Notes and Quotes from Nationals: 10/15 k Freestyle

Alex KochonJanuary 5, 2012

RUMFORD, Maine – On the second day of competition at the 2012 U.S. Cross Country Championships, a longer course and a massive hill made for some spent athletes in the women’s 10 k and men’s 15 k freestyle individual starts at Black Mountain on Thursday.

Here are a few quotes that didn’t make the recaps:

On the course:

“It was a really fast course so it was really hard, too, not a lot of recovery.” – Bryan Cook (Craftsbury Green Racing Program), 5th

“I kind of grew up from [Bates] College skiing on this course and having that comfort. Knowing these trails pretty well helps a lot.” – Sylvan Ellefson (Team Homegrown/SSVC), 3rd

“I wouldn’t say it suited my strengths, but it wasn’t a bad course for me by any means. As long as there’s good hard places on the course that’s good for me. If there’s not enough up and down, I’ll struggle because I’m not that powerful. There was definitely enough timing for me.” – Matt Gelso (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), 6th

On High School Hill:

“Icy, hard, steep. I don’t think that’s where I was making time up out there.” – Tad Elliott (USST/Team HomeGrown), 15 k freestyle champion

“It felt pretty good, it was a little icy halfway up. I was trying to V2 as much as I could; as soon as I slipped then I go into V1 and I stayed pretty relaxed. For the fourth lap, it was a thrash-fest to get up and over it as fast as I could.” — Matt Liebsch (Team Strong Heart/Team Birkie), 2nd

On the value of splits:

“It’s sweet because usually when you’re getting splits sometimes you’re like, ‘I need to pick it up,’ or ‘I need to go slower.’ Just to hear that your teammates were fighting for podium that’s pretty, I mean it makes it more fun it makes you more relaxed and enjoy skiing out there.” – Elliott

In the video below, coaches Fred Fayette (University of Vermont) and Erik Flora (Alaska Pacific University) walked us through two versions of split timing methods:

On high expectations:

“I’m trying to make sure I don’t get caught up in other people’s expectations and stuff and just go out there and have fun because if I’m not able to enjoy the day then its not worth it.” – Jessie Diggins (USST/CXC), 1st

“(Diggins is) going on Wednesday to Milan to race [in the World Cup] next weekend. It’s a really quick turnaround … it’s kind of rough. We didn’t want her to take off immediately after the last race, but at the same time she needs to adjust over there. It’ll work out … That’s the thing, too; the goal we set at the beginning of year was to have as good a season as last year. So far she’s exceeded those a lot and racing the World Cup, she’ll get to start some, get some experience there so if she goes a little jet lagged, it won’t be like, ‘Aw, stupid Jessie, didn’t win!’ ” – Jason Cork, CXC head coach

On making changes:

“I made a little bit of a change today. The early races this year, I’ve been trying to ski into them, kind of stay big and relaxed. I tried to step it up a little bit on the first two laps of this race, see if I could hold onto it a little bit longer.” – Ellefson

“I was able to use some of the new cues that I’ve worked on and get some traction on this new snow because that’s been a problem for me, not to just kind of spit out and spaz a little bit so I think that was a good one, something I’ve worked hard on and happy with how that went.” – Noah Hoffman (USST/Team HomeGrown), 4th

“[I] had some gas pedals and was able to put it down, definitely a lot more than sprint; that was not a stellar day. Wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but I wasn’t fourth so that’s good.” – Gelso

On fast skis:

“Skis were wicked fast, those downhills I had to remember to blink sometimes because my eyes teared up.” – Diggins

“My skis were rad out there. It kind of showed that they helped make us lucky out there … that we’re up near the front when it’s that tight. We want to thank those guys for sure.” — Elliott

On recovering from a cold:

“I felt real good the first lap, the second one I was still coughing up something from the cold that I was getting over. … This is like my third illness of the year. I flew in Saturday and Sunday felt OK, but Monday felt real bad so I’ve been just skiing just real light, just jogs, and a lot of tea and Cold-Eeze and Zicam, and I was able to wake up and feel pretty decent today. I took a really long warm up so I was able to get the body going.” — Matt Liebsch (Team Strong Heart/Team Birkie), 2nd

“I’ve been trying to get over it for like a week. I decided to take off the sprint, which I really didn’t want to. Today I warmed up and it was kind of like the same feeling and it’s like, well I’m not going to skip another race so I went for it. … When you’re out there you feel 99 percent, that extra little bit isn’t there. I felt all right but not what I would have hoped to feel.” – Erik Bjornsen (APU)

On racing in Rumford before going back to Europe:

“It’s a really good preparing for World Cup, for sure. I haven’t raced in two weeks now, I had a good training block back home over the holidays. I’m racing with a lot of very fast American girls. It’s exciting to see so many good distance racers in USA, and it’s great preparation for me for the World Cup in terms of doing hard racing, but in a bit of a relaxed atmosphere and not changing so many time zones.” – Dasha Gaiazova (Canadian National Ski Team), 2nd

On not being on the start list:

“That was a surprise. I wasn’t actually on start list, it was kind of funny, my parents called me last night and they were like, ‘Hey you’re not on the start list.” – Kate Fitzgerald (APU), 4th

On back-to-back races (with 30/20 k on Friday):

“Everyone’s in the same boat racing 2 days in a row, but that’s kind of where the sport’s going, too. You have mini tours, Tour de Ski, stuff like that. Gotta learn how to hydrate, eat, put your legs up.” – Cork

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon ( is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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