Alaskan Olympic hopefuls win U.S. Championship races on home trails
Unpredictable weather Wednesday wouldn't slow down Anchorage’s Scott and Caitlin Patterson from taking home U.S. freestyle titles.
Caitlin, who skis for the Craftsbury GRP team in Vermont, won the 10-kilometer women’s race with an unofficial time of 27:09.1.
“I told my dad: one down, and one more to go,” said Caitlin’s younger brother, Scott Patterson.
The younger Patterson, who skis with the Alaska Pacific University's Nordic Ski Club, came through on that promise, winning the 15-kilometer men’s race with a time of 36:33.7, nearly a minute ahead of the second finisher.
“I was nervous this morning. It’s been such the hype for so long, and then to come out here and do that in front of our home crowd, it was special,” Scott Patterson said.
Success on the national stage is nothing new for these two.
“We’ve actually both won national championships on the same day before a couple years back in Houghton (Michigan),” said the men’s freestyle champion, referring to the 2016 National Championships. “So it was kind of like, OK let’s do it again.”
But for Scott and Caitlin’s mom, Margaret Hillhouse, it all began when she taught them how to ski in McCall, Idaho.
“Basically when they could walk we strapped skis onto their snow boots on the driveway,” said Hillhouse. “When they got tired, you throw them up on your shoulders (and) keep skiing.”
They've gone from the days on the driveway to knocking on the door of the Olympic Games. Today’s victories improve both Pattersons' chances at making the U.S. Olympic Ski Team.
“This should definitely be a good mark in my book,” said Caitlin Patterson in an interview after the race.
Earlier this week, Scott told KTUU that with four races left this season, he feels confident a win plus a podium finish will secure his spot on the Olympic team.
For full results from Wednesday's races,