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Ben Lustgarten on top of the podium in the men's 10k skate

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Ida Sargent powering to 2nd in the classic sprint

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Caitlin Patterson and Liz Guiney working together in the 5k freestyle

GRP Ski Team Opens the 2017 Season at New Zealand Winter Games

Last Updated: 09.Sep.2017

Most years the Green Racing Project ski team starts their winter race season at a more traditional time, right before or after Thanksgiving, when snow first hits the Northern Hemisphere. However, this year the GRP traveled south in late August to train in New Zealand at the Snow Farm. Because New Zealand is at the end of their winter, they have plenty of snow this time of year. The Snow Farm hosted a three race series over the weekend, and the six GRP skiers at the camp competed along with other American skiers, Koreans, Japanese, and Australians.

Thursday brought a 5/10k individual start freestyle. The men went first, racing four times around a tough 2.5k course that managed to hit all the major climbs at the Snow Farm. Ben Lustgarten had a great race, winning the men’s 10k by almost 10 seconds. Adam Martin placed 4th, just two seconds off the podium. In the women’s 5k, Caitlin Patterson had the top GRP result in 4th. Liz Guiney was 35 seconds behind her in 8th, and Ida Sargent placed 9th.

Friday brought nearly perfect conditions for the classic sprint. In the men’s qualifier, Ben Lustgarten placed 2nd and Adam Martin was 7th, both easily qualifying for the rounds of 16. Ida Sargent also took 2nd in the women’s qualifier, while Caitlin Patterson and Liz Guiney finished 6th and 7th, respectively. Ben and Ida maintained their qualifying positions all the way to the final, both placing 2nd in the A Final. Caitlin Patterson also made the A Final and placed 3rd. Adam was eliminated in his semifinal and ended up 7th overall, while Liz Guiney took 5th overall.

On Saturday, the racers battled new snow and howling winds for 10/15k classic mass starts. Although the tracks were completely blown in, the racers still charged outside of the tracks while dodging snow drifts. Caitlin Patterson had the top result in the women’s 10k race, finishing 2nd to fellow American Jessie Diggins. Ida Sargent was 3rd, followed by Kaitlynn Miller in 5th and Liz Guiney in 7th. The GRP men had an impressive 1-2 punch in the men’s 15k. Ben Lustgarten and Adam Martin broke away from the chase pack at the start along with Japanese skier Kaichi Naruse, and eventually skied away from him, with Ben taking another win and Adam finishing 2nd.

The skiers will stay in New Zealand for another week to train before making their way back to the East Coast. Full results from the weekend’s races are available on FIS-ski.com.