ANCHORAGE, Alaska - It’s too bad NCAA skiing doesn’t include a championship sprint race. That’s because many racers from the Central Collegiate Ski Association fared well on Thursday in the classical sprint that concluded the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships.
After the sprint was canceled three times earlier in the week due to cold, the event finally went off Thursday afternoon - although at a temperature of about zero degrees with a wind chill that reached minus 24.
Norwegian Petter Sjulstad of Michigan Tech University didn’t seem fazed by the cold.
He finished eighth in the qualifying round that determined which 30 skiers would advance to elimination heats. Then in the quarterfinal round, Sjulstad charged out of the Kincaid Park stadium, leading even eventual champion Kris Freeman of the U.S. Ski Team for about half of the 1,500-meter race. Sjulstad placed second in that heat to advance to the semifinals, where he wound up fourth in the B Final and 10th overall.
Einar Often of the Alaska Nanooks was edged out in his quarterfinal heat, missing second place (and automatic advancement) by 0.3 seconds. Often placed 14th in the competition among 120 skiers.
On the women’s side, Christina Gillis of Northern Michigan University (25th), Theresia Schnurr of Alaska (28th) and Elizabeth Quinley of Michigan Tech (21st) also reached the quarterfinals, though none advanced to the semis.
Two-time Olympian Kikkan Randall never trailed in easily winning her 10th U.S. Championship as 96 women took part in the 1.3K race.
The CCSA was also well represented among brackets set up for the top 24 Under-23 and Junior skiers who did not qualify for the senior heats.
For the men, Justin Singleton of NMU took sixth, John Parry of Alaska was eighth, Erik Soederstroem of Alaska was 11th, and Santi Ocariz of Wisconsin-Green Bay placed 15th.
For the women, Christina Mishica of MTU placed ninth, Carolyn Freeman of UWGB was 12th, Jenna Klein of MTU was 13th, Jackie Pribyl of MTU placed 19th.
The sprint race at U.S. Nationals was not an NCAA qualifying race for the CCSA.
However, last Monday’s freestyle event was an NCAA qualifier (and the classic event would have been, had it not been canceled). The remaining eight NCAA qualifiers will be contested in the Midwest over four weekends between Jan. 31-March 1. Each skier’s top two freestyle and top two classic results will be counted.
Next up for three of the conference’s schools - Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech and Alaska Fairbanks - is the UAA Invite Saturday and Sunday at Kincaid Park in Anchorage.
Complete CCSA results are listed below (CCSA place, name, school, overall place). For full results from the U.S. Nationals, visit www.anchoragenordicski.com/nationals09/
For more information, contact Matias Saari, the Sports Information Director for the CCSA, at 907-347-9192 or firstname.lastname@example.org