Anchorage skier Hailey Swirbul grabbed seventh place in the women’s classic sprint race Thursday to lead the U.S. Ski Team at the U23 World Championships in Vuokatti, Finland.
The classic sprint is the first competition at the event, which also includes the World Junior Championships for cross-country skiers 20 and under. In the U20 men’s race, Zanden McMullen of Anchorage led the Americans in 21st place.
The other top American finishers were Vermont skiers Ben Ogden, 11th in the U23 men’s race, and Waverly Gebhardt, 25th in the U20 women’s race.
In both the U23 races, multiple Alaskans advanced to the heats with top-30 qualifying times.
In the men’s competition, J.C. Schoonmaker and Luke Jager both finished last in their quarterfinal heats to place 26th and 30th, respectively. Gus Schumacher was 41st in qualifying and didn’t advance.
In the women’s competition, Swirbul finished second in her quarterfinal and fourth in her semifinal but wasn’t fast enough to make it to the six-skier finals. Mariel Pulles, a UAF skier competing for Estonia, placed 19th after finishing fourth in her quarterfinal, and Hannah Halvorsen placed 28th after finishing sixth in her quarterfinal.