With the 2014/2015 season officially in the rearview, FasterSkier is excited to unveil its annual award winners for this past winter. Votes stem from the FS staff, scattered across the U.S. and Canada, and while not scientific, they are intended to reflect a broader sense of the season in review.
We’re kicking off the series by honoring the youngest skiers of the bunch with Junior of the Year, awarded to one outstanding male and one female in the U.S. and/or Canada.
Katharine Ogden, Stratton Mountain School
The many achievements of Katharine Ogden, FasterSkier’s Junior Skier of the Year for 2015, make it easy to forget she is only 17 years old.
Despite her young age the Stratton Mountain School skier kept up with the best of the American women in the 2014/2015 season. Long before the winter, Ogden demonstrated her abilities with a third place finish behind Liz Stephen and Caitlin Gregg in the annual Climb to the Castle rollerski race in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Come winter, Ogden continued her impressive racing as she traveled through the SuperTour circuit – claiming second in the West Yellowstone 10 k freestyle and third in the Bozeman 10 k classic behind a dominant Rosie Brennan who would later be named to the U.S. World Championships team.
Unsurprisingly, Ogden finished in the top ten of all but one race at the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships and handily won the junior women’s 5 k. The week would serve as a launching point for her first trip to the Junior World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In the first race of Junior Worlds, a 5 k freestyle, Ogden placed an impressive 11th. The best was still to come for the 17-year-old, who finished sixth just two days later in the 10 k skiathlon. The result tied the best-ever distance finish by a U.S. skier at Junior Worlds.
“It was really cool to be able to ski with some fast, aggressive Europeans and to experience a crazy, Euro-style mass start for the first time,” she wrote to FasterSkier after the historic result. “This was a really good, encouraging result for me, and going forward it is really awesome to have the learning experience from my first international mass-start race.”
To round out a successful year Ogden earned four podiums at the 2015 Junior National Championships, three of which were victories. Ogden has two more years as a junior and will enter the 2015/2016 season as one of America’s most promising young skiers to date.
Sean Doherty, U.S. Biathlon
FasterSkier’s Junior of the Year award isn’t new territory for Sean Doherty. The 19-year-old won the honor in 2013, and since then he’s added a large list of accolades to his name.
The Conway, N.H. native won two golds and a silver at the 2014 IBU Junior World Championships and subsequently competed in the 2014 Olympics as one of the youngest starters in the relay, helping the U.S. finish in 16th position.
The 2014/2015 season was a large jump for Doherty who graduated from biathlon’s youth category into the more competitive junior realm. It appears he took well to the transition, earning a third-place finish in the 2015 IBU Junior World Championships sprint in Minsk, Belarus. Doherty was the top North American in the event’s other two races, finishing 11th in the pursuit and 14th in the individual.
U.S. Biathlon Association CEO Max Cobb sung the 19-year-old’s praises after his impressive bronze medal. “That Sean was able to win the Junior World Championship bronze medal with one penalty as a first year junior in Minsk speaks volumes for his dedication to excellence and the great support of the coaches and team around him,” Cobb told FasterSkier in an email. “It’s a huge accomplishment to succeed like this as an American in Europe’s favorite winter sport.”
The biathlete didn’t stop there. He joined the American team at the 2015 IBU World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland in March as the team’s youngest memeber. His placement of 45th in the pursuit marked his best-ever result at the World Cup level.
Doherty was recently named to the USBA A-team. If his performances in recent years are any indicator of the future, there’s more success to come from face of America’s young biathletes.