|US Announces U23 and Senior World Champs Teams|
PARK CITY, UT (Jan. 21) – Two-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Boulder, NH), who won three more titles at the recent Chevy Truck U.S. championships, heads a group of eight men and five women named Tuesday to compete in the 2003 World Championships, which begin Feb. 18 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said final decisions on the Ski Team were made following the championships in Rumford, ME. Nine members of the 2002 Olympic Team are in the group. "We may add another skier, too, depending on results at the World Junior Championships or the U-23 championships, which are just before Worlds," he said.
Swenson, who grew up in North Conway, NH, but moved to the West after graduating from Dartmouth College, boosted his national titles total to seven this month as he swept the free technique (skating) races. Also on the team are Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) and his brother Justin (also Andover), who finished 1-2 in both class technique races, and Wendy Wagner (Park City, UT), who won both women's classic races.
The 2003 U.S. cross country team for the World Championships (with age, hometown and previous Olympics or Worlds participation):
Dave Chamberlain, 27, Bethel, ME (2001 Worlds)
Lars Flora, 25, Anchorage, AK (2002 Olympics)
Kris Freeman, 22, Andover, NH (2002 Olympics, '01 Worlds)
Justin Freeman, 26, Andover, NH
Andrew Johnson, 25, Greensboro, VT (2002 Olympics)
Torin Koos, 22, Leavenworth, WA (2002 Olympics, '01 Worlds)
Carl Swenson, 32, Boulder, CO (2002 and '94 Olympics, 3 Worlds)
Justin Wadsworth, 34, Bend, OR (3 Olympics, 5 Worlds)
Aelin Peterson, 28, Fairbanks, AK (2002 Olympics)
Kikkan Randall, 21, Anchorage, AK (2002 Olympics, '01 Worlds)
Aubrey Smith, 22, Seward, AK
Kristina Trygstad-Saari, 18, Bozeman, MT
Wendy Wagner, 29, Park City, UT (2002 Olympics, '99 and '01 Worlds)
"The men are skiing are a very high level now. We have some good expectations for the championships," said Head Coach Trond Nystad.
Bodensteiner, pointing to the men's success at the 2002 Olympics (including alltime-best fifth in the Olympic relay), said he was pleased with the mix of veterans and up-and-coming athletes. "This program has been making major progress for a couple of years, and with some of these younger skiers joining Carl and some of the veterans, that's a good foundation for more success."
Olympians Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) and Lindsey Weier (Mahtomedi, MN) are among a dozen cross country skiers named Wednesday to compete in the inaugural U-23 Championships next month in Italy, the U.S. Ski Team announced.
Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said the group, selected based on results from the Chevy Truck U.S. championships in Maine and Nor Am races earlier this month in the U.S. and Canada, includes six men and six women. The U-23 Championships were designed by the International Ski Federation to ease the transition into World Cup racing after the World Junior Championships because, unlike other ski sports, it normally takes cross country skiers longer to build their training and racing volume to compete with veterans, Bodensteiner explained.
Freeman, a former University of Vermont racer, won two U.S. titles at the national championships, giving him three in his brief career. Koos is a University of Utah skier while Randall, the 2002 U.S. sprint champion, attends Alaska Pacific University and Weier is a freshman at Northern Michigan University.
The first U-23 Championships are scheduled for Feb. 14-16 in Valdidentro, Italy, near Bormio. The U.S. team includes (with age and hometown):
Men – Kris Freeman (22, Andover, NH), Andy Newell (19, Shaftsbury, VT), Torin Koos (22, Leavenworth, WA), Chris Cook (22, Rhinelander, WI), Leif Zimmermann (19, Bozeman, MT), and Ethan Foster (21, Weston, VT).
Women – Kikkan Randall (21, Anchorage, AK), Lindsey Weier (18, Mahtomedi, MN), Aubrey Smith (22, Seward, AK), Kristina Trygstad-Saari (18, Bozeman, MT), Melissa Oram (22, Taberg, NY), and Erinn Whitmer (21, Fairbanks, AK).
"These championships are a terrific step toward helping bridge that huge gap between junior ranks and the World Cup," said Bodensteiner, a four-time World Juniors racer who competed in two Olympics while a student at the University of Utah where he won two NCAA titles. "It's such a big gap and young skiers so often get pounded by the veterans for so long, which just drives some of them away, so maybe this will slow that attrition. We've got some high expectations for this group at the U-23s. Kris, Kikkan and Torin have shown in their few World Cups they have some special talents, and the coaches and I feel we're in the hunt for medals."
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