Lief Zimmermann (USST/BSF) skied strong and consistent to earn honors as the top American and national champion in the men’s race.
Compton dominated the women’s field, winning the 5km Freestyle by 24.7 seconds in a time of 13:47.1. Elizabeth Stephen (USST) 14:11.8 finished second ahead of Swiss native Karin Caminisch (Rossignol) 14:17.3. Tazlina Mannix (APU) crossed the line as the third American finishing in 14:19.6.
Compton, the 2007 overall Super Tour Champion joined the US Biathlon team this year but proved that she has not let her skiing fall behind as she works on her marksmanship. Today she won her first individual national title after winning the team sprint at the 2007 National Championships:
â€œMy focus was to ski the first kilometer really strong, it is pretty flat and fast and a place where you can loose a lot of time because you feel like you are going really fast. I tried to sneak every second I could out of the course.
At 2k I heard that I was 10-12 seconds up on the field and then I saw Kikkan Randal (USST/APU) further up the hill. I knew that things were going well because Kikkan is really fast, and she just won a sprint World Cup. At 4k I had put another 5 seconds on the field and then I went as hard I could.
My skis were running really well thanks to the waxing by CXC’s Bryan Fish. I worked on skiing consistently, trying not to save anything but also not to blow up. The finishing stretch was the hardest, there was a bit of a headwind, it is slightly uphill, the fresh snow isn’t as packed down and you feel like you are going really slow. I just kept pushing the throttle the whole way.
I kind of knew that the shooting element of biathlon would take some time so I have been trying to make a conscious decision to do some cross country races this year. I am committed to biathlon for the rest of the year but as always I am looking for ways to improve my cross country skiing in both domestic and international competitions.â€
I am looking forward to the classic race, I haven’t been working on my classic too much this year besides a few interval workouts on roller-skis and a few out west because of too much snow. The courses are really good courses, and I am excited to have Fish waxing my skis. This will be my first classic race of the year.
In the men’s race, the â€œRussian Rocketâ€ Babikov went out hard putting a 10 second gap on the field at the end of the first 5km lap before going on to win by 15.6 seconds in 24:23.7. Zimmermann skied the fastest final lap of the day finishing second place in 24:39.3 ahead of third place Kris Freeman (USST), 24:45.9. Overall Super Tour leader Garrott Kuzzy (CXC) finished as the third American in 24:56.5
Ivan Babikov, skiing for the Subaru Factory Team was excited about today’s performance:
I felt really good. I was the leader from the first loop. From there I just tried to hold it and finish strong. My skis were good, the wax techs did a great job. Today’s course was not my type of course because there were not too many steep uphills, and I am not feeling really comfortable in the flats, so I knew I needed to really push it the whole time. I am looking forward to the classic race; the fact that it will be longer will be nice.
Leif Zimmermann of the US Ski Team won his second national title today to go with his national sprint title from the 2003 US National Championships in Rumford, ME. Leif battled mononucleosis last year, but has come back stronger than ever:
My strategy was to ski the first lap a bit conservative without losing too much time. I didn’t feel great warming up; I was a little flat after the travel and leaving altitude. I knew it would be important to get in a good warmup with the first kilometer being flat or downhill. I started early in the field so I didn’t get many splits. Through a number of back splits I knew I was sitting around 6th on the first lap. As the race progressed I felt better and better. I really skied into the race. I could feel the burn on the second lap but I really tried to attack the hills and focused on continuing to push it.
I am looking forward to the 15km classic, there are more climbs and more room to move around and the race will involve more pacing.
Large flakes of lake effect snow lightly fell on the racers throughout the day but the course was remarkably firm and very fast. Over 437 racers competed in men’s and women’s short distance Freestyle National Championships. Racing continues on Thursday, January 3rd with the 10/15km Classical National Championships. Start lists for Thursday’s race will be posted Wednesday evening at www.seniornationals.org.