LAKE PLACID - Lake Placid High School graduate Karl Schulz was the fastest man around Monday at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid, capturing the top spot in the men's U20 Cross-Country Junior National Championships 10-kilometer race.
Schulz completed four laps on the 2.5K course in just 24 minutes, 58.6 seconds, besting runner-up Hunter Wonders by one-tenth of a second. Etienne Hebert from Montreal placed third with a time of 25:31.6. Saranac Lake native Bryce Hartman, who graduated last year, placed 17th in 26:52.7.
On the girls' side, Saranac Lake native and St. Lawrence University skier Jackie Garso placed 10th in a field of 85 skiers from around North America. Garso finished two laps in the women's U18 5k race with a time of 14:53.4. Garso was the NYSPHSAA combined state champion last year as a senior at Saranac Lake. Margaret Gellert won Monday's race with a time of 14:02.9 while Sofia Shomento (14:20.5) placed second and Ezra Smith (14:26.5) was third.
University of Vermont skier Karl Schulz, of Lake Placid, crests the first hill in the men’s U20 10K race Monday in Lake Placid. Schulz went on to win the Junior National race by one-tenth of a second.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)
Garso has competed in three Junior National meets and said it was nice to be racing on her home course again.
"It was fantastic conditions, they did such a great job putting this together," she said. "It's a really hard course. It's all up and down, but I skied it so many times last winter I knew what I had to do.
"You can go out too fast especially the first time up Flag Pole Hill (and) you can blow out really bad. Just knowing how to pace it is such a huge advantage."
While Garso has several years experience racing the top skiers on the continent, several other local racers were making their first appearances on the national stage.
Saranac Lake freshman Sylvie Linck made her first appearance at nationals Monday, and finished 61st in the U16 5K race with a time of 18:12.9.
"It was fast and it was fun," she said. "It was really cool to see everyone. They're really fast."
Lake Placid also had several younger skiers at the meet representing the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF). Freshman Kai Frantz (14:04.6) and James Flanigan (14:11.1) placed 40th and 42nd, while sophomore Jesse Izzo was right in between them at 41st with a time of 14:04.6 on the 5K course. Joe Wilson, who skis for Lake Placid and NYSEF but lives in Keene, finished with a time of 1501.1.
"The course was pretty sweet. We've skied on it a lot before," Flanigan said. "It was pretty hard. It's intimidating (to race at nationals). It puts it in perspective."
"It was pretty fun, but mostly brutal," Frantz said. "This is awesome. I'm so pumped to be here. I've been looking forward to this for a year. I didn't even know if I was going to make it, and here we are."
Izzo reiterated that the locals' knowledge of the course was a bit of an advantage, while also echoing the excitement of competing on such a large stage.
"It was definitely hard. You have to be careful when you first go out," he said. "I felt like I paced myself pretty well on the first lap and pushed it pretty hard on the second lap.
"All of my sisters and brothers went to Junior Nationals back when they were younger. I've been watching it for 10 years, and here I am."
Another skier representing NYSEF is Colton Martin from Erie, Pennsylvania. Martin is taking advantage of a NYSEF program that allows kids to live and train in Lake Placid while attending school. Martin said he's been taking classes online through his school in Erie. Martin (14::51.4) finished 61st in the U16 race.
"I came up here for the NYSEF program. I'm glad to have the snow right now," he said. "It felt great, it was really nice. It went pretty good. I probably could have worked a little harder on the hills. It feels really good, I'm very happy I made it."
Lake Placid skiers Henry McGrew and Scott Schulz and Saranac Lake's Ethan Wood and Lauchlan Cheney-Seymour all raced in the men's U18 10K race.
Schulz, who last week won the NYSPHSAA overall individual title, placed fifth with a time of 25:47.1. McGrew (26:45.5) was 17th in the field of 91. McGrew won the NYSPHSAA individual classic ski title at the Ski Bowl in North Creek. Cheney-Seymour (28:04.3) placed 50th and Wood (28:26.3) was 57th.
The competition continues all week, with all age groups competing in the 1.5k classic sprint elimination race on Wednesday. On Friday, the mass start distance classic ski race kicks off at 10 a.m., while the 3x3 team relay races will take place on Saturday.
For the full schedule of events, visit www.xcjuniornationals2017.com.