USSA Cross Country Junior Championships (Lake Placid, N.Y.): 5/10 k freestyle individual starts
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) Cross Country Junior Championships (a.k.a. Junior Nationals) opened Monday in Lake Placid, N.Y., with U16, U18 and U20 men’s and women’s 5/10-kilometer freestyle individual start races taking place at the Olympic Jumping Complex trails just up the road from Mt. Van Hoevenberg, where organizers had originally planned to host the weeklong event. A lack of natural snow led to the use of a 2.5-kilometer loop on manmade snow at the Olympic Jumping Complex, US Biathlon’s home training base.
The U20 men’s 10 k freestyle proved to be the closest race of the day, with Karl Schulz, a University of Vermont (UVM) freshman who grew up in Lake Placid, winning by 0.1 seconds over Alaska’s Hunter Wonders, of Alaska Pacific University (APUNSC), in second place. Racing for the Mid-Atlantic division, Schulz clocked the fastest time in 24:58.6 minutes, which was 33 seconds faster than Canadian third-place finisher Étienne Hébert, of Montériski. New England’s Daniel Streinz (Mountain Endurance) was the third American in fifth overall, 59 seconds off Schulz’s winning time and 16.4 seconds behind another Canadian, Ty Godfrey (Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.) in fourth.
Julia Kern, of New England and the Stratton Mountain School (SMS), won the U20 women’s 5 k by the biggest margin of the day: 42.4 seconds in 13:48.5. Canada’s Katherine Weaver (Hollyburn XC Ski Club) placed second and UVM’s Mackenzie Rizio took third (+43.9), while Sarah Goble (Great Lakes Division/Sun Valley) was the third American in fourth overall (+49.3).
In the U18 boys’ 10 k, Alaska took first and second with Gus Schumacher, of Alaska Winter Stars (AWS) topping the podium in 25:07.3, and Luke Jager (APUNSC) finishing 3.7 seconds back in second. New England’s Ben Ogden (SMS) notched third (+10.6).
Alaska topped the U18 girls’ 5 k as well, with Margaret Gellert (AWS) winning by 17.6 seconds in 14:02.9. Intermountain’s Sofia Shomento (Bridger Ski Foundation) finished second and Rocky Mountain’s Ezra Smith (Summit Nordic Ski Club) placed third (+23.6).
In the U16 boys’ 5 k race, Far West’s Haydn Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy) raced to a 5.3-second victory over Intermountain’s Johnny Hagenbuch, of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF). Halvorsen finished in 12:35.2 minutes, and New England’s Will Koch (SMS) was 29.5 seconds back in third.
In the U16 girls’ 5 k, Novie McCabe (Pacific Northwest/Methow Valley Nordic Ski Educational Foundation) earned a junior-national title by 1.7 seconds in 14:14.6. Intermountain’s Sydney Palmer-Leger (Park City Nordic Ski Club) placed second and Far West’s Nina Seemann (Auburn Ski Club Associates Inc.) reached the podium in third (+28.8).