Frozen Thunder Sprint

We arrived at the Canmore Nordic Center before the sun this morning.

Sun Slow to Come at Canmore Nordic Center

Early race starts are a staple in North American ski racing and almost nonexistent in World Cup racing. I much prefer later starts. It’s a good incentive to stay on the World Cup!

This year’s Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint Race was a two lap race. The course was quite hilly, but several of the top skiers (including both of my teammates Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton) chose to double pole the course on skate skis.

Because the trail is narrow and the field is small, only 16 skiers advanced out of the qualifying round today (as opposed to 30 in most sprint races). Last year in this race I placed 17th in the qualifier, just missing out on the heats. Today I made it on the other side of the line, qualifying in 15th place. I was happy with the way I skied the qualifier, focusing on being smooth and gliding.

The quarterfinals were four person heats with the top two finishers advancing to the semifinal. I was in the third quarterfinal with the second place qualifier, Stratton Mountain school’s Skyler Davis, the seventh qualifier, Canada’s Alexis Turgeon and the tenth qualifier, MOD (Methow Valley Olympic Developement) Squad’s Sam Naney. I don’t qualify to ski heats very often (or race sprints very often for that matter), so I was excited to ski head-to-head.

I struggled at the start, losing several skier-lengths in the first thirty seconds. Over the top of the first hill I was able to regain contact to the three other skiers. Over a small hill and corner at the far end of the course I lost contact again. I dropped about 20 meters behind Skyler and Sam who were leading. The second time up the big hill I was again able to regain contact. I stayed behind them until the finish but wasn’t strong enough double poling to get around them. I finished third in the heat.

I am happy with the way it went. I did a good job of regaining contact after getting dropped twice. I am disappointed because I feel it is not unreasonable for me to move through the quarterfinal round. I think I could have focused more on staying with the other skiers early and used my speed up the hill to move ahead rather than coming from behind. However, it is an improvement over last year.

After I was eliminated, I took some pictures of the race. Here is women’s top qualifier Sophie Caldwell:

Sophie Caldwell Frozen Thunder Semifinal

2006 Olympic Sprint Gold Medalist, Canadian Chandra Crawford:

Chandra Crawford Frozen Thunder Sprint

Eventual race winner, Austrian Katerina Smutna in her semifinal:

Katerina Smutna Frozen Thunder Sprint

Here is the first men’s semifinal coming around after their first of two laps. Leading is Canadian Phil Widmer followed Andy, the top qualifier and eventual race winner, Mod Squad’s┬áDakota Blackhorse-von-Jess:

Frozen Thunder Men's Semifinal 1

Here is another shot of Phil and Andy:

Phil Widmer and Andy Newell, Frozen Thunder Men's Sprint

Here is the second men’s semi containing Simi (left), Skyler (center) and Sam:

Men's Semifinal 2 Frozen Thunder Sprint

Simi looks a little like he’s projecting the light of God in this picture:

Simi Hamilton Projecting the Light of God in Frozen Thunder Sprint

Here Sim is leading the heat through one lap:

Simi Hamilton Double Poling Frozen Thunder Sprint

For some reason I ended up with lots of pictures of Sim. Here he is leading up the hill the second time:

Simi Hamilton Leading Up Hill 2nd Lap Frozen Thunder Sprint

And leading into the finish ahead of Sam; both moved on to the final.

Simi Hamilton Leading into the Finish of Frozen Thunder Semi Final

Here’s my teammate Liz Stephen in the B Final. Liz used to be as bad as me at sprints, but in the last year she has improved markedly, including qualifying for the heats in a World Cup last season. She gives me inspiration in my own sprinting.

Liz Stephen Frozen Thunder B Final Lap One

She won the B Final today handily.

Liz Stephen Winning Frozen Thunder B Final

Here is the women’s A Final with Sophie (left), Katerina (center), and Ida Sargent:

Women's A Final Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Here they are (with Ida now left and Sophie behind Katerina) still together on the second time up the hill:

Second Lap Women's A Final Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Here’s Katerina winning just ahead of Ida on the left hand side of the picture with the men’s B final starting on the right hand side of the picture:

Women's Finish Final of Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Simi and Newell, who had both switched to classic skis for the quarterfinal and semifinal after double poling the qualifier on skate skis, switched back to skate skis for the final. Here they are at the top of the first hill (Simi on the right) trailing Dakota who stuck with classic skis:

First Hill Men's A Final Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Here’s Dakota leading Andy followed by Sim through the first lap:

Dakota Leading Classic Sprint Frozen Thunder

Here’s Dakota coming in for a commanding victory:

Dakota Blackhorse-von-Jess Winning Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

Andy finished second:

Andy Newell Finishing Second in Frozen Thunder Classic Sprint

It was a fun morning. Tomorrow we have a 10 kilometer classic distance race. It should play to my strengths a little more than the sprint. I’m focusing on pacing and executing well.

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