FAIRBANKS, Alaska (March 25) - Kristina Strandberg of Sweden and James Southam of Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club Kicked off the 2009 U.S. Distance Cross Country Championships by winning the women's 5K and men's 10K classic races in Fairbanks Tuesday. Southam won the men's U.S. title and, as the highest placing U.S. athlete, second-place finisher Morgan Smyth (Vernon, VT) won the women's title.
The event was the start of five days of racing in Fairbanks where U.S. championship titles will be given to the men and women who win each event.
For Southam, the win was a welcomed relief after years of not reaching the top spot of the podium.
"The last time I won was in 2006, so it's been a few years" Southam said. "It feels good after a drought and a rough year last year to get back on top and get another championship."
In the men's 10K classic Southam was followed by Stefan Kuhn of Canada in second and Graham Nishikawa, who is also from Canada, in third.
According to Southam, the key in winning was pacing to have enough energy to finish the race strongly.
"The race started out conservatively. You can get pretty tired so I just wanted to be sure I had enough energy on the second lap to get around out there. It worked out," Southam said.
Becca Rorabaugh of Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club was third in the women's 5K.
The 2009 U.S. Distance Cross Country Championships continue Wednesday with the freestyle team sprint.
2009 U.S. DISTANCE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fairbanks, Alaska – March 25, 2009
1. James Southam, Anchorage, 28:56.3
2. Stefan Kuhn, Canada, 29:04.4
3. Graham Nishikawa, Canada, 29:08.0
4. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 29:13.9
5. Brent Knight, Anchorage, AK, 29:21.9
6. Lars Flora, Bend, OR, 29:23.7
7. Bryan Cook, Marquette, MI, 29:29.7
8. Patrick Johnson, Anchorage, AK, 29:32.9
9. Leif Zimmermann, Bozemann, MT, 29:44.0
10. Andre Watt, Duluth, MN, 29:45.2
1. Kristina Strandberg, Sweden, 16:00.8
2. Morgan Smyth, Vernon, VT, 16:31.8
3. Becca Rorabaugh, Fairbanks, AK, 16:37.0
4. Adele Espy, Freeport, ME, 16:44.7
5. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis, MN, 16:46.0
6. Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 16:49.8
7. Taz Mannix, Talkeetna, AK, 16:51.8
8. Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, 16:53.0
9. Morgan Arritola, Ketchum, ID, 16:54.7
10. Kristine Trygstad-Saari, Bozeman, MT, 16:55.5
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For complete results click here.
Fans can keep up to date with the newest information out of Fairbanks during the 2009 U.S. Distance Cross Country Championships with start lists, competition schedules and results available at http://www.usdistancenationals.org. To see the action unfold live in Alaska visit http://www.summittiming.com/races/