The FIS Junior World Nordic Ski Championships, featuring the best Junior (U20) and U23 skiers in the world, concluded last Saturday after a full week of racing at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia. It was the first time that Junior World Championships had been held in North American since Park City in 2017. The National Nordic Foundation was proud to support a talented US delegation that featured a diverse mix of skiers from across the United States ski community. For some, World Junior Championships was a step off of the senior World Cup circuit to pursue dreams of a World Championships, while for others this was one of their first experiences racing the best skiers in their age group from around the world. For all, World Juniors marked an important milestone in their development as athletes, and an opportunity to represent the stars and stripes of the United States on the world stage.
NNF is grateful to our media partners for investing time, resources, and energy in covering this year’s World Junior Championsips. Steve Fuller of Flying Point Road chronicled the action in vivid pictures that are available on our website here. Meanwhile, Gerry Furseth from FasterSkier and Gavin Knetch of Nordic Insights were on site to report in percise and captivating detail the racing, as international competition returned to the site of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics again.
Below is a brief recap of each event in Whistler, along with links from the talented people covering nordic sport in the United States today.
Classic Sprint – Juniors
The week started off with the Juniors (U20) skiers competing in a Classic sprint. The US saw 3 skiers qualify for heats, Samantha Smith (Sun Valley), Nina Schamberger (Summit Nordic Team), and Ava Thurston (Dartmouth College/Mansfield Nordic Club). Smith highlighted the day, reaching the Semi-Final and narrowly missing out on the Final to finish 8th place. Schamberger was 19th, while Thurston finished 25th. The top result from the Men’s team was Max Kluck (Bridger Ski Foundation) in 32nd.
Classic Sprint – U23
The US saw four skiers qualify for heats, Novie McCabe (University of Utah/Methow Valley), and Sydney Palmer-Leger (University of Utah/Park City) in the Women’s field, and Luke Jager (University of Utah/Alaska Winter Stars) and Gus Schumacher (Alaska Winter Stars) in the Men’s field. Jager made it through to semi-finals to highlight the day for the US, finishing in 12th. Schumacher finished 16th, McCabe finished 23rd, and Palmer-Leger finished 30th.
20 K Classic Mass Start – Juniors
The Juniors continued their program with 20 K Classic Mass Start. Top US results in the Women’s field came from Samantha Smith, who finished 9th place, as Ava Thurston finished 28th and Rose Horning (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail) came in 42nd. In the Men’s field, Luka Riley (University of Colorado/Boulder Nordic) finished 34th, with Adrik Kraftson (Northern Michigan University/Loppet Nordic Racing) 39th and Jack Lange (Dartmouth College) in 41st.
20 K Classic Mass Start – U23
The U23 Classic Mass Start saw strong results across the board earned by US skiers. Both Gus Schumacher and Sydney Palmer-Leger skied to top 10 results, with Schumacher in 7th and Palmer-Leger in 8th. In the Women’s field, Novie McCabe finished 14th and Anabel Needham (Michigan Tech. University) finished 33rd. In the Men’s field, Schumacher was joined by Zanden McMullen (Alaska Pacific University) in 18th, John Steel Hagenbuch (Dartmouth College/Sun Valley) in 21st, and Luke Jager in 33rd.
10 K Skate Individual Start – Juniors
The US had 3 Women ski into the top 15, highlighted by Samantha Smith earning her 3rd top ten of the week finishing in 6th place. Haley Brewster (University of Vermont/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail) also notched a top 10, in 10th place. Hattie Barker (University of New Hampshire/Mansfield Nordic Club) finished 14th, as Nina Schamberger finished 36th. In the Men’s field, Jack Lange skied to an 11th place finish, as Adrik Kraftson finished 30th, Anders Weiss (Montana State/Aspen Ski Club) finished 33rd, and Jack Conde (Montana State/Bend) finished 51st.
10 K Skate Individual Start – U23
The US U23 Women built off what their Junior counterparts had done a day before, seeing 3 skiers ski to top 10 results. Sophia Laukli (University of Utah) skied to 5th place, with Novie McCabe right behind in 7th place, and Sydney Palmer-Leger in 9th. Kate Oldham (Montana State/Aspen Valley Ski Club) finished 40th. On the Men’s side, Gus Schumacher skied to a 14th place finish, with Zanden McMullen close by in 15th. John Steel Hagenbuch finished 19th, and JC Schoonmaker (University of Alaska – Anchorage) finished 29th.
Mixed Team Relay – Junior and U23
The week in Whistler ended with a 4x5km Team Relay for both Juniors and U23s. The US Junior Team line-up was Samantha Smith, Luka Riley, Haley Brewster, and Jack Lange, which skied to a 7th place finish. The U23 line-up was Sydney Palmer-Leger, Zanden McMullen, Sophia Laukli, and John Steel Hagenbuch. The team skied to 7th as well, ending a hard week of racing with panache and determination.