Athletes in Their Own Words as Norway Dominates Whistler U20 10 k Freestyle

Gerry FursethFebruary 4, 2023
The U20 Women’s Podium finds joy after a great day on snow. (Photo: Doug Stephen @vr45photography)

Day five of racing at Whistler Olympic Park delivered with an interval start 10km free technique race in great conditions and intermittent sunshine. The tracks were fast and almost silky, the corners held up all day, the glide was exceptional, and (if anyone cared to classic on a great skating day) VR45 was magic.

Early on, North American skiers spent quality time in the leader’s chair before the top ranked skiers took over. Norway put four skiers on the podium today, somewhat to the surprise of their head coach.
“Beyond all expectations,” Kristian Dahl said. “We didn’t think about all these medals.”

Like many countries here, Norway sees this Junior Worlds as a development opportunity first. Reflecting this, our coverage will quickly go through the podiums and then get into the North American experience.

The top two unpack their day after crossing the line 11 seconds apart.

Norway’s Milla Grosberghaugen Andreasson collected her third medal and second gold today, winning in 26:55. Her US-based teammate Tuva Anine Brusveen-Jensen was six second back in second while Switzerland’s Marina Kaelin got her country’s first medal of the week at 15 seconds back.

For the US, it was Samantha Smith in sixth at 41 seconds back, Haley Brewster in 10th at 1:16, Hattie Barker in 14th at 1:38, and Nina Schamberger in 36th at 2:40.

For Canada, Alison Mackie was 15th at 1:34, Alexandra Luxmoore was 29th at 2:30, Marlie Molinaro was 39th at 3:19, and Maeve Macleod was 44th at 3:48.

There were 60 finishers and one DNF. There isn’t much an author can add about individual start races; here are the athletes words instead.

Grosberghaugen Andreasson

The day: “It was really good, but it was a tough race. I had to fight the whole race, I felt a little tired in the legs but the head was on fire today.”

The course: “It’s a very hard course, but I like a hard course so it was good for me.”

Visiting Canada: “Gold, gold, silver, so that’s good.”

Brusveen-Jensen

The day: “It was tough, but first of all it was good. I felt I pushed everything and did what I could, so it was good.”

The course: “For me, it was to start tough. It’s a long uphill in the start, everybody gets tired. You just have to have the motivation and stay positive. And keep the speed high.”

Visiting Canada: “Canada is amazing. The nature and everything around the stadium. It’s always sunny here. The course is so nice. We live in Whistler, and it’s very nice there too.”

Kaelin

The day: “I was really surprised with the good weather and the nice conditions, because yesterday the slopes were pretty slow and well it was a little harder to ski. It was surprisingly good and I thought it might be a good day.”

Visiting Canada: “I’m really proud to win a medal for Switzerland and it’s so cool to be here on the Olympic tracks. It’s also my first time in America and Canada, and it’s really, really cool.”

Smith

The day: “Very challenging. I’m hoping my time holds up, but we’re waiting for the fastest skiers to come in.”

The course: “I felt pretty good, I think I started out a little too hard. Second lap I was hurting a lot. It was a ton of fun, and certainly difficult.”

Lesson learned this week: “Just try your hardest out there, you can’t control what the other racers are doing. As long as you put your best foot forward, that’s all you can do.”

Brewster

The chair: “It was awesome [sitting in the leader’s chair], and really nice tagging off with Heidi Barker. Definitely a little awkward with that camera pointing in your face.”

The day: “It was good. I’m happy with it. Really fun to have all your teammates cheering who are done racing for the week. And my dad came out which is really special to have him here.”

Lesson learned this week: “There’s a lot of stuff to work on. Strength and speed, a lot of strength, a lot of these girls are really strong out here.”

Barker

The day: “It was amazing. I’m so thankful to have this opportunity. The course was really hard but really fun and it’s a beautiful day of skiing.”

Lesson learned this week: “It’s a really good team to be part of, and you ski your best when you are surrounded by friends and family, and a really good community.”

Mackie

The day: “It was really rough. It was a really, really hard course. A really hard race, but I did a good job of focussing on my technique and my race plan and I think I executed it quite well.”

Lesson learned this week: “This is my third international start and I really surprised myself with how I can compete with the best juniors in the world.”

Luxmoore

The day: “It was super fun, nice warm weather, the course was awesome, the skis were fast. I think I had a good race, I felt pretty strong.”

Lesson learned this week: “I had a great experience racing with people from other countries. I had fun skiing with people who are the fastest in the world.”

Molinaro

The day: “It was okay. The course is super hard, there’s a huge climb out the stadium, obviously that’s hard. Lots of pushing, trying to make up time on the flats, that was my goal out there today. I think I did a good job on that.”

Racing at home: “I grew up in Whistler, so these are the home trails and it’s super cool to be racing World Juniors here. The weather all week has been gorgeous, because lots of the time it’s pouring rain in Whistler, so I’m super stoked that everyone gets to experience nice weather.”

Lesson learned this week: “It’s been super cool to see all the other skiers from all the other countries and how fast and strong they are. Also, my own teammates, we’ve have some really good results.”

McLeod

The day: “It was super good. It’s a tough course out there, you’ve got to work hard all the time, but the skis were super killer, so thank you waxers, the skis were amazingly fast.”

Lesson learned this week: “It’s so inspiring seeing all these super strong skiers. There’s just so much of a journey from here, you can always go harder. It’s pretty inspiring.”

For the men, it was another two Norwegians on the podium but Finland’s Nico Anttola took the win in 23:35. Lars Heggen was second at 6 seconds back, followed by Thomas Linnebo Mollestad at 7 seconds.

For the US, Jack Lange was 11th at 47 seconds, Adrik Kraftson was 30th at 1:48, Anders Weiss was 33rd at 2:00, and Jack Conde was 51st at 2:46.

For Canada, Xav McKeever was 28th at 1:43, Luke Allen was 31st at 1:56, Garrett Siever was 54th at 2:59, and Noah Weir Chaba was 57th at 3:16.

Finland’s Nico Anttola celebrates his gold medal in the Whistler sunshine. (Photo: Doug Stephen @vr45 photography)

Anttola

The day: “It was very good. I had very good skis. The staff has been working really, really hard and I’m glad the skis was good, and the day was awesome.”

The course: “The course was very tough, but I think it’s good for me.”

Comparing this course to European ones: “I think this is one of the toughest ones, it’s very hard.”

Heggen

The day: “It was good, really nice conditions in the slope, really good.”

The course: “I like the course very much. It’s pretty good, but fun and very nice course. I’m from Lillehammer, and it’s pretty much the same as Lillehammer, really tough.”

Visiting Canada again: “Yeah probably. But when I come back, I ski downhill.”

Linnebo Mollestad

The day: “It was great. The form was good, I had really good skis, and I think I had a very good opening speed and managed to keep it for 10km so I’m really happy.”

The course: “I think it’s a great course. It has some long uphills, which I like, and also the stadium here is really, really beautiful. In this weather, it’s just great.”

Visiting Canada again: “I hope so. It’s really beautiful here, so I hope they will host some big ski competitions in the future, that would be great.”

Lange

This event is more casual than a World Cup. A journalist can walk up to the leader’s chair and grab an interview before the athlete catches his breath. Raw and unedited.

McKeever

The day: “Yeah, pretty rough today. Just the body was not firing on all cylinders. One of those days you want to forget about.”

The course: “The course was definitely a hard one. A lot of climbing right off the start, for the first 1.5, 2 km, and then some gradual rolling sections where you have to push hard.”

Lesson learned this week: “I’ve learned the extent of how a big championship at home feels. I’ve learned how I react to things, and handle different stresses and self-pressure. I’ve learned some stuff in general in training. Some deeper things for sure, from early in the season and training year that correlate to today’s poor performance. Just a lot to unpack and definitely a lot to learn.”

Kraftson

The day: “It was tough out there. I tried to race a smart race but ended up going out a bit too hard and paid the price towards the end.”

The course: “It was a lot of fun. It’s a lot of climb in the first 2km and rolling downhill for the next, for the most part.”

Lesson learned this week: “Just how fast the world is. That’s my biggest takeaway from the week. We’re trying to put in a bigger summer next year and try to compete with these Europeans.”

Allen

The day: “It was good. Skis were really fast and definitely went out hard on the first lap and lost a bit of energy on the second lap. Super fun course and what a nice day for it.”

Lesson learned this week: “Guys are fast from Europe. Competition is pretty stiff out here. Definitely eye opening to see all these fast guys from international countries coming together.”

Weiss

Direct from the leader’s chair:

Siever

The day: “Honestly, it didn’t go very well. I’ve been dealing with some lower back pain, and I generally didn’t feel good out there.”

Lesson learned this week: “There’s lots of work to do to compete on the world circuit.”

Weir Chaba

Second to the finish line, first into the leader’s chair.

Lesson learned this week: “Gotta be patient. Gotta know what your plan is.”

 

Gerry Furseth


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