American Teams Announced for 2021 World Juniors/U23s in Vuokatti

Gavin KentchJanuary 19, 2021
Novie McCabe races in the sprint heats during 2020 World Juniors in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. (Photo: Doug Stephen)

Last week, U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced team nominations for 2021 FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships, which will be held in Vuokatti, Finland, in early February. The athletes selected were as follows:

U23 World Championships Team

Sophia Laukli races in the relay during 2020 World Juniors. (Photo: Doug Stephen)


  • Hailey Swirbul (APU Nordic Ski Center/El Jebel, Colo.)
  • Sophia Laukli (Middlebury College/Yarmouth, Maine)
  • Alex Lawson (Middlebury College/West Burke, Vt.)
  • Hannah Halvorsen (APU/Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Renae Anderson (Loppet Nordic Racing/Golden Valley, Minn.)
  • Alternate 1: Leah Lange (University of Utah/Park City, Utah)
  • Alternate 2 Annika Landis (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Hailey, Idaho)
Luke Jager (bib 13) and Johnny Hagenbuch (bib 7), during the junior men’s 30 k mass start skate during 2020 World Juniors. (Photo: Doug Stephen)


  • JC Schoonmaker (Auburn Ski Club/Tahoe City, Calif.)
  • Gus Schumacher (Alaska Winter Stars/Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Hunter Wonders (APU Nordic Ski Center/Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Benjamin Ogden (University of Vermont/Landgrove, Vt.)
  • Luke Jager (University of Utah/Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Alternate 1: Peter Wolter (Middlebury College/Hailey, Idaho)
  • Alternate 2: Kai Meyers (APU Nordic Ski Center/Anchorage, Alaska)

Junior World Championships Team


Sydney Palmer-Leger (bib 4) races the scramble leg of the relay at 2020 World Juniors. (Photo: Doug Stephen)
  • Novie McCabe (University of Utah/Winthrop, Wash.)
  • Sydney Palmer-Leger (University of Utah/Park City, Utah)
  • Kendall Kramer (University of Alaska Fairbanks/Fairbanks, Alaska)
  • Ava Thurston (Mansfield Nordic/Waterbury, Vt.)
  • Nina Seemann (Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club/Craftsbury, Vt.)
  • Haley Brewster (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail/Avon, Colo.)
  • Alternate 1: Waverly Gebhardt (University of Vermont/Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
  • Alternate 2: Garvie Tobin (Dartmouth College/Anchorage, Alaska)


Will Koch races in the 10k classic at 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland. (photo: OIS/Chloe Knott)
  • Johnny Hagenbuch (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation/Ketchum, Idaho)
  • Zanden McMullen (Montana State University/Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Will Koch (University of Colorado/Peru, Vt.)
  • Wally Magill (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club/Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
  • Finn Sweet (Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club/Waterbury, Vt.)
  • Michael Earnhart (APU Nordic Ski Center/Eagle River, Alaska)
  • Alternate 1: Brian Bushey (Green Mountain Valley School/Waitsfield, Vt.)
  • Alternate 2: Walker Hall (Methow Valley Nordic Ski Education Foundation/Winthrop, Wash.)
Zanden McMullen races in a citizens race at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska, in December 2020, wearing an APU suit and a Montana State headband. (photo: Eric Packer)

All athlete team affiliations and information are per the USSS press release. Athletes may claim additional affiliations; for example, APU Nordic Ski Center also lists Luke Jager, Garvie Tobin, and Zanden McMullen among its athletes named to this year’s teams, defensibly so given that all three athletes have trained with APU for years. Or Novie McCabe is listed elsewhere on the USSS site as skiing for Methow Valley, as well as for the University of Utah.

There have been only four FIS race series held in this country so far this season, one in Anchorage in December and one at Soldier Hollow in early January, then one in Palmer, Alaska, and another one at Soldier Hollow last weekend, and a handful more USSS/NRL races. Some athletes were selected to this year’s teams after meeting objective criteria, such as World Cup results (Gus Schumacher, Hailey Swirbul, etc.) or a sub-50-or-60-FIS point result (Hunter Wonders in Anchorage; Peter Wolter and Sydney Palmer-Leger in Soho). The majority were selected via discretion, based on “both historical and current seasonal performances through January 3, 2021.”

It appears that the following athletes named to this year’s team have not previously competed at World Juniors or U23 Championships: Nina Seemann; Will Koch; Brian Bushey; Renae Anderson; Annika Landis;  Peter Wolter; Kai Meyers; Ava Thurston; Haley Brewster; Garvie Tobin; Wally Magill; Finn Sweet; Michael Earnhart; and Walker Hall. Seemann, Koch, and Bushey all raced at last year’s Youth Olympic Winter Games.

Brian Bushey races in the ski-cross qualification at 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland. (photo: OIS/Joel Marklund/handout image supplied by OIS/IOC)

The competition program for this year’s races will be as follows (click here for race start times, given in Eastern European Time):

  • February 9, U20 classic sprint
  • February 10, U23 classic sprint
  • February 11, U20 5/10 kilometer interval-start skate
  • February 12, U23 10/15 kilometer interval-start skate
  • February 13, U20 relay (4 x 3.3km for women, 4 x 5km for men) and U23 mixed relay (4 x 5km)
  • February 14, U20 15/30 kilometer mass-start classic

Course profiles and details are here (scroll down for courses). The official website is here. Official FIS results are here. The Instagram page is here. The Facebook page (last year’s race featured free livestreaming on Facebook; it is still unclear if that will be offered this year) is here.

The official hashtags, a media advisory states, are #vuokattisport, #roadtoJWSCVuokatti, and #JWSC2021Vuokatti.

Gavin Kentch

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

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