Garrott Kuzzy won today’s sprint in front of fellow American Simi Hamilton, and Canadians Sean Crooks and Drew Goldsack.
These days Garrott Kuzzy is receiving support from the USST as well as his CXC club coach, Bryan Fish. “I’ve been trying to stay on the same [training] program. I had the opportunity to get on snow in Silver Star November first, and we’ve been able to be on snow since then.”
“Sometimes all the help is a little overwhelming. Pat (Casey) has been helping on skis, but he’s the only USST coach here and has so many other skiers to worry about that it’s nice to just go with Fish.”
“The USST has worked out pretty well, there’s a balance of camps. I went to Whistler in August, met with the team for the camp in Placid.”
When asked what Kuzzy is focusing on this year, he says he’s not specifying on one technique or race. “I’m just going to hammer it down every chance I get. But I’ll be looking out for 15K skates and classic sprints.”
A couple of solid snowfalls in the American West has brought a number of Canadian National Team members to West Yellowstone, most for the first time. Kuzzy, along with everyone, is excited to have the Candians here this week.
“We need to work together as much as we can.”
Simi Hamilton had a terrific race, placing 2nd just one second behind Kuzzy.
“It’s nice to start the season out with a bang!” Hamilton says about his performance.
“I did a mock sprint with [Colin] Rogers on Sunday, and it was super slow. The conditions were way different and our times were just under five minutes. The snow was nice today and firm and super fast.”
Hamilton was also caught a little off guard by the overnight change from double tracks to a single, best-line track. The race jury also closed the course to athletes and coaches on skis starting 6pm previous night, due to the tightness of the trail and in an attempt to preserve the integrity of the 12″ snow cover.
While the skiing was superb for the race, this left skiers a little surprised about the affect the change had on the ski-ability of the course.
“I was super surprised. There were too big hills and a medium hill, and today I ended up double poling the whole thing. If I had been able to preview the course I definitely would have put the idea of [using] skate skis in my head. But I think I was happy I went on classic skis.”
Winner Garrott Kuzzy and former USST skier Leif Zimmerman had a similar reactions.
Kuzzy: “They cut an awful straight line in the corners. not letting racers check out the course beforehand.”
Zimmerman, former USST member, also thought the grooming change had an affect. “The track was hard, [the course] was long and tough, but all skiable. They cut the track best-line, but 15-20 feet too long into some of the uphills so you came in too fast. It was sketchy and a little hard to know what was coming.”
Zimmerman liked today’s format, though. “I liked it. It was a fun way to start the season. There was a little less pressure with the heats.”
When asked about the heats, Simi Hamilton was enthusiastic about the decision to just have one longer sprint, ending earlier in the day.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the heats afterwards. It was just like a really short distance race. The main goal was to help with Olympic qualifications, but I guess it’s also cool to have some heats. I liked the terrain.”
“I had really good summer and fall training, and it’s awesome to be focused on training this year. I knew from doing workouts with the US guys in Placid and Whistler that I felt strong.”