Alaskan skiers go toe to toe with the best at FIS World Cup

Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 5:16 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans are well represented on the 2021-22 United States Cross Country ski team, including four of the five members on the A Team hailing from the 49th State.

A Team member and former Olympian 33-year-old Rosie Brennan was the top American in the women’s 10-kilometer classic on Saturday, placing sixth overall with a time of 25:08.0 in Ruka, Finland to kick off the 2021-22 Fédération Internationale de Ski (FSI) World Cup.

“We had a frigid and dark 10k today in Ruka,” Brennan told Alaska’s New Source by text message. “We had a solid morning of worrying about what layers to wear and how dark it’s going to be. All worked out in the end and I stayed warm out there and only had a few moments where it was truly too dark to see where I was going. I had really good skis and tried to just dig in and see where my body was at. I didn’t quite have the extra push I needed in the end, but stayed consistent and strong to hold on for a good result. I am really happy to be in the mix and to have a strong group to go chasing with tomorrow. I feel good about where my body is at and where I need to go from here.”

Fellow Alaska Pacific University teammate and A Team member Hailey Swirbul placed 41st in 26:27.7, finishing fourth out of eight Americans in the event.

In the sprint event Friday, Brennan was once again the top American, reaching the quarterfinals at 2:56.59.

“Ruka is such a unique course and being the first race of the season, it’s always hard to know what to expect,” Brennan said of the sprint race. “My goal was to be in the mix and skiing well. I am happy with my effort and really happy to be under way racing. I think this was my best result in Ruka so even though I always want more, I am happy to be where I am right now. I felt I was missing a little top end speed today, but feel that I am on track and moving in the right direction. I’m excited to do some distance racing and to continue working out the kinks this weekend.”

U.S. Cross Country Development team member and APU skier Hannah Halvorsen placed 53rd at 3:11.08.

Brennan, a two-time World Cup champion, sits fifth in the standings with 104 points.

On the men’s side, University of Alaska Anchorage skier and A Team member JC Schoonmaker took the stage and let his presence be known. The 20-year old was the youngest competitor in the top 20, placing seventh overall and just missing the finals with a time of 2:38.2. Anchorage-born athlete and University of Utah skier Luke Jager impressed, scoring his first World Cup points with an 18th place finish at 2:38.23 in the quarterfinals. Fairbanks’ Logan Hanneman finished 33rd in 2:39.9, while Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher placed 56th with a time of 2:42.84.

In the men’s 15k classic, Schumacher was the top American, taking 32nd at 34:50.6, while Fairbanks’ David Norris placed 51st in 35:29.4. Anchorage’s Zanden McMullen skis for Montana State University and placed 55th in 35:38 and Jager finished 60th with a time of 35:51.0. All three finished in the top 60, while Alaska Pacific University Hunter Wonders finished 67th at 36:02.0.

Schoonmaker leads all Americans in the World Cup standings at 18th with 42 points, while Schumacher sits in 27th with 24 points.

On Sunday Rosie Brennan impressed yet again placing 5th in the Women’s 10km Pursuit, while Hailey Swirbul cracked the top 30 with a 26th place finish.

Also on Sunday, Gus Schumacher built on his success from the day before by finishing 11th in the Men’s 15k Pursuit. Schumacher again finished as the top American skier at just 21 years old. Fellow Alaskan David Norris finished 37th.

Up next on the World Cup tour, skiers will race in Lillehammer, Norway December 3-5.

2021-22 Davis U.S. Cross Country Team

A Team

Women: Rosie Brennan - Alaska Pacific University

Hailey Swirbul - Alaska Pacific University

Jessie Diggins - Stratton Mountain School Elite Team

Men: Gus Schumacher - Alaska Winter Stars

JC Schoonmaker - University of Alaska Anchorage

B Team

Women: Julia Kern - Stratton Mountain School Elite Team

Katharine Ogden - Stratton Mountain School Elite Team

Sydney Palmer-Leger - University of Utah

Men: Scott Patterson - Alaska Pacific University

Logan Hanneman - Alaska Pacific University

Kevin Bolger - Sun Valley Gold Team

Development Team

Women: Hannah Halvorsen - Alaska Pacific University

Kendall Kramer - University of Alaska Fairbanks

Novie McCabe - University of Utah

Men: Luke Jager - University of Utah (Anchorage, Alaska)

Zanden McMullen - Montana State University (Anchorage, Alaska)

Hunter Wonders - Alaska Pacific University

Johnny Hagenbuch - Sun Valley Gold Team

Noel Keeffe - University of Utah

Ben Ogden - University of Vermont

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