Houghton, Mich. - Michigan Tech coach and U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships organizer Joe Haggenmiller said the 2007 races will be remembered for the hard work that went into making them possible to offset warm temperatures, rain and a minimal snowpack.
"Since the day after Christmas the race organization has been working from sunup to sundown to get everything up to conditions where we could race," said Haggenmiller on Sunday at the concluding pasta feed and awards ceremony. "Everybody I've talked to, they've just been so impressed with how hard the group that was here worked."
That work involved hauling several hundred loads of snow to the race course at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center, then distributing it using volunteers and shovels.
The championships were held in the Midwest for the first time since 1992, in Michigan for the first time since the 1970s and at Michigan Tech for the first time ever. MTU will host the event again in 2008.
"Hopefully we'll have a little easier time next year where we're not shoveling around the clock," said Haggenmiller.
The games will also be remembered for the exciting competition, from Idaho junior Alexa Turzian's stunning win in the 10-kilometer freestyle to the upset by Lars Flora and Chad Giese in the final event, the inaugural team sprint.
CCSA schools excelled as well, as evidenced by placing three teams in the top five of the College Cup - Northern Michigan University first, the Alaska Nanooks third and Michigan Tech fifth.
On an individual basis, two-time Olympian Lindsey Weier of NMU opened the races with a championship in the 5-kilometer classic, edging Alaskan Kikkan Randall, while NMU's Lindsay Williams was seventh.
A day later, the Wildcats placed four women in the top 15 in the 10K freestyle.
Weier picked up another bronze in the individual sprint, then joined Williams to place fourth in the team sprint. Maria Stuber and Anna Berglund were fifth overall in the same event.
Based partly on their performance in Houghton, NMU's Weier, Williams and Morgan Smyth were named to the U.S. team for the U23 World Championships later this month in Italy.
The Alaska Nanooks also had a stellar week, highlighted by three top 10s in the individual sprint. Bart Dengel won the B final (seventh place) for Alaska while Marius Korthauer was eighth and Vahur Teppan had the second-fastest qualifying time of 201 racers before crashing out in the quarterfinals. Nanook Aurelia Korthauer notched eighth in the women's sprint.
Michigan Tech's highlights included Kristina Owen's 17th in the 5K classic.
The first two races also doubled as qualifiers for the NCAAs championships.
The top individual places for each school (CCSA results only from classic and skating races) are as follows: