Sugar Bowl Academy skiers shine at U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships | SierraSun.com

Sugar Bowl Academy skiers shine at U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships

Hannah (left) and Haydn Halvorsen pose during U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships on Jan. 3-8.

The U.S. Cross-Country Skiing Championships were held last week at Kincaid Park, in Anchorage, Alaska, where several skiers from Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA) Nordic Team and from Auburn Ski Club put together strong showings against the nation's top cross-country skiers.

Hannah Halvorsen, 19, who is currently skiing for the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club, led the group of local skiers and was again named to the U.S. team for the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Junior Championships. Halvorsen, who was a third-place finisher at last year's FIS World Junior Championships, opened last week's racing on Wednesday, Jan. 3 with a 14th place overall finish and second out of the junior women's division in the 10-kilometer freestyle. She then followed that performance up with a fifth place overall on Friday, Jan. 5, in the freestyle sprint.

Halvorsen then had her best race of the championships with a first-place finish out of 91 athletes in the 5-kilometer classic on Sunday, Jan. 7. She completed the course with a time of 15:07.80.

Sofia Sanchez, 17, was also representing Sugar Bowl in her first U.S. Championships race, and opened the competition with a ninth place out of the junior women's division and sixth place for U18s.

"Sofia went out of the start hard and kept her speed high," said SBA Nordic Director Martin Benes in a statement.

Sanchez went on to race in the freestyle sprint, 5-kilometer classic, and the classic sprint.

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In men's racing, Haydn Halvorsen, 16, opened the championships with a 33rd overall, and sixth place out of the junior men in the 15-kilmoter freestyle.

"He executed a race plan that played to his strengths," Benes said. "It's great to see him demonstrate the gains he's made in training."

Halvorsen would then finish in 48th place in the freestyle sprint on Jan. 5; 14th in the 10-kilometer classic on Jan. 7; and 55th in the classic sprint on Jan. 8. His performance qualified him for the U18 Nations Cup in Vuokatti, Finland from Jan. 21 – 31.

Also earning a spot on U18 team was Auburn Ski Club racer JC Schoonmaker, whose best finish during the competition came in the 10-kilometer classic where he crossed the line in 10th place.