U.S. Cross Country Championships (Anchorage, Alaska): Classic sprint
Caitlin Patterson did it. With a classic-sprint win on Monday, she successfully capped off an undefeated 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, as the top American woman in all four races over the past week in Anchorage, Alaska.
Patterson, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, qualified seventh then won the women’s 1.5-kilometer final by more than 2 seconds in 3:39.58 minutes. Finland’s Jasmi Joensuu, a junior at the University of Denver (DU), won the qualifier and ultimately finished second in the final, 2.36 seconds behind Patterson.
Craftsbury once again had two on the podium with Kaitlynn Miller placing third overall (+3.9) as the second American. Becca Rorabaugh, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), was the top American in the qualifier in second overall, then placed fourth in the final (+9.92) and reached the U.S. podium in third.
Petra Hyncicova, a University of Colorado Boulder (CU) senior from the Czech Republic, placed fifth overall (+10.03), and Lydia Blanchet, a Dartmouth College U23 skier, finished sixth (+11.21) and was the fourth American woman.
Joensuu, 21, of Kuortane, Finland, started the day by winning the qualifier in 3:41.4, while Rorabaugh followed in second, 1.31 seconds back. Hyncicova qualified third (+1.85), CU’s Hedda Bångman (who won Sunday’s 20 k classic) qualified fourth (+2.92), and Miller qualified fifth (+2.93). Anne Hart of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite Team clocked the sixth-fastest qualifying time (+3.88), and Patterson followed in seventh (+4.77).
From there, Patterson won both her quarterfinal and semifinal, besting Miller and Joensuu in the latter by 0.66 seconds and 2.63 seconds, respectively. Blanchet placed fourth in that same semifinal (+5.15) and advanced to the final as a lucky loser with a fast-enough time, along with Joensuu (Patterson and Miller automatically advanced in first and second).
With her 4-for-4 record at 2018 nationals, Patterson is the most successful woman at U.S. Cross Country Championships since U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins was the top American in all four races at 2012 nationals in Rumford, Maine.
In the men’s classic sprint final, Reese Hanneman (APU) captured his second title in as many sprints this week (after winning the freestyle sprint on Friday). He won the qualifying round by 2.84 seconds in 3:21.93, and later the final by a 0.2 seconds in 3:20.62. Kornfield placed second, and Ben Saxton (SMS Elite Team) rounded out the podium in third (+4.78).
Logan Hanneman, the winner of Friday’s freestyle-sprint qualifier, finished second to his older brother Reese in Monday’s classic-sprint qualifier, then went on to reach the final and place fourth overall (+5.42). Kevin Bolger (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) placed fifth (+5.52), and Zak Ketterson (Northern Michigan University) was sixth (+6.83).
NorAm Trials (Mont Sainte-Anne, Quebec): 15/30 k skiathlons
Cendrine Browne won the women’s 15-kilometre skiathlon in 43:01.9 minutes on Monday at the Mont Sainte-Anne (MSA) ski trails to put an exclamation point on her presumptive selection for the PyeongChang Olympics. Browne, of the Centre National d’Entraînement Pierre Harvey (CNEPH)/Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre, which is based in nearby Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, broke away with Laval University’s Anne-Marie Comeau during the classic leg to take a 20-second lead that she held to the finish.
Comeau faded slightly to take second, 11.9 seconds back, qualifying for U23’s and putting her name in the hat for the upcoming 2018 Olympics. Either Comeau or the winner of Wednesday’s classic interval start should take that potential Olympic berth as Canada’s top female distance skier not already qualified. Browne has theoretically earned a spot as the top women’s sprinter, besides Dahria Beatty, who won the sprint and already met Canada’s Olympic qualifying criteria.
“It now has to go before the selection committee,” Cross Country Canada’s High Performance Director Thomas Holland wrote in an email on Friday.
After trials races were shuffled around due to extreme cold, with temperatures near -20 Celsius on Sunday at MSA, it warmed up to a balmy -8 degrees Celsius (17 Fahrenheit) by mid-afternoon on Monday. Both the women’s and men’s skiathlons were held, which not only served as one of two distance races for Olympic selection, but for Junior and U23 World Championships as well.
In the race for third place, Beatty outsprinted a group of four to take the final podium spot, 19.9 seconds behind Browne and 0.3 seconds ahead of their fellow Canadian National Team member Maya MacIsaac-Jones, of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) and U25 Team. Just 0.2 seconds out of fourth, Katherine Stewart-Jones, of the National Training Development Centre (NTDC) Thunder Bay and national U25 Team, placed fifth (+20.4) and CNEPH’s Laura Leclair was another second back in sixth (+21.4).
Almost 55 seconds passed before the seventh-place finisher came across the line, which was Zina Kocher (Foothills Nordic) skiing alone (+1:15.8). Another 49 seconds later, Jaqueline Mourao of Brazil’s national team placed eighth (+2:04.9), ahead of Zoë Williams (Carleton University) in ninth (+2:11.3), and Andrea Dupont (RMR) in 10th (+2:11.5).
In the junior women’s 10 k skiathlon, Whitehorse’s Natalie Hynes won in 30:19.8 to punch her ticket to Junior Worlds in Goms, Switzerland, from Jan. 28-Feb. 3. India McIsaac (RMR) finished 0.7 seconds back in second and Orford’s Alexandra Racine completed the podium in third (+32.8).
On the men’s side, Canadian World Cup Team member Knute Johnsgaard, who met qualifying criteria for PyeongChang last season, shook off a slow start to the World Cup season with a win in the NorAm trials men’s 30 k skiathlon, finishing in 1:13:30.9.
Graham Nishikawa, who’s already destined for the PyeongChang Paralympics as a guide on the Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team, finished 1 second back for second place. The 34-year-old Nishikawa edged out first-year senior national-team member Gareth Williams, 20, of Telemark Nordic and the national U25 Team, by 0.5 seconds. Williams was the top U23 athlete to qualify for this year’s U23 World Championships.
The top 6 finished within 41 seconds of the podium, with Jack Carlyle (AWCA) in fourth (+5.8), Philippe Boucher (CNEPH) in fifth (+13.9), and Scott Hill (BXC) in sixth (+40.7). World Cup Team member Len Valjas led the next group across the line in seventh (+1:28.6), followed by Bob Thompson (NTDC Thunder Bay) in eighth (+1:29.4), Alexis Dumas (CNEPH) in ninth (+1:35.5), and Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (CNEPH) in 10th (+1:35.7)
CNEPH’s Antoine Cyr won the junior mens 15 k skiathlon in 50:13.1 to earn a spot at Junior Worlds. Félix Longpré, of the local M.S.A. ski club, finished second (+15.7) and Thomas Manktelow was third (+49.0), just ahead of his Alberta World Cup Academy teammate Étienne Hébert in fourth (+49.3).
After Sunday’s racing was postponed due to temperatures well below the legal race limit, the remaining trials schedule includes freestyle sprints on Tuesday (for Junior and U23 World Championships qualifying purposes only), and classic interval starts on Wednesday.