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Collegiate Racing Recap: CCSA, EISA, RMISA

by Caroline Brisbois
February 5, 2019


ISHPEMING, Michigan (February 2-3, 2019) - After a frigid set of races in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, collegiate midwestern skiers were back at it this weekend at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, Michigan for another round of Central Collegiate Skiing Association (CCSA) races hosted by Northern Michigan University (NMU). Welcomed by warmer temperatures, the 15/20k classic mass start and 5/10k freestyle races ran as scheduled. On their home course, NMU took the women’s, men’s, and combined team titles for the weekend.

Racing began on Saturday February 2nd with the always exciting mass starts. In the women’s 15k classic Abigail Jarzin (Green Bay, WI) of NMU took her first collegiate win in dominant fashion, 17 seconds over Amanda Kautzer (Plymouth, MN) of Michigan Tech University (MTU) who landed her first distance classic podium of the season. Nicole Schneider (Plymouth, MN) also of NMU added another podium to her collection finishing close behind in 3rd.

“The conditions were pretty cold and the tracks were solid and fast for the 15k,” explained Jarzin. “The majority of the race I was in a pack with Julie, Nicole, and Amanda Kautzer from MTU but I started to pull away on the 3rd lap at the top of one of the climbs.”

Rounding out the top 5 was Julie Ensrud (Saltnes, Norway, NMU) in 4th and Hannah Bettendorf (Duluth, MN) of the College of Saint Scholastica (CSS) in 5th with her best distance result so far.

In the men’s 20k classic, Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, MN) of NMU continued his winning streak taking the victory 11 seconds over teammate Kjetil Banerud (Oslo, Norway, NMU). Reid Goble (Harbor Springs, MI) of MTU raced to his first podium of the season in 3rd while Mathias Rolid (Redalen, Norway, NMU) maintained his consistent racing, finishing 4th. Completing the UP sweep of the top 5 was Kristoffer Vollset (Klaebu, Norway), having a successful first year of racing for MTU.

It’s hard to say whether the Super Bowl or Sunday’s CCSA freestyle individual start races were more highly contested. Temperatures warmed up overnight but thanks to everyone’s favorite polar vortex the race course remained solid for the 5 and 10k competitions. The women’s freestyle started out hot with Schneider flying to first in just 13:45, edging out Jarzin in second by 5 seconds. The NMU women were on fire as Ensrud and Nadine Matter (Engelberg, Switzerland) came in 3rd and 4th respectively to sweep the top 4 while Kautzer broke into the top 5 again for 5th.

On the men’s side, NMU took their teammate’s energy and swept the 10k freestyle. In Patriot-fashion, Ketterson was undefeated for the weekend dominating the field for first. After a series of bad luck and sickness, Ian Torchia (Rochester, MN, NMU) is healthy and has returned to racing on the collegiate circuit. Tochia finished 2nd for a solid first race back with the ever-consistent Banerud completing the podium. A couple of MTU skiers rounded out the top 5 with Vollset in 4th and Goble in 5th.

After a weekend off the CCSA will rendezvous in Minneapolis for the CCSA Championships at Theodore Wirth. These races are combined with the US Ski and Snowboard SuperTour, and a Junior National Qualifier, giving the midwest college skiers another chance to compete against a larger field. Racing will begin Friday February 17th with a freestyle sprint (non-CCSA), then a 15/20k classic mass start, and concluding with a 5/10k freestyle individual start on Sunday February 19th. Information for this race series can be found here.



STOWE, Vermont (February 1-2, 2019) - Racing continued out east as well with the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association’s (EISA) UVM Carnival hosted by the University of Vermont (UVM) at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. As the venue for the upcoming NCAA Championships in March, this was an important weekend for eastern college skiers to practice the courses with 5/10k freestyle individual starts and 15/20k classic mass starts. Last year’s NCAA Championships took place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, a tough high altitude venue for many of the eastern and midwestern athletes coming from sea level. The host team of UVM showed this weekend that 2019 might be their year to steal the overall team NCAA title on home turf from previous dominant western schools. They swept the top spot in each race both men and women, and proved their depth as a team.

Carnival racing commenced Friday February 1st with the 5/10k freestyle individual start races. Evelina Sutro (Carbondale, CO) of UVM topped the women’s 5k field showing no sign of fatigue after her recent trip to Lahti, Finland for World Junior/U23 Championships. Achieving their first carnival podiums were Emily Hyde (Bend, OR) and Molly Gellert (Anchorage, AK) of Dartmouth finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Leading the midwestern skiers was Abby Drach (Eden Prairie, MN, Dartmouth) in 4th with her best result of the season.

“The snow conditions in Stowe were wonderful! Cold weather and a recent snow storm brought perfect skiing conditions,” Drach recounted. “The trails are really fun at Stowe! It starts with a fair amount of downhill for the first part of the race and ends with about 1k of climbing which I quite enjoy.”

Also making it into the top 25 from the midwest was Margie Freed (Apple Valley, MN, UVM) in 14th, Renae Anderson (Golden Valley, MN, Bowdoin) in 16th, and Ingrid Thyr (Minneapolis, MN, Williams College) in 22nd.

In the men’s 10k freestyle, UVM swept the podium with Bill Harmeyer (South Burlington, VT), Ben Ogden (Landgrove, VT), and Karl Schulz (Lake Placid, NY) going 1-2-3. Ogden also just returned from World Junior/U23 Championships with some phenomenal results including the historic gold medal in the junior men’s relay. Skiing into the top 25 from the midwest was Foss Kerker (Minneapolis, MN) of Colby College in 24th and Christian Gostout (Rochester, MN) of Bowdoin in 25th.

Saturday February 2nd brought the 15 and 20k mass start races. For the women, Anna Bizyukova (Nolinsk, Russia) of UVM got her first Carnival win in the 15k classic over Lauren Jortberg (Boulder, CO) of Dartmouth, who is no stranger to the Carnival podium. Taking third was Annika Landis (Hailey, ID) of Middlebury. Having her best college season, Freed led the midwest natives finishing just behind Landis in 4th. Freed, a junior, will be looking to qualify for NCAA’s for the first time. Also finishing in the top 25 from the midwest was Thyr in 16th, Erin Bianco (Ely, MN, Colby College) in 19th, Anderson in 21st, and Drach in 24th.

It was another UVM sweep on the men’s side, this time all the way through the top 6. Ogden came out on top in the 20k classic with Matias Oevrum (Sandefjord, Norway) in 2nd and Ian Moore (Waitsfield, VT) in 3rd. Nick Gardner (Stillwater, MN) of Williams College led the Midwest men finishing 12th, his best result so far this season.

“This is the home course from my gap year and I always love racing here,” Gardner commented. “That uphill finish destroys all the big powerful guys and leaves me looking pretty fast in a sprint finish. It was probably the most fun race I've ever had, actually skiing most of the race with my best friend Evan Carr and our rocking freshman from Brattleboro, VT, Isaac Freitas-Eagan. At 8k we were in 18, 19, and 20 and we just consumed people into our chase pack the whole race.”

Other midwestern skiers making the top 25 include Scott Harrison (Mound, MN) of Colby College in 22nd and Gostout in 25th.

Next up for the EISA region is the Dartmouth Carnival February 8-9th at Oak Hill in Hanover, NH. Athletes will compete in a 10/15k freestyle individual start and some fun 3x5k classic relays.



RED RIVER, New Mexico (February 1-2, 2019) - Up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico lies the Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area where the athletes of the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) competed this past weekend. At almost 10,000 feet, snow can be found in the western US just outside of Red River, New Mexico. Due to the high elevation and narrow trails, the UNM Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico (UNM) provided shortened races starting with a 7.5k classic individual start for both men and women. The course consisted of three 2.5k laps. A smaller field than usual from the RMISA region travelled to compete in this race series, with 23 women and 33 men.

In Friday’s 7.5k classic race, Anne Siri Lervik (Asker, Norway) of the University of Colorado (CU) took the win over teammate Hedda Baangman (Oestersund, Sweden) while Ezra Smith (Breckenridge, CO) completed a CU podium sweep. For the midwestern women, Anja Maijala (Wrenshall, MN) of University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) finished 11th and Michaela Keller-Miller (Plymouth, MN) of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) finished 12th.

Maijala explained how she approached the races in New Mexico: “The elevation made racing so much harder than I’ve ever experienced,” said Maijala. “Coming into the races I knew I’d have to make a lot of changes to my race strategy. In the 7.5k classic race I paced myself really well starting super controlled the first lap and pushing harder with each lap. I also really worked on my breathing and ski technique trying to get as much oxygen as possible so I could ski as efficient as possible.”

On the men’s side, Alvar Johannes Alev (Parnu, Estonia) of CU took first followed by Sigurd Roenning (Vikersund, Norway) of UAA in second and Ola Jordheim (Hemsedal, Buskerud, Norway) of University of Utah (UU) in third.

Saturday’s 5k freestyle was given in an unusual format. “As for the skate race we did a 5k team start,” explained Maijala. Each team started one minute apart.

“The course was really narrow so it wasn’t possible to do a mass start,” Maijala described. “The team start, for some teams, may have felt like a mass start where they skied in a group with their teammates and pushed each other. For my team we only had three girls and we are all pretty spread out in our skate abilities so I knew I had to treat it like an individual start.”

Results were presented individually and as teams. Guro Jordheim (Hemsedal, Buskerud, Norway) of UU skied fast for first just ahead of Taeler McCrerey (Frisco, CO) of the University of Denver (DU). Lervik came in 3rd for her second podium of the weekend. Maijala and Keller-Miller had solid races to land in 15th and 19th respectively. Also racing from the midwest was Kelly Koch (Burnsville, MN) of Montana State University (MSU) finishing in 23rd. For the women’s team podium we had UU, CU, and DU.

The men’s individual 5k freestyle crown went to Kornelius Groev (Trondheim, Norway) of UNM followed by teammate Rica Izquierdo-Bernier (Montreal, Quebec, Canada). Ti Donaldson (Fairbanks, AK) of MSU made his way to the podium for 3rd. The UNM men dominated on their home course for first place as a team, with CU and DU in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

RMISA athletes have the weekend off before traveling to Anchorage, AK to compete at the UAA Invitational at Kincaid Park February 17-18. Skiers will compete on the same trails as 2018 US National Championships as well as the venue for the 2019 Junior National Championships coming up in March.


About the author...

Caroline Brisbois grew up in Falcon Heights, MN playing tennis, running cross country and track, and Nordic skiing at Roseville High School. After graduating from Northern Michigan University in May 2018 where she competed collegiately in skiing and running, Brisbois moved to Anchorage, AK to pursue her passion for adventure and begin a Masters in Environmental Science at Alaska Pacific University. Brisbois loves rock climbing, mountain biking, ski training, and hiking in the mountains with her dog.


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