SuperTour racing continued on Friday in Craftsbury, Vermont, as part of the Henchey Memorial Carnival, which also included Eastern Cup and collegiate racing. The three-day event is presented by the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, NENSA, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and the University of Vermont (UVM), the EISA carnival host school.
Racers were faced with snowy conditions for the opening 1.4-kilometer freestyle sprint as a winter storm made its way across the Northeast. Friday morning’s grooming report mentioned 6 inches of fresh snow, as more continued to fall throughout the morning.
On the women’s side, last weekend’s 10k freestyle winner, Alayna Sonnesyn (SMS T2), won the qualifier in 3:58.27, ahead of BSF Pro Team’s Lauren Jortberg in second and APU’s Rosie Frankowski in third. Perhaps a nod to the wintery conditions, these top three finishers were separated by over six seconds.
Sonnesyn advanced from the first heat of the quarterfinals into the semis, where she finished third in the first heat behind Katharine Ogden (SMS T2) and Ava Thurston (Mansfield Nordic Club), who crossed the line together, roughly 0.4 seconds ahead of Sonnesyn. As the second semi, which was won by Jortberg, was roughly four seconds faster on average, Sonnesyn did not earn a lucky loser spot in the final. Instead, Jortberg advanced with Anna Bizyukova of UVM, Frankowski, and Craftsbury’s own Margie Freed.
Despite the trend seen in the qualifier, the final featured tight racing, with the top five athletes finishing within two seconds of one another. Just 0.6 seconds separated second from fifth.
Coming out on top was Ogden, who won the final in 3:59.08. After racing on the World Cup from the opening races in Ruka through the midway point of the Tour de Ski, Ogden has gone three-for-three in SuperTour sprints since returning stateside, winning classic sprints in Soldier Hollow and Lake Placid before checking off a skate win today.
Just behind, Jortberg took second place (+1.30) with U18 athlete Thurston closing in third (+1.78). Bizyukova was next to the line in fourth (+1.86), with Frankowski less than a meter behind in fifth (+1.91). Freed rounded out the women’s final in sixth (+4.51).
“I think that the biggest thing to note about today was that it was blizzarding!” wrote Ogden in a post-race email. “The heavy falling snow made the heat racing very tactical and rewarded being very quick off of the line. There was one lane on the course that was packed down by traffic and the other areas were pretty soft!”
Ogden was just 11 points behind Caitlin Patterson on the Olympic qualification distance list, based on the athletes’ best two distance races on the SuperTour or at the U.S. Cross Country Championships, during which Ogden competed in only one race – the 10k individual start classic where she was second to Patterson. The following weekend in Sun Valley, she was second in one distance race and fourth in the other, behind three Olympians and ahead of Patterson in each. As the races at U.S. Nationals were scored at a higher point value, Patterson took the final Olympic spot, leaving Ogden on the wrong side of the cusp.
Nevertheless, Ogden has found silver linings in the additional time back east.
“It was a blast to be able to race with the EISA. I miss skiing for Dartmouth (Ogden graduated in 2021), so it was fun getting to ski with some of my old teammates and some new Dartmouth skiers. It was also pretty great to ski in lots of natural snow, we rarely get a snowstorm this big anymore and it was undeniably very fun.”
As Thurston is, remarkably, still in high school, Bizyukova was the top collegiate racer to earn today’s EISA sprint title. The second and third placed collegiate racers both hailed from Dartmouth College, with Callie Young finishing fifth in the first semifinal and 10th overall, and Jasmine Drolet taking sixth in the second semi for 11th overall.
The men of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team swept the top-three spots in the men’s qualifier, with Karl Schulz leading the way in 3:23.48. Peter Holmes was 0.33 behind in second, with Johnny Hagenbuch in third (+1.21).
Schulz carried momentum from the qualifier win into the first quarterfinal, which he won by half a second, but his day ended soon after in the semifinal. Racing in a fast first heat that contained two eventual podium winners and found both lucky losers, Schulz was fifth in the heat, +1.72 behind winner Matias Øvrum of UVM. Sam Wood (SVSEF) was second in the heat, ahead of last weekend’s sprint winner Zak Ketterson (Team Birkie) and Gregory Burt (UVM).
In the second semi, which was nearly three seconds slower, Canada’s Étienne Hébert (CNEPH) edged out Holmes by 0.1 seconds to go 1-2 and advance to the final round.
The top two spots in the final were decided by a close finish between Ketterson and Øvrum, with Ketterson crossing 0.28 ahead in a time of 3:22.57 to earn his third SuperTour sprint title of the season. Øvrum was second, though he was named the collegiate race winner for UVM, with Hébert crossing the line a few meters behind on his own in third (+2.17).
“I’ve always really liked racing at Craftsbury,” Ketterson wrote to FasterSkier after the race. “It’s an awesome place and this year Team Birkie has been lucky enough to stay right at the Outdoor Center. The race course is right out our back door!”
Ketterson also provided insights to the final round for those following from afar.
“The final was really close! I gave it everything I had at the top of the last hill but I definitely started to get tired and bogged down a bit into the finish. Matias skied a smart race and gave me a really good challenge in the last few meters but luckily I was able to fend him off. It was a tricky day with super soft fresh snow and I’m happy I was able to execute.”
Wood was fourth in the men’s final (+6.9), with Burt fifth (+7.17), and Holmes sixth (+10.82).
As mentioned, Øvrum was the top collegiate racer, with Burt second, going one–two for UVM. Third place among college athletes was Allan Luke of Dartmouth, who finished sixth in the first semifinal and 12th overall.
Craftsbury’s Day 1 coverage of the the 2022 Henchey Memorial Carnival: SuperTour, NENSA Eastern Cup and UVM EISA carnival.
Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646