XC nationals: Freeman, Weier win classic titles



U.S. Ski Team racers dominated the opening day of the 2007 U.S. Cross Country Championships, taking five of the six podium spots in the men’s 10-kilometer and women's 5 km classic races.
    Kris Freeman won the men’s race and Lindsay Weier took the women’s title. Both are members of the U.S. team and competed in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics. Weier also will compete with her college team at Northern Michigan University this season.
    The event includes the U.S. disabled championships, as it has every year since 1986. Chris Klebl won the men’s sit-ski competition, while Monica Bascio won the women’s title.


HOUGHTON, Michigan — U.S. Ski Team racers dominated the opening day of the 2007 U.S. Cross Country Championships, taking five of the six podium spots in the men’s 10-kilometer and women's 5 km classic races.
    Kris Freeman won the men’s race and Lindsay Weier took the women’s title. Both are members of the U.S. team and competed in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics. Weier also will compete with her college team at Northern Michigan University this season.
    The event also includes the U.S. disabled championships, as it has every year since 1986 when USSA became the first federation to roll the disabled cross-country championships into the able-bodied nationals. Chris Klebl won the men’s sit-ski competition, while Monica Bascio won the women’s title. Sit-skiers traverse the course on a skiing equivalent to a wheelchair, using their poles and arm strength to propel themselves through the entire race. The men sit-skiers went 12 km, while the women skied 9 km.
    Racers faced record high temperatures at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center, with the mercury soaring to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Skiers reported that the trails held up well despite the heat. Groomers will be working late into the night getting the track ready for the freestyle races on Thursday.
    Andy Newell of the U.S. Ski Team finished second in the men’s race, with teammate Chris Cook taking the third spot. For the women, Kikkan Randall finished second and Laura Valaas was third. Valaas, who skis for the Central Division Cross Country Ski Team, was the only non-U.S. team member on the podium.
    Freeman won the men’s race by 42 seconds for his seventh national title, while Weier’s margin of victory was nine seconds. One second separated the second- and third-place finishers in the women’s race.
    In addition to the national title chase, the races represent part of the $130,000 Cross Country SuperTour, with double points awarded. Freeman, who won four straight races after returning from snowless Europe earlier this month, and Caitlin Compton from the Central Division’s fledgling CXC squad, are the overall leaders coming into Houghton.
    “The community has really come together for these championships and it’s great to see that kind of support. They’ve put in a lot of work,” said Pete Vordenberg, head cross-country coach for the U.S. Ski Team.
    The event also includes the U.S. disabled championships, as it has every year since 1986 when USSA became the first federation to roll the disabled cross-country championships into the able-bodied nationals. Chris Klebl won the men’s sit-ski competition, while Monica Bascio won the women’s title. Sit-skiers traverse the course on a skiing equivalent to a wheelchair, using their poles and arm strength to propel themselves through the entire race. The men sit-skiers went 12 km, while the women skied 9 km.
    Women racers had the advantage Wednesday, starting in the morning with cooler temperatures and a nice hard track to ski on. The temperature climbed during the afternoon men’s race, making for soft and slippery conditions toward the end of the race.
    It is the first time the U.S. Cross Country Championships have been in Michigan since 1956.

Freeman confident
    Freeman also padded his overall lead in the Cross Country SuperTour standings as he earned his fifth consecutive victory. U.S. championships races double as SuperTour events with double points.
    "I had a good race. I came here confident and today I did what I came out here to do," Freeman said. A year ago, he won three gold medals at the championships on the Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow, Utah.
    The lack of recent natural snow and then an inch or so of fresh snow created mixed conditions, Freeman said. "We had some wet powder, some dry powder, some ice and even a little slush at the end, really running the gamut of conditions. The waxing team did a great job today."
    Weier said she was a little nervous at the start "because we've only done two races since there's been no snow anywhere here and we didn't go out West to train" last month. However, she took off and never looked back.
    "The first two K's are flat, so you really had to keep working hard, and then the last three K's were rolling and had a couple of good uphills. But you definitely had to come to the start warmed up," she said.
    She added, "This should give me some confidence. I've never skied four races in five days, but I hope this helps. We'll see."
    Weier, who made the 2002 Olympic team as a 17-year-old high school senior, was amazed at the course conditions. "For the most part, it was two sets of tracks, much better than yesterday. They must've worked on it all night; even since yesterday it's 10 times better … they did such a good job of preparing it," she said.
    A huge field of 424 racers — 250 men, 174 women — competed in the opening day of the short-distance championships.
   
Klebl, Bascio reign
    Klebl tore through the 15 km course in 44:19.0, besting teammate Greg Mallory by nearly five minutes. Mallory's time of 49:04.2 then narrowly edged a charging Sean Halsted — also a national team member — who claimed the final podium spot with a time of 49:06.8, just 2.6 seconds out of second place. Bascio's winning time was 41:49.2 over the women's 9 km course.
    "Everything went really well for us today," said head coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. "Chris was absolutely flying out there, you can see by his time, he just crushed everyone, and Monica skied a great race as well in some pretty tough conditions. The snow was pretty slow, but I'm really impressed with the organizers at Michigan Tech. With what little snow they had, they put on an amazing event — the whole situation was great and the volunteers and staff bent over backwards to make sure everyone was comfortable."
    Kreamelmeyer also gave special praise to his skiers for overcoming some "pretty horrendous" travel problems just to get on the snow at all. Due to flight troubles because of weather, the team didn't arrive until midnight on New Year's Eve, two solid days before competition. However, their luggage — including their sit-skis — didn't arrive until Tuesday night, less than 24 hours before competition.
    "We didn't have any training before running this one, but we did the best we could. Every athlete was in the same boat, so there weren't any advantages. The snow
might have been a little slow, but not getting out of the hotel for two full days didn't help either. We all took it in stride and everyone still skied well — it's good to have a race under our belts."
    Klebel and Bascio, along with fellow Paralympians Steve Cook and Kelly Underkofler, will now depart for the Disabled World Cup season opener, slated for Jan. 11-14 in Vuokatti, Finland.
    "We're all in good spirits and we're ready to give it our best shot, we're all looking forward to Finland," added Kreamelmeyer. "We're only taking our four best skiers, so the focus is on solid results."
    The U.S. Disabled Cross Country Championships continue Thursday from Michigan Tech with the men's and women's freestyle middle distance races for sit ski.
    The U.S. Cross Country Championships will continue on Thursday with the freestyle races: 10 km for the women and 15 km for the men. The temperature will hover in the mid-40s.
    “Despite these warm temperatures, our base is holding up fine,” said organizing committee chair Mike Abbott. “We trucked in 200 truckloads of snow last weekend to make a solid base in the stadium and on our 5 kilometer course.”
    Click here for complete results.


2007 U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Michigan Tech Trails
Houghton, Mich.
Jan. 3, 2007
Men's 15 km classical technique

1. Kris Freeman, Andover, N.H./U.S. Ski Team, 25:07.2
2. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, Vt./U.S. Ski Team, 25:49.7
3. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, Wis./U.S. Ski Team, 26:00.1
4. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, Vt./U.S. Ski Team, 26:05.2
5. Lars Flora, Anchorage, Alaska/Subaru Factory Team, 26:10.8
6. Rene Reisshauer, Germany/Denver U., 26:16.0
7. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, Wis./CXC, 26:24.3
8. Zach Violett, Sun Valley, Idaho/FSx, 26:31.3
9. Bryan Cook, Rhinelander, Wis./CXC, 26:33.1
10. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, Wash./U.S. Ski Team, 26:40.1

Women's 5 km classical technique
1. Lindsey Weier, Mahtomedi, Minn./Northern Michigan U., 14:51.7
2. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, Alaska/U.S. Ski Team, 15:00.1
3. Laura Valaas, Wenatchee, Wash./CXC, 15:01.2
4. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis/CXC, 15:12.8
5. Karin Camenisch, Switzerland/Team Rossignol, 15:21.9
6. Taz Mannix, Anchorage, Alaska/U.S. Ski Team, 15:26.9
7. Lindsay Williams, Hastings, Minn./Northern Michigan U., 15:27.1
8. Aurelia Korthauer, Fairbanks, Alaska/U. of Alaska Fairbanks, 15:29.3
9. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden/Subaru Factory Team, 15:29.7
10. Kate Whitcomb, Sun Valley, Idaho/FSx, 15:32.4

U.S. DISABLED CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Michigan Tech Trails
Houghton, Mich. — Jan. 3, 2007
Men's 15 km — sit-ski

1. Chris Klebl, Heber City, Utah – 44:19.0
2. Greg Mallory, Portland, Ore. – 49:04.2
3. Sean Halsted, Gig Harbor, Wash. – 49:06.8
4. Andy Soule, Sun Valley, Idaho – 49:07.1
-
Women's 9 km classical technique — sit-ski
1. Monica Bascio, Denver, Colo. – 41:49.2

Comments

comments



skiracingmag's Latest Youtube Favorite


See more Ski Racing Videos in our Video Vault


Ski Racing Magazine LB1