GeneralNewsRacingUS NationalsU.S. Nationals: Training Day

Avatar Lander KarathJanuary 7, 2014
The freestyle mass start will take place Wednesday at Soldier Hollow as part of the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships.

FasterSkier’s coverage of the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships is brought to you through the generous support of The Memory Clinic in Bennington, Vt.

MIDWAY, Utah — Competitors at the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships have had two days of rest to prepare for the upcoming 20/30 k freestyle mass start races taking place this Wednesday.

While it’s been gorgeous at Soldier Hollow since the start of the Championships, the weather is changing and snow may be on the way, adding yet another factor that will play into the results of one of the most anticipated cross country ski races in the country.

Women will ski four laps while the men will ski six, on the same Olympic 5 k course they raced this past Saturday. The course is challenging (as the staff at FasterSkier can attest to), and in such a competitive year many believe that the pace will be blistering from the start.

Check FasterSkier for up-to-date results and reports as the mass start unfolds as well as live timing on summittiming.com and complete results on the event website, uscrosscountrychamps2014.com.

Take a look at our photo gallery to see the training day from our perspective, and read a selection of quotes from racers in the Championships.

“I’m feeling excited. I think tomorrow is going to be a much different race than last year. Last year the pace was pretty conservative the first 29 k, and I know there are going to be some people who want to take it out hot and push the pace. I’m into it. I wouldn’t mind waiting the till the last kilometer but I think it will be good to practice a hard 30 k to get ready for U23s. This is maybe my fifth or sixth 30 k ever and I’m still trying to learn some things. I know at U23s there are going to be some Russians who try to break away at 5 or 10 k. I’m hoping that someone will do that tomorrow so I can practice tactics.” – Erik Bjornsen, Alaska Pacific University/U.S. Ski Team, second place in the 30 k classic at the 2013 U.S. nationals 

“I think I need to keep it under control for most of the early part of the race and skiing efficiently and not getting overly tired on those huge hills out here. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen with the pack, with tactics or what pace is going to be set. I’ll just go with the flow.”- Caitlin Patterson, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, fifth place in the 20 k classic at the 2013 U.S. nationals

“I’m feeling really good. I’m ready to go out there and see how the racing holds. I don’t know what anybody’s tactics are for tomorrow so I’m hoping to be prepared for anything. I felt great in the 15 k. I got a little tired on the second lap but it was nice to know that my body could come around on the third lap. I’m fit, I’m fast, and I’m just ready to go tomorrow. I think [the key thing] for me is to stay in a good place for a while. In a 30 k in an olympic year, there might be someone who pulls something crazy from the start.You have to be able to read situations like that. We’ll be scheming through everything tonight and making sure that if anything happens tomorrow we’re on it.” – Sylvan Ellefson, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/Team Homegrown seventh place in the 30 k classic at the 2013 U.S. nationals

“I’m feeling as well as I can be. The support I have from Solomon and Team Homegrown. My twin brother is here; he is my wax tech. I had three wax techs today and we got to test all the skis we have. Nothing is going to go wrong from the support end which is really nice. We’ll see how well I’ll sleep tonight. you never know how you’re going to react on race day. It’s been a while since I’ve gone hard. I’ve got the rest, I’ve got everything, and all the stars are aligned. We’ll see how it goes.” – Tad Elliott, Team Homegrown, who learned he had mononucleosis earlier this fall. He was the eighth in the 30 k classic at the 2013 U.S. nationals

“I really like long distance races and I think mass starts are really fun. For tomorrow I’m just going to stick with the lead pack and stay relaxed. It’s really fun to ski with all the girls, because we all know each other.” – Kate Fitzgerald, Alaska Pacific University, second place in the 20 k classic at the 2013 U.S. nationals

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Lander Karath

Lander Karath is FasterSkier's Associate Editor from Bozeman, Montana and a Bridger Ski Foundation alumnus. Between his studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, he is an outdoor enthusiast and a political junkie.

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