STOWE, Vt. — The youngest child of the original von Trapp family, Johannes von Trapp was the man of the hour almost every hour for the start of six freestyle distance races on the last day of individual racing at 2014 Junior Nationals on Friday.
With a rifle in hand, Von Trapp, 75, fired the starting signal for each of the U16, U18 and U20 mass starts. After that, it was up to the racers to determine where they’d end up at the finish — save for a few early pileups in the U20 and U18 men’s races, where one racer did not finish.
The worst series of crashes came in the first race, the U20 men’s 15 k freestyle, which left Far West’s Patrick McElravey seeking medical attention. He was OK (and was listed to start on Saturday), but the incident prompted USSA Nordic Manager Joey Caterinichio to come up with the idea for a paced start.
For every race after the U20 women’s race, a Midwest coach led hundreds of competitors out of the start, down the troublesome 180-degree corner and back up out of the stadium, until passing a set of cones that gave skiers the go-ahead to go for it.
The method generally worked (except for the accordion effect that caused another crash in the U18 men’s race in nearly the same spot coming out of the corner), and by early afternoon, six national champions had been named.
Here’s a look at who made the top 10 and All-American status on Friday in the last of three individual races at Junior Nationals. Relays wrap up the championships on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m.
U20 Men’s 15 k
- Fabian Stocek (Holderness School/New England)
- Jack Schrupp (Gunstock Nordic/New England)
- Thomas Bye (CXC/Midwest)
- Cole Morgan (University of Vermont/New England)
- Mathew Nichols (University of Wisconsin Green Bay/Midwest)
- Shane Christian (Unleashed Coaching/Far West)
- Jan Ketterson (Loppet Nordic Racing/Midwest)
- Jack Hegman (UVM/New England)
- Oscar Friedman (Dartmouth/Rocky Mountain)
- Jackson Hill (University of Colorado/Rocky Mountain)
Fun Fact: A Czech Republic native, Stocek, 19, is a Dartmouth College freshman and has lived in the U.S. for the last four years. “[I’ve] made a lot of connections with friends all over New England so that’s been making a support for me,” he says. “My parents are still in the Czech Republic so I have a great way of connecting with people around New England. I like that a lot, traveling around, recognizing all the aspects that the aspects has to offer. … And continuing at Dartmouth, not a bad place to be for skiing.”
U20 Women’s 10 k
- Maggie Williams (Sun Valley/Intermountain)
- Marion Woods (Alaskas Winter Stars/Alaska)
- Hannah Benson (Williams Outing Club/New England)
- Kristen Bourne (Northern Michigan University/Midwest)
- Hannah Stevens (Alaska Nordic Racing/Alaska)
- Kelsey Phinney (New England)
- Nora Gilbertson (St. Olaf College/Midwest)
- Sonja Hedblom (LNR/Midwest)
- Maria Hauer (Flyer Nordic/Midwest)
- Cara Piske (Steamboat Springs WSC/Rocky Mountain)
Fun Fact: Originally from Ketchum, Idaho, Williams is a freshman at the University of Vermont and this is her first Junior Nationals victory. When she’s not racing: “I like to knit and make stained-glass artwork, kind of some grannie hobbies,” she says. “That’s something I’ve kind of been doing my whole life.”
U18 Men’s 10 k
- Gavin McEwen (Cambridge Sports Union/New England)
- Lars Hannah (Steamboat Springs/Rocky Mountain)
- Ian Torchia (LNR/Midwest)
- Thomas O’Harra (Alaska Pacific University/Alaska)
- Karsten Hokanson (Wasatch Nordic/Intermountain)
- Paolo Takagi-Atilano (Boulder Nordic/Rocky Mountain)
- Zak Ketterson (LNR/Midwest)
- Peter Holmes (Unleashed Coaching/Far West)
- John Farr (APU/Alaska)
- Zane Fields (Woodstock/New England)
Fun Fact: For 16-year-old McEwen, this is his first Junior Nationals win. “I don’t usually like to think about race [until] about 10 minutes beforehand,” he says. “I got up kind of late because it was a later start than we usually have, I finished my bowl of oatmeal, which is kind of unusual for me because usually I feel kind of sick. But I felt really good.”
U18 Women’s 10 k
- Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School/New England)
- Aja Starkey (Bridger Ski Foundation/Intermountain)
- Vivian Hett (LNR/Midwest)
- Sophie McDonald (Park City/Intermountain)
- Caroline Brisbois (Endurance United/Midwest)
- Racquel Wohlk (Nordicwerks/Midwest)
- Alayna Sonnesyn (Endurance United/Midwest)
- Hannah Peterson (Durango/Rocky Mountain)
- Mattie Watts (Endurance United/Midwest)
- Gretchen Burkholder (Steamboat Springs/Rocky Mountain)
Fun Facts: This is Ogden’s second win of the week and she did so in impressive fashion, breaking away around 4 k and winning by 20 seconds. “I was inspired by Caitlin Gregg’s performance at U.S. nationals so I decided to go for a similar method,” Ogden says. “Channeling my inner Caitlin Gregg for sure.”
Gregg won the 30 k mass start at U.S. nationals in January by more than a minute and 30 seconds.
Ogden explained she’s been knitting between races to channel the rest of her energy.
“I knit when I’m nervous before races,” she says. “I’ve knit almost an entire buff this week, a neckie, so I’m pretty proud.”
U16 Men’s 5 k
- Hunter Wonders (APU/Alaska)
- Leo Lukens (Mt. Bachelor/Pacific Northwest)
- Russell Boswell (SMS/New England)
- Max Polito (Jackson Hole/Intermountain)
- Zach Williams (Sun Valley/Intermountain)
- Peter Wolter (Sun Valley/Intermountain)
- Jack Consenstein (APU/Alaska)
- Forrest Hamilton (Mansfield/New England)
- Daniel Streinz (Maine WSC/New England)
- Benjamin Koenig (NSCF-Fairbanks-FXC/Alaska)
Fun Facts: In his first Junior Nationals, this is Wonder’s first time to Vermont. “My first time on the East Coast,” he says. “It felt super nice. Today was super relaxed and just pushing the tempo at the very end.”
The 15-year-old Anchorage native won by nearly six seconds. “My goal for the whole season was to make it to the Junior Nationals and once I did that I was going for any kind of medal,” he says. “I guess gold’s fine.”
U16 Women’s 5 k
- Hailey Swirbul (Aspen Valley SSC/Rocky Mountain)
- Chloe Levins (Mountain Top/New England)
- Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl/Far West)
- Kathleen O’Connell (Steamboat Springs/Rocky Mountain)
- Leah Lange (Park City/Intermountain)
- Mackenzie Rizio (SMS/New England)
- Leah Brams (Cambridge Sports Union/New England)
- Brooke Dunnagan (Bogus Basin Nordic/Intermountain)
- Erin Moening (Endurance United/Midwest)
- Anna Darnell (APU/Alaska)
Fun Fact: After capturing her first Junior National title in the 5 k classic earlier this week, Swirbul, 15, did it again in the skate mass start. “I have been dreaming of this moment to win a mass start since last Junior Nationals where I got third and it has never tasted sweeter to win a race,” she says. Also relatively sweet is her favorite food: sweet potatoes.
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.