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Collegiate Racing Recap: CCSA, RMISA, EISA

by Mary Kozloski
February 12, 2018

CCSA Series

RHINELANDER, Wisconsin (February 10 - 11, 2018) - For the first time ever, the trails of Rhinelander played host to the CCSA Conference Championships. University of Wisconsin - Green Bay’s head coach Steve Teclaw, who is a Rhinelander native, worked hard on the trails over the summer to make them meet the NCAA standards. Races at the Regional Championships include a 5/10k classic on Saturday and a 15/20k freestyle on Sunday. Ian Torchia (Rochester, MN) of Northern Michigan University, who is returning from competing in the FIS U23 Championships in Goms, Switzerland, had an impressive first day back on the collegiate circuit claiming first while teammate Vivian Hett (Burnsville, MN) won the women’s race. Gaspard (Cuenot Le Cerneux-Pequignot, Switzerland) of Michigan Tech University claimed the men’s title on day two, while Nicole Scheiner (Plymouth, MN) who is also coming back from the U23 Championships, showed no signs of fatigue as she stole first from teammate Hett.

Torchia reflected on his races at the FIS U23 Championships in Goms, Switzerland Jan 28 - Feb 2. They competed in a freestyle sprint, 10/15k classic and a 7.5/7.5k/ 15/15k skiathlon.

“Both races were good old fashioned sufferfests. With about the same elevation gain as the courses in PyeongChang, plus 4,500 feet of altitude made for some hard racing. The conditions were firm and fast with temps in the mid-20's. Both races were learning experiences as I got to see [and feel!] what the best in the world ski like. Skiing for a little bit behind Denis Spitsov, who just got 4th in the Olympics, is ingrained in my mind and will continue to be so for the rest of the season and into the summer training months. Lots learned and looking forward to getting back on the international stage and staying up with the top dogs.”

Competition kicked off Saturday with a 5/10k classic. NMU dominated the day in both the mens and womens races, sweeping both podiums. Torchia skied to a convincing first place finish 14.2 seconds over teammates Leo Hipp (Forest Lake, MN) and Mathias Rolid who was third.

In the women’s race, Vivian Hett, who has been ruling the 5k classic races, remained victorious. Hett dominated the women’s field by 40.2 seconds ahead of teammates Kristen Bourne (Lake Elmo, MN) and Nicole Schneider who was third.  

“Going into the weekend, I had a mix of emotions,” said Schneider. “I was still coming off of a bad cold and exhaustion from traveling back from Europe but on the other hand I was stoked to get back into the CCSA races.I had a solid race in the 5km classic. The course in Rhinelander was interesting, there was no major climbs. They were all very short and steep hills. It made the classic race interesting as there were so many transitions and had to be on your toes constantly.”

The CCSA Championships concluded with a freestyle distance race. Gaspard Cuenot of MTU grabbed his second 20k freestyle win in two weekends, but his win did not come without a fight. The top four men were just three seconds apart. In the final stretch Cuenot had the final push to win the race to deny NMU a men’s podium sweep. Cuenot was able to pull ahead but just 2.1 seconds to finish first ahead of three NMU men, Kjetil Banerud who was second,  Lars Soensterud was third and Ian Torchia finished fourth.

In the women’s 15k freestyle, Nicole Schneider used smart tactics on the course throughout the race that played to her advantage.

“I was definitely more excited for Sunday’s 15km skate,” said Nicole. “It’s my favorite event and I love the energy in mass starts. The course made it difficult to break away from the main pack.”

In the final kilometers of the race, Schneider was able to make the move from the pack to secure her first place finish.

“I waited until the last lap to make an attack on the largest climb,” said Schneider. “It worked out well and I was able to sustain the leading position until the finish!”

Schneider edged teammate Vivian Hett by just 3.8 seconds while Julie Ensrud of NMU finished third. The NMU women’s team claimed their second podium sweep of the weekend.

The CCSA will travel to Ishpeming, MI February 17 – 18, 2018 for the SuperTour & NCAA Regional Championship.


RMISA Series

MINTURN, Colorado (February 10 - 11, 2018) -  The athletes of the RMISA were met with a weekend of typical Colorado winter weather for the Denver Invitational, blizzard one day and a blue bird day the next. Athletes raced on the Maloit Park Trails which are on the grounds of the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and sit at an elevation of 7,861 feet. Races included a 5/10k individual freestyle on Saturday and a 5/10k individual classic on Sunday. Guro Jordheim  (Hemsedal, Buskerud, Norway) of University of Utah ruled the women’s competition and clinched both of the freestyle and classic podiums and has earned her fourth win of the season. Alvar Alev (Parnu, Estonia) of University of Colorado, Boulder also had impressive races on both Saturday and Sunday. Alvar not only won both of the men’s races, they were also his first collegiate victories. The RMISA Minnesota natives Carolyn Lucca (Duluth, MN) of University of New Mexico, Anja Maijala (Wrenshall, MN) of University of Alaska Fairbanks and Michaela Keller-Miller of University of Alaska Anchorage were in the top 28 in both the freestyle and classic races.

Racers were greeted with blizzard conditions on Saturday, which made for tough conditions for a freestyle race.

“Saturday’s skate race was a tough one because of the snowy conditions, explained Keller-Miller. “It snowed during the night leading up to the race and kept snowing throughout all of the races, which made the course mushy and slow.”

In the men’s 10k, Alvar Alev of CU had a breakthrough day as he skied to his first collegiate victory. Alev finished with a time of 32:41.5, just 11.5 seconds ahead of teammate Petter Reistad (Baerum, Norway) and Karsten Hokanson (Salt Lake City, UT) of Montana State University who was third. In the women’s 5k, Guro Jordheim of UU once again proved she is unstoppable. Jordheim dominated the race with a time of 18:33.3, 16.5 seconds ahead of Taeler McCrerey of University of Denver, while Christina Rolandsen (Fauske, Norway) of CU finished third. This was McCrerey’s first podium of the season. Carolyn Lucca of UNM lead the RMISA Minnesota natives in the 5k freestyle finishing 22nd, while Anja Maijala of UAF was 23rd and Michaela Keller-Miller of UAA who was 24th.

“Personally, I started conservatively on Saturday to try and not bonk with the altitude,” said Keller-Miller. “Although I wasn’t thrilled with my result, I know that I’m learning more about racing at altitude with each additional race.”

The Denver Invitational concluded with a 5/10k classic and the conditions were beautiful, with cold temperatures and blue skies. Alvar Alev kept his momentum going from Saturday’s classic race as he skied to his second podium of the weekend. Alev edged Martin Bergstrom (Piteå, Sweden) of UU by just 6.9 seconds, while Petter Reistad of CU finished third.

In the women’s 5k, Jordheim set herself up for another win. She had a commanding lead over Linn Erikesen (Oslo, Norway) of DU, finishing 16.3 seconds ahead while Anne Siri Lervik (Asker, Norway) of CU finished third. Michaela Keller-Miller of UAA had an impressive day of racing finishing in the top 20 and led the RMISA Minnesota natives. Keller-Miller finished 17th overall, with a time of 21.00.3. Carolyn Lucca of UNM grabbed another spot in the top 25 finishing 25th and Anja Maijala was 28th.

“Conditions were great after the fresh snow from Saturday,” said Keller-Miller. “The tracks were pretty washed out on the A climb because it was too steep to stride up most of the hill. Sunday’s race went well for me and I was able to feel good throughout the race. My downhill strategy of the day was to surge before the downhills to make sure I didn’t have to follow any other girls down the tricky corners.”

Hannah Rudd (Plymouth, MN) was out of action this weekend after returning recently from the FIS World Junior Championships in Goms, Switzerland Jan 28 - Feb. 2nd. Rudd competed in a freestyle sprint, 5k classic, 7.5/7.5k skiathlon and a 4x5k relay.

The RMISA will be back in Colorado February 24 - 25 to compete in the final races before NCAA. Athletes will have the opportunity to race on Howelsen Hill trails in Steamboat Springs Colorado which are the trails used for the NCAA races in March. Races include a 5/10k classic on Saturday and a 15/20k freestyle on Sunday.  

Photoset:  Denver Invite 13 photos (from Mary Kozloski)


EISA Series

HANOVER, New Hampshire (February 9 - 10, 2018) - Oak Hill Recreation Area played host to the Dartmouth Carnival, where the EISA athletes competed in a 5/10k classic on Friday and a 5/10k freestyle on Sunday. Katharine Ogden of Dartmouth dominated the women’s competition throughout the weekend on her home turf. Peter Holmes of University of New Hampshire won the men’s 10k classic, while Zane Fields of Colby College secured his fourth consecutive freestyle victory. Several EISA Minnesota natives were in the top three, ten, 15, 20 and 25 including: Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, MN) of University of Vermont, Renae Anderson ( Golden Valley, MN) of Bowdoin, Margie Freed (Apple Valley, MN), Mattie Watts (New Brighton, MN) of University of Vermont, Ingrid Thyr (Minneapolis, MN) of Williams College, Luke Brown (Minneapolis, MN) of Dartmouth, Will Bodewes (Minocqua, WI) of University of New Hampshire, Nick Gardner (Stillwater, MN) of Williams College, Jan Ketterson (Bloomington, MN) of Dartmouth.

Competition kicked off Friday with a 5/10k classic. In the men’s race, Peter Holmes of UNH grabbed first with a time of 30:39.60, just 13.7 seconds ahead of Zane Fields of CBC and Luke Brown of DAR who was third. Brown led the men’s EISA Minnesota natives, while Will Bodewes of UNH and Jan Ketterson of DAR snagged spots in the top 20, finishing 18th and 19th respectively.

Katharine Ogden started off the weekend strong, skiing to a convincing first place finish 20.20 seconds ahead of teammate Lauren Jortberg, while Alayna Sonnesyn of UVM finished third. Jortberg was returning to the collegiate scene after competing at the FIS U23 Championships in Goms, Switzerland Jan 28 - Feb. 2. Minnesota native Renae Anderson, who is a freshman at Bowdoin had a breakthrough race in the 5k classic. Anderson secured a top ten finish, in eighth overall. Margie Freed of UVM grabbed 14th, while teammate Mattie Watts was 20th.

The Dartmouth Carnival concluded with a 5/10k freestyle race. In the men’s race, Zane Fields of CBC ruled the freestyle race once again. Fields skied to his fourth freestyle win, 14.1 seconds ahead of Callan Deline of DAR, while Cully Brown of UVM finished third. Nick Gardner of WIL,  lead the men’s EISA Minnesota natives, securing a spot in the top 10 finishing eighth, while Luke Brown was 18th overall.

There was a feeling of deja vu in the women’s freestyle race, as Ogden, Jortberg and Sonnesyn were first, second and third. Ogden stole first from her teammate Jortberg again with a time of 14:01.4, just 13.4 seconds ahead, while Sonnesyn finished third. Margie Freed of UVM had an impressive eighth place finish, Ingrid Thyr was 14 and Renae Anderson was 16th.

“Racing at Oak Hill was pretty interesting,” said Sonneyson. “They were challenging courses that many of the teams had never skied before but it was fun to get some really good ski racing [oppose to double pole classic races or skiing loops around 1.5k]. There was so much snow and the trails were incredible. Definitely hard races but it was a fun weekend.”

The EISA will compete in the Williams Carnival February 16 - 17 at the Prospect Mountain Nordic Center in Woodford, VT. Races include a 5/10k classic on Friday and freestyle sprints on Saturday.


About the author...

Mary Kozloski is from Green Bay, WI and is a UW Green Bay Ski Team Alumni, where she skied and studied Communications and Business Administration for four years. Mary continues to love and stay connected to the sport through writing. She is a travel and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys exploring everything Colorado has to offer, which she has called her new home state since fall of 2016.

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