Editor's Note: This report is from races held Jan 17th and 18th. Central Collegiate races were also held this past weekend (Jan 24&25) at Telemark, WI and we hope to have a report on those races soon. Sorry for the delay.
The second Central Collegiate Skiing Association qualifier took place last Saturday at the Mount Itasca Norams. While an exciting event, it lacked the feel of a true college race since skiers vying for CCSA points raced in Noram, Collegiate, and Older Junior fields. Because of the format, it took several days to weed through results, pull out college skiers, and score the event.
On Saturday women went first in a mass start 10-kilometer classic on Mt. Itasca’s challenging course. Since the course was designed for biathlon, most hills are too steep to stride, so the race became a herringbone-fest. In the Noram race, NMU and UAF quickly moved to the front joined by non-collegian Madeline Williams. At the finish Lindsey Weier outsprinted Sigrid Aas to the line giving Aas her first second place result at a 2004 CCSA event. NMU won the event by the narrowest of margins with 74 points to UAF’s 73. Lindsey Williams was third overall, followed by former Stratton standout, now NMU skier Morgan Smyth in 5th. Finn Johanna Turunen and Fairbanks native Kassandra Rice finshed 3rd and 8th for UAF.
In the men’s 15 kilometer Mass Start, NMU defeated UAF by a small margin. UAF’s Erik Wickstrom finished first among the collegians in 42:02. NMU’s Hjalmar Westie with 42:10 and Bryan Cook with 42:17 took second and third. All three of these times were good for top-10 placings in the Noram field. NMU’s Adriaan Ostrander skied to fourth place and wrapped up NMU’s team title.
On day two of the Itasca Norams, it was bitter cold. The races were delayed some four hours in order for temperatures to get up to the FIS minimum. During the wait, both NMU and Michigan Tech University elected to head home early since their trek back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was a long one. Both teams could afford this, having a lot of racing under their belts from competing in the full series at U.S. Nationals.
Without NMU, the results from the Men’s 10-kilometer individual start skate looked like a UAF team time-trial, as the team took slots 1-5. As in the classic, Wickstrom (25:25), Tetlie (25:32), and Lowen (25:36) were again their team’s top three. The first non-UAF skier was St. Olaf’s Nate Earlandson who finished 6th. UAF’s 78 team points beat Wisconsin-Green Bay’s 62 and St. Olaf’s 55.
In the women’s 5 kilometer freestyle, UAF also benefited from the departure of UAF and took places 1-5. As at U.S. Nationals, Aas completely dominated the central field with a time that was 51 seconds better than 2nd place Noram skier Madeline Williams. Turenen was second for the collegians in 14:47, and Rice was 3rd in 15:31. UAF had 78 points, followed by Wisconsin-Green Bay with 66, and Gustavus Adolphus with 63.
Barring an outbreak of illness, qualifiers from the central region are pretty predictable. While the men’s and women’s team titles may go to either NMU or UAF, both will send full teams to NCAAs. While CCSA only qualifies one team for each gender, the second place team will qualify three individuals, and thus still send a full team. Since CCSA only sends 6 men to NCAAs UAF and NMU basically have things locked. On the women’s side, 8 will go, so two non-NMU/UAF skiers will make it. Based on today’s point standings, those athletes would be Green Bay’s Johanna Winters and Gustavus’s Ingrid Olson, but the race is tight, and will likely come down to the last qualifying race.
CCSA Itasca results and qualifying points are available at <www.cxcskiing.org.
Corey Coogan recently issued the second edition of her 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.