The Central Collegiate Skiing Association is allowing advanced racers to petition into their races this season, and I am taking advantage of this opportunity. I’m delighted because it allows me to do a lot of relatively short-distance racing among very competitive fields. As I plan to race in these events many of the coming weekends, I’m planning to bring you reports of the weekends’ racing action on fasterskier.com.
This weekend’s race was the first qualifier for this winter’s NCAA National Championships to be hosted by Dartmouth College in early March. The top collegiate team from the region as well as the next four individuals as based on their best two results in each discipline will qualify to represent the region.
Originally scheduled for Telemark Resort, “The Macalester Invite” was moved to the trails of Michigan Tech University in Houghton, MI. It was a great opportunity for many of us to ski the University’s newly improved trails for the first time. I was extremely impressed by the course, which covers quite a variety of terrain, mixing long gradual and rolling climbs with several short, steep ascents and descents. As well, the newly widened trail was great to race on as skaters could easily ski side-by-side while passing. Since it also has great snow cover and grooming, this is a great addition to our Midwest trails.
On both days (skate on Saturday and classic on Sunday), the weather was the story of the day. Brisk winds, cold temperatures, and steady snowfall created less than pleasant skiing conditions. We came to the U.P. for snow, and got what we asked for.
Sigrid Aas from Alta, Norway via University of Alaska-Fairbanks won the potentially mismeasured five kilometer race dominantly in 18:12, by 22 seconds over Northern Michigan’s Maria Stuber. Olympian Lindsey Weier took third in 18:47. Weier competed as an individual in the event as she is red-shirting this season in order to give herself another year of eligibility, which might be useful at a future date.
Teamwise, Northern narrowly defeated Alaska-Fairbanks 93-90. Besides Stuber, Hilary Patzer and Tami Kochen (fourth and fifth) also scored their team’s winning points. Michigan Tech was third with 72 points. Kristina Owen led Tech on with her 17th place finish.
In the men’s event held later in the day, Fairbank’s Michal Malak narrowly won over Northern’s Chris Cook by 1 second (30:51.7 to 30:52.8). In third and fourth followed Alaska-Fairbanks skiers Brent Lowen (32:20) and Juraj Brugos (32:31). Top results from this Fairbanks trio allowed Fairbanks to win rather easily (76-68) over NMU. Also scoring for NMU were Jon Filardo and Bryan Cook (7th and 9th). Breaking into the dominance of these top-two teams were Karl Walczck of Michigan Tech (6th in 32:50) and Jay Eidem of St. Olaf (8th in 32:58). Also notable was recent NMU graduate Matt Weier’s 5th place in 32:37. As in the women’s race, Michigan Tech took third.
On Sunday, the men completed their 20 kilometer classic in a blinding snowstorm. Chris Cook, showing the form that won him a bronze medal in the recent U.S. Nationals 10 kilometer classic, outskied the field to win by 1 minute and 54 seconds. In runner-up position was Fairbank’s Juraj Brugos who came in at 1:06:47. Teammate Michael Malak was followed in 1:07:06. However, Northern’s skiers Dave Duede, Hjarlmar Westie, and Jon Filardo took the next 3 positions, which secured the team a mere one-point victory (74-73) over Fairbanks. As was the case the previous day, Michigan Tech took third (54 points). But on this day the team was led by Matt Copps who finished 15th.
The snowstorm weakened just slightly for the women’s 15 kilometer classic race, which was again taken by Sigrid Aas. Her time of 48:31 bested that of Northern’s Rachel Daw (2nd in 46:16) and Fairbank’s Johanna Turunen (3rd in 49:18). As was the case with the men, the women’s team competition was decided by the smallest of margins: the one-point victory went to Fairbanks with 83 points. Northern was second with 82 points, and Gustavus broke into the top-three for the first time this year. Their third place effort was led by Britta Carlson who took 18th.
Under general observations: it’s good to see the competition Alaska-Fairbanks and Northern have going for the top spot in Central. Not long ago, Northern was the by-far dominant team in the region and thus had little challenge in preparing for NCAAs. One has to think that this new level of competition will up Central athlete’s readiness for Nationals.
Complete results are available online at <itiming.com.
Corey Coogan recently wrote a book on collegiate skiing called One Week in March, a Peterson's-like guidebook on all the collegiate teams and clubs in the U.S. This guide book is especially helpful for high school skiers and parents who are looking at college ski programs. <More info available here.