Patterson, Hanneman Golden in Sprint
Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt./Craftsbury Green) carried momentum from her opening day gold to win a second Friday in the women's freestyle sprint. Reese Hanneman repeated his gold from last year in the men's race at the L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships in Anchorage's Kincaid Park.
Patterson took the win over her teammate Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Common, Vt./Craftsbury Green) with Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, Calif./APU Nordic) picking up her first U.S. Championships medal with bronze.
Hanneman (Fairbanks, Alaska/APU Nordic) repeated as gold medalist outdistancing Kevin Bolger (Minocqua, Wis./Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) and Tyler Kornfield (Anchorage/APU Nordic).
“I used the first few heats to figure out how this course was skiing,” said Patterson, an Alaskan native and former member of the Alaska Winter Stars. “It’s fun to ski on a new course where none of know the tactics.”
Patterson learned the course quickly, using the downhills in each heat to build an advantage. In the finals, she started back in the pack and move up throughout the championship heat, skating ahead on the final climb to take the win.
“I was a little bit surprised with the win,” she said of her first U.S. title in the event. “With sprint you have less control because there’s so much stuff that happens out there. I took each heat as it came.”
In the men’s race, things were tighter in the finals heat. After climbing the small final hill and taking a tight corner into the stadium’s finish area, Reese Hanneman pulled away from Bolger as they raced to the line, winning by less than a tenth of a second.
“On that last corner, all six of us were close,” said Bolger. “Reese picked a really great line and I tucked in behind him. It came down to the last few meters and he just skied really well.”
For the gold medalist Hanneman, it was a special win coming at home.
“It's a dream to be able to win a national championship at home in front of all these people who I know and who have supported me and came out to cheer,” said Hanneman, who won his third U.S. sprint title. “And the Hannemans are three in a row, so that’s kinda cool to be able to continue that.”
It was a practically perfect day for sprint racing at Kincaid Park – temperatures in the teens; no wind, a rarity here; mostly sunny and bluebird skies, with an occasional ice fog appearance; and a fast-and-firm, technical-and-fast trail.
“It was awesome skiing, beautiful conditions,” Reese Hanneman said. “Everybody dreams about skiing on the snow out there today.”
The qualification rounds, which will be considered as a part of Olympic selection, were won by Logan Hanneman (Fairbanks, Alaska/APU Nordic), brother of race winner Reese, and Anne Hart (Stillwater, Minn./Stratton Mountain School) - both of whom missed the finals.
It was another good day for U23 and junior athletes, led by Halvorsen’s bronze.
“Hannah raced with experience above her age,” said Coach Bryan Fish. Halvorsen was a part of the medal-winning women’s relay team at Junior Worlds last year in Soldier Hollow. “It appeared she was changing her race tactics in the heats trying to find the best way for her to win - racing with confidence and dong the small things that are preparing her for success at Junior Worlds.
Four junior and six U23 men made it into the top 30, while five junior and six U23 women qualified into the heats (top-30).
“This bodes very well for us for Junior Worlds in Goms, Switzerland and the U18 Nordic Nation’s Championships in Vuokatti, Finland later this month,” said Fish. Those teams will be named following this week’s Championships.
Leading the junior results was Hannah Halvorsen’s overall U.S. National Championship 3rd place performance. Hannah raced with experience above her age. It appeared she was changing her race tactics in the heats trying to find the best way for her to win. She is racing with confidence and doing the small things that are preparing her for success at Jr Worlds.
Zak Ketterson (Bloomington, Minn./Loppet Nordic Racing) was the top U23 man in fourth. Alayna Sonnesyn (Plymouth, Minn./Univ. of Vermont) was the top U23 woman in eighth. Gus Schumacher (Anchorage/Alaska Winter Stars) was top U18 junior man in eighth.
Action continues in Anchorage Sunday with men's 30k classic mass start and women's 20k. All events are being streamed live on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Facebook channel, with Sunday's races scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. EST.