La Feclaz, France – A large contingent of American skiers are in Europe competing in the spring OPA cup races. The OPA cup is a European Continental Cup series along the lines of the US SuperTour.
Ten men and six women competed in the 5/10km freestyle mass start event on Sunday. Brian Gregg led the men in 12th place, while Caitlin Compton paced the women in 10th.
The major goal of the trip for these athletes is to gain exposure to the high level of competition in Europe and have the opportunity to better their always-important FIS points.
Gregg finished just 17.4 seconds behind the winner, Robin Douvillard (FRA). A veteran of the World Cup circuit who completed this year’s Tour de Ski, and finished 6th in the 15km freestyle at the Davos World Cup in December.
Mike Sinnott was just one place and 4 seconds in back of Gregg.
Both skiers had excellent points races. Gregg had a career-best FIS points race of 45.23, while Sinnott’s performance was the second-best of his career.
Like SuperTour races, there is a points “penalty.” The penalty is based on the points of the top finishers in the event, and is meant to compensate for strength of field. World Cup and Olympic races always have a penalty of zero.
Because Europeans often carry better points (due to access to high level competitions), the penalty at OPA cup races can be quite favorable.
Other US finishers:
20. Mike Hinckley
22. Noah Hoffman
31. Sylvan Ellefsen
34. Marshall Greene
36. Brayton Osgood
47. Sam Naney
53. Peter Kling
DNS Simi Hamilton (a previous version of this article listed him as DNF; that was due to an error in the FIS database)
53 men completed the race. Noah Hoffman was held back by a broken pole after skiing in the top-10.
Erik Bjornsen raced in the junior class and finished an impressive 21st in the 82 skier field.
In the women’s 5km, Compton finished 12 seconds behind winners Emilie Vina and Laure Barthelemy, both of France. She edged out Nicole DeYong by .3 seconds.
Compton defeated Barthelemy in both the 10km freestyle and the team sprint at the Olympics.
She led the race after falling early and catching back up, and both she and DeYong were in the mix the whole way.
Sadie Bjornsen was 14th, just a second behind DeYong.
Other US finishers:
19. Tazlina Mannix
22. Katie Ronsse
25. Becca Rorabaugh
The points penalty was significantly worse than in the men’s race. 31 women competed.
Many of the US skiers also competed in a team sprint event on Friday night. Complete results are not currently available. Caitlin Compton teamed with Nicole DeYong, and Katie Ronsse paired with Sadie Bjornsen.
Ronsse and Bjornsen finished 6th and Compton and DeYong took 8th in the 9 team field, while struggling with the late start due to jet lag.
Many of the skiers on the trip are posting updates on their personal blogs. Check out the FasterSkier XCFeeds page for updates from Brayton Osgood, Becca Rorabaugh, Nicole DeYong, and Sadie Bjornsen. There are a number of good first hand reports, including photos.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.