Nordic Skiing: Team Championships and Girls Pursuit Recap
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2023 - 4:55 PM
It was a gold-medal kind of two days for Section 7 during the Minnesota State High School League’s Girls Nordic Skiing State Championships at Giants Ridge near Biwabik.
Ely’s Zoe Devine completed the two-day run of dominance for member schools representing the Iron Range and Arrowhead regions of the state by winning the Pursuit championship in a three-way duel for the Nordic Skiing season’s top prize on Thursday, Feb. 16. She completed the two 5-kilometer courses in a combined time of 30 minutes, 8.7 seconds. The times from the Classic and Freestyle races are used to determine the Pursuit champion.
Earlier in the day, she was the fastest during the Classic portion in a time of 14:45.3. That gave her a 2.1-second advantage over the rest of the 112-skier field entering the 5K freestyle later. She needed every bit of that time cushion.
Rounding the final turn for the finish, it was a three-skier dash to the line with Devine, Duluth East junior Lydia Kraker and senior Greta Hansen of Math & Science Academy nearly shoulder to shoulder in a final frenzy that drew comparisons to the epic conclusion between Stillwater’s Jessie Diggins and St. Paul Academy’s Annie Hart in 2010.
Using poles for power and leg strength for speed, Devine edged Kraker at the exhilarating finish to record an overall victory that was razor thin. Kraker, starting fourth in the Pursuit race and 7.5 seconds behind Devine, had the best time in the freestyle with a clocking of 14:38.4 to finish with a combined time of 30:08.8. Devine’s time was fourth fastest in the Freestyle, but still good enough to capture state crown.
“I treated (the lead) like no cushion,” Devine said. “With all of these fast skiers, I just took off.”
Devine, who won the Section 7 championship on Feb. 8 at Giants Ridge, said she led from start to finish in the state championship race.
“There were a few instances where I could hear (the others) getting close, but I just kept going,” said Devine, who was sixth in the Pursuit during the 22022 state meet.
Hansen finished third in a combined time of 30:10.3 and was followed by Elk River/Zimmerman senior Hailee Zimpel, who was fourth in 30:17.3. St. Paul Highland Park sophomore Hanna Koch was fifth in 30:52.2.
Section 7’s dominance was on display a day earlier when Duluth East’s Liesl Cope-Schaeffer and Greta Hendrickson teamed to win the Sprint Relay State Championship. That victory accounted for 159 team points that the Greyhounds used in capturing the over Girls Nordic Skiing State Team title. Also contributing to the team crown were Lydia Kraker, Rowan Bixler and Anna-Britta Helmer.
It is the first Girls Nordic Skiing Team Championship since winning back-to-back crowns in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and seventh overall.
Duluth East finished with 387 points and Stillwater Area was runner-up with 363. St. Paul Highland Park was third at 362.