Athlete update with Will Koch:
The first race at Falun (Classic 5/10K individual start) was exciting, and yielded some impressive results! A few of us – me, Brian, and Nina – arrived in Falun the night before, having just flown in from the Youth Olympic Games. It’s been fun to begin getting to know everyone on this trip and cheering each other on.
The girls were the first to race, so the course was in good condition for them. They did 3 laps of the roughly 2.3K course. We (the boys, who raced after) watched lots of Scandinavians eat it hard on the rapidly deteriorating corners, but our girls all stayed on their feet! Ava Thurston (a U16!) tied with a Swede for 8th place, making her the top American female for the day. She beat the next U16 in the race by a whopping 3 minutes! (Go Ava!) No U16 has done this well in many years. Hailey, Nina, and Annie all got top 30.
After the girls, the boys went out for 5 laps of the same 2.3K course. The boys all skied very well, and we were all top 25! Wally, Brian, and Michael all finished within 10 seconds of each other (in a 30-minute race), taking 15th, 16th, and 17th place. We all tended to speed up throughout the race- I was 34th place after lap 1, and then finished in 4th. By the time that we were finishing, the course had been skied over roughly 1,000 times, so the corners were getting rather icey. Peter took a little mid-race sit-down on one of the corners, but did not let it phase him as he still finished 21st place.
It was particularly interesting for me, Brian, and Nina, since our first time skiing the course was during the race! It’s great practice though because you never know what the circumstances will be. The first race was a lot of fun, and I know that the rest of the week will only lead to even more excitement!!
Photo creds to Lisa Maurer:
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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