2020 PA Nordic Championship Race Recap!!

Pamela McCormick racing to her 3rd consecutive PA Nordic Champion title!
Men's Champion Sam Shaneen (middle) with 2nd place finisher Sheldon Degenhardt (right) and 3rd place finisher Jason Zimmerman (left)

Despite one of the worst snow seasons in Pennsylvania history, 73 enthusiastic skiers from the Keystone State, Ohio, New York, Maryland and Minnesota gathered at Wilderness Lodge on Sunday for the 2020 edition of PACCSA’s Pennsylvania Nordic Championship races.  For many of those skiers, it was their first weekend on skis this year.  This proves how resilient our region’s skiers are, and PACCSA appreciates their undaunted support and dedication!   

The big story this year was the lack of help from Mother Nature, which forced Roger Janes and his staff of groomers at Wilderness Lodge to take matters into their own hands.  Tons of snow had to be transported and shoveled by hand into key areas of the trail system to create a beautifully rolling 5k race course.  Then, on the eve of the race, Mother Nature finally stepped in by delivering several inches of fresh snow -- “icing on the cake” that the Wilderness staff groomed to perfection. 

Classic Races

The day kicked off with the 5k Classic which was raced in near-blizzard conditions.  Fresh snow falling at a rate of one-inch per hour slowed the course and made finding the right kick wax a massive challenge.   

In the Women’s 5k Classic, Ohio native Rosalie Franek brushed off the difficult conditions and sliced through the fresh snow to take victory with a time of 26:53.  Taking second was PACCSA’s own Naomi Jarvis (28:34), with Ohio Nordic’s Catherine Curley following close behind (29:18). 

Rosalie’s husband Tom Franek completed the “Franek Sweep” by winning the Men’s 5k Classic in 20:58.   Second place was secured by Bill Mathie of the Wilderness Wildcats (who has raced in every PACCSA event held at Wilderness) in 23:08.  Third place was earned by PACCSA member John Brockenbrough (24:25).

Kids’ Fun Races

Every year, PACCSA holds fun kids races during the intermission between the classic and skate events.  Watching future generations of cross-country skiers have fun in the snow is always a delight, and this year was no different.  The Girls 1k Classic fun race was won by PACCSA Yellowjacket Zoe Kuntz, with twin sister Amelie Kuntz right behind in second.  In the Boys 1k Classic, Yellowjacket Roberto Novelli streaked to victory.  Roberto was chased by Yellowjacket teammate Bridger Hug in second, and Ohio Nordic Hilltopper Henry Hayes in third.             

In the 2k Freestyle competition, Hilltopper Bridget Mathias skated to victory in impressive fashion.  She was followed by Yellowjacket Estelle Fisher in second, and Wilderness Lodge’s own Tenley Janes in third.  For the boys 2k Freestyle, Yellowjacket Anthony Kuntz skied with spirit to take the win.

PACCSA thanks all of the youth coaches and families in our region who are responsible for introducing this sport to the next generation of cross-country skiers!

Skate Races

The heavy snow that fell during the classic races eventually subsided, allowing the Wilderness Lodge grooming team to make several passes of the race course in anticipation of the skating events.  The snow firmed up with temperatures that stayed just below freezing, resulting in excellent conditions for the freestyle technique. 

In the Youth 5k Skate race, Ohio Nordic Hilltopper Giovanni Papa took an early lead in the Boy’s division and never looked back, winning in a fast 17:52.  Rounding out the Boy’s podium were Yellowjacket teammates Alessandro Novelli (23:58) and Matthew South (28:08).  In the girls 5k skate event, speedy Yellowjacket Liliana Hug exhibited excellent form in taking victory with a time of 24:24. 

In the Women’s 10k Skate, Erie’s Kathy Schreckengost won in 51 minutes even.  In second was Ohio’s Rosalie Franek, her second podium of the day (54:17).  The Men’s 10k Skate was won by PACCSA’s Riccardo Monaco (wearing Italian National Team colors) in 34:12 with Jeff Baase of East Aurora, NY coming in second (36:07) and Mobile Trail Grooming team member Anton Fensel in third (39:49). 

Every year, the winners of PACCSA’s signature 20k skate race earn the title of “Pennsylvania Nordic Champion.”  For 2020, since all of the races were competed on a modified 5k loop, PACCSA’s race organizers shortened the distance of the Champions race to 15k.  Despite this change, the Champions race proved to be as exciting as ever! 

In the Women’s 15k Skate race, the big question was whether 2017 and 2019 race champion Pamela McCormick (of Erie, PA) would be able to “Three-Peat” on the shorter 15k course.  However, Pamela left no doubt as she set a blistering pace early on, earning her third consecutive title with a time of 51:55.  PACCSA’s Naomi Jarvis earned her second podium of the day in second place with a 1:15:37.

The Men’s 15k Skate race shaped up to be a tight battle between 2019 defending champion Sheldon Degenhardt, PACCSA stalwart Jason Zimmerman, and newcomer Sam Shaheen, a PSU graduate student from Minnesota.  While the three skied in a tight train for much of the race, Shaheen threw down a monstrous V2 sprint up the final climb to the finish, earning a well-deserved victory in 45:58.  Degenhardt followed close behind in 46:06, with Zimmerman taking third in 48:12.            

PACCSA extends its appreciation to everyone who competed this year!  Most of all, congratulations to Pamela McCormick & Sam Shaheen, the 2020 Pennsylvania Nordic Champions!

Results, Photos & Media

Complete race results can be viewed on the Miles of Smiles website by clicking here

You can view tons of great photos and videos of the races (and share some of your own) by clicking here.  

Also, additional photos can be found on PACCSA’s Facebook page, as well as the “Pittsburgh Cross Country Skiers” Facebook page.

Finally, click here to view a great TV report about the races from Erie News Now!

Thanks to All!

After the races were completed and awards were received, participants stayed for additional prizes such as outer-wear from REI, wax gift-packs from Fast Wax, Gift Certificates from Hazelbaker’s Outfitters, and merchandise donated by 3Rivers Outdoor Co.  Every racer also received cool buffs donated by THICK Bikes of Pittsburgh and delicious nutrition bars donated by NuGo!  

Congratulations to Race Directors Brian Joly and Charlie Nash, as well as all of the hard-working PACCSA volunteers who made this event a success!  PACCSA also extends a special thanks to the following partners and sponsors: Cycle Sport & Ski of Greensburg, D.J. Chris, Erie Sports Commission, Findley Lake Sporting Goods, Fast Wax Ski Wax, The Law Offices of Frischman & Rizza, NuGo Nutrition, Hazelbaker’s Outfitters, Miles of Smiles Timing Services, REI, THICK Bikes of Pittsburgh.  

Last but not least, PACCSA expresses enormous appreciation to Wilderness Lodge, the Janes family, and their staff for being excellent hosts. 

We’ll see you in 2021!