SuperTour racing resumed on Saturday at Wirth Park in Minneapolis, Minn. with a 10 k individual classic—the first of five events in the inaugural Tour de Twin Cities. Skiing in front of friends and family on his home course, Matt Liebsch (Team Strong Heart/Team Birkie) took his first win of the season by 0.4 seconds ahead of Sylvan Ellefson (SSCV/Team HomeGrown). Karl Nygren (CXC) finished third (+3.5).
This was Liebsch’s first effort above threshold since his last race at U.S. Nationals two weeks ago. He had been barely recovered from a cold in Rumford, and racing sick put him in a hole leading up to Saturday’s 10 k.
“I was curious how it would turn out, but I just willed myself into going fast today since it’s a home course,” said Liebsch. “I had tons of family and friends out there yelling for me the whole time.
“I felt like my head was going to explode the last lap.”
The course was three laps around a manmade loop in Wirth Park. A fresh dusting of natural snow made the park look more like winter, but created tricky waxing conditions.
As for the course itself, Ellefson thought it skied well despite being a shorter loop than originally planned due to the lack of snow.
Though a four-tenths loss to Liebsch has him contemplating bigger boots for a slightly longer lunge, “The fastest man still won,” said Ellefson.
The effort took it out of him—“I puked for the first time this season during the race,” he continued. The current overall SuperTour leader, Ellefson won’t complete the Tour, as he joins the U.S. Ski Team in Europe on Thursday to prepare for the Moscow, Russia World Cup.
Liebsch is looking forward to the rest of the Tour, which includes a 10/15 k freestyle on Sunday, a skate sprint prologue on Wednesday, and another set of distance races next weekend in St. Paul; a mass start skate and a long pursuit.
“I think it’s a fun idea,” said Liebsch of the format. “It’s fun to do the tour-type [racing] that’s going on in Europe; that’s part of it, I think.”
Brian Gregg (CXC) finished in fourth behind Nygren (+10.7), and Matt Gelso (SVSEF) 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.