Schumacher becomes first American skier to win World Juniors
Anchorage’s Gus Schumacher wiped away decades of frustration for the US Ski Team by becoming the first American male to win World Juniors.
He used a killer kick over the final two kilometers to come from behind and snag the gold medal in the 10-K classic race in Germany by 4.5 seconds.
Schumacher’s gold at the U20 international competition is the first medal ever by an American male at World Juniors. Bill Koch earned a bronze in 1974 at the European Junior Championships before there was an official youth world championship race.
“It wasn’t so long that a day like this felt impossible,” said his teammate and lifelong friend Luke Jager of Anchorage. “So proud of this guy and so thankful for everyone who has believed.”
Last year in Finland, Schumacher and Jager helped Team USA make history at World Juniors by winning the country’s first gold medal in the 4x5K relay. Jager skied the first leg, Schumacher the last.
This time, Schumacher anchored the entire 10-K field as he was the final skier in the field of 103 to start the race.
He was in third place at the halfway point, trailing Germany’s Friedrich Moch by 8 seconds. With just under two kilometers left, he cut that deficit in half.
Schumacher, of Service High fame, finished strong and beat Moch by 4.5 seconds with an overall time of 25 minutes, 31.7 seconds.
“It takes guts and mental strength to win,” his Alaska Winter Stars coach Jan Buron said.