Following the distance races at the 2016 U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships presented by L.L. Bean, the Junior Worlds and U18 Teams were announced. Six out of twelve athletes who were named to the World Junior Team are from the Midwest, including Ian Torchia, Zak Ketterson, Leo Hipp, Vivian Hett, Sarah Bezdicek and Nicole Schneider.
“The Midwest has seen good results at Junior Nationals these past few years and our programs have been growing, so it is good to see a lot of Midwest athletes qualifying for the International Trips. This will be my second year being on the staff for the World Juniors trip and I am excited to go again and having the majority of the team be Midwest skiers.” Said CXC Team Head Coach, Andy Keller.
“I’m really excited to be on the World Juniors team for the second year this year. Said Ian Torchia I’ve had strong training partners this year including my teammates at Northern Michigan University as well as the great coaching from Sten Fjeldheim. Making the team was my goal this year as well as to ski well in the 10k classic and the Skiathlon. I think we’re really going to show some of our international competitors what the U.S. can do this year.”
The Junior Worlds Team will be representing the U.S. in Rasnov, Romania, February 18-29, 2016. The top six men’s and women’s athletes who have scored the best two out of three races at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships are chosen for the teams. These athletes include: Katharine Ogden from Stratton Mountain School, Hannah Halvorsen from Sugar Bowl Academy, Vivian Hett from Northern Michigan University, Julia Kern from Stratton Mountain School, Alayna Sonnesyn from the University of Vermont and Leah Lange from PCNSC/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Sarah Bezdicek from Northern Michigan University is the first alternate and due to another individual declining, Nicole Schneider from Northern Michigan University was able to join the team as well.
“I am excited to be on the World Junior Team again this year. Said Vivian Hett. Making the team for the second time, I know going into the competitions that I want to improve my results from last year and I am really happy I get the chance to do that.”
The men representing the World Juniors Team include: Ian Torchia from Northern Michigan University, Zak Ketterson from Loppet Nordic Racing, Thomas O’Harra from APU Nordic Ski Center, Lars Hannah from the University of Denver, Cully Brown from University of Vermont and Henry Haymeyer from the University of Vermont. Leo Hipp from Northern Michigan University is the first alternate.
“I set my season goals for this year to make the Junior Worlds Team. I wanted to be the top first year U20 and at World Juniors I would like to get a top 10. I trained really hard for this season and I did a lot of training with Brian Gregg and Matt Liebsch who are other guys that did really well this week. So I think I am coming into these races pretty prepared and I was excited to see Ian and Leo, a few of my teammates for next year, make the team as well. It will be fun and challenging.” Said Zak Ketterson.
The U18 Trip will travel to Otepaa, Estonia to compete internationally, February 21-29 2016. The top six men and women athletes were chosen who scored the best two out of three races at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships. These athletes include: Hunter Wonders from APU Nordic Ski Center, Gus Schumacher from Alaska Winter Stars, Karl Schulz from NYSEF, Noel Keefe from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Daniel Streinz from Maine Winter Sports Club and Peter Wolter from Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.
The athletes for the women’s U18 Trip include: Hannah Halvorsen from Sugar Bowl Academy, Leah Lange from Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Hailey Swirbul from Aspen Valley SSC, Leah Brams from Cambridge Sports Union, Brooke Dunnagan Bogus Basin Nordic Team/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, and Ezra Smith from Summit Nordic Ski Club.
Mary Kozloski is CXC’s Communication and Media Coordinator. Mary has a Bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where she majored in Public Relations with a minor in Business Administration, competed as a member of UW-Grean Bay Nordic Ski Team and was team captain for two years.