Alaskans Take U.S. Titles
Tyler Kornfield (Anchorage/APU Nordic) and Alaska native Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Common, Vt./Craftsbury Green) skied to gold in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park Sunday in the final distance event of the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships. Kornfield won his third career gold - first in distance - winning the men’s 30k classic mass start. Patterson took gold in the women’s 20k, picking up her second gold of the week.
The men’s 30k as a battle from start to finish with a pack of eight sprinting to the finish. Kornfield, who grew up skiing the Kincaid Park trails, hung back the first few laps but turned it on for the final circuit to move into contention. He took the win over Eric Packer (Anchorage/APU Nordic) by less than a second. Norwegian Eyvind Romberg Kvaale of Denver University was third overall with American Kris Freeman ( /Caldwell Sport) taking bronze.
“People know me as a sprinter but I’ve been thinking about this race for the last six months,” said Kornfield, who has two national classic sprint titles to his credit. “This was MY race. I knew I had a good distance race in me and I showed it today.”
Kornfield and others remain optimistic on Olympic Team spots based on their distance results. “ knew that the only way I could make it was to win this race. I’ve known I’ve had the ability within myself but wasn’t able to put it together on a given day. But I know this course like the back of my hand and I knew where I had to go.”
If he had one worry, it was teammate Packer. He made his move on the final lap, keeping close watch on Packer and holding him off at the finish.
The win was a special one for Kornfield coming in front of hometown family and fans. “This means everything,” said Kornfield. “I put a lot of pressure on myself. This is Anchorage - the pressure should be on us. I was so excited to come up these hills with these crowds all cheering for APU. I’m glad I could make them proud.”
Swede Hedda Baangman of the Univ. of Colorado took the overall win in the women’s 20k in one hour, 55.3 seconds - a 15.9 second margin over Patterson, the top American. Rosie Frankowski (Anchorage/APU Nordic) took silver with Kaitlynn Miller (Anchorage/Craftsbury Green) winning bronze - her second medal of the week.
Action wraps up Monday with classic sprints. Any Olympic selections from the Championships will be announced as part of overall Olympic Team nominations the week of January 22.