SuperTour Finals Extras: Quotes from the Climb

BrainspiralApril 9, 2013
Far West's Kyla Burill leads Janelle Webb up Monday's 6 k hill climb at SuperTour Finals up Sugar Bowl Resort in Truckee, Calif. (Photo: Mark Nadall/MacBeth Graphics)
Far West’s Kyla Burill leads Janelle Webb up Monday’s 6 k hill climb at SuperTour Finals up Sugar Bowl Resort in Truckee, Calif. (Photo: Mark Nadall/MacBeth Graphics)

FasterSkier’s coverage of SuperTour Finals and U.S. Distance Nationals is brought to you by the generous support of Concept2, the leading manufacturer of indoor rowers, racing oars, and the SkiErg.

TRUCKEE, Calif. – After heaving themselves to the top of Mt. Disney at Sugar Bowl Resort on Monday, several of top finishers were pretty animated about the 6 k hill climb, the final pursuit-style event of SuperTour Finals. Here are some of the best quotes outside of the men’s and women’s race reports.


On the premise of hill climbs:

Lisa Larsen of Sweden nears the finish of Monday's agonizing 6 k hill climb at Sugar Bowl Resort at the SuperTour Finals in Truckee, Calif. Larsen placed seventh overall. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)
Lisa Larsen of Sweden nears the finish of Monday’s agonizing 6 k hill climb at Sugar Bowl Resort at the SuperTour Finals in Truckee, Calif. Larsen placed seventh overall. (Photo: Mark Nadell/MacBeth Graphics)

“I don’t know, you’re skiing up a mountain, you’re not supposed to do that anyways. It could be the nicest day ever, and it’s still gonna be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.” – Liz Stephen (Burke Mountain Academy/U.S. Ski Team), overall women’s SuperTour Finals winner, first to the top with fastest time-of-day

“I actually really like hill climbing. I’m really bad at downhills so I’d much rather just go up the whole time. … It’s always hard when you first start out. It feels just impossible, like you’re never gonna make it there, then once you get going it’s not so bad.” – Rosie Brennan (Alaska Pacific University), sixth overall

“I like going up hill … and I like V1-ing.” – Brian Gregg (Central Cross Country), 10th overall with second-fastest time


On the inevitable mental battle:

“I just put my head down and had to keep reminding myself, this is crazy, but everybody’s in this. It hurts so bad, but you just keep trucking.” – Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST), third overall

“I single-sticked so much. Erika [Flowers] was right behind me on the results and I knew she was kind of catching me at one point, and part of me wanted to stop to just have someone to follow, but it was like, ‘Don’t do it don’t do it!’ Spectators help but. You also just want to get to the top.” – Chelsea Holmes (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation), 12th overall with third-fastest time

“We’re all tired at this point in the year. If you can trick your mind on certain days that you’re feeling good … the goal was honestly to have fun out there, which was really difficult with that wind.” – Stephen

“This year I just decided to not pay attention to anybody around me ’cause I know what my strengths are climbing a hill, and it’s not really anything. … I did a lot of skinning two weeks ago in France, and I was like, ‘Just pretend you’re skinning.’ My legs go the classic style a lot better then the side style.” – Sadie Bjornsen

“I did exactly what my plan was, which was to go out and not blow up on the first loop, go up the hill at what I thought was a sustainable pace, and try to catch Erik [Bjornsen] there. I did catch him.” – Kris Freeman (Maine Winter Sports Center/USST), second to Bjornsen with the fastest time-of-day


On giving credit where it’s due:

“[Erik Bjornsen’s] at an age where he gets stronger every year. Erik Flora had him following me around in Bend [Oregon] at Level 3 when I was doing Level 1 two years ago. He’s a resilient kid; he can recover from that. I think recovering from hard training is one the most important things as a ski racer so I’m really impressed with him.” – Freeman


On the conditions:

“The wind was so brutal. When it was at your back, it was so sweet. You’d try to ski super big trying to get boosted up, but when you’d turn the corner and it was blowing sideways and blowing your poles. … It was a crosswind at the finish. It definitely felt like I was V1ing sideways into it ’cause otherwise you’d get blown off the side.” – Jessie Diggins (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team/USST), fifth overall with second-fastest time

“The wind is less obnoxious than the powder. It’s all right, not the most fun conditions, but make you tougher, hopefully.” – Holmes

“The top is just survival mode. You’re doing everything you can to move and it didn’t help that all a sudden there’d be piles really deep and then there’d be ice and stuff.” – Sadie Bjornsen


On the finish:

“You could hardly see even my parents cheering; they were standing up there in this crazy storm. Thank God ’cause we wouldn’t have known where to go. I was like, ‘Thank you guys, and my mom. You’re still standing here! You’re in a full-on storm!’

– Sadie Bjornsen

“It was windy, but I heard it was worse before we got there. By the top part, it flattens out so it’s the only part you can ski well. It didn’t feel as windy as when you’re standing still and getting buffeted by the side wind. I thought the top was the best part for sure. You could actually get some glide.” – Mikey Sinnott (SVSEF), third overall

“I was really excited when I previewed the course [the day before] and I could see that last four hundred, five hundred meters was gonna be skiable, maybe V2, and it was. I think I V2-ed a lot of that.” – Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST), overall SuperTour Finals winner/first to top


On how Sugar Bowl stacks up to other hill climbs (including Italy’s Alpe Cermis, the famous final climb of the Tour de Ski):

“It was brutal. It’s funny because we were talking about how we thought this climb was a little bit easier than Jay Peak [at SuperTour Finals] last year, but with the four k or whatever we skied before the hill climb, it was a tough race.” – Sylvan Ellefson

 (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/Team HomeGrown), fourth overall

“This one, in my mind, was a little easier than Jay Peak. We got a nice run into it, nice ski section in the beginning and then just a couple steep pitches. Jay Peak was so steep the whole time even though it’s shorter [at 1.8 k].” – Tad Elliott (SSCV/HomeGrown/USST), 13th overall with third-fastest time

“I feel like Alpe Cermis is always going to be the hardest, but this compares pretty well because of altitude, snow drifts, they were so deep.” –Diggins

“I thought this wasn’t as skiable, more side hill and more awkward grades.” – Kikkan Randall (APU/USST), second overall

“The actual hill climb seemed a little shorter than the one in the Tour, but we’re way higher than it ever was on the World Cup. It’s just a different deal. The altitude is a huge, huge factor here. You guys [FasterSkier] posted the tape of us walking up the hill in the 15 k the other day. I saw myself coming up the hill and I’m thinking, ‘That’s kind of embarrassing,’ and then I saw the rest of the field come up and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I was walking, but I was walking with impulse.’ ” – Freeman, who won Friday’s 15 k classic mass start


On getting back down the mountain:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold. That was miserable.” — Erik Bjornsen, stuck on the chairlift for an estimated 15 minutes with Skyler Davis (SMST2/USST). Most people skied down.


On the last races of the season:

“It’s good to be four down, one to go. I’ve been feeling really good. [On Monday] I didn’t feel great on the second half, but hill climbing is such a unique thing. I’m hoping to have the energy to finish up one more, and I’m definitely ready to be done.” – Randall

“Every mini tour I’ve done this year, the 10 k classic I’ve taken myself effectively out of the running. … Every time there’s a slushy, klistery classic race, I need to really work on that. So it’s cool to come out of it knowing where I can improve.” – Diggins, who placed 18th in Friday’s 10 k classic mass start

“It’s great to end the season here in California. I think the organizers have done an awesome job, and I hope they have it again out here. It’s a little bit too late in the season; that’s the only thing. We’ve all had a long season. A week before this is a more ideal time for all of us. I think right now we’re beating ourselves into a hole that will take an extra week to come out of.” – Stephen

“I think Sylvan and I are just gonna lay in bed and watch movies, get some ice cream and coffee and hopefully we’ll be up there with these boys in the 50 k.” – Elliott


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