Jessica Yeaton stuns with 5th place at the USA Cross Country Skiing Championships

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Jessica Yeaton stuns with 5th place at the USA Cross Country Skiing Championships. This is Jessica’s highest finish at the Championships and the first time she has finished inside the top 10 let alone the top 5. Paul Kovacs skied into a solid 48th position whilst Casey Wright and Mark Pollock finished in 98th and 154th respectively.

“I was hoping for a top 15 finish, so I am totally psyched for a top 5!’ Jessica commented to AusXC soon after the race. “I really liked how the course flowed; there were long, hard climbing sections followed by downhills where I could really recover.”

Jessica went out hard and was in 3rd place 5km into the 10km event. “That strategy ended up working really well for me. I went out hard and caught the girl 15 seconds in front of me (Katherine Ogden), and fought to stay with her until the line. It was super cold and windy out but that’s racing for you. I am super excited for the next three races and hope I can keep skiing well!”

Jessica, who is originally from Perth, has dual citizenship with Australia and the USA. Up until 2014 Jessica had raced under the nationality of the USA before changing to race for Australia. Jessica has raced in the USA Championships several times in the past but has never finished in the top ten with her previous best being 16th in 2013. This top 5 finish which translates to approximately 52 FIS points is Jessica’s best results in terms of placing and points at this level. It is also a new Australia record for lowest FIS points in a distance race by a female athlete. This year Jessica will represent Australia at the World University Winter Games later in January and at the World Championships in Sweden in February.

In other results Paul Kovacs skied a solid race to finish in 48th out of a massive field of 190 starters. “Today was a really tough race and I’m happy to get a solid result but disappointed to be a little out of contention.” PK reported after the race. “I started strong and was in the top 10 on my first split but had a really average second half of the first lap which cost me I think. Second lap was solid but nothing special. A solid day in testing conditions, I feel like my body is going well so I’m looking forward to improving my results!”

PK finished just over four minutes behind the winner Kyle Bratrud who had an amazing race on his home trails to win by 50 seconds in front of former US Ski Team member and Sochi Olympian Kris Freeman.

For Casey Wright and Mark Pollock their results were not what they had necessarily hoped for but both saw positives in their results. Casey has been fighting illness leading into the event and was happy to be back to 100% health prior to the race. “All things considering, I feel that overall I had a good race. I wasn’t skiing fast but I felt like I was skiing well and consistent throughout the course so what more could I ask for. I am now over my cold, so I am looking forward to smashing out the rest of the races. The last week has just been extra rest……”

Mark Pollock finished in 154 out of the 190 starters around eight and a half minutes behind the winner. In his own words “I didn’t have the race I was looking for. Actually felt alright during the race but the result wasn’t what I was after. I thought I paced it reasonably and came home well but eight minutes back is not where I want to be. Three more races to rectify that!”

The conditions were tough with slow cold snow. The temperature was -15 C at the beginning of the race but with 50km winds it felt much colder. A lot of athletes were pulled from the race due to having frostbite and hypothermia. Tomorrow’s race has been postponed until Wednesday with the hope that the conditions may ease.

Athlete quotes in full:

Jessica Yeaton: “I am really happy with my result today! I felt really good coming into the week and was hoping for a top 15 finish, so I am totally psyched for a top 5! I really liked how the course flowed; there were long, hard climbing sections followed by downhills where I could really recover. I went out hard and caught the girl 15 seconds in front of me (Katharine Ogden), and fought to stay with her until the line. That strategy ended up working really well for me. It was super cold and windy out but that’s racing for you- I just wore about a million layers. I am super excited for the next three races and hope I can keep skiing well!”

Paul Kovacs: “Today was a really tough race and I’m happy to get a solid result but disappointed to be a little out of contention. It was -15 and getting colder during the day plus a strong wind creating chaos for some racers. A lot of people had to go to the medical tent and pull put with hypothermia and frostbite so from that side of things I’m really glad I made it around unscathed.

I started strong and was in the top 10 on my first split but had a really average second half of the first lap which cost me I think. Second lap was solid but nothing special. A solid day in testing conditions, I feel like my body is going well so I’m looking forward to improving my result.”

Casey Wright: “Unfortunately I have been sick all week so the race was not exactly what I was hoping for. However all things considering, I feel that overall I had a good race. I wasn’t skiing fast but I felt like I was skiing well and consistent throughout the course so what more could I ask for.

I am now over my cold, so I am looking forward to smashing out the rest of the races. The last week has just been extra rest……”

Mark Pollock: “Didn’t have the race I was looking for today. Actually felt alright during the race but the result wasn’t what I was after. Cold and windy according to the US skiers (hasn’t got anything on perisher) I thought I paced it reasonably and came home well. But 8mins back is not where I want to be.

3 more races to rectify that!”

 Results – Women’s 10km Skate

  1. Caitlin Gregg, USA, 30:31.5
  2. Chelsea Holmes, USA, 30:43.6
  3. Rossie Brennan, USA, 30:44.2
  4. Caitlin Patterson, USA, 31:03.2
  5. Jessica Yeaton, AUS, 31:03.8

92. Casey Wright, AUS, 36.02.7

147 starters.

Results – Men’s 15km Skate

1. Kyle Bratrud, USA, 42:01.6

2. Kris Freeman, USA, 42:51.6

3. Patrick Caldwell, USA, 42:54.3

48. Paul Kovacs, AUS, 46:03.3

154. Mark Pollock, AUS, 50:34.1

190 starters.

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