U.S. cross-country national championships wrap-up

U.S. cross-country national championships wrap-up{mosimage}The U.S. X-C Nationals saw six out of 10 titles won by athletes who had never before won a U.S. National Championship. Additionally, 11 podium spots were taken by athletes who had never even stood on a National’s podium before. Alaska Pacific University’s Jim Galanes said, “The many new faces seen on the top are a reflection of the excellent work being done at the club level … [these races] brighten the outlook on the future of U.S. Cross Country ski racing.”

Because these were the U.S. Championships, only American athletes could receive medals. Canadians Beckie Scott had the fastest time in all four races she entered, and Russian Ivan Babikov — who lives in Canada — also posted the fastest time in several races. The Canadians earned prize money for their wins, but no medals.

The most successful American athletes of the week included USST member Andrew Johnson (2 gold, 1 bronze), Team Rossignol’s James Southam (1 gold, 1 silver), USST member Rebecca Dussault (3 gold, 1 bronze) and USST member and homegrown Utah girl Wendy Wagner (1 gold, 2 silvers).

There were some surprises in the men’s field: Team Rossignol’s James Southam (1 gold and 1 silver) whose best finish previously was 21st, impressed everyone. So did University of Vermont biathlete Lowell Bailey, with a bronze medal in the 10k classic, and APU coach Eric Flora’s bronze medal in the 30k pursuit.

The women also provided surprises, such as Subaru’s Abigail Larson’s silver and bronze medals (15k skate and 15k pursuit), Team Rossignol’s Brooke Baughman’s bronze medal in the 15k skate, Dartmouth’s Alison Crocker’s silver medal in the 5k classic, and Northern Michigan University’s Lindsay Williams spectacular and dominant sprint race gold medal, in addition to her bronze in the 5k classic race. Sun Valley Ski Team’s Morgan Arritola and Green Mountain Valley School’s Laura Spector, a JI, also impressed in the women’s 15k skate finishing, 4th and 5th respectively.

The weather made ski selection and preparation especially difficult. It snowed during every event: The athletes also had to endure rain, hail, and 50 mph wind gusts. Waxing was extremely tricky, and smart equipment choices probably helped some of the new players onto the podium.

Luke Bodensteiner, USSA’s Nordic Director, commented on the strength of this year’s domestic race schedule: “It used to be that National Championships marked an end of the season for some, but now it’s fun to see everybody packing up after the last race and looking forward to the next event, whether it’s in Europe on the World Cup, in Madison [Wisconsin] at the next SuperTour event or in their hometowns.”

For complete results from all the Nationals races, visit www.summit-systems-timers.com.

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