Canadians took 7 of the 8 spots in the mens and womens A Finals in Sun Valley today. The lone American bright spot was Laura Valaas, who notched another victory.
The Canadian men put on a dominating performance in Wednesday's Sun Valley Supertour Classic Sprint at the Lake Creek ski trails. After spending last week at the Canadian Nor Am races in Canmore, they came south and swept the top six places in the men's race today. Sean Crooks was the winner, ahead of Phil Widmer, Drew Goldsack, and Dan Roycroft. One observer noted that the Canadian men had better uphill striding form than the US skiers, and seemed to have an extra gear. It is worth noting that many of these skiers are on the Canadian National Team, while the US Ski Team sprinters did not compete, having just returned from Europe.
In the women's race, the Canadians were unable to stop the Valaas Express. Laura Valaas is now three for three on the season in individual sprint races, after another impressive victory. She had to beat out a trio of Canadians in the A Final: Shayla Swanson, Perianne Jones, and Tara Whitten. Caitlin Compton was the next American in 6th position. For Laura's account of the race, go to: www.lauravalaas.com
The temperatures were in teens for qualification round and warmed up to mid or high 20's for the heats, making for hardwax conditions. The snow was generally powdery, but the tracks were fairly hard for powder conditions. Snow coverage was decent, with some sagebrush poking through in several places around the track.
It was a rather challenging 1.5km course, with a major hill towards the end. This climb followed by a long downhill/flat (tuck) turning around into the final 100m straight. If you didn't have kick on the hill, you would be dropped, and at the same time, whoever had fast skis on the long tuck section would usually end up advancing.
The SuperTour continues on Saturday with the Individual Mens 10km and Womens 5km Classic races in Sun Valley.
Several heats determined by ski speed/glide on the last downhill, at least to some significant degree
Colin Rodgers (SVSEF/FSx) and Marshall Greene (Alpina) got tangled up in their quarterfinal, Colin chased hard but was never able to catch back up so they were both out in the quarterfinals.
Chris Jeffries was in contention to move on from his semifinal when he crashed on the last downhill, going off the course into the sagebrush.
Eric Strabel (fastest mens qualifier in 3:44) surprisingly didn't advance from the quarters – they were going easy for part of that heat and then it looked like he just didn't quite have it on the big climb for some reason.
Only 2 american males made it past the quarterfinals – Anders Haugen and local boy Reid Pletcher.
2 women scratched from an original field of 17 women…meaning everyone not only qualified for the heats, but one quarterfinal only had 3 women in it.
Photos by Ian Case: