With dismal snow for the 2017 USSA Junior Nationals Championships in Lake Placid, NY, race organizers were forced to move the event from the Olympic Cross Country venue at Mt. Van Hovenberg to the ski jump stadium with a more adequate snow making infrastructure. Luckily the course profile at the ski jump venue suited JHSC and Intermountain athletes perfectly. On the 2.5km course, a long climb out of the stadium to the high point of the course gave our high altitude mountain athlete the upper hand. The upper part of the course consisted of fast transitions before a ripping downhill back into the stadium. In a lot of way the course was very similar to Trail Creek and suited our technical, tactical and interval training in the weeks leadind up to JNs.
Upon arrival and for the first training day, temps were in the single digits. With fresh man made snow and cold weather, athletes were presented with slower than usual conditions for the first skate individual start. Often times high altitude athletes have trouble finding their speed, particularly in skating, when coming down in altitude. Anna Gibson, U18, was able to find her speed quickly in the individual 5km skate race with a 6th place. Annabel Hagen, used the first race as a 'work out the kinks' experience, and as an opportunity to hone in on her non- ski warm up. Abby Brazi, U18, making her debut at Junior Nationals finished with a solid result of 48th in a field of 85.
The erratic weather of the week presented a new challenge for the classic sprint with much softer tracks and klister skiing. By the end of the day the track had deteriorated to slush; athletes that were able to ski well in inches of wet sloppy snow had the upper hand. Luckily we've seen just about every condition at Trail Creek and in the Intermountain division this year, so our athletes were well prepared to adjust their technique and tactical approach. Anna Gibson came in in 27th on the preliminary qualifier, a perfect position to better her results through the heats. The strategy of the day was to stay out of the fray at the start and on the first climb out of the stadium, then hammer the second climb on the upper part of the course to gap other competitors before the downhill. Her tactical approach was good enough to progress to the finals with a very strong 3rd place finish. Displaying her strong classic technique, Annabel Hagen finished the preliminary qualifier in 8th place. Through the heats, Annabel stuck to a similar strategy as Anna, but found herself in semifinal heat of the top skiers that eventually went onto the podium. She went onto the B Final to win her heat and better her preliminary result to an all-american 7th place.
Anna Gibson. Classic Sprint. 3rd place
Once again, weather played a significant role for the classic distance individual start. Transformed snow with periodic squalls of dry snow made waxing and ski selection a difficult task for the wax crew. Nonetheless the team of coaches and techs were able to provide some of the better skis of the day to IMD athletes. By this time in the week JHSC and IMD athletes were perfecting their warm up routines and tactical approach to the 2.5km course. Anna Gibson was crowned the National Champion in the 10km, Annabel Hagen came in 11th in the 5km, only 24 seconds out from 5th place. Abby Brazil continued to display consistent results in a very competitive field with a 52nd.
Anna Gibson, National Champion!
Annabel Hagen. 11th 5km Classic
As temps dropped significantly with extreme wind chill by the end of the week, the 3x3km relay rewarded athletes that were able to hang tough in extreme conditions. Anna Gibson's U18 IMD team came in 2nd, only 6 seconds behind Rocky Mountain. Annabel Hagen skied the 2nd leg for her IMD U16 team and pulled away from the field giving her teammatesa big lead going into the final leg with an eventual victory. Abby Brazil was on an IMD team that edged out other division's 1st team and posted lap times that were faster than skiers who made the podium.
Annabel Hagen, Relay Team National Champions
JHSC was recognized at the final banquet and ranked 5th among all clubs across the country on the women's side. Anna, Annabel, and Abby deserve special recognition for elevating JHSC Nordic to be competitive with the best clubs in the country. Way to go ladies!
Check out the following videos that highlight JHSC and IMD athletes.