U.S. Cross Country Championships: 20/30 k Classic Preview and Predictions

Steve BedardJanuary 6, 20122
CXC leading the way in the sprint A-final on Tuesday. They will be a threat again for the classic mass start. Photo: Toko.

With two events down, the U.S .Cross Country Championships is now half over. Friday, January 6th, 2012 will kick off with the 20/30 k classical mass start events. Conditions appear to be remaining steady, making for relatively predictable glide, which allows coaches to concentrate on kick. This may prove to be useful as the event is the first classic event of these championships.

We’re especially excited about the race because it’s the first domestic mass start of the season.

The Course

The 3.26 k loop is identical to one used in the 10/15 k freestyle events held on Thursday. The ladies will start the day off at 9:00 a.m. by completing six laps, and the men will take to the course at 11:00 a.m. and complete a total of nine laps.

With all of the top names expected to start the event, the day is certain to bring about much excitement.


Men’s Preview

Sylvan Ellefson (SSCV/Team Homegrown) enters the race with a number of standout results so far this season. In Thursday’s 15 k freestyle, Ellefson took the reigns and captured a step on the podium, a position that eluded him by mere centimeters in Tuesday’s freestyle sprint. As an all-around skier, Ellefson looks to continue his strong showings so far this week in the remaining two events at Black Mountain.

Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol), now with three consecutive U.S. Cross Country Championship sprint titles to his name, elected to take a rest day during Thursday’s 15 k freestyle. Koos may have conserved enough energy to outpace the field in the 30 k classical mass start. Koos also has a lot of racing experience—as Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess said after finishing second to Koos in the freestyle sprint, he’s “a crafty old-veteran.”

David Norris (Alaska Winter Stars) is a relatively young skier with a collection of top results. Norris returns to Black Mountain after being on the podium in the 15 k classic event last year. With momentum from todays 15 k freestyle, where he finished 8th, carrying him forward, Norris will be looking to improve upon the result. Keep your eyes out for the strong Alaskan.

Noah Hoffman (USST/Team Homegrown) cannot be counted out in any domestic event. With good World Cup results to his name so far this season, Hoffman will be looking to capture a U.S. Cross Country Championship before the week is over. Not known as a strong sprinter, Hoffman’s best chances appear to be in Friday’s distance event.

Bryan Cook (CGRP) a former CXC team member, has had a strong showings so far this season, beginning with a win at the opening Eastern Cup 10 k freestyle held in Craftsbury, Vermont. Couple that with his fifth place in Thursday’s 15 k freestyle and Cook appears ready to make a run for the podium.

Staff Predictions


  1. Sylvan Ellefson
  2. Torin Koos
  3. David Norris
  4. Noah Hoffman
  5. Bryan Cook


  1. Sylvan Ellefson
  2. Noah Hoffman
  3. Erik Bjorsen
  4. Lars Flora
  5. Michael Sinnott


  1. Noah Hoffman
  2. Sylvan Ellefson
  3. Torin Koos
  4. Erik Bjornsen
  5. Tad Elliott


Women’s Preview

Jessie Diggins (USST/CXC) is a safe bet for the victory. With 11 victories to her name so far this season, and no result worse than second, Diggins looks poised to capture her third consecutive win of this year’s U.S. Cross Country Championships. Look for Diggins to ski at the front of the race before trying to break free in the final kilometers.

Dasha Gaiazova (Rocky Mountain Racers/Canadian National Ski Team) is a safe bet. It is hard to believe Gaiazova would cross the Canadian/United States border without high expectations. The World Cup skier has been a driving force for the Canadians. While known as a strong sprinter, Gaiazova certainly possesses the fitness to battle for the 20 k classic mass start win.

Jennie Bender (CXC) After strong results at the NorAms in recent weeks as well as a total of eleven top 10 finishes so far this season, Bender looks set to capture her second US Cross Country Championship podium of the week.

Kate Fitzgerald (APU) is fresh off a podium finish in the 10 k freestyle will be contending for another top result. She’s experienced constant improvement over the last few years and seems comfortable skiing at the top of the sport.

Eliska Hajkova (CU) is the 2011 NCAA 15 k classical champion. Already with two top 5 results this week, Hajkova will be looking to break into a podium spot before the week is over. The 20 k classical event suits Hajkova’s strengths.

Staff Predictions


  1. Jessie Diggins
  2. Dasha Gaiazova
  3. Jennie Bender
  4. Kate Fitzgerald
  5. Eliska Hajkova


  1. Jessie Diggins
  2. Dasha Gaiazova
  3. Jennie Bender
  4. Ida Sargent
  5. Kate Fitzgerald


  1. Jessie Diggins
  2. Caitlin Gregg
  3. Ida Sargent
  4. Jennie Bender
  5. Eliska Hajkova

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Steve Bedard

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  • freddie floride

    January 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Youngster Joanne Reid: top 10?? top 5??

  • marky

    January 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Boy, your guys predictions in men were really, really off. Go back to your homework. LOL

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