Rosie Brennan

After a successful start to the season, it’s time for Alaskan skiers to take a holiday break from competition.

The top World Cup skiers will still be preparing for the Tour de Ski while others will get ready for U.S. Nationals. Meanwhile, juniors have prep racing and the Junior Nationals in Fairbanks to look forward to.

The grueling seven-stage Tour de Ski begins Dec. 31 in Val Mustair, Switzerland, and ends January 8 in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Alaska will be represented by Rosie Brennan, Gus Schumacher, Hunter Wonders and Scott Patterson.

After a tough start to the World Cup upon missing key races in Lillehammer, Norway, due to illness, Brennan finished Period 1 on a high note by placing third in a 20-kilometer freestyle interval start on Saturday in Davos, Switzerland. She’s now ranked 12th in the World Cup overall standings.

“I love the course here and love skiing at altitude so I had some confidence that I could find a steady pace and hold it,” Brennan emailed to multiple media outlets. “I did all I could to push the downhill on the last lap which just barely snuck me on the podium. It was great to share the podium with Diggs and is a great way to close out period 1 racing. Now it’s all eyes on the Tour!”

The “Diggs” she referred to is American Jessie Diggins, who by winning the event eclipsed retired Anchorage skier Kikkan Randall as the winningest American Nordic World Cup skier of all time.

Gus Schumacher

Schumacher also headed to the holidays on a high note with 18th place in Davos’ 20-kilometer freestyle. Partway through, Schumacher fortuitously fell in with Norwegian winner Simen Krueger and runner-up Hans Krister Holund and was able to ski about five kilometers with them.

Schumacher is pleased with how the first part of the season has gone as he builds for the Tour de Ski and February’s World Championships in Slovenia.

“Period 1 was really solid, with a ton of great races from all of the guys team!,” Schumacher said. “We’re really motivated by it going forward. For me, it went about as planned, starting a little slow, but I felt better and better each weekend. It really makes me psyched for the tour.”

Schumacher, 22, is sharing an apartment in Davos with Diggins and fellow American Ben Ogden for the holidays.

Scott Patterson

Patterson’s highlight of Period 1 was a 14th place in Ruka, Finland, but he’s landed between 33rd and 57th in his other five starts.

“I’ve typically struggled a little early season and come on form later so I am not too concerned on (the) overall season outlook,” Patterson texted on Wednesday. “My big goals are later in the season. I hope to use the Tour as another step and move up the results sheet a bit.”

SuperTour and U.S Nationals

Alaska’s top domestic racers will soon head to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships January 2-7 in Houghton.

Hailey Swirbul

The SuperTour, the country’s top series of races, has so far been dominated by Hailey Swirbul of the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center. Of the seven events contested so far in Sovereign Lake, British Columbia, and Sun Valley, Idaho, Swirbul won four and placed second twice.

That’s put her atop the SuperTour standings and earned her start rights at the Tour de Ski; however, Swirbul confirmed via text on Wednesday that she has opted to ski at US Nationals instead. (Swirbul also declined start rights for Period 1 on the World Cup in favor of beginning the season in North America).

“7 races in 12 days,” Swirbul said on Instagram before returning to Alaska after the final Sun Valley race contested in a virtual blizzard. “This girl is ready for a break!”

Zanden McMullen

Zanden McMullen, a member of the U.S. Ski Team, is the top Alaskan male on the SuperTour. He’s in fourth place with two podium finishes. Other Alaskans holding their own on the SuperTour include David Norris (he has moved to Steamboat Springs, Colo., and placed second in both his SuperTour starts), Michael Earnhart, Garrett Butts and Thomas O’Harra.

They’re all on the roster for U.S. Nationals, where the results will help determine who gets to ski on the World Cup later this season.

Ari Endestad

U.S. Nationals will also see the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage compete. The Nanooks are led by Kendall Kramer of Fairbanks and Mariel Pulles of Estonia while the Seawolves’ roster includes Alaskan Ari Endestad and Norway’s Astrid Stav, Sigurd Roenning and Magnus Noroey.

Several top Alaskan juniors are also signed up for U.S. Nationals, including Marley Ireland, Meredith Schwartz, Murphy Kimball and Olivia Soderstrom.

Besh Cup results

The six-race Besh Cup kicked off December 17-18 with a pair of chilly races at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. The races determine who qualifies for the U.S. Cross Country Junior National Championships March 13-16 in Fairbanks.

The Besh Cup continues January 14-15 at Government Peak Recreation Area in Palmer. The next big high school race is the Lynx Loppet at Kincaid Park on January 13-14 at Kincaid Park.

Top results from Kincaid Park are as follows:

Dec. 17 — 5-kilometer interval-start classic
U16 girls: Rosie Conway, Zoe Rodgers, Olivia Soderstrom
U16 boys: Vebjorn Flagstad, Kieran Kaufman, Oskar Flora
Dec. 17 — 10-kilometer interval-start classic
U18 women: Marley Ireland, Zarah Laker-Morris, Kiley Dennis
U20 women: Katey Houser, Emily Erickson, Natalie Hood
U18 men: Blake Hanley, Cole Flowers, Peter-John Bragonier
U20 men: Hugo Hinckfuss, Matt Seline, Philipp Moosmayer
Open women: Astrid Stav, Mariel Pulles, Kendall Kramer
Open men: Thomas O’Harra, Alexander Maurer, Hugo Hinckfuss
Dec. 18 — 5-kilometer mass start freestyle
U16 girls podium: Olivia Soderstrom, Brynn Rathert, Rosie Conway
U16 boys podium: Kieran Kaufman, Vebjorn Flagstad, Noa Kam-Magruder
Dec. 18 — 10-kilometer mass start freestyle
U18 women’s podium: Marley Ireland, Zarah Laker-Morris, Sammy Legate
U20 women’s podium: Katey Houser, Lily Pannkuk, Abigail Haas
U18 men’s podium: Murphy Kimball, Owen Young, Blake Hanley
U20 men’s podium: Philipp Moosmayer, Derek Richardson, Matt Seline
Open women: Kendall Kramer, Mariel Pulles, Astrid Stav
Open men: Michael Earnhart, Kai Meyers, Alexander Maurer

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