Koos, Brooks claim first national XC titles
Torin Koos and Holly Brooks convincingly won the 1.4k classic sprints to lay claim to the first titles of the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Maine's Black Mountain,.
The Methow Olympic Development Program's Koos charged the 1.4k course to win the race and title. He was followed by Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation's Michael Sinnott in second and Stratton Mountain School's Skyler Davis in third.
Lars Flora led the final rounds after the quarterfinals and finished fifth overall behind Erik Bjornsen in fourth. U.S. Ski Team athlete Noah Hoffman finished 15th.
Koos took both the semifinal and final victories. Koos bested Sinnott, Davis, Flora, Bjorsen, who also won his semifinal heat, and Eric Packer in the finals.
In the women's race, Brooks led the surge with Czech Republic's and University of Colorado's Eliska Hajkova in second. Hajkova's result does not count towards U.S. Championships, awarding third place finisher Morgan Smyth second in the championship standings. Sadie Bjornsen finished behind Smyth in fourth, taking bronze in the U.S. Championship results for an Alaska Pacific University podium sweep.
"I just went out pretty much as hard as I could from the start and there's definitely some recovery on the course, so I just charged every hill as fast as could and had a little bit of time for recovery on the downhill afterwards," said Brooks of her winning strategy. "My strength is probably the hills. I knew if I was going to win I needed to basically gap the field on the up hills and try to hold them off on the downhill and double pole to the finish and I was able to do that. It was a really great day."
Once in the final rounds, Brooks never looked back. Coming out of the quarterfinals, Brooks was in second behind Hajkova. She led her semifinal heat and kept the momentum going to clinch to victory in the six person final including Hajkova, Smyth, Bjornsen, Katie Ronsse and Sophie Caldwell.
The 2011 U.S. Cross Country Championships will continue Wednesday with the men's and women's 15/10k classic. The race, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed a day to make and move snow in order to create the best conditions for the course.
Nordic Program Director John Farra said, "Rumford Jury decision: Classic race scheduled for Tuesday is postponed until Wednesday to provide the best opportunity for course prep."
Fans can follow the event on the U.S. Cross Country Championships Facebook fan page as well as on Twitter at USSA Nordic.
U.S. Cross Country Championships
Rumford, ME – Jan. 2, 2011
1.4k Classic Sprint
1. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, Wash.
2. Michael Sinnott, Sun Valley, Idaho
3. Skyler Davis, Jericho, Vt.
4. Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, Wash.
5. Lars Flora, Anchorage, Alaska
1. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, Alaska
2. Eliska Hajkova, Czech Republic
3. Morgan Smyth, Vernon, Vt.
4. Sadie Bjornsen, Anchorage, Alaska
5. Katie Ronsse, Anchorage, Alaska