March 12, 2014

Loppet Nordic Racing Wins National Championship at Junior Nationals

Becomes first Midwestern ski club to ever hold title

In only its second year as a cross country skiing club, Loppet Nordic Racing (LNR) became the first Midwestern team to ever win the Junior National Nordic Ski Championships. Twenty-three LNR athletes qualified for the 51-member Midwest team and 16 LNR athletes finished in the top 30 at Junior Nationals, scoring points for the club competition. The LNR combined women's and men's score was 1,353, while second-place Endurance United earned 608 across both its men's and women's teams.

"We did not have just one star out there - we had many strong competitors," said LNR coach Reid Lutter. "That more than 40% of Midwest athletes were from our club and more than 70 percent of our team scored points demonstrates the strength of our program and the talent, dedication and work ethic of the LNR Juniors."

The athletes all competed in three individual events over the course of the week: a classic style sprint, a distance classic individual start competition and a distance mass-start skate race. Fifteen-year-old Amanda Kautzer had the top result of all of the LNR athletes and is now the 2014 U16 National Champion in the Classic Sprint. The high school sophomore also placed fifth in the 5K Classic. Other LNR athletes who reached the podium include:

  • Zak Ketterson: The 16-year-old placed second in the U18 men's 10K Classic. Ketterson also placed fifth in the classic sprint.
  • Vivian Hett: In the U18 division, 17-year-old Hett placed second in the 5K Classic individual start, third in the 10K Mass Start Freestyle race as well as third in the classic sprint. Hett also recently participated in the U18 Scandinavian Cup Team in Finland.
  • Ian Torchia: In the U18 men's division, Torchia placed third in the 10K Mass Start Freestyle race and third in the 10K Classic.

Several other LNR athletes reached the top 10 including Claire Benton (sixth in the U16 classic sprints, 9th in the U16 5K Classic), Hannah Rudd (sixth in the U16 5K Classic), Zak Ketterson (seventh in the U18 15K Freestyle), Jan Ketterson (seventh in the U20 15K Mass Start), Sonja Hedblom (eighth in the U20 10K mass start), Scott Harrison (seventh in the U20 classic sprints), Luke Brown (eighth in the U20 classic sprints), Andrew Egger (tenth in the U20 classic sprints) and Sarah Bezdicek (fifth in the U18 classic sprints).

LNR is the competitive racing arm of the Loppet Foundation, the Minneapolis-based 501(c)3 nonprofit behind the annual City of Lakes Loppet Festival. The Loppet Foundation created the high-level training program for juniors and adults when the Twin Cities' largest and most successful ski racing clubs, Minnesota Valley Ski Club and Go! Training, and their respective coaches Reid Lutter and Piotr Bednarski joined the organization to launch LNR.


"When we started LNR, Reid and I thought we might one day be able to contend for the title," said LNR Head Coach Piotr Bednarski. "Little did we know it would happen so quickly!"

In its first year as a club (2013), LNR sent 19 athletes to Junior Nationals, more than any other Midwest team, and had exceptional results: the men's team was the national champion while the club placed second overall.

The 2014 Junior Nationals Roster for LNR

U16 Girls

  • Dottie Anderson, Armstrong High School
  • Claire Benton, Hopkins High School*
  • Amanda Kautzer, Benilde St. Margaret’s High School*
  • Kelly Koch, Burnsville High School
  • Hannah Rudd, Armstrong High School*

U18 Girls

  • Margie Freed, Eastview High School
  • Anna French, Wayzata High School*
  • Vivian Hett, Burnsville High School *
  • Nicole Schneider, Wayzata High School
  • Allison Ternes, White Bear Lake High School
  • Sarah Bezdicek, Osseo High School*

U20 Girls

  • Sonja Hedblom, Michigan Tech University *

U16 Boys

  • Xavier Mansfield, Patrick Henry High School
  • Nathaniel Blichfeldt, Burnsville High School

U18 Boys

  • Sean Cork, St. Louis Park High School
  • Zak Ketterson, Jefferson High School*
  • Ian Torchia, Rochester Lourdes High School*

U20 Boys

  • Sam Boardman, Woodbury High School
  • Luke Brown, PG Year (Minnehaha Academy ’13)*
  • Tom Bye, CXC PG year (Eden Prairie ’13)*
  • Andrew Egger, Benilde St. Margaret's High School*
  • Scott Harrison, Mounds Park Academy *
  • Jan Ketterson, Dartmouth College*

*Indicates All-American status for placing top 10 in an individual race or a top-three relay



Established in 2002 with an 800-person ski race, the Loppet Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that now welcomes 40,000 participants annually to its events and programs. The Loppet Foundation engages people of all ages and backgrounds in year-round outdoor activities and adventures, focusing its efforts around Events, Adventures, Racing, and Stewardship. Over the years the Loppet Foundation has taught more than 6,500 kids, including 4,000 from North Minneapolis, to ski, mountain bike, paddle, and generally appreciate the outdoors.