This year's U.S. Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Utah was a breakthrough event for the BSF Nordic Pro Team. It was the first national championship event for the nine-member team, led by coach Andy Newell, and they showed they’re worth the buzz with 12 top-10 performances over four competitions, including three podiums.
Logan Diekmann finished 2nd in the skate sprint, less than two seconds behind JC Shoonmaker, the US Ski Team's top sprinter (ranked 11th in World Cup standings). The BSF Pro Team women fared extremely well in both distance races, proving they are one of the strongest teams in the country.
"Any time we can put three individuals in the top 10 from the same team, it's a successful day,” said Newell. “It's a great display of our team depth and how far we've come in the past year. The highlight from Nationals for me was witnessing all the personal best performances. The team is really coming together and building momentum. We had three first-time podium finishes and so many personal best performances it was amazing."
Mariah Bredal stormed to a 3rd place finish in the 10k classic, with Erika Flowers just behind her in 4th, and Hannah Rudd in 9th.
During the final day of competition in the classic sprint, Hannah Rudd and Lauren Jortberg finished 3rd and 4th respectively. Hannah looked incredibly strong all day, challenging for the win in the final. And Lauren had an unfortunate crash in the final and still came back to just narrowly miss the podium.
"This was a real breakthrough week for a lot of the BSF Pro Team,” said Newell. “Logan showed he is one of the fastest guys in the country. Mariah's third was a gutsy performance and a first career national podium. Erika had her best career 10k classic, and Lauren continued to show she is capable of World Cup qualifying. Hannah Rudd was also a standout for the week. She was so consistent in every race so to finish with a podium in the classic sprint was incredible."
In addition to the Pro Team, 20 junior athletes on the BSF Nordic Competitive & PG teams competed, testing themselves against the top skiers in the country. Nationals gives athletes crucial points towards qualifying for World Cup events, the Olympics, and international junior championships. Plus, Andrew Morehouse, BSF Nordic Program Director and Head Coach of the Competitive Team, noted that the event provides athletes with valuable racing experience in a competitive field.
Max Kluck had a standout freestyle sprint qualifier, finishing 9th among the senior men, as a junior skier. Between that and his other races, Kluck was named to represent the U.S. in the U18 Nordic Nations Trip to Norway at the end of this month.
Morehouse said, “We had good performances all around from the juniors and I’m proud of the effort everyone put out racing in big fields.” He says having four races in a week will set them up well for the rest of the season.