BOZEMAN, Mont. — Rosie Brennan of Alaska Pacific University (APU) overcame what she called her “least favorite conditions” to notch her third-straight SuperTour victory on Sunday in the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start at Bohart Ranch.
Saturday’s 45-degree temperatures left the course fast and icy upon freezing overnight, making the numerous corners even trickier. Race officials delayed Sunday’s race by an hour to allow for the 40-degree weather to help thaw the course.
But the conditions did not stop Brennan, 26, and teammate Chelsea Holmes from immediately breaking away from the rest of the pack. They maintained a safe distance throughout the two laps, and Holmes completed the first 5 k lap with a 1-second lead over Brennan.
However, Brennan would take over on the second lap, cruising into the stadium with the lead and finishing in 31:07. Holmes’s final charge came up 5.2 seconds short.
Katharine Ogden, 17, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) – who was second at last weekend’s 10 k freestyle in West Yellowstone – finished in third, 1:20 behind the APU skiers. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was in fourth (+1:30.8), narrowly beating APU’s Becca Rorabaugh by 0.3 seconds in a sprint finish. Sloan Storey of the University of Utah was sixth (+1:59.4).
Holmes said she lost her small lead on the second lap due to Brennan’s strong double poling up the long climbs.
“She just crushes me in double pole. Which is good – I see her go by and I go as hard as I can to keep up with her, and maybe one day I will be able to,” Holmes said. “If not, I’ll work in the meantime on making up time on the uphills.”
Brennan described the conditions as her “worst nightmare,” but said that it was time for her to “conquer some fears” and ski confidently down the icy, technical hills.
“It gives you confidence for skiing in weaker conditions,” she said.
Ogden, who maintained third place while trying to catch the two leaders and was 33 seconds behind Holmes after the first lap, said she was “really psyched” about her result.
She explained that while the course was slippery, “that added to the fun of it. It was an extra challenge.” She recalled agility training on rollerskis last summer, saying it probably helped her in navigating such a technical course.
Meanwhile, she said her wax techs’ work gave her “kick that lasted the whole race.”
“Our skis were really fast,” she said. “So despite the tricky conditions, they made it work.”
Rorabaugh’s fifth-place finish was an improvement over Saturday’s sprint, where she was relegated to last (sixth overall) by a jury decision after double poling too aggressively (i.e. skating) outside of the tracks.
Sunday’s race got off to a rocky start for Rorabaugh, as the basket popped off her pole right out of the gate, and she could not get a new pole until “about half a kilometer” into the race. This left her “kind of behind,” she said, though she made up time on downhills and the double-pole sections.
“I wasn’t super confident in my kick, so I double poled a lot of gradual uphills and really, really tried to make it up on the downhills,” she said.
After a holiday break, the next stop on the SuperTour is U.S. nationals from Jan. 4-10 in Houghton, Mich.
Women’s 15 k class mass start top ten | full results
1. Rosie Brennan (APU) 31:07
2. Chelsea Holmes (APU) +5.2
3. Katharine Ogden (SMS) +1:20.0
4. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) +1:30.8
5. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) +1:31.2
6. Sloan Storey (University of Utah) +1:59.4
7. Liz Guiney (CGRP) +2:01.2
8. Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) +2:15.3
9. Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) +2:17.8
10. Erika Flowers (SMST2) +2:42.6