MADISON, Wis. – Finland’s Jari Joutsen could have been mad or at least frustrated with a split-second lane change that forced him out of his spot into another skier in the A-final of the SuperTour 1 k freestyle sprint on Sunday.
After the race as he stood next to Philip Furrer, the Swiss who claimed the victory, Joutsen smiled. How could he be mad at his friend, who trained with him and stayed at his home in Finland? Furrer was even wearing a matching green ski suit to represent Joutsen’s company, Optiwax.
Furrer didn’t have to apologize for Joutsen ending up third. They both understood that was part of racing. From Joutsen’s standpoint, his team topped the podium twice in two days after he won Saturday’s classic sprint.
On Sunday, Tim Reynolds (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) found a way to edge Joutsen in the A-final, tucking behind Furrer when he moved to the inside lane. Meanwhile, Joutsen tried to regroup after being forced outside. Reynolds stayed on Furrer’s heels and stuck his leg out around the Swiss for second place.
Joutsen likely never saw Reynolds coming or squeeze by on the inside. He was too busy trying to stay on his feet after Furrer’s skis came in contact with his.
“It was a tight race,” Joutsen said. “If you ski behind Philip, you never know what happens. You have to be prepared.”
From the qualifier to the final, Furrer went for it. The seventh-fastest to qualify Sunday, he missed advancing to the semifinals the day before.
In his first trip to the U.S., he wanted to make the weekend worthwhile.
“I wanted it,” Furrer said. “I really wanted it.”
He set out for the victory from the start of the heats, winning his quarterfinal and semi over Joutsen, who was second in both. In the A-final, it was more of the same, as Furrer led with a high tempo from the beginning. Joutsen stayed close behind in second.
“I was very focused on myself when I was in the lead,” Furrer said. “I knew Jari was behind so I really wanted him to come in second place, but I focused on myself and I closed a little bit on him so the team maybe lost a second place and maybe he had a chance to win also, I don’t know.
“I would have beaten him [without] this,” Furrer added with a laugh. Then he looked at Joutsen.
“Just kidding,” he said.
The win was especially important to the 28-year-old from Switzerland, as he had been sick for most of the season. In Saturday’s sprint, his pole strap broke in the qualifiers and he ended up sixth. Furrer said he made some poor decisions in the quarterfinal, which cost him a chance to move on.
“That’s the way a sprint is and today it changed again,” Furrer said. “That’s the nice thing about sprint skiing, everything can happen.”
After winning the last SuperTour skate sprint in Minneapolis, Reynolds knew exactly what it took to podium. Ninth in the qualifier, he said he felt more energized in the heats, but hit a slight blip early in the A-final when he thought his pole broke.
“I stopped for a second because I thought my pole was gone. I heard it crack out of the start,” Reynolds said. “It ended up being fine. Maybe I just imagined it.”
Third at the time, he held his position until the finish, where he lunged into a tiny opening next to Furrer for second place.
“I had a lot of speed so I ended up throwing my legs forward and hoped for the best,” Reynolds said.
Pat O’Brien (CGRP) was fourth in the A-final. He had ranked 12th in the qualifier and was second in both the quarterfinals and semis.
Karl Nygren (CXC) won the B-final ahead of Russians Dmitriy Ozerskiy and Maxim Fadeev, respectively. Ozerskiy won the qualifier, but broke his pole in the semifinal on the first of four corners around Capitol Square. Unable to find a replacement, he skied the rest of the heat with one pole.
After Ozerskiy and Fadeev placed sixth and seventh overall, Skyler Davis was eighth.
Two of the top three men in Saturday’s classic sprint, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy), who was second, and Lars Amund Toftegaard (NOR), who was third, missed qualifying by a few tenths of a second on Sunday. Blackhorse-von Jess was 19th in the qualifier, 0.22 seconds out of the top 16, which he needed to advance.
Toftegaard was 18th and Sam Naney (Methow) was 17th by 0.03 seconds. Nils Koons (CGRP) nabbed the final qualifying spot in 16th but did not make it beyond the quarterfinals.
Blackhorse-von Jess said he was pleased with his qualifying effort; it was the wax that was off. Waxing his skis with Naney and Lars Ellefson (Bend) and without a coach, they decided to use the same combination they went with on Saturday.
“We made a gut call on wax last night and it turned out to be a total bust,” Blackhorse-von Jess wrote in an email. “I’ve been racing long enough that if everyone had had the same skis, I would have been fine. I was actually pretty excited for the heats because I was feeling pretty snappy.”
He was surprised to discover he didn’t make the heats.
“Between Sam and I, and our experience racing in the US, it was a legitimate shock to not make it through,” Blackhorse-von Jess said. “I’m still kind of reeling. Outside of crashing or [being] sick (or the World Cup), I can’t remember a time in my life that I haven’t qualified for the heats.”
Men’s A- and B-final results
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.