MTU CXC Cup Holiday Championships Review

CCSA News, Race Results

While the kickoff to the season was delayed, it finally started in Houghton this past weekend with the MTU CXC Cup Holiday Championships. There was a more unique format than most weekends, with 2 individual start sprints on Saturday, and an individual start distance race on Sunday. With many Eastern colleges being online this year, Midwest racing is very competitive this year, with extra competitive athletes in the field. Many schools are also currently missing top athletes, being home for the holiday break.

MTU’s Mitch Delong

First up on Saturday were the Women’s Classic Sprints, with Northern Michigan University’s Malin Börjesjö, taking an upset win over region legend professional skier, Caitlin Gregg. Michigan Tech’s Anabel Needham was the 2nd CCSA skier, with NMU’s freshman Gretchen Haggenmiller right behind her. “Coming into the weekend I was nervous, but also very excited,” wrote sophomore Needham. “First races of the season are always scary because it’s the first mark of how training has paid off from the previous months”. On the men’s side, NMU’s Tobi Moosman started the morning off strong, taking the lead over teammate Kjetil Bånerud. Ryan Steger of the College of Saint Scholastica claimed his first CCSA podium of his career.

Ryan Steger of CSS

Later in the afternoon, Malin Börjesjö once again led the CCSA women in the skate sprint, placing 2nd in the Senior women’s field to Caitlin Gregg by less than a 2nd. Anabel Needham once again took 2nd, this time taking a sweep of the U20 podium with her MTU freshmen teammates Olivia Laven and Johanna Craig. On the men’s side, NMU took the sweep in the afternoon, with Tobi Moosman, Kjetil Bånerud, and freshman Kristoffer Karsrud besting a strong men’s field. “I was super excited to do my first race for NMU,” said Karsrud, “College skiing is new to me and it was a great experience”.

NMU’s Kjetil Banerud and MTU’s Aleski Leino

On Sunday, the women raced an individual start 10k, and Malin Börjesjö, once again dominated the field, showing she’s the one to beat this season. MTU’s Olivia Laven continued her strong debut with 2nd, followed by teammate Anabel Needham. “It was awesome to have so many people helping with this event and coming out [this] weekend,” says Needham, “Each race this year will be a gift, and we are so lucky to participate. I’m looking forward to racing again, and giving it my best effort!” Kjetil Bånerud took his first CCSA win of the season in the men’s 15k skate. Teammates Patrick Acton and Mark Ousdigian topped off MTU’s strong weekend with 2nd and 3rd.

Johanna Craig of MTU

The next races are January 16th and 17th in Cable, Wisconsin at the Birkie Trail Head.

CCSA Recap: NCAA Central Regional Championships

CCSA News, Race Results

Teams brought warm weather into Ishpeming, Michigan this past weekend for the final weekend of CSSA racing in the Midwest. Competing for the final positions for NCAAs, teams fought hard in the final weekend. In the women’s 5k skate on Saturday, it was a close battle up until the line, with Malin Börjesjö (NMU) nabbing the win over teammate Molly Miller (NMU) by just 3 seconds. Sarah Goble (MTU) was just .3 seconds behind Miller to take 3rd. In the men’s 10k, Mathias Rolid (NMU), and Kjetil Bånerud(NMU) were just .1 of a second apart after the first 5k, but in the second half of the race, Rolid finished up his strong CCSA season by putting 8 seconds on Bånerud. Reid Goble (MTU), who was 7th after the first lap, had a similar race strategy to Rolid. “On Saturday’s skate race, I started off at a comfortable pace and felt strong going into the second lap so I really focused on making up time and ended up in third place”.


Women's field in the 15k

Women’s field in the 15k

The men had the cooler temperatures on Sunday, benefiting them in the form of faster tracks and easier kick waxing. A fairly big pack stayed together for the first half of the race before the leaders began to spread out. “On Sunday’s classic race the pace for the first half was relaxed and going into the third lap I decided to push it and broke away along with three others,” Goble said. On the last lap, Emil Book Bratbak (CSS) and Kjetil Bånerud broke away from the rest of the field, and had a battle to the finish, with Bratbak taking the win in the finishing stretch- CSS’s first-ever Regional Championship win.


Bratbak's first Regional Win

Bratbak’s first Regional Win

The women struggled with quickly rising temperatures, and with half of the racing course being in the woods and half being in a field, it was inconsistent waxing conditions. Similar to the men, the women had a strict pack for the first 10k until Hilde Eide (NMU) and Malin Börjesjö made a break for the win right after the pack went through the stadium. Börjesjö took a fall on one of the downhills of the course on the last lap, leaving Eide to take her 2nd CCSA win. Nadine Matter (NMU) finished 2nd, Sarah Goble was 3rd, and Bojesjo took 4th. “I think this course is one of the hardest courses I have ever skied, but I enjoyed it. The classic was different from [previous] races because it was a klister race and I think everyone had problems with icing skis. I personally had to stop a few times to remove the snow on my skis because I couldn’t move”. Green Bay’s Lara Ketterer said.

Eide watching the women battle it out for the podium

Eide watching the women battle it out for the podium

While the CCSA racing season is over, CCSA athletes still have plenty of racing to do! Amanda Kautzer (MTU), Sarah Goble (MTU), Molly Miller (NMU), and redshirt skier Zak Ketterson (NMU) are all competing at the Junior World Championships/ U23 World Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, starting February 29th. 8 men and 7 women have qualified from the NCAA Central Region for the NCAA National Championships in Bozeman, Montana, March 12th and 14th and several CCSA athletes will also compete at Jr Nationals in Northern California in early March!

Photos from NMU Athletics

Photos from NMU Athletics

CCSA Recap: Conference Championships

CCSA News, Race Results

Championship Season has begun, and it started off with a bang in Houghton, Michigan with the CCSA Conference Championships! Throughout the season, individuals and teams are competing for NCAA Qualifying Points, to gain a spot at Nationals in Bozeman, Montana this upcoming March. Based on the previous year’s CCSA performances at NCAAs, the men have 8 qualifying spots, and the women own 7 (each team is limited to only 3 athletes at NCAAs). As the season goes on, the points from each race are more heavily weighted, putting more pressure on these Championships races- this past weekend at Conference Championships, and next weekend at Regionals.

The men on the first uphill of the mass start

The men on the first uphill of the mass start

This weekend in Houghton saw the same format from all season (and the same we’ll see at NCAAs), with a 5k/10k skate race Saturday, and a 15k/20k classic race Sunday. On Saturday, Mathias Rolid (NMU) took his fourth CCSA win of the season in the men’s 10k, besting teammate Kjetil Bånerud by 13 seconds. “I got in a very solid training block after the races in Rhinelander so I was excited to see how my body felt after all of that volume” Rolid commented after the weekend, “The skate race was pretty hard. I started early in the A seed group and decided to go out fast, down and up the hairpin climb. I got some back splits that said it was a close race between Kjetil and me, so I had to push hard all the way in. I feel like I paced it well and overall it was a very good race”. Reid Goble (MTU) added onto his already strong season with another podium finish, finishing just a second in front of Xavier Mansfield (NMU).

Women fighting during the mass start

Women fighting during the mass start

In the women’s 5k, Nadine Matter (NMU) took her first-ever CCSA win and leading an NMU sweep on the podium, as Malin Börjesjö and Molly Molly finished within the same second. Amanda Kautzer (MTU) has been one of the most consistent forces out on the course this winter, finishing in 4th, “On Saturday, I wasn’t feeling very good before the races, but when I started and realized how fast my skis were, I knew it was going to be a good day. I was hoping to be on the podium, it didn’t quite have the gas on the last climb to quite get there”.

The chase pack during the men's mass start

The chase pack during the men’s mass start

In Sunday’s 20k Classic Mass Start, Mathias Rolid (NMU) continued his reign with a dominating win. “The 20km mass start race was an interesting one. A cold day with some light snow coming down before the start. It stopped snowing right before the start, but the tracks were not skied in. Therefore, the first lap was very tactical, because no one wanted to take the lead. It was very difficult to ski away at that point. However, after we had raced one lap around the course the tracks became a lot faster.” Right before the last lap, Rolid took control and broke away, and ended up finishing a whopping minute and 11 seconds ahead of the field. Aleksi Leino (MTU) took 2nd, claiming his first CCSA podium after struggling with some injuries earlier in the year. “My strategy was just to keep myself in top positions, but not to lead because it was so much easier behind someone. I was feeling good from the beginning and first two laps, we were skiing pretty slowly. I lost my pole tip at 4k but thanks for Adam Witowski, I got a new one pretty soon. Then I was just hanging with the group until 2k before the finish, I put it all in and that was enough for second position”. Nick Matelich (CSS) scrambled for 3rd, also claiming his first CCSA podium, claiming credit to fast skis and having fun.

Matelich after his third place finish

Matelich after his third-place finish

In the women’s 15k mass start race, the ladies had a competitive race, with the top 8 ladies striking out a competitive battle. “I felt very confident racing on our home course”, runner-up Kautzer said, “The race did not split up as much as I anticipated, but there was no one else really pushing the pace out front, so I ended up leading more in the race than I have in any other mass start. I felt really good going into the last lap, and even into the last hill but unfortunately got tangled with Malin [Börjesjö] and broke a binding, which is what cost me the win today”. “I felt good this entire weekend” commented Börjesjö, “But it was not a fair fight for the finish today, and I hope for a new fair fight with Amanda next weekend”. Molly Miller grabbed another 3rd place finish, wrapping up a very successful weekend after she returned from the Canadian World Junior Trials (where she qualified for World Juniors).

The dual between Kauzter and Bojesjo

The dual between Kauzter and Börjesjö

Next weekend is the final CCSA race in Ishpeming, Michigan. It looks to be a very warm weekend with highs of 38 degrees F both Saturday and Sunday.

CCSA Recap: UWGB Invite

CCSA News, Race Results

A warm weekend in Rhinelander, Wisconsin wrapped up the last racing block for the CCSA before the Championship races. Races got switched to the Classic Mass Start on Saturday and Skate Individual Start on Sunday to make classic waxing easier, as Sunday had incredibly warm temperatures. This weekend, was a standardized glide wax weekend for the CCSA, so on Sunday, teams only had to worry about kick wax in the unpredictable temperatures.

The women leaders in the 15k

The women leaders in the 15k

The women thinned out right away in their 15k race, with four women, Hilde Eide and Malin Borjesjo of NMU and Sarah Goble and Amanda Kautzer of Tech in a lead pack at the end of the first lap. Eide dropped off of the lead pack just after 10k, and Borjesjo took the lead in the last 2k to grab her 2nd college win of the season. “this weekend was a little bit of revenge for me” Bojesjo commented, “I have felt good on race weekends before, but everything has not worked at the same time. This weekend, it did”.

The temperatures were expected to warm up for the men’s race, but temperatures rose a little more than expected when the sun made an appearance about 20 minutes before the men’s start. Some teams made a quick change of kick wax before the races, opting for zero skis- which seemed to be the best case in the rapidly warming afternoon, as the top three men were on zeros. Zak Ketterson, Kjetil Baanerud, Mathias Rolid (NMU) and Emil Book Bratbak broke away on the first lap, with Reid Goble and Patrick Acton chasing them down. “The classic race went out at a good pace but I unfortunately lost contact with the lead on the A climb and then fought the rest of the first lap to get on the back of Reid,” Acton said, “We skied laps 2 and 3 together, switching off leading on the terrain we were respectively stronger on. Going into the last lap, I felt good and knew that [Daniel] Streinz [NMU} was within striking distance of us so I focused on pushing through the early parts of that lap and then carried it through the A climb and the final kick to the finish”. Ketterson broke away from Baanerud and Rolid on the final A climb, and Rolid just out sprint Baanerud on the final climb of the race, nabbing the college win. “I came into this weekend in Rhinelander feeling pretty good,” Rolid wrote after the races, “It was nice to have my roommate Zak on the start line for the classic race, and together with Kjetil we decided to make this 20k as hard as possible to prepare for NCAAs. It was brutal but it ended up being a good race for me”. Emil Book Bratbak had another strong performance to finish 3rd for the CCSA, Patrick Acton was 4th, Daniel Streinz had one of his strongest races of the season to finish 5th, and Reid Goble was 6th.

Goble and Acton in the men's 20k

Goble and Acton in the men’s 20k

Although it was warmer temperatures on Sunday, the course firmed up enough during the night, for the skate races to be fast. Once again, the CCSA had standardized glide wax, but many athletes were feeling Saturday’s battle. The women’s race again was first and was very close all throughout the 2 laps. Malin Borjesjo skied away from the field, finishing over 20 seconds in front of Henriette Semb (MTU), and Hilde Eide took 3rd. “I enjoyed the courses in Rhinelander” Bojesjo expressed, “They were tough but it allowed you to ski big and relax, which fits me. I changed my past week of training, to trade a speed session for my normal mid-week intervals so I could work on my weaknesses, and it helped me give me energy”. Semb, who is ranked 4th in the CCSA points list after this weekend, was pleased with her weekend. “It was a fun and technical course with a lot of transitions so I tried and work well over the tops of the hills. I also paced the race well and pushed it all to the finish line.”

Women's 5k Skate

Women’s 5k Skate

The course did not change much for the men’s race, and Mathias Rolid took the charge. I could really feel the classic race from the day before when I was warming up. I felt really flat, so I knew it was all about finding that pace I could hold for 10k. It was a challenging course with no rest, so my focus was on a steady pace off the line, for even splits on all four laps. I was always riding the edge of how much lactic acid I could handle, and my coaches didn’t really tell me how I was doing so I was fighting for every second!” Emil Book Bratbak grabbed his second podium of the season after being caught by Rolid and drafting off of him for the majority of the race, and Kjetil Baanerud took third. Patrick Acton nabbed his second 4th place finish of the weekend, putting him in 4th in the overall CCSA Point rankings. “Quite pleased with 2 fourth-place finishes on a weekend, especially when 1-3 were Norwegian men who were really strong at this point in the season. Looking forward to being back in Houghton in a couple of weeks!”

Strong performances by Ole Tyler Radtke, with his first top 10 finish

Strong performances by Ole Tyler Radtke, with his first top 10 finish

Team results are still close, as the Michigan Tech women have gone back and forth in team points with Northern Michigan the last couple of weekends, and the Michigan Tech men and Saint Scholastica men have been back and forth. Teams get a week break before the Conference Championship, back in Houghton, Michigan.

CCSA Recap: Gitchi Gami Games

CCSA News, Race Results

CCSA teams met in Cable, Wisconsin this weekend for the Gitchi Gami Games at the famous American Birkebiner start line. While typically the college teams will compete in two races in a weekend- this weekend, many of the college teams chose to forgo Saturday’s Skate Sprints because they did not count for NCAA Qualifying. 


Regardless, Saturday’s skate sprints allowed for some standout performances from CSS and GB athletes. In the Men’s final, Green Bay athletes finished 1, 2, 4, and 5 with redshirting freshman Jackson Adler edging out Sam Myers for the win. CSS skiers Jack Christianson and Cody Schneider were in the mix finishing 3rd and 6th. On the women’s side, Maria Schoening of Green Bay had a dominant day, winning every single heat she was in. “I definitely surprised myself in the heats. I just focused on pushing myself up and over the top of that gnarly hill and into the finish!” Schoening ended up dominating the final, winning by four seconds. CSS women Mae Barnes and Annika Viren capped off their strong days with 2nd and 3rd.


On Sunday, the force of all whole CCSA came out again, with every team showing up to battle it out. On the men’s side, there was no surprise that Kjetil Bånerud (NMU) won the individual start by 17 seconds. Coming off of strong performances from last weekend, Mathias Rolid (NMU) and Emil Book Bratbak (NMU) finished within the same second to place 2nd and 3rd. Patrick Acton (MTU) finished 4th, and Daniel Streinz, finished 5th, pushing NMU to the win. “I started this fall out lacking fitness due to being sick for 2 months in late summer,” Streinz wrote, “But it seems I’ve gotten into good enough shape for racing and I’ve been exceeding my expectations.” Nick Matelich had a standout day finishing in 7th, leading the CSS Men’s team to possibly the biggest upset so far this season, over MTU, finishing 2nd.  Joshua Albrecht of MTU had his best race this season, finishing in the top 10. “During the race, I made a stronger effort to start fast and not lose sight of the two people in front of me, since starting 3rd meant I didn’t have many good drafting opportunities on the first lap. I also focused on having a strong last lap, as I knew the last kilometer was a rest into the stadium. My new season goals will be to finish top 10 in each race to have the opportunity to be a scoring member of the team.” Shad Kraftson led the way for Green Bay, finishing in 16th, and Kieran Mullen led St Olaf in 26th.


The women’s race was just as competitive, with only 10 points between Michigan Tech and NMU for the team win. Sarah Goble has been a strong contender this season, and she added another win to her belt today, as she led MTU to a team victory. One of the strongest performances of the day went to Oda Hovland (MTU) who finished in 2nd. “I started hard and got good splits for all of my laps which of course helps a lot, and I got podium splits from the beginning so that was cool!” NMU’s three team scorers, Malin Boerjesjo, Molly Miller, and Nadine Matter took the next three positions to push NMU to 2nd as a team, but the Wildcats showed their depth as each one of their women made it into the top 10. “Today it felt like I had a really good average pace, “ Boerjesjo said, after coming in 4th, “but I still feel that the top speed is not really there yet, so that will be my focus in training, forward”. Lara Ketterer (GB) is fighting for an NCAA spot, finishing the day in 13th and Samantha Benzing (CSS) is right on her tail, in 16th. Erica Meyers was the top finisher for St Olaf, and freshman Cheresa Bouley was the top Saint Cloud State skier. 


Next weekend is in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, hosted by Green Bay’s Nordic team. Rhinelander will be the last races before a week break, and then the Conference Championship in Houghton, MI.

CCSA Recap: Mt. Itasca

CCSA News, Race Results

The CCSA traveled to Northern Minnesota this past weekend to race at Mt. Itasca in Coleraine- typically known for its cold weather and biathlon center. The weather did not disappoint, with cold temperatures threatening the possibility of racing the mass starts on Sunday, but in the end, it was just warm enough (above -4*F).


On Saturday, CCSA athletes took around the course in the skate individual start. With a bunch of fresh snow from the night before, the course was a bit soft, but it did not stop the skiers from racing fast. “The skate race went surprisingly well,” NMU’s Mathias Rolid said after placing 2nd behind teammate Kjetil Baanrud. “I’ve never been really good in soft conditions before, so that race was a pleasant surprise. I never felt that I was skiing particularly fast, but I guess that’s how it goes in conditions like that”. Reid Goble of MTU placed third, finishing the men’s podium. Emil Book Bratbak was the top athlete for the College of St Scholastica in 5th, followed closely by his teammate Tamer Mische-Richer in 8th. Sam Meyers was the top Green Bay Men’s team skier in 17th place, and Peter Carlen led the St Olaf team.


On the women’s side, MTU’s Sarah Goble topped the field. “I was pretty tired coming off of US Nationals so I made sure to do what my body needed to do to recover”. Goble said after taking the win 5k win, “My skate race felt really good, I skied the course smart and to my strengths”. NMU took the rest of the podium with Katerina Hyconovia in 2nd, and Nadine Matter grabbing her first podium of the season in 3rd. Samantha Benzing was the top CSS woman of the day in 14th, Lara Ketterer was the top Green Bay woman of the day in 19th, Stephanie Balas led the St. Olaf women in 21st, and Cheresa Bouley was the top finisher from St Cloud State.


Sunday, racers lined up with breathing masks and face tape to avoid frostbite for the mass start distance races. Both the men’s and the women’s races came down to dramatic finishes. In the men’s race, Mathias Rolid and Emil Book Bratbak pulled away from the field around the second lap, pushing each other for the last 10k. “It was a lot of fun to work with Mathias, although he had a faster gear in the end” Bratbak said. Rolid’s race was all about skiing relax and conserving energy, “I was confident that I would beat Bratbak in a sprint finish, so he did most of the pacing (I’m sorry Emil). Fun day!” wrote Mathias. He ended up edging Bratbak out by less than 3 seconds at the end. Sam Meyers once again led Green Bay with his top 20 finish, and Peter Carlen was the first across the line for St. Olaf in 21st.


In the women’s race, a larger pack of athletes pushed each other through the whole race. “It was really a tactical mass start, a lot of different women took the lead throughout the race, and it seemed like a lot of us were trying to race smart.” NMU’s Hilde Eide commented. On the last downhill, Eide was in a pack with teammates Molly Miller and Malin Bojesjoe, along with MTU skiers Sarah Goble and Henriette Semb. On the last uphill, Eide finally broke away, bringing Miller and Bojeseoe with her for an NMU podium sweep. “The Itasca races were tough! It was very cold weather and steep hills, but fun races all of the same. My favorite part of the weekend was sharing the classic podium with my two teammates” NMU freshman Miller wrote. Henriette Semb, Sarah Goble, and Oda Hovland took places 4, 5, and 6 for Michigan Tech, Lara Ketterer was the top woman for Green Bay in 10th, Samantha Benzing and Rana Kraftson led CSS in 13th and 15th places, Stephanie Balas finished in 17th, pulling the St Olaf women to a 4th place finish for the team. Cheresa Bouley finished her first 15k race in 23rd, first for the St Cloud team.


CCSA athletes get a week before racing in Cable, Wisconsin next weekend. Because the sprint races on Saturday do not count for NCAA qualifying, some teams are forgoing the race, and planning to only race on Sunday.

U.S. National Championships Part 2

CCSA News, Race Results

The last two days of Nationals consisted of snowy classic days, with a classic distance mass start on Sunday and a classic sprint on Tuesday. Kjetil Bånerud (NMU) continued his strong week with 8th in the men’s 30k and Reid Goble (MTU) followed as the next CCSA skier in 17th. Henriette Semb (MTU) and Amanda Kautzer (MTU) led the women’s 20k in 18th and 19th, during the almost whiteout blizzard. In the boy’s 10k race, Gus Schatzlein (CSS) was the top CCSA guy of the day in 19th followed by NMU’s Matt Bourne in 26th. In the girl’s race, Savanna Fassio (NMU) held onto 13th, barely nicking Anabel Needham (MTU) for the top CCSA spot.

Freshman Molly Miller charges to the top junior position in the sprints (photo by Chris  Schmidt)

Freshman Molly Miller charges to the top junior position in the sprints (photo by Chris Schmidt)

For St Olaf and Green Bay, Sunday was the last day of racing, wrapping up a week of lots of CCSA successes. Many teams, prepared for Nationals by resting up and decreasing the training load before the races. “We’ve been on snow since Thanksgiving in Green Bay”, Shad Kraftson wrote when explaining GB’s strong week, “We had an easy week of training prior to Nationals. We were able to be with our families and ski at home over Christmas. That is always fun and I felt rested going into Senior Nationals”. 

GB Senior Sam Meyers in the Classic 30k

GB Senior Sam Meyers in the Classic 30k

Tuesday’s sprint races showcased NMU, Tech and CSS, the three teams that stayed for the last day of racing. On the girl’s side, NMU’s Malin Boerjesjo and Molly Miller had strong performances in the semi-final finishing 8th and 11th respectively. Miller nabbed the top spot for juniors in the sprint race, her 2nd one of the Championship. Kautzer, who felt like she came into the races well prepared, finished her stellar week in 14th. “This year was a bit different coming into US Nationals on our home course. It was the first time in almost 8 years that I’ve been able to have a relaxing Christmas with my family rather than flying off to races somewhere. Mentally that break was huge for me coming into these races. On the men’s side, Kjetil Bånerud finished up his week in 16th, followed by Tobias Moosman and CSS’s Nick Matelich and Emil Book Bratbak.

Teams now get a small break after the busy week. The next races are in Northern Minnesota at Mt. Itasca hosted by CSS.


U.S. National Championships Part 1

CCSA News, Race Results

The CCSA has had a superb start to the new year at the U.S. National Championships in Houghton. Thursday was the skate sprints, and the CCSA put a mark on the field. In the men’s race, three skiers made the top 10- with Kjetil Baanerud (NMU) crushing the heats to get 4th in the final, and Tobi Moosman (NMU) and Mathias Rolid (NMU) placing 9th and 10th in the semi-finals. Seven CCSA women made the top 30 and skied in the senior heats. Amanda Kautzer (MTU) led the women in 7th, and freshman Molly Miller snuck into the top 10, as the first junior. Sarah Goble (MTU), Henriette Semb (MTU), and Katerina Hyncicova (NMU) finished in the top 20. In the junior heats, Adam Witowski navigated the heats to place 7th, Gus Schatzlein finished 9th, and Savanna Fassio finished 4th in the girl’s race. 

MTU's Adam leading his heat

MTU’s Witowski leading his heat


Friday brought on another day of strong results for the Central conference with the women starting the day in the 10k skate individual start. Leading the girls was Sarah Goble who had a monster day finishing in 18th. Right behind her was Henriette Semb and Hilde Eide (NMU) in 22 and 23, respectively. In the men’s 15k, Patrick Acton (MTU) led the charge with Kjetil Baanerud (NMU) close behind.

MTU's Kauzter and Goble chasing the eventual National Champion

MTU’s Kauzter and Goble chasing the eventual National Champion


Tomorrow, teams get a break from the action, and racing starts back up again on Sunday with the classic mass starts. 


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.

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.