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1 gold, 3 bronzes keep Alaska skiers on the podium at national championships

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: January 4, 2019
  • Published January 4, 2019

Bronze was the color of the day for Alaska skiers Friday at the U.S. National Championships in Vermont, although Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks provided a touch of gold.

Alaskans collected three bronze medals and one gold medal in the classic sprint races at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

Kramer, a West Valley High athlete who races for FXC, was the top junior for the second day in a row. She captured the gold medal in the junior women’s race and was joined on the podium by Anchorage’s Molly Gellert of Dartmouth, who placed third.

Gellert was one of three bronze medalists for Alaska. In the senior-level sprints, Logan Hanneman and Hannah Halvorsen both skied to third place to give Alaska Pacific University two skiers on the podium.

Halvorsen, meanwhile, was one of three Alaskans in the women’s final. Caitlin Patterson, a South High and University of Vermont grad who trains in Craftsbury, finished a distant fourth, and Hailey Swirbul of APU was sixth.

Victories in the senior races went to Ida Sargent of the U.S. Ski Team and Julien Locke of the Canadian national team. Because foreign skiers are not eligible for U.S. championships, the national title in the men’s race went to Benjamin Saxton of Vermont, who edged Hanneman by .21 seconds to claim second place. It was the first national-championship medal for Hanneman, a 2018 Olympian.

Sargent, a two-time Olympian who started the season on the World Cup tour, finished about eighth-tenths of a second ahead of Julia Kern of Vermont, who nipped Halvorsen by .02 seconds to take silver. Swirbul placed last among the six finalists, 10 seconds out of the medals.

In all, 11 Alaskans — six men and five women — advanced to the heats. Gus Schumacher of the Alaska Winter Stars and Forrest Mahlen of APU made it as far as the men’s semifinals while APU’s David Norris, Tyler Kornfield and Luke Jager made it to the men’s quarterfinals. Dartmouth skiers Lydia Blanchet and Taryn Hunt-Smith made it to the women’s quarterfinals along with Halvorsen, Patterson and Swirbul.

In the junior races, AWS skiers Eli Hermanson and Alexander Maurer and Alaska Nordic Racing skier Michael Earnhart qualified for the heats but didn’t get past the quarterfinals. Kramer and Gellert were the lone qualifiers among the women.