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).
Dave Chamberlain won one race and showed strength in the other Soldier Hollow races as well. He should duke it out with Justin Freeman and Andrew in classic and be a force in the pursuit.
We haven’t seen much of Patrick Weaver so far this season, but something tells us that he might show up in shape. He can do well in any distance and technique except for the sprint. He usually starts the season slow (like he did in West Yellowstone) and comes on strong — we would not be surprised to see him in the top 5.
At recent Nationals we have also got accustomed to the appearance of 2-3 fast Scandinavian College skiers. Expect that this year as well. Canadian national team skiers lead by George Grey could also make it interesting if they show up. Chad Giese and Nathan Shultz both had some good races at Soldier Hollow (best ever for Chad) — they could become medal factors as well.
The men’s sprint
We know that Andy Newell and Torin Koos are fast sprinters, but the recent â€œsprintâ€ event during the SuperTour at Soldier Hollow showed that 1.5k is not a sprint, but more like a short distance event. Running 800 meter on the track is not regarded a sprint either, even though it takes 1.41-1.50 min. A normal World Cup or National Championship sprint takes 3-3.30 minutes (and you do this four times during 2 – 3 hours if you make it to the finals). It comes down to having a good mix of both aerobic and anaerobic capacity and then being able to sprint when you are tired. Andy and Torin are again among the favorites but 4-6 other skier could make it into the finals — and when you are there — Anything can happen!