FAIRBANKS, AK (March 25) - Morgan Smyth (Vernon, VT), alongside teammate Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT), took her second U.S. title in as many days as the duo finished first in the team sprint at the 2009 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Fairbanks Wednesday night. Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI) and Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WI) won the men's team event.
According to U.S. Cross Country Coach Matt Whitcomb, Smyth and Stephen's performance Wednesday is an example of both women's status as true competitors.
"The results have spoken for themselves. This was the team to beat and it's not a surprise that they were able to do really well today," Whitcombb said.
According to Whitcomb, the women knew what it would take for them to take the title and they excecuted their game plan flawlessly.
"Morgan and Liz knew that in the start of the last leg they needed to be within 50 meters otherwise they would be dead in the water," Whitcomb said. "With their combined effort they chipped away at the field by hammering through each leg from start to finish. The day unfolded really well for those two women."
As for Smyth's back to back U.S. titles, for Whitcomb they are a sign of what is next to come from the cross country athlete.
"Morgan has been on fire. She's in really good shape and feeling pretty confident. We definitely expected big things from her," Whitcomb said.
In second place for the women's team sprint, CXC Elite's Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN) and Maria Stuber (Lakeville, MN). Taking third was the Saab Salomon team of Kristina Strandberg of Sweden and Kristin Trygstad-Saari (Bozeman, MT).
In the men's team sprint, Whitcomb was happy to see Koos and Cook succeed despite some challenges for Koos.
"Koos was held up by the volcano eruption [Mt. Redoubt] and didn't arrive till Tuesday night at 2:30 a.m., so he was a wildcard, but he's been more fit with each week of the season and today there was no difference. He looked really strong out there today," Whitcomb said.
In the end, Whitcomb said it was good to have two teammates able to work together for a common goal in what is oftentimes an individual sport.
"These guys have been battling it out on the World Cup all year and it was neat to see Cook and Koos race together today," Whitcomb said. "The team sprint is the ultimate example of a team event. It can't just be one good performance out there, it has to be two perfect performance to win this race."
The U.S. Country Championships continue in Fairbanks Friday with men's 30K and women's 15K pursuits. Fans can catch the action live at http://www.summittiming.com/races/
2009 U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fairbanks, Alaska – March 25, 2009
1. Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI; U.S. Ski Team), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA; U.S. Ski Team), 20:17.5
2. Garrott Kuzzy (Hayward, WI; U.S. Ski Team), Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT; U.S. Ski Team) 20:18.0
3. Anders Haugen (Anchorage; Rossignol, APU), Lars Flora (Bend, OR; Saab Salomon, APU) 20:19.1
4. Stefan Kuhn (Canada), Graham Nishikawa (Canada) 20:19.5
5. Mike Sinnott (Sun Valley, ID; Saab Salomon, SVSEF), Colin Rodgers (Ketchum, ID; Fischer, Craft, SVSEF) 20:32.5
1. Morgan Smyth (Vernon, VT; U.S. Ski Team), Liz Stephen 9Wast Montpelier, VT; U.S. Ski Team) 23:19.3
2. Caitlin Compton (Minneapolis, MN; CXC Elite), Maria Stuber (Lakeville, MN; CXC Elite) 23:19.8
3. Kristina Strandberg (Sweden; Saab Salomon; XC Oregon) Kristin Trygstad-Saari (Bozeman, MT; Saab Salomon,BSF) 23:24.2
4. Katie Ronsse (Anchorage; APU), Kikkan Randall (Anchorage; U.S. Ski Team) 23:35.6
5. Kate Pearson Arduser (Cordova, AK; Rossignol, APU), Becca Rorabaugh (Fairbanks, AK; APU) 24:09.8
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For complete results click here.