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Alexa Turzian Youngest U.S. Cross Country Champion

US Championships

Fri, Jan  5, 2007 - By US Ski Team

HOUGHTON, Mich. (Jan. 4) - Two-time Olympian Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) picked up his eighth U.S. gold medal and fattened his SuperTour points lead in a 15K race Thursday at the U.S. Cross Country Championships while 18-year-old Alexa Turzian (Sun Valley, ID) became what is believed to be the youngest U.S. cross country champion by winning the women's 10K freestyle race.

It was the second win in 24 hours for Freeman, who captured the 10K classic technique crown a day earlier on the Michigan Tech ski trails. His covered the three-lap, 15K course in 39:34.7 with two-time Olympic teammate Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK) in second place (40:21.8). The bronze medal in the field of 242 racers went to James Southam (also Anchorage), another 2006 Olympic athlete, who was timed in 40:38.2.

In 35-degree weather, Turzian - a former alpine skier - covered the two-lap 10K in 27:49.5 with Olympian Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) silver medalist for the second day in a row, this time with a 27:58.6 clocking. Bronze medalist in the field of 173 was Randall's training mate in Alaska, Taz Mannix (also Anchorage), whose time was 28:17.8 over the same course as Wednesday's classic technique races.

First skating gold for Freeman
"I'm pretty psyched about this. It's my first skate [i.e., freestyle] title. I had seven classic and now I'm staring to balance it in skating," Freeman said.

He had some trouble at the start of the race, but got things going midway through the first lap and piled on the time through the rest of the race. It was his 21st SuperTour victory, tying him with Olympic teammate Carl Swenson (Park City, UT), who was fourth in the 10K, and Canadian Olympic champion Beckie Scott, for the most SuperTour wins.

He said the unseasonally warm temperatures, along with the 400-plus racers, softened course conditions as the men's race went along. "They lost a lot of snow," according to Freeman, "and it's getting pretty mushy. It wasn't too dirty with dirt coming up through the snow, but it's soft...although we're supposed to get snow this weekend."

"I definitely surprised myself. It's awesome but I'm definitely in shock," said Turzian, a senior at Wood River H.S. who plans to enter Middlebury College next fall. "I felt like I was gonna be top 10, but I felt really strong...

Alpine background helped women's champion
"I tend to do really well on the downhills because I was an alpine skier," she said. At the end, Olympian Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN), a senior at Northern Michigan University who won Wednesday's 5K classic title, skied up to Turzian with a fast pace as she worked through her first lap and the teenager, completing her second loop, was able to track her for a while before heading into the finish. "I could stick behind [Weier] and keep a steady pace," Turzian explained.

U.S. Coach Chris Grover said, "It only cooled down to about 38 degrees during the night, so during the women's race it was kind of like boilerplate ice. But by the guys' race, it softened up and then turned to slush and was loose.

"I saw Alexa, who'd won the skate race last season at junior nationals, at the finish and she was looking smooth and relaxed - and fast. In the men's race, Kris had a one-second lead over Flora and James at the 3K mark, but then they got into the climbs - which aren't great but he could take advantage of - and he just kept putting more time on the field. He skied away from everyone," Grover said.

The championships have a down day Friday before concluding on the weekend with sprints at the Michigan Tech trails. Saturday will be given to classic sprint racing with team (i.e., two-skier) races on Sunday.

2007 U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Michigan Tech Ski Trails
Houghton, MI - Jan. 4, 2007
(Only U.S. skiers eligible for medals)
Men's 15K Freestyle
1. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH/U.S. Ski Team, 39:34.7
2. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK/Subaru Factory Team, 40:21.8
3. James Southam, Anchorage, AK/Team Rossignol, 40:38.2
4. Carl Swenson, Park City, UT/Subaru Factory Team, 40:51.6
5. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI/CXC, 40:54.6
6. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, VT/U.S. Ski Team, 41:12.2
7. Brayton Osgood, Putney, VT/XC Oregon, 41:25.1
8. Dave Chamberlain, Bethel, ME/Maine Winter Sports Center, 41:28.3
9. Eli Enman, Huntington, VT/Team Rossignol, 41:44.5
10. Chad Giese, St. Paul, MN, Subaru Factory Team, 41:46.9
--
Women's 10K FR
1. Alexa Turzian, Sun Valley, ID/Sun Valley Ski Educational Foundation, 27:49.5
2. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK/U.S. Ski Team, 27:58.8
3. Karin Camenisch, Switzerland/Team Rossignol, 28:05.5
4. Taz Mannix, Anchorage, AK/U.S. Ski Team, 28:17.8
5. Lindsey Weier, Mahtomedi, MN/Northern Michigan U., 28:19.1
6. Sarah Konrad, Laramie,WY/Team Madshus, 28:22.5
7. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis/CXC, 28:37.1
8. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT/U.S. Ski Team, 28:39.9
9. Lindsay Williams, Hastings, MN/Northern Michigan U., 28:40.2
10. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden/Subaru Factory Team, 29:09.6

For complete results:
www.seniornationals.org