The winner of the 10 k classic stage of the Tour de Twin Cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday is a name you’ve probably heard of, but is not one usually associated with distance podiums. Reese Hanneman (Alaska Pacific University), surprising even himself a bit, won the individual start classic race at Wirth Park for his first career SuperTour distance win. He beat Mike Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Founation) and Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) in second and third, respectively.
When a sprinter makes that kind of jump in a distance race it’s reasonable to expect him to make a big deal out of it, but Hanneman seemed relatively calm about the result.
“I wasn’t expecting to win, I just kind of thought if I had a good race I could get on the podium,” he said. “And obviously on a course like this, when it’s so tight, then if you have a little bit better of a race then you can win. So when I started hearing I was doing that well I really pushed it hard. I have the speed to win on courses like this.”
The course at Wirth Park was relatively flat, with short and quick uphills that worked to Hanneman’s strengths. A teammate, Brent Knight, started 15 seconds ahead of him on Saturday, which gave Hanneman an indication he was skiing well before he got his first split. Knowing the course favored skiers who could go “full throttle” for the whole thing, Hanneman sought to work the course from the get-go.
“I knew that suits me pretty well, I have the speed, and if there’s no five-minute climbs I can usually do OK,” he said. “I went out pretty fast and tried to ski relaxed and also just working everything; trying to ski really fast because there’s no really sections that you have to pace.”
When Hanneman heard a split that had him leading the race, it only spurred him to work a little harder.
“I was a little surprised but I knew it wasn’t impossible, so obviously that got me pretty fired up, and from there it was basically a 5 k sprint to the finish line. I knew I needed to finish real fast because I knew Torin for sure would be finishing the last couple kilometers insanely fast.”
With the help of fast skis and tracks that held up well for striding, Hanneman made it to the finish line a full thirteen seconds ahead of Koos, who took third, and five seconds ahead of Sinnott in second.
“The tracks were pretty good all the way around,” Hanneman said. “Even the tracks on the two steep hills — yesterday they weren’t there, but today they stayed so it was possible to stride, which was really nice. They did a good job of setting the tracks; up to this point they’d been a little bit questionable.”
Hanneman’s skiing drew admiration from his competitors.
“I was really psyched to see Reece move so fast, it’s nice to see such a classy guy pull out the win,” Sinnott said.
As for his own race, Sinnott was pretty happy. He gave everything he had, and that’s always his first takeaway from a race effort.
“I raced hard and don’t feel like i could have done much more,” he said. “That’s the bottom line of weather I’m happy or not, did I give it my best… My goals going in were to win, same as every race. A tertiary goal was to put time into Torin and Mark, which I did, but I would have liked to see more. You can always want more.”
Koos had a similar thought: happy with a podium, but always going for the win.
“The podium is always nice, but I wouldn’t have minded being a step or two higher… but all in all, a decent competition and good day at the races,” he said.
Women’s 5 k
The women’s race was an incredibly close contest. Rosie Brennan (APU) just nipped Jennie Bender (Central Cross Country) by 0.6 seconds after 5 k of racing against the clock. Kate Fitzgerald (APU) took third, 10.3 seconds back.
Brennan, who began her 5 k in search of some redemption from Friday’s sprint, was pleased with her second win of the Tour.
“I was very happy to win today, even if only by 0.6,” she said. “I was disappointed with the way I skied yesterday so I was looking to turn things around today.”
Brennan noted that the racing atmosphere has been more relaxed this week with SuperTour athletes scattered all over the world at this point in the season.
“With a small field it was difficult to tell how the race was going because all the seeds were mixed in and we don’t have any coaches here giving splits,” she said. “I did get one split with less than a k to go and I was told I had six seconds on Jennie, but after seeing what she did to me in the last k of the mass start, I was afraid six seconds wasn’t enough. But I didn’t want to make the same mistakes as last time.
“It was just barely enough.”
Bender, though disappointed to lose by such a small margin, was satisfied with her race.
“Ahh, so close!” she wrote in an email. “As much as I would have been super pumped to capture all three classic titles, I was happy with my race. Individual starts are always interesting. Upfront they are less intense because you’re on your own, but afterwards they are more stressful compared to mass starts, because there is less feedback until you see the results.”
On the rolling course at Wirth Park, Bender knew every meter would be critical.
“It is a fairly roll-y course, so seconds were gained and lost quite easily if you turned your brain off even for a moment. I started out sixth, and I got a split off of Kate Fitzgerald, but had no idea what was going on behind me. I had a fast first lap, and tried to keep the pace my second but probably slowed a little.”
Fitzgerald took third, 10.3 seconds off Brennan’s winning time.
The fifth and final stage of the Tour de Twin Cities, a freestyle pursuit, takes place at Wirth Park on Sunday.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.