PARK CITY, Utah (Feb. 14) - The U.S. Ski Team has named 23 cross country athletes to the FIS Junior World Championships and Under-23 Championships teams. "These championships are a great test of an athlete's abilities and preparation compared to their peers internationally, and a great way to begin the process of preparing young athletes for the demands of racing internationally," U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said.
The Junior Worlds and U-23s are held simultaneously and are scheduled for Feb. 21-28 in Malles, Italy, after being shifted from snowless Szczyrk, Poland.
The teams include seven U.S. Ski Team members plus a cluster of college racers and club skiers. Chosen for the championships (including birthdate, hometown and club program):
FIS Junior World Championships
(Feb. 21-28 in Malles, Italy - rescheduled from Feb. 3-10)
Kevin Cutts, 3/9/88; Townshend, VT (Northern Michigan University)
Matt Gelso, 7/18/88; Brownsville, CA (U.S. Ski Team/Auburn Ski Club/University of Colorado)
Reese Hanneman, 12/25/89; Fairbanks, AK (Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks)
Noah Hoffman, 8/1/89; Ketchum, ID (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)
Reid Pletcher, 9/25/88; Hailey, ID (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)
Max Treinen, 9-1-88; Anchorage, AK (Alaska Winter Stars/University of Alaska Anchorage)
Jennie Bender, 1/12/88; Johnson, VT (University of Vermont)
Sadie Bjornsen, 11/21/89; Winthrop, WA (Methow Valley Nordic Ski Team)
Sophie Caldwell, 3/22/90; Peru, VT (Stratton Mountain School)
Rosie Brennan, 12/2/88; Park City, UT (U.S. Ski Team/National Sports Foundation/Dartmouth College)
Ida Sargent, 1/25/88; Orleans, VT (Dartmouth College)
Alexa Turzian, 8/13/88; Sun Valley, ID (U.S. Ski Team/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)
(Feb. 21-28, coinciding with Junior Worlds)
Tyson Flaharty, 6/28/85; Fairbanks, AK (Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center)
Simeon Hamilton, 5/14/87; Aspen, CO (Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club/Middlebury College)
Karl Nygren, 3/5/87; Prior Lake, MN (University of Colorado)
Mike Sinnott, 1/23/85; Sun Valley, ID (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation/The Factory Team/Dartmouth College)
Ben True, 12/29/85; Hanover, NH (Dartmouth College)
Morgan Arritola, 5/13/88; Fairfield, ID (U.S. Ski Team/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)
Evelyn Dong, 5/26/85; Bend, OR (The Factory Team/XC Oregon)
Taz Mannix, 6/14/86; Talkeetna, AK (U.S. Ski Team/APU Nordic)
Elsa Sargent, 4/18/86; Orleans, VT (Dartmouth College)
Morgan Smyth, 2/10/86; Vernon, VT (U.S. Ski Team/Northern Michigan U.)
Liz Stephen, 1/12/87; East Montpelier, VT (U.S. Ski Team/Burke Mountain Academy)
"We've seen some quite impressive performances from this group of young skiers already this season, in the SuperTour and even in the World Cup," Bodensteiner said. "We have a chance for top results, and that's what the coaches on the ground are focused on right now. But most importantly, this gives us a gauge to measure where we're really at in terms of athlete development across the nation."
The U-23 championships are designed to bridge the gap for young skiers before they establish themselves on the World Cup tour. Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) won the first men's U-23 cross country title, capturing the 30K classic technique race in 2003. A year ago, Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA) was silver medalist in the CL sprint after competing at the FIS Nordic World Championships.
Co-team leaders for the Junior Worlds and U-23 championships are Pat Casey and Matt Whitcomb, U.S. Continental Cup coaches; former Olympian Patty Ross of Middlebury College; Kristina Joder Casey, University of Utah coach and another former Olympian; Jason Cork of Durango (CO) Nordic Ski Club. U.S. Ski Team waxing technician Randy Gibbs and former Olympian Ben Husaby of Oregon's Mount Bachelor Ski Education Foundation will oversee the waxing. Karyn Thull will be the team's physical therapist.