US Nationals Recap

And just like that, yet another year of National Championship racing has come and gone!

Here’s the rundown.

1/2/23 10km skate individual start

7th overall, 4th American, 3rd American U23

Man, it feels good to be back down at sea level! I knew coming into this race that I was fit, and ready to go. As long as the limiting variables stayed at bay and I had good skis, it could be a good day. The day prior, during my “pre race” workout it became evident that I was running on all 8 cylinders. Luckily for me, on race day, my body felt strong and my skis were right in there. I went out hard, focusing on nailing each section of the course, and before I knew it, I was at the finish line. It was a good day to start off the week of US Nationals with my best finish to date! Super fun to be able to go hard, ski fast, and move well!

1/4/23 classic sprint

*7th overall, 4th American, 4th American U23*

What a day! I qualified 17th overall which was great because it solidifies that I have in fact started to figure out the whole classic sprint thing. I’ve been dialing in my sprint warmup and today my body responded well in the races. In the qualifier I had a couple little stumbles, which cost some time, so it’s good to know I have yet to reach a ceiling. In my ¼ final heat, I wanted to place top 2 to move on to the semis. Just how to accomplish this I wasn’t sure, but after the first lap (it was a 2 lap sprint course) it became evident that my hill running on skis was strong, so I used it. By the top of the main climb on the second lap I was at the front and held it to the line to win my ¼ final heat which I was stoked with! Then onto the semi final heats. In the first 100 meters there was plenty of drama with lots of obstructions, and a crash. I employed similar tactics as I had in the 1/4s and in the end got out double-poled in the last 75 meters, by the guy who eventually won in the finals, to finish 3rd. Unfortunately, I ended up getting disqualified because of a “technique violation” which occurred in the semis, hence the asterisk by the result. I don’t agree with the decision, but I won’t dive into that any further.

1/6/23 20 km classic mass start

10th overall, 8th American, 4th American U23

After a disappointing end to an otherwise tremendous day on the 4th, I was looking for redemption in this race. It was my first 20k race and first classic race longer than 15k. The pace was hot from the start, and having started as bib 28 I had some passing to do to reach the front. With the early fast pace I decided it was better to be patient rather than burning matches early in order to get to the front. Unfortunately that didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped. The pack got strung out, and the leaders just got further and further away. However, that’s not to say I could’ve gone with the leaders if I had gotten to the front. On the day, I was definitely a tad flat, and to be honest, I’m still scratching my head as to why I just didn’t simply go faster. I was undoubtedly sore and tight from the sprint races, but the race didn’t feel too hard otherwise. In all, it was a decent result. Not a good day, not a bad day.

1//7/23 skate sprint

39th overall, 25th American, 14th American U23

Well it’s safe to say that I have yet to crack the code on skate sprinting. Whether it’s a lack of specific strength, flawed power application, or bad tactics, the puzzle pieces remain pieces. In the last skate sprint race I had in early Dec, my tactics were to try to ski big, strong and relaxed. That however ended up lacking a certain amount of emphasis and ended up being slow. This time however, my tactic was simple. Ski as fast as possible and hope I can hold it. Unfortunately I was not able to hold it and the wheels came off on the second lap up the main climb where I proceeded to bleed time to the finish. I should have a couple more skate sprints this season, and therefore a couple more opportunities to try and figure it out.

All in all, it was a solid week of racing. It was my best National Championships to date, and a good place to kick off the biggest block of the 2023 racing season. It was also great to get back with the team after a nice Christmas break at home, and settle into the day-to-day groove that the racing season entails.

Currently, I’m in Cable, WI where we will have more Super Tour racing this weekend with a 30km classic mass start on Saturday, 1/14, and a classic sprint on Sunday, 1/15. The 30km will be an interesting race, as it’s a single 32km loop that utilizes the famous American Birkebeiner race trails. It’s rolling, fast, playful, and should be a lot of fun. There is potential for a live stream, so do tune in and also find results at… ,https://www.birkie.com/ski/events/seeley-hills-classic-supertour/.

I’m excited to keep things rolling and race much more! After this week in Wisconsin, I will travel to Lake Placid, NY to represent team USA in the World University Games, and compete in the skate-mass start 30k on 1/22! More updates to come.

Until next time,

Garrett Butts

Thanks to @untraceableg and Erik Maurer for the pics!

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