With ten top-ten finishes and a victory in the women's team sprint relay at the 2007 Senior Nationals in Houghton, MI last week, the CXC team proved that they are one of the strongest teams in the country. Senior Nationals was the first time since West Yellowstone, MT that the entire team was attending the same event and the first time much of the team got to race in the Midwest; their home turf. Brian Gregg pointed out, "Racing in Michigan allowed many of CXC's administrators, such as Scott Wilson who was the TD and VP Scott Ackatz who helped Bryan Fish wax, to attend the event."
The week started really well with the Classic race on Wednesday. Laura Valaas and Caitlin Compton clocked some fast times on the 5km course to take third and fourth, respectively. Due to the low snow conditions, the course was altered and started with 2km of flat and downhill trail. The Salomon skis were fast that day and Compton boasted, "I was able to catch someone already on the early downhill." The men also had good races in their 10km race with Garrott Kuzzy and Bryan Cook also in the top ten in 7th and 9th.
Thursday, the men's team took the spotlight in the 15km skate race, placing four CXC athletes in the top 20: Kuzzy (4th), Cook (12th), Matt Liebsch (13th), and Andre Watt (18th). Coach Bryan Fish said, "It was great to see Liebsch excel in his first distance skate of the season; it's his best event and it's reassuring to see him finish so well even when competing against the best skiers in the country." The women also had solid races with Compton in 7th and Valaas in 12th.
After a day off from racing on Friday, the CXC team was ready for a long weekend of sprint racing. The Individual classic sprints were on Friday and four of six CXC athletes moved on to compete in the heats. Valaas qualified in second and easily won her quarterfinal and semifinal before facing Kikkan Randall (World Cup top 20 sprinter) in the A Final. Laura posted her fastest split of the day in the Final to take second place behind Randall. Gregg competed in the U23 brackets and took second. Kuzzy, Cook, & Compton skied well but were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
There was hardly enough time after the finish of the individual sprints at 4:15 PM to rest and prepare for the team sprint relay at 10:00 AM Sunday morning. Somehow CXC Team were all ready to go again and all three CXC relay teams made it through the crowded semifinal to race again in the afternoon. The team of Cook and Kuzzy stayed in the mix, trading the lead with the main pack despite Cook's broken pole and finished in 8th. The team of Liebsch & Gregg skied strong to finish in 10th out of the 12 teams in the final.
The highlight of the week was the women's team sprint where Compton and Valaas played out an aggressive race strategy to take a commanding victory. After the second lap, Compton opened a gap on the other teams and by the finish Valaas and Compton were 18 seconds ahead of the second place team of Kikkan Randall and Taz Manninx (USST/APU). Valaas and Compton earning a National Title was the perfect ending to a great week for the CXC Team.