Bender Claims Top Qualifying Spot; McNamee Has ‘Best Race’ Yet

Alex KochonFebruary 19, 2012
Jennie Bender (CXC) rounding the first of four corners in the 1 k freestyle sprint in downtown Madison, Wis., on Sunday. Bender won the qualifier by 0.5 seconds.

All 2012 Madison SuperTour and American Birkebeiner coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Concept2, makers of the SkiErg.

MADISON, Wis. — Jennie Bender of Central Cross Country (CXC) won another qualifier in the second straight day of sprints around Wisconsin’s state capital, posting the fastest time in 2:04.0.

After winning Saturday’s classic sprint qualifier by more than 6 seconds, Bender had less of a gap on Sunday. Hilary McNamee of Maine Winter Sports Center was second, 0.5 seconds behind.

Hilary McNamee (Maine Winter Sports Center) races to a second-place qualifying time in the 1 k freestyle sprints at the Madison SuperTour on Sunday.

“Today was probably the best race of my season so far,” said McNamee, who was third in Saturday’s qualifier and fourth overall. “I like these short, flat courses because I can generate a lot of power and move around them pretty quick.”

With blue skies on a 30-degree morning, the manmade snow conditions on the city streets was holding up, McNamee said. The backstretch at the top of the course remained shady and while the hills were a little softer, she didn’t plan to change her skis.

As for strategy, she achieved one of her best results by using some control on the all-out course with one gradual incline followed by a flat section and a gradual downhill.

“I get off the line quick, and then, woah, relax for a little bit,” McNamee said.”Then on the back stretch just reel it in as hard as you can.”

In the heats, which include semifinals and finals for the eight-woman field, she expected competitors to jockey for the best position on the final descent before the finish.

Saturday’s classic winter, Natalia Naryshkina of Russia was third in Sunday’s qualifier. Naryshkina was 2.2 seconds behind Bender. Her CXC teammate, Sara Hewitt, was fourth (+3.5). Clare Egan (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was fifth in the qualifier (+3.8).

Madison SuperTour women's 1 k freestyle sprint qualifier results

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon ( is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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