FasterSkier coverage of US Nationals is <sponsored by Atomic skis.
US Nationals starts in Rumford, Maine on January 3rd. Fasterskier.com has taken a look at the competitors and made an overview of favorites and outsiders.
These races are for many skiers the â€œeye of the needleâ€ — you are now in the play-offs and need to advance. You need to ski top five or so to possibly make the World Cup team, the Junior Worlds or the Under-23 Worlds. Aim for the top half if you are a good junior and want college coaches to take notice regarding future college scholarships.
Pre-Christmas races are over with. Good early results in West Yellowstone now mean very little if you did everything to peak there and can’t ski faster in Rumford.
Men’s race favorites:
Kris Freeman is following great early World Cup results would be the clear favorite in any race he enters. But Kris is not going to be in Rumford. He has earned red-group (top-30) status on the World Cup and his coaches have told us that he will return to Europe to race World Cups rather than participate in Nationals.
Carl Swenson skied very well and placed 11th in the last World Cup skate race. Carl will be the favorite in all of the skate races, including the sprint, and could be tough in classic as well.
Leif Zimmerman, a member of the US development Team and â€œTeam Draganâ€ of Bozeman â€œshowed somethingâ€ by winning the 15 k skate race at Soldier Hollow and should be considered a (bronze?) medal contender in a skate race.
Lars Flora has lived and trained in Norway this fall and has been allowed to ski all the November and December World Cup races. Some of his result has been very encouraging. World Cup racing can make you discouraged or tough – we think that Lars is stepping it up and might come to Rumford ready to fight for medals.
Andrew Johnson showed great progress following some time off before the last two Super Tour races at Soldier Hollow. He wants to prove that he is ready for the World Cup and is a medal contender at any distance including the sprint (if he is choosing to do that event).