Jack Novak (APU) recorded the first American podium finish in this year’s China Tour de Ski, coming out of a group sprint to place third in a 5.7-kilometer freestyle mass start race in Stage 4 of the Tour in Xiwuqi, China, earlier Friday.
Following Wednesday’s Stage 3 in Changchun, the Tour moved close to 1,000 kilometers northwest, to the Inner Mongolia region of China, for Friday and Saturday’s races. Friday, athletes competed on a 1.9 k loop with minimal elevation change. Men raced three laps for a 5.7 k mass start skate race. Women raced two laps for a 3.8 k mass start skate race.
Samuel Rege Gianasso of France won the men’s race, finishing in 13:06.9. The top four finishers all crossed the line within 0.9 seconds of each other. Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen (formerly of Michigan Tech) was second (+0.3). Novak was third (+0.6). Another Norwegian, Erlend Moian Nydal, was fourth (+0.9).
The next American was Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) in 10th (+27.6). Finally, Skyler Kenna (APU) was 24th (+1:12.2) in the 39-racer field.
Novak earned 4,000 yuan (a little less than $600) for the third-place finish.
On the women’s side, Lauren Fritz (APU) finished 16th in the 3.8 k race, up two spots from her 18th place in Wednesday’s Vasaloppet China. She was 37.9 seconds back of women’s winner Li Xin of China.
Racing continues Saturday with a 1.2 k skate sprint at the same venue.
— Gavin Kentch