Local skiers compete at U.S. cross-country nationals
Schamberger podiums for SNSC while Hornings, Perkins and Bivens lead SSCV contingent
A slew of local Nordic skiers were in Soldier Hollow this week for the U.S. senior national cross-country ski championships, competing in both junior and senior division races.
SSCV brought a dozen junior athletes to contest a freestyle sprint, freestyle mass start, classic interval start and classic sprint over the six-day event. Fifteen-year-old Rose Horning had brilliant performances on Tuesday and Friday, finishing in 14th in the mass start and fifth in the sprint. She was first of the U-16 skiers in the mass start.
“She handled the beginning of the large mass start really well, moved through the field, and was really engaged and tough throughout,” head coach Eric Pepper said in a post-race email. It is standard practice for coaches and other staff to dedicate hours of early morning testing and preparation to ensure the fastest possible skis at national events, and Pepper was pleased with what his athletes were able to slide on.
“We had great skis all day,” he wrote.
“We teamed up with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Program on ski service and were very happy with what we put out and how we did it, and the kids were very happy across the board.”
Sarah Bivens led the way for SSCV’s U-18/U-20 girls on Tuesday, cracking the top-20 overall as well.
The SSCV men were led by impressive, well-paced skiing from Reiner Schmidt. The 15-year old passed 27 athletes in the last two laps of Tuesday’s 10-kilometer course to finish as the fifth-fastest U-16 on the day.
Summit Nordic Ski Club 16-year-old Nina Schamberger made waves all week. She finished in third place in the 7.5-kilometer junior women’s freestyle mass start race Tuesday. The podium placement came two days after the SNSC athlete, who finished last year ranked No. 1 in the world for girls born in 2005 and has conquered senior fields in the past, finished 19th in the senior division sprint. On Thursday morning, she had perhaps her finest finish of the week, placing 10th overall in the senior division individual start, just seven seconds behind 2018 Olympian Rosie Frankowski in ninth and 46.8 seconds off the podium. 2018 Olympian Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project won the race in 28:12.
In Tuesday’s mass start, Schamberger took her turn setting the pace in a lead pack comprised of NCAA athletes, showing her superior fitness by creating gaps on most of the uphills. On every downhill throughout the 2002 Olympic venue course, however, it was Middlebury College’s Kate Oldham who had the faster skis, simply gliding past the Leadville resident. With less than 600 meters to go in the race, Schamberger exercised the only feasible strategy for victory, surging on the final uphill to create a 10-meter gap on the chase group. A downhill into the flat finish placed more weight on Oldham’s slick skis, allowing her to slide by a helpless Schamberger for the final time.
With inclement weather arriving midweek, Pepper said his staff would approach their glide wax conservatively to allow more time to focus solely on finding the best kick wax for Thursday’s classic race. In the stride and glide event, finding the right grip can be the difference between slipping sloppily and winning wonderfully.
“It’s a little nervy for the young ones, especially given a lot of them have not been on new race skis very much, and they just have to learn to handle that,” he said about the tenuous relationship with the underfoot grip.
Unfortunately, Pepper was reportedly locked out of his wax truck on Thursday morning, limiting his crew’s opportunities to test. Despite the bad luck, his athletes raced valiantly in the 10-kilometer (women) and 15-kilometer (men) events, which placed juniors and seniors on the track together.
Lucy Perkins was the top finisher for SSCV that day, placing 50th overall in 33:35.7. She was the first U-16 athlete to cross the line. Bivens (34:24.2) and Horning (34:39.2) were next in 62nd and 64th place, respectively. Horning was the third-fastest U-16 on the day. Adele Horning (35:12.2) was not far behind in 69th.
Schamberger and Horning represented the valley in Friday’s sprint, with Schamberger taking the junior crown and Horning finishing in fifth.
(name, age, school/club/overall time)
1. Kate Oldham, 19, Middlebury – 20:17.7
2. Nina Seeman, 19, Dartmouth – 20:18.4
3. Nina Schamberger, 16, SNSC – 20:18.4
14. Rose Horning, 15, 21:39.6
19. Sarah Bivens, 18, 21:57.2
28. Lucy Perkins, 14, 22:19.5
38. Emma Reeder, 18 (skiing for Dartmouth), 22:46
47. Adele Horning, 17, 23:21.9
50. Isabel Glackin, 16, 23:29.0
57. Emma Barsness, 18, 23:48.7
61. Cassidy Wright, 15, 24:04.1
Walker Hall, 19, University of Utah, 24:29.3
Wally Magill, 18, Dartmouth, 24:29.5
Brian Bushey, 19, University of Utah, 24:48.4
62. Reiner Schmidt, 15, 28:14.3
76. Cole Flashner, 17, 28:56.2
Mason Cruz-Adams, 17, DNF
Tyler Wright, 17, DNF