Norway took the gold in the men’s team event Sunday at the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Feb. 5, 2017) - The 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships came to a close on the Olympic venue of Soldier Hollow with hotly contest relays under bright skies and warm temperatures. Sunday morning the Russian team took gold over France, with the USA women taking their first medal ever with bronze. In the afternoon, Norway and Russia battled right down to the wire before Norway picked up gold. France took bronze.
In the men’s relay under soft track conditions, Germany and France took the early lead on the first classic leg building a 10-second margin back to Russia and Norway. On the second classic leg, Norway and Russia setup their battle that would remain through the finish. A big gap built between Russia-Norway and the chasing French team, which skied alone the remainder of the two freestyle legs.
Norway skied to gold in the men’s team event Sunday at the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
Coming into the stadium, it was a tight battle between Norway’s Thomas Helland Larsen and Russia’s Vladislav Vechkanov. Larsen found himself on the outside of the 180-degree turn into the final 100 meters. But he had strong momentum and made the pass to setup a finish spring. Larsen kept pace and made his move at the finish line to take the gold by four-tenths of a second.
In the women’s relay, Germany took a first leg lead with classic skiing of Antonia Froebel to hold a 17 second lead over Russia. That evaporated in the second classic leg as a race developed between Italy and Russia for the lead with Germany dropping well off the pace.
The U.S. skied to a first-event Junior World Championship medal. (U.S. SKi Team-Tom Kelly)
Moving into the skating legs, the lead group remained Italy-Russia with France, Sweden and the USA battling for third. On the final climb coming out of Cabin Hollow, America’s Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, CA) of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team put on a quick charge to move the USA into third. She gave back the spot coming into the stadium fourth, handing off to teammate Katharine Ogden (Landgrave, VT) of Stratton Mountain School, bronze medalist two days earlier in the skiathlon.
While Russia and Italy battled for gold, Ogden made a move on France to take the lead, adding to her time to build a large gap coming into the stadium. Russia did the same over Italy, taking gold by 20 seconds over Italy with USA winning bronze just 26 seconds behind Russia.
The Russian team took gold over France, with the USA women taking their first medal ever with bronze. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
The relays closed out the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow, which saw over 500 athletes from nearly 40 nations come to Utah for the competition.
Norway won a down-to-the-wire men’s 4x10k relay over Russia to end the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior World Championships at Soldier Hollow. France took bronze.
In the women’s 4x3.3k relay, Russia built a lead on the final lap to take gold over Italy. The USA won bronze - its first ever relay medal at Junior Worlds.
The relays closed out the 2017 Junior Worlds, which saw over 500 athletes from nearly 40 nations come to the Olympic venues in Utah.
QUOTES MEN’S RELAY Herman Meyer - Norway It felt good to beat the Russians today. They have been so strong in the last two races. We know that Thomas (Thomas Helland Larsen, anchor leg) is really good in sprint finish so we were pretty confident when we say that he was there with the Russian in the final kilometer. I saw Thomas was really strong in the last hill but the Russians were with him into the finish so I was nervous but I’m really glad now.
Thomas Helland Larsen - Norway We were thinking a lot about this before the race. We knew it would be Russia and Norway on the last leg. We were confident if we stayed with Russia we could take them. Russia’s machine is on the uphills, but they weren’t fast enough in the end.
My strategy was to just stay with the Russian. If I would just stay with him for one lap I would do it again for the next 2.5k and beat him at the end.
My plan was to be second into the last hundred meters. I felt I had control of the Russian at the turn. It was a little bit tricky. I had the outside but I was able to push through quite early.
It’s been amazing - we’ve been here for two weeks and enjoyed every day. Good weather, good tracks and good results.
WOMEN’S RELAY Lidia Durkina, Russia It was hard because this mountain is very difficult. But we are the best country and we lap all the world.
Polina Nekrasova, Russia We are glad to come here and every day is like a holiday. We always came to the start in a good mood and were always excited to race here.
Anna Comarella, Italy It is fantastic because we try many times to get to the medal stand so today is a very special day. We are so happy and it’s our first time we medaled in the Junior World Championships. The track and atmosphere were fantastic.
Hailey Swirbul, USA I had a dream last night that we took the silver medal. But bronze is better than we’ve ever done in history and it’s fun to be a part of it.
We’ve taken a ton of motivation from the World Cup girls. All four of us have watched those races together. It’s important to feed off each other as a team. Our World Cup girls do that very well. They take each other’s positive energy and it spirals into more positive energy and into a good result.
Julia Kern I was hoping to move up a little more and put in some surges. But people were skiing really fast and it was a really challenging course. I just tried to hang in there and make as many seconds as I could.
I was crying - it was a dream come true. I was just overjoyed.
Hannah Halvorsen I learned a lot in the 5k individual start. I realized I just needed to trust myself and not start so fast - just be calm and slowly catch up. It paid up. I was able to hang on and continue to pickup time.
I was so happy but not in shock - because I knew we could do it.
Katharine Ogden Hannah came in fourth and I was so excited. The podium was right there and I couldn’t not just send it. I went out so hard and kept going. I had a battle with the French girl. My plan was to attack on the long sustained climb and I made my move there.
It was really incredible to stand up at the medals ceremony the other night. The only thing I can think of that would be better is standing up there with my friends.