CANMORE, Alberta — Frozen Thunder, the 2.2-kilometer snow-covered course at the Canmore Nordic Centre, has been buzzing with activity for the last week and headlined by a classic-sprint showdown between some of the top Canadian and U.S. nordic skiers on Thursday. Here’s what you may have missed:
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess topped two U.S. Ski Team members en route to the men’s victory, winning the unofficial first race of the season by a bit of a landslide. Under warming skies, he stuck with his classic skis on the two-lap course, while eventual runner-up Andy Newell (who won the qualifier by 3 seconds) and third-place finisher Simi Hamilton slipped behind on skate skis.
“Andy made a great jump at the start of the second lap, but I was able to use the advantage of kick to accelerate away over the top of the big climb and again on the second hill to keep the advantage,” Blackhorse-von Jess, of the Bend Endurance Academy in Oregon, wrote in an email. “It may have helped that the sun came out and started NUKING right at the start of the A-final as it slowed the snow down and probably made it much more difficult to double pole up the first hill. And I had good skis, which is no small thing.”
“[Thursday] was a great tune-up,” he added. “We’ve really been focusing the last 4 years on systematically building my aerobic fitness. … Racing is so much fun, being back on the road and seeing all my friends and getting back in the wax room with Scott Johnston and Sam Naney of MOD, and for sure being in the mix with Andy and Sim who set the bar for the rest of us was awesome. And let’s be honest – winning a race against those two, even in a tune up event, even with a relatively small field, even in October, it still makes a good time even better.”
For more about the men’s and women’s sprints, check out our race recap and other photos.