Aspenite, AVSC alum Ward triumphs in Michigan |

Aspenite, AVSC alum Ward triumphs in Michigan

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoAspenite Michael Ward competes in last week's Nordic Combined North American Junior Championships in Ishpeming, Mich.

ISHPEMING, Mich. – Aspen native and former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club member Michael Ward soared at last week’s Nordic Combined North American Junior Championships in Ishpeming, Mich., capturing a win in the prestigious event.

The victory marks Ward’s second in as many seasons in Ishpeming, where he took on both the United States’ and Canada’s top nordic combined athletes.

This time, the 18-year-old high school senior did not need to come from behind in the cross country leg to secure the win.

During the first of two events, on Jan. 7, Ward flew 91.5 meters – farther than anyone in the field on the 90-meter jump. The effort gave him a sizable 1 minute, 20-second head start going into the 10K skate race; he wound up coasting to an easy victory in 28:44. Park City, Utah’s Tyler Smith was second, 35 seconds back, and Adam Loomis of Eau Claire, Wisc., was third.

One day later, Ward again distanced himself from the pack with a jump of 91.5 meters, generating a 34-second advantage over Cliff Field in the cross country race. Clearly not hampered by bitterly cold conditions, Ward slowly distanced himself from Field and posted a time of 33:53. Dandurand, who was fastest in cross country, wound up second overall, 29 seconds behind Ward. Lynch was third in 35:50 and Field took fourth in 35:55.

Ward now will shift his focus to the World Junior Championships, which take place later this month in Otepaa, Estonia. At last year’s worlds in Germany, Ward, the fifth and youngest competitor on the five-man U.S. squad, posted the country’s top finish in 24th.

Ward pre-qualified for worlds in December, when he scored World Cup “B” points by virtue of a 26th-place finish in Park City.

Field, Lynch, Smith and U.S. Team member Nick Hendrickson of Park City are slated to join Ward in Estonia.

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