PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Michaela Frias had a bit of motivation going into Friday’s 5-kilometer freestyle race at the 2010 USSA Cross Country Junior Olympics at the Nordic Heritage Center.

At the end of the day, the skier from Steamboat Springs, Colo., wanted to be in the flower ceremony.

“She was really excited,” Rocky Mountain team leader Mike Elliot said following Frias’ first-place finish of 13 minutes, 31.1 seconds Friday in the Junior 1 division. “She was in sixth place on Wednesday and told me she’d be happy to place in the top five today because she really wanted to be in the flower ceremony.”

Medals are awarded at the end of each day’s competition to the top five men’s and women’s finishers in each category.

The Older Junior division is for ages 18-19 and competition was also held in two other age groups, Junior 2 (ages 14-15) and Junior 1 (ages 16-17).

Frias is in the Junior, or J1 group.

“She was motivated for this race and had a really good start,” Elliot said. “She had fast skis and great waxing that worked for her throughout the race.”

As Frias received information on her split times against some of the top competitors on the course, Elliot said the athlete knew she had a good shot at placing in the top three finishers.

“We come from training in high altitudes and Michaela was able to adjust really well to the race tempo,” Elliot said. “When she knew she would finish in the top three she was able to really pour it on.”

Following her win Friday, Frias will ski the anchor leg for her team’s relay race today.

Teammate Jessica Jortberg from Boulder, Colo., joined Frias on the podium in fifth place Friday after Elliot said the athlete found her stride at these Junior Olympics.

“She was all smiles today,” he said.

Elliot said the Junior Olympics are about more than straight competition.

“These games are about participation, not winning,” he said. “They’re here without their parents and have to be very organized.”

Most of the athletes, Elliot said, are as motivated in the classroom as they are on the racecourse with GPAs averaging 3.5 and above.

“Of course the highlight of these games are the friends they make here,” he said. “The party [Saturday night] is going to be really something.”

Also placing in women’s J1 competition was Katie Gill of Bridger SF (Mont.) in second place, 13:24.9; Annie Hart of the Minneapolis Ski Club in third, 13:35.8; and Hannah Boyer of Fairbanks FXC in fourth, 13:38.5.

On the men’s side in the J1 freestyle 10K race it was Scott Patterson of Alaska Winter Stars taking first in 22:27.2; Forrest Mahlen of Alaska Pacific University in second, 23:53.3; Will Wicherski of Bogus Basin in third, 23:59.1; Mike Vigers of Boulder Nordic in fourth, 24:00.3; and Jack Novak of Alaska Pacific University in fifth, 24:02.8.

For the Older Junior men’s 10K race, Sam Tarling of the Dartmouth Outing Club placed first in 22:43.3; David Norris of Fairbanks FAST, second, 23:04.1; Erik Fagerstrom of Sun Valley SEF, third, 23:04.5; Jordan Buetow of Fairbanks SEF, fourth, 23:45.1; and Chase Marston of Middlebury Ski Team, fifth, 23:46.9.

Corinne Prevot of Middlebury Ski Team took first place in the Older Junior women’s 5K freestyle in a time of 13:26.5. In second place was Corrine Malcolm of Montana State University, 13:27.1; third, Eleanor Magnuson of Go Training, 13:30.0; fourth, Lynn Duijndam of Finn Sisu Skiers, 13:33.4; and fifth, Jessie Yeaton of Alaska Nordic Racing, 13:44.4.

For the Junior 2 women 5K race it was Corey Stock of Cambridge Sports Union in first, 13:18.1; Sloan Storey of Sun Valley SEF, second, 13:26.3; Anika Miller of Payette Lakes Ski Team, third, 13:28.5; Maggie Williams of Sun Valley SEF, fourth, 13:37.2; and Celia Haering of Alaska Pacific University, fifth, 13:47.0.

Patrick Caldwell of Ford Sayre skied to a first place Junior 2 men’s 5K freestyle finish in 11:42.7. Cole Morgan of Bridger SF took second in 12:07.8; Marc Jackson of Team Soldier Hollow third, 12:08.1; John Hegman of Mansfield Nordic, fourth, 12:13.5; and Aren Burkemo of Team Soldier Hollow, fifth, 12:14.0.

Competition wraps up today with the freestyle relays starting at 10 a.m.

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.