Big talent was on display at a small cross-country ski race Saturday at Government Peak.
Thirty-one skiers competed in freestyle races, including two with significant international resumes who set torrid paces.
Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher, the nation’s top junior-level skier the last two seasons with medals in two consecutive World Junior Championships, was untouchable in the men’s 10-kilometer race. He won the interval-start race by 30 seconds in a time of 26 minutes, 48 seconds.
UAF’s Mariel Pulles, who skied for Estonia at last season’s World Championships and World Junior Championships, blazed through the women’s 5K to win by 24 seconds in 15:28.
The races were part of the Alaska Cup, the two-day, season-opening college races for UAA and UAF.
Schumacher isn’t a college skier – he’s a 2018 Service High graduate who opted to keep training at home with Winter Stars coach Jan Buron rather than ski at the college level. He’s a member of the U.S. Ski Team but probably won’t race for the national team until later in the season.
Claiming the next five spots behind Schumacher were five UAA skiers, a group led by Magnus Noroey (27:18), a freshman from Norway. JC Schoomaker, a sophomore from California, was third (28:12).
In the women’s race, Pulles was perhaps even more dominant than Schumacher was in the men’s race, given her big margin of victory was forged in a much shorter race. The freshman boasts a 30th-place finish in the sprint at the 2019 World Championships and 19th-place finish in the sprint at the 2019 World Junior Championships.
Three UAA skiers finished 2-3-4 – Jenna DiFalco (15:52), Anna Darnell (15:54) and Michaela Keller-Miller (15:56). DiFalco is a junior from Fairbanks, Darnell is a senior from Anchorage and Keller-Miller is a senior from Minnesota.
Racing continues Sunday with classic-technique races at Hatcher Pass.
Alaska Cup freestyle race
Men’s 10K (top 10) – 1) Gus Schumacher, Alaska Winter Stars, 26:48; 2) Magnus Noroey, UAA, 27:18; 3) JC Schoonmaker, UAA, 28:12; 4) Espen Persen, UAA, 28:30; 5) Austin Huneck, UAA, 28:47; 6) Everett Cason, UAA, 29:00; 7) Mike Ophoff, UAF, 29:13; 8) Tristan Sayre, UAF, 29:33; 9) Josiah Alverts 30:39; 10) Karl Danielson, UAF, 30:53.
Women’s 5K (top 10) – 1) Mariel Pulles, UAF, 15:28; 2) Jenna DiFalco, UAA, 15:52; 3) Anna Darnell, UAA, 15:54; 4) Michaela Keller-Miller, UAA, 15:56; 5) Anya Maijala, UAF, 16:06; 6) Tuva Granoeien, UAA, 16:42; 7) Catherine Reed-Metayer, UAF, 16:49; 8) Sarah Olson, UAF, 17:04; 9) Hannah Deuling, UAF, 17:09; 10) Helen Wilson, Eagle River Nordic Club, 17:29.