Olympic Valley’s Nash wins Nationals yet again
Marcus Nash of Olympic Valley boosted his national championships total to nine Thursday with his third win of the 2000 Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Championships – a sun-bathed triumph in the back half of the men’s “pursuit,” a 15-kilometer classic technique test on the 2002 Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow.
The podium in the men’s race was the same as Wednesday – Nash followed by Justin Wadsworth of Bend, Ore., and University of Utah sophomore Rob Whitney of Anchorage, Alaska.
The women’s race had a slightly shuffled top-3 listing. Canadian Beckie Scott, who has been bulletproof at Soldier Hollow, won her fourth race of the championships while Nina Kemppel, also Anchorage, took second place – and her 12th national title – ahead of Jaime Fortier, another Canadian. Silver medalist among the women was seventh-place finisher Aubrey Smith of Seward, Alaska, a member of the World Junior Championships team which leaves for Europe on Saturday; and bronze medalist was Kristina Joder of Landgrove, Vt., a University of Utah skier and former World Juniors racer.
With starts dictated by the order of finish and time-back from Wednesday’s freestyle technique race, the men’s 10 kilometer and women’s 5 kilometer, Nash took off near the end of the first 7.5-kilometer loop and steadily widened his lead. He finished with a two-race time of 1:00.03.7 for his third $1,000 payday of the week. Wadsworth had a combined time of 1:00.38.8 and Whitney came home in 1:00.40.8.
“Simple plan – hold ’em off,” said Nash, a two-time Olympian who is competing in major races in Utah for the first time since graduating from the University of Utah in 1995. “I wanted to be in control for the first five Ks and then start racing. And if I wasn’t leading at five Ks, it wouldn’t be so bad because both Justin and Rob are such good skiers. I know they’re fast starters, though, so I wanted to hold ’em off through those first five, then go.”
His plan worked to perfection. On a long uphill at about 6.5 Ks, Nash began to open a lead and then kept pulling away. Wadsworth and Whitney flip-flopped the lead a time or two before Wadsworth took the lead for good on the second lap before the same uphill where Nash began his pullaway on the first lap.
“I think they got within nine seconds at one point. I could hear ’em behind me,” Nash said, “but I tried to keep my focus on my own race.”
“We had a good battle. It was exciting with Rob,” according to Wadsworth. “I’m really pleased to see him stepping up like this. We need this kind of racing.”
Whitney agreed. He pointed to Kris Freeman of Andover, N.H., a 19-year-old University of Vermont freshman, who won the men’s 30 kilometer classic title Monday – the first junior to win a men’s crown since Bill Koch in 1975 – and Rebecca (Quinn) Dussault of Gunnison, Colo., winner of the women’s 5-km Wednesday. Whitney, Dussault and Freeman were teammates a year ago at the World Junior Championships with Whitney and Dussault also racing at the World Championships with Nash, Wadsworth and Kemppel.
“It’s time for the young [skiers] to step up and say, ‘We’re here and we’re here to stay,'” Whitney said.
He said he conferred with fellow Alaskan Kemppel about how to approach the pursuit “and Nina said, ‘Just be patient.’ She’s got so
much experience in these things. It was good advice.”
Kemppel, a three-time Olympian via Dartmouth College, needed that experience in the women’s 10-km classic race. Scott, in her last race before returning to the World Cup, won in 41:00.4 with Kemppel second overall – but first in the U.S. medals list – in 43:00.6. Third place went to Canadian Jaime Fortier (43:20.0).
The Alaskan had been a disappointed eighth in the 5-kilometer race after taking a spill with less than two kilometers to go. She was a minute and five seconds back at Scott at the start; maybe the Canadian was out of reach – and Kemppel wasn’t even conceding that – but Kemppel, strong in CL, figured to make the others ahead of her pay. She closed in on second place early in the second lap and pulled away from Fortier before the midpoint.
“That fall [a day earlier] motivated me. I definitely had a fire under me,” she said. “I knew I had to get on it right away at the start…
“Jaime hung tough to 6.5 Ks,” Kemppel said. “I figured I’d take care of it on that big, nasty uphill. When you’re breaking someone, one meter can do it…just give you that separation.”
The Chevy Truck U.S. Championships conclude Saturday with a festive lineup of activities – from parachuting and sled dog rides and fireworks – after the men’s 50-kilometer and women’s 30-kilometer freestyle mass start races at Soldier Hollow.
CHEVY TRUCK U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Midway, UT – Soldier Hollow – Jan. 13
Men’s 15-km CL
1. Marcus Nash, Fryeburg, Maine, 1:00.03.7
2. Justin Wadsworth, Bend, Ore., 1:00.38.8
3. Rob Whitney, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:00.40.8
4. Pietro Broggini, Italy, 1:01.11.0
5. Robin McKeever, Canada, 1:01.12.3
6. Donald Farley, Canada, 1:01.26.5
7. Tobias Schwoerer, Anchorage, Alaska, 1:01.27.4
8. Henrik Eriksson, Sweden, 1:01.41.5
9. Justin Freeman, Boulder, Colo., 1:01.44.3
10. Kris Freeman, Andover, N.H., 1:02.04.8
11. Carl Swenson, Boulder, Colo., 1:02.12.4
12. Joern Frohs, Germany, 1:02.14.1
13. Andrew Johnson, Greensboro, Vt., 1:02.20.7
14. Wolf Wallendorf, Germany, 1:02.36.6
15. Magnus Eriksson, Sweden, 1:02.41.8
1. Beckie Scott, Canada, 41:00.4
2. Nina Kemppel, Anchorage, Alaska, 43:00.6
3. Jaime Fortier, Canada, 43:20.0
4. Sara Renner, Canada, 43:48.6
5. Britta Wienand, Germany, 43:59.5
6. Amanda Fortier, Canada, 44:00.8
7. Aubrey Smith, Seward, Alaska, 44:17.1
8. Milaine Theriault, Canada, 44:36.2
9. Unni Oedegaard, Norway, 44:56.4
10. Kristina Joder, Landgrove, Vt., 45:13.6
11. Marika Engstrom, Norway, 45:27.1
12. Maria Wik, Sweden, 45:41.7
13. Tasha Betcherman, Canada, 45:42.7
14. Christa Case, Duluth, Minn., 46:09.3
15. Kristina Sandberg, Sweden, 46:16.8
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