HOUGHTON, Mich. - The U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships got underway with a snowy freestyle race on New Year’s Day won by Russian Ivan Babikov and Caitlin Compton, a new addition to the U.S. Biathlon Team who proved that move hasn’t slowed down her Nordic racing.
Athletes from Central Collegiate Ski Association schools, meanwhile, posted five Top 25 results Tuesday against a field that included most of the top skiers in the country. German Marius Korthauer of the Alaska Nanooks paced the conference in fifth place among 253 finishers.
Korthauer even led the interval start race for about three kilometers. “When you hear that you’re leading and you maybe expect Top 20, that’s pretty good,” said Korthauer, a senior and multiple All-American. “It gives you a boost and nothing can go wrong from then on.”
Fresh snow meant coaches had to alter their waxing plans and snow that accumulated during the race created slower conditions for the later starters. Not that organizers or participants were complaining: a year ago, the races were in jeopardy of being held due to minimal snow and warm temperatures.
Other top results from the CCSA included Martin Banerud of Northern Michigan University, 15th; Julie Coulter, a redshirt for Alaska, 15th; Maria Stuber of NMU, 18th; and Anna Coulter of Alaska, 22nd.
Compton, an NMU graduate now living in St. Paul, Minn., took up biathlon this past year, and while her results in that sport have so far been mixed, her talent for Nordic skiing is still flourishing. “I kind of figured I need to do half (Nordic skiing) and half (biathlon). I’m a little too new to biathlon to jump in 100 percent,” said Compton, who is shooting to make the 2010 U.S. Olympic biathlon team.
Lindsey (Weier) Dehlin, another former Wildcat, placed fifth.
Since Babikov is not American, runner-up Leif Zimmerman of Bozeman, Mont., claimed the U.S. Championship. Zimmerman showed he has rebounded from a bout with mononucleosis that derailed his 2006-07 season.
The top placing for each CCSA school are as follows:
- Alaska: Korthauer, fifth;
- NMU, Banerud, 15th;
- Michigan Tech, Jesse Lang, 36th;
- Wisconsin-Green Bay, Santiago Ocariz, 43rd;
- Gustavus Adolphus, Kelly Chaudoin, 71st;
- St. Scholastica, Bjorn Bakken, 75th;
- St. Olaf, Shaina Short, 77th;
- St. Benedict, Christina Nowak, 111th;
- St. Cloud State, Diane Vezendy, 147th;
- Northland, Sara Domek, 163rd;
- St. John’s, Mason Bacso, 195th.
Thursday resumes with classic races of 10K for women and 15K for men. Freeman and Lindsay (Weier) Dehlin are the defending champions.
Complete results can be found at www.ccsaski.com.