In the men’s race, a large group of CXC skiers plus comeback kid Adam Kates (Big Thunder) skied together as a pack from the start. The group made a substantial gap to the rest of the field on the first climb, and from then on the race was determined.
“We had a good solid group going, and once we started climbing we pulled to the front and kept the pace. There was no playing games here, pretty much pedal to the medal the whole time,” said Garrott Kuzzy (CXC) who finished in 39:38.5 and won the race by almost 10 seconds to Brian Gregg (CXC) in second place (39:48.1). Adam Kates rounded out the podium in third place, two seconds behind Gregg.
“It was the CXC freight train, and Adam Kates, the Canadian coach, also did a lot of work,” Kuzzy said, noting that it was a hard race for everyone. Kates was the only non-CXC-skier among the top six finishers.
“There was not a whole lot of sprinting to the finish. People were pretty happy to be done at that point,” Kuzzy recalled.
Kuzzy explained that details and margins determined the race.
“It was a couple of minor moves on my part, having my teammates up there and good boards, for sure. And lots of people cheering along the course always helps,” Kuzzy said.
Can’t stop a train
Race director and head coach at Michigan Tech Joe Haggenmiller saw the CXC train in action from the sideline.
“Nobody was really able to close in on the gap. It broke down to about 10 guys, and Kates was in that pack. Then a few more fell off after that,” Haggenmiller said to FasterSkier.
Haggenmiller added that there were six guys in the pack that came to the finish together. Kuzzy was the first to cross the finish line, and had a 10-second margin to his teammate Brian Gregg in second. But only 22 seconds separated the next five racers, with Kates being the only variety in the race uniform. Santi Ocariz was fourth (39:52.8), Matt Liebsch fifth (40:03.4) and Bryan Cook sixth (40:20.6).
Winner of Friday’s sprint and yesterday’s 10K classic, Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Olympic Development Team), was starting to notice the cost of the two first victories. He was seventh in the 15K skate, clocking in at 41:02.5.
“My race was okay. I was quite tired,” Sinnott admitted.
But there are USSA SuperTour points awarded for seventh place, so Sunday’s effort still knocked another 14 points off Lars Flora’s overall SuperTour lead. Sinnott’s goal for the season is to win the overall SuperTour, and over the course of the weekend, Sinnott was able to gain 74 points on Flora (Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Club), who now only has a 23-point lead: 297 to Sinnott’s 274.
Compton in charge
In the women’s race, there was little suspense after Caitlin Compton (CXC) took the lead, which she did early on.
“Caitlin hammered it out today. She had a pretty big gap and skied much of the race by herself,” Haggenmiller said.
Compton finished the brutal 10K course in 31:38.6. Teammate Maria Stuber, the winner of Saturday’s classic race, was second, finishing more than a minute behind (32:50.7) and Carolyn Freeman (UWGB) skied into third place for her second podium this weekend, recording a time of 33:38.5. Freeman was second in the classic race yesterday.
With firm tracks and some new, squeaky snow, the conditions were solid for all the racers.
“I was probably not the fastest conditions in the world out there, but it was definitely fair,” Haggenmiller said.
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.