It was déjà vu all over again in Stage 2 of the China Tour de Ski, as Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) led four American skiers with a sixth place finish in the semifinals of a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint for the second stage in a row.
Stage 2 brought the racers, 40 men and 36 women, to Changchun, in China’s Jilin region, closer to Vladivostok than to Beijing. Race-time temperatures were -11 Celsius, or 12° F, for the one-lap, 1.5 k skate sprint.
Hendrickson was consistent throughout the day, qualifying in sixth and ultimately advancing to the semifinal for a final position of sixth. Jack Novak (APU) qualified in 10th, and ended his day in the quarterfinals in 14th. Skyler Kenna (APU) finished 25th today, out of the 16-person heats, after qualifying in 16th in Sunday’s Stage 1.
The sole American woman, Lauren Fritz (APU), moved up relative to Sunday, after enduring several days’ worth of missing luggage to start her trip and racing Sunday on borrowed equipment. Today she qualified in seventh and finished 11th overall, after qualifying 10th and finishing 14th in Stage 1.
Overall winners today were China’s Zhu Mingliang for the men and Man Dandan for the women. Sprint races in the China Tour de Ski feature four-person heats.
Racing continues tomorrow with Stage 3, the Vasaloppet China, a 50 k classic mass start race in Changchun’s Jingyuetan Park.
— Gavin Kentch