|Rumford Gold to Swenson, Ivanova|
RUMFORD, ME (Jan. 6) – On a record-setting day in U.S. ski history, two-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Boulder, CO) returned to his New England roots Monday and won his sixth U.S. title at the Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Championships in the 10-km free technique. Earlier, Russian Katja Ivanova (Jericho, VT), who is awaiting U.S. citizenship, collected her first U.S. title in the women's 5-km free at Black Mountain.
The championships, hosted for the third time in a decade by the Chisholm Ski Club, have attracted a record field of 420 racers and a one-day mark of 368 racers competed Monday in the second day of title races in mostly cloudy weather and 30-degree weather. Two days after a daylong storm left about a foot of snow during the first day of racing, athletes said the skating course was just about perfect.
Swenson was seventh Saturday in the snowstorm that walloped the men's 30-km classic technique race but he led from the start of the two-lap 10-km and finished in 23:13.3 to lead a sweep by past and present New Englanders of the top five spots. Silver medalist was Saturday's winner, Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), who finished in 23:43.8 with Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) in third place among the 202 men racing.
"I felt good – of course, I felt good Saturday, too, but I just couldn't hold the pace," Swenson said. "This course was fast and I like those conditions…
"I felt good right out of the start and I tried to keep it up." He led by about a minute at the end of the first lap.
Swenson, a two-time ski captain for Dartmouth before graduating a decade ago, returned to New Hampshire and spent the holidays with his family in North Conway, which received about a foot of snow Christmas Day.
"I was home for Christmas and skied at Whittaker Woods [a local touring center in the Mount Washington Valley], the trails where I grew up racing through high school. We had good snow and it was good skiing."
Freeman, a diabetic who credits daily insulin injections from a Lilly Humalog pen with enabling him to train and race, said he felt fine but selected the wrong skis. "I messed up in ski selection," he said.
In the women's race, Ivanova picked up steam as she rolled into High School Hill in the middle of the loop and pulled away on the hill. Her winning time was
A former Russian biathlete and University of Vermont racer, she is a member of the U.S. Army National Guard and is awaiting completion of her petition to become a U.S. citizen. Coincidentally, her first race in the USA came when the Chevy Truck championships were held in Rumford in 1999 – and, competing in the Guest Class, she had the fastest time…but Nina Kemppel was recognized as champion. (Kemppel, who retired from World Cup skiing in the spring but has come back to compete in selected races for Fischer's Factory Team, was 18th in the 5-km.)
"The rules say the champion must be a U.S. citizen," explained U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner, "but Katja's shown her intention to become one and, in theory, she could be ordered to Iraq tomorrow with her National Guard unit. She graduated from UVM, she lives in the U.S., she's only waiting for the citizenship to be approved, and if she can fight to defend this country, she can be recognized as U.S. champion…and I don't think anyone would quibble with that decision."
"This was where I had my first race when I came to this country," she said, smiling. "I had a good race…had a good plan, to ski into the race, not go out too hard. That's a tough hill."
Ivanova's gold-medal time was 13:27.1 with Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY) collecting the silver medalist in 13:42.8 and Olympian Wendy Wagner (Park City, UT) third in 13:43.1.
The top Canadian man in the race was Guillaume Joly in 31st position. The top Canadian woman was junior sensation Daria Gaiazova who finished 6th.
The racing continues Tuesday with classic technique events over the same distances, men's 10-km and women's 5-km. Free technique sprints are set for Thursday at Black Mountain.
CHEVY TRUCK U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Black Mountain Ski Area
Rumford, ME – Jan. 6
1. Carl Swenson, Boulder, CO, 23:13.3
2. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 23:43.8
3. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, VT, 23:54.7
4. Justin Freeman, Andover, NH, 24:12.9
5. Dave Chamberlain, Bethel, ME, 24:13.8
6. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK, 24:14.0
7. Patrick Weaver, Bend, OR, 24:24.2
8. Leif Zimmerman, Bozeman, MT, 24:42.6
9. (tie) Michal Malak, Czech Republic, and Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI, 24:44.5 each
1. Katja, Ivanova, Jericho, VT, 13:27.1
2. Sarah Konrad, Laramie, WY, 13:42.8
3. Wendy Wagner, Park City, UT, 13:43.1
4. Aubrey Smith, Seward, AK, 13:50.1
5. Aelin Peterson, Fairbanks, AK, 14:08.4
6. Daria Gaiazova, Canada, 14:10.1
7. Melissa Oram, Taberg, NY, 14:10.8
8. Martina Stursova, Czech Republic, 14:12.0
9. Jenny Wissting, Sweden, 14:18.4
10. Lindsey Weier, Mahtomedi, MN, 14:18.8
For complete results, visit www.chisholmskiclub.org
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