The Nor Am SuperTour got underway in Anchorage, Alaska today with 5 and 10
kilometer classic races. The first two races of the SuperTour were supposed
to be last weekend in Fairbanks, but lack of snow caused the races to be cancelled.
Snow finally made its way to Alaska earlier this week, and the decision was
made to hold these races at the original site, Kincaid Park, rather than at
the backup site, Hatcher Pass, which has plenty of snow. Most of the skiers
seemed happy to be racing in town, despite a snow cover of only 3-5 inches
and no classic tracks.
This weekend's races lack the star power of a normal Nor Am race because
many elite skiers, including the US Ski Team, left Alaska last week when snow
conditions were minimal. Though the numbers were low, 15 women and 30 men,
the level of racing was still high thanks to the many fast skiers who call
In the women's race, the big guns went out early. Alaska Pacific University
Nordic Ski Club's Kikkan Randall was first out of the starting gate, while Aelin Peterson, her Olympic teammate in 2002, started right behind her. Kikkan skied a strong
race, but Aelin kept her in sight and was able to scratch out a couple of
precious seconds at the finish to win the race. Former Dartmouth Ski Team
member Kate Pearson took third, while Alaskan junior star Katie Ronsse was
fourth. Both Pearson and Ronsse ski for the Alaska Winterstars program in Anchorage. University of Alaska Anchorage skier Sarah Hansen tied with Olympic biathlete Rachel Steer for fifth.
In the men's race, all eyes were on Dave Chamberlain. Dave was one of the
few National-team caliber skiers who stuck around for this race, rather than
leave for better snow elsewhere. When asked why he stayed, he said, "For
the races. I was really hoping we'd be able to race." Dave was aiming
to start the season on a positive note and earn critical Nor Am points that
some of his rivals gave up by leaving Alaska early. Though Dave was anxious
to race, he also admitted that he had trained well through the week and did
not rest up for the races.
Though Dave skied a very strong race, a dark horse stole the day. Trond Flagstad,
UAA ski coach and classic specialist, started way back in the pack, but quietly
put together a very fast race and managed to edge Dave Chamberlain by 19 seconds.
Afterwards Trond said that in addition to coaching, he has been training more
than usual this year and plans to do some races at US Nationals. He is looking
forward to testing himself against the US' best skiers. APU's James Southam
was third today, APU coach Erik Flora showed that he has been training well
by taking fourth, and Scott McArt was fifth.
Pictures of some of the top skiers in today's race:
Click on the picture for a bigger version.