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Patterson Wins 20K FR her Second Title and 3rd Podium at US Nationals + Interview

by Lex Treinen

January 07, 2016   (Houghton, Michigan) – For the third race in a row Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project laded herself on the podium at the 2016 US Nationals in Houghton, Michigan – and for the second time this week she landed on the top step. Patterson claimed the victory in the ladies 20km skate mass start race by four seconds, narrowly beating Chelsea Homes of APU Nordic Ski Center and Katharine Ogden of the Stratton Mountain School. Rounding out the top six were Ogden’s teammates Anne Hart and Erika Flowers and Eliska Hajokova of Boulder Nordic.

Caitlin Patterson (#202) skated past Chelsea Holmes in the final 100 meters to take her second U.S. National title. [P] CCCSA-Mary Kozloski

For the first lap the top six racers stayed in a tight group with Holmes doing most of the work at the front. By the 10km mark the 6-strong lead group had a 30-second gap over 7th place. Patterson commented that, “the first lap was relaxed for a women race”. After just 1.5km of the second lap Holmes attacked on the bottom of the first major climb and opened up a small gap. The posse of five chasers managed to reel her back in but the ferocity of the pace had increased.

“If I had of been a lot stronger I would of broken them earlier but I also realize you can be sucked back in, given the way the course skis. On the flats a group that’s behind can also get an easier ride and make time up,” said Holmes, who also said she was very proud of her effort today and was happy she had skied the race she wanted to with the attack so early on in the second lap.

Caitlin Patterson won the women’s 20k freestyle race, as Chelsea Holmes was second, followed by Katharine Ogden in third. [P] CCCSA-Mary Kozlosk

With just one kilometre to go the lead group was down to four women with Hart leading. Both Patterson and Holmes were looking for an opening to pass but found it difficult on the tight winding trails. Then Holmes found a gap and slipped through opening up a small margin of around four seconds before Patterson also managed to get past Hart. With only 200 meters to the line, Patterson drew alongside Holmes and found an extra gear to injec some pace to claim the win by foru seconds.

But it almost ended early for Patterson when Holmes attack came at 12km in. “The early 12km attack was a surprise, I took the lead for the second lap until the [hairpin] corner and Chelsea came by me and clearly going it. I thought– okay, don’t under-estimate Chelsea and that’s where I almost got gapped and that really broke up the rest of the field.” This has been Patterson’s most ever successful US Nationals as she’s claimed only two other podiums over the past two years. Video interview courtesy of Mary Kozloski/CXC.

For third placed Ogden she chose the remarkable decision to race above her age group and compete with the Senior women instead of the U20 females. “At the West Yellowstone SuperTour I got a sub 50 FIS race result so I auto-qualified for the Junior World Championships – my coach and I decided it would be more beneficial to get points for the Canadian World Cups,” she said. Clearly the decision paid off for Ogden as she earned valuable points towards the overall Supertour rankings.

Racing concludes on Saturday with a Classic sprint.

Results HERE.

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