Junior Nationals CoverageMarch 20, 2013
This year, Skinnyski.com was provided an incredible in-depth experience with the Junior National team, traveling, lodging, dining and sometimes evening training with the skiers and coaches. We owe a huge thanks for the CXC Midwest Junior National Commitee for providing major underwriting and unprecedented access.
The following is a complete summary of our 2013 coverage...
With Junior Nationals opening ceremony just a week away, we provide a preview of the Fairbanks venue, Birch Hill, including some seasoned waxing tips, scheduling changes, and even a look at some top prospects for the podium.
Junior Nationals Trip: A complete set of photos from traveling, meetings, training, and other non-race events.
Early results from Fairbanks showed strong racing from Midwest athletes in the first day of Junior Nationals. While the top three J1 spots for the mens 10k freestyle were claimed by Norwegian athletes (listed as Team G for "Guest"), Rochester's Ian Torchia from Team Midwest posted the top American J1 time in 4th place. Logan Hanneman of Univ-Alaska Fairbanks used his home course advantage to take top honors for the OJ men over Midwest's Ben Saxton in 2nd and Eli Hoenig (NE team) in 3rd. Zak Ketterson posted the fastest Midwest finish time in 6th overall for J2 boys. In similar style to the boys, Norwegian guest women skied the fastest 1st, 2nd, and 5th times for all OJ and J1 women in the 5km freestyle. This left the top American J1 spot to the Midwest's own Alayna Sonnesyn, showing great last season form. Other strong J1 finishes came from Vivian Hett (10th J1, 7th American J1) and Nicole Bathe (14th J1, 11th American J1). OJ women saw Roseville's Niki Reker posting the best Midwest time in 7th place. J2 women from the NE division continued to show their dominance, taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd spots. Midwest teammates Rocci Wohlk and Hannah Rudd finished 8th and 11th, respectively, with Michaela Keller-Miller just seconds back in 13th.
Conditions began cold and clear for Day 2 of racing in Fairbanks for Junior Nationals. The J2 men warmed up the race course for the 3 X 3km classic relays. Alaska's #1 squad took the lead early and held it through to the finish to collect the top podium spot. Intermountain held onto the #2 spot throughout while NorthEast moved from 5th up to 3rd. Midwest's team of Rouw, Hipp and Ketterson progressed from 9th to 5th and finally to 4th spot just shy of the podium. Anchor Zak Ketterson posted the fastest split of the 3rd leg skiers and 3rd fastest split of the entire J2 boys field. The J2 girls relays began with Rocky Mountain taking the lead, but the girls from NE rocketed back to the lead and stayed in front to the finish. Alaska pulled in front of Rocky Mountain to claim 2nd and 3rd spots, respectively. As with the J2 boys, Midwest's J2 girls squad of Rudd, Keller-Miller, and Wohlk just missed the podium in 4th place. The OJ/J1 boys race saw tough competition with the guest Norwegians taking the top J1 team place, followed by Rocky Mountain, NE, and Alaska teams. Midwest followed in 6th place for J1 boys. The OJ boys race saw Alaska's squad take off to an early lead which they held to the finish. The Midwest team (Parr, Ketterson, Saxton) jumped back and forth between 2nd and 3rd positions but stormed back to a 2nd place finish on the heels of Ben Saxton's blistering anchor leg, the only J1 or OJ boy to post a sub-9-minute split in 8:55. Rocky Mountain OJ boys rounded out the top three. For the J1 women, the guest Norwegians dominated, starting and ending in 1st position. American teams fought tooth and nail for the next positions, with the next 4 teams completing the 2nd leg within 10 seconds. A strong anchor leg pushed the Intermountain team into 2nd place in front of Midwest's J1 team of Sonnesyn, Hett, and Bathe. Bathe held onto 3rd place, finishing just a toe's stretch in front of the Alaska racer. The Midwest team of Bianco, Amber, and FitzPatrick also skied a strong relay, finishing in 6th. The OJ women saw podium finishes for Alaska (1st), Intermountain (2nd), and Rocky Mountain (3rd). Midwest's top OJ team of Reker, Youngberg and Gilbertson finished the day in 9th position.
Junior Nationals competition in Fairbanks continued with the individual sprint qualifying heats Thursday. For the J2 girls, Rocci Wohlk captured the best Midwest qualifying split in 4th. Five Midwest J2 women moved forward to the quarterfinals. For J2 men, the 4th fastest split went to Zak Ketterson. Four other Midwest racers joined Zak in the J2 quarterfinals. Ben Saxton posted the top OJ finish of his qualifying field and joined four OJ and five J1 Midwest men in the quarters. Three Midwest OJ women progressed to the sprint heats, led by Niki Reker with the 6th fastest qualifying time. She was joined by an impressive contingent of Midwest J1 women - 11 of the total 30 athletes moving forward, led by a 5th place qualifying time from Kaley Shagen (3rd US J1 time). The head-to-head competition proved more difficult as afternoon racing continued. The J2 girls A final was won by Lydia Blanchet (AK) with Midwest's Rocci Wohlk winning the B final. Zak Ketterson took 4th in the boys J2 B final, with top A final honors going to Koby Gordon (NE). The J1 girls A final was impressive as Annika Miller (IM) upset the contingent Norwegian competitors, who finished 2-3-4. Midwest's Kaley Shagen placed 2nd in the J1 B Final. The OJ girls saw top honors go to Felecia Gesior (GL) with Midwest's Niki Reker winning the B Final. The J1 boys top two times were claimed by Norwegians Matti Stenshagen and Sjur Slettom, with the top US finisher in 3rd, Alaska's Thomas O'Harra. Midwest J1 boys did not advance from the quarterfinals. The OJ boys race came down to a horse-race between Midwest's Ben Saxton and Alaska's Logan Hanneman, with Hanneman claiming the victor's spot in a photo finish by just millimeters!
The final day of Junior National racing at Fairbanks placed the challenge of mass start competition on the classic junior fields. OJ women skied their 10km event first, with top honors going to Hannah Boyer (AK) over Felicia Gesior (GL) just one second back. The fastest Midwest time came from former MN State Champion Nora Gilbertson in 16th. The OJ boys 15km classic put competitors through 3 laps of the course, with the top 8 racers within a 5 second window after Lap 2. An epic finish was in store for spectators with Ben Saxton (MW) and Logan Hanneman (AK) pulling away from the field for another sprint to the finish, this time with Saxton pulling away for the clear win. Chris Parr (MW) also put in a stellar performance, finishing 6th. Guest Norwegians collecting 1st, 2nd, and 4th spots in the J1 womens 10k. This left the 1st US finish to Marion Woods (AK). Midwest J1 women placed an impressive 6 athletes in the top 10 U.S. athletes, with the best finish going to Nicole Bathe in 6th (3rd US J1). The mens J1 race was also dominated by Guest athletes, with Norway's Mattis Stenshagen easily posting the fastest finish in front of teammate Sjur Slettom. Top US honors went to Keegan Swirbul (RM), 3rd overall. Tom Bye hammered out a top Team Midwest J1 finish in 13th (10th US, and coming up from 49th position). Julia Kern (NE) took the 1st podium spot in the J2 girls 5km classic, just seconds over teammate Katharine Ogden. Rocci Wohlk posted the best Midwest finish in 8th. Koby Gordan (NE) won the boys J2 classic 5km in a finishing sprint, just 1 second in front of Midwest's Zak Ketterson.
For the ten days the Midwest Junior National team was at Birch Hill training and racing, there was an extensive crew behind the scenes providing the backbone support. We look at the art of waxing an entire fleet of skis, as well as how to feed a small army.
Ben Saxton provides a recap of the entire 2013 Junior Nationals, including race reports from all four of his races, and reflects on his experience with JNs as that chapter comes to a close for him.
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