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Ashwaubenon’s Johnson wins Kortelopet Classic

By Cathy Putman
Special to The Press Times

CABLE – The Kortelopet has a new champion.

On Feb. 28, Kevin Johnson, a senior at Ashwaubenon High School skiing for the Ashwaubenon Nordic Ski Team (ANST), became this year’s Kortelopet Classic champion in a time of 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Johnson started in the elite wave, as several inches of new snow fell, enveloping the tracks and slowing the effort.

Johnson’s victory improved on his 16th- and 23rd-place finishes from previous years.

Teammate Grant Rocheleau, a junior at Bay Port skiing in his second Kortelopet, was second in 1 hour, 53 minutes.

Mason Vinoski (Ashwaubenon) was first in the citizen field in 2 hours, 7 minutes, the seventh-fastest time overall.

Since 2018, the ANST has put one or more skiers on the podium in the Kortelopet Classic.

Previous podiums have included team skiers Daniel Huhtala, Ryan Thieme, Jackson Adler, Kyle Thieme and Abigail Jarzin.

Ashwaubenon coach Scott Putman said he credits his team’s success in the event to an even emphasis on training for classic and freestyle techniques.

“Classic technique at the higher level is technically challenging, but good technique is free speed,” he said.

The 26-kilometer Kortelopet is one of several events comprising the American Birkebeiner, North American’s largest Nordic competition.

This year, the official field was smaller, as skiers chose COVID-19 options, including individual virtual races at venues across the country and timed racing on the official course on alternative days.

The American Birkebeiner debuted in 1973.

The two premier events are the 43-kilometer freestyle and the 26-kilometer classic races from Cable to Hayward.

In a usual year, more than 10,000 skiers participate in the weekend events.

The race, which is held annually in February, was started by Tony Wise.

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