Hannah Halvorsen claims national junior Nordic sprint title
The 35-member Far West Nordic Junior National Team wrapped up a competitive week of racing this past Saturday at the USSA Cross Country Ski Junior National Championships at Telemark, Wisc.
The championship event — hosted last year by the Auburn Ski Club on Donner Summit — featured more than 500 of the top 14-19-year-old skiers from 10 different teams across the country.
Sugar Bowl Academy senior standout Hannah Halvorsen led the Far West contingent, recording the team’s only national title in the U18 Female freestyle sprint on Friday.
After skiing into the A final, Halvorsen topped a field of six racers with a time of 2:50.92 to claim the national crown. Amanda Kautzer of the Mountain West division finished runner-up in 2:57.62, and Brooke Dunnagan of Intermountain was third in 2:58.20.
“I went into Nationals with more confidence than last year,” said Halvorsen, who also led her Far West team with a fifth-place finish in her freestyle distance race on Thursday.
“I had a lot of fun because I was less nervous and I was also able to race faster knowing that my training was there. This confidence started to build throughout the summer and fall when I realized I could ski with the [U.S. Ski Team women] during workouts.”
In the U20 Male sprint final, meanwhile, Far West racer Dylan Syben of Team Unleashed finished second to Logan Diekmann of Intermountain, posting a time of 2:34.51 to Diekmann’s 2:30.76. Bill Harmeyer of Pacific Northwest was third in 2:35.47.
Also faring well in the sprints were Far West racers JC Schoonmaker, who made the U16 Male A final, finishing sixth, and Lexie Madigan, who made the U16 Female quarterfinal. Ryland Belisle also made the U18 Male B Final, while Casey Jobe and Brandon Herhusky skied into the quarterfinal round.
Schoonmaker exceled in all events. The Auburn Ski Club racer placed second in Thursday’s freestyle distance race, crossing the finish in 18:27.5 to Alaska champion Luke Jager’s 18:10.2.
Then, in the final event of the week, the relay hill climb on Saturday, Schoonmaker and Far West teammates Haydn Halvorsen and Nate Cutler placed second in their U16 race with a time of 17:55.6. A trio from Alaska won in 17:38.0. While his team finished runner-up, Schoonmaker posted the fastest individual time in the event among U16 skiers.
Far West’s Sofia Sanchez and Nina Seemann earned top-10 finishes among U16 Females in Thursday’s freestyle distance race, placing seventh and eighth, respectively. Sanchez and Seemann then teamed up with Ella Kuzyk to take fifth place in Saturday’s relay hill climb.
Syben, Julien Bordes and Sam Zabell finished sixth in the U20 Male relay, Belisle, Jobe and Trace Calvin placed ninth in the U18 Male relay, and Lizzie Larkins, Lexie Madigan and Eleanore Hamilton finished 11th in the U20 Female relay.
In the overall Alaska Cup, Far West placed sixth out of 10 teams, with 411 points. New England took the overall win with 1,359 points and was followed by Mid West (1,157) and Alaska (990). Find complete results from all the events at http://www.xcjuniornationals2016.com.
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