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Nationals Notes: Friday Brings Maiden Voyage for New Kincaid Sprint Course

Throwback Thursday: Erik Soederstroem (UAF) glides across the line with teammate Tyler Kornfield (UAF) outlunging Mike Hinckley (APU/Rossignol) for second in the classic sprint final at 2010 U.S. nationals at Kincaid.

By Gavin Kentch

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Wednesday saw the first races of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, the 10- and 15-kilometer freestyle interval starts. Friday brings the first sprint day, with qualification for the skate sprint going off at 10 a.m. local time, slightly before the sun officially rises at 10:10 a.m. (Welcome to Anchorage in January.)

To help you get ready for sprinting, here’s U.S. nationals chief of competition and longtime Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) operator/groomer Matt Pauli with some thoughts on the theory and practice of sprint course design and operation, and what athletes can expect to see on the new-and-improved Kincaid sprint course. Hint: Advances in classic skiing technology in the past decade have something to do with it.

(FasterSkier spoke with Pauli in-person in early December, sitting in a wood-paneled Pipeline-era ATCO trailer nestled near the NSAA Operations Bunker just up the hill from the Kincaid Stadium. This interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.)

FasterSkier: So let’s start at the beginning. When was the first sprint race at Kincaid?

Matt Pauli: Actually and formally, at 1999 JNs [Junior Nationals], they initiated the first prologue, which was a short event, but not quite a sprint. I think Rob Whitney was racing then; I think he cleaned up that day. But the way the sprint rules evolved, you started seeing them in early World Championships in ’99, probably 2001, and then the first Olympics in 2002. So it evolved from there.

FS: So it’s the Kikkan Era, basically.

MP: It’s that, and maybe it’s a specialization era, too. I think that’s what I notice. … It’s just evolving, the way I think the sport has always evolved.

FS: Can you tell us about the history of the sprint loop at Kincaid?

MP: You look at [the hill to the immediate northeast edge of the main Kincaid Stadium] – some people call it the Junior Nordic Hill, I call it the Play Hill, and I think it’s more or less going to be taking the name of the Gong Hill – that all used to be trees. The only trail going through it was Margaux’s Loop. And that was it.

So I think Bill Spencer was in a little bit on clearing, and what we can do with that area. I think also Ben Powell, Mike Miller, me to a lesser extent. Then shortly after that we started getting the snowmaking, and those types of things. I can’t put an exact date on when the area was cleared out, but certainly it had to be in 2005, 2006, because that’s when the first piping started going up there for snowmaking. That was the vision, to go up that way.

FS: When you say, “Let’s design a sprint loop,” I’m taking it as a given that you pretty much have to start from the stadium, because that’s where all the infrastructure is. Taking that as your starting variable, what else do you think about in setting up the sprint loop?

MP: Certainly for the athletes, [you think about] technical challenge, testing all the different techniques, turning techniques, ascending, descending. Providing areas where athletes can overtake each other. Ensuring that it’s a sprint loop that falls within a time frame that it doesn’t become a distance course.

What I’ve heard, and information passed on to me, and just what I’ve observed when I’ve got to serve on juries at World Cups and such, is you’re looking at 3 to 3 1/2 minutes [time for an athlete to ski the sprint course]. And that way it gives the spectators something to see, it gives the athletes good recovery time before the next heat, and it keeps the competition, particularly World Cup, World Championships, anything that’s televised, within a certain time period. Spectator-friendly – they’ve got to see it. That’s the whole reason, I think, behind it. Another big reason is that you want to be close to the spectators, you want people to see the competition.

There’s probably a myriad of other things that you can throw in there for homologation, but the general theory is: competitiveness, fair, safe, spectator appeal, and in some instances TV appeal, too.

The old sprint course at Kincaid, used from the late 2000s through last season. The largest climb, of 17 meters vertical gain, comes in the course’s first climb starting at around the 200-meter mark, with smaller rolling hills following. (Screenshot: 2017 Seawolf Invitational race program)

FS: So that was the first sprint loop, and we all skied on it for a decade or so, and there were two national championships held on it (in 2009 and 2010). So, did it work? Was it a course that did the things you just described?

MP: I think it worked, up until getting some comments last year about double poling. And deep back in my mind, I already knew that, just from every fall I used to attend the FIS meeting in Zurich, just to get an idea. And I remember last fall, 2016, the FIS hierarchy, Vegard Ulvang, just producing all these videos of youngsters starting to double pole just about everything, and how classic technique “needs to be preserved.”

And knowing that here at Kincaid we just have – we’re a nonprofit, in a public park, you just can’t do what you want. It has to be feasible, and it has to meet whatever plan they have for the park, as well. So I knew right away that I wasn’t going to be cutting new trails. I might be working on some trees – or, as we like to call them, “shrubs” – to make it a better course, make it a safer course when you throw the safety aspect in there.

The whole aspect is that we’re not going to be doing wholesale trail work. So I think, from the Zurich meetings, and knowing that watching [the classic sprint at] Besh Cup last year, watching actually Besh Cups throughout the last three or four years, watching college races that decide to run a sprint – I never thought our sprint course was a bad course, ’cause I got anecdotal good feedback saying, “Hey, this is really spectator-friendly.” … I think for the most part, our sprint loop is pretty much visible during the competition.

FS: If the course works well, why change it? Is it safe to say this is largely responsive to changes in classic skiing over the past decade?

MP: Yeah, that has a pretty significant bearing on it.

The new sprint course at Kincaid, to be officially used for the first time on Friday morning, Jan. 4. The largest climb is now 24 vertical meters, and occurs after 750 meters, roughly the midway point of the course. (Screenshot: U.S. nationals course maps page)

FS: Let’s talk about the new course. Can you just walk me through what it looks like, and what it’s designed to do, and how it came to be?

MP: Now, the climbs that are associated with this one, I met with [USST Development Coach] Bryan Fish and [U.S. Ski & Snowboard nordic domestic program director] Robert Lazzaroni, they passed through on their way home after Spring Nationals [in April 2017]. … I said, “This is what I think would work pretty well.” And that meant starting higher up on the plain [in the central stadium area] by the Lekisch tunnels, and cutting up in front of the Gong Hill, toward the Bunker Tunnel. And then dropping down to what we call the low point, or the Frog Pond.

And then climbing out of there again – that climb sets it up that, number one, I’m trying to limit double poling the entire thing. Throwing that dogleg in there for the final, you take that left-hand turn and you still have to climb to the top, you’re going to lose all your momentum there in a double pole. And there’s no way, on some of those 17 to 19 percent grades, you’re going to be able to pick up that momentum. Certainly you can herringbone up it, that’s a diagonal technique. But I think from a standpoint of pushing your way up it in a double pole – maybe in another couple of years. (laughs) It’s only going to evolve. But that’s, I think, one of the main reasons to switch things around.

 

It still follows the same line of coming back off the top, the men going behind and the women coming across what I call the Saddle, where the gong is, and then dropping down back into the north end of the stadium. And doing a really good 180 at the bottom. There’s a big arc right there. It’s wide, it’s not off-camber. There’s some narrow bits coming back into the main race trail, where the old sprint loop used to finish. But once you get there … if that’s a chokepoint, if we have to widen in regards to snow or what you have to.

But it just follows the regular path in. Which is a good finish from the standpoint of, you know, you have a 1.5, 2 percent [uphill] grade to the finish [on the final straightaway through the stadium to the finish line, visible in the background of the top photo in this article].

And you know, I would like to see 3 percent, actually. But I’ve been in stadiums at championship venues that had 5 percent. I think that, for having a 100-meter straight stretch, it just so happened to work out. And certainly the grade’s kind of changed with the artificial snow on top, when we push that out – but at the same time, we still keep the original finish zone [in front of the timing building].

FS: Is it quote-unquote “good” or “bad” that you have to change the course like this to react to changes in classic skiing, or just neutral?

MP: I think it’s neutral. Certainly any time you go through a homologation, there’s a cost involved. I have to get an inspector out here, and … that’s a $600 fee. And each certificate application, each certificate, has a fee. So there’s always those costs that can be borne by the event, borne by the Organizing Committee. I’m not getting paid, but I still gotta collect the data. And then at that point it becomes time. Because I have to – I’m not a map guy, so I go to my friends at CRW Engineering, and I can bug the hell out of them, and they go, “Oh, I’ll put someone right on it.” So there’s certainly people’s time involved.

FS: We’ve talked about changes in classic skiing over the past ten years, and why that was a main reason for changing around the sprint course. This is getting sort of inside baseball, but are there different considerations for a skate sprint than a classic sprint? Would there be anything stopping you from running two different sprint courses in one championships?

MP: The parameters for a freestyle sprint are more liberal, because we know we’re not going to be doublepoling. So that’s why you see city sprints, that’s why you see – you can basically have a freestyle sprint on a flat course, because the parameters say so. As the [homologation standard] tables indicate, there are some differences in what we would look at for classic and freestyle.

For right now, it’s just convenience. I would gladly go back to the old sprint for the freestyle. But then it means that the teams and the athletes are going to lose a ski depot. Because that’s what I designed at that south end of the stadium by the Lekisch tunnel – none of the courses go over that anymore, unless of course we’re going [on a snowmaking loop for all races]. But it’s an area where athletes, coaches, and technicians can set up their ski depot for testing skis, switching out skis, because it has direct access to the waxing areas. So that’s the main reason we’re using the same course.

Now the coaches agreed, down at the [USSA] Congress last spring, that since the freestyle sprint is first, I’m not going to have the opportunity – they’re not going to have an opportunity for training on a classic sprint course. Because the freestyle sprint is the second event, and the classic mass is the race after that. [And the classic sprint is the day immediately after that.] And I pointed that out, and apparently we can live with that. From my standpoint, I have a hard time living with that, because I haven’t had the opportunity to dial in. So, we’re going to do our best. … I just want to ensure that the course is safe, and as dialed in as I can.

*   *   *

The sprints start Friday morning with the qualification round from 10–11:30 a.m. Alaska time. The heats are scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. The heats for the junior races are scheduled to begin in the mid-afternoon, following the flower ceremonies for the senior races.

 

FasterSkier updates:

http://fasterskier.com/

http://twitter.com/fasterskier

https://www.instagram.com/fasterskier/

 

Start lists and results:

http://www.superiortiming.com/2018/01/2018-u-s-cross-country-ski-championships/

 

Live-streaming:

http://www.facebook.com/usskiandsnowboard/

http://www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/

(should be the same feed, hosted in two different places)

 

General news and updates:

https://www.anchoragenordicski.com/nationals18/

Nationals Notes: Eve of 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships

Athletes getting in some race prep in the southern half of the Kincaid stadium as seen on Thursday afternoon. (Photo: Gavin Kentch)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — One day before the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, all the pieces are in place for a successful race week. Now it’s all about the weather cooperating.

Following two weeks of seasonal temperatures in the 20s and teens Fahrenheit, readings at the Kincaid Park weather station on Tuesday around 2 p.m. were around 40 degrees F. While the above-freezing temperatures and a strong south wind (which blew consistently at 20 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 37 mph) are making for thin snowpack outside of Kincaid, coverage on the snowmaking loop appears ample enough for the entire week. Everything except the top few inches of the snowpack should still be relatively firm, given the cold temperatures over the preceding two weeks.

Tuesday’s weather appears to be largely a one-day warmup. Temperatures are expected to fall back below freezing at some point Tuesday night and to stay there throughout the race week, with temperatures a seasonally appropriate 15 to 25 degrees, if closer to 30 to 32 degrees tomorrow. In the short term, current forecasts call for the possibility of a “wintry mix” on Tuesday night, with a chance of snow showers on Wednesday. Humidity is forecast to be 90 percent throughout the evening and during both races tomorrow, which is unremarkable for a venue that sits less than a kilometer from the Pacific Ocean.

Race organizers recently announced the course for Wednesday’s distance raceIt has an official length of 2.5 kilometers, but the course map provided suggests that the length may be a bit longer at 2.69 k, which would make Wednesday’s 10/15 k freestyle races 10.8 k for the women and 16.1 k for the men. The race will have a total climb of 292 meters for women and 438 meters for men, according to a 2018 U.S. Nationals press release.

In the same press release, organizers provided additional information on race-day logistics, including start times. The women’s race starts at 10 a.m. Alaska time on Wednesday, while the men start at 12:30 p.m. (10/15 k freestyle start lists: Women | Men)

The update has additional information regarding parking, warm-up areas, athlete areas, and other logistics (plus: food trucks!).

FasterSkier will have two reporters on site throughout the week, and will be providing daily coverage from Jan. 3-8. For additional information, see the links below.

 

FasterSkier updates:

http://fasterskier.com/

http://twitter.com/fasterskier

https://www.instagram.com/fasterskier/

 

Start lists and results:

http://www.superiortiming.com/2018/01/2018-u-s-cross-country-ski-championships/

 

Live-streaming:

http://www.facebook.com/usskiandsnowboard/

http://www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/

(should be the same feed, hosted in two different places)

 

General news and updates:

https://www.anchoragenordicski.com/nationals18/

— Gavin Kentch

U.S. Cross Country Championships Begin Wednesday, Jan. 3

America’s athletes are arriving. The trails are being groomed.

The L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships begin January 3

(Press release)

ANCHORAGE, AK – The top cross-country skiers from across Alaska and America will compete for more than prestigious national titles in the 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships, which begin Wednesday, January 3, and continue through Monday, January 8, at Kincaid Park. The races will also be used as part of the selection process for Olympic berths as well as to determine roster spots on the FIS Junior World Championship, U23 Championship and U18 Scandinavian Cup teams.

The competitions will feature two freestyle and two classic events for men and women. The top American in each race will be crowned national champion. While primary selection for the 2018 Olympic Cross Country Team will come from World Cup races, some final spots can be determined from Nationals results. Olympic team nominations will be announced the week of January 23.

Here is some media-specific information to assist in covering the events, whether from Kincaid Park in Anchorage or from afar.

Events schedule: All races at Kincaid Park; schedule subject to change

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, January 3

Men’s 15 k freestyle interval start; Women’s 10k freestyle interval start

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, January 5

Men’s and women’s freestyle sprints

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, January 7

Men’s 30 k classic mass start; Women’s 20k classic mass start; Junior men’s 10k classic mass start; Junior women’s 5k classic mass start

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, January 8

Men’s and women’s classic sprints

Find a full schedule – race days and off-days – at www.anchoragenordicski.com/wp- content/uploads/2017/11/2018- US-Nationals-Event-Schedule- Coast.pdf.

  • Results from every race will be posted in a timely manner at www.anchoragenordicski.com/ nationals18/results/. Photos with captions will also be posted there as they are available.
  • In addition, a race day recap press release will be sent at the end of each event day. The releases will include quotes, attached photos and more. On non-race days, additional news, updates or sidebars will be sent in media advisories, as appropriate.
  • The races will be livestreamed by CXC Skiing/X-Country Live. U.S. Ski & Snowboard will host the livestream at www.facebook.com/ usskiandsnowboard/ and it will also be shared at the 2018 Nationals Facebook page, www.facebook.com/xcusnats2018/ . Timing will be provided by Superior Timing.
  • For media attending the events, credentials will be available. Please send requests to media@usnationals2018.com; you will be added to a list and informed on when/where to receive your credentials. You may also be provided with a bib that identifies you as media for when you are in the racing areas.
  • There will be a media working area with electricity and internet access available upstairs in the Kincaid Park chalet.
  • Results from the freestyle races and the classic distance events will be used to determine the teams for the 2018 FIS Junior & U23 World Ski Championships in Goms, Switzerland, January 28-February 3. All races in Anchorage are also part of the 2017-18 SuperTour and points will count towards the overall SuperTour titles, Olympic Winter Games selection and international World Cup starts. The long distance and team championships will take place March 23-28 in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Additional 2018 L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships event, race and athlete information is available at:

Nationals Notes: Cold Weather Returns to Anchorage

Fresh tracks and recent grooming are visible in the Stadium area at Kincaid Park, Thursday morning, Dec. 21, 2017, in this screenshot capture from the NSAA webcam. (Screenshot: AnchorageNordicSki.com)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — With less than two weeks to go until the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, race organizers have emphasized their commitment to holding the races in Anchorage while mentioning the possibility of a backup venue, an hour-drive away, if racing at Kincaid Park becomes untenable.

Organizers posted the following update on the U.S. nationals website earlier this week:

All races will be held as scheduled-

• Snow is currently falling in the Anchorage bowl. Snow production is continuing at Kincaid park. There are currently 2.5km of skiable terrain and this terrain is being groomed.

• All competition events will be held. Revisions to the race courses may be considered by the jury.

• If conditions deteriorate and are no longer viable at Kincaid park, Government Peak Recreation Area trail system, 1 hour driving distance of Anchorage, will be the backup site.

It snowed roughly two inches in Anchorage on Tuesday of this week, with no new snow since then. That was the first significant snowfall in Anchorage in the month of December.

The first half of the month wasn’t just snowless, it was also historically warm. As the National Weather Service wrote on Facebook on Dec. 15, “At Anchorage the average temperature is more than 19 degrees above normal and is the first time that the first two weeks of December has averaged above freezing.” Rain was not uncommon in the first half of this month.

The first weekend of Besh Cup races, the race series used to select Team Alaska skiers for Junior Nationals, last week was moved 300 miles north to Fairbanks on four days’ notice. In explaining the reason for the change, Cross Country Alaska discussed the need to preserve Anchorage’s snow for nationals.

After all that, colder temperatures returned to Anchorage at the start of this workweek. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 18 and 19, saw snowmaking resume at Kincaid. There was also the natural snowfall on Tuesday, which the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) wrote came to “1-1.5 inches” of accumulation at Kincaid. Following warmer temperatures and no snowmaking on Wednesday, the snow guns were running again on Thursday.

In a Thursday morning grooming update, NSAA wrote, “The SML [snowmaking loop] and Play Hill have been groomed this morning. With these colder temperatures, the crew is concentrating on making snow. They are working in the Stadium and heading toward the Chalet.”

As U.S. nationals chief of competition Matt Pauli explained earlier this month, the next planned step in snowmaking would be to expand coverage toward the chalet and generally west of what is currently covered.

Also Thursday, in a separate update, NSAA added, “It seems that the groomers are back in business, at least for a little while.  Some of the Lighted Loops at Kincaid have been resurrected, however with the U.S. National’s quickly approaching and with colder temperatures, the crew is focusing on making more snow.”

As the update on the nationals message board noted, all planned competitions at U.S. nationals will be held, but changed courses may be considered as necessary. The sprint loop is currently 100 percent covered with machine-made snow. While the distance courses (the longer FIS-certified loops of 5 and 7.5 kilometers) are mostly outside the direct reach of the snow guns, Pauli previously discussed ways of bolstering the snowpack, if needed, on the distance courses, such as moving manmade and/or natural snow onto those courses.

As of Thursday, the full distance courses had not been groomed since Tuesday’s snowfall. They currently feature a one-inch skiff of fresh snow on top of an icy base. Regarding plans to potentially use these courses during race week, U.S. nationals Organizing Committee Chair Joey Caterinichio wrote in an email to FasterSkier, “Kincaid snow production continues, temperatures have cooled making this easier and viable. Using our FIS designated race courses is the desired goal and plans continue to prepare the courses. Revisions to race courses may be determined by weather and jury at a later date.”

“Kincaid is a go,” Caterinichio noted. “We have snow and are making more.”

She explained that teams are skiing daily at Kincaid, wax trailers are arriving, and the preparation for the major event is in full force.

“It will be great and will be at Kincaid. Live timing and live steaming are planned,” she wrote.

The backup venue, Government Peak Recreation Area, has a packed base of 6-8 inches, according to recent grooming update, with double classic tracks set in preparation for the upcoming Icicle Double community race series

While the Competition Loop at Government Peak is not International Ski Federation (FIS)-homologated, Ed Strabel of the Mat–Su Ski Club wrote in an email to FasterSkier that it does feature a FIS-worthy total climb of 185 meters over 5.13 k, or 36 meters of climbing per kilometer. This is slightly hillier than the 7.5 k FIS course at Kincaid (35 m/km), and substantially hillier than the shorter snowmaking loop.

The first race of U.S. nationals is the distance skate race on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

— Gavin Kentch

* * *

For more updates, check out:

Grooming and snowmaking: NSAA grooming report | User-submitted trail reports | Kincaid Stadium webcam | NSAA temperature guidelines for operating snowmaking equipment

Weather: Long-range forecast (weather.gov) | Long-range forecast (yr.no)

Main U.S. nationals site for updates: U.S. nationals

Nationals Notes: Conditions Suboptimal Three Weeks Out, But Time and Hope Remain

The logo for 2018 U.S. Nationals, featuring a subtle “Road to PyeongChang” Olympic motif in the upper left corner

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Just over three weeks out from the first race of the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships, organizers are responding to warming temperatures with a primary goal of providing athletes with a challenging course and as much good skiing as possible. The first races are set for Jan. 3 in Anchorage, Alaska. 

The current state of the trails

There are roughly 50 kilometers of ski trails at Kincaid Park, the city-owned park at the western edge of the Municipality of Anchorage. Approximately three kilometers of trails, centered on the Stadium, have the capacity for snowmaking. Roughly two out of three of those kilometers currently have a decent base of manmade snow. That said, dirty spots are already emerging in several areas of the loop, and there is an increasing amount of dirt and debris in the snow – racers in yesterday’s citizen race tended toward Swix HFBW, Toko Moly, or other additives to help combat dirty snow.

The other ca. 48 k of trails in the park have a base of roughly 1.5 inches of hardpacked, snowmachine- and skier-groomed natural snow. Coverage is good; virtually no rocks or debris are visible on any of the trails, though long grasses and weeds are sticking through in several spots. But the 48 k of non-snowmaking trails are effectively impassable right now, following temperatures above freezing for most of the past nine days as well as intermittent rain that together left the trails icy and foreboding. (Before that, there was great skiing throughout the park for most of the month of November, following Anchorage’s first real snowfall on November 5.)

There are two sprint and two distance races at U.S. nationals. The sprint races are run on a course starting and ending in the Stadium; the sprint course is currently 95 percent covered with manmade snow. (Stay tuned for FasterSkier’s preview later this month of the new sprint course, set to make its competitive debut at Besh Cup #1 this weekend and its championship-level debut at this year’s U.S. nationals.)

The distance races are planned to occur on 5- and 7.5-k courses homologated by the International Ski Federation (FIS). If you’ve done a FIS distance race at Kincaid in the past decade, such as U.S. nationals in 2009 or 2010 or the college races last spring (but excepting Spring Series 2014, which was on different trails due to snow conditions), you probably raced on these courses.

If U.S. nationals were to happen tomorrow, the 5- and 7.5-k FIS courses would not be usable, barring sufficient scarifying to enable skiers to get a purchase on the 95 percent of each course that takes place off of the snowmaking loop.

What happens next

Given that firm base and good coverage on the FIS trails, it wouldn’t take much snowfall between now and Jan. 3 to make the full courses available. If it snows 6 inches in the next two to three weeks, and returns to seasonable temperatures of well below freezing, then the rest of this article is presumably moot, and the distance races take place on the FIS distance courses as originally planned. (Sample longterm Anchorage forecasts here and here, if you’d like to play armchair meteorologist. Short-term, here is a discouraging article from yesterday’s Anchorage Daily News headlined, “Ready the rain gear, Anchorage, we’re headed for a warm week.” Though temps are supposed to cool down again by the end of this workweek.)

Kincaid: not very cold right now. Screenshot from Kincaid weather station on Monday morning.

But if the weather doesn’t change, there is no meaningful snowfall between now and January, and the whole race series has to take place on manmade snow, what happens then?

“I do have a plan,” Matt Pauli told FasterSkier in an in-person interview Friday morning. Pauli is chief of competition for the 2018 U.S. Cross Country Championships. He has been an operator/groomer for the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage (NSAA) for many years, and has been involved with NSAA events dating back to at least the World Cup weekend in March 1983.

“I don’t want to call it a homologated snowmaking loop,” Pauli explained, but his goal would be to feature some climbs and to make the snowmaking loop as challenging as he can.

“I want to still make it as competitive as possible,” Pauli noted, “at least put some ‘B’ Climbs into the equation and we can have at least some height differences that are acceptable.” (The current version of the snowmaking loop includes the climb to the top of the Gong Hill, which is a climb of 24 vertical meters. This is by far the largest climb on the snowmaking loop. According to the FIS Homologation Manual, a ‘B’ Climb has a partial height difference of 10 to 29 meters.)

“I just don’t want to have to create distance,” Pauli clarified. “We can create lots of distance out here, but then it’s basically flat. … I don’t want it to ski like a golf course.”

(The winning time in Friday’s Anchorage School District high school boys classic race, which did not climb all the way to the top of the Gong Hill, was 12:35 for a two-lap course that was a total of 5.4 k long. At 2:20 per kilometer for classic skiing, this may be said to be getting pretty close to golf course speeds. That said, a grain of salt is necessary there simply because the pacesetter, Gus Schumacher, is no ordinary high school boy; he won the race by more than a minute over a strong high school field.)

One unknown factor here is whether or when temperatures will drop cold enough for the NSAA operations staff to turn on the snowmaking equipment again. NSAA has historically said that it decides when to make snow in accordance with this temperature matrix. It most recently made enough snow during the month of November to cover, as explained, roughly 2 out of 3 kilometers of the standard snowmaking loop. NSAA has said that its snowmaking abilities are limited to roughly 1/3 of potential capacity due to limited water at the site.

There was not extra snow made and stored during November, as sometimes happens in advance of national championships.

Kincaid: definitely snow-covered, but getting a little dirty. A growing patch of dirt and ice is visible in the background of this capture from the NSAA webcam, taken Sunday afternoon and showing the center of the Stadium. (Screenshot: NSAA webcam)

“Hopefully we get those cold temperatures so we can get the snow guns running again on the west side” of the snowmaking loop, Pauli explains, “over by the play hill in front of the chalet. I’d like, certainly, to utilize that portion. That would expand the loop and what else I’ve traced out.”

He estimated that would give him about a 3 1/2 k loop.

“Certainly we can get up to 4 [kilometers] and such, but that’s kind of two-way traffic, flat, or adding extra flat, which I really don’t want to do. I think athletes want to be working the entire time … not to dispute that double poling is still defined as a classic technique. But at the same time, I think we’d like to see it expand out to the [normal] trails.”

Pauli’s goal for next month’s races is clear: “to have as much good skiing as possible.” But he is currently reluctant to run a PistenBully on the main FIS trails to try to chop up the ice.

“It’s hard to put heavy equipment on any of the trails we have now,” he said, “because we just don’t have the base. If this stuff freezes solid though, and with the rain we get, and any snow accumulation, anything we put on, then we’ll have a pretty bombproof base that’s going to prevent rocks and such.”

While Pauli cares deeply about protecting the base and covering rocks, he’s less concerned with “things like grass and leaves”, he said.

Other options

Pauli is also open to potentially snowmachine grooming on Elliott’s Climb, a sustained climb leaving from the north end of the Stadium that would space out a mass start field, add an ‘A’ Climb not available on the snowmaking loop, and provide another 2+ k of race course (counting the roundtrip up Elliott’s Climb and back down Rollercoaster to the Stadium).

“So if we can snowmachine groom going up Elliott’s Climb,” he notes, “that’s certainly gonna be in the mix. Because I think we can have a freestyle race, if it cools off, and we drag it with our snowmachine equipment. And then utilize the rest of the snowmaking loop, and dial that in.”

As for invoking more ambitious measures, those are still some ways off in the future. “Windrowing snow, meaning actually snowblowing snow and creating windrows and then snowblowing those into tubs and getting those out on the course? Not going to make that call for another week or two, probably two weeks or so,” Pauli explains.

“Firing up the snow guns” that are centered on the Stadium and trails immediately next to it? “We can’t haul that stuff out, but we can certainly fortify and expand what we’ve got out here. But hauling manmade snow right now, when we don’t have any base, just would wreck it.”

Bringing in snow from the nearby airport? That’s not on the table.

“I know people say, ‘Oh, why don’t you just haul snow from the airport?’ Nobody wants to ski on snow with deicing fluid, gravel, and sand in it,” Pauli says. “And I don’t think the city wants that type of snow dumped on their park. Because it all has to go someplace. So if we have to scrape out snow from the woods here, what we can, if we have to windrow and haul it by tubs if we can, that’s what we’re going to do, fortify those trails. Especially for freestyle events – it might be bumpy, but I think it’s still going to be raceable. So I think we can do a good job of preparing those non-snowmaking trails.”

According to U.S. nationals Organizing Committee Chair Joey Caterinichio, there are no plans to move the event elsewhere. She was optimistic about Kincaid’s base and snowmaking opportunities in the coming week with cooler temperatures in the forecast.

Gavin Kentch

Kornfield, Kern, Norris, and Miller Win at Ishpeming SuperTour

Two days of SuperTour races and a Central Collegiate Ski Association (CCSA) race were held this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming, Mich., with SuperTour freestyle sprints and 5/10-kilometer classic races on Friday and Sunday. It was the fourth stop on the circuit, including U.S. nationals, and the last one before the season-ending SuperTour Finals.

Interestingly, the sprint finals included just four skiers (as opposed to the regular six) and Tyler Kornfield beat out two of his Alaska Pacific University (APU) teammates and Paddy Caldwell of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite Team for the win in 3:44.30 minutes. Caldwell finished second (+1.14), Reese Hanneman (APU) third (+4.2), and David Norris (APU) fourth (+9.27).

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) won the qualifier in 3:38.32, but was eliminated after finishing third in his quarterfinal. Logan Hanneman (APU) qualified second (+1:33) and reached the semifinals, where he placed third in his heat. Kornfield qualified third (+3.23). Thirty-seven men competed in the master/senior men category.

In the women’s final, 19-year-old Julia Kern (SMS Elite) topped two Craftsbury Green Racing Project senior skiers, Caitlin Patterson and Kaitlynn Miller, as well as Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) for the win in 4:04.27. Kern edged Patterson by 0.11 seconds, Bender finished 3.28 seconds back in third, and Miller took fourth (+4.57).

Erika Flowers (SMS Elite) won the qualifier in 4:13.31, but was eliminated after placing fourth in the semifinals. Kern was second fastest in qualifying (+1.67). Twenty-two women competed.

On Sunday, Miller captured the win in the women’s 5 k classic individual start, beating her teammate Patterson by 6.4 seconds in 14:29.9. Craftsbury swept the podium with Liz Guiney in third (+17.0). APU’s Rosie Frankowski, originally from Minneapolis, Minn., raced to fourth (+51.8), Kern was fifth (+1:05.4), Anne Hart (SMS Elite) sixth, Canada’s Lisle Compton (NTDC Thunder Bay) seventh, Flowers eighth, Becca Rorabaugh (APU) ninth, and Bender 10th. The field was much deeper Sunday, with 60 women finishing.

In the men’s 10 k, Norris notched a 3.8-second victory over Adam Martin of Northern Michigan University, finishing in 25:29.7. Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) reached the podium in third (+6.8) and Caldwell missed it by 1.5 seconds in fourth (+8.3). Evan Palmer-Charrette (NTDC Thunder Bay) was the top Canadian in fifth (+11.7), Scott Patterson (APU) finished sixth, Jack Hegman (SVSEF) seventh, Michael Somppi (NTDC Thunder Bay) eighth, Logan Hanneman ninth, and Gaspard Cuenot (Michigan Tech) 10th.

The last SuperTour races of the season — SuperTour Finals, a.k.a. Spring Series — will take place in over a month, March 27-April 2 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Results: FridaySunday

 

 

Survey Seeks Feedback on Transition from Domestic to International Race Circuit

American Anne Hart leads the start of the women's10 k freestyle at Stage 7 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

American Anne Hart leads the start of the women’s10 k freestyle at Stage 7 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

No one can speak to the transition from the domestic race circuit to international levels of nordic competition better than cross country athletes themselves. With that in mind, Annie Hart, one of three athlete representatives for a subcommittee of the USSA Congress, recently created a survey regarding the shift from ski racing in the U.S. to competing worldwide.

Hart indicated that though the survey is open to all, it is targeted specifically at nordic athletes. Using the survey, she hopes to gain a broader perspective of the U.S. nordic community’s opinion and promote more discussion on the topic.

“The survey primarily concerns Super Tour racing, and the transition from domestic racing to the international circuit,” Hart wrote in an email. “These are important issues, and as the US is becoming a consistent medal contender on the World Cup, it is increasingly important to keep a pulse on the vaster US nordic community.  The USSA congress is a wonderful opportunity for people to discuss important issues in development and racing, but not every single athlete can be present.  However it is imperative to include as many people in the discussion as possible, and a survey is the quickest and most effective way to achieve that goal.”

Hart points out that the survey is anonymous and will be open until Saturday, although she hopes to get as many responses as possible prior to the USSA Congress, which begins Thursday. The survey, according to Hart, should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Any responses Hart receives, will be consolidated into single document and shared with all those in attendance at the USSA Congress, as well as the greater nordic community.

“Rosie Brennan, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess and I are all athlete representatives, elected via an online election this past fall,” Hart wrote. “We are taking our roles as the athlete representatives seriously, and are trying our best to ensure active participation from the entire athlete community.  Survey takers should know their responses are anonymous, and are only being used to benefit the broader US nordic community in a productive discussion at the USSA congress.  Further, the more people who participate, the better the discussion will be.  So get those surveys in!”

To give your feedback, click here.

Stowe SuperTour Moved to Craftsbury

After unremitting rain on Wednesday in Stowe, Vt., the U.S. SuperTour races scheduled to take place this weekend, Feb. 6-7, at the Trapp Family Lodge trails have been moved to the 2.5-kilometer race loop at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.

“The Stowe Nordic organizers, as well as many of the Stowe volunteers will also be there to help run the races. The C’bury courses are in actually really great shape, considering all the rain we got in NE [Wednesday]!” Amie Smith, high-performance director of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), wrote in an email on Thursday.

Images of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s race loop may be found at the NENSA Facebook page or the Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s Snow Report page. Currently, there are 4 k of groomed trails open.

Racing kicks off Saturday with a women’s 5 k freestyle individual start and a men’s 10 k freestyle individual start.

Sunday marks the second day of racing with a women’s 10 k classic individual start and a men’s 10 k classic individual start.

A complete schedule of events may be found here. Live timing will be provided by Bart Timing and may be found here.

West Yellowstone Grooming Update

Nov. 5, 2015 at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone

Nov. 5, 2015 at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone (Courtesy photo)

West Yellowstone – Rendezvous Ski Trails – 11/5/2015 Grooming Report

(Press release)

Those who have been missing the fluffy, white snow of winter are smiling this week. The 8+ inches of heavy, wet snow received earlier in the week is setting up a great base for early season skiing on the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone, Montana. Trails groomed: Rendezvous, Biathlon Range, Deja View, both Sprint Loops, Drewski, Jerry’s and the Doodle. Almost all trails have classic and skate. Some trails may still be a little soft in the center, but most of the classic looks very good. Early season conditions, so ski with care.

More snow is the forecast for the coming week, with continued cool temperatures to hold the base. Only two weeks until the Annual West Yellowstone Ski Festival, and things are looking bright!

For current trail conditions visit Skirunbikemt.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Snow Touches Down in West Yellowstone

Snow fell on the Rendezvous Ski Trails on Friday, Oct. 30, in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: West Yellowstone Chamber)

Snow fell on the Rendezvous Ski Trails on Friday, Oct. 30, in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: West Yellowstone Chamber)

It snowed in West Yellowstone on Friday, and according to West Yellowstone Chamber Marketing Director Wendy Swenson, more was in the forecast. West Yellowstone, Mont., is home to the annual Yellowstone Ski Festival, which officially kicks off the nordic racing season in the U.S. This year, the event will take place Nov. 24-28.
Snow as seen on the Rendezvous Ski Trails on Friday, Oct. 30, in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: West Yellowstone Chamber)

Snow as seen on the Rendezvous Ski Trails on Friday, Oct. 30, in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: West Yellowstone Chamber)

Send your early season snow photos to info@fasterskier.com. Please include when and where the photo was taken, and whom it should be credited to.

UPDATED: Bender, Blackhorse-von Jess Win SuperTour Sprints in Craftsbury

Jennie Bender (BSF) skis into the finish of the 1.25 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt.

Jennie Bender (BSF) skis into the finish of the 1.25 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. She won the SuperTour race by over a second. (Photo: Jon Lazenby)

Note: This post was updated with athlete quotes. 

Bridger Ski Foundation’s Jennie Bender came out on top in Sunday’s 1.25-kilometer classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. After qualifying in the top position earlier in the day, Bender won the first SuperTour sprint since the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships with a final time of 3:26.26. Bender took control of the final from the start of the gun to easily cross the finish line in first.

Bender,   a Vermont native, wrote she was happy with her performance in the race given her feelings surrounding the 20 k earlier this weekend.

“I wasn’t sure how I would feel out there today, since Friday’s 20k for me played out like a flight leaving Houghton; it just didn’t happen. But a little Hometown sprint racing was fun, and I’m looking forward to next weekend,” Bender wrote in an email. 

She was followed by Liz Guiney of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), who trailed the winning time by 1.02 seconds. In a close third was Far West Elite’s Anja Gruber, 1.19 seconds back.

In the final, Guiney was able to tuck in behind Bender and Gruber throughout much of the course. By the time the women reached the stadium, it was battle for second between her, Gruber, and Stratton Mountain T2’s Erika Flowers.

“We had a bit of a double pole drag race between myself, Anja, and Erika Flowers for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. I was just happy to have enough in the tank at the end,” Guiney wrote in a post-race email. “It was a really fun day, great to ski on our home course and have cheering support from Outdoor Center employees and the Green Racing Project rowers.”

Due to the small field Gruber said she decided to ski conservatively early on so that she could perform in the final. In the end, it paid off as she held onto a podium position in the final sprint.

“I know I don’t have the most speed, so finish sprints are never really my favorite – but today I was pretty happy to edge out Erika on the last meters and miss second place just by a little bit,” she wrote in an email.

Rounding out the final were Flowers (+1.48), Dartmouth’s Corey Stock (+5.23), and CGRP rower Emily Dreissigacker (+18.68).

The men's final in the SuperTour 1.5 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt.

The men’s final in the SuperTour 1.5 k classic sprint in Craftsbury, Vt. (Photo: Jon Lazenby)

In the men’s race Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess of the Bend Endurance Academy bested the men’s field in the 1.5 k classic sprint. Blackhorse-von Jess was the top qualifier and retained his position with a time of 3:21.36 in the final. However, his win was by a slim margin as the top-four finishers clocked times within half-a-second of each other. Second place went to Kris Freeman of Freebird, who finished 0.28 seconds back from the winning time. In third was Alaska Pacific University’s Tyler Kornfield, 0.39 off pace. Fourth went to APU teammate Reese Hanneman (+0.49).

Blackhorse-von Jess, skied much of the final behind Freeman who took the lead from the start. The Bend Endurance Academy skier tried to pass Freeman one the course’s major climb, but was unable to get by the Freebird skier until the final meters.

“In the final Kris was pretty motivated to lead from the front in the final, so after I tried to pass him on the signature climb and couldn’t make it go (my legs were tired from the 30k!) so I tucked in behind him and then found the go to take it to the line,” he wrote. 

Also in the final were University of Vermont’s Cole Morgan (+4.57) and APU’s Eric Packer (+9.41).

According to competitors, conditions were near-perfect in northern Vermont and they are happy to return to Craftsbury next weekend for three more SuperTour races.

“The conditions were cold but perfect. It was about zero degrees but no wind and a warm sun. Craftsbury set great, firm tracks,” Freeman said. He will use next weekend’s races as preparation for the upcoming World Championships in Falun, Sweden.

Blackhorse-v0n Jess on the other hand will not return to Craftsbury next weekend to get ready for the Östersund, Sweden World Cup.

SuperTour racing continues in Craftsbury Feb. 6 with a freestyle sprint. 

Results: MenWomen

Craftsbury SuperTour Day 1 Photos: Classic Mass Starts

Photos from the opening day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt., with the women’s 20- and men’s 30-kilometer classic mass starts at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. All photos by John Lazenby/lazenbyphoto.com.

Freeman, Patterson Win Close Classic Mass Starts in Craftsbury

Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess was fourth, David Norris fifth, and Lex Treinen sixth to give APU four of the top six.  (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

Kris Freeman (second from r) topped the podium on Friday on the first day of back-to-back SuperTour weekends in Craftsbury, Vt. Freeman edged APU’s Eric Packer (third from right) by 0.1 seconds for the 30 k classic mass start win. Another APU skier, Reese Hanneman (r) rounded out the podium in third. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (BEA) was fourth, David Norris (APU) placed fifth, and Lex Treinen (APU) was sixth to give APU four of the top six. (Photo: Bend Endurance Academy/Facebook)

By Colin Gaiser

Kris Freeman (Freebird) had the finishing speed to hold off Alaska Pacific University’s Eric Packer and Reese Hanneman in the men’s SuperTour 30-kilometer classic mass start on Friday at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vt.

Freeman won in a time of 1:23:32.9, while Packer came in just 0.1 seconds behind and Hanneman finished 5.7 seconds back to lock up third place. Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) was fourth (+7.5) and David Norris (APU) rounded out the top five (+8.9).

In the women’s 20 k, which had just 14 finishers, Caitlin Patterson of the local Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) led a tight pack of skiers at the finish and won in 1:05:48.8. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) was 2.9 seconds back, and Anja Gruber (Far West Elite Team) took the final spot on the podium (+4.3).

Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) was right behind in fourth (+5.2), Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) took fifth (+6.0), and Rosie Frankowski (APU) finished in sixth (+7.3) in the back of the lead pack.

Freeman wrote in an email that the men’s race remained tight with about 10 k to go, compelling him to increase the pace at the start of the final 10 k lap. He led during the lap’s most significant climb, though Packer was right beside him at the top. The pack of Freeman, Blackhorse-von Jess, and the three APU skiers then reformed in the long following descent.

“With the group back together it was cat-and-mouse on some rolling terrain until we got to a large hill with 1 k to go,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman wrote that he mounted his final attack about a kilometer from the finish.

“Reese, Dakota, and Eric were right on me when I went but only Eric stuck with me. I had a few seconds on him with 100 m to go and I eased up a bit so it was close but not as close as the time indicates. There was no lunge to the line,” Freeman explained.

Packer wrote in an email, “I was hoping to use my double pole finish to catch [Freeman], and almost did, but I ran out of track and he edged me to the line. He was the stronger skier today.”

However, Packer explained that he was “incredibly happy” with his result and his body felt strong throughout the race.

Hanneman wrote that the fresh snow on the course made it a very tactical race where multiple racers took turns in the front of the pack.

“I was feeling pretty strong, and had more of a punchy style where I was able to do a couple really aggressive attacks where I could gap the field in a short amount of time,” Hanneman explained.

However, after Freeman began his attack and picked up the pace during the final lap, it became a race to keep up with him — and only Packer was able to challenge him down the final stretch.

In the women’s race, Patterson — winning on her 25th birthday — wrote in an email that she stayed out of the lead and decided to conserve her energy throughout the race, but stayed within the main pack of eight skiers.

“I dug deep to stay with them, knowing that if someone could make a break for it at the top of that big hill and get over the other side ahead, it might be the decisive move,” she explained. “No one really went for it, although the pace was definitely kicking up, but the pack came back together mostly on the downhill and rolling section.”

Patterson explained she was in fourth while taking the final sharp curve about 400 meters before the finish, but her momentum carried her past the skiers in the left, inside track. After establishing some breathing room, she switched to the other track and managed to out-double pole the pack on the final, downhill 100-meter stretch.

Because the finish was so close, Patterson wrote that it “came down to how much energy and speed we could muster for that last 400 m, with a little bit of luck and good positioning playing into the mix as well.”

SuperTour racing continues in Craftsbury on Sunday with classic sprints. The Craftsbury Marathon will take place Saturday.

Results: Men’s 30 k | Women’s 20 k

SuperTour Power Rankings 12/8

With the end of another exciting weekend of SuperTour racing in Bozeman, Mont. comes a new FasterSkier SuperTour Power Ranking that exhibits little change from last week’s list. However there’s a new men’s leader in Matt Gelso, and the women are loosing ground to a strong Rosie Brennan.

Notes regarding this week’s ranking:

– If you aren’t talking about Rosie Brennan you should be. She’s won the past three races in convincing form and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. She has a 36-point lead in the points list that will be hard for her competitors to erase. However, with double points on the line at the US Cross Country Championships in Houghton, Michigan, a spot on the World Cup in period two is not a given for Brennan.

– Last week we said Caitlin Gregg made a smart move resting before racing the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour, as she had a better chance of earning World Cup points in disciplines that favor her strengths. Long story short, it didn’t happen. However, it didn’t happen for many usually-strong US women either.

– Last week we noted the fact that all three men of the Sun Valley Gold Team were in the Power Rankings. They’ve further solidified their positions after Bozeman, with Matt Gelso taking over the top spot and teammate Miles Havlick just behind in second.

– Like Caitlin Gregg, Reese Hanneman wasn’t able to do much in the World Cup mini tour in Lillehammer, Norway. If he can improve in Davos this weekend, he’ll be able to maintain his spot in the rankings.

Power Rankings:

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 7.59.04 PM

Current SuperTour Points:

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.37.30 PM– Lander Karath, Associate Editor

 

Brennan, Stewart-Jones Top Bozeman SuperTour Classic Sprint (Updated)

BOZEMAN, Mont. — After winning the first SuperTour distance race of the season exactly a week ago in West Yellowstone, Mont., Alaska Pacific University (APU) skier Rosie Brennan unofficially pulled out a classic-sprint victory over Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) in the women’s final at Bohart Ranch on Saturday, the first day of the Bozeman SuperTour. 

Temperatures will well above freezing for the sprint, reaching near 40 degrees Fahrenheit for the afternoon heats and making for slushy conditions.

Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) made the podium in third, and  Becca Rorabaugh (APU) initially finished fourth before being relegated to last in the final for reasons that were not immediately clear.

Natalia Naryshkina (CXC Team) ultimately placed fourth, last week’s skate-sprint winner Canadian Alysson Marshall (National Development Team/Alberta World Cup Academy) took fifth, and Rorabaugh was listed as sixth.

Official results were not immediately available.

In the men’s race, another Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) skier, Patrick Stewart-Jones edged Ben Saxton, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team and U.S. Ski Team, by 0.11 seconds with a winning time of 3:26.22.

Matt Gelso (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team) notched his second SuperTour podium in third (+1.37), and Kris Freeman (Team Freebird) was fourth (+2.58).  Last week’s sprint winner, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess placed fifth (+7.26) and Rune Malo Ødegård (University of Colorado) was sixth (+23.11).

Live timing

SuperTour Power Ranking 12/1

The first weekend of SuperTour racing has come and gone, and with it has emerged new favorites and a new SuperTour Power Ranking. 

Notes regarding this week’s ranking:

  • When creating the SuperTour Power Ranking we’re giving special weight to distance results. That’s not to say that sprinting doesn’t matter – without strong sprinting results, it’s very hard to earn starting spots in on the World Cup or win the overall SuperTour title. However, with World Championship selection to consider, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the U.S. already has strong sprinters racing internationally that will likely qualify through ranking in the top 50 at the World Cup. This is not as true for American distance skiers, especially for the men.
  • Rosie Brennan looked unstoppable on Saturday.
  • Last week we left Matt Gelso off the the list. It was a HUGE mistake, as he won the 15 k and showed he could sprint too. While it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to keep up the momentum, he will definitely be one to watch.
  • Speaking of Gelso, the Sun Valley Gold Team has all three of its men in our ranking. Gelso, Havlick, and Lustgarten look to be a trio of fast men especially when it comes to distance races.
  • The biggest move this week comes from Ben Saxton. While he underperformed in the sprint rounds, he demonstrated that he could go the distance Saturday, finishing only several seconds behind teammate and strong distance skier, Paddy Caldwell.
  • How did Caitlin Gregg remain so high on the list without racing in Europe this weekend? Because she’s smart and sticking to what she does best. We’ll find out if it pays off when she races in Lillehammer next weekend.

The only way I will make World Championships is if I score World Cup points in this first period. So I am really being careful with my energy and race decisions. I am happy to report that my decision not to race didn’t take a start spot from anyone else, just let me get in another solid day of training before next weekend!” she wrote to FasterSkier regarding her decision to sit out Sunday’s World Cup 10 k classic in Kuusamo, Finland.

  • Finally, you’ll notice that skiers who do not plan to race a full SuperTour/U.S. Nationals schedule are not on the list (college skiers, Canadians, etc.). While these skiers are important for a variety of reasons, they may not make the SuperTour Power Ranking list because they are either not eligible for the racing benefits of the SuperTour, like World Cup starting spots and possible World Championship selection, or because they are focusing on other races this season, such as NCAA qualifiers.

Rankings:

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 5.13.30 PM

Top-ten SuperTour points: 

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.11.09 PM

Note: A previous post erroneously used the World Cup points system when adding up SuperTour points. A revised list using the correct methodology is posted above. 

– Lander Karath, Associate Editor

Introducing FasterSkier’s New SuperTour Power Ranking

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — FasterSkier is introducing a new SuperTour Power Ranking for the 2014/2015 season. Every Monday following a weekend of SuperTour racing we will post a ranking based on the season’s results to-date.

Why include a SuperTour Power Ranking, you may ask? While the SuperTour points list is a concrete ranking system for sending skiers to Europe and crowning a SuperTour champion, it often does not show trends in how skiers are peaking mid-season or give a prediction of how they may perform in the future.

Each week we will also add top ten rankings from the SuperTour points list.

The SuperTour Power Rankings are based on past results and some subjectivity, but if you believe we’re completely off the mark, please leave your opinion in the comment section below.

This is an experiment that, if successful, we will apply to other racing series such as the Canadian NorAm or NCAA circuit.

So, without further ado, here is our preseason ranking based on last year’s results and what we’ve witnessed in the last few months of training.

– Lander Karath, Associate Editor

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 10.03.17 PM

Note: WC denotes an athlete who is racing on the World Cup 

Happy Thanksgiving from West Yellowstone (Video)

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — As skiers were preparing for Friday’s SuperTour freestyle sprint, FasterSkier caught up with North America’s best to see what they were thankful for this Thanksgiving. With answers ranging from snow to teammates to Vin Diesel, the domestic circuit athletes are a definitely thankful group!

Check out the video below. Having trouble viewing? Watch on YouTube.

Snowy Tuesday in West Yellowstone

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — Skiers woke to several inches of new snow Tuesday at the Yellowstone Ski Festival in southwest Montana. With the blowing snow came an even greater number of skiers to the Rendezvous Ski Trails. Teams ranging from from the local West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation to the Alaska Pacific University braved the conditions to participate in speed work, while skiers from around the region participated in clinics designed to aid in skating technique, waxing, and shooting among other skills.

Snow is expected to continue falling through tonight totaling six to eight inches. Staring Wednesday, sun and temperatures in the upper 30s are predicted through Thanksgiving.

Take a look at several shots from today’s morning ski below.

West Yellowstone Gets a Dumping

This was the scene Friday evening in West Yellowstone, Mont.:
West Yellowstone PistenBully first dump of season Nov. 15, 2014

Nov. 15 in West Yellowstone, Mont.

“8+ [inches] and still falling,” Yellowstone Ski Festival Program Director Moira Dow wrote in an email. “Pisten Bully is heading out for the season’s maiden voyage.”
The Festival kicks off in less than two weeks on Tues., Nov. 25 with two SuperTour races scheduled through Nov. 29.