SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Jan. 5) – Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA) and Jennie Bender (Johnson, VT) each took home a freestyle sprint title for the Bridger Ski Foundation Sunday on a tight and technical course at the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow. Both Koos and Bender won the classic sprints at nationals last year, and it was the sixth crown for Koos, who has won three of the past four freestyle sprint titles. Athletes return to the 2002 Olympic venue Wednesday for freestyle distance races and then Friday for classic sprints.
Jennie Bender skis toward her second career U.S. sprint title at the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow Sunday, where earlier in the day Bridger Ski Foundation teammate Torin Koos also sealed a title. (Tom Kelly/U.S. Ski Team)
It was a great race. It’s a new course. I think it’s even a better course than what we’re used to here at Soldier Hollow. It made for some really great racing. Everybody was fighting super hard and it was clean. It was real test for everything. You had the climbing, you had the descending, you had the tactics and you had the finish. I can’t wish for anything more.
I felt that as the day went on I got better and better. The qualifier was a little bit off, but every time I was like, “Okay, refocus and let’s do this. We’ve got Sochi coming up and I’ve got to put myself on the team.”
I definitely wanted today. I’m pretty pumped to have won one and looking forward to the classic sprint later this week.
Coming up the big hill, I was really just trying to conserve energy. There was a lot of jostling around for position. I was just trying not to get any poles broken or trip anyone or myself. On this course as long as you hold yourself together on the uphill, the true race is the last four-hundred meters. Before the bridge and then into the stadium I was actually really boxed out, but then as we came into the stadium I saw a hole and went for it and gunning it. It worked out well. I was able to hold it together and I’m also really excited for Torin. It was a great day for Bridger.
I think this is less technical and tactical than the old course, so I was pretty happy with that. The hill is bigger, which suits my strengths a little bit better. So I guess if you’re feeling strong enough to just go for it on the hill then you can make it less tactical, which is more my style. So that was my tactic for the heats. I wish I had been a little more aggressive in my final in that respect. But it was a final so I guess I was a little nervous how fast the other girls were, but it turned out okay.