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SuperTour Finals Extras: Days One Through Three

Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) racing to a victory in the 2013 SuperTour Finals opening prologue at Auburn Ski Club last Thursday. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) racing to a victory in the 2013 SuperTour Finals opening prologue at Auburn Ski Club last Thursday. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

FasterSkier’s coverage of SuperTour Finals and U.S. Distance Nationals is brought to you by the generous support of Concept2, the leading manufacturer of indoor rowers, racing oars, and the SkiErg.

SODA SPRINGS, Calif. — In their last races of the season, several top skiers had plenty to say in the first three of four races at SuperTour Finals.

Here are some of the best quotes that didn’t make it into the following race reports from Auburn Ski Club:

 

On the draw of Spring Series:

“It’s fun to see all people I haven’t see all year, for sure, and I love to cross-country ski race so I’m just enjoying that part about it.” – Liz Stephen (Burke Mountain Academy/U.S. Ski Team)

“I love skiing in Tahoe, especially days like this. I had my first and last JNs here and my last JNs was pretty successful here. I always have good memories of this place.” – Erik Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific University/USST), second in Friday’s 15 k classic mass start

“I started my college career in Reno and then I transferred to Utah so it’s really special to be back here … just to see everybody in the U.S. It’s a good time.” – Maria Graefnings (SWE), fifth in Saturday’s 1.5 k classic sprint

 

On racing at altitude (7,000+ feet):

“Nothing really feels good skiing here, especially at altitude, so you just have to convince yourself that once you go hard, it’ll feel better.” – Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST)

“It didn’t feel as terrible as I thought. My legs only quit on me for like 30 seconds, which I think was a positive.” – Mike Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), third in Thursday’s 3.3 k freestyle prologue

“I was training at 9,000 feet before I came up here at home [in Durango, Colo.]. I felt great training at home, everything was going well. I just don’t really know what’s going on. Maybe a long season, a lot of travel, not really sure, but obviously these other guys are skiing fast, too.” – Tad Elliott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/Team HomeGrown), 17th in the men’s 15 k classic mass start on Friday

“I think racing this high at altitude and this time in the season is gonna be hard no matter what the conditions are. … You really have to keep the pacing in check.” –Stephen

Rosie Brennan (APU) leads a pack of women, including Caitlin Gregg (second from r), Susan Dunklee and Annelies Cook (l), up the new A-climb at Auburn Ski Club in the 10 k classic mass start at SuperTour Finals on April 5.

Rosie Brennan (APU) leads a pack of women, including Caitlin Gregg (second from r), Susan Dunklee and Annelies Cook (l), up the new A-climb at Auburn Ski Club in the 10 k classic mass start at SuperTour Finals on April 5.

On Auburn Ski Club’s new A-climb:

“I was crawling up it. That was a hard-core thing.” – Stephen, third in Friday’s 10 k classic mass start

 

On racing in the rain/snow in Thursday’s prologue:

“Thankfully, it’s a short race. I figured if you’re warm enough at the start, you can probably stay warm enough for eight or nine minutes … I wished I would have saved my race suit ’til the race. I warmed up in the bottom half and by the time I started my legs were pretty soaked.” – Kikkan Randall, prologue winner and second-fastest overall in men’s/women’s 3.3 k

“I thought it was gonna be sunny so I came up here with no warm clothes. As we started driving up, it started raining and I thought, ‘OK, this is gonna be interesting.’ Then we got out here and it was snowing, but it made it kind of exciting. It’s kind of mysterious out in the woods, you know?” – Sadie Bjornsen, third in prologue

“I came out early and I skied before the girls’ race and I was pumped because it was super fast. Then I started the race and it dropped over that hill, and I was like, ‘Oh God, it’s slow.’ ” – Mark Iverson (APU), tied Sinnott for third in prologue

Mike Sinnnott (SVSEF) in Saturday's classic sprint qualifier. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

Mike Sinnnott (SVSEF) in Saturday’s classic sprint qualifier. He went on to place sixth in the final. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

“These conditions, I actually thought, weren’t as bad as they looked. I mean, it’s raining, but it turned to snow for us, and it didn’t go to super-soupy mush. It firmed up … The trails were actually quite nice and good skiing. It didn’t bother me. It was kind of like, ‘Whatever, let’s go for it.’ ” – Sinnott

 

On conditions later in the week:

“There’s like a lake on the right side of the stadium, but other than that … it was sloppy, but totally skiable.” – Sadie Bjornsen, third in classic sprint

 

On peaking for the last races of the season:

“Early season, I really wanted to make those World Cups for the sprint, and I came out sprinting pretty hard and kind of paid the price the whole rest of the year. … But to be able to ski those World Cups in December, which was an early-season goal, and to be able to collect myself and ski well out here, which was my other big goal, was really sweet. It makes you forget those races in the middle of the winter when you’re not feeling yourself and you’re not racing the way you’d want.” – Pat O’Brien (Craftsbury Green Racing Project), second in classic sprint

“People always remember the most-recent results, so … I think it’s really important to have good results in the last part of the season. For me, it’s really motivating for the summer to know that I can duke it out with some of the top guys in the U.S. It’ll motivate me to train hard so I have the chance to make the Olympics.” – Erik Bjornsen, with three-consecutive podiums in as many races at SuperTour Finals

“I actually haven’t really done a prologue before. I like them now.” – Knute Johnsgaard (CAN/Yukon Elite Squad), second in men’s prologue

“Today was probably my favorite day of this race series so far. You might have seen I threw my arms up at the finish. I was pretty excited. … Ever since joining APU, [head coach Erik] Flora was like, ‘I think you can be a hybrid, you can ski both distance and sprint.’ I feel like there’s so much less pressure on you if you can do both. You see guys on the team that are just sprinters and it comes down to a sprint day and they’re just like, ‘Uh, this is my one race in a three-day series,’ and I just didn’t want to do that. I think I might like distance better now. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m happy to be able to do both of them.” – Erik Bjornsen, third in classic sprint

Andy Newell (SMST2/USST) on his way to winning Saturday's classic sprint final at SuperTour Finals in Soda Springs, Calif. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

Andy Newell (SMST2/USST) on his way to winning Saturday’s classic sprint final at SuperTour Finals in Soda Springs, Calif. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

 

On teammate respect:

“[Andy] Newell inspires me a lot. I don’t think he gets enough credit, actually, for his sprinting. To be as consistent as he is, seems like he’s always making the A-finals. People say, like, ‘Oh, he can’t make it to the podium,’ but, I’ve seen what it takes and it’s really impressive. Like him and Noah [Hoffman] and [Kris] Freeman, they’re all skiing strong. I hope I can push them, too, and hope to train with them this summer. I’d like to raise the level of men’s skiing in the U.S. and those guys can do it.” – Erik Bjornsen, second in 15 k classic mass start

 

On the unexplainable:

“I felt great in the beginning, really fast skis, really good kick, felt comfortable and controlled and actually didn’t reach Kris [Freeman] on the uphill ’cause I was worried about blowing up. I let the gap go and skied smooth and consistent and those guys [in the chase group] were charging and they caught me. That’s kind of how it’s gone this year for me; I think I’m comfortable, think I’m fine. I’m where I’d like to be or where I could be skiing, and I get pretty tired.” – Tad Elliott, 17th in 15 k classic mass start

 

On the unintentional:

“I’m a little bit not so good at skiing behind someone, I just step on their skis all the time. I like it because then I don’t need to do the pace myself, but it’s maybe a little bit annoying for them.” – Lisa Larsen (SWE), fourth in 10 k classic mass start

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