Brian Gregg and Rebecca Dussault, both of CXC Team Vertical Limit, pulled away from the field during yesterday’s SuperTour in Minneapolis, Minnesota. FasterSkier caught up with them to ask them about their wins and what’s next.
Some racers indicated yesterday that the weather was starting to make the course challenging and there were nearly 500 racers on course, so even the firmest of snow can deteriorate in such situations. How were things out there today?
Brian Gregg: It didn’t freeze last night and it was raining early in the morning and everything was pretty wet. Some sections were completely saturated so you had to pay attention to avoid the really wet sections. I work with Mark from Nordic Ultratune and he has a really great warm klister grind called the M1D, which really worked well today. The corners and downhills certainly were soft, but the tracks held up great on the climbs and overall the course was in great condition. Our CXC wax team did a great job this weekend, fast glide and great kick. They certainly earned their 10%.
Rebecca Dussault: Today was another amazing effort by the organizing committee. These strange conditions test not only the athletes and coaches but also the organizers and I think that they made some great choices for the course today. It skied will despite some “splash down zones.” I had excellent kick and went on a brand new pair of Salomons. I was grateful that at least it wasn’t raining for this races.
Being a mass start, how did things shake out tactically. Were the top skiers in a pack for a while? When did you make your move?
BG: There are two 180 degree corners in the first 500m so it was an exciting start. Thankfully the group skied relaxed and there were no big crashes. The first lap was certainly the fastest and we more or less formed a big train. The entire course is double tracked and there were plenty of opportunities to pass. We all led for a bit, but Chris Cook did the majority of the pace setting and brought the lead pack to five. At 9 km, Martin Banerud, a Norwegian red-shirt from NMU broke away and put a 20-30m gap on the field. My teammate Bryan Cook led the chase pack and with 1km to go I surged to bridge up to Martin. We skied together into the finish and I just went as hard as I could.
RD: I led this race from wire to wire which was my strategy. Maria Stuber kept me honest out there the whole time. I tried to conserve some energy on the second lap but overall the top girls contested a great race. There were so many fans which was really a treat.
You were very positive about your how you were feeling out there after yesterday. How did you feel out there today?
BG: I felt great today. I have really enjoyed spending a lot of time with my family and friends the past few weeks. A skier needs to be happy in order to ski fast. After a strong fall, and by far my best US Nationals I am pleased to carry the momentum into each race. I have worked a lot with Bryan and Igor on my classic technique this year. Additionally I made the investment to get on snow at the Haig Glacier this summer to focus on my striding. I never thought my first individual Super Tour win would be in a classic race.
RD: I felt good. I certainly didn’t feel “normal” though because I don’t get many opportunities to race in slush and therefore I feel like I’m going a lot slower than I am.
It seems like there were some good results from many of the CCSA skiers out there today. Was it fun to rub shoulders with the college racers?
BG: Combining the SuperTour and College race makes for a larger and more competitive field which really makes mass start races fun. There was a long train out there and many battles between different skiers. I have had the privileged of skiing with Martin in several mass start races. He is a good person to ski near because he is very smooth and helps me to ski relaxed myself. I am also impressed with Santi (UWGB) who will certainly be a contender for an NCAA title this year.
RD: It was fun to be at a race with so many skiers in attendance. It has been years since I had the privilege of starting at the front point of the chevron. It made me think of great racing from my past.
It seems like you have been racing quite well for yourself so far this season. Are you happy with where you are?
BG: Qualifying for the Olympic Team has been a big goal for me, so in holding myself accountable I am disappointed about that. Still this is by far my best season ever and I have achieved many of my smaller goals. I love the process and have no regrets. I have many supporters and am very thankful for the opportunity to ski race.
RD: Well, that question could have a very lengthy effort. In general I feel this season has been solid, but I haven’t really lit it up like in the past. I have faced a lot of life challenges since the last Olympics and I am just excited to be skiing at this level.
You mentioned that this will be a solid week of training before a recovery week next week as you head into the Canmore World Cups. Can you give us an example of some of your favorite workouts when you are tapering?
BG: I just got back to my cabin here at Cresthill Resort in Hayward, WI after 2.5 months on the road. I am looking forward to some adventures on the birkie trail. My body responds well to long easy skis and I am looking forward to some good tours on the Birkie trail. For me this is sometimes the best recovery. I think my favorite workout is uphill skate intervals 6*4m minutes, during a tapper I will likely do 4-5*4m.
After the World Cups in Canmore you will be heading home to prepare for the Birkie. What are your predictions for the Birkie (top three men and women)? Any skiers that you think are wild cards that could surprise people with a Birkie victory?
BG: $7,500 for the win should help bring over some fast Europeans. I think the Americans will provide strong competition this year. CXC Team Vertical Limit will be strong with last years winners Matt Liebsch and Rebecca Dussault. There are many other fast Americans to look out for. I think it will depend on who fills any additional Olympic quota spots if there are any. Personally I would like to see someone from Hayward win.
How does this race fit into your preparation for Canmore? Are you working on anything specific in your training to get ready for the WC?
RD: These races don’t necessarily fit into any plan except the one to make a little bit of money and earn SuperTour points. These races are nice and short which will continue to help me get in shape for short races. My summer was spent doing 2.5 hour triathlons, so I have known that it would take me some time to ski into speedy shape.
What are your goals for the Canmore WC? What are your goals for the rest of the season?
RD: I hope to have a much better 10km skate than at Nationals were everything kind of crumbled for me. I have raced both a 10km skate and a classic sprint in a Canmore World Cup in 2006, so this will be a familiar experience which is exciting.
Thanks for your time Rebecca and Brian and good luck the rest of the season.