The big day! Most of the team was up and ready for a morning jog before 8 am on the sixth day of the U18 Nation’s trip. The boys and girls split into separate groups this morning, with the boys eventually ending up at big soccer complex before heading back to the hotel. Breakfast was buffet again, this time in a large conference room with the rest of the teams. The coaches then headed off to the official Coaches Meeting while the rest of the team made preparations for the trip to the venue later in the afternoon.
Team lunch at noon, this one a rather interesting sandwich that most thought looked like a pancake in the middle, but was some type of meat (best guess was chicken, but could have been fish). Almost immediately after lunch, there was a short team meeting covering notes from the coaches meeting, the afternoon schedule, and handing out the race bibs and timing chips. The coaches scrambled to get back to the venue and finish final ski prep, while the team waited for the 2:20 pm bus.
Arriving at the venue, skiers had a chance to ski the course once more and get in a last test of the race skis, and then the racing began at 4 pm with classical sprint qualification. The US scored four girls and all six boys in the top 30, advancing to the sprint heats! Shortly after 6 pm, under the lights (and fog) at Knyken Skisenter, the sprint heats fired up. It was some intense racing, and in the end, two US boys had advanced to the semis. Noel Keefe finished 2nd in his quarterfinal and Luke Jager skied fast enough to earn a lucky loser spot. Racing ratcheted up another level in the semis, and the US was out. Norway ended up dominating the finals – 4 of the 6 girls were Norwegian and swept the girls podium and the boys final was won by a Norwegian as well.
A late bus ride back (sprints took longer than expected), and a quick team conference, then off to bed to reload for the freestyle races on Saturday morning.
Highlights of the US sprint heats:
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