The second stop on the SuperTour featured another exhasting double-header—a skate sprint prologue in the morning followed by a 5/10 k freestyle at noon. Mike Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) had another strong sprint day with a win in the prologue, and was followed by Torin Koos (BSF/Rossignol) and Leif Zimmermann (BSF) in second and third, respectively.
Sinnott’s win—his second so far this season—puts him in a nearly-untouchable 28-point lead in the overall SuperTour standings going into Sunday’s 15 k classic.
“It was a really good sprint,” said Sinnott after his race. “I had awesome skis, which always helps. I skied a smart race; there were tough hills at the end of it, and I wanted to make sure I had enough juice left for me to get up them.”
“Wall” was the world used repeatedly to describe the major hill at the end of the course. Sinnott said he was able to conserve enough energy to be able to spring up it.
“I felt like I had everything I wanted up those hills; I made sure I wasn’t too lactated up,” he said.
Koos crossed the line 3.3 seconds behind Sinnott, and Zimmermann finished at +4.2.
According to Zimmermann, who frequently trains at Bohart, the sprint course was more challenging than he is used to at the venue, as it ran on newly-homologated trails.
“You go up the steep wall, pull a 180 with tons of speed, and go up it again, “ he explained. “Comparing it to a World Cup hill, there are definitely steeper ones out there…but this for sure ranks right up there as one of the steepest hills I’ve skied in a race.”
The morning sprint left racers pretty spent at the end, but three hours later most of the field put on their bibs again to go twice around a 5 k loop for the 10 k freestyle.
After just missing the top of the podium twice in West Yellowstone last week, Sylvan Ellefson (SSCV/Team Homegrown) got the win he was looking for.
“In my mind, I wanted a little redemption,” said Ellefson after his race. “I felt pretty good today.”
Saturday brought the first win of a breakout season for Ellefson; so far, he’s landed on the podium in four out of these first six races.
“I think it’s a little bit of a surprise,” he said of his recent success. “But, I had a good summer of training. I bumped up my hours, and I think my body handled that well. Right now I don’t feel like I’m super fast, but I’m feeling good.”
Sinnott came through the finish +12.3 seconds behind Ellefson, with Brian Gregg (CXC) just behind in third (+15.0).
Ellefson is Sinnott’s closest challenger for the overall leader bib, but at 28 points back after Saturday, and a win worth 30 points, Sinnott would have to finish out of the top 19 on Sunday for the bib to possibly change hands.
Though they’re competitors out on the course, the Sun Valley crew has adopted Ellefson this weekend, helping him with wax and logistical support.
“They’ve been absolutely awesome so far,” said Ellefson. “Our skis today were so fast, and I think that definitely played a major part [in the win].”
Race organizers for the second stop on the SuperTour had to contend with thin snow cover on the newly homologated trails at Bohart Ranch, but relentless shoveling and raking by volunteers kept the course in relatively good condition.
“Here in town there’s hardly any snow,” said Gregg. “But the course actually held up pretty good.”
Even so, rocks were definitely poking through on the trail. Zimmermann opted to use his practice skis in both races rather than risk tearing up the bases on his better pair.
The fate of Sunday’s classic race was uncertain for much of Saturday afternoon, but after laying test tracks and determining the base to be capable of holding shallow grooves, the 10/15 k is a go in individual-start form.
The course will be the same as Saturday’s. “It’s a unique course with a lot of transitions and sharp cornering,” said Zimmermann. “There’s a lot of double-pole kick, a couple striding hills. That steep one will definitely be herring bone.”
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.