2023 US Nationals Recap
2023 US Nationals wrapped up last week in Houghton, Michigan. This was my 4th time traveling to Houghton for US Nationals. Despite being all the way up on the upper peninsula of Michigan, 6 hours north of Minneapolis, it has some of the best ski trails in the country. I can't say that I love the incessant gloomy overcast skies, but they do have some good grooming and nice race trails.
After racing my first distance race of the year (no distance racing for me on the World Cup) in the 10k skate, and breaking my pole in the quarter final of the classic sprint, I was ready and excited for both the 20k classic mass start and the skate sprint. It has been a treat to mature in skiing enough to go into US Nationals under less stress and pressure than in years past. For the first time, I went into US Nationals knowing that I could confidently make the finals of both sprints if things went well.
The 20k classic mass start race was 4 laps around a grueling 5k course. A number of fast skiers were on the start list and nobody wanted to wait around at the start. The pace off the line was hot and immediately started to string the race out. Fortunately, I started on the farthest left track of the chevron, hopped out of the tracks, and double polled my way into the top ten. I wanted to get up to the front near the start and give myself the best chance I could of racing with the top guys. Unfortunately, I didn't really have the energy on the day to hang and finished back in 29th. It was still a fun race and was a good reminder of why I enjoy racing, in all forms.
A day later, we returned to the venue to race the final race of the week: the skate sprint. After an unfortunate turn of events earlier in the week with the classic sprint, I was excited to have another sprint opportunity. The weather had been more stable in the day prior to the race and it looked as if the skis would be faster than in the classic sprint. I ended up finishing 3rd in the sprint qualifier and knew that I would be able to fight for the win. After moving my way through the quarterfinal and semi, I lined up for the final. I had raced in the 5th quarterfinal and 2nd semifinal which meant that I had the least amount of rest possible between each heat. I tried not to think about the fact that I was tired and focused more on the fact that I was there to fight for the podium. After all was said and done, I ended up 5th in the final. The body was just a bit too tired to do much better. After a long week of racing, traveling home from Europe the week before, and the fact that three of the people that beat me in the final were foreigners, I was still satisfied with my result.
A few days ago, I was selected to head back to Europe to race Period 3 World Cup sprints. This weekend, I will race the Seeley Hills Classic and Classic Sprint in Cable, Wisconsin before flying to Europe next week. It has been a blast being back with the BSF Pro Team the past couple weeks but I am excited to get back to Europe to give it another go. I will race in Livigno, Italy, Les Rousses, France, and Toblach, Italy. All of the race results and links can be found on the 'Schedule' page of my website.
Thanks to everyone that has helped make it happen!