Monday, March 30, 2009

US Nationals Women's 30K Classic

Sunday was a perfect day for the final events of the US National Cross Country Ski Championships. For one thing it was the first day here where it actually felt like spring. Mid-teens overnight warming to 20s during the women's race, and it was mid 30s or warmer by the time the men were racing (first time above freezing in months!).

This was no waltz through the park, however. The course is brutal. The women skied four loops, and the men seven. Each lap had two monster hills climbs up South Tower and Black Funk with total elevation gain of (3,300 ft) total for the women and 6,000 ft climbing for the men. This is a as tough as it gets.

Stephen and Arritola tuck down Competition Loop on the final lap

In the women's event, Liz Stephen, undefeated in USA standings this week, lurked in the second pack for half of the race, but only 5 to 10 seconds behind the leaders. Morgan Arritola set the early pace along with Kikkan Randall and Swedish skier Kristina Strandberg. Stephen hung back before moving up to take command on the penultimate lap.

Podium preview: Stephen, Arritola, and Randall make their way up Black Funk.

Arritola kept close and finished 14 few seconds back, followed 30 seconds by Kikkan Randall, a sprint specialist. Local product Becca Rorabaugh, 19, put on a fine race as a junior to take 7th overall. Youth is on the move, as Stephen and Arritola are only 21 or 22 years old.

Fast women climb big, Stephen and and Randall emerge from Black Funk.


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