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Caitlin Patterson Wins Women’s Sprint FR for 2nd Title & Reese Hanneman Takes Men’s Crown at U.S. XC Ski Nationals

release by the U.S. Cross Country Championships

January 05, 2018 (Anchorage, Alaska) – Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury GRP) continued her domination of the 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships on Friday at Kincaid Park, winning her second National title in two races – this time in the freestyle sprint.

Caitlin Patterson [P] Michael Dinneen Photography
Meanwhile it was once again the Hanneman Brothers Sprint Show – Reese Hanneman has now won three National sprint titles, two freestyle and one classic, while Logan Hanneman won the 2017 SuperTour Finals freestyle sprint in Fairbanks. This year, Reese who took the Nationals crown while Logan clocked the fastest qualifying time. That means Reese boasts another National title while Logan nets invaluable Olympic Winter Games points that could boost his chances at a coveted roster spot.

Patterson is making her own strong case to squeeze onto a very crowded and very talented women’s national team after crushing her first two 2018 Nationals races. After winning Wednesday’s 10K freestyle by nearly 20 seconds, she won Friday’s final by more than three seconds.

Sprint races are chaotic, unpredictable and often decided by a matter of centimeters as numerous racers lunge at the finish line. Not for Patterson, who cruised across the finish line with a strong, steady rhythm, a smile on her face, and five other finalists far behind her. This was Patterson’s fourth National title and a flexing of her freestyle skills.

“I wasn’t going to let up,” Patterson said with a smile.

Women's podium [P] Michael Dinneen Photography
In the finals, Patterson covered the 1.4K sprint course in 3 minutes and 20.93 seconds. Finnish skier Jasmi Joensuu (University of Denver) was second at 3:24.49, followed by the Czech Republic’s Petra Hyncicova (University of Colorado) at 3:25.12. Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury GRP) was fourth overall and the second fastest American at 3:25.28, followed by American Hannah Halvorsen (APU) at 3:28.59. Halvorsen had a special day as the only Junior skier to race in the finals.

After Wednesday’s 10K win, Patterson said she spent her Thursday hydrating, eating right and taking a 75-minute classic ski around her old stomping grounds of Kincaid Park. She is a South Anchorage High School grad and former member of the local Alaska Winter Stars ski program who now lives in Vermont.

Patterson admitted that she isn’t the strongest sprinter, but also professed her confidence as a freestyle skier. She had plenty of confidence and momentum heading into Friday after sweeping Wednesday’s freestyle distance races with her brother, Scott, who won the men’s 15K. Scott, also not the strongest sprinter, didn’t make it out of the quarterfinals on Friday.

“I know I can be a great skate skier, but I am very surprised by this win,” Caitlin said. “(Scott’s) going to have to work on this finishing sprint. I’ll rub it in.”

Reese Hanneman [P] Michael Dinneen Photography
The sibling storyline in the men’s freestyle sprint featured the Hannemans, originally from Fairbanks. In the opening qualifying round Friday, in which skiers start in 15-second intervals, Logan threw down the fastest time on the 1.6K course by nearly half a second at 3:07.40. That scored him the maximum Olympic Winter Games points for the event, one of the many factors taken into consideration when determining the national team.

Nothing else is promised from there, however, as skiers then compete in six-person heats. Logan was eliminated in the semifinals while Reese kept putting the hammer down all the way through a finals shootout.

[P] Michael Dinneen Photography
After climbing the small final hill and taking a tight corner into the stadium’s finish area, Reese pulled away from Kevin Bolger (Sun Valley) as they raced to the line. Hanneman clocked a 3:11.33, edging Bulger’s 3:11.41. APU’s Tyler Kornfield finished third in 3:12.21. Junior skier and 17-year-old Gus Schumacher of Anchorage continued to impress by advancing into the semifinals two days after his sixth place overall finish in the 10K men’s freestyle.

“On that last corner, all six of us were close,” Bolger said. “Reese picked a really great line and I tucked in behind him. It came down to the last few meters and he just skied really well.”

So well, Hanneman was beaming after the finish. He seemingly got a hug or a photo request from everyone in the packed stadium. He soaked up every second.

“It’s a dream to be able to win a national championship at home in front of all these people who I know and who have supported me and came out to cheer,” Hanneman said. “And the Hannemans are three in a row, so that’s kinda cool to be able to continue that.”

Men's podium [P] Michael Dinneen Photography
It was a practically perfect day for sprint racing at Kincaid Park – temperatures in the teens; no wind, a rarity here; mostly sunny and bluebird skies, with an occasional ice fog appearance; and a fast-and-firm, technical-and-fast trail.

“It was awesome skiing, beautiful conditions,” Reese Hanneman said. “Everybody dreams about skiing on the snow out there today.”

Friday’s sprints featured four rounds of racing – all skiers compete in the qualifier, hitting the course in intervals. The top 30 skiers advance to the quarterfinals – five heats each featuring six racers. The top two finishers in each heat advance to the semifinals, as do the two fastest quarterfinal finishers that didn’t land a top two finish (called “Lucky Losers”). The top two finishers in each of the two six-person semifinals heats advance along with two more Lucky Losers, filling out the six-person final.

This week’s races will crown National champions and also be used as part of the selection process for Olympic berths and to determine roster spots on the FIS Junior World Championship, U23 Championship and U18 Scandinavian Cup teams. While primary selection for the 2018 Olympic Cross Country Team comes from World Cup races, some final spots can be determined from Nationals results. Olympic team nominations will be announced the week of January 23.

Women’s results here.
Men’s results here.

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