Collegiate Racing Recap: CCSA, RMISA

by Luke Brown
January 10, 2022

The American cross country community rendezvoused last week at Soldier Hollow for the USSS National Championships. The week of racing gave collegiate athletes a chance to race against the best junior and professional skiers in the country and gave us an opportunity to see the three different college conferences go head to head… to head. For two of the conferences, select races during the week were the first to count for NCAA qualification this season. RMISA scored the Freestyle Sprint and the Classic Distance race with the CCSA scoring exclusively the Classic Distance race. With extensive coverage of Nationals already published, here is a look specifically at how the college racers performed in Utah.

Day 1, Freestyle Sprint

The races started off with a bang, or rather with a series of beeps, and the freestyle sprints were underway. In a race eventually won by Caitlin Patterson (GRP), Sydney Palmer-Leger (UU) was the top collegiate athlete, placing third. The Midwestern collegiate highlight in the women’s race was Luci Anderson (UNH). Anderson qualified in 13th but skied aggressively throughout the heats and ended the day in 9th. “Being top ten in the sprint really surprised me,” said Anderson, “but it showed me the kind of results that I am capable of and that I’m able to be up there with some of the best in the country. Sadly we don’t sprint in college racing, but I’m ready to see what I can do at an international level.” Anderson will get that opportunity when she heads to the U23 World Championships in Lygma, Norway in late February.

Anderson showing impressive form. She went on to qualify for U23 World Champs (Credit: Jackie Schneider)

Anderson was followed closely by Abby Jarzin (UU), who finished 13th overall and 3rd for RMISA. The freestyle sprint was the first official competition for RMISA as a part of the Utah Invitational. In RMISA specific results, Emma Albrecht (MSU) finished 15th, and Sarah Olson (UAF) was 16th.

Lauren McCollor, a first year at NMU, finished just off the podium in fourth in the Junior Women category.

In the men’s race, John Schwinghammer (CSS) made a statement that many people will not, or should not forget. Schwinghammer qualified in 29th (thirty skiers make the heats) but then placed second in his quarterfinal to the eventual winner, top collegiate man on the day, and US Ski Team member JC Schoonmaker (UAF). While Schwinghammer’s lunge toward underdog glory was stopped short when he was caught and tripped from behind in his semifinal, his end-of-day 12th place was simply impressive.

Schoonmaker (second from the left) surging to second in his quarterfinal (Credit: Linda Kerker)

Roger Anderson (UNH), taking notes from his older sister’s performance, placed fourth for the Junior Men.

Day 2, 20/30k Freestyle Mass Start

The leaders in the men’s race set a fast pace from the start and the field, perhaps especially the collegiate field, spread out over the thirty kilometers. Jacob Nystedt (UVM) was the top collegiate athlete, placing 11th, almost five minutes behind winner Scott Patterson (APU and UVM alum). Skylar Patten (MTU) led the CCSA men in 20th position. Mark Ousdigian had his best results of the week by far, placing 36th. None of the Northern Michigan men started the race because of COVID contact.

It was a similar story in the women’s 20k, with Rosie Brennan (APU) dominating from the first kilometer. Palmer-Leger, the top college skier, placed 7th. Jarzin (UU), with a very strong 10th place, showed that she is one to be reckoned with as the RMISA season ramps up. Jarzin, a Wisconsin native, said, “I knew that it was going to be a long and hard race especially since the course was so hilly, but I just tried to stay as close to the front as I could. I just held on until the end, which was pretty hard to do for the last lap. It was great to be back competing with so many strong athletes. My parents came out to watch as well, and hearing their cheering out on the course was awesome.” With this results, Jarzin clinched a spot on the U23 World Champs roster (an athlete’s best two out of the four races at Nationals count).

Jarzin starting the season strong (Credit: Jackie Schneider)

Renae Anderson (BOW) placed 19th, Luci Anderson (UNH) 22nd, and Emma Albrecht (MSU) was just outside the top thirty, in 31st.

Day 3, 10/15k Classic Interval Start

On a day when rain and warm weather caused conditions to deteriorate with time, Palmer-Leger (UU) was once again the top college athlete in 6th place. Jarzin placed 16th (4th for RMISA), Renae Anderson (BOW) was 21st, and Anabel Needham (MTU) placed 31st. Emma Albrecht (MSU) placed 17th in the RMISA.

Unofficial scoring for the CCSA has Michigan Tech in first (the only team to have three skiers), NMU in second, with St. Olaf in third.

In the men’s race, won by Adam Martin (GRP), the University of Alaska Anchorage showed their strength. UAA placed four guys in the top ten. That is an NCAA team championship performance if there is one. The RMISA guys, spurred on with extra motivation to start out strong in NCAA qualification, put ten men ahead of the first collegiate skier from another conference. Kjetil Baanerud (NMU, NOR) placed 37th as the top CCSA skier. St. Scholastica’s top skiers sat out this race with rumors that the team, similar to NMU, had COVID troubles toward the end of the week.

The Michigan Tech men took top CCSA honors over Northern Michigan and Scholastica in second and third respectively.

Schoonmaker with an impressive distance race (Credit: Jackie Schneider)

Day 4, Classic Sprint

The final day of racing at Soldier Hollow was not designated as a national championship but was an official SuperTour event. Former NCAA champion Katherine Ogden (SMST2) won for the women. Not surprisingly, Sydney Palmer-Leger placed in the top ten overall and was once again the top collegian as she was for each race at Nationals - wow. Anabel Needham (MTU) had her best result of the week, placing 11th, and in so doing claimed the last spot on the U23 World Champs roster. Renae Anderson continued to show her classic form, placing 16th. Anderson said, “My biggest strength as an athlete is uphill running, so going into the classic sprint I knew I wanted to make the steep hill sections count. I had great wax in the qualifier that allowed me to run right up the hills, and I was really excited to qualify for my first heats at US nationals! This week in Soho was a good confidence booster in terms of fitness and it got me excited for the first collegiate 20k next week.”

Jarzin (UU) rounded out an impressive week of racing finishing in 19th.

Another former NCAA champion, Magnus Boe (CU, NOR/KOR), won the men’s race. Surprisingly, Boe had not shown great form throughout the week, but finally put the pieces together. Schoonmaker (UAF) was third. Baanerud (NMU, NOR) led a strong NMU performance, taking 12th place with teammates Kristoffer Karsrud (NOR) and Daniel Streinz in 15th and 17th.

Next up in college racing is the Colby Carnival for the EISA starting on January 14th. RMISA joins the SuperTour in Sun Valley beginning the 15th. The CCSA will race on January 22nd at Mt. Itasca. Stay tuned for results and recaps.

About the author...

Luke Brown, a graduate of Minnehaha Academy and Dartmouth College, is a skier and biathlete for the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. He enjoys running in the mountains, writing, and eating cereal with whole milk. He lives in Craftsbury, VT.