The season may be over, but there were a few musings left floating around after last week’s 30/50 k National Championship that never made it into our original reports. Presenting the last edition of notes and quotes ‘til November, for the die-hard race junkies.
Through the slow California conditions and ski exchanges, Kris Freeman battled Andy Newell and Einar Ulsund for the national title in the 50 k classic for over two hours on the last day at spring series. Freeman pulled away in the last 5 k to beat Newell by almost a minute and finish off his season with a win.
Liz Stephen certainly likes her hill climbs. Starting at a 2-minute, 26-second deficit in the pursuit start of the last stage of SuperTour Finals, she obliterated the field on the 6 k course to both win the tour and post the fastest time of the day by nearly two minutes. Kikkan Randall, who started the hill climb in the lead, settled for second after skiing off the course partway through the ascent.
Erik Bjornsen thought he was done for. The 21-year-old U.S. Ski Team and APU skier had gone out too hard, too early in Monday’s 6 k freestyle hill climb before the real ascent up Sugar Bowl Resort even started. Somehow, he found at least three more gears and beat Kris Freeman to the top for his first SuperTour Finals title.
Former college skiers Susan Dunklee, Annelies Cook, and Hannah Dreissigacker decided not to go straight to vacation when their World Cup biathlon season ended. Instead, they’re racing SuperTour finals – for most, the first classic races and first sprints of the season. After a collection of top-ten results, it looks like a good decision, but they’re also keeping things fun with an intra-team “Biathlon Cup” competition.
As the fifth-ranked sprinter in the world this year and the only guy on the World Cup to qualify for the heats in every sprint he started, Andy Newell returned to the domestic sprint scene on Saturday as the odds-on favorite. Despite a challenging wax day at SuperTour Finals, he delivered the win he’d hoped for, besting Pat O’Brien and Erik Bjornsen in second and third, respectively.
There’s something about SuperTour Finals that seems to agree with Kris Freeman. The veteran skier looked more like his usual self on Friday in the 15 k mass start classic — he gapped the field early and won the race by 47 seconds. Erik Bjornsen took second, beating Andy Newell in third by less than two seconds. Freeman now leads the tour by 12.2 seconds with the conclusion of two stages.