BOZEMAN, Mont. — In yet another thrilling men’s SuperTour finish, Mads Strøm of the University of Colorado outsprinted Miles Havlick of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team on Sunday to win the men’s 15-kilometer classic mass start at Bohart Ranch.
Strøm finished fast and icy three-lap course in 40:55.3, holding off Havlick by 0.7 seconds. Havlick’s teammate Matt Gelso racked up another SuperTour podium in third (+9.9), after placing third in Saturday’s classic sprint. Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) finished 27.4 seconds back in fourth.
Kris Freeman (Team Freebird), who was fourth in Saturday’s sprint, finished another 10 seconds back in fifth. Strøm’s CU teammate, Rune Ødegård, placed sixth (+48.4) after starting the final 5 k lap in second.
Havlick jumped out to an early lead and held it for most of the race, entering the last lap 8 seconds ahead of the chase group of Ødegård, Freeman, Gregg and Gelso. Strøm was 15 seconds behind.
“I noticed my skis were running pretty well, better than other guys in the pack, so I just decided to pick up the pace and see what would happen,” Havlick said of the first 10 k.
However, Havlick felt the gap closing throughout the last 5 k, and was caught by Strøm as they entered the stadium.
“I was hoping I could get him at the finish, because I know I have a pretty good finishing speed,” Havlick said. “But this time he got me.”
Strøm said that while he was “struggling” through the first two laps, his double poling was strong and he felt his confidence grow throughout the race. By the final lap, he was warmed up and ready to make his move.
“With four kilometers left I got the killer instinct and just tried to win. I double poled as much as I could – that’s one of my strongest strides,” the 23-year-old Strøm said.
As Gelso and Havlick began to pull away down the final stretch, Strøm hung with them, double poling past Gelso and catching Havlick on the final hill. He then passed Havlick in the stadium and held him off in a furious sprint to the finish.
After a disappointing result in Saturday’s sprint — when Gelso and Havlick beat him in the quarterfinals — Strøm was “really satisfied” with the result. “I feel great,” he said.
Gelso skied a strong final lap, separating himself from Gregg, Freeman and Ødegård while trying to catch his teammate.
“I was feeling pretty good, my skis were really fast, and I threw down hard to try to catch Miles,” Gelso explained. “But I did it such that I would gap the people I was with, so that I wouldn’t drag everybody up to my teammate. I made a conscious effort to go hard.”
However, Gelso did bring Strøm along with him.
“He’s good at conserving, sitting in and then going hard when it’s important,” Gelso explained.
After racing through slushy snow on Saturday, Gelso enjoyed the firmer conditions, saying the course was much faster than during the sprint. However, he noted that the racers had to be incredibly careful on some sections and corners, especially where the previously wet snow had been groomed.
In those places, “the corduroy got melted in so it was like smooth ice, and that was a little bit scary,” he said. “You can’t hold a plastic edge in that.”
Meanwhile, the course was kinder to Havlick than it was on Saturday — “I definitely wanted to stay on my feet today,” he said. Havlick fell during his sprint semifinal of the sprint and missed advancing to the final.
Havlick was excited about what he called “the first really good result for the season.”
“It’s a confidence builder,” said the former NCAA champion in the 20 k. “I know my form is coming around.”
The next SuperTour races take place Jan. 4-10 at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Mich.
Men’s 15 k classic top 10 | full results
1. Mads Strøm (CU) 40:55.3
2. Miles Havlick (SVSEF) +0.7
3. Matt Gelso (SVSEF) +9.9
4. Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) +27.4
5. Kris Freeman (Team Freebird) +37.0
6. Rune Ødegård (CU) +48.4
7. David Norris (APU) +1:02.1
8. Eric Packer (APU) +1:14.2
9. Benjamin Lustgarten (SVSEF) +1:20.4
10. Alexander Treinen (APU) +1:41.4