2018 L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships

Caitlin Pat­ter­son Claims Four Na­tional Ti­tles

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Julie Me­lan­son

An­chor­age, Alaska hosted the 2018 L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships from Jan. 3-8 in a bl­iz­zard of snow. Held at Kin­caid Park, one thing be­came crys­tal-clear – it was a good Cham­pi­onships if your sur­name was Pat­ter­son or Han­ne­man.

A 2.5km man­made snow loop was used for rac­ing: four laps for the women and six for the men. While course con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rated – firm at the start and mushier through the day as more snow and skiers hit the trails – the looped course and in­ter­val starts made for spec­ta­tor- and tim­ing-friendly view­ing.

The open­ing day saw the brother-sis­ter combo of Scott Pat­ter­son (Alaska Pa­cific Uni­ver­sity [APU] Nordic Ski Team) and Caitlin Pat­ter­son (Crafts­bury Green Rac­ing Project) sweep their re­spec­tive races im­pres­sively. Scott took the men’s 15km freestyle by a 55-sec­ond mar­gin, while sis­ter Caitlin won the women’s 10km freestyle en route to four ti­tles.

A 2.5km man­made snow loop was used for rac­ing: four laps for the women and six for the men. While course con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rated – firm at the start and mushier through­out the day as more snow and skiers hit the trails – the looped course and in­ter­val starts made for spec­ta­tor- and tim­ing-friendly view­ing.

Scott Pat­ter­son’s siz­zling 36:33.7 bested sec­ond-place Noah Hoffman (Ski & Snow­board Vail), with Matthew Lieb­sch (Pi­o­neer Mid­west) tak­ing third.

Caitlin Pat­ter­son used a steady start and a strong fin­ish to se­cure a 20-sec­ond gap over sec­ond-place fin­isher Caitlin Gregg (CXC/ LNR/TEAM Gregg). Chelsea Holmes (APU) took the fi­nal podium spot, fin­ish­ing third out of the 147 starters.

On the ju­nior side, a trio of teenagers cracked the top 10 over­all in their re­spec­tive events. Gus Schu­macher (Alaska Win­ter Stars), 17, skied to an im­pres­sive sixth place over­all, while Ben Og­den (Strat­ton Moun­tain School) placed ninth. In the women’s 10km, Hai­ley Swirbul (Uni­ver­sity of Alaska An­chor­age) raced to eighth over­all.

Day Two fea­tured Reese and Lo­gan Han­ne­man in the sprint freestyle com­pe­ti­tion. While Lo­gan clocked the fastest qual­i­fy­ing time, it was Reese who took the Na­tion­als crown.

Af­ter climb­ing the small fi­nal hill and tak­ing a tight cor­ner into the sta­dium fin­ish area, Reese Han­ne­man pulled away from Kevin Bol­ger (Sun Val­ley), who set­tled for sec­ond, while APU’S Tyler Ko­rn­field fin­ished third. Schu­macher con­tin­ued to im­press, ad­vanc­ing into the semi­fi­nals.

Caitlin Pat­ter­son con­tin­ued her dom­i­na­tion, win­ning her sec­ond Na­tional ti­tle in the freestyle sprint, mak­ing a strong case for a spot on the U.S. women’s Na­tional team.

In the fi­nal, she cov­ered the 1.4km sprint course in 3:20.93. Fin­nish skier Jasmi Joen­suu (Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver) was sec­ond, fol­lowed by the Czech Repub­lic’s Pe­tra Hyn­ci­cova (Uni­ver­sity of Colorado) in third. Kaitlynn Miller (Crafts­bury) was fourth over­all and the sec­ond­fastest Amer­i­can, fol­lowed by U.S. ju­nior skier Han­nah Halvorsen (APU), who had a spe­cial day as the only ju­nior to race in the finals.

Caitlin Pat­ter­son con­tin­ued her dom­i­na­tion at the Cham­pi­onships, fin­ish­ing as the fastest Amer­i­can woman in the 20km Clas­sic massstart race on Day Three. Uni­ver­sity of Colorado’s Hedda Baang­man of Swe­den was the of­fi­cial win­ner.

Caitlin Pat­ter­son had al­most four sec­onds on third-placed Rosie Frankowski (APU), the sec­ond-fastest Amer­i­can fin­isher. Jes­sica Yeaton (APU), an Aus­tralian na­tional who moved to Alaska when she was 12, was fourth over­all and Miller was fifth as the third U.S. skier.

In the men’s 30km Clas­sic mass-start race, Ko­rn­field (APU) burst

away from a tight pack of seven skiers in the fi­nal stretch for his first Clas­sic dis­tance Na­tional crown.

“Two kilo­me­tres out, I felt fast and knew I had to make my move,” said Ko­rn­field. “I knew if I didn’t go hard, I’d re­gret it for the rest of my life.”

Ko­rn­field crossed the fin­ish line just ahead of four chasers, with APU’S Eric Packer claim­ing sec­ond a mere 0.7 sec­onds back. Nor­way’s Eivind Romberg Kvaale (Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver) was third over­all, fol­lowed by Nordic leg­end Kris Free­man (Cald­well Sport), the third-fastest Amer­i­can and fourth over­all.

APU’S Halvorsen won the ju­nior women’s 5km Clas­sic, fol­lowed by Swirbul and the Nordic Ski Club of Fair­banks’ Ken­dall Kramer (who is a U16 racer). APU’S Hunter Won­ders won the ju­nior men’s 10km, fol­lowed by Strat­ton Moun­tain School’s Og­den (a U18 racer) and APU’S Canyon Tobin in third.

On the fi­nal day of rac­ing, the dra­matic ice fog and cold lifted for a clear and sunny three rounds of Clas­sic sprint rac­ing in the af­ter­noon. Demon­strat­ing her strength and grit, Caitlin Pat­ter­son took a dra­matic come-from-be­hind win in the women’s fi­nal, for four Na­tional ti­tles in four races over six days. She ar­guably saved her best for last with some vi­cious dou­ble-pol­ing to reel in Joen­suu in the fi­nal down­hill with just 200 me­tres to go for the win.

In the men’s 1.6km fi­nal, Reese Han­ne­man and Ko­rn­field broke away from a tight pack on the last ma­jor hill climb and speedy down­hill. It was Han­ne­man who popped up first into the 100-me­tre flat stretch to the fin­ish line, with Ko­rn­field chas­ing hard. Han­ne­man stayed just far enough ahead to stave off Ko­rn­field’s fran­tic fin­ish­ing move. The win was de­cided by the length of a ski-pole han­dle, with Han­ne­man tak­ing the win, an im­pres­sive fin­ish to the 2018 L.L. Bean U.S. Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Alaska.

Women's 10km freestyle podium (l- (l-r) r) Caitlin Gregg 2nd, Caitlin Pat­ter­son 1st, Chelsea Holmes 3rd

Reese Han­ne­man takes the men's freestyle sprint crown.

Hedda Baang­man from Swe­den wins the the women's 20km Clas­sic race on Day Three.

Caitlin Pat­ter­son en route to vic­tory in the women's freestyle sprint.

APU'S Tyler Ko­rn­field from An­chor­age claimed his first Clas­sic dis­tance na­tional ti­tle, win­ning the men's 30km CL.

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