Queen of the Hill

by Kevin Brochman
January 8, 2010
At the 2010 National Championships in Anchorage Alaska, they also had the World Junior Championship tryouts. The women’s races consisted of a skate sprint, a skate 10km and 5km classic. Annie Hart, the 2009 Minnesota State Champion competed in the races. I was not able to travel up to Alaska with Annie as my wife was battling cancer for the past year. So, Ben Dubay took over the coaching and waxing duties. They were not able to fly up to Alaska until New Years day and after sitting on a couple planes for several hours she was pretty flat for the first race Saturday’s sprint.

On Monday she skied in the 10km skate and placed 4th among the Junior skiers people born in 1990 and later. She was the 2nd fastest in her class the J1 division which is skiers born in 1992 and 1993. The older junior division is for skiers born in 1990 and 1991, they are mostly college skiers with a few high school skiers too. The 4th place finish set Annie up for a great classic race as she always does a little better in classic.

On Wednesday she competed in the 5km classic race and had a skier who was ranked 3rd in the country for juniors start 30 seconds ahead of her. Halfway through the race Annie had caught the skier and passed her. Ben Dubay, who was at the start-finish line looked at Annie in her start and though she looked faster than all the other skiers. Then Annie finished and had the fastest time but several other skiers had yet to finish. One by one they all came in and all were slower than Annie’s time. Annie had skied faster than all the best juniors in the country and qualified for the 2010 World Junior Team.

In looking at her progressions the past 3 years she had improved very much in her roller skiing up the long hill in Afton called the Coulee. As a freshman Annie took 80th in the MN State Ski Meet. During the summer she joined the Minneapolis Ski Club summer training group and did lots of volume, sprints and intervals. One of the tests we do is skiing up the 2km hill in Afton. At the end of the summer I talked to her about her improvement during the summer and she told me she hoped to place in the top 20 at the State Ski Meet by the time she was a senior. I almost laughed as I was pretty sure she would place much higher and much sooner. She placed 9th as a 10th grader in 2008.

Annie’s roller ski times up the coulee went from 9:00 her first summer to 8:02 going into her junior year. With the significant improvement she went on to win the state championship. Last summer her time dropped to 7:02 and this was the best by a female ever but, she had faster roller skis than some of the other previous record holders so I really did not know how fast she would be on snow. At the end of the summer I felt Annie could be one of the best in the country but she would have train on her own in the fall and run cross country too. Both of these could slow her down in the winter. Running cc vs ski training usually separates the best from the fast runners at the State Ski Meet. However, Annie has a way of getting real fast in a real short time period. Her December races were pretty good especially her race at Ironwood. At Nationals she turned it up a notch and was able to beat all of the other juniors including Sophie Caldwell who is ranked 12th in the country.

To run Cross Country in the fall where she placed 9th in the A class and then win a World Junior Championship tryout race is very hard to do. Many of the best skiers were training 15-18 hours per week in the fall while Annie was running about 5 and doing some roller skiing on her own. She may have been able to train 8-12 hours per week vs the 13-18 of the other competitors but that is quite a bit less. Sometimes quality is better than quantity and less coaching is better than more. Either way her queen of the hill in August translates to a first at World Junior Tryouts in January.

World Junior Tryout 5km Women’s classic results