Giants Ridge, February 9, 2012 Section 7 Nordic Ski Race
Sunny skies and temperatures in the 20′s, combined with excellent snow conditions, made for perfect conditions for today’s Section 7 Nordic Ski Race at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, MN. The section seven race was conducted in two parts, a morning individual start 5 kilometer skate technique race, followed in the afternoon by 5 kilometer pursuit start classic race. The start order for the afternoon pursuit race is based off the results from the morning skate race. In a pursuit race the morning’s winner starts first followed by all the other competitors in the event. The skiers start their race based on the number of seconds back from the leader. The winner of the event is the first person across the finish line. A skilled pursuit skier has to be proficient in both techniques and be fit enough to race at max effort, two times in one day, on a world cup tested course.
The winning team of seven qualify for the MSHSL state meet along with the top 8 finishers not on the winning team. Section 7 is dominated by perennial state competitors, Duluth East and the hardworking Ely Nordic team. The order of the day would be East and Ely battling it out for first or second and the other nine schools competing for the precious few state meet qualifying spots left by their skirmish.
The Marshall School Boys team finished 4th over all today, just 2 points back from Mesabi East/ Virgina. Leading the Hilltoppers was junior Joe Fairbanks who with an excellent classic race moved up one spot to finish 9th over all. Senior Sam Johnson finished 8th in the morning’s skate race (his strength) and lost 3 spots to finish 11th over all. With their top 15th place finishes both Sam and Joe earned a trip to the State Meet. Rounding out the team scoring was my favorite boy in the world, Cody Johnson. Just recovering from a cold Cody dropped 3 places in the classic race to finish 18th over all. Sophomore Alex Johnson moved up two spots from the morning event to finish 33rd.
On the girl’s side the Hilltoppers were led by freshman Megan Coughlan. She finished 18th in the morning skate race. Based on expected team results, Megan knew that she had to move up three spots to qualify for the state meet. Ripping out of the stadium, she charged out on the course, a lady on a mission. By the 3 kilometer mark she had moved up four spots to ski in 14th place, a state qualifying spot in her hand. Unfortunately an fast, icy corner tripped Megan up and she fell. In the time that it took her to get back up and on track she had slipped back four spots. Megan gave it all she had but in the short amount of course she had left, she was only able to regain two spots to finish 16th over all. Big gains from the morning race proved to be the theme for the rest of the point gathering Lady Hilltoppers. Senior Katherine Jarocki started the afternoon race in 38th place and moved up to finish 29th in her final high school race. Freshman Ann Kleinschmidt passed fourteen skiers in the pursuit race to finish 33rd and sophomore Clara Espe moved from 52nd place to 47th place, to help the girls finish 6th out of 10 teams.
In both the Boys and Girls races Duluth East captured the team and individual title. Full results can be found here.
The MSHSL State Nordic Ski Meet will be held next Thursday, February 16, 2012 at Giants Ridge Nordic Ski Center.