RUMFORD, ME (Jan. 9, News Release) - Two-time Olympian Carl Swenson (Boulder, CO) and biathlete Katja Ivanova (Jericho, VT), a Russian whose citizenship is pending, picked up their second gold medals of the Chevy Truck U.S. Cross Country Championships Thursday by winning the free technique sprints at sunny Black Mountain.
It was the sixth U.S. title of his career for Swenson, a 1994 and 2002 Olympian who edged Dave Chamberlain (Bethel, ME) in the final dash after grabbing the lead with about a half-kilometer remaining on the 1.3-km course. "I was just able to hold him off," the former Dartmouth College ski captain said.
Lars Flora (Anchorage, AK), the defending champion and another '02 Olympian, finished third with Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) fourth on the fourth day of racing. Freeman, a diabetic who takes daily insulin injections, has won both classic technique races, the 30-km last Saturday and 10-km Tuesday.
In the women's race, Ivanova, a biathlete who skis for the Vermont National Guard, led all the way. She won the qualification heat in the morning and led all three heats of finals as she breezed home ahead of defending champion Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), the 2002 champion and another '02 Olympian. Third place went to Sigrid Aas, a Norwegian student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, with Aelin Peterson (also Fairbanks) fourth.
Chamberlain, a Bates College grad and 2001 World Championships racer who lives and trains at the Maine Winter Sports Center in Presque Isle, led for the first half of the loop before Swenson made his move. "I wanted to attack the hill because I felt strong," Swenson said.
Chamberlain said he hoped to "slingshot" past Swenson in the final stretch to the finish "but I just couldn't catch him. Carl's so tough in these situations."
A short time later, Ivanova earned her second U.S. championship almost with ease. Randall, an APU Nordic skier who has battled a variety of sickness during the week, was pleased with her silver medal, holding off Aas at the finish.
"I didn't give 100 percent until the finish and then I had perfect skis," Ivanova said. "I think this is the fairest course I've ever seen. The lanes are so wide and there's plenty of room for passing, if you have to. It's such a good course."
Randall added, "This worked out well. I've been fighting a little of everything. I had a virus that started in a cold, went into my lung and maybe there's some allergies at work, too. It's been frustrating...but she skied so sound, so well."
The championships conclude Sunday with the mass-start, free technique, distance races - men's 50-km and women's 30-km.
CHEVY TRUCK U.S. CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Rumford, ME - Jan. 9
Free Technique Sprints (1.3-km course; 8 made semifinals)
1. Carl Swenson, Boulder, CO
2. Dave Chamberlain, Bethel, ME
3. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK
4. Kris Freeman, Andover, NH
5. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
6. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI
7. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
8. Scott McArt, Honeoye Falls, NY
1. Katja Ivanova, Jericho, VT
2. Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK
3. Sigrid Aas, Norway,
4. Aelin Peterson, Fairbanks, AK
5. Wendy Wagner, Park City, UT
6. Lindsay Williams, Hastings, MN
7. Christine Bisson, Canada
8. Katie Ronsse, Anchorage, AK