North American Junior Cross-Country Performance of the Year
With the 2018/2019 season officially in the rearview, FasterSkier is running a series of articles highlighting some of the players and performances from the season. This honor goes to the most outstanding North American junior cross-country performance.
Lahti, Finland became a winter playground – in a Formula One kind of way- for America’s upstart junior skiers. Solid performances during the World Junior Ski Championships landed numerous skiers on the U.S. Ski Team’s Development team. (That story to follow next week.)
The obvious place to start is with this quartet: Luke Jager, Ben Ogden, Johnny Hagenbuch, and Gus Schumacher. This lineup took the men’s 4 x 5-kilometer relay win. With several articles already minted on their fine performance, we’ll forego the redundancy. Let’s just say these young men skied with poise and steel as they positioned themselves at the front of the race and in most instances dictated the outcome rather than respond defensively. This was no miracle on snow. It was a deserved result for the athletes and the considerable effort of their respective communities and a U.S. Ski Team culture espousing confidence.
If for some reason you have not watched this race and crust cruising is no longer a possibility, then link here for your viewing guide.
This is also the place to mention the performance of the U20 U.S. women. Mara McCollor, Kendall Kramer, Sydney Palmer-Leger and Novie McCabe placed fourth in the 4 x 3.3 k relay. With the youngest team in the field, these skiers finished 40.5 seconds out of first and 6.9 seconds off the podium’s third step. That third place team, Sweden, had ringer Frida Karlsson ski the second classic leg – her time of 8:48 nearly beat out both her teammate’s skate leg splits which were 8:49.2 and 8:46.3 respectively. (We digress and it was cold snow.)
Individually, Kramer placed fourth in the 15 k mass start classic in Lahti, McCabe 10th. In the 5 k skate, Kramer skied to 15th, and Palmer-Ledger 20th.
For the U20 men, Schumacher placed fourth in the 30 k mass start classic, Ogden 10th. (Canada’s Remi Drolet finished seventh in the 30 k mass start classic.)
In the 10 k skate, Schumacher scored a sixth place. On classic sprint day, Ogden was eighth, while Noel Keeffe placed 12th, and Schumacher 16th.
Moving on to the U23 women, Hailey Swirbul placed 10th in the 15 k mass start classic, Julia Kern 16th. Kern also placed 12th in the 10 k skate.
This is not an exhaustive list or discussion of World Junior/U23 results. It remains a recognition of some fine collective U.S. performances with a definite nod to the U20 men’s 4 x 5 k relay team for the junior performance of the year.