over the next few weeks, I want to race hard and smile before each one with my teammates. We’re going to have a great season and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish!”

On the men’s side, Kjetil Banerud (NMU) had a dominant win, creating a minute gap over 2nd place and teammate Kristoffer Karsrud. Skylar Patten (MTU) continued his strong season, rounding off the podium. “I came into the weekend feeling ready to put together a set of good races after a somewhat disappointing US Nationals,” said Banerud. “I decided to open pretty hard on Saturday and build upon a strong first lap. I felt like I was moving well and when I got splits on all the three laps I understood that I was having a good race.”

Despite the large gaps in Saturday’s individual results, Sunday’s mass starts led to some competitive racing and exciting finishes. In the Men’s 10k mass start, Kjetil Banerud (NMU) tried to break away on the first lap but was caught by the chase group made up of Emil Book Bratbak (CSS), Kristoffer Karsrud (NMU) and Skylar Patten (MTU). Karsrud and Banerud led into the finish but were outsprinted by Book Bratbak, who nabbed the win. “I came into Sunday’s race with two different approaches, either go hard from the gun or wait and see how the race developed,” said Banerud, “I ended up doing something in between, starting to push the pace after 2-3km. I got a little gap at one point, but felt like I was struggling too much on the uphills to stay away from the chasing group.”

The women’s race was equally exciting, with a pack of Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan Women fighting for the win the entire way. With the top 3 finishing within a second and a half, Henriette Semb (MTU) took the title of the day over Anabel Needham (MTU) and Merle Richter (NMU). “This weekend was all about having a great time with the team and surviving the cold weather!” commented Semb “Sharing the podium twice with my very best roommate Anabel, and having generally awesome team results is just a perfect start for our college season! It makes us proud and excited for what’s ahead. With classes starting and homework piling up my only focus was to not stress myself and to maximize recovery prior to the races – while also enjoying the very best skiing in the Keweenaw”.

Photos from Dave Zoll

The CCSA makes its way up to Houghton next weekend for their last race weekend before Championship season starts. The CCSA Conference Championship is in Ishpeming, MI Feb 12-13, followed by the NCAA Central Regional Championships in Duluth Feb 19-20. Top athletes will then travel back to Soldier Hollow March 9-12 for the NCAA National Championships.

US Nationals Update

CCSA News, Race Results

US Nationals took place over the past week in Salt Lake City Utah, providing a great chance for CCSA athletes to compete with the best professional skiers in the US. Athletes from Northern Michigan, Saint Scholastica, Michigan Tech, and St Olaf made the trek out to the west.

The skate sprint was Sunday, 1/2/22, brought one of the first challenges of the week- frigid temperatures, causing the races to be delayed in the morning. Katerina Hyncicova (NMU) and Anabel Needham (MTU) led the CCSA charge on the women’s side, qualifying in 20th and 25th respectively in the Senior women’s races Hyncicova finished the day in 9th and Needham finished the day in 19th. Lauren McCollor (NMU) qualified 7th in the junior Women heats finishing just off the podium in 4th place, Mia Case (CSS) qualified 19th and finished in the same position. On the men’s side, Adam Witkowski (MTU), Kjetil Baanerud (NMU), and John Schwinghamer (CSS) all qualified for the Sr Men’s heats, leading the big news of the day, with Schwinghamer having a strong performance in his quarter-final, placing 12th overall. Jasper Johnston placed 14th in the Junior Men’s heats.

Skate Sprints (Photo by Jackie Schneider)

The skate mass start started the warm up of the week, with temperatures rising from the rigid sprint day. In the Men’s 30k skate, Skylar Patten (MTU) raced to the top of the CSSA field in 20th. Teammates Mark Ousdigian and Tryg Solberg followed in 36th, and 40th respectively. In the women’s 20k mass start, Henriette Semb had a strong performance (MTU) in 20th, followed by Olivia Laven (MTU) in 32 and Anabel Needham (MTU) in 41. In junior races, Colin Freed was the top CCSA athletes in the men’s 10k, and Ingrid Halverson (MTU) was the top in the women’s 7.5k.

Skate Mass Start (Photo by Jackie Schneide)

After some rain in the rest day between races, techs had to prepare skis in wild conditions for the classic individual starts. After dealing with some COVID contact tracing during the mass starts, both CSS and NMU athletes were back in the mix. In the women’s 10k, Henriette Semb once again led the field with a strong 28th. Teammates Anabel Needham and Olivia Laven finished 31st and 47th. In the men’s 15k Kjetil Banerud (NMU) mixed it up again, taking 37th followed by Skylar Patten (MTU) in 58th and Colin Freed (MTU) in 60th.

Classic Distance (Photo by Jackie Schneider)

The last day of racing in Solider Hollow was the only SuperTour race of the series and proved to be a strong day for the CCSA athletes with strong performances in the qualifiers. Anabel Needham (MTU) and Henriette Semb (MTU) took their strong qualifiers (finishing 4th and 5th) into the heats, with Needham placing 11th overall. The men also had a strong day, with Kjtil Banerud (NMU) placing 12th, Kristoffer Karsrud (NMU) placing 15th, Daniel Streinz (NMU) 20th and Adam Witkowski (MTU) 28th. On the junior men’s side- Colin Freed (MTU), Hayden Ulbrich (CSS), Copper Lennox (NMU), and Jasper Johnston (MTU) qualified for heats. On the junior women’s side, Mia Case (CSS), Lauren McCollor (NMU), Gretchen Haggenmiller (NMU), Alice McKnight (MTU) all qualified for heats.

Photo by Jackie Schneider

The CSSA now gets 1 weekend off before racing again in the Midwest.

Cable JNQ

CCSA News, Race Results

Another SuperTour race challenged the CCSA athletes in the Midwest again this past weekend, with a challenging skate mass start on Friday, a wicked fast classic sprint on Saturday, and a grueling classic individual start race on Sunday. The Cable SuperTour was the last series before U.S. Nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah, allowing athletes to tune up their racing before the holidays.

In the Men’s 15k Skate on Friday, Kjetil Banrud (NMU) took the win for the CCSA finishing 16th overall, in a field of Olympic hopefuls. Skylar Patten led a very strong MTU team in 23rd, and Emil Book Bratbak rounded off the CCSA podium in 26th. In their 15k mass start, Anabel Needham (MTU) topped the CCSA field in 14th, closely followed by teammate Olivia Laven in 16th. Savanna Fassio (NMU) broke up the MTU perfect score by placing 18th.

On Saturday, Anabel Needham once again led the CCSA women’s field with a 10th place in the Classic Sprint, qualifying for the Semi-Final heats. Katerina Hyncicova (NMU), Savanna Fassio (NMU), Marie Wangen (MTU), Mia Case (CSS) and Oda Hovland (MTU) all qualified for the quarterfinal heats.

On the men’s side, Daniel Streinz (NMU) had an impressive showing in the SuperTour final heat, placing 4th. Tobias Moosmann (NMU), Parker Courte-Rathwel (MTU), Joseph Lynch (CSS), Adam Witkowski (MTU) also had strong top 30 finishes. “Before the classic sprint I was worried that with the little classic skiing we did due to the lack of snow it could be difficult to ski fast”, said Moosmann. “Nevertheless, it turned out fine and I was able to learn a lot during the quarterfinal”.

In the Junior heats, Victoria Dybwad and Avery Tolbert both of CSS had strong 3rd and 5th place performances. And the Junior boy heat’s saw Ryan Thieme (UWGB) in 3rd, and NMU’s Copper Lennox 6th.

The final race of the weekend was a 15k/10k individual classic start, leading to close finishes for top CCSA racer on both the men’s and women’s sides. Emil Book Bratbak took the top spot in 24th, just 3 seconds ahead of Tobi Moosmann. “Going into Sunday‘s race, I tried to pace myself well and keep the focus on skiing relaxed” commented Moosmann. “That went pretty well and I think the past two race weekends set a great base for the upcoming races”.Daniel Stienz had another strong performance placing 29th, and August Schatzlein finished in 30th.

The women’s race showcased Tech’s women, with Anabel Needham, Henriette Semb, and Oda Hovland claiming the top 3 CCSA women’s places. Savanna Fassio claimed the 4th spot in 24th, and Averey Tolbert (CSS) had a strong day in 27th. ” I felt strong and as though I paced my race very well” said Tolbert, “This weekend our coaches nailed the wax for the sprints and the distance race. The weather was perfect on Sunday in my opinion, and it was great to see everything come together so well”.

All photos by Jackie Schneider

The CCSA gets a little break after the past two SuperTour weekends, with the next races at U.S. Nationals in Soldier Hollow.

Duluth SuperTour Review

CCSA News, Race Results

Competitive skiers from around the US came to the Midwest this past weekend for the first races of the season in Duluth, Minnesota. Despite the addition of accomplished competitors, the CCSA athletes held their own, having strong performances both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was a skate sprint, fast from the cool, icy snow and many CCSA athletes had strong qualifier performances with 7 men and 9 women placing top 30 and moving into the SuperTour heats. Stand-out performances include Katerina Hyncicova (NMU), Anabel Needham (MTU), and Henriette Semb (MTU), Kjetil Banerud (NMU), Emil Book Bratbak (CSS), and Adam Witkowski (MTU) who all made it into the semi-finals. Witkowski had the top performance of the day, podiuming in 3rd, and teammates Banerud and Hyncicova placed 6th in their finals. “Coming into the weekend I was just hoping to have two solid races to start the season and get back to racing well again,” said Witkowski. “In the sprint, I knew I could race with the top guys and I had confidence in my tactical approach to the heats. I didn’t have my best top gear but I was still feeling very good on Saturday.” Lauren McCollor (NMU) had strong performances throughout the junior finals, placing 2nd.

Sunday’s conditions were a stark contrast to Saturday’s sunny and speedy atmosphere. Snow started falling Saturday night, came down relatively hard Sunday morning, and turned into a frozen rain early Sunday afternoon, creating a slow and laborious distance event. In the women’s 5k, Henriette Semb led the CCSA field in 16th, proving once again that the MTU women will be the team to watch this year. “I was very nervous prior to this weekend but also super excited to finally race again,” said Semb. “Sunday was a tough day with a lot of snowfall in the morning and tired legs from Saturday. Still, I think I put down a solid effort and it was to me, a promising start to the season. I’m stoked for the challenges awaiting ahead, and I think the hard work we’ve put down in Houghton this fall will pay off for our whole team”. Savanna Fassio (NMU) finished 2nd for CCSA women in 18th, breaking up what would’ve been an MTU CCSA podium, as Anabel Needham and Olivia Laven finished 19th and 21st. Cheresa Bouley from St Cloud State University was the lone athlete from her team competing in Duluth but rounded out a very strong weekend in 25th, and 4th CCSA woman.

On the men’s side, Kjetil Banerud proved why he was the top returning CCSA man as he placed 2nd overall in the 10k, dominating the collegiate field. Teammates Skylar Patten and Adam Witkowski tied for 2nd CCSA men with 31st place, Tobias Moosmann placed 35th and Gus Schatzlein (CSS) was 37th. “I came into this weekend without a whole lot of expectations,” wrote Schatzlein, ” I went into the distance race pretty confident I could race well, but the new snow definitely made the race difficult and I could tell it was my first race on snow. The distance course really suits me because it features a lot of right-side V1 and I’m super familiar with our home course. After last year, where I didn’t get to race a whole lot, it was really exciting to start this season with a SuperTour and seeing lots of friends here in Duluth”. The SuperTour continues in the Midwest next weekend, in Cable, WI.

Photos by Woods Creek Productions

Central Regional Championships Review

CCSA News, Race Results

The last weekend of CCSA racing in the Midwest proved to be just as competitive, as athletes fought for the last chance to compete at the NCAA National Championships, in Jackson, New Hampshire- March 11 through 13th. On Saturday, Anabel Needham (MTU) finished her strong season with a 6-second win in the Interval Classic 5k. “I was so happy with my classic race and definitely felt like it was the best classic skiing I’ve ever done,” said Needham, “I can’t thank all the coaches and volunteers enough for making this conference season possible. Being able to compete made life seem a little more normal, despite everything”. Molly Miller, making her first appearance on the CCSA circuit this season, showed up right on time to make an impact, placing 2nd in front of teammates Hilde Eide and Malin Börjesjö after competing at Junior Worlds in Vuokatti, Finland.

Zak Ketterson finished up his last season on the CCSA with a whopping win over teammate Kjetil Bånerud in the men’s 10k Classic. “Coming into this past weekend I was hoping for a couple of solid races”, said Bånerud,”I brought the good feeling from the race weekend in Duluth into the races in Houghton. I have been able to ski fast in Houghton in the past, and I knew that the course fits me well.” Emil Book Bratbak took 3rd.

Heavy snow shook up the longer distance races on Sunday, making it a grind to the finish- but the challenging conditions did not mess with the NMU women, who swept the top 5 with a perfect team score. “NMU’s women’s team has been really strong overall this year”, said captain Börjesjö. “I would say that there is no secret recipe. Everyone in the team, from athletes to coaches, puts in hard effort all year for this to be possible and the hard work has paid off. We always push each other at practice and, maybe most importantly, we always support each other outside practice, there is always someone to talk to and we are all very close.” Henriette Semb and Olivia Laven were next on the leaderboard for MTU, and Maj-Lis Helmer led the CSS women. “The season has overall been very inconsistent for me. I had a good first couple of races, with the CXC cup races here in Houghton and then the skate race in Cable, but after that I had a few extremely tough weeks. So it was nice to be able to end on a higher note this weekend. I still feel like I haven’t reached my full potential yet, so I’m really looking forward to give it all I have for the races in New Hampshire!” said Laven.

In the Men’s 20k Skate race, Kjetil Bånerud took advantage of Ketterson not racing and won with a dominating performance, 30 seconds over runner-up Patrick Acton (MTU). Tobias Moosman took third to round out his season, “The past conference season was different compared to my first one,” said Moosman, “Although corona had an immense impact on how we all had to adjust to racing, I was happy that we got chances to race and meet each other weekend after weekend. 20km individual racing is something most of us had never experienced before this season. I did enjoy the switch but hope that I will get the chance to race some more mass start races again.”

Because of covid- unlike other years, teams that send full teams to the NCAA Championships (full teams are three athletes), will not be able to bring alternates, so only the allotted amount of athletes will head out East in the next week. Each region sends a sum of athletes based on performance at previous NCAA National Championships. This season, the Central division will send 8 men and 7 women.

CCSA Conference Championships Review

CCSA News, Race Results

Finally, after the cold front that hit the Midwest for most of the last week (and led to canceled CCSA races in Rhinelander last weekend) this past weekend felt balmy at the Grand Avenue Nordic Center in Duluth, Minnesota. With Covid measures still in place, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Green Bay, and Saint Scholastica raced in the second to last weekend of Regional races, before the top athletes in the CCSA head to the east to compete at the NCAA National Championships.

The top MTU Women (including alumni Sarah Goble)

On Saturday, the athletes raced the Individual Start Classic races with the men racing 10k and the women racing 5k. The men’s field was very close, with Zak Ketterson besting NMU teammate Kjetil Bånerud by just three seconds. Emil Book Bratbak rejoined the field after being in Bozeman all year and training with BSF. “I’ve had the opportunity to do some racing out west and I’m really happy about the steps I’ve taken this year”.

Anabel Needham took the win of the women’s race, beating former teammate Sarah Goble by 5 seconds. Hilde Eide led a storm of NMU women who took 9 of the top 14 places. “We have created an inclusive and supportive environment which has resulted in solid performances every weekend,” said Eide, “I’m impressed how adaptable and positive everybody has been throughout the pandemic. We have a ton of fun at practice- overall a great bunch of girls with the right attitude, as Coach Fjeldheim would say.”

The Top MTU men

On Sunday, Ketterson took another win almost 30 seconds over Bånerud took 2nd over Bratbak again. “I felt pretty good this weekend, especially on Sunday!” said Ketterson, “I’m still trying to dial in my classic skiing this year but skating has been working well so far. [The next couple of weeks,] I’ll be doing a lot less training to try to build up some energy and hopefully finish the season strong”. Daniel Strienz finished the weekend with two 4th places giving NMU the boost they needed to take the team win. “The classic day I was quite nervous as I was the only one that day that opted to double pole the course,” said Streinz, “I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble, but I committed to it and it paid off in the end. As for the rest of the season, the plan is to take it mostly easy, play a lot of pool with my boys, and drink too much caffeine and sugar to get stoked on race day”.

In the women’s 15k Skate race, NMU freshman Pearl Harvey took the CCSA by storm, beating teammate and CCSA Season Points leading Malin Börjesjö by 7 seconds. Hilde Eide completed the NMU podium sweep taking 3rd in front of MTU’s Henriette Semb. “With a couple of weekends off competing, I felt I was well recovered,” said Semb. “I am happy with my effort both days this weekend and showed I am not far away from being on the podium. Hopefully, I will be able to work towards closing that gap”.

Next weekend is the NCAA Central Regional Championships hosted by Michigan Tech in Houghton Michigan. This is the final weekend of competitions to decide who will compete at the NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vermont, March 11-13th.

NMU Invitational Review

CCSA News, Race Results

Teams safely traveled to Ishpeming, Michigan this past weekend for the 2021 NMU Invitational as the CCSA NCAA qualifying races continue. As we now enter February, there is less than a month left of regional racing, with three more races for athletes to prove their fitness and strength.

Without a doubt, the grueling courses of Al Quaal tested those abilities this past weekend; being known as one of the most grueling courses in the Midwest, athletes competed in 2 individual start distance races. One thing that turned heads this weekend was the return of Zak Ketterson, who has been at the top of the CCSA since his freshman year at NMU. Having red-shirted last year, Ketterson returns for his last season in the CCSA, ready to make an impact.

On Saturday, the women led the day with a 5k Classic Individual Start. Malin Börjesjö (NMU) continued her strong season with a win of 11 seconds. “I was unusually nervous coming into this weekend, probably since it was a home meet” said Börjesjö, “This weekend I tried to split the course into 6 different sections and I knew I could be fast if I skied my sections as I planned. I think that was a good tactic on this course because you need to be active all the time, especially in the transitions”. Anabel Needham led the MTU women’s team against the fierce battle against the NMU women’s team. The two teams took the top 13 places, with NMU squeaking out the day’s win by just 1 point. Samantha Benzing led the CSS team in 13th, and Maria Schoening led the UWGB team in 21st.

On the men’s side, NMU proved it was a force to be recokened with in the 10k Classic Individual Start, as they almost had a perfect score, just barely being thwarted by CSS’s John Schwinghamer in 5th. Kjetil Bånerud led the NMU charge in 1st, being supported by a standout performance by sophomore Matthew Bourne (who finished 29th in the CCSA Men’s End of Season Rankings last year) in 2nd, Zak Ketterson in 3rd, and Maurus Grond in 4th. Aleksi Leino led a deep MTU men’s team in 7th and Sam Myers led the Green Bay Team in 19th.

The men started first on Sunday, with a 20k Skate Individual start. Zak Ketterson showed up ready to roar, with a dominating performance over the field, winning by 49 seconds. Teammate Tobias Moosman took 2nd; 18 second’s ahead of MTU’s top man, Reid Goble. ” Saturday was a tougher race for me, coming off of the uncertainty of what are race season would be this year, I am just starting to get back into what it means to be racing and I think a lot of people feel that way, ” said Goble, “Sunday I tried to turn my results around and ended up having a good result and just focused on pacing the 20k well.” Shad Kraftson led a strong UWGB men’s team in 17th, showing that the team is rebounding well from a coaching change this season. “I was excited coming into the weekend. You never know what you’re going to get in Ishpeming. I hadn’t done a 20k skate since freshman year, and I knew that it could be a good race for me” said Kraftson, “Training this fall required some adjustments due to Covid and our new coach. However, I think we built a substantial training base. From here the plan is just to dial in skiing fast and taper a little before Conference and Regionals. Staying healthy is going to be super important. The little things”.

In the women’s 15k Skate Individual Start, Börjesjö took another win, 44 seconds in front of teammate Hilde Eide. Needham had another strong day, positioning herself in the storm of the NMU women’s team who took 5 of the top 6 spots. Maj-Lis Helmer of CSS took 15th, and Maria Schoening raced to 21 for UWGB.

Green Bay looks to host next weekend in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Competition continues to stay strong, and the teams are ready to throw down the last couple Regional competitions of this year.

Gitchi Gami Games Review

CCSA News, Race Results

This past weekend the CCSA made their way to Cable, Wisconsin to race at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead in the Gitchi Gami Games. The weekend comprised two individual start races, a classic race on Saturday, and skate on Sunday. Icy conditions led to a technically challenging race on Saturday, with a 10k race for the women and a 15k for the men. Malin Börjesjö blew the field away with a 36 second win, continuously proving that she is the one to beat this season. MTU athlete nabbed 3rd besting region besting Midwest legend Caitlin Gregg. Anabel Needham topped the CCSA podium, pulling a strong MTU women’s team to the team win. Lead Saint Scholastica athlete Rana Krafton had a stellar day in 18th place. “I was super excited coming into the weekend,” said Kraftson, “[The CSS team] hadn’t seen each other for two months until we showed up to the venue on Saturday and everyone came together and gave it everything they had on and off the course and I’m very proud of the way my teammates show up for each other. There is definitely a lot to work on. Getting into 5k race mode felt especially tough on Sunday, both mentally and physically, but I know everyone is in the same boat and it’s going to take a few races to feel like we’re flying out there”. Erica Meyers led the St Olaf women and Maria Schoening led the Green Bay women.

Börjesjö taking the win on Saturday

Kjetil Bånerud (NMU) absolutely dominated the CCSA with almost a full minute and a half lead over teammate Tobi Moosmann. “I felt good coming into the weekend after some solid training since last race weekend in Houghton. I felt recovered and ready to race fast, ” said Bånerud, “This fall was different with the fact of COVID, but I think we did a very good job as a team when it comes to staying positive and pushing each other every day. I am very impressed with my teammates on how they tackled the challenges and helped me stay motivated for a season that we did not know would happen or not.” MTU’s Aleksi Leino snagged 3rd place, just barely finishing in front of Matt Bourne (NMU), “I was trustful coming into this weekend since I feel that I had strong fall behind. Saturday classic race was very good for me and I was able to keep myself on the limit from the beginning to end.” said Leino. “Overall good start for the season”. John Schwinghamer was the top Saint Scholastic man in 8th place and Sam Myers was the top Green Bay athlete in 20th place.

Lars DeWall (CSS)

Henriette Semb (MTU) had a nice upset Sunday, beating Malin Börjesjö by 5 seconds. Olivia Lavén (MTU) had her first CCSA podium once again leading a very strong MTU women’s team. “The training in the US and MTU has been great,” wrote Lavén “For the past couple of years, I have trained alone most of the time, so I feel like it has been beneficial for me to come here and have strong teammates. This weekend, I had a tough classic race, mainly because herringboning is not something I’m good at, [but] but the skate race went a lot better. Even if I was lacking a bit of confidence from the day before, I feel like I was able to perform well”.Maria Schoening led the Green Bay team in 21st, Samantha Benzing led Saint Scholastic, and once again, Erica Meyers led St Olaf.

Mary Lyon is part of a very strong MTU women’s team this year

Kjetil Bånerud and Tobi Moosmann once again led the men’s field on Sunday, with Bånerud taking the win by 21 seconds and Moosman finishing 9 seconds in front of former Olympian Brian Gregg. “Looking ahead towards our next races I want to continue with the good training we have been able to do, and work on details to race even faster next race.” commented Bånerud. Reid Goble took 3rd. John Schwinghamer led the Saint Scholastica team in 12th, Shad Kraftson led Green Bay in 18th,

MTU and CSS athletes on Saturday

The Gitchi Gami Games proved that team competition will be fiercely competitive this year, especially once teams can complete their full roster (in particular, NMU’s women’s team was missing quite a few athletes as they were quarantining after traveling from Europe). The next race weekend will take place at Al Quaal, in Ishpeming, MI in 2 weekends.