Anchorage, Alaska – Alaska and New England combined to take 13 of 18 podium spots at the opening event of the 2008 Junior National Championships. The classic sprint kicked off a week of racing in Anchorage, where snow conditions are thin at best. The sprint course had to be re-routed as the stadium was unusable due to the warm weather. Organizers did an excellent job putting together a challenging course despite near record high temperatures.
In the sprint format, skiers raced an individual time trial in the morning in order to qualify for the heats in the afternoon. The top 24 skiers in the qualification round advanced to the six skier quarterfinals. This format is slightly different than the standard FIS sprint in which the top 30 skiers advance to the quarterfinals. The smaller field at JO's eliminates the need for “lucky losers” and chip timed heats. The top three in each heat advance to the next round.
Steve Mangan (Mid-Atlantic) won the boys J2 classification over Alaska's Scott Patterson and New England's Bridger Tyler. Mangan, of Honeoye-Falls Nordic, qualified with the sixth fastest time and battled Patterson thorughout the heats. The two matched up in every heat, with Patterson winning the quarterfinal and Mangan finishing first in both the semifinal round and, most importantly, the A-final.
Tyler won his quarterfinal before matching up with Mangan and Tyler in the semis. The second semifinal was a preview of the A-final with an identical top three.
Kristen Halvorsen (NE) won the girl's J2 category with Alaska's Karina Packer in second and New England teammate Tara Moats-Geraghty in third. After qualifying in fifth, Halvorsen won each of her heats on the way to the top of the podium. New England took four of the top six spots in the race.
In the boy's J1 race, Joe Dubay brought home the gold for the Midwest team. New England and Alaska continued their strong days with Sam Tarling (NE) in second and Tyler Kornfield (AK) in third. Alaska also took spots 4-6. Like Halvorsen, Dubay won each of his heats as he skied to the victory. His 11th place qualification was the lowest of any winner, but at the end of the day it is performance in the heats that matters.
The girl's J1 race was dominated from the start by Amy Glen. The Alaska skier won the qualification round by 5 seconds and went on to win every heat. Jesse Diggins took second gaining the second top-3 of the day for the Midwest. Sophie Caldwell was third for New England.
Alex Howe (NE) won qualification round in the men's OJ classification. He finished third in his quarterfinal before wining both his semi and the A-final. Doug Debold made it 1-2 for New England, with Intermountain's Reid Pletcher in third.
With Becca Rorabaugh (AK) winning the girl's OJ race, and Parker Tyler (NE) in second, Alaska and New England put two in the top three in every race. Mali Noyes was third for Intermountain.
For more photos go to the FasterSkier
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