Sylvan Ellefson (SSCV/Team Homegrown) took home his second winner’s check of the weekend with his victory on Sunday in the Bozeman, MT 15 k classic. He bested the rest of the field by a significant margin; Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) was his closest competitor at 30.8 seconds back. Montana State University’s David Norris rounded out the men’s podium in third (+40.6).
Asked if he could sense a win as he warmed up on Sunday morning before his start, Ellefson said, “Yeah, I think so…I felt really good doing a little intensity before the race. I felt pretty calm; just kind of ready to hit that four-loop course pretty hard.”
Ellefson started 30 seconds behind Bjornsen, the eventual runner-up, who he caught up to at the beginning of the third lap. Ellefson said he and Bjornsen worked together for the remainder of the race.
“I skied behind him for the majority of that lap,” said Ellefson. “For the fourth lap I jumped in front of him, and he stayed right on my tail. It was good for both of us; when I have someone skiing on my butt it makes me go faster.”
The thin snow cover was a concern heading into the men’s and women’s classic races on Sunday morning at Bohart Ranch. Even though it snowed four inches in Bozeman the night before, the venue itself got one measly additional inch. Despite the conditions, Ellefson felt that the course held up decently well.
“It was another pretty impressive performance from the Bohart volunteers,” he said. “When you see more grass than snow on the surrounding hillsides, you wouldn’t expect such a high-quality classic track.”
Sunday’s classic race was the final competition of the first period of the SuperTour. The overall points leader after seven races—four in West Yellowstone, MT and three in Bozeman—earns World Cup start rights for the first two weekends of Period 2 in Europe, which includes city sprints in Milan, Italy, and both a 15 k and team sprint in Otepaa, Estonia the following weekend.
Mike Sinnott (SVSEF), the SuperTour leader from the get-go at the West Yellowstone opener, finished seventh (+1:03.1) on Sunday to hold onto the bib, and is finally letting himself get excited to race in Europe.
On Sunday evening, Sinnott said he had just begun working out the details for his trip to Europe—“I didn’t want to get ahead of myself,” he said. He’s been coming down with a cold recently, but knew he had to score at least three points (18th place) in the classic race in order to secure his place on the World Cup start line on January 14.
“I knew I had to get a start in so I didn’t blow it on the last day,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of energy, and felt stuck in second gear the whole race. But it’s a solid result give the low energy.”
Ellefson was 28 points behind Sinnott going into Sunday’s classic race, and at the end of the 15 k Sinnott ended up with a 160 – 148 point lead.
“I’m pretty psyched Mikey got those start rights,” Ellefson said of his competitor. “He really deserves those…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be gunning for him at Nationals.”
The SuperTour doesn’t start up again until U.S. Nationals in Rumford, ME after the New Year. Much of the field will soon be on its way to Silver Star for next weekend’s NorAms in Vernon, BC.
Shayla Swanson contributed reporting.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.