Julia Kern and Novie McCabe checking in from World Junior/U23 Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany. Everyone arrived here about a week in advance to acclimate to the time zone and to get to know the courses. We played a lot of team games in the evenings to bond as a team and keep the race nerves at bay. It seems that every day minute can bring new weather: one minute its’ sunny, and the next, it’s dumping snow.
Caption: Team game night!
The racing kicked off with the skate sprint on Saturday for the junior men and women. We had 5 athletes qualify for the heats on a hard sprint course featuring a long climb into the finish! Novie was the only female qualifier, fighting hard in her heat and finishing 22nd on the day. We had 3 men in the first quarterfinal all charging hard, unfortunately Luke Jager fell right before the finish in the lead, with only Gus Schumacher moving on. Ben crushed his quarterfinal moving through his quarterfinal and semifinal, all the way to the finals! Ben finished 6th on the day, Gus in 7th, JC in 13th an Luke in 18th. On the women’s side Sydney finished in 49th, Callie in 54th, and Mara in 73rd.
Caption: Novie charging through the fog (PC: Flying Point).
Caption: Lots of stars and stripes in the mix (PC: Flying Point)!
Fired up from the Junior’s results, the U23s tackled the same sprint courses the next day in some varying weather conditions. On the women’s side, Hailey and Julia qualified for the heats and on the men’s side, Zak qualified really well. Hailey was in the first quarterfinal when the sun was still shinning, but moments later, it started nuking snow. Hailey just missed lucky loser, finishing 5th in her heat, and Zak fought hard in his heat, finishing 22nd on the day. We learned from watching the junior races the day before, that being near the front of race from the start was super important since it was extremely hard to pass on this course. Julia positioned herself near the front in both her quarterfinal and semifinal, allowing her to move onto the final. In the final, Julia did not get off to a good start, sitting in 5th most of the way and boxed out, but managed to surge in the last 200 meters to 3rd place! The team is very fired up from a strong start for team USA and we are ready to rip in the upcoming races this week! Thanks for all the support : )
Caption: Nuking snow one minute (PC: Flying Point).
Caption: Clear weather, and smiles for reaching the podium (PC: Flying Point)!
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This is my first time out of the U.S. and competing at the U18 Scando Cup in Finland. This has been the best experience and I am so motivated to get to the next level. Kittos (Thanks in Finnish)- Mattie Watts