The second day of the Aspen SuperTour saw a reshuffling of the women’s podium from Saturday’s classic race and some new faces in the top three for the men’s race. Tad Elliott (CXC Vertical Limit) and Nicole DeYong (SVSEF) captured the 2010 Owl Creek Chase titles, with Elliott overtaking early leader Glenn Randall mid-race and DeYong outsprinting yesterday’s SuperTour champion Kristina Trygstad-Saari in the final kilometer to capture the title.
The Owl Creek Chase, the finale of the Apsen Nordic Festival, stretches nearly 16 kilometers between the Snowmass Cross Country Center and the Apsen Valley Ski Club and includes two challenging, multi-kilometer climbs, a significant descent from Buttermilk to the trails at Aspen and then finishes with a final 5-kilometer loop on the trails used for Saturday’s classic race, for a total of 21 relentless kilometers.
With two past Owl Creek Chase champions (Noah Hoffman – 2008 and Josh Smullin – 2007) and a host of talented athletes from professional teams around the country set to compete in the 2010 edition of the Owl Creek Chase, the men’s race looked to be a fight for the podium.
Glenn Randall (BSF) pushed the pace early and established himself as the one to beat, with Mike Sinnott (SVSEF) giving chase. Through the first three rolling kilometers of the race, Randall and Sinnott separated themselves from the field, with a half a dozen racers following in the main chase pack through the golf course.
Elliott settled with the pack through the opening kilometers of the race, but was able to bridge the gap to Sinnott through the middle portion of the race, and eventually Randall. Using his “amazingly dialed skis”, which Elliott credited Team HomeGrown/Vail’s Dan Weiland for, the CXC athlete was able to overtake Randall on the final downhill to the Aspen and distance himself over the final kilometers of the race to take the win.
Elliott, twice the runner-up in 2008 and 2009 at the Owl Creek Chase, finally claimed the top spot on the podium with a twenty-five second victory in 57:40.5 over second place Randall (58:05.9).
Noah Hoffman made up significant ground on the early race leaders to edge out Sinnott and grab a third place finish. In the final climb up Buttermilk, Hoffman bridged the gap to eventual sixth place finisher Sylvan Ellefson, who was skiing in fourth place mid-way through the race and was able to enter the final five kilometers of the race even with Ellefson, with Sinnott in sight.
With a little over a kilometer left in the race, Hoffman caught Sinnott and made it a race for the finish, edging Sinnott to four place by three seconds.
Josh Smullin crossed the line 40 seconds behind Sinnott in fifth place, while Sylvan Ellefson stayed consistent and replicated his sixth place finish from Saturday’s classic race. Yesterday’s SuperTour champion Brayton Osgood was seventh.
In the women’s race, Nicole DeYong traded places with Saturday’s winner Kristina Trygstad-Saari to win her first SuperTour title. Despite a close battle at the front for the lead, the rest of the field spread out evenly with several minutes separating many of the top finishers.
DeYong, Trygstad-Saari and eventual third place finisher Evelyn Dong skied together pack through the rolling opening kilometers of the race, with Trygstad-Saari leading early on. DeYong told FasterSkier that she felt strong on the uphills, taking the lead on the many of the climbs.
“Evelyn, Kristina and I skied the first 5k at a comfortable pace,” DeYong said of her race. “I felt like I skied the climbs well and that is when Kristina and I broke away from Evelyn.”
On the descent to the Aspen trails, DeYong and Trygstad-Saari were evenly matched and skied through the last five kilometers of the race together, with DeYong able to open it up in the final 500 meters to take a six second win in a sprint to the finish.
Dong was three minutes back and was unchallenged for the last step of the podium, with fourth place finisher Natalie Ward another three minutes behind. Amy Caldwell took fifth, over a minute behind Ward, with Gwynn Barrows a distant sixth place.
The SuperTour continues next weekend (February 20-21) in Madison, WI with a new criterium-style freestyle race and the popular Capitol Square Sprints.
For more race photographs, visit Sundance Images.