Michael Sinnott (SVSEF) felt like he couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon to do a classic sprint qualifier.
“It was beautiful racing, blue skies about 20 degrees and fast, hard tracks,” Sinnott, said to FasterSkier after the race. “It was fun.”
Second place is not first loser
With a time of 3:20.30, Garrott Kuzzy of Team CXC was only 0.3 seconds behind Sinnott, and more than eight seconds ahead of Petter Sjulstad of Michigan Tech in third place. He clocked in at 3:28.70.
“Once I finished, I knew that I placed really well,” said Garrott Kuzzy of Team CXC. Missing first place by a split second was simply how the dice fell this time, he explained.
“I had done pretty much everything right. Mikey (Sinnott) was just that much faster today,” said Kuzzy, who won both the USSA SuperTour races on home turf in Minneapolis last weekend.
“It was really fun to do well at home last week,” he said.
Fast, technical course
Kuzzy noted that when the team drove up to Michigan on Thursday, it was raining lightly, which resulted in a hard, slightly crusted course as it froze onto the surface overnight.
“Conditions were beautiful, and it’s a brand new course. It was a great course for a qualifier,” Kuzzy said, adding that he didn’t consider skate skis and double-poling.
“It’s a hard, technical course. Skate skis wouldn’t have been as fast today,” he said.
Double sweet victory
For Sinnott, Friday’s victory awarded him not only the 250 dollar prize money. It gave him another 30 SuperTour points in the pocket, which reduced Lars Flora’s (Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club) overall lead by nearly one third in just over three minutes.
A couple of weeks ago at US Nationals, Sinnott’s entire season focus got rearranged when he narrowly missed being named to the US World Championships team headed for Oslo next month.
“My season goals got derailed. I skied well, but I was just not named to the team. I was the next in line. That was a little disappointing. So now I’m trying to be the overall leader of the SuperTour,” Sinnott said, noting that he has eight SuperTour races to make up 67 points on Flora. And Flora won’t even be here for a good part of those.
“I like my chances,” Sinnott concluded with a grin.
Friday’s classic sprints at the Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center featured a qualifier event on the 1.5K highly technical course for both men and women, but no subsequent heats. This is a unique race format that showed up last season and serves several purposes, Kuzzy and Sinnott explain, adding that they enjoy the no heat sprint races, and see the value in the exercise.
“It’s a race format that doesn’t really happen anywhere else outside North America, but it’s designed to identify the fastest qualifiers. It’s important to qualify fast, because if you qualify low in the US you still make it to the rounds, but in Europe you wouldn’t necessarily make it to the rounds,” Sinnott said.
No heats also mean that the sprint takes a lesser toll on the athletes and allow more of them to do a three-race weekend with full-on distance races.
“With full heats, that means that the skiers who go all the way in the sprints have three more races in their legs the next day than those who didn’t make the it out of the qualifiers,” Kuzzy notes.
Challenging classic course
The SuperTour continues tomorrow with 5K classic for women and 10K classic for men, both races with interval starts. Sinnott has tested the course before, knows what’s in store, and has respect for the challenge.
“We had nationals here a couple of years ago. There are long hills and it’s easy to bury yourself. I need to keep the lid on for the first lap to have a good second lap,” Sinnott said.
In the women’s sprint race, Christina Turman of Northern Michigan University won in 4:05.20, with a comfortable 5-second margin to Deedra Irwin, an older junior who is redshirting with Michigan tech this season, in second place with the time 4:10.50. Audrey Weber (Go! Training) was third, finishing in 4:11.50.
Complete results here.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.