High-level junior racing that can be used to qualify athletes for Junior Nationals, aka JNQ races, were held last weekend in three regions of the country: High Plains, Eastern, and Alaska. Better late than never, please enjoy this results roundup from last weekend’s racing.
Looking ahead: This year’s JNs will be held in Fairbanks, Alaska, from March 13–16 (just three races this year, no relay, due to cost and logistical concerns). Qualifying races will continue to be held around the country over the next month-plus. Races are scheduled to occur this weekend in Soldier Hollow, Utah (Intermountain Division but probably other western regions as well for the Super JNQ), and Mt. Itasca, Minnesota (Midwest Division).
Here’s what happened last weekend:
High Plains: Lander Invitational/High Plains JNQ, Lander, Wyoming
Friday: 5-kilometer interval-start skate
U16 girls podium: Abby Murphy, Ameya Eddy, Moore Riven
U18 girls podium: Aurora Stiles, Fay Eliza, Annika Wilmot
U20 women’s podium: Kaylynn Sandall, Abigail Robberson
U16 boys podium: Sam Hutchinson, Fisk Johansson, Darrin Binning
U18 boys podium: Bennett Hutchison, Sam Sinclair, Jack Voos
U20 men’s podium: Austin Quillinan, Emmitt Gray, Hayden Poduska
Saturday: 5-kilometer interval-start classic
U16 girls podium: Ameya Eddy, Abby Murphy, Twyla Beason
U18 girls podium: Aurora Stiles, Shayla Babits, Emily Anderson
U20 women’s podium: Kaylynn Sandall, Abigail Robberson
U16 boys podium: Fisk Johansson, Hunter Pickett, Sam Hutchinson
U18 boys podium: Bennett Hutchison, Peter Concannon, Sam Sinclair
U20 men’s podium: Emmitt Gray, Austin Quillinan, Hayden Poduska
Eastern Cup, Rumford
The Bates Carnival aspect of this weekend’s races was previously treated on this site. Here are some JNQ-specific results:
Saturday: 5-kilometer interval-start skate
U16 boys podium: David Northcott, Lucas Barstow, Matias Citarella (results)
U16 girls podium: Mary Harrington, Amelia Circosta, Claire Serrano (results)
Saturday: 10-kilometer interval-start skate
U18 boys podium: Tabor Greenberg, Luke Rizio, Aidan Jacobus (results)
U20 men’s podium: Jack Lange, Aidan Burt, Wally Magill (results)
U18 girls podium: Maddie Hooker, Beth McIntosh, Julia Thurston (results)
U20 women’s podium: Haley Brewster, Ava Thurston, Hattie Barker (results)
Sunday: 1.3-kilometer classic sprint
open men’s podium: Tabor Greenberg (U18), Parke Chapin (U20), Nathan Doughty (U18)
open women’s podium: Evelyn Walton (U20), Sofia Scirica (U20), Maddie Hooker (U18)
I am not going to try to unpack U16, U18, and U20 podiums from the overall sprint standings from a race on the other side of the country. Don’t get me wrong, the results are impeccable and NENSA knows what they’re doing, I’m just not going to represent that I can determine whether, say, the U20 athlete who was fourth in the first semifinal should be ranked ahead of the U20 athlete who was fifth in the second semifinal when I don’t have times for either of them. Here are the current compiled NENSA junior rankings; the rest is above my pay grade.
Alaska: Besh Cup 3 and 4, Government Peak
Saturday: 1.3-kilometer classic sprint
Athletes competed in a qualification round on Saturday morning, as expected. But issues with the accuracy of timing and results then led to a full day’s worth of sprint heats being conducted that “did not include the correct athletes or the correct heat composition,” race organizers wrote in an update earlier this week.
“For this reason the Competition Committee voted to use the corrected qualification results for Besh 3 and to not use the heat results,” representatives of Cross Country Alaska continued. “The Competition Committee recognizes the effect this decision has on all skiers who competed in heats, missed competing in heats, or competed in incorrect heats based on inaccurate results. It is definitely not the vision that CCAK had for its first set of sprint races this season, though we feel fortunate to have at least gotten a set of accurate qualification results.”
Accordingly, here are each division’s fastest athletes from the sprint qualification, the only official results now available from Saturday:
U16 girls: Olivia Soderstrom, Zoe Rodgers, Rosie Conway
U18 girls: Sammy Legate, Piper Sears, Berit Meyers
U20 women: Natalie Hood, Marit Flora, Lily Pannkuk
U16 boys: Wells Wappett, Kieran Kaufman, Logan Cuddy
U18 boys: Hatcher Menkens, Jayden Rice, Peter-John Bragonier
U20 men: Derek Richardson, Ethan Howe, Mark Eggener
Sunday: 7.5-kilometer interval-start skate
U16 boys: Oskar Flora, Wells Wappett, Kieran Kaufman
U18 boys: Hatcher Menkens, Blake Hanley, Cole Flowers
U20 men: Derek Richardson, Ethan Howe, Liam Chisholm
U16 girls: Olivia Soderstrom, Mia Stiassny, Rosie Conway
U18 girls: Berit Meyers, Sammy Legate, Piper Sears
U20 women: Marit Flora, Natalie Hood, Lily Pannkuk
Finally, since I competed in this race (I would not have made Team Alaska as a J1 or J2 in the late 1990s, and also would not make it now that I am an M3, so I am consistent), I would like to share a word or two about the course as gained from experience: It’s really hard!
That’s not just me speaking, from my perspective near the bottom of the field and wizened by the ravages of time. Rather, here’s Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, in October 2020, at the time 30 years old and shortly before a season in which she would place 10th in a World Cup distance race and come 0.8 seconds away from a World Champs relay medal:
Bjornsen called Government Peak “the most legit ski trails I have ever skied on in the U.S.,” and pronounced them World Cup–ready.
Put another way, the top elevation profile here shows the 7.5km homologated course from this year’s Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou (293m of total climb). The bottom profile shows the 7.5km course used for Sunday’s distance races (274m of total climb, including a healthy 125m of climbing by the time athletes reach the high point at the 2.5-kilometer mark. “Course is quite physically challenging,” states the official FIS homologation certificate for Government Peak.)
As the small sign at the edge of the Government Peak Recreation Area stadium quietly states, “Your Olympic dreams can begin here.” If your dream features an A-Climb starting at, literally, the zero-meter mark of a FIS course, your dreams will become reality pretty darn quickly once you leave that starting line.
— Gavin Kentch
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