NCAA Skiing Championships (Jackson, N.H.): 15/20 k freestyle mass starts
On the final day of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Skiing Championships in northern New Hampshire, the University of Utah pulled out a 16.5-point victory over the University of Colorado-Boulder (and finished 17.5 points ahead of the University of Denver) in the team standings, and the two previous NCAA champions from Thursday’s 5/10 k classic races, Martin Bergström and Petra Hyncicova, achieved their second-straight titles in as many nordic races this week.
On a frigid Saturday morning in Jackson, N.H., with temperatures just below zero Fahrenheit for the start of the men’s 20 k freestyle mass start, Bergström, a Utah freshman from Sweden, outlasted the University of Colorado’s (CU) Mads Ek Strøm, a Norwegian senior and two-time 2016 NCAA champion, by 0.5 seconds to win his second-straight race in 46:02.8 minutes. Moritz Madlener, a German senior at Denver University (DU), placed third (+0.6). Just behind him CU’s Petter Reistad, of Norway, finished fourth (+1.2), and Dartmouth College’s Fabian Stocek, of the Czech Republic, placed fifth (+1.9).
While temperatures warmed up to about 1 degree for the women’s 15 k freestyle mass start and the wind picked up to about 15-20 miles per hour, the women raced three laps around the Jackson Ski Touring Center’s race loop and navigated even faster downhills that caused a few crashes.
Hyncicova used her love for downhills and skate races to capture her second consecutive NCAA title, breaking away with University of Vermont (UVM) junior Alayna Sonnesyn on the second lap. The Czech Republic native and CU junior attacked on the A-climb at the top of the course and won by 21.1 seconds in 39:21.6. Sonnesyn, of Minnesota, bested her third place from Thursday’s 5 k with a second-place finish on Saturday. CU’s Christina Rolandsen, of Norway, finished third (+38.9), ahead of Idaho native Anika Miller of Montana State University (MSU) in fourth (+44.0).
Utah took fifth and sixth with Merete Myrseth (+1:01.5) and Guro Jordheim (+1:16.1), and had two other men in the top 10 (Martin Mikkelsen in 8th and Kevin Bolger in 10th) to achieve the alpine-nordic team title.
In the women’s race, the Utes were the only team with all three women in the top 14, with Natalia Müller in 14th (+1:32.1).
“The turning point of today is when Guro broke a pole, and she was back in the 20’s, and she and Natalia were skiing together,” Utah Director of Skiing Kevin Sweeney said, according to a team press release. “We told them that they had to go and they busted out and made a big move. The men’s results were tremendous, but whether or not we were going to win was based on those guys making the move. It was exceptional athleticism and gutsy performances.”
The NCAA team title was the 11th for Utah and its first since 2003.
“I am stunned with the win today,” Sweeney added. “In all my years of coaching, it was one of the most challenging four days of competition. I say that because the weather was incredibly cold and windy, and challenging from both a waxing perspective, as well as visibility and conditions. I know all the teams had to deal with it, but it really beat us up. It took a lot of perseverance and gutsy performances for us to win. We struggled a little bit in the slalom, but they were going for it and came up short.
“We’ve been crunching numbers and have been able to beat Denver and Colorado by about 30 points on a really good showing during the RMISA season, but didn’t know if we could do it in the championships,” he continued. “Bergström was skiing at a whole new level this week, and Mikkelsen had stepped it up, and I knew Kevin Bolger could get top 10. I was also confident in the women, who have been skiing awesome, so I felt good there. It’s awesome to be able to take this new trophy back to our new ski building.”
As for those earning All-American status on Saturday with a top-10 finish, Utah had five (Bergström 1st, Myrseth 5th, Jordheim 6th, Mikkelsen 8th, Bolger 10th), Colorado had four (Hyncincova 1st, Strøm 2nd, Rolandsen 3rd, Reistad 4th), Denver had two (Madlener, Dag Frode Trollebø 7th), MSU had two (Miller 4th, Johanna Talihärm 7th), Dartmouth had two (Stocek 5th, Luke Brown 9th), UVM had one (Sonnesyn 2nd), Northern Michigan University (NMU) had one (Adam Martin 5th), the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) had one (Sarissa Lammers 8th), UNH had one (Lizzie Gill 9th), and Bowdoin had one (Hannah Miller 10th).
Stay tuned for a more in-depth report with quotes and photos from Saturday’s skate mass starts.
USSA Cross Country Junior Championships (Lake Placid, N.Y.): Freestyle team relays
[UPDATED] For the final day of 2017 U.S. Junior Nationals in Lake Placid, N.Y., regional divisions formed three-racer teams for the U16, U18 and U20 freestyle relays.
Intermountain swept the U16 team events with Lane Myshrall, Skylar Patten and Johnny Hagenbuch winning the U16 boys’ relay by 3.6 seconds over the Midwest’s James Schneider, Alexander Nameth and Peter Moore in 23:00.4 minutes. Another 1.1 seconds back, Alaska reached the podium in third (+4.7) with Eli Hermann, Zander McMullen and George Cvancara.
Intermountain’s U16 girls’ team of Sarah Morgan, Annabel Hagen and Sydney Palmer-Leger posted a 53.7-second victory over New England’s Charlotte Ogden, Anna Lehmann and Abigail Streinz, winning in 26:21.4. The Pacific Northwest finished 18.1 seconds later in third place (+1:29.9) with Fiona Max, Gretta Scholz and Annie McColgan.
Alaska won the U18 boys’ relay with Luke Jager, Canyon Tobin and Gus Schumacher finishing in 21:42.9, 7.5 seconds ahead of New England’s Elliot Ketchel, Adam Glueck and Ben Ogden in second. The Midwest’s Anders Sonnesyn, Patrick Acton and Luc Golin rounded out the podium in third (+22.2).
Rocky Mountain topped the U18 girls’ relay with Katja Freeburn, Ezra Smith and Maddie Donovan crossing first in 25:47.3. Just 5.8 seconds back, Intermountain’s Brooke Dunnagan, Anna Gibson and Sofia Schomento placed second, and the Midwest secured third (+16.7) with Margaret McCollor, Luci Anderson and Anja Maijala.
The U20 men’s relay title went to New England, with Kam Husain, Koby Gordon and Daniel Streinz pulling out a 1.3-second win over Alaska’s Tracen Knopp, Logan Mowrey and Hunter Wonders in 21:53.1. Intermountain followed in third (+8.8) with Eli Jensen, Peter Wolter and Nathan Wells.
The Midwest came up big in the U20 women’s relay, with Abby Jarzin, Hannah Rudd and Margie Freed finishing 10.1 seconds ahead of New England’s Alexandra Lawson, Mary Kretchmer and Mackenzie Rizio in 25:41.4. Another 1.1 seconds back, Intermountain’s Leah Lange, Maddie Morgan and Marin Coletta placed third (+11.2).
New England won the Alaska Cup with 325 points, the same point total as Intermountain in second. Alaska placed third in the overall team competition with 295 points, just five points ahead of the Midwest in fourth.
FIS Cross-Country World Cup (Oslo, Norway): Holmenkollen 50 k classic mass start
In a historic Holmenkollen, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby took his second 50 k win in a row, claiming this year’s title in a time of 2:02:59.7 (he won last year’s Holmenkollen in a time of 2:08:41.9). Sundby is now the only male skier to win two consecutive World Cup Holmenkollen 50 k competitions.
Crossing behind Sundby in second was Finland’s Iivo Niskanen, 9.9 seconds back from the race winner’s time. In a three-way photo finish, Russian Alexander Bessmertnykh bested Norwegians Niklas Dryhaug, and Sjur Røthe in the lunge to the line, with Bessmertnykh taking third (+1:15.2), Røthe fourth (+1:15.2) and Dryhaug fifth (+1:15.2).
Canada’s Alex Harvey was just two tenths of a second behind the three-way lunge, finishing in sixth (+1:15.4). Norway’s Christer Hans Holund crossed 2.2 seconds later in seventh (+1:17.2). Three more Russians rounded out the top ten, with Sergey Ustiugov finishing in eighth (+2:35.0), Andrey Larkov two tenths of a second behind in ninth (+2:35.2) and Sergey Turyshev in tenth (+2:42.2).
The top U.S. skier for the day was Scott Patterson (Alaska Pacific University), earning World Cup points in 28th (+7:18.8). Canada’s Devon Kershaw crossed 33rd (+2:11:59.1) and American David Norris (Alaska Pacific University) finished 35th (+9:56.4).
Two more Americans competed in Saturday’s Holmenkollen, with Noah Hoffman finishing in 38th (+11:02.6) and Ben Lustgarten 46th (+18:44.7). Canadian Russell Kennedy was the final North American to finish in 47th (+20:16.3).
IBU World Cup Biathlon (Kontiolahti, Finland): Men’s & women’s pursuits
After one day knocked down to the second spot of the podium, it was back to the usual winning ways for Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier in the 10 k pursuit. Dahlmeier caught Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff, who won Friday’s sprint, early in the race after Eckhoff had one penalty in the first prone and second-starter Dahlmeier cleaned. While Eckhoff picked up five more penalties as the race went on, finishing 15th (+1:12.0), Dahlmeier had just one – and cleaned when it counted, on the final shoot with France’s Marie Dorin Habert and the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalova right there with her. Dorin Habert missed one shot and held on to second place (+16.5) despite the penalty loop, while Italy’s Lisa Vittozi picked up her first individual podium in third (+19.9).
The win secured the overall World Cup title for Dahlmeier, her first. “That makes me really speechless,” she told Germany’s ARD broadcaster. “This is an amazing moment.”
Susan Dunklee collected four penalties and dropped from fifth place to 14th (+1:02.8) for the United States. Teammates Clare Egan and Joanne Reid finished 45th (+3:24.7) and 52nd (+4:07.0), respectively.
For Canada, Julia Ransom finished 53rd with three penalties (+4:14.0) and Emma Lunder 58th with four missed shots (+6:20.7).
Earlier in the day, Martin Fourcade had started the men’s race in bib one and set out to win the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, but was undone by four errors on the shooting range. No matter: the French biathlete still picked up the World Cup crystal globe for the pursuit discipline after finishing fifth (+25.5 seconds) and now he’s skipping tomorrow’s mixed relays to go be with his wife, who is about to have their second child.
Capitalizing on Fourcade’s errors were a group of chasers, among whom Arnd Peiffer of Germany managed to shoot 20-for-20. The race came down to a sprint finish between him and Simon Eder of Austria; Peiffer took a 0.3-second win for his eighth career victory. Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway finished third, +2.3 seconds, and Andrej Moravec of the Czech Republic fourth, +9.8.
Besides Peiffer, the only other man in the field to shoot clean was Sean Doherty of the United States. That allowed Doherty to jump from 44th at the start to a season-best 18th (+1:19.5) at the finish, the top result for the American team. Lowell Bailey finished 27th (+1:57.2) and Leif Nordgren 43rd (+3:24.4) with three and four penalties, respectively.
Christian Gow led Canada with just one penalty and a 37th-place finish (+2:36.0), a big improvement from his 50th-place starting position. Brendan Green placed 50th with three penalties (+4:47.3).