Local skiers nominated for U.S. Cross-Country Team | SierraSun.com

Local skiers nominated for U.S. Cross-Country Team

U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced nominations for its cross-country team earlier this week, and a pair of local athletes have landed on the list of 23 skiers chosen.

Following an All-American season at the University of Alaska Anchorage, JC Schoonmaker made his first development team; while Hannah Halvorsen, who is coming off a season-ending injury caused by being struck by a car, has also been named to the development team.

Halvorsen, 22, of Truckee, has been on the road to recovery since November when she was hit by a vehicle while in a crosswalk in downtown Anchorage. She would have to spend the next five days in a hospital, suffering from a fractured skull, bleeding and bruising in her brain, a tibia fracture, and a left MCL and PCL that had torn completely and detached from the bone. Halvorsen, who competes for Alaska Pacific University, recently posted on social media that she has been cleared by doctors to begin running again. She has been a member of the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team since 2017.

Schoonmaker earned All-American honors with a 10th-place finish in the 10-kilomter freestyle race at the NCAA Skiing Championships, helping propel the University of Alaska Anchorage men’s team to a runner-up finish. The race was the only cross-country event contested at the NCAA Skiing Championships before the remainder of the season was canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We literally packed up our bags and flew back to Alaska. It was a crazy couple of days,” said Schoonmaker. “It was a huge bummer.”

Athletes accepting nomination to the 2020-21 team receive access to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Center of Excellence, elite coaching, and various levels of financial support. Athletes on development teams typically have to pay out of pocket for expenses like travel and lodging.

“Just having a few more coaches, being on that team, and having that little extra support, that will definitely help out going into next season,” said Schoonmaker.

The 2020-21 cross-country team is highlighted by an experienced group of World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic athletes, including Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins, and 2020 FIS Junior World Championship double-gold medalist Gus Schumacher. The team also includes the largest development squad ever nominated with 11 athletes.

“The 2021 U.S. Cross-Country Team has more depth than any team in modern American cross country ski racing history,” said Program Director Chris Grover in a news release.

“From our seasoned veterans who will be focused on bringing home hardware from the 2021 FIS World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, to the members of the Development Team, who can nearly all boast having at least one World Junior Championships medal, this team offers so many ways to win. Athletes in this group have systematically broken down every barrier in cross country performance that traditionally blocked American athletes, including World Junior gold, to World Championships gold, to Olympic gold.”

An official U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team announcement will be made in the fall.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at jscacco@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2643.

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