The Western State College Nordic team claim team and individual titles at the USCSA National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.
During the week long competition to decide which schools and skiers would top the nation's best Western Nordic skiers managed titles with champion performances through each event at the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association, USCSA, Nationals.
The Western State College Nordic team arrived in Sun Valley on March 6 to prepare for the competition and adjust for conditions.
March 8 saw Jamie Woelk win her first individual title in the 1.5 KM sprint (far right photo above). Woelk finished a solid two seconds ahead of the second place finisher. The men managed a second place finish, falling behind St. Olaf. All WSC competitors were selected as USCSA All-Americans. "Typically we are not really sprint oriented; most of these guys are distance and endurance types. I knew Jamie was a great skier" says Coach Duncan Callahan, "but I did not think she was capable of skiing that fast especially considering the venue and the type of skier she is. We are the highest altititude team and our training conditions mean that sprints are slower just based on where we live and our strengths are in the distance. With that, I was planning on the sprint as our worst day and with the results we posted, it set the momentum for the rest of the week."
March 9 marked the first team title for the men: taking home the 7.5 KM Classic championship. Edging St. Olaf by two points, Scott Krankkala, Chris Lange and Tom Sunderland finished in the top ten to secure the title. Jamie Woelk claimed her second individual title in the 7.5 KM Classic by demolishing the competition; finishing an incredible one minute ahead of the 2nd place finisher from Whitman. "Our men are typically better in the skate, and I did not think it was going to turn out so great. The real wild card was UNR, University of Nevada at Reno, and we did not know what to expect. Conditions were a bit tricky with new snow and warming temps, but they nailed the wax and preparation and did a great job," says Callahan.March 11 extended the distance of the races. The WSC men again claimed their second team title for the 15 KM Freestyle. With all three members, Krankkala, Sunderland and Lange finishing in the top five, WSC secured the title 10 points ahead of 2nd
place St. Olaf. Woelk, for her third individual title, destroyed the competition; finishing three minutes ahead of her nearest competitor with a time of 44:32. "The 15K was really neat, it has a mass start and the guys really used some team tactics in the race. Ansel really put himself out there for the team and made sure that the guys, and his team, did great. You don't see teamwork
like that too much in skiing, and it was great to see it from them," says Callahan.
March 12 marked the final day of competition for the Nordic team and a chance to reclaim the 3x5 KM relay title; won by the same skiers in 2010. The men came in third, behind Clarkson and St. Olaf, less than one minute behind 1st place Clarkson. "If there had to be a disappointing result at Nationals, this would have been it. Having won it last year, it thought it would have been a
bit closer. The team was a little flat, but the race was tight and close and we skied well. Even though it was not a great result as we had thought," says Callahan, " but it did help give us the points to be the overall champions."
OVERALL: Woelk and the WSC men’s team claimed overall combined titles for performances across the competition. Krankkala claimed 3rd overall with Sunderland, Lange, Ansel Schimpff, and team President Sage Smith taking 4th, 7th, 10th, and 28th respectively. Woelk finished first in every individual event and swept the competition by an astounding 5 points. "It has been a while since we have had a team title, NCAA or otherwise," says Callahan, "and it really is a testament to these skiers. They deserve it."
Coach Duncan Callahan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article written by Greg White, Intercollegiate Club Sports Coordinator, email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Rachel Woelk.