Brennan, Kern, Schoonmaker Top 10 in World Championships Classic Sprint
On the first day of competition at the 2023 Nordic World Championships in Planica, Slovenia the U.S. Cross Country Team not only sent three women to the classic sprint heats and two men, but three athletes had their best-ever results at the World Championships.
On a cool and partly cloudy afternoon, over 200 skiers, representing 60 nations descended onto the classic sprint 1.4km course for the first race of the World Championships.
In the qualifications round, it took skiers just over three minutes to ski the 1.4km course. With thousands of fans, donning their countries’ flags surrounding the course, the sights and sounds of Planica filled the stadium with loud cheers for the athletes.
For qualifications, Rosie Brennan qualified the highest for the women, securing her position in the rounds in sixth overall. Right behind Brennan was teammate Julia Kern. Kern qualified 12th, breaking the top-30 to move onto the next race. Next, was Jessie Diggins. Diggins was merely seconds behind Kern and landed 14th. Hailey Swirlbul did not qualify for the rounds, but in a post-race reflection, Swirbul found several other highlights of the day. ““Everything was great. even though I didn’t have the race that I wanted, I ended up having one of the most fun days of my winter,” said Swirlbul. “I felt like the energy was really positive from everyone today. I also got the chance to go out on course for the heats and be there for support and that was really fun to support my teammates in a different way.”
For the men, two qualified for the heats. Ben Ogden led the way by qualifying in sixth overall among the strong field of over 100 racers. Teammate JC Schoonmaker was close behind and qualified in 15th; Kevin Bolger did not advance to the heats, but stayed through the entire race to support the team.
Onto the Heats
With the men’s and women’s heats going one after the other, the top 30 racers each fought to make it to the semifinals, with only the top two securing a spot and the third fastest “lucky loser” time moving on.
With the course breaking down before our eyes due to warm temperatures, impact of all of the racers and snow quality, the snow became choppy. Yet, the U.S. skiers charged on.
Kern was ultimately second in her heat and Brennan made it through to the next by having the fastest third-place time. Diggins did not advance.
“In the semis, Rosie and I were battling in the race but we both had really good energy,” said Kern. “Overall, I gave it my all and it’s all looking good for the races ahead. It was awesome to see Rosie get her best ever classic sprint result and World Champs result and to also get my best ever World Champs result, along with JC skiing so well!”
“The course was pretty crazy. It was salted the night before and once it broke, it got really mushy,” said Diggins. “For me, this is my most challenging conditions to race in, but I was really proud of how I skied. That was some of my best slushy striding that I have ever done! But, I learned some things for the next time I race this course and it was very valuable - and it was so cool seeing JC, Julia and Rosie skiing into the finals!”
For the men, Ogden skied fast in his technical heat, but did not advance. For Schoonmaker, after a crash in his heat that he nearly missed, he advanced on to the semifinals.
At the end a long sprint day there were many moments to highlight but the best-ever results from three athletes were top of mind. Schoonmaker finished the World Championships classic sprint in ninth overall, securing his best-ever individual World Championships result. Rosie Brennan not only skied to her best ever individual World Championships result but also snagged her best-ever classic sprint result with her seventh place finish. In eighth place overall, Kern now adds the Planica classic sprint to her best ever World Championships result.
Next on the World Championships agenda is the skiathlon race. The men will race tomorrow, Feb. 24 and the women on the 25th. The skiathlon is a unique race that features both classic and skate techniques. The men will race two 15k’s and the women will race two 7.5k’s. Watch the action LIVE on skiandsnowboard.live.
HOW TO WATCH
Friday, Feb. 24 - skiandsnowboard.live
9:30 a.m. ET - 30k Skiathlon, Classic/Skate, Men’s
Saturday, Feb. 25 - skiandsnowboard.live
8:00 a.m. ET - 15k Skiathlon, Classic/Skate, Women’s
Sunday, Feb. 26 - skiandsnowboard.live
5:30 a.m. ET - Team Sprint, Skate, Men’s and Women’s
Tuesday, Feb. 28 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:30 a.m. ET - 10k, Skate, Women’s
Wednesday, March 1 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:30 a.m. ET - 15k, Skate, Men’s
Thursday, March 2 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:30 a.m. ET - 4x5k Relay, Classic/Skate, Women’s
Friday, March 3 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:30 a.m. ET - 4x10k Relay, Classic/Skate, Men’s
Saturday, March 4 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:00 a.m. ET - 30k, Classic, Women’s
Sunday, March 5 - skiandsnowboard.live
6:00 a.m. ET - 50k, Classic, Men’s