HOUGHTON, Mich. — Alaskans and the Factory Team dominated the classic technique races Thursday at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships, as racers from the Central Collegiate Ski Association again more than held their own.
Leading the way for the CCSA was Marius Korthauer of the Alaska Nanooks, who took sixth in the 15-kilometer race in 42 minutes, 23 seconds two days after placing fifth in the freestyle event. Martin Banerud of Northern Michigan University was next in 14th place (and third collegian) among 250 starters, while Alaska’s Vahur Teppan took 15th. Jesse Lang led Michigan Tech, which is hosting the nationals championship races for the second straight year, in 36th.
In the women’s 10K, NMU recorded the top three from the CCSA as Morgan Smyth was 18th, Laura DeWitt 22nd and Maria Stuber 27th. Alaska’s Aurelia Korthauer took 37th and Michigan Tech’s Jenna Klein placed 49th.
“I think we got some good results as a conference,” Alaska coach Scott Jerome said. “Overall as a conference we’re holding our own.”
All 11 CCSA schools are participating, and there is a benefit even though most conference racers aren’t near the top of the leaderboard. “For a lot of people, they’ve never seen this level of racing,” Jerome said. “Only a certain number go to NCAA (Championships) so it’s good to get exposed to this level of competition and to see other skiers from around the country.”
The top skiers Thursday from each CCSA program were as follows:
Easily winning the hilly men’s race was Russian Ivan Babikov, though Lars Flora (Anchorage, Alaska) claimed a national championship as the top American. Andrey Golovko of Kazakhstan rounded out the podium for a Factory Team sweep.
Kris Freeman of the U.S. Ski Team was fourth on a chilly day at the MTU Nordic Training Center, where 12-degree temperatures and a brisk wind in the exposed stadium area made keeping warm a challenge for spectators and competitors alike.
The women’s podium consisted of Kikkan Randall from Alaska Pacific University, followed by Swede Kristina Strandberg and Morgan Arritola. APU’s Kate Arduser took fourth place and won bronze as the third American.
Thursday will be a rest/training day. The championships conclude with an individual freestyle sprint on Saturday and a team classic sprint on Sunday.