Frozen Thunder Sprint Showdown: Notes and Quotes

Alex KochonOctober 29, 2012
U.S. Ski Team and Stratton Mountain School T2 Team skier Andy Newell (l) pulling away in the men’s A-final on Friday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. Newell won the WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic sprint ahead of Devon Kershaw, Kris Freeman and Skyler Davis, respectively. (Gus Kaeding/SMS photo)

While it was great to hear from several top skiers on the Canadian and U.S. nordic ski teams on Friday, we weren’t able to fit everything into the recaps of the men’s and women’s time trials. Here are some extras and outtakes from the WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic, an unofficial sprint showdown between North American teams in Canmore, Alberta.

(Original race stories with link to results: men | women)

On pre-race problems:

I was PO’ed because I had to wait forever for USADA [U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] to come and test me [Friday] morning. It took a long time and I was trying to drive to the venue, and I got stuck behind school buses and stuff. I had just enough time to get a warmup in and then do the qualification. I didn’t have too much time to mess around. – Andy Newell (U.S. Ski Team/Stratton Mountain School T2) top qualifier, 1st in men’s A-final

I actually had a pretty hard time [at the U.S. Ski Team camp] in Park City, Utah. I went there for some testing and got the stomach flu which knocked me out for 48 hours and took me a little bit to come back, but I’ve been feeling better and better as I’ve been in Canmore, and we had a 9 k time trial earlier this week that I felt really strong in and recovered well from. Today I was recovering between the rounds real well so all indications are good. I’m excited to go over to Europe and start mixing it up. – Kris Freeman (USST/Maine Winter Sports Center) 3rd man

I have been dealing with sinus infection early in the camp so I haven’t done very many intervals, so I was a bit nervous in that respect. But overall just stoked to be racing and feeling good. The heats felt good – my quarter I felt awesome and slowly my legs started to get more heavy, but played them well throughout I thought. – Skyler Davis (USST/SMS), 4th man

On that sprint feeling:

I’d almost forgotten some of the sensations that accompany sprinting: the lactic acid and nerves seemingly boring a hole in my stomach (maybe I’m slowly developing and ulcer and don’t know it?) the trying to stay warm while not sweating too much so I don’t freeze once I finally do take my jacket off, the trying to dial in kick and not knowing when to add more or go with better glide. It’s a circus, all right! – Jessie Diggins (USST/SMS) 8th woman (via Pre-gaming the season

On choosing skate skis over classic:

My classic skis compared to other people’s weren’t gliding great so it was like, ‘I might as well try to go with skate skis.’ I knew if we [Devon Kershaw, Kris Freeman, Skyler Davis and I] could all be together at the high point, I could have a pretty good chance of winning [the A-final] if I had the skate skis on. – Newell

[Newell] went on skate skis for the prelim and the final and that was obviously pretty smart. He just smoked everybody in the prelim and he once again smoked everybody in the final.  –Freeman

It was by far the faster technique. It would’ve been a really, really good opportunity to do that. I wish I would’ve double poled the final just to see, but at the same time it’s nice to work on the stride and glide. That’s what [the World Cup in] Kuusamo [Finland, Nov. 30-Dec. 2] will be. I’ve had some bad races there the last couple years so I felt pretty strong striding [Friday]. It was just a fun workout. – Devon Kershaw (Canadian National Ski Team) 2nd man

On the 1.8 k course at the Canmore Nordic Centre:

Kershaw leading Kris Freeman (c) and Phil Widmer (r) in the WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic 1.8 k sprint semifinal on Friday. Kershaw won the heat and went on to place second in the A-final. (Pavlina Sudrich photo)

It was kind of rolling out of the start and then a short-ish climb and then gradual uphill for a while before turning and then coming down a hill and then a two-tiered climb. [In the heats], I’d lead and I’d just stay comfortable, just chill out a bit essentially and then my tactic was to attack over the second bump and hold that until the finish. – Kershaw

For an experienced sprinter, double poler, [the biggest climb] was an OK hill to double pole. It wasn’t super steep. It was definitely faster to stride it, but as long as you could make enough time up on other parts of the course, you wouldn’t lose as much time on the uphill, for sure. – Newell

I’m pro-downhill of any kind. [Leader Perianne Jones] tucked a bit going down into the finish, when I kept poling. – Chandra Crawford (CNST) 1st in women’s A-final

Coming down into the finishing stretches was a little bit downhill and I guess I thought I had a bigger lead than I did. Chandra just kind of flew by me. I saw her fly by me so I turned it up a notch but I didn’t have enough space to quite get her. We were super close at the end. – Perianne Jones (CNST) top qualifier, 2nd woman

On racing with teammates:

It was pretty cool to have all the SMS T2 male team [Newell, Davis and Eric Packer] in a semi. Newell and I really worked together during the first part then I just tried to wait it out and make my move in the lanes. It was a fun heat.  – Davis

On racing in October:

The morning of the inaugural WinSport Frozen Thunder Classic sprint at the Canmore Nordic Centre. (Pavlina Sudrich photo)

It’s just so cool to be able to have a time trial at this time of year. The conditions at the nordic centre are absolutely unbelievable and to have all the Americans and stuff here as well, for sure, I would argue that it was the most competitive domestic sprint race of the year and it wasn’t even a race, it was a time trial, so that’s pretty good to be a part of. – Kershaw

I’m feeling extremely confident – really excited to see what I can do this year! Really excited for the season.  I feel like I am the most fit in my entire life. – Davis

I know classic sprinting is my biggest weakness and therefore I’m super thankful for any good chance to work on it that I can get. I felt a little like I was spinning my wheels, going nowhere during the race, but I worked hard and even when I totally ran out of energy (and technique!) in the final, it was a sweet learning experience. Slowly but surely, it’ll get better! – Diggins (via  

I didn’t ski as well as I have in the past. The top 16 skiers from the individual start preliminary round went on to compete in head-to-head heats. I finished 17th in the preliminary round. When I learned I didn’t qualify, I did a bounding intensity workout by myself (because I couldn’t, of course, get on the snow.) I did 8 by 3 minutes building from fairly easy to hard. My energy wasn’t great. It was not a very productive workout. After the bounding intensity, I got to watch the end of the sprint race. – Noah Hoffman (USST/Team HomeGrown) via “Canmore Sprint

It’s cool just to be able to race in such winter conditions because it’s been so cold. It kind of feels like the season started a little earlier, but most of us are still training a lot. – Newell

The conditions were manmade snow mixed with a little bit of fresh snow. It was a little tricky, and there were definitely some differences in ski speeds out there. I think that’s why skate skis worked so well. – Freeman

Chandra Crawford (l) pushing along the final stretch to edge Canadian World Cup teammate Perianne Jones in the Frozen Thunder Classic sprint A-final on Friday. (Pavlina Sudrich photo)

I only have one pair of old klister training skis here for classic, which I struggled to get kick on during the heats. It was good practice for racing in tricky conditions and it will feel great to be on race skis when the season actually starts.  – Ida Sargent (USST/Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 3rd woman

The Canmore Nordic Center has done a great job of creating a world-class early season training venue.  With the cool temperatures and the snow guns running around the clock, the skiing got better and better all week.  It’s pretty rare to enjoy midwinter skiing conditions in October.  – Eric Packer (SMS), 6th man (via “Canmore Wrap (with Videos)”)

On Frozen Thunder’s “race” atmosphere:

It was a fun time trial. It’s an amazing field and it was just fun. It was very light, no one was really that intense, I mean, Kris [Freeman] is intense all the time, but other than him everyone is pretty chilled out. It was time trial plus-plus, which is kind of cool. – Kershaw 

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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