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 — On yet another bluebird day at Soldier Hollow, the last 2012 Junior Nationals individual titles were decided with the conclusion of the classic distance races. Corey Stock (NE/Cambridge Sports Union) kept her streak alive with a 24.8-second win in the J1 girls’ individual start 5 k over Heather Mooney (NE/Stratton Mountain School). Marion Woods (AK/Alaska Winter Stars) took home the bronze (+29.9).
Since her first gold medal as a first-year J2, Stock has now won nine career national titles in total. But for the Dartmouth-bound Lincoln-Sudbury senior, winning still isn’t getting old — every victory is just as sweet as the last.
“Everyone is so supportive of one another, it’s great,” Stock said as she waited to take the top spot on the podium for the third time this week.
“This is such a fun week,” she added. “I definitely like to win, but it’s also just a ton of fun.”
As if she needed any advantage, Stock prefers the 5 k classic to other distances. While she was out on the course in a race against the clock, she couldn’t help but enjoy herself.
“It was a fun, really fast course,” she said of the 2002 Olympic venue trails.
The 5 k loop featured plenty of variation: gradual climbs, screaming descents, and fast double-pole sections. For the early-starting J1 girls, the snow was also still icy and fast.
“I was just maximizing speed as much as possible,” Stock said.
With Stock as the probable anchor for New England’s A-relay on Sunday, and several teammates who have also consistently placed near the top this week, the blue, green and white-clad skiers are the clear favorites for the 3 x 3 k.
“We’re definitely going for the win,” she said. “Yeah New England!”
Morgan Rebounds To Win 10 k Classic By Huge Margin
After his 22nd-place showing in the 10 k skate on Wednesday, Cole Morgan (Intermountain/Sun Valley SEF) had decided to take Friday’s 10 k classic out slowly. When he kept getting splits that he was in the lead, he just put his head down and upped the tempo.
“I just kept feeling good the whole way, and pushed it at the finish,” said Morgan. “Yeah, it was a good one…the season is winding down and I thought I was kind of done, so it’s nice knowing I can still go.”
Morgan’s shins had bothered him on Wednesday, but he put the pain behind him on Friday to ski to a 45.3-second victory over Paddy Caldwell (NE/SMS). Cal Deline (Rocky Mountain/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail) took home the bronze (+46.0).
Caldwell was an early starter on Friday, and after crossing the finish line in the top spot, he held onto the position as more skiers came through. For a time it appeared as though the Vermonter had won his second race in a row, but Morgan finished by an untouchable margin a few minutes later, and the race was all his.
“Today everything felt good; everything felt loose,” Morgan said.
Though Hermod’s Hill is plenty intimidating, Morgan said the toughest part of the course for him was the first climb out of the hollow, which is long and gradual.
Overall, the snow was still fast for the J1 boys.
“I double-poled a lot that I wouldn’t have if it had been slower,” he said.
His victory marked the first in the J1 category not won by a New Englander this week. Though it’s not Morgan’s first gold medal from Junior Nationals, it was perhaps a bit more meaningful to him.
“I had a couple [wins] when I was a J2, but this one feels a lot better,” he said. “More legit, I guess.”
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.