U.S. Senior Nationals Distance Skate Rundown

Gavin KentchJanuary 3, 2020

This post will be updated throughout the day with additional information.

At the final SuperTour stop before this week’s Cross-Country Skiing National Championships, Riitta-Liisa Roponen of Finland took the win in a 10-kilometer freestyle interval start race over the fastest Americans in Sun Valley in mid-December. Friday morning, the scene changed to Houghton, Michigan, but the final result was the same, as Roponen (Finland’s Oulon Hiihtoseura club team) covered two laps of the 5 k course in 27:38.5 to record the fastest time for the day’s 176 finishers.

Roponen, 41, is a former World Championships medalist for Finland.

Riitta-Liisa Roponen of Finland during the 10 k skate at the 2020 US Senior Nationals.

Post-race comments from Riitta-Liisa Roponen


Behind Roponen, second through fourth overall, and the American national championship podium, went to Caitlin Patterson (USST/CGRP, +18.4), Alayna Sonnesyn (SMST2, +29.0), and Hailey Swirbul (USST/APU, +30.2). The top three Americans were reversed from the day before when Swirbul won the skate sprint final over Sonnesyn and Patterson.

Caitlin Patterson (CGRP) during the women’s 10 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown)

Post-race comments from Caitlin Patterson


Alayna Sonnesyn (SMST2) during the women’s 10 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown)

Post-race comments from Alayna Sonnesyn


Hailey Swirbul (APU) during the women’s 10 k skate. (Photo: Reese Brown)

Post-race comments from Hailey Swirbul 


The rest of the top 10 included Evelina Sutro (UVM) in fifth, a semi-retired Erika Flowers (Bridger Ski Foundation) in sixth, Rosie Frankowski (APU) in seventh after turning down a Tour de Ski start to race at home, 39-year-old Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) in eighth to mark the third Master skier in the top ten after Roponen and Flowers, 17-year-old Kendall Kramer (Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks) in ninth as the top U18 or U20 skier in the field, and Cendrine Browne of Canada (CNEPH) in tenth.

Women’s results

In the men’s race, Kyle Bratrud (SMST2) covered three laps of the course in 36:47.9, setting the fastest time at both the lap one and lap two time checks, to take the victory in the men’s 15 k freestyle. It is Bratrud’s fourth national championship, following victories in the 15 k skate in 2015 and 2017, and 15 k classic in 2019.

Kyle Bratrud (SMST2) during the men’s 15 skate. (Photo: Reese Brown)

Post-race comments from Kyle Bratrud 

Bratrud was followed by Gus Schumacher (USST/Alaska Winter Stars), 19, who finished 12.9 seconds back to claim his second podium of the week after winning yesterday’s skate sprint.

Gus Schumacher (AWS) during the men’s 15 skate. (Photo: Reese Brown)

Post-race comments from Gus Schumacher

The final step on the podium was crowded, as both Erik Bjornsen (USST/APU) and Ian Torchia (SMST2) were credited with an official time of 37:22.2, 34.3 seconds back from Bratrud. (In interval-start races, times are recorded to the tenth of a second. Ties are therefore not unheard of; Marit Bjørgen and Krista Pärmäkoski both took home a bronze medal in the 10 k skate in PyeongChang, for example.)

Post-race comments from Gus Erik Bjornsen and Ian Torchia

The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Adam Martin (CGRP, +53.7) in fifth, Zanden McMullen (APU, +54.7) in sixth for the second junior on the day, Tyler Kornfield (APU, +58.4) in seventh, Johnny Hagenbuch (USST/SVSEF, +58.7) in eighth for the third junior, Canadian Phillipe Boucher (CNEPH, +1:02.2) in ninth, and Ben Lustgarten (CGRP, +1:05.3) in tenth.

Men’s results

Racing continues in Houghton on Sunday with the classic mass start distance races.

Gavin Kentch

Gavin Kentch wrote for FasterSkier from 2016–2022. He has a cat named Marit.

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