Following SuperTour Finals in Craftsbury, Vermont, the National Nordic Foundation is excited to award the NNF Cup to the University of Utah Ski Team (UU). Strong early season results were accented by a final push in Craftsbury this weekend, including a win in Sunday’s 20 k Classic by Sydney Palmer-Leger, to help the Utes win their first NNF Cup. The number and diversity of UU skiers’ accomplishments this season, from the SuperTour to US Nationals, to Junior and Senior World Championships, makes them worthy champions.
In addition to winning the NNF Cup, the University of Utah Ski Team won the top Women’s club honors. The Craftsbury Green Racing Project kept the Women’s competition close throughout the season and finished runners-up. Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team earned the title of the top Men’s club, while earning runners-up in the NNF Cup. All three classifications were competitive for the entirety of the ski season, demonstrating the continued development of club skiing across all arenas of US nordic skiing.
US Ski Team Head Coach and NNF Board Member Matt Whitcomb highlights the importance of celebrating this wholistic approach to club development, “The NNF Cup is an important annual club award that represents success at many levels of the pipeline. Winning clubs see success at not just the U-16 level, but are often qualifying athletes for the U-18 trip, World Juniors, U23’s, and even the World Championship, and Olympic teams. We are so proud of the tradition that is the NNF Cup.”
For the first time ever, the NNF Cup will be awarded with a $3,000 cash prize. The National Nordic Foundation is proud to support the creativity and devotion of club programs across the country in developing nordic skiing in the United States, and hopes this year’s close competition will spur club-wide performance goals as skiers and coaches look towards next ski season!
Craftsbury SuperTour Finals Recap
After a classic race opened a full weekend of racing Wednesday, SuperTour Finals moved to a skate sprint on Thursday. Alayna Sonneysn continued the strong string of results that catapulted the Stratton Mountain School T2 Women’s team to a top five NNF Cup finish by taking the win over University of Utah’s Karianne Denegerud. Erin Bianco rounded out the Women’s podium in third place, capping a great season of sprint results for the Team Birkie skier.
Andreas Kirkeng topped the Men’s final for the University of Denver, while Canadian Sasha Masson took second, and Jake Brown rounded out the podium in third for the US Biathlon Team/Craftsbury Green Racing Project.
After a rest day Friday, the emphasis turned to team skiing with a 4 x 5 k mixed relay on Saturday. In the NNF Cup, the University of Utah and Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team were separated by less than fifty points, making for an exciting head-to-head battle in the year’s penultimate race.
As it would turn out, the two teams that had topped the Cup standings would battle all the way to the line. Bridger Ski Foundation went to the front of the race early, as siblings Reid and Sarah Goble handed off to each other in the first two legs. They were joined by a Craftsbury Green Racing Project team that started Jake Brown and Alex Lawson, and the UU team that began with Sam Hendry and Karianne Dengerud. Finn O’Connell opened a slight gap up for BSF in the third leg, with Brian Bushey skiing through the final exchange with UU in second place. Craftsbury’s Braden Becker followed in third. Sydney Palmer-Leger for UU and Margie Freed for Crafstbury closed in the anchor, coming up even with BSF’s Mariah Bredal to make for an exciting finish. Palmer-Leger was able to finish the strongest, and bring home a win for UU, while Bredal held on to put BSF in second, and Freed finished to put Craftsbury in third.
Palmer-Leger’s edge helped UU net 20 more points on BSF for the NNF Cup going into the final day, but the competition remained unsettled going into Sunday’s 20 k classic. There, Sydney Palmer-Leger would help remove any doubts on UU’s victory in the cup by taking the win in the Women’s race, with Hanna Abrahamsson right behind her in second for the University of Colorado. Margie Freed would solidify the Craftsbury Green Racing Project’s second place position in the Women’s classification, and an all-around impressive SuperTour for herself, with a third place finish. Andreas Kirkeng won his second race of the week, with a victory in the Men’s race for University of Denver. John Steel Hagenbuch came in runner-up for Dartmouth College, while David Norris capped his first season in (semi-) retirement by taking a third place for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. UU got a boost again in the Men’s race, with Sam Hendry taking fifth place. Finn O’Connell was BSF’s top performer in sixth.
After a full week of racing then, the margins were all thin, but decisive. The NNF Cup would be awarded to the University of Utah, while Bridger Ski Foundation had held onto its top place in the Men’s rankings. UU also won the Women’s classification, with Craftsbury Green Racing Project keeping it close as runners-up all the way through.
Final NNF Cup Standings:
- University of Utah – 1339 points.
- Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team – 1300 points.
- APU Nordic Ski Center – 1054 points.
- Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team – 733 points.
- APU Nordic Ski Center – 638 points.
- University of Utah Ski Team – 607 points.
- University of Utah Ski Team – 732 points.
- Craftsbury Green Racing Project – 688 points.
- Bridger Ski Foundation Pro Team – 567 points.
The NNF Cup celebrates club excellence in America’s premier domestic ski competition by tallying performance of club teams across the SuperTour season. The NNF Cup was awarded to Alaska Pacific University last season. Follow along on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and newsletter as we track this season’s cup!
NNF Cup Rules and Regulations can be found here.
(Photo: (c) 2022 Tobias Albrigtsen)