Paddy Caldwell skis in the classic track during the men's 10k at the Youth Olympic Games in Seefeld. (Getty Images)
SEEFELD, Austria (Jan. 17) - A pair of 17-year-old U.S. cross country skiers notched a pair of top 16 finishes Tuesday in the classic distance races at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Middlebury College skier Heather Mooney (Peru, VT) was 13th in the 5k classic with Stratton Mountain School athlete Paddy Caldwell (Lyme Center, NH) 16th in Seefeld, site of Bill Koch's historic Olympic silver in 1976. Freestyle sprints are set for Thursday with mixed cross country and biathlon relay Friday.
Opening cross country event for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games
Heather Mooney 13th in 5k classic, Paddy Caldwell 16th in 10k classic
Freestyle sprints Thursday with mixed cross country and biathlon relay Friday
Seefeld located in the mountains northwest of the host city Innsbruck and were site of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic cross country events, as well as the 1985 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships.
American Bill Koch made history in 1976, winning silver in the Olympic 30k - the first (and still only) American to win a medal in cross country skiing.
QUOTES Heather Mooney It was definitely a tough race today, but it was a good experience! The Norwegian girl who ended up fourth passed me on the second lap, so it was good to see what racing at that level looks like. It's definitely a totally different level of racing, but I feel really lucky to get to be here!
The skiing is fantastic, and its been really cool to get to meet athletes from all over the world. The way the games are setup, the focus is definitely on getting to know other people, instead of only thinking about competing against them, so that's pretty cool. Its been an awesome experience so far!
Paddy Caldwell The skiing was great out in Seefeld today. I had a solid, tough race. My body didn't feel like it was in total race efficiency mode, but it was a good hard effort.
Competing with athletes from all over the world is a really cool experience. Mostly unfamiliar faces, however, there are a bunch of skiers here from Norway, Finland, and Estonia that I met last year during the J1 trip races in Sweden. Seeing them and meeting many others has been really fun!
Sverre Caldwell, Cross Country Coach It was a good solid day for Heather and Paddy. They both raced hard and skied well. The races were delayed because of a cold weather forcast, but it warmed quickly into the twenties. The skiing was fabulous. Paddy and Heather each got passed by skiers who finished in the top six. They got to follow them and find their relative strengths (flats and downs) and weaknesses (uphills). We'll be working on uphill efficiency now!