2018 U.S. SuperTour Finals (Craftsbury, Vermont): Classic sprints
The end of the racing season is just around the corner. The U.S. SuperTour Finals (a.k.a. Spring Series) kicked off Friday with 1.3-kilometer classic sprints at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and four other days of racing are set to follow on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The U.S. Ski Team (USST) made the trek from Europe less than a week after racing at World Cup Finals in Sweden. Despite the travel and fatigue at the end of a long season, Andy Newell and Jessie Diggins, who both train with the Vermont-based Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team in the offseason, came won the men’s and women’s finals, respectively.
In Friday morning’s qualifiers, Simi Hamilton, also of the SMST2/USST, and Sadie Bjornsen, of Alaska Pacific University (APU) and the USST, posted the fastest men’s and women’s times, respectively. Newell qualified second, and Diggins qualified third.
Bjornsen went on to win the first quarterfinal and first semifinal, while Diggins did the same — winning the fifth quarterfinal and second semifinal. In the final, the two U.S. teammates met for the first time of the day. Diggins went on to cross the finish line first in 3:40.23, followed by her teammate Sophie Caldwell (SMST2/USST) 1.42 seconds later in second. Ida Sargent, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project and USST, placed third (+5.18), and Bjornsen narrowly missed the podium in fourth (+0.29), Rosie Brennan (APU/USST) placed fifth (+6.54), and Kikkan Randall (APU/USST) rounded out the final in sixth (+13.56).
On the men’s side, Newell won all three of his heats, from the first quarterfinal to the first semifinal, right up to the final, crossing the line for the last time in 3:23.82. Hamilton won the third quarterfinal and placed second behind Newell in their semifinal in a photo finish for first (+0.01). Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) won the other semifinal after winning the fifth quarterfinal as well. Ben Saxton (SMST2) advanced to the final as a lucky loser, along with Reese Hanneman (APU).
In the final, Newell bested Saxton, his Stratton teammate, by 0.68 seconds for the win. Erik Bjornsen took the final spot on the podium in third (+1.41), ahead of Kris Freeman (Caldwell Sport) in fourth (+2.14), Hamilton in fifth (+3.02), and Hanneman in sixth (+4.5).
SuperTour Finals continue Saturday with 10/15 k freestyle mass starts.