All 2012 Cross Country Junior Nationals coverage is brought to you through the generous support of The Memory Clinic, in Bennington, Vt., committed to caring for the mind since 1987. Currently conducting clinical research on the Alzheimer’s disease vaccine.
MIDWAY, Utah – Amid more than 400 racers at Soldier Hollow on Monday, Henry Harmeyer and Ben Hegman stood as the lone representatives of Mansfield Nordic.
Fourteen and 15 years old, respectively, the two did about all the northern Vermont club could have asked for at the 2012 Cross Country Junior Nationals. They likely pleased their New England team as well.
Harmeyer won the J2 classic sprint in 3:54.99, more than a second ahead of his closest competitor: Hegmen.
“That was amazing,” Harmeyer said, smiling.
He had found the 1.3-kilometer course challenging and exciting, using his strong double pole to his advantage.
“I was in front, got passed on the hills and then, on the double pole at the end [I] brought it in, in front,” Harmeyer said.
He couldn’t stop smiling. His teammate finished just 1.12 seconds behind, and Cully Brown of Rocky Mountain/Durango Nordic placed third (+3.91).
The win contributed to New England’s 5-for-5 sweep on the day. In every A-final in which it had a competitor, the region topped the podium.
There were six races total, the last of which included five Midwest skiers and a Great Lakes racer in the OJ girls A-final. Paige Schember of F.A.S.T. claimed the MW victory.
In the J2 boys A-final, Koby Gordon (NE/Stratton) pulled off fourth, Karston Hokanson (Intermountain/Wasatch) was fifth and Matthew Muffoletto (AK/Alaska Winter Stars) finished sixth.
On a balmy afternoon with the sun beating down on the open course, fast skis mattered, and New England evidently had them.
After qualifying for the heats in seventh, Harmeyer won his quarterfinal and semifinal. Hegman was second in his semifinal, and Brown made the A-final in third. Gordon won the other semifinal by nearly six seconds over Hokanson and Muffoletto, respectively.
Thomas O’Harra (Alaska/APU) won the morning qualifier and later placed fourth in Harmeyer’s semifinal. In the B-final, O’Harra finished second to Steve Hokanson (Midwest/Sisu SC), putting them eighth and seventh overall.
Kern Claims Championship Upon Return
Just over a week ago, Julia Kern was racing in Estonia at the J1 Scando Cup and led the American women in the 5 k classic, placing 14th. If that wasn’t impressive enough, consider she’s a J2.
The Cambridge Sports Union skier from Massachusetts returned to the states to race at Junior Nationals, nearly 5,500 feet above sea level at Soldier Hollow. She overcame the elevation as well.
Third in Monday’s 1.3 k classic sprint qualifier, Kern was second in her quarterfinal and third in her semi. Skiing in third on the last downhill of the A-final, she figured it was time to aim for first.
Kern won the J2 girls sprint title in 4:19.03 after passing New England teammate Brooke Mooney (Stratton) on the final stretch. Mooney was second (+3.33) and Alayna Sonnesyn (MW/Sisu SC) placed third (+5.98).
“I was in the back to start, and then I realized, ‘Oh shoot, I need to catch up,’ ” Kern said after the A-final. “I went pretty hard and our skis were really, really fast and then I tucked behind Brook … We pulled it in and fought it out at the end.”
Kern said the sprint racing with several heats was a little tough on the body, making her sick at one point. But she pulled it together and gave the A-final her best effort.
“I feel pretty good,” she said. “I had expectations to maybe make the finals but I wasn’t thinking I was gonna win, but it was my goal.”
Her Cambridge teammate, Zoe Snow was fourth, and New England took four of the top five spots with Katharine Ogden (Stratton) in fifth. Canadian Marte Haakenstad-Braaten (Rocky Mountain Racers) finished sixth.
The fastest J2 girls qualifier, Mooney won her quarterfinal and placed second in her semifinal to Ogden. Sonnesyn won the other semi, 0.79 seconds ahead of Snow.
Both Sonnesyn and Snow won their preceding quarterfinals.
Audrey Mangan contributed reporting.
Alex Kochon (email@example.com) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.