Nordic Ju­nior/u23 World Cham­pi­onship: USA Dou­ble Bronze

His­toric Worlds for Team USA with Dou­ble Bronze Medals

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Mark Stevens

Sol­dier Hol­low Nordic Cen­ter in Mid­way, Utah hosted the FIS Nordic Ju­nior and U23 World Cham­pi­onships from Jan 30 to Feb. 5. The Salt Lake City area is no stranger to world-class sport­ing events, but it had not seen an in­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­onship since the 2002 Olympic Games. North Amer­i­cans hoped to use their home-court ad­van­tage to out-ski their Euro­pean ri­vals.

Women's Ju­nior Clas­sic Sprint

Racing got un­der­way on Jan. 30 un­der sunny skies with the ju­nior Clas­sic sprints. In the women's race, it was Polina Nekrasova of Rus­sia who skied clear to claim gold in the women's 1.4km Clas­sic race, win­ning by 3.56 sec­onds over Ger­many's An­to­nia Frä­bel and her team­mate Co­letta Ry­dzek at 4.58 be­hind. The top North Amer­i­can was the U.S.A.'S Ju­lia Kern mak­ing the top-10 with a strong ninth-place re­sult. Three Amer­i­can women placed in the top-30 to ad­vance to the quar­ter­fi­nal heats, in­clud­ing Kern in 11th, Han­nah Halvorsen in 13th and Lauren Jort­berg plac­ing 27th. Claire Grall-john­son posted the top Cana­dian fin­ish in 39th.

Men's Ju­nior Clas­sic Sprint

In the men's race, Ger­many's Janosch Brug­ger sur­prised top-qual­i­fier Pet­ter Stak­ston of Nor­way at the line with a su­perb ef­fort from be­hind, claim­ing the top podium spot. Fel­low Nor­we­gian Her­man Martens Meyer rounded out the men's podium with the bronze. Top North Amer­i­can hon­ours went to the U.S.A.'S Bill Harmeyer in 12th. Cana­dian Éti­enne Hébert also posted a strong re­sult, fin­ish­ing 17th.

Men's U23 Clas­sic Sprint

In the next day's men's U23 Clas­sic sprint, the U.S.A.'S Cole Mor­gan raced to strong ninth. Fredrik Riseth from Nor­way claimed a de­ci­sive vic­tory with a 1.05-sec­ond mar­gin over Rus­sia's Alexan­der Bol­shunov. Nor­we­gian Joachim Aur­land took bronze at 2.3 sec­onds back. The top Cana­dian was Evan Palmer-char­rette in 33rd.

Women's U23 Clas­sic Sprint

In the women's U23 Clas­sic sprint, ris­ing Cana­dian star Dahria Beatty led the North Amer­i­cans in 12th, as Anna Dyvik of Swe­den blew away the com­pe­ti­tion, win­ning both the qual­i­fier and A-fi­nal. Nor­we­gian Thea Krokan Mu­rud used fast skis and strong dou­ble-pol­ing to lock up the sil­ver, and Swe­den's Maja Dahlqvist won a tight race for bronze. Jesse Knori was the top U.S. skier in 15th over­all.

Women's Ju­nior 5km In­di­vid­ual Freestyle

The U.S.A.'S Kather­ine Og­den raced to a phe­nom­e­nal fifth-place fin­ish in the ju­nior women's 5km Freestyle In­di­vid­ual start. She fin­ished 6.5 sec­onds

off the podium, as Swe­den's Ebba An­der­s­son stormed to a dominant vic­tory. Marte Maehlum Jo­hansen from Nor­way claimed the sil­ver, 13.8 sec­onds be­hind, while the bronze went to Rus­sian Mariya Is­tom­ina, 15.3 sec­onds be­hind An­der­s­son. Amer­i­can Halvorsen also posted a top re­sult with a solid 13th-place fin­ish at 1:01.2 back. Taeler Mc­cr­erey (USA) was the thirdbest North Amer­i­can fin­isher in 20th at 1:18.9 be­hind. Hon­ours for the top Cana­dian fin­isher of the day went to Lisle Comp­ton in 39th at 1:51.9 back.

Men's Ju­nior 10km In­di­vid­ual Freestyle

Amer­i­can Hunter Won­ders from An­chor­age, Alaska put to­gether two solid laps on a challenging loop to fin­ish 16th in the ju­nior men's 10km Freestyle In­di­vid­ual start, as Rus­sia swept the podium. Vladislav Vechkanov started 59th and skied neg­a­tive splits to take a 7.9-sec­ond vic­tory over team­mates Egor Kazari­nov in sec­ond, and Yaroslav Ry­bochkin in third at 13.3 sec­onds back, as Team Rus­sia placed all four of its ath­letes in the top-five. Gareth Wil­liams was the top Cana­dian, ski­ing to 20th over­all at 1:24.6 back.

Women's U23 10km In­di­vid­ual Freestyle

Canada's Beatty skied a strong race to fin­ish in 16th at 1:25.8 be­hind Dyvik of Swe­den, who made it two-for-two in win­ning the U23 women's 10km Freestyle In­di­vid­ual start over three Nor­we­gian ri­vals. Tiril Udnes Weng of Nor­way faded af­ter hav­ing the fastest first lap in the field, but man­aged to hold onto the sil­ver medal at 16.8 sec­onds be­hind Dyvik. Two more Nor­we­gians bat­tled for the bronze, with Lo­vise Heim­dal edg­ing out Lotta Udnes Weng by one-tenth of a sec­ond at 23 sec­onds be­hind Dyvik. Fred­erique Vez­ina (CAN) skied neg­a­tive splits to place 25th at 1:58.8 back. Vez­ina was closely fol­lowed by team­mate Kather­ine Ste­wart-jones in 27th at 2:07.8 be­hind. Kelsey Phin­ney posted the top U.S. re­sult of the day, also ski­ing neg­a­tive splits to sneak into 30th place at 2:24.6 back.

Men's U23 15km In­di­vid­ual Freestyle

The U.S.A.'S Pa­trick Cald­well had a stel­lar per­for­mance, plac­ing ninth in the U23 men's 15km Freestyle In­di­vid­ual start, as the Rus­sian team owned the podium again, led by Bol­shunov with a de­ci­sive 22-sec­ond vic­tory over team­mate Alexey Cher­votkin. De­nis Spitsov rounded out the podium at 28.2 sec­onds be­hind Bol­shunov.

Adam Martin (USA) was the next North Amer­i­can fin­isher, cross­ing the line in 22nd at 2:22.4 back. Martin was closely fol­lowed by team­mate John Heg­man in 24th at 2:25.2 be­hind. Palmer-char­rette was the fastest Canuck on the day in 36th at 3:20.2 back.

Women's Ju­nior 10km Skiathlon

The U.S.A.'S Og­den claimed a his­toric podium in the ju­nior women's 10km Skiathlon, win­ning bronze and be­com­ing the first Amer­i­can to medal at the Nordic Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onships. “It's been my goal to medal here for the past two years. Ev­ery day in train­ing it's kind of like some­thing that I think about; it's the lit­tle thing that helps me push my­self,” said Og­den post-race. Nor­way's Jo­hansen came from be­hind in the fi­nal half of the freestyle leg to take gold, while Swede's An­der­s­son earned her third medal of the Cham­pi­onships, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at 6.6 sec­onds back. Og­den fin­ished 10.4 sec­onds be­hind Jo­hansen. The U.S.A.'S Hai­ley Swirbul was 24th, Natalie Hynes was the top Cana­dian in 28th, fol­lowed by team­mate In­dia Mcisaac in 30th.

Men's Ju­nior 20km Skiathlon

Canada's Wil­liams de­liv­ered a strong 11th-place fin­ish, fol­lowed by the U.S.A.'S Wy­att Geb­hardt in 12th in the ju­nior men's 20km Skiathlon, as Rus­sia's Vechkanov picked up his sec­ond gold medal at the Ju­nior Worlds in Utah. Nor­way skied to the sil­ver and bronze medals with Thomas Hel­land Larsen in sec­ond at 1.9 sec­onds back, edg­ing out his coun­try­man Har­ald Oest­berg Amund­sen, who set­tled for third at 2.2 sec­onds be­hind. The U.S.A.'S Won­ders of APU Nordic was the top Amer­i­can, fin­ish­ing a solid 18th. Canada's Philippe Boucher made the top-30, fin­ish­ing 26th.

Women's U23 15km Skiathlon

Canada's Beatty was the top North Amer­i­can in 19th, as Nor­way's Lotta Udnes Weng closed out the USANA FIS U23 World Cham­pi­onships with gold in the Skiathlon at Sol­dier Hol­low. Lotta Udnes Weng came from be­hind to over­take Fin­land's Jo­hanna Mat­in­talo, who took sil­ver. Rus­sia's Yana Kir­pichenko won bronze. Cana­dian Ste­wart-jones fin­ished 21st, while team­mate Vez­ina was 29th. Knori was the top Amer­i­can in 30th, with Alayna Son­nesyn in 31st.

Men's U23 30km Skiathlon

While the day be­longed to Rus­sia, the U.S.A.'S Cald­well de­liv­ered a strong ninth-place fin­ish in the U23 men's 30km Skiathlon. Bol­shunov took the win as Rus­sia swept the podium yet again with Cher­votkin win­ning sil­ver and Spitsov the bronze. Fel­low Amer­i­can Heg­man of the Sun Val­ley Ski Education fin­ished just be­hind Cald­well in 11th, while Northern Michi­gan Univer­sity's Martin placed 15th for three U.S. skiers in the top-15. Palmer-char­rette was the top Cana­dian in 26th, with Alex Du­mas in 33rd. As the three Rus­sians came off the fi­nal hill af­ter a gru­el­ing 30 kilo­me­tres, they locked arms on the down­hill and coasted to­gether into the sta­dium. As they came to the fin­ish line, they stopped in uni­son seek­ing to cross to­gether.

Women's Ju­nior 4x3.3km Re­lay

In the women's re­lay, the U.S.A. took a his­toric bronze medal with strong per­for­mances from Swirbul, Kern, Halvorsen and Og­den. The Rus­sian ju­nior women's team took gold over France in a hotly con­tested race. While Rus­sia and Italy bat­tled for gold up front, Og­den made a move on France to take the lead, while Rus­sia gapped Italy to take the gold by 20 sec­onds, with U.S.A. win­ning bronze at just 26 sec­onds be­hind Rus­sia. Canada's Hynes, Comp­ton, Mcisaac and An­nika Richard­son fin­ished 12th.

Men's Ju­nior 4x5km Re­lay

The U.S.A.'S Harmeyer, Won­ders, Geb­hardt and Kam­ran Hu­sain fin­ished ninth in the ju­nior men's re­lay, with Canada's An­toine Blais, Ryan Jack­son, Boucher and Wil­liams just be­hind in 10th. At the fin­ish com­ing into the sta­dium, there was a tight battle be­tween Nor­way's Larsen and Rus­sia's Vechkanov. Larsen found him­self on the out­side of the 180° turn into the fi­nal 100 me­tres. But he had strong mo­men­tum and made the pass to set up a fin­ish spring. Larsen kept pace and made his move at the fin­ish line to take the gold by four-tenths of a sec­ond. France claimed the bronze.

(op­po­site) U.S.A.'S Women's Ju­nior re­lay team take home bronze (l-r): Hai­ley Swirbul, Katharine Og­den, Han­nah Halvorsen and Ju­lia Kern. (be­low l-r) Cana­dian Dahria Beatty was 12th in the U23 women's CL sprint; Paddy Cald­well (USA) was a fab 9th in both the U23 men's 15km In­di­vid­ual FR and the 30km Skiathlon.

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