Summit locals Konecny and Haynes shine at U.S. Nordic Junior Nationals in Alaska
Lasse Konecny, all fueled up, knew what he had to do after he finished his customary breakfast of oatmeal and espresso.
Representing the Rocky Mountain region at last week’s U.S. Cross Country Junior Nationals in Anchorage, Alaska, Konecny was the first of three legs for his three-skier team in the 3-by-3-kilometer skate ski race. In that spot, Konecny felt the pressure of setting up the final two racers on the Rocky Mountain A team.
His teammates were Wally Magill and Sumner Cotton, a pair of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skiers. Magill, the second leg, was fresh off of winning the 5-kilometer U-16 boys freestyle race earlier in the week, while Sumner raced to 17th in the boys sprint classic.
Teamed with such high-level skiers, and with Magill set to ski the second leg after Konecny’s first leg, the pressure was on for Konecny.
“Because my second teammate is the fastest guy out there,” Konecny said, “I wanted to set him up for a good spot so he could make a lead gap for my third teammate.”
Konecny, Magill and Cotton teamed to a second-place finish in the relay. It was the Rocky Mountain region’s only podium showing at a 2019 Junior Nationals where the team finished in fifth place overall.
The podium showing in the relay race was a goal realized for Konecny, but it wasn’t without its drama. Konecny, who is coached by Summit County local and esteemed American Nordic coach Jim Galanes, put his team in a fourth-place position during his leg of the relay. That was good enough to be within five seconds of first place. On the second leg, Magill left Cotton with a seven-second lead.
That’s when the nerves really kicked in for Konecny. Though his race was over, the Summit High School freshman watched as his Junior Nationals roommate, Cotton, skied through exhaustion. In the end, Cotton held on for a second-place finish by just a two-second margin.
“I definitely felt confident that we could podium top three,” Konecny said, “And the fact that we did was very exciting.”
Haynes shines in mass start
Along with Konecny’s second place in the relay, the top individual result for a Summit County skier at Junior Nationals came from Peter Haynes. A Junior Nationals veteran, the Summit High senior raced to a 15th-place showing in the 89-skier, 10-kilometer U-18 boys mass start classic race. Haynes’ time of 26:53.2 was just over a minute behind the championship time of Zanden McMullen of Alaska Pacific University.
The race was a true comeback effort for Haynes, as he was forced to recover following a fall during his second kilometer. Crossing up his skis with another competitor, Haynes dropped back to about 60th position after the fall. He then raced back up to that top-15 finish.
“Probably the strongest performance I’ve seen from him all season,” Haynes’ coach, Summit Nordic Ski Club’s Olof Hedberg, said at the Frisco Nordic Center on Thursday. “It’s great to see a senior like that that’s able to pull it together when it starts to matter. That’s a lesson. And I think it’s a very good lesson for those who were there for the first time. It is a very different beast to race on a national scale than the local scale. It’s so tight about positions. Five seconds can be five places.”
Summit Nordic gains nationals experience
Of his Summit Nordic Ski Club teammates, Haynes was joined in racing to a top-15 finish by Nina Schamberger. The 13-year-old Schamberger raced up in the U-16 girls races, and finished in 15th place in the 5-kilometer freestyle race.
Hedberg, also Schamberger’s coach, felt the elite young athlete performed well considering she entered the Junior Nationals after battling the flu in the lead-up to the event.
Schamberger also has qualified to attend this summer’s U.S. Nordic U-16 camp in Duluth, Minnesota. The camp invites the top 30 13-16-year-old girls and boys cross-country skiers from across the country, and bases its selections off of season results and performances at Junior Nationals.
At the camp, Schamberger will ski with her friend Samantha Smith from the Sun Valley Ski Educational Foundation in Idaho. Schamberger and Smith are the top two 13-year-old girls skiers in the country, based off of their performances this season.
The Rocky Mountain regional team was also represented by the following Summit Nordic Ski Club athletes at the Alaskan Junior Nationals: Alex Morano, Sam Haynes, Jack Jones, Gray Wasson, Tai-Lee Smith, Jaden Phillips and Noelle Resignolo.
“We came home very excited that they saw the next level of ski racing,” Hedberg said of the Summit Nordic Ski Club’s takeaways from Junior Nationals. “And now they know how it is and how big it is for them compared to racing in Colorado where it’s a little smaller. It’s a great experience to have. It’s something that will inspire these athletes for next year in Lake Tahoe. We’ve already started planning for it.”
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