Janosch Brugger (4) of Germany came from behind to take Norway’s Petter Stakston at the finish line in the classic sprint. (U.S. Ski Team - Tom Kelly)
SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah (Jan. 30, 2017) - Germany’s junior ski racers dominated opening day of the USANA FIS Junior Nordic World Championships at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center.
Janosch Brugger of Germany came from behind to take Norway’s Petter Stakston at the finish line in the classic sprint. Norway’s Herman Meyer won bronze. In the women’s sprint, Polina Nekrasova of Russia took gold over Germany’s Antonia Froebel in silver and Coletta Rydzek with bronze.
The races were run under clear blue skies, hard packed snow and cold temperatures on the trails used for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Women's classic sprint podium at USANA FIS Junior Nordic World Championships: Silver medalist Antonia Fraebel, of Germany (left), World Champion Polina Nekrasova of Russia, and Bronze medalist Coletta Rydzek, Germany. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
It was a tough loss for Stakston, who was the fastest qualifier and won both his quarterfinal and semifinal heats. Brugger, meanwhile, had to some out of semifinals as a lucky loser to earn his spot in the finals. Stakston had the lead coming into the finish, but Brugger put on a strong push into the finish to take the win.
Nekrasova, who qualified 10th, established herself early as the top athlete in the women’s field. In the opening heat, the Russian won over a strong effort by American Julia Kern by just .19. In the semifinals, Nekrasov won over Finland’s Anita Korva, also by .19. And she ran away in the finals for a 3.56 second margin of victory. It was her first individual Junior Worlds medal, going with the bronze she won in the relay event two years ago in Rasnov.
Julia Kern (Waltham, MA) of Stratton Mountain School was the top American finisher in ninth. Kern finished second, just .19 behind Nekrasova, in the quarterfinals. She was skiing a strong semifinal before getting caught up at the bottom of a downhill and crashing. Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, CA) of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team was 11th. All four U.S. men qualified for the heats, with Bill Harmeyer (S.Burlington, VT) of the Univ. of Vermont making semifinals and finishing 12th.
Tuesday the U23 World Championships open with a classic sprint. The juniors are back in action Wednesday with a 10k freestyle for men and 5k for women.
Germany dominated opening day of the USANA FIS Junior Nordic World Championships winning three of six medals in the classic sprint.
Janosch Brugger of Germany came from behind to steal the men’s win at the finish line.
Russia’s Polina Nekrasov won all three of her heats.
Men's classic sprint podium at USANA FIS Junior Nordic World Championships: Silver medalist Petter Stakston (left), World Champion Janosch Brugger of Germany, and bronze medalist Herman Meyer of Norway. (U.S. Ski Team-Tom Kelly)
ATHLETE QUOTES Janosch Brugger (gold) I didn’t have any strategy - just pushing as hard as I can. It means everything to me - on this day you’re the best in the world. It means a lot because our coach competed here in 2002. For him and for us, it’s special to race here today.
Petter Stakston (silver) I felt very good today. I was strong in the prologue. I tried to catch a lead in every single heat and go as fast as I could. I feel in the last 100 meters Janosch [Brugger] was stronger. Overall I’m very happy.
Herman Meyer (bronze) It was great skiing here in Utah. It was awesome - the beautiful weather, the beautiful nature. I had good skis and everything was very exciting today. The sprint track treated me very well and I got stronger and stronger for each heat. It was a goal for me to come here and compete for Norway. That’s really tough so being here is really awesome for me.
Antonia Fraebel (silver) I haven’t got any words. I’m unbelievably happy and I’m so happy that my friend Coletta is with me on the podium.
Coletta Rydzek (bronze) It was a very tough race from the beginning. It was hard because it’s very uphill. It’s very nice and with the ending I’m more than happy. The course is very, very hard. We are a bit higher than we are used to. There aren’t many places to chill on this course.
Watch every event of the 2017 USANA FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships LIVE from Utah's 2002 Olympic venues through Feb. 5.