Mid-January means that high-level racing is underway across the country, from college racing in Montana to college racing in New England, with the final SuperTour race of Period 2 in the middle. Here’s a results roundup from senior-level racing from last weekend. Look for a comparable roundup of the weekend’s JNQ (Junior Nationals qualifying) races coming on this site tomorrow.
Classic SuperTour at Birkie Trailhead
After contesting the 32-kilometer Seeley Hills Classic race on Saturday, athletes headed to the trails at the American Birkebeiner trailhead on Sunday morning for a 1.3-kilometer classic sprint to close out Period 2 of SuperTour racing. As was the case in Saturday’s distance race, the high end of the field was strong, but the overall field was relatively small, with only a handful of pro club teams in attendance. The rest of the field was local CCSA collegiate skiers.
Margie Freed (Craftsbury) set the pace in qualifying for the women’s race, covering the course in 3:37.08. She was followed close behind by Sarah Goble and Hannah Rudd, both of Bridger Ski Foundation. Mariah Bredal, also from BSF, was nearly 17 seconds out in qualifying, but also a comfortable 10th in the 37-athlete field.
Freed and Bredal went 1–2 in the first quarterfinal, winning by nearly 10 seconds over third. Julie Ensrud (Team Birkie), Michaela Keller-Miller (Craftsbury), Sarah Goble (BSF), and Hannah Rudd (Bridger) won the other quarterfinals. Freed led Keller-Miller, Bredal, and Ensrud to the line in a fast first semifinal, which yielded both lucky losers. Goble and Rudd took the other semifinal.
SkinnySki’s writeup of the women’s final refers to “a late pileup.” Rudd eventually came out of this to take the win, by nearly five seconds. Freed was second, and Bredal third. Keller-Miller and Ensrud followed in fourth and fifth. Goble is noted as disqualified in the final results.
There were 54 athletes in the field for the qualification round of the men’s race. The fastest in the day’s first lap around the course was Graham Houtsma of BSF, in 3:01.43. Michael Earnhart (USST/APU) was less than a tenth of a second back, with Logan Diekmann (BSF) close behind. Zanden McMullen (USST/APU), Peter Wolter (Sun Valley), and Thomas O’Harra (APU) were the next fastest names in qualifying.
Houtsma, McMullen, O’Harra, Earnhart, and Diekmann won the first through fifth quarterfinals, respectively. All save O’Harra ultimately made it through to the final, which included Houtsma, McMullen, Earnhart, Diekmann, Peter Wolter (Sun Valley), and Reid Goble (BSF).
The second slide here shows video of the finishing stretch of the men’s final:
Earnhart took the win, followed by his APU teammate, McMullen. Diekmann was third. Wolter, Houtsma, and Reid Goble rounded out the rest of the SuperTour podium.
The victory was the first SuperTour podium of the still just 20 years old Earnhart’s young career.
On the other end of the chronological spectrum, there was a familiar name in the heats: Andy Newell, now head coach at BSF. Newell flashed his vintage form when he qualified in seventh; he ultimately went out in a fast first semifinal, placing ninth on the day. Newell, now 39, raced his first Continental Cup in November 2000, two years before Michael Earnhart was born.
RMISA Racing at Crosscut
While RMISA (Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association) racing technically began with two of four races at U.S. Nationals being scored as qualifiers for NCAA Championships, NCAA-only RMISA racing began in earnest with men’s and women’s 15-kilometer mass-start races at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center in Bozeman on Friday.
Mike Ophoff of Alaska Fairbanks led the men, edging out his UAF teammate Joe Davies by the narrowest of margins; both athletes were credited with a time of 41:17.2. Sam Hendry (University of Utah) was in third, 0.9 seconds back. He had a gap of 20-plus seconds to two of his teammates, Brian Bushey and Luke Jager (also USST), in fourth and fifth.
The women’s race featured some familiar names at the top of the standings. Novie McCabe (last seen garnering three podium finishes at U.S. Nationals) took the win for University of Utah, finishing in 47:53.6. Hanna Abrahamsson of Colorado was second (+4.2). Third went to Sophia Laukli of Utah (last seen reaching her first World Cup podium atop Alpe Cermis for the Tour de Ski final climb time-of-day podium), fourth to Sydney Palmer-Leger of Utah (three podiums at U.S. Nationals), and fifth to Karolina Kaleta of Colorado.
Saturday brought interval-start skate races, 10km for the men and 5km for the women.
Davies moved up to the top step of the podium on Saturday, taking the victory in the distance skate in 27:53.7. Walker Hall (USST/Utah, +16.9) was second and Bernhard Flaschberger (Denver, +29.9) third. They were followed by Friday’s winner, Ophoff, in fourth, and Anders Weiss (Montana State) in fifth.
The women’s podium saw three athletes who are teammates for both the USST and the University of Utah: Novie McCabe, Sophia Laukli, and Sydney Palmer-Leger. McCabe’s time was 14.48.7 for 5 kilometers. She was roughly six seconds ahead of Laukli, and 34 seconds ahead of Palmer-Leger.
Tuva Bygrave and Astrid Stav, both from Alaska Anchorage, followed in fourth and fifth.
The nordic races began the two-part Montana State Invitational, which will conclude with alpine races at Bridger Bowl at the end of this month. So far, University of Utah enjoys a resounding lead in the invite standings, ranking first in all of total nordic points, women’s nordic points, and men’s nordic points. University of Alaska Anchorage is second in total nordic points and women’s nordic points, with University of Alaska Fairbanks second in men’s nordic points.
EISA Racing at Rumford
On the other side of the country, EISA (Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association) racing kicked off with the Bates Carnival at Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford. Conditions appear to have been somewhat moist. Races were held on a modified 2.5-kilometer loop that prioritized the best snow conditions available.
Taking the win in Friday’s 7.5-kilometer interval-start skate race was a familiar name, if not a wholly familiar face, for fans of World Cup skiing: Ben Ogden, recently seen lodging a 13th-place finish in the Tour de Ski to set the highwater mark for American men’s skiing in that competition, was now racing domestically as a grad student at the University of Vermont (UVM). Fans of his iconic mustache may have been disappointed, however, as Ogden raced barefaced and recently shorn.
Ogden’s winning time was 18:08.1. He was followed in the collegiate standings by Jacob Nystedt (UVM), Luke Allan (Dartmouth), Logan Moore (Middlebury), and Jack Lange (Dartmouth), as 91 men started on the 2.5km course at 30-second intervals.
The men were followed on course Friday by the collegiate women, who also raced 7.5km. Jasmine Lyons, a top Canadian U23 skier racing in this country for University of New Hampshire, took the win in 20:54.5. She was a remarkable 31 seconds ahead of Ava Thurston of Dartmouth in second and 1:03.9 ahead of Shea Brams of Middlebury in third.
Fourth and fifth on the day went to Hattie Barker (New Hampshire) and Haley Brewster (UVM).
Saturday brought more of the same, men out first and women out second, interval-start skate, this time four laps of the course to make up a 10km.
Within the collegiate ranks, it was once more Ben Ogden first, in 22:21.2, now nearly a full minute ahead of his Vermont teammate Jacob Nystedt, who was second among NCAA skiers for the second day in a row. Scott Schulz of New Hampshire was third. UVM had a strong showing, taking four of the top five spots as Bjorn Westervelt placed fourth and Petter Bakken fifth.
Saturday’s race was also an Eastern Cup race. Tabor Greenberg of Green Mountain Valley School, who per his public FIS profile is currently 16 years old, placed second overall, ahead of the entire field save Ogden (Eastern Cup results for full field). Greenberg is on the American team racing in Finland on the U18 Nordic Nations Cup trip next month. He also qualified for World Juniors in Whistler later this month but declined the nomination, according to a recent update from USSS.
In the women’s 10km interval-start race, Brewster climbed from fifth up to first, taking the win in 27:34.4. Brams was second for her second podium of the weekend. Wav Gebhardt (UVM) was third, Emma Strack (St. Lawrence) fourth, and Ava Thurston (Dartmouth) fifth.
Caitlin Patterson, representing Craftsbury, recently retired from a long career in international racing, was a notable top result, finishing third overall in the overall field.
In the overall Carnival standings (including two days’ worth of alpine racing at Black Mountain), Vermont took the win with 826 points total, largely on the basis of its strong performance in the nordic races. Dartmouth leaned on its strength in the alpine races to place second, with 797 points. New Hampshire used balanced performances in both disciplines to place third with 725 points.
— Gavin Kentch