Junior Worlds, U23 Teams Named
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has named a team of 36 athletes to its squad that will compete in the International Ski Federation's (FIS) Junior Nordic World Ski Championships and U23 Cross Country World Championships Jan. 28-Feb. 3 in Goms and Kandersteg, Switzerland.
The Junior Worlds team has a strong mix of veterans including medalists Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, Calif./Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center) and Hailey Swirbul (Carbondale, Colo./Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage) from last year's cross country team and Youth Olympic Games nordic combined silver medalist from 2016 Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, Wis./Flying Eagles Ski Club).
The championships will also be a first for women's nordic combined, with a debut test event. FIS added nordic combined last spring, with subsequent addition of a U.S. Ski & Snowboard national championship. Tess Arnone, 15, of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club will enter the test event for the USA.
Cross country athletes were chosen from domestic selection events including the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships in early January at Anchorage as well as selection events for ski jumping and nordic combined at both Steamboat Springs and the Utah Olympic Park.
The Junior Worlds cross country team is coming off a double medal last year in Utah. Remaining from that bronze medal winning relay team are Halvorsen and Swirbul. It will be Swirbul's third Junior Worlds and second for Halvorsen.
The jumping team will be led by Casey Larson (Barrington, Ill./Norge Ski Club), who scored a top 10 in last year's Junior Worlds, making his third appearance in the international event. Loomis, making his third Junior Worlds appearance, and Steven Schumann (Park City, Utah/Park City Ski & Snowboard) also had top 10s last season at Junior Worlds.
"Having proven leaders like Hannah and Hailey will be a big asset for us in showing the way for younger skiers," said U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Development Coach Bryan Fish. "We had a very strong qualifying series at U.S. Championships and the team is heading to Switzerland with confidence."
"We have seen a lot of progress from all of the women on the team this year and we feel the team is getting stronger as a whole," said USA Nordic Coach Blake Hughes. "We are excited to get over to Europe and continue their growth as international competitors." The women's team will get its first taste of World Cup experience in Ljubno, Slovenia the weekend before Junior Worlds.
The men's jumping team has a blend of rookies and veterans. "It's great to see that Andy (Urlaub) and Hunter (Gibson) could step up their game this year and qualify for the team," added Hughes. "They are all excited to get over to Europe and compete with their international peers." Casey Larson will remain on the Continental Cup tour, meeting up with his teammates in Kandersteg. The rest of the team will stay stateside the next few weeks to compete in U.S. Cup competitions at the Flying Eagles Ski Club in Eau Claire, Wis., Norge Ski Club in Fox River Grove, Ill., and Ishpeming Ski Club in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It will be the 132nd consecutive annual contest at Ishpeming's Suicide Bowl.
The World Juniors combined team has really stepped up with Loomis, Schumann and Jared Shumate (Park City, Utah/Park City Ski & Snowboard) all competing well for their age on the Continental Cup tour. The battle for fourth spot on the team was intense, with Tucker Hoefler winning a World Juniors qualifier to grab a berth on the team.
The team will do a pre-Championships camp in Oberstorf, Germany beginning January 22 then move to Kandersteg for official training that begins on January 28.
The U23 cross country team is a very seasoned group of racers with only two athletes who have not been on a past Junior Worlds team (Lydia Blanchet and Andrew Egger). The team also includes Junior Worlds medalist Julia Kern (Waltham, Mass./Stratton Mountain School). Kern has competed on the entire first period of the World Cup tour to gain experience leading up to the U23 World Championships.
Fish anticipates the freestyle sprint to be a strong event for both the U23 and Junior Worlds teams. First year U23 athlete Zak Zetterson (Bloomington, Minn./Northern Michigan University) was fourth overall at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships. Ian Torchia (Marquette, Mich./Northern Michigan University) should be strong in distance races. Torchia won the Silver Star NorAm Cup 15k freestyle in December and was the top U23 in the 30k classic mass start at U.S. Championships.
The event is split between Ulrichen near Goms, in the upper Valais region of south central Switzerland, for cross country and Kandersteg, in the Bernese Oberland, for ski jumping and nordic combined. The cross country venue lies at around 4,400 feet above sea level with the jump slightly lower. The famed Lötschberg jump in Kandersteg dates back 1920 and has gone through many iterations. A completely new jumping complex was built over the last decade, opening in 2016. The Goms Nordic Centre in Ulrichen is a popular trail network located in a high alpine valley along Switzerland's famous Glacier Express rail line.
All events will be streamed live through the Junior Worlds website at www.jwsc2018.ch. Also watch for content on Instagram at @jwsc2018.
The trip is partially funded by the National Nordic Foundation, an independent foundation that provides support for development programs across nordic sports, as well as USA Nordic, which manages national teams and pipeline development for ski jumping and nordic combined.
2018 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships
Luke Jager, 18, Anchorage, Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center
Ben Ogden, 17, Landgrove, Vt., Stratton Mountain School
Karl Schulz, 19, Lake Placid, N.Y., Univ. of Vermont
Gus Schumacher, 17, Anchorage, Alaska Winter Stars
Canyon Tobin, 18, Anchorage, Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center
Hunter Wonders, 19, Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center
Margaret Gellert, 17, Anchorage, Alaska Winter Stars
Hannah Halvorsen, 19, Truckee, Calif., Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center
Kathleen O'Connell, 19, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Montana State University
Hannah Rudd, 19, Anchorage, Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage
Sofia Shomento, 18, Bozeman, Mont., Dartmouth College
Hailey Swirbul, 19, Carbondale, Colo., Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage
Tucker Hoefler, 19, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski & Snowboard
Ben Loomis, 19, Eau Claire, Wis., Flying Eagles Ski Club
Stephen Schumann, 17, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski & Snowboard
Jared Shumate, 18, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski & Snowboard
Tess Arnone, 15, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Decker Dean, 17, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Patrick Gasienica, 19, Richmond, Ill., Norge Ski Club Hunter Gibson, 16, Fox River Grove, Ill., Norge Ski Club
Casey Larson, 19, Barrington, Ill., Norge Ski Club
Andrew Urlaub 16, Eau Claire, Wis., Flying Eagles Ski Club
Annika Belshaw, 15, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Anna Hoffmann, 17, Madison, Wis., Blackhawk Ski Club
Cara Larson, 17, Barrington, Ill., Norge Ski Club
Samantha Macuga, 16, Park City, Utah, Park City Ski & Snowboard
Logan Sankey, 19, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
U23 Cross Country World Championships Team
Andrew Egger, 22, Edina, Minn., Colby College
Bill Harmeyer, 20, Burlington, Vt., Univ. of Vermont
Zak Ketterson, 20, Bloomington, Minn., Northern Michigan University
Thomas O'Harra, 20, Anchorage, Alaska Pacific Nordic Ski Center
Ian Torchia, 21, Marquette, Mich., Northern Michigan University
Lydia Blanchet, 20, Anchorage, Dartmouth Ski Team
Lauren Jortberg, 20, Hanover, N.H.,Dartmouth Ski Team
Julia Kern, 20, Waltham, Mass., Stratton Mountain School
Nicole Schneider, 20, Marquette, Mich., Northern Michigan University
Sunday, January 28
Junior men’s and women’s freestyle sprints
Monday, January 29
U23 men’s and women’s freestyle sprints
Tuesday, January 30
Junior women’s 5k classic
Junior men’s 10k classic
Junior women's nordic combined test event (HS72/5k)
Junior men's nordic combined (HS106/10k)
Wednesday, January 31
U23 women’s 10k classic
U23 men’s 15k classic
Thursday, February 1
Junior women’s skiathlon (5k CL/5k FS)
Junior men’s skiathlon (10k CL/10k FS)
Junior men's and women's ski jumping (HS106m)
Junior men's nordic combined team event (HS106/4x5k)
Friday, February 2
U23 women’s skiathlon (7.5k CL/7.5k FS)
U23 men’s skiathlon (10k CL/10k FS)
Junior men's and women's team ski jumping (HS106)
Saturday, February 3
Junior women’s relay (4x3.3k CL/FS)
Junior men’s relay (4x5k CL/FS)
Junior men's and women's mixed team ski jumping (HS106)
Junior men's nordic combined (HS106/5k)