The U.S. Junior National cross-country championships in Lake Placid, New York, kicked off with a strong start for Team Alaska, despite challenging weather conditions. On the competition’s opening day, Team Alaska secured a commendable tally of medals, including one gold, one silver, and one bronze. The event was marked by fierce winds and tough conditions, but that didn’t deter the athletes from showcasing their resilience and skill on the snowy tracks of Mt. Van Hoevenberg.

Rosie Whittington-Evans, affiliated with Alaska Pacific University, clinched the gold medal in the U20 women’s 7.5-kilometer freestyle race, highlighting her prowess and determination under difficult conditions. The U18 boys’ category saw Vebjørn Flagstad of the Alaska Winter Stars take home the silver, while Oskar Flora, also from APU, earned the bronze in the same distance, contributing to Alaska’s impressive medal haul.

The event also saw notable performances from athletes with Alaska connections competing for other divisions. Ben Dohlby, skiing for the University of Alaska Fairbanks but representing the Great Lakes Division, and Davis Isom, training with APU but competing for the Midwest Division, both secured medals in the U20 men’s 7.5K race, with Dohlby winning silver and Isom taking bronze.

Conditions on the course were far from ideal, with strong winds complicating the races throughout the day. “The weather for the women’s race was high wind and blowing snow. Pretty tough conditions,” Team Alaska coach Anson Moxness reported. Despite the weather challenges, the competition was fierce, with several Alaskans achieving top finishes in various categories.

Beyond the podium finishers, other Alaskan athletes put forth strong performances. Jack Leveque of the Winter Stars narrowly missed the podium in the U16 boys 5K, while several others ranked competitively in their respective races, showcasing the depth and talent of the Alaskan contingent.

The championships not only tested the athletes’ abilities against the elements but also underscored the strength and determination inherent in Alaska’s young skiers. With the competitions set to continue, Team Alaska’s initial success bodes well for their performance in the days to come.

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