Kornfield, Sieber Slide to Victory in Inaugural Tour of Fairbanks

FasterSkierNovember 22, 2010
Kornfield outstretching Bjornsen at the line (Photo: Aly McPhetres)

Tyler Kornfield came out on top of a three-way sprint for the podium steps in the men’s race, and Raphaela Sieber came from 10 seconds behind teammate Theresia Schnurr to win going away in the first Goldstream Sports Tour de Ski/Fairbanks, the first “Tour de Ski” format event held in Alaska.

The two Alaska Nanook sophomores contributed toward a dominating win in the Alaska Nordic Cup, the annual ski competition between UAA and UAF.  The Nanooks outscored the Seawolves 24-18 today, for a three-day total of 79 points, to 47 for the visiting UAA squad.

The women’s 5Km classic pursuit start race started the day.  Nanook Theresia Schnuur, the leader after two days, started with 10 seconds in hand over Sieber, and five K’s with three good climbs over which she would try to keep her teammate at bay.  She was not able to do so.  Sieber caught Schnuur in the mid-portion of the race, then skied away up the final climb to the stadium to win by 8.5 seconds.

Third overall, 1:22 back, was Stephanie Hiemer of the UAA Seawolves.  Kinsey Loan of APUNSC was fourth at 1:42, and UAF’s Rebecca Konieczny (a West Yellowstone native) rounded out a super weekend of results with a fifth-place finish.

Including both the USSA and club division, 35 women finished Sunday’s race, but some of them did not race all three stages.

Sieber had the fastest stage 3 time, 16:34, eighteen seconds faster than Hiemer an Schnuur.  UAA’s Marit Ulsund was fourth-fastest on Sunday, and local high school skier Hannah Boyer of FXC was the fastest junior on Sunday, only 26 seconds slower than Sieber.

The men’s race offered a little more drama.  Alaska Nanook Lex Treinen started eight seconds ahead of UAF’s Kornfield, with UAA’s Bjornsen starting just one second later.  Kornfield and Bjornsen reeled in Treinen on the first lap and the three settled into a steady pace.

Alaska Winter Star Eric Packer, taking a break from school at Dartmouth, started 27 seconds after Treinen, and made up half of the difference in the first lap.  On the second lap he continued to close the gap.  Heading up the second climb on the second lap of the Three Hills course it looked like he would make contact.

He may have done so, but by the time the skiers had descended from the course’s high point he was still just a little bit back from the lead trio.  The course then descended to its low point before beginning the final climb of the day, a steady 30m (vertical) grind from the Biathlon Range back to the stadium.

Upon entering the stadium, Treinen was in the left set of tracks, with Kornfield in the middle and Bjornsen behind Korfield.  As the three began their sprint, Bjornsen hopped out from behind Kornfield and into the empty third lane.  Then the battle began in earnest.

All three were going flat out for the victory.  The effort was apparent to the spectators who were really making some noise.  Treinen, while staying close (in the same second), slowly faded from contention for the win while Bjornsen accelerated and pulled even, and maybe slightly ahead of Kornfield.

Even four or five meters from the line the outcome was uncertain.  In that final distance Kornfield found something extra, drove his foot forward toward the line, and scored a close, but clear, victory.

Treinen finished in the same second as the first two, and Packer came in third at 12 seconds.  After that, it was a one minute wait for John Parry (Alaska Nanooks) and Dylan Watts (APUNSC) to arrive, with Parry pulling away over the last 20m to nip Watts, who had started 33 seconds behind Parry and caught him after one lap.

Watts was the fastest for the day with 10Km time of 29:40.  Packer was next (29:44), followed by Bjornsen (first in the NCAA race), Kornfield and Treinen.  Parry, after a lackluster first go-round, hooked a ride with Watts — no mean feat — and was sixth-fastest.  The top local junior was FXC’s Vanya Rybkin, who was 18th-fastest for the day.

The race was a big hit with athletes, coaches and spectators.  Over the three-day weekend including the USSA NRL events and the club events, there were more than 600 starts in three events in less than 48 hours.  In addition to the local skiers and the UA Fairbanks and UA Anchorage teams, there were large groups from several anchorage programs, including APU Nordic Ski Center, Alaska Winter Stars and Alaska Nordic Racing.

The racing was high-quality and deep.  USSA penalties for the men were in the neighborhood of 60 every day, while women’s penalties were in the 90-100 range.

Day 1 and 2 Report

Friday’s race was a night race beginning at 5:30PM and finishing up by 6:30PM (15-second start intervals). The course used was the same course used in the 2009 USSA National Team Sprint Championship. Women used a slightly truncated version and men used the full course. Both went two laps. Temperatures were approximately 20F/-11C.

Time bonuses of 30, 20 and 10 seconds were awarded to the top 3 finishers.

Saturday’s race started at 12 noon for the 6Km and 1PM for the 8Km. The temperatures were in the 20s Fahrenheit/minus single digits Celsius. Women’s race was conducted in a very heavy snowfall – visibility under 250m. It was really coming down at the start, but it let up toward the finish.

A mid-race sprint preme was worth 5, 3 and 1-second time bonuses, and again time bonuses of 30, 20 and 10 seconds were awarded to the top 3 finishers. Those bonuses are calculated into the times shown in the rankings after two stages.

Weather for tomorrow calls for more weather in the mid-to-high 20’s, with a chance of hitting the low-to-mid 30’s, and a chance of freezing rain in the afternoon.

This race also serves as the Alaska Nordic Cup competition between UAFairbanks (Alaska Nanooks) and UAAnchorage.

On Friday, UAF swept both collegiate podiums to take a 30-12 lead over the Seawolves. The Seawolves pulled closer on Saturday, but UAF beat the UAA women 13-8, and the UAF men prevailed 12-9. After two days of racing, the combined score is UAF 55, UAA 29. It will be impossible for UAA to overcome that lead in Sunday’s race.

A majority of the field was comprised of high school skiers from the local Fairbanks high schools, West Valley, Lathrop and North Pole, and two high schools from the Mat-Su Valley who traveled north by bus for the races, Colony and Palmer high school. On Saturday, more than 75 skiers grades 9 and under also competed over shorter distances in the 15th Annual Flint Hills Resources Town Race Series, the Fairbanks Youth Sports Season Opener.

These are the season-opening events for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks. Over the weekend, there will be 600-700 starts in the three races. This is the first Tour de Ski stage-race format ski event to be held in Alaska.


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