U.S. Nationals Notes and Quotes: Distance Freestyle Edition

Audrey ManganJanuary 5, 2013
Rosie Brennan (APU) and Annie Pokorney (Middlebury) climbing during the women’s 10 k freestyle on Friday at Soldier Hollow. Brennan won the race and Pokorney took fourth. Photo: Bert Boyer.

FasterSkier’s coverage of the 2013 US Cross County Championships is brought to you through the generous support of The Memory Clinic, Bennington, Vt.

MIDWAY, Utah — Can’t get enough of the action at U.S. Nationals? Here are some bits and pieces from top performers on Friday that didn’t make the original race reports.


On setting new goals:

“I have some goals. I definitely want to get a podium this week; I’ve never podiumed at Nationals before. It’s exciting. A couple of years ago I was feeling like more of a sprinter, but this year I’m pretty excitied for all four races. It’s hard to say, I don’t think there’s one race I’m more excited for.

“I mean, and I was just thinkng about this, it’s interesting — I’m maybe in a position to be on the podium and I’ve been more consistent this year, but I don’t think much has changed. I guess I just trained harder, got more experince and the results seem to keep improving, which is good. I don’t feel like there’s been some radical change. The training plan has been working an the experience definitely helps.”

— Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST), 1st, the Tuesday before U.S. Nationals began.

Bjornsen climbing Hermod’s Hill. Photo: Bert Boyer.


And becoming an all-around skier:

“I’ve been rollerskiing the paved tracks here in the summer, doing intervals with Tad [Elliott] up Hermod’s. It helps, but I’ve been skiing quite a bit of altitude this season and that helps as well.

“The last couple seasons everybody’s been like, ‘You’re a classic specialist,’ kind of thing. My goal this year was, after sking all those OPA cups and watching what those Europeans were doing with their V2, I was just going to work on that all summer. So this summer I just did a ton of V2ing up the hillsides in Anchorage, a bunch of trying to feel that rhythm, and it kinda clicked near the end of the off-season. Up on the glacier things were starting to feel really good. So I was exciting for my skating this season.”

— Bjornsen, after winning the 10 k skate.


On the power of a strong team:

“I think the number one thing is team. I started as the head coach here six years ago or so. And that was the first thing I thought … as an athlete I was always searching for a strong team.

“It’s incredible. Yesterday everybody was just in a good, light mood. Some people had great races in the classic sprint, others had rough days, and everyone just kind of make sure that everyone was taken care of. It’s something I think is maybe the most important thing.”

— Erik Flora, Alaska Pacific University head coach


On the conditions:

“It was really cold; I cant feel my toes right now. But it wasn’t too bad. The sun is so warm here and most of the course was in the sun so it was OK. You’re working so hard the whole time and there weren’t too many downhills to get too cold. Yeah, [the snow] was pretty slow, but not too bad though.”

— Rosie Brennan (APU), 1st

“In Alaska the snow is cold, where here it’s manmade snow so it’s not so slow and your skis still move. But we also don’t ski in the cold because I’m never in Alaska in the winter. I mean, I leave in November and don’t come back ‘til April, so I don’t experience the cold, fortunately. But this snow, I mean the snow’s great because a lot of it’s manmade so you can still move pretty well on your skis. Fairbanks is challenging; you think of that when you think of cold. There it’s like ‘squeak, squeak, squeak’ and like, you’re hardly moving.”

— Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST), 2nd

“It’s a really rough, really hard course. It’s obviously fast, but it doesn’t feel really greasy. It was interesting. Our wax techs did a good job — I don’t think skis were the issue, I think Bjornsen killing it was the issue.”

— Tad Elliott (SSCV Team HomeGrown/USST), 2nd 

“The snow was a little bit funny with a mix of manmade and natural snow, and that has a little bit different texture from place to place. And it’s certainly a hard course, a lot of rolling hills and then really quick downhills that don’t allow you a lot of recovery.”

— Caitlin Patterson (CGRP), 5th

“It felt worse warming up. It’s one of those courses where you warm up and you’re doing your level 3 and you’re like, ‘Oh man this is gonna be really tough, and then it’s not that bad. Once you get on step and you’re racing there’s more glide than you’d think.”

— Becca Rorabaugh (APU), 6th


On pacing:

“I think it skied smoother than I thought it was gonna be. If you really worked it good along the top of the course it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was gonna be; you could ski big and kind of relax. My body was there so I could go out hard and not blow up. That was probably the biggest thing; my body was in good enough shape that even if I thought I went a little hard it didn’t matter because my body could respond to it.”

— Matt Gelso (SVSEF), 3rd

“I was just trying to ski as hard as I can, as big as I could. I know this course had a lot of strong V2, and I was trying to focus on really getting as much power into the V2 as I could even up the gradual hills and things.”

— Kate Fitzgerald (APU), 3rd

“I tried not to think about the result, it was more: take it easy out of the start and just stack it up through the entire race. Rosie caught me on the first hill, and in that second it was like, ‘All right, here we go! I’m gonna try to stick with her as long as I can.’ And I think it really helped and she really helped me through. Getting to start between two World Cup starters was pretty awesome, between Becca [Rorabaugh] and Rosie, so I was in a good place this morning and excited and it worked out.”

— Annie Pokorney (Middlebury), 4th

“I think it was a fairly good pace [the first lap], then on the second lap certainly some of the people who were starting out started really quickly. I hope they managed to make it through because they were going quite fast, but I think I felt like I wish I could’ve been a little stronger on the second lap.”

— Patterson

“I tried to hang onto Tad as long as I could knowing he was skiing relally well. It was a nice train going, it was fun, it was fast — just really hard. I’m pretty happy with the start to the season. I’m racing into it, I don’t usually race this well this early, so I’m kind of taking it as it comes. Dylan and I actually tied which is pretty sweet, it’s fun to have the green teamers up there, and it’s fitting that we tied since we train together all year.”

— Bryan Cook (CGRP), 7th 


On new training methods:

“I think my training is definitely focused a lot more on distance side of things; a bit more on skiing a little bit faster in my distance workouts, maybe not as hard of intervals. I think that’s good in the longer races, I feel I’m more relaxed.”

— Brian Gregg (CXC), 4th


On skiing a course other than the Olympic 5 k:

“I’ve raced a lot here but almost all of it’s been on the Olympic 5 k, not this course… It’s definitely is not a bad course, it’s just a different course. Which is kind of nice, to ski something different once in a while. Skiing in the western college circuit you pretty much ski here every year.”

– Gelso

“Some people complained about it not being the Olypmic 5 k. I think it was still a hard course because there was lot of V2, which can be tough. If you’re tired you can really burn up quickly on V2.”

— Patrick Johnson (SVSEF), 5th


On finally putting the old Rudys away:

“I decided maybe I had to retire them after about 10 years.”

Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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