Note: In an effort to ring in the 2013/2014 season, we’re kicking off our second-annual elite team preview – now called “The 12.” Starting with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project and proceeding in no particular order, we’ll profile 12 of the biggest powerhouses in U.S. cross-country skiing throughout the next several weeks.
Team: Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP)
Coaches: Pepa Miloucheva (head coach, 16th season), Nicholas Brown (wax technician and assistant coach), Anna Schulz (junior coach), Jeremy Nellis (Bill Koch League coach)
Senior roster: Ida Sargent (U.S. Ski Team), Susan Dunklee (US Biathlon), Hannah Dreissigacker (US Biathlon), Caitlin Patterson, Clare Egan, Liz Guiney;
Alex Howe, Gordon Vermeer, Patrick O’Brien, Andrew Dougherty, Pete Hegman
Provisional team: Alex Schulz (Dartmouth grad), Jake Barton (Colby), Mike Gibson (University of Vermont), Ethan Dreissigacker (formerly of the US Biathlon’s junior team)
Who’s new: Guiney (formerly of University of New Hampshire, Utah Nordic Alliance/Park City Nordic), Andrew Dougherty (Denver University grad, Alaska native), Pete Hegman (UVM/Mansfield Nordic)
Who’s missing: According to Miloucheva, Midwest natives Maria Stuber and Bryan Cook are Colorado-bound, Amy Glen left the team at the beginning of last season, and Dylan McGuffin, Tim Reynolds and Nils Koons are most likely “taking a break from training and taking on different jobs.”
Top results last season: Right on par with the rest of the career-best performances from the U.S. Ski Team (USST) women’s squad, Sargent broke through early last season with a ninth-place finish in November at the World Cup classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland.
Two months later, the 25-year-old from Orleans, Vt., really hit her stride in Sochi, Russia, making the A-final in a freestyle sprint and placing sixth at the pre-Olympic World Cup. Two days later, she placed fifth with Sadie Bjornsen in the team sprint.
“I want to make more appearances in the finals [and] hopefully build another step towards a World Cup podium down the road,” Sargent recently told FasterSkier after being promoted to the USST A-team this season.
And the heart of her training is still in Craftsbury. “This is the perfect place for me,” she said. “I grew up near here, so I’m used to the rural lifestyle. We spend so much time on the road in the winter that having the opportunity to be at home in one place feels great.”
U.S. Biathlon’s leading woman, Dunklee placed seventh in the 15 k individual at the pre-Olympic World Cup, and Dreissigacker bumped herself up to the USBA A-team after making her first World Championships. The two turned heads at SuperTour Finals – the last events of the season in the U.S. for elite cross-country skiers – when Dunklee nabbed fifth in the skate prologue then made the A-final in the classic sprint. She ended up sixth in a discipline she hardly ever competes in, and Dreissigacker was 11th in the 10 k freestyle and 12th in the sprint.
At U.S. nationals in January, Howe captured bronze in the freestyle sprint. Patterson tallied two fifth-place finishes (in the 10 k skate and 20 k classic mass start), and placed third in the American Birkebeiner 52 k skate race.
Coach’s comment: “The team is doing very well,” Miloucheva wrote in an email about her 11 elite teamers. “The new members are great and are bringing new level of excitement and positive competitiveness to the team.”
This year, Craftsbury invited four of its former skiers to a new provisional team to help them transition from college. Two of the four men are nordic skiers (Schulz and Barton), and two are biathletes (Gibson and Dreissigacker).
“We don’t have any camps planned for the summer, but trying to get organized to bring CGRP, MWSC [Maine Winter Sports Center] and Stratton T2 teams together for some small training blocks,” Miloucheva explained. “In the fall we have a camp in September in Lake Placid and October in Park City.”
For more from Craftsbury’s longtime coach, check out this post-training video and others from the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.