An international field and a creative new format marked today’s SuperTour in Madison, Wisconsin. Held in conjunction with Madison’s Winter-Fest celebration, today’s race was held in the criterium format. Men raced 12 laps of an L-shaped .75k course for a total 9k, while the women did 8 laps for 6k. Prior to their 9k, however, the men were split into two 3k qualifying heats. The top 10 men from each 4-lap heat advanced on to the 20 man final.
The international flavor came thanks to the large contingent of Canadian men who came down for the weekend, including 2006 Olympians Sean Crooks and Phil Widmer and senior development team member Julien Nury. Members of Canada’s National Development Training Center in Thunder Bay, Ontario also toed the line. While Canada was well represented, so was the United States. SuperTour leader (and 2006 Olympian) Chris Cook was on the start list, as was the entire CXC Team Vertical Limit contingent (minus Garrott Kuzzy), and a score of other top level racers. The women’s field, while smaller, was made up by a strong CXC contingent, as well as two racers from Craftsbury’s Green Racing Project and Maine Winter Sports Center biathlete Beth Ann Chamberlain.
After the men’s prologue heats the field was down a strong competitor in 2009 Birkie champ Matt Liebsch. Liebsch grabbed his warm-up skis instead of his race skis and paid the price in the slushy, deep snow surrounding the capital. MWSC biathlete Bill Bowler was caught in a tangle on the first lap of his prologue and was unable to advance.
In the women’s 6k, former Olympian and current CXC Marathon Team member Rebecca Dussault took a commanding victory. CXC Team Vertical Limit’s Maria Stuber was second, followed by teammate Audrey Weber in 3rd. Hannah Dreissigacker (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was fourth and Beth Ann Chamberlain (MWSC) was fifth.
The men’s final divided neatly in half on country lines, with all the Canadians advancing. The United States was represented well by the CXC contingent of Bryan Gregg, Brian Cook, and Gus Kaeding, the Craftsbury GRP team of Matt Briggs, Ollie Burruss, and Tim Reynolds, Steinbock’s Chris Cook, Salomon/Far West’s Ian Case, XC Oregon’s Marshall Greene, MWSC’s Dave Chamberlain and Pavel Sotskov, APU skier Mark Iverson, and Stratton Mountain School’s Skyler Davis.
The Canadians made up the majority of the lead pack right from the beginning. Tangles and crashes dealt blows to Chris Cook, Dave Chamberlain, Marshall Greene, and Ian Case. Case and Greene wound up tangled in course fencing and found themselves fighting to keep from being lapped. In the front CXC’s Bryan Gregg and Brian Cook shared leads with the Canadians. Tim Reynolds (Craftsbury GRP) stuck to the lead pack, fighting for position with some of the best skiers in North America. Cook the younger took the first of the preem sprints, netting himself $120, while Julien Nury took the $50 preem on the 10th lap.
Things began to open up on the final lap and Canadian sprint specialist Phil Widmer opened up a gap heading into the finish. Behind Widmer a furious sprint for second between Crooks, Reynolds, and Brian Cook came down to a toe slide. Crooks took second and Cook rounded out the podium.
Racing continues in Madison tomorrow with a classic sprint for both men and women.