After landing on the podium six times so far this winter, Jennie Bender (CXC) finally skied to the very top with her win at Wirth Park in Minneapolis, Minn on Saturday for the first race of the Tour de Twin Cities. In the 5 k classic, she ended up 10.3 seconds ahead of runner-up Rosie Brennan (APU); Caitlin Gregg (CXC) finished in third (+21.9).
“I’m pumped to have a good start [to the Tour], but it’s one in five [races], so we’ll see,” said Bender, joking that “I seem to win the races that don’t have money.”
Bender won the classic Birkie last winter, which doesn’t have the same purse attached to it that the skate race does. All the prize money for the Tour de Twin Cities comes at the end of the five races, and goes to the overall podium finishers based on points accumulated.
Traditionally a better classic skier, Bender thought her result was on par how she normally skis.
“I felt pretty strong,” Bender said. “I feel smoother in classic in general, so hopefully I’ll feel my skate mojo for the next few races.”
For her part, Brennan was happy to have skied well and without the aftereffects of a recent cold.
“I didn’t have any specific goals,” wrote Brennan in an email. “I just wanted to feel that good race feeling out there. I knew if I could get there, I had a good chance in a classic race.”
Brennan said the course was mainly rolling, “golf course skiing,” but there were definitely a few climbs that got her legs burning.
Gregg, who finished third, felt at home in Wirth Park, as the course is right out her back door.
“I love this terrain,” she wrote on Saturday.
The course had to be shortened due to lack of natural snow, but Gregg said the altered loop still offered “a sweet view” of downtown Minneapolis.
Gregg said she felt “pretty good” during her race.
“This is the time of year when I will be racing a ton,” she said. Gregg competed in a classic marathon last weekend, and was satisfied with her recovery for the Tour.
“The Tour de Twin Cities should be a lot of fun and keep the stakes high for each event,” Gregg said. “And the spectating should be awesome for the mass start events next weekend!”
Chelsea Holmes (SVSEF) finished fourth in the 5 k and Monica Markvardsen (NMU) was fifth.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.