(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from Americans Lauren Jortberg and Ian Torchia.)
U23 World Championships (Goms, Switzerland): 15/30 k skiathlons
On the final day of U23 World Championships racing in Goms, Russia stole the show in the women’s and men’s skiathlons.
Anastasia Sedova led them in the first race of the day on Friday, the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon, which she won in 44:03.6 minutes. Russia swept the podium and had four in the top five with Natalia Nepryaeva in second (+10.7) and Yana Kirpichenko in third (+37.2), and Yulia Belorukova in fourth (+1:58.0). Germany’s Pia Fink placed fourth (+1:33.5).
The race was the first of the week for the 22-year-old Sedova, a World Cup regular, and it was her second individual gold medal at her second U23 World Championships (she won the 10 k classic in 2016).
“Good preparation for the Olympic Games,” Sedova said during an in-arena interview after the race. “I am very lucky today. Good atmosphere, good weather today.”
Kirpichenko won the 10 k classic earlier this week and Nepryaeva placed third in the freestyle sprint in Goms.
“It’s hard to say how to describe the race, but Anastasia is a really good skier,” Nepryaeva said after. “She was really good today. So for me it was hard to support her during the race. Today she was much better than me.”
American Lauren Jortberg (Dartmouth Ski Team) led the North Americans in 29th (+5:29.9) for her best distance result at the Junior/U23 World Championships level.
“Early in the race I was right over 30th place, and I was trying to maintain contact with the big group ahead of me,” Jortberg, a Dartmouth sophomore from Boulder, Colorado, wrote in an email. “The pace of the classic leg was really fast. A couple of the girls in the race are heading to the Olympics in a few days so it was a really hot start!”
She came through the transition at the race’s halfway point in 31st, about 3:47 behind the leaders.
“I am a much better skater so I felt like I really put the hammer down on the skate leg and moved up a lot,” Jortberg wrote. “The skate course was much easier than the classic course, but I feel like I skied the massive climbs better than the girls around me. I focused on having a really high tempo over the hills and skiing the downhills technically well because there was no rest on the course.
“I’m pleased with my performance today, and I’m excited about my results this week as a whole,” she added. “I’m definitely leaving here hungry for more because I don’t think it was my best week, but I think it was really solid. This is the most competitive field I’ve ever raced against so it feels really good to know that I’m not too far off their level!”
Also for the U.S., Lydia Blanchet placed 38th (+7:11.1) and Nicole Schneider was 40th (+8:04.3). Julia Kern did not finish.
Canada’s Katherine Stewart-Jones (Canadian National U25 Team/NTDC Thunder Bay) placed 31st (+5:39.0) and Maya MacIsaac-Jones was 42nd (+8:08.8), while Laura Leclair and Sophie Carrier-Laforte were lapped.
In the men’s 30 k, Russia’s Denis Spitsov took the win in 1:18:14.9 hours, just 2.9 seconds ahead of France’s Jules Lapierre. Norway’s Ole Jørgen Bruvoll placed third (+21.5), ahead of Russia’s Ivan Yakimushkin in fourth (+23.2), and Andorra’s Irineu Esteve Altimiras in fifth (+36.4).
The gold was the first for Spitsov, 21, who previously placed second in the 15 k classic earlier this week. He has two individual bronze medals from last year’s U23 Worlds (in the 30 k skiathlon and 15 k freestyle).
American Ian Torchia (U.S. Ski Team/Northern Michigan University) placed 27th on Friday (+6:05.7). Only 33 men finished, and he was the only North American that didn’t get lapped.
“Between the 3700 feet of climbing, a 2.5km loop, and the top dogs having World Cup podiums…half the field got lapped,” Torchia wrote in an email. “Definitely added some motivation in the final 2 laps to see Spitsov and Lapierre slowly catching up.
“I felt I skied technically better in skate and struggled on the classic leg,” Torchia explained. “Took a hard tumble halfway through the classic leg and had to take half a lap to recover from that. Found a hole in my suit close to my groin afterward which was a little unnerving!”
At the end of the week, he noted that he felt “more fired up than coming in. Funny how being 6 minutes back can do that,” he wrote. “It was an eye-opening experience to get back on the international stage after 2 years and I will take these lessons of racing to the rest of the season in the Ishpemimg Super Tour, Steamboat NCAA’s, and Craftsbury Spring Series. Also already thinking of ideas on how to change and optimize my training to make the jump to the top level.”
Americans Andrew Egger, Zak Ketterson and Thomas O’Harra also competed, as did Canada’s Alexis Dumas, Gareth Williams, Philippe Boucher, and Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier.
NorAm Eastern Canadian Championships (Gatineau, Quebec): Classic sprints
Eastern Canadian Championships opened in Gatineau on Friday with classic sprinting, and Americans Becca Rorabaugh and Ben Saxton ended the day with wins in the women’s and men’s A-finals, respectively.
For Rorabaugh, the win is her second straight after the Alaska Pacific University (APU) skier won the women’s 5-kilometer freestyle at last weekend’s SuperTour in Craftsbury, Vermont. She edged last weekend’s classic-sprint winner, Kaitlynn Miller, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), by 0.41 seconds for the win in 3:23.15 minutes in Friday’s 1.3 k classic sprint final. It was an all-American podium (and all-American final) with Erika Flowers, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team, just another three-hundredths of a second back in third (+0.44). Liz Guiney (CGRP) followed in fourth (+2.51), Rosie Frankowski (APU) was fifth (+3.88), and Corey Stock (Bridger Ski Foundation) placed sixth (+6.1).
Rorabaugh had started the day by qualifying first in 3:26.95, then won both her quarterfinal and semifinal. Miller qualified third and won her quarterfinal and semifinal as well.
In the men’s 1.4 k classic sprint, Saxton (SMST2) nipped Julien Locke (Canadian U25 Team/Black Jack) at the line by 0.08 seconds for the win in 3:04.54. Patrick Stewart-Jones (Alberta World Cup Academy) placed third (+5.53), Kris Freeman (Caldwell Sport) was fourth (+5.94), Kevin Bolger (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) fifth (+7.42), and Julian Smith (NTDC Thunder Bay) sixth (+11.63).
Locke initially won the qualifier in 3:08.37, then won the first quarterfinal and first semifinal as well. Saxton qualified sixth, then advanced in second in his quarterfinal about a second behind Smith, and Saxton won the second semifinal.
Easterns continue Saturday with 10/15 k freestyle races and conclude Sunday with 10/15 k classic pursuits.