Veteran Lars Flora (APU) posted his first win of an already-successful 2011 season, capturing the top spot in the men’s 10km skate in the second day of the Rossland NorAm mini-tour.
Flora edged Canadian World Cup skier George Grey by 2.1 seconds on a fast 5km loop, while fellow Canadian Drew Goldsack was third, +6.9.
With a winning time of just under 22 minutes, Flora thinks it may have been his fastest 10k ever.
“I knew it was going to be really fast so I went really hard right from the start,” Flora wrote in an email.
Flora ranked third at the halfway point, but just five seconds separated the top-5. He accelerated from there, and was able to open up a lead.
“I got to about 7.5km, and my lactate was building so the last two and a half kilometers was just hang on and hope I could get to the finish line,” Flora said.
Due to the fast conditions, the top-26 skiers were all within a minute, and only ten seconds separated seventh and sixteenth places.
Flora described the conditions as “perfect,” and the grooming top-notch.
“It was the type of snow that you put your ski down and it goes exactly where you want it to go,” he said.
Grey, recently back from the World Cup in Europe, didn’t have quite enough to get Flora.
“I was getting splits off Drew [Goldsack] and Lars [Flora], then just off Lars; 1 behind, 2 behind, 6 behind, then 2 behind,” he said.
He also would have preferred a bit more terrain.
“The course was close to being a great course, but they need one more big hill,” Grey said. “For me it was a bit too flat, I need some more hills.”
Flora concurred, saying “It [the course] skied a little easier than I thought it would have. A lot of V2ing out there – I guess I did a little bit more V1 the second lap because of fatigue, but it was pretty fast and easy… the course that is.”
Sunday’s 15km classic pursuit should be plenty exciting with Grey holding an inconsequential .4 second lead on Goldsack. And with Flora just 4.2 seconds out, the fight for the podium should be hotly contested.
Grey is a big fan of the mini-tour format, as it is becoming more common on the World Cup, and is excellent for spectators, while Flora has been personally excited for some time.
“I have been looking forward to doing these races since last spring,” Flora said. “I think this format suits me well.”
Men’s 10km freestyle – complete results
Men’s Rossland Mini-Tour – current standings
— Matt Voisin contributed reporting
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Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.