Kenai Central graduate Cooper is U-20 men’s ‘King of Mountain’ at Junior Nationals

  • By Staff Report
  • Saturday, March 12, 2016 2:48am
  • Sports

2015 Kenai Central graduate Travis Cooper helped Team Alaska to victory in the hill climb relay on the final day Saturday at Junior Nationals in Cable, Wisconsin.

Cooper and teammates Max Donaldson and Luke Cvoncara combined for a time of 17 minutes, 23.2 seconds, just enough to edge out New England’s 17:49.9.

Cooper played a big role in the victory with his split of 5:40.8, which was the best in the Under-20 race and only topped by a pair of Under-18 skiers. He received the Under-20 “King of the Mountain” Award for his efforts.

Ja Dorris of Alaska Nordic Racing was at the event. Cooper trained with Alaska Nordic Racing while at Kenai Central.

“Travis skied a smart race,” Dorris said. “It got soft, and I noticed he was picking his way and looking for ice where it was faster.

“He’s not only super fit, he has a head on his shoulders. I’m super happy for Travis. He was one of the nicest kids coaching him within camps and the program.”

The relay hill climb was not part of the original plan for Junior Nationals, but with temperatures getting into the 60s on several occasions during the week, the final event had to be moved to an alpine slope.

That suited Team Alaska just fine, as it won three of the six relays and finished third overall at Junior Nationals.

Dorris said the hill climb was 1.75 kilometers and that, although the skiers had fun with it, it also was very tough on them. He compared the spectators lining the course to Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France.

Cooper also picked up a fourth-place finish for Team Alaska on Thursday.

In the Under-20 mass start freestyle race, Cooper finished the 14.8 kilometers at 36 minutes, 18.8 seconds, while InterMountain’s Max Lachance notched the victory at 35:28.0.

In the Under-16 girls race, Kenai Central’s Addison Gibson finished 7.4 kilometers 32nd at 24:31.3. The victory went to InterMountain’s Sydney Palmer-Leger in 21:46.7.

In the Under-18, Under-20 women’s race, Soldotna’s Hannah Pothast was 78th in the 11.1 kilometers in 37:04.0 while Soldotna graduate Sadie Fox was 83rd in 37:16.7. Alaska’s Anna Darnell pulled off the win with a time of 31:37.8.

Friday, the competitors did a 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint, with Fox leading the way with a sixth-place finish amongst Under-20 women’s skiers.

In Under-16 girls qualifying, Gibson was 28th. In Under-18, Under-20 women’s qualifying, Fox was 27th and Pothast was 81st. In Under-18, Under-20 men’s qualifying, Cooper was 109th.

But once the Under-18 and Under-20 skiers were separated, Fox was 12th among Under-20 skiers and made her way into the semifinals. She finished fifth in the first semifinal, but then won the B Final. Because the sixth-place finisher in the A Final was a guest skier, Fox was officially the sixth-best, Under-20 women’s sprinter in the country.

Also in the hill climb Saturday, Gibson helped Team Alaska to a seventh-place finish in the Under-16 girls race. In the Under-20 women’s relay, Pothast and Fox were on a team that finished 15th.

Editor’s note: This story has been clarified from its original version to reflect Sadie Fox’s sixth-place finish in the Under-20 women’s sprint.

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