March 8, 2012 ~ PG Mary Kate Cirelli, Kaitlin Fitzgerald '12 Devlin Shea '12, and Hans Halvorsen '12 are representing GMVS in the USSA Cross Country Skiing Junior Nationals at Soldier Hollow in Utah. They are competing for New England against more than 400 other junior skiers from 10 regions around the nation at the 2002 Olympic venue that is notoriously difficult because of its long climbs and high altitude.
Racing began with a 1.3-kilometer sprint. Sprint racing begins with an individual qualifier on the racecourse, after which the 30 fastest skiers in each age class are seeded for tournament-style heats. The winner and runner-up in each of 5 quarterfinal heats advances to the semifinals, and the two top-seeded 3rd-place skiers advance as "lucky losers." The top 3 skiers from each 6-person semifinal advance to the A-Final, where they duke it out in their fourth race of the day for the top spots on the podium.
All four GMVS skiers qualified for the heats, an impressive accomplishment in such a strong field. Hans led the way with 2nd place in the OJ boys category, and was followed by Devlin Shea in 19th for J1 boys. On the girls’ side, Mary Kate Cirelli cruised to 14th and Kaitlin Fitzgerald snuck into the heats in 29th. Hans Halvorsen was the only skier to advance out of his quarterfinal heat and he did so in style, by winning the heat outright. Hans advanced to the A-Final and battled it out against some of the top-ranked junior collegiate racers in the nation, finishing 6th overall.
Mary Kate Cirelli finished 23rd after the heats, while Devlin Shea and Kaitlin Fitzgerald finished 29th and 30th, respectively.
Director of the Nordic Program Justin Beckwith is the head wax tech for the New England Region that overcame some doubts about the strength of this year's team to leap to a commanding lead in the regional standings. On a warm, sunny, Utah day, skis were very important, and Justin nailed the wax. New England took 5 of 6 National titles. National champion Eric Lustgarten announced in an interview that the "Skis were perfect, magic skis today." High praise for the wax tech! Overall a great day for GMVS Nordic!
Things continued to go well for Mary Kate Cirelli in the 10k skate, as the PG sped to an impressive 5th-place finish. Just behind her was Middlebury College’s Emily Stitt ’10 in 6th place.
Racing continues through Saturday.