The story of the day for SuperTour action is easily APU’s Holly Brooks winning today’s 10K skate in West Yellowstone. Brooks beat second place Dasha Gaiazova of the Canadian National Team by 4.5 seconds, and Madeleine Williams of the Alberta World Cup Academy by 9.7 seconds.
An elated but nervous Brooks waited without warmups at the finish line for the last two A-seed finishers, 5th place finisher Kristina Trygstad-Saari (Bridger Ski Foundation) and 18th place Caitlin Compton (Rossignol) to cross before celebrating.
“I took a wrong turn! Right at the 10K/15K divider. Man, if I lose it because of that…There wasn’t a sign for the finish!”
Brooks is having a phenomenal first week of races. A Junior and Masters coach for APU, she accidentally found herself racing at an elite level last season after very nearly winning the Birkie.
This summer Brooks suffered extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion while half a mile from winning the gruling Mount Marathon mountain race in Seward, AK, on July 4th. Waking up in the ER after taking four liters of IV fluid, she scored a terrible condition that resulted in a syndrome where your muscle cells effectively collapse and devour themselves. It took her two months to begin training again, and doctors speculated on a possible 6 month recovery.
But, while keeping up with her coaching duties, she’s mixing in training with APU’s elite team, and receiving some coaching of her own from Program Director Erik Flora.
“I felt great. My skis were rockets. Total rockets. But you have to ski smooth out there, got to keep a good rhythm. There’s no big hills to recover on. You have to find every second. The course is good for big gliders.”
APU trains one week a month during the summer at 6000′ on the Eagle Glacier near Anchorage, but otherwise has been at altitude since they arrived a week ago Thursday.
“I think we acclimated really well. We were really careful. You know, the third day is the hardest at altitude so we took a rest day. Stuff like that.”
The Canadian National Team’s Dasha Gaiazova came in second today after easily winning Thursday’s classic sprint.
“That course was hard. Overall it was pretty good. I had really fast skis, and it’s fast out there. There is such a great atmosphere out here, it’s great to see so much participation and lots of friends, it’s really nice.
“I started out slower today because we are nearly 2,000-metres of altitude,” Gaiazova continued. “I didn’t want to red line to early in the race. I accelerated mid-way through the race and tried to ski as fast as I could so I’m happy with the day.”
5th place Trygstad-Saari (BSF) had her first good time trial on snow on Sunday.
“I wanted to start conservatively and ski smooth. That second hill was killer. My skis were really fast.” Her second year back on the scene, she’s skiing with BSF in Bozeman.
“There were no good downhills out there, so it was all about transitions. I’m a big skater, a good glider, but I also V1 a lot.”
Overshadowed by Brooks’ performance, was another fine race – 17-year-old Joanne Reid (Sugar Bowl Academy) finished 7th, 49.9 seconds off the pace.
Tomorrow’s classic race will be a 5K classic. Considering we have a classic sprint and a skate distance race under our belts, we can form some kind of image for tomorrow’s results. Brooks, Gaiazova, and the other Canadians are looking pretty good as it stands.