The second half of Junior Nationals put Team New England to the test — with mass start classic racing and a perennial favorite event, team relays. After two days of New England dominance in the freestyle and sprint events it would be a hard charging Midwestern team that would take the win on the day in the classic races. One of the huge factors heading into the Championships was to keep everybody healthy, with strict protocols to limit potential exposure to Covid. Throughout the week New England athletes and staff did a superb job of accommodating and responding to any potential health concerns — trying to limit any unneeded stress on the athletes. The mass start races also proved to have a fair share of spills and equipment breakage — both factors that held some athletes back from their top performances on the day.
Despite these challenges three skiers dug deep and came out as National Champions in the classic races: U18’s Fin Bailey (SMS) and Ava Thurston (Mansfield) and U20 Nina Seeman (Dartmouth). It’s a pretty remarkable statistic when you have one division win half of the races at such a highly competitive event. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Thurston and Seeman won all three of the individual events for their age group! At the end of Friday’s races New England claimed six podiums and nine top-10 All American results 🇺🇸. U20M Aidan Burt (UVM)🥈; U20W Nina Seeman (Dartmouth)🥇 Cat Stow (Gunstock)🥈; U18M Fin Bailey (SMS)🥇; Jack Lange (SMS) 7th; U18W Ava Thurston (Mansfield)🥇; U16M Tabor Greenberg (GMVS)🥈; U16W Annelies Hanna (Craftsbury) 4th and Julia Thurston (Mansfield) 10th!
The Dave Quinn Award is awarded each year to one Junior National athlete. Each of the 10 divisions nominates one person, and then all 10 divisional cast one vote. The Dave Quinn Award recognizes that JN athlete who best exemplifies the ideals of the cross country sport that Dave Quinn expressed thought out his life. In addition to outstanding results, nominees should have special attributes such as love of the sport, leadership, overcoming hardship, worth ethic, which make them unique. New England nominated Mr. Jack Lange for his leadership throughout the event, including nightly pep talks to the entire team, and his unmatched love of cross country skiing and competition.
After a hard fought day on the classic tracks Team New England woke up Saturday ready to show their very best in the freestyle relays. For the first time in Junior National history the relays were mixed gender — providing for some really exciting races and showing the true depth of each division. The first race of the day belonged to the U16’s: Tabor Greenberg(GMVS), Quinn McDermott (Berkshire Nordic), Beth McIntosh (Frost Mountain) and Annelies Hanna (Ford Sayre) put on a show and set the stage for an amazing sweep of all three age groups. These results would cement the overall team award, bringing the Alaska Cup home to New England for the seventh time in ten years!
Despite highlighting the top results from the races in Minneapolis — New England’s continued success belongs to the whole region. The team that traveled to Junior Nationals was shaped by the competition and community we find at training camps, rollerski races, popular races and Eastern Cups throughout the year. It took a herculean effort to get a team of sixty plus skiers and staff to the event after two years of a pandemic. The skiers and support staff rose to the challenge, unifying as a team, finding success and new friendships.