Note: This article has been corrected to state that Katharine Ogden is a member of Stratton Mountain School (SMS), not the Stratton Mountain School T2 Team (SMST2).
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — Rosie Brennan surged into the lead with a strong first lap, then maintained her advantage over 17-year-old Katharine Ogden to win Saturday’s women’s individual-start 10 k freestyle in West Yellowstone, Mont., the weekend’s second SuperTour race.
Brennan, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), had a 19-second lead over Ogden, of Stratton Mountain School (SMS), and teammate Chelsea Holmes after the first 5 k loop. While Ogden skied an impressive second lap – the fastest in the field – she was overcome by Brennan, as the 26-year-old won with a time of 26:59.9, while Ogden ended up 8.3 seconds behind.
Holmes skied a strong race especially on the hills, but lost ground to the leaders on the second lap and finished 26.2 seconds behind. Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) maintained her position after the first lap to finish in fourth (+42.6) while Sun Valley’s Mary Rose did the same to take fifth (+54.8).
Joanne Reid, a former University of Colorado star and NCAA Champion in the 15 k freestyle, took seventh (+1:01.0). However, the 10 k marked her first time racing on the national circuit since attending graduate school last year.
Though temperatures were above freezing, athletes encountered strong winds and blowing snow, adding challenge to a course that already offered no rest.
“Racing in West Yellowstone, it’s hard to actually feel good when you’re racing; it’s kind of brutal,” Brennan said. However, the Park City native said she was accustomed to the altitude – West Yellowstone is situated at 6,667 feet – and established a comfortable pace that she was able to maintain throughout the race. The result follows what she said was a “really good summer of training.”
Brennan explained that the race meant a lot to her, as her father passed away in August.
“Just to be able to put together a race is huge for me, so I’m just really psyched to be able to race,” she said.
APU Head Coach Erik Flora was thrilled with Brennan’s performance.
“Her training has been going really well, and you can see that she’s been ready to race, so today she skied strong. She’s made a lot of technical improvements over the year and she showed all those today,” Flora explained.
Though Ogden put together an impressive performance, she said that she did not have much of a strategy, saying she likes the hills and altitude and “was just thinking of not blowing up.”
“I started out and I was cold, which wasn’t good. But I warmed up pretty quickly and felt really good. I was mostly thinking about pushing off my legs because I usually don’t do that enough,” she said.
The 30-second interval start allowed her to catch up to and ski behind teammate Erika Flowers, of SMST2. “I like skiing with her. She has really good technique and it makes mine better,” Ogden said.
Ogden would eventually pass Flowers who ended up in 15th (+1:41.6).
Though just barely missing the podium, Patterson was satisfied with herself and her effort. She said she felt “bogged down” and was experiencing tired leg muscles right from the start, but maintained a strong V2 wherever she could and made up time on the numerous corners.
The wind was a noticeable factor in the race, Patterson said.
“I was certainly wishing I had someone to draft out there, but with the interval start race and the 30-second intervals we were all very well spaced out. I think I maybe passed one or two people, but I wasn’t able to tuck in behind anyone,” she explained. “It’s a bit of wind in your face, but you go with it.”
Rose attributed her fifth-place finish to the nature of the course, saying she is a climber and the course had plenty of hills she could use to her advantage. Though she went out “kind of easy” at the beginning of the race, she said she pushed herself through the hills and “kept charging.”
However, Rose did not attach too much significance to the result, saying she is taking it weekend by weekend.
Meanwhile, there was a worrisome scene on the course as APU’s Rosie Frankowski collapsed 7.5 kilometers into her race. Coach Flora was unsure of exactly what occurred — whether it was dehydration, the altitude or something else — saying she simply “blacked out” at the top of a climb.
Course officials and spectators immediately covered Frankowski with coats after she collapsed, and she was soon transported back to the warming hut at the starting line. Flora said once they got her warmed up, she was back on her feet and “feeling good.”
SuperTour racing continues next weekend at Bohart Ranch Cross Country Ski Center near Bozeman, Mont., with a classic sprint on Saturday and a classic mass start on Sunday.
Women’s 10 k freestyle top ten (full results)
1. Rosie Brennan (APU) 26:59.9
2. Katharine Ogden (SMS) +8.3
3. Chelsea Holmes (APU) +26.2
4. Caitlin Patterson (CGRP) +42.6
5. Mary Rose (Sun Valley SEF) +54.8
6. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) +57.5
7. Joanne Reid (Atlas) +1:01.0
8. Makayla Cappel (Sun Valley SEF) +1:19.9
9. Heidi Widmer (AWCA-NST) +1:25.1
10. Aja Starkey (Montana State University) +1:26.3