U.S. Cross Country Championships (Anchorage, Alaska): Freestyle sprints
Caitlin Patterson racked up her second-straight national title at this year’s 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships and Reese Hanneman topped the men’s freestyle sprint final on Friday at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska.
In the first of two sprints at 2018 U.S. nationals, Patterson, the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) skier who won the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle on Wednesday, posted a 3.56-second win in the women’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint final on Friday.
After qualifying 12th, 5.76 seconds back from Anne Hart of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite Team, who won the qualifier in 3:22.10, Patterson won both her quarterfinal and semifinal, both times ahead of University of Denver (DU) junior Jasmi Joensuu in second.
The two advanced to the final, where Patterson reached the finish line first once more in 3:20.93, about 3 1/2 seconds ahead of Joensuu in second and 4.19 seconds ahead of Petra Hyncicova, a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder, in third. Craftsbury had two in the final with Kaitlynn Miller placing fourth (+4.35). U20 skier Hannah Halvorsen of Alaska Pacific University (APU) and the U.S. Ski Team (USST) finished fifth (+7.66), and Kelsey Phinney of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) placed sixth (+9.78).
Hart won her quarterfinal then placed third in the first semifinal, behind Miller, who won that heat, and Hyncicova in second, to miss advancing to the final. Hart had won the qualifier by 1.78 seconds over Joensuu in second.
In the men’s 1.6 k skate sprint, Logan Hanneman (APU) won the qualifier in 3:07.4. Kevin Bolger (SVSEF) qualified in second (+0.48), and older brother Reese Hanneman (APU) was third (+1.13).
In the quarterfinals, Reese won his heat by 0.19 seconds ahead of his teammate Tyler Kornfield, and Logan finished second, 0.42 seconds behind U18 skier Gus Schumacher (Alaska Winter Stars), as the winner of the first quarterfinal. Bolger won the fourth quarterfinal.
Reese raced to another win in the second semifinal, 0.17 seconds ahead of Bolger in second. APU’s Eric Packer won the first semi, 1.66 seconds clear of Zak Ketterson of Northern Michigan University (NMU) in second. Logan finished fifth in that semifinal, 4.48 seconds out of first, trailing Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) in third and Schumacher in fourth.
In the final, which included three APU athletes out of six total, Reese nipped Bolger by just eight-hundredths of a second for the win in 3:11.33. APU had two on the podium with Kornfield in third (+0.88). Ketterson finished fourth (+1.92), Packer was fifth (+2.34), and DU sophomore Eivind Romberg Kvaale was sixth (+14.08).
U.S. nationals racing continues Sunday with the 20/30 k classic mass starts.
NorAm Trials (Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec): Classic sprints
Canada’s NorAm Olympic trials opened Friday at Mont Sainte-Anne in Beaupré, Quebec, with Dahria Beatty (Canadian World Cup Team/Alberta World Cup Academy) winning the women’s 1.35-kilometer classic sprint and Julien Locke (Canadian U25 Team/Black Jack) topping the men’s 1.35 k classic sprint final. While Beatty has already secured her spot at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Locke has not — but the win didn’t ensure he’ll be selected to the team. In a tiebreaker, it looks like he is second on the men’s sprint list at trials to Russell Kennedy, of Canmore Nordic/Team R.A.D.
Based on its published nomination procedures for the 2018 Olympic Games, Cross Country Canada (CCC) will consider both qualifying and final results in its “sprint selection ranking process”. In the men’s qualifying round on Friday, Kennedy qualified first (in 3:02.81 minutes) and Locke followed in second (3.06 seconds back). Kennedy later placed second to Locke in the men’s final. Effectively, that meant they were tied, should CCC select another male sprinter to its Olympic team. But the tiebreaker is the qualifying round, which Kennedy won.
To reach the final, Kennedy placed second in his quarterfinal, behind Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH), and Locke was second in his quarterfinal as well, behind Andy Shields of Lappe Nordic. All four automatically advanced to the semifinals, where Kennedy posted a 1.12-second win over Bob Thompson, of the National Team Development Centre (NTDC) Thunder Bay, and Locke edged Jess Cockney (of the Canadian World Cup Team, who prequalified for PyeongChang) by 0.34 seconds.
In the final, Locke notched a 1.17-second win over Kennedy, crossing the line first in 3:04.16. Thompson took third (+2.49), Evan Palmer-Charrette (NTDC Thunder Bay) was fourth (+5.74), Dominique Moncion-Groulx (AWCA) was fifth (+7.2) and Cockney sixth (+55.97). Len Valjas, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and is prequalified for PyeongChang, won the men’s B-final for seventh overall.
In the women’s race, Beatty qualified first in 3:41.55, then won both her quarterfinal and semifinal before topping the final as well in 3:45.02, 0.64 seconds ahead of Maya MacIsaac-Jones (U25 Team/Rocky Mountain Racers) in second. Katherine Stewart-Jones (U25 Team/NTDC Thunder Bay) finished third (+1.2) in the final, Cendrine Browne (U25 Team/CNEPH) was fourth (+4.58), Annika Hicks (AWCA) fifth (+10.21), and Andrea Dupont (RMR) sixth (+12.18).
Browne posted the second-fastest qualifying time, 3.13 seconds back from Beatty. Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (RMR) qualified third (+8.08), but was disqualified in her quarterfinal. MacIsaac-Jones qualified fourth (+8.49), putting her total points for the day — based on CCC’s selection ranking — at 6. Browne scored 6 points as well (for qualifying second then finishing fourth overall), but with the better qualifier, Browne is expected to be deemed the winner of that Olympic sprint spot. Laura Leclair (CNEPH) qualified fifth (+10.57), and Stewart-Jones ranked fifth (+13.8) in the qualifying round.
Browne won her quarterfinal by 1.5 seconds over Hicks, and the two met again in the semifinal, which Browne also won, this time by 2.81 seconds over Hicks. MacIsaac-Jones posted a 0.25-second quarterfinal win over Dupont, then finished second in her semifinal, 0.22 seconds behind Beatty.
Fresh off racing Period 1 of the World Cup, Browne, 24, is best known as a distance skier, but she’s been on the NorAm sprint podium before. She last won a sprint qualifier and finished second overall at two years ago at the Canmore NorAm in December 2015.
Kennedy, 26, as last year’s overall NorAm winner also spent the last two months racing World Cup Period 1. He is an American-born dual citizen who has lived in Canada since 2010. He’s also expected to attend the PyeongChang Paralympics as a backup guide for Brian McKeever.
In an email, CCC High Performance Director Thomas Holland confirmed Browne and Kennedy were the sprint-selection winners next in line for Olympic quota spots.
On the NorAm Hayward Mont Sainte-Anne Facebook page, the following announcement was posted on Saturday:
“Cendrine has officially been named the winner of the Olympic sprint selection event.
The only catch is that Cross Country Canada’s official selection cannot be announced until FIS (the international ski federation) announces its final quota re-allocation at the end of January.
The most recent version of the FIS quotas, dated yesterday morning (Friday) allocates only eight quotas for Canada. IN THEORY, that quota could be lowered further still, in which case certain named athletes could be left out.
Which is why Cendrine will have to wait until late January to shout her news from the rooftops!
Her victory in the sprint selection is doubly important as it puts her in the Number 3 spot on the women’s team, behind Dahria Beatty and Emily Nishikawa, according to Amendment #2 of Cross Country Canada’s Olympic selection criteria.
If the FIS quota were to be lowered to 7, for example, it would be the women’s distance winner who would lose out.”
The NorAm trials for Olympics as well as Junior and U23 World Championships resume Monday with skiathlons, followed by skate sprints on Tuesday. Sunday’s 10/15 k classic individual starts were postponed to Wednesday.
IBU World Cup (Oberhof, Germany): Men’s 10 k sprint
In his first race of the new year, Tim Burke raced to fourth — his best result in four years — in the men’s 10-kilometer sprint at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup in Oberhof, Germany.
The 35-year-old American started 22nd out of 103 and shot clean to cross the finish line in third, 20.1 seconds behind France’s Martin Fourcade, who also shot clean and finished in 25:03.3 minutes — a time that would hold up against the entire field as the fastest and give the Frenchman his second win of the season.
Fourcade had bumped early race leader Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø to second, after Bø missed two targets on his initial prone stage then cleaned standing (2+0), but skied the fastest overall course time to reach the podium. Burke’s time was 9.9 short of Bø’s.
Ultimately, Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen as the 58th starter bumped Bø to third and Burke off the podium, finishing second, 8.1 seconds behind Fourcade, also with clean shooting.
Canada was led by Scott Gow in 32nd (+1:48.7), who had a single standing penalty (0+1), and his brother Christian Gow finished 36th (+1:50.3) with one standing miss as well (0+1). Brendan Green was 57th (+2:30.4) with three penalties (1+2), and in his first European World Cup race, Carsen Campbell finished finished 94th (+4:05.3) with two misses (2+0).
The U.S. started two men on Friday, with Sean Doherty finishing 84th (+3:24.4) with four penalties (3+1).
The Oberhof IBU World Cup continues Saturday with the men’s and women’s pursuits.