RUMFORD, ME (Jan. 6) – Central Cross Country Skiing's Tad Elliott (Durango, CO) and former Burke Mountain Academy athlete Liz Stephen (East Montpellier, VT) took top honors in the men's and women's 30/20k free technique U.S. Cross Country Championship race at Rumford's Black Mountain Thursday.
Elliott left it all on the line, literally, to edge out APU's and overall SuperTour leader Lars Flora (Anchorage) by a mere one-tenth on the clock to clinch his first U.S. Championship title in the men's 30k free. The Aspen Valley Ski Club's Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) rounded out the podium in third.
Elliott had a plan during the individual start race to pace himself off some of the other top skiers. But he found himself alone for the last few laps, with only time splits shouted to him by coaches keeping him abreast of where he stood.
Tad Elliott smiles for photo after landing the top spot on the U.S Championship podium. (Peter Graves)
"I kept getting splits and knew I was leading," he said. "But my lead kept dwindling by a couple seconds every time I got a new one. I ended up lunging across the finish line really hard. I crashed and I was able to beat Lars Flora by a tenth of a second. I'm definitely happy."
In the women's race, Stephen charged with a convincing pace, taking the women's U.S. Championship 20k title. APU's Holly Brooks (Anchorage) finished second, while Morgan Arritola (Fairfield, ID), who used to race out of the Sun Valley Education Foundation before being named to the U.S. Ski Team, finished third. Thursday's race marked Stephen's sixth U.S. Championship title.
"Today was the focus, and I felt great and the course held up well," said Stephen. "Today I did get some splits, but mostly I was just going off the body. I was trying to put myself in a World Cup race and make it even a bigger deal, so I could get all that I wanted out of myself."
The U.S. Cross Country Championships continue Saturday with the final event of the Championship series, the men's and women's free technique sprint.
For more information about the 2011 U.S. Cross Country Championships is available at www.chisholmskiclub.org. Live updates, pictures and video are available on the U.S. Cross Country Championships Facebook fan page and at USSA_Nordic on Twitter.
U.S. Cross Country Championships
Rumford, ME – Jan. 6, 2011
1. Tad Elliot, Durango, CO (Central Cross Country Skiing), 1:10:16.2
2. Lars Flora, Anchorage, (Alaska Pacific University), 1:10:16.3
3. Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO (Aspen Valley Ski Club/U.S. Ski Team) 1:10:19.2
4. Leif Zimmerman, Bozeman, MT, (Bridger Ski Foundation), 1:11:9.0
5. Michael Sinnot, Sun Valley, ID, (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), 1:11.13.5
6. Brian Gregg, Winthrop, WA (Central Cross Country Skiing), 1:11:13.7
7. Alexander Treinen, Anchorage, (University of Alaska Fairbanks), 1:11.39.6
8. James Southam, Anchorage, (Alaska Pacific University), 1:12.10.3
9. Garrrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI, (Central Cross Country Skiing), 1:12:14.4
10. Sylvan Ellefson, Vail, CO, (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail), 1:12.25.9
1. Liz Stephen, East Montpellier, VT (Burke Mountain Academy/U.S. Ski Team), 50:03.5
2. Holly Brooks, Anchorage, (Alaska Pacific University), 51:01.3
3. Morgan Arritola, Fairfield, ID (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation/U.S. Ski Team), 51:19.1
4. Caitlin Compton, Minneapolis, (Central Cross Country Skiing), 51:27.2
5. Kate Fitzgerald, Palmer, AK, (Alaska Pacific University), 52:01.2
6. Evelyn Dong, Bend, OR, (Cross Country Oregon), 52:29.5
7. Chelsea Holmes, Truckee, CA, (Sugar Bowl Academy), 52:43.5
8. Morgan Smyth, Park City, UT, (Alaska Pacific University), 52:44.7
9. Nicole Deyong, Ketchum, ID, (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), 52:47.9
10. Jennie Bender, Johnson, VT, (Central Cross Country Skiing), 53:07.9
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com