Kaitlynn Miller proved she's more than just a podium contender -- she can also be a race favorite -- after winning her first-ever World Cup title in the classic sprint at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Mich.
Although Tad Elliott’s name may have been missing from the top of U.S. results recently, at U.S. nationals on Thursday, the former U.S. Ski Team member showed he has what it takes to win races: and did so by nearly 10 seconds in the men's 30 k freestyle mass start.
Jennie Bender was the fastest of the day in every sense possible at U.S. nationals on Monday, winning the skate-sprint qualifier followed by her quarterfinal, semifinal and ultimately, the final by 0.61 seconds over Anne Hart. Runner-up Hart achieved a career-best result, and Caitlin Patterson secured her second-straight podium in Houghton.
After her brother Scott Patterson won the opening race of U.S. nationals on Sunday, the men's 15 k classic, Caitlin Patterson joked that she had to match him. "That was encouraging, but also a little bit of competition," she said. Both rose to the top spot of their respective men's and women's podiums.
For the second year in a row, U.S. Cross Country Championships are being hosted in Houghton, Mich. While the snow situation hasn't been ideal, organizers are optimistic for the week of races, which starts Sunday: “The conditions are really nice. ... It is really mid-season form," said Chief of Competition Jim Tervo.
"Game on in Houghton" is the latest message from race organizers for 2016 U.S. nationals, after snowfall in the last few days has ensured the championships will be held Jan. 3-9 on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Rosie Brennan racked up six victories in eight races in the U.S. before finishing her season in Europe, and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess also won both national sprints and subsequently qualified for World Championships, making them our Continental Skiers of the Year.
The reigning double-sprint champion from 2015 U.S. nationals, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess talks about race prep and how he practices getting up to speed in training. "Personally I have an incredibly hard time replicating a race effort," he says. "The 15-15 is how I practice qualification."
It felt like deja vu in Houghton, Mich. as Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess returned to the podium for his second national title of the week in the 1.5 k freestyle sprint at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships.
Ever since the season started in West Yellowstone, Rosie Brennan's been on a roll. On Saturday, she achieved her seventh-straight podium, and third-consecutive win out of four races at U.S. nationals, becoming the first skier to do so since Kikkan Randall won all four nationals events in 2010.
Kris Freeman knew he couldn't let the U.S. nationals 30 k classic mass start come down to a sprint. The seasoned veteran sat patiently throughout the three-lap race on Thursday, then attacked with 2 1/2 kilometers to go to take the title by 3.7 seconds over APU's Lex Treinen.
Rosie Brennan (APU) earned her second national title in a week after striding to a 5.5 second win in the women's 20 k classic mass start in northern Michigan. APU coach Erik Flora said that he believes Brennan is ready for the next level of racing saying, “she is one of our top ladies and she is right at that point to make that next step and jump in with the World Cup crew.”
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) made winning look easy in Tuesday's 1.5 k classic sprint at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Houghton, Mich. And while this win may not be as momentous as his first national championship in 2013, it's all part of his season plan.
Rosie Brennan didn't let a hefty amount of fresh snow hold her back, qualifying in second in a blizzard then dominating each of her heats, including the classic-sprint final, at U.S. nationals on Tuesday. With the exception of Becca Rorabaugh and Anne Hart, the rest of the women's A-final achieved career bests by making it to the final.
Heads turned and ears perked up alongside the course at U.S. Cross Country Championships on Sunday as Kyle Bratrud was rumored to be leading the men's 15 k freestyle individual start. In fact, the Northern Michigan senior led from start to finish, and ended up winning for his first top 20 at nationals.
In the two days leading up to U.S. nationals, we caught up with several podium contenders for the races in Houghton, Mich., which start this Sunday and last through next Saturday.
The nation's best domestic races have gathered in the snowy Upper Peninsula for the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Houghton, Mich. Races kick off with Sunday's 10/15 k freestyle, and continue throughout the next week with freestyle and classic sprints and 20/30 k classic mass starts.
It's sure to be an exciting day at Kincaid Park on Tuesday for the first team event at U.S. nationals in at least a decade, and unlike most relays, this one's coed. Stay tuned for a showdown between APU, Stratton, Craftsbury, Sun Valley and several college teams.