When a race lasts for more than two-and-a-half hours, there’s bound to be a little more material than can fit inside a single race report. Below, some extra tidbits that didn’t make the first cut:
–The conditions for the race could have ended up being a lot more challenging for waxers, had the temperature warmed more than it did—in the end, hard wax did the trick. While most of the lead men ended up with decent skis, there were a
few horror stories—Sun Valley’s Colin Rodgers, among others, actually stopped to re-wax, and still managed to pull off 15th.
–A number of men dropped out—some suffered from debilitating cramps, while others, like Canada’s Stefan Kuhn, knew that they weren’t at their best, and opted to save energy for next week’s mini-tour.
–We didn’t give Canada’s Kevin Sandau much credit for his second-place finish, but his result was the latest in a string of impressive races for the 22-year-old. He notched a fifth in the 15 k freestyle at the U-23 World Championships in Estonia in January, then returned to Canada and took three podiums at his own country’s national championships, including a third place in the 50 k freestyle last Saturday.
Given that the racing in Sun Valley was only seven days removed from that effort, Sandau said that he tried to conserve as much as possible in the beginning of Saturday’s race.
“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t use too much energy, because I was probably pretty low on it after that,” he said. “Just
hung on in the back, and tried to not do as much work, and I guess that kind of paid off in the end…I guess, in the end, my energy was better than I thought it would be.”
After losing some of his kick wax, Sandau said that he didn’t have much hope of staying with Kris Freeman on the last seven-kilometer lap, and instead contented himself with reeling in Japanese skier Yuma Yoshida, to secure second place.
“I kind of broke him on one of the little uphills there, and kind of maintained that gap,” he said.
–More from Alaska Pacific University on the rabbits they sent out to push the pace in the first part of the race—this time from Head Coach Erik Flora.
“It was kind of cool, because it benefited both them, and…the field and our team,” he said. “There’s a lot of team tactics being used internationally, and you don’t see a lot of that in the U.S. Since we had guys that weren’t going to race this, but could get something to benefit their skiing from it, we saw it as a perfect scenario. It was for their experience, and also to see what would happen.”
–Aside from their rabbits, though, the APU men were quiet on Saturday, with Lars Flora, Erik’s brother, leading the team in seventh, and James Southam in 11th. Lars Flora was with the leaders through five of seven laps, but he suffered from severe cramping in his arms and his legs—worse than normal—that he couldn’t explain, though he said it was perhaps related to things being off after returning from Europe less than a week ago.
“I think if it wasn’t for the cramps…I mean, I know it’s a 50 k, it’s altitude, but it was kind of bizarre,” he said. “Sometimes my body goes haywire after traveling overseas—it was not normal cramps.”