Hannah crowned national champion | SteamboatToday.com

Hannah crowned national champion

— Many of the records for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Nordic skiing program are kept in an old manila envelope, and they’re decidedly incomplete, Nordic skiing coach Brian Tate explained Thursday.

So, he’s not sure exactly just how unprecedented Lars Hannah’s Wednesday’s accomplishment was.

Whether he was the first ever, or the first in nearly two decades, Tate was absolutely sure of one thing — Hannah achieved something mighty special when he won a U20 men’s junior national championships Wednesday at the Auburn Ski Club in Lake Tahoe, California.

“This is a title he gets to keep for the rest of his life,” Tate said.

Hannah just missed on a championship earlier in the week, placing second in a freestyle sprint event. He left no doubt Thursday, however, simply dominating in a 10-kilometer freestyle individual start event.

The conditions were sketchy thanks to warm temperatures and rain, and the course was short. The 2.5-kilometer loop was all organizers could put together thanks to a lack of snow.

None of it bothered Hannah, however. He said he learned to love skiing in the rain last summer when he forced himself to push through roller skiing training sessions in downpours.
 He got a fast start Wednesday and had a five-second lead on his fastest opponents after one lap. He maintained that lead through the middle of the race, then added on big in the second half, ending up with a 23-second victory.

“I just kept going harder and harder,” Hannah said. “I wasn’t expecting to be that far up on the second-place guy, but I don’t know, I had good energy and was feeling great.

“It was shocking. This is something I’ve always wanted, to win an individual start event and coming across the finish line was very relieving.”

Steamboat also got a strong race Wednesday from Noel Keeffe, who was fourth in the U16 boys 5K race. He finished nine seconds off the podium.

Tyler Terranova was 11th in that same event, Wyatt Gebhardt 12th and Jimmy Colfer 13th.

Kathleen O’Connell was 18th in the women’s U18 division, Anna Burkholder 44th and Jordi Floyd 49th. Among the U18 boys, Finn O’Connell was 38th, Simon Zink 53rd and Evan Barbier 78th.

The championships continue Friday with a classic skiing mass start race.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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