Gelso and Guiney in Charge
Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School [SMS]) topped the women's field in the U.S. season-opener 5km FR contest, while Patrick Caldwell (SMS T2) ruled in the men's 10km race. It was a decisive 26.7-second margin for Caldwell at the line as the season got underway in the U.S. on Nov. 25 at the West Yellowstone Festival following Thanksgiving celebrations.
Czech skier Petra Hyncicova (University of Colorado) battled for second behind Ogden at 11.8 seconds back, with Erika Flowers (SMS) just 1.5 seconds behind in third.
The men's race was a battle for the two podium spots behind Caldwell, as Rogan Brown (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Sun Valley [SVSEF]) claimed second, with Mads Stroem (University of Colorado) in third.
The following day, Elizabeth Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project [CGRP]) pipped Merete Myrseth (University of Utah) at the line by a mere 0.3 seconds to take the women's 5km CL. Ogden was third at 11.1 seconds behind.
Scott Patterson (APU) was unstoppable in the men's 10km race with a 20-second margin over Matt Gelso (SVSEF) in second, with Benjamin Lustgarten (CGRP) on the podium in third. According to Ian Harvey (Toko), “The snow was quite fast, although not at all icy. The tracks had some dirt, rocks and sand in them in some places, but overall conditions were good. Weather was gorgeous and the skating track was almost perfect.”
The first Supertour weekend of racing and Round One of the 2016/17 USSA Cross Country Supertour saw Gelso win a double-header. It took place Dec. 3-4 in West Yellowstone, Mont., as lack of snow at the original site in Bozeman, Mont. forced organizers to relocate the event.
Gelso took his first Supertour win in the men's 1.3km FR sprints, for a strong kick-off to the season, beating out Tyler Kornfield (Alaska Pacific University [APU]) in second and Reese Hanneman (APU) in third.
Gelso maintained a lead he established halfway through the final, crossing the line almost two seconds ahead of Kornfield, with Hanneman another 2.27 seconds back. Ben Saxton (SMS Elite Team), Cole Morgan (SVSEF) and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) rounded out the heat.
In the women's 1.3km FR, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) won over SMS'S Flowers and Annie Hart. Bender, the top qualifier, dominated, with Hannah Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl) claiming fourth, Chelsea Holmes (APU) fifth and Hyncicova (University of Colorado) in sixth.
Day Two of the Supertour opener saw Gelso (SVSEF) top of the podium again, winning the men's 15km Classic Individual Start with a hefty 32.2-second margin over Lustgarten (CGRP), followed by Patterson (APU) in third.
In the women's 10km Classic Individual Start, Guiney (CGRP) stopped the clock with a time of 33:52.8, securing her the win over Ogden (SMS) in second at 7.7 seconds back. Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) rounded out the podium in third at 28.4 seconds back.
U.S. skiers dominated the Opening Round of the Haywood Noram Buff Sprints, which also doubled as Round Two of the USSA Supertour on Dec. 10 in Vernon, B.C. Held at Sovereign Lake, the 1.2km CL sprint saw Julia Kern (SMS T2) win the Open Women's race, while Hanneman (APU) cruised to victory in the Open Men's race.
Guiney and Miller rounded out the U.S. podium, barely edging out top Canada's Olivia Bouffard-nesbitt (Alberta World Cup Academy), who was the top qualifier by more than two seconds. In the final, Bouffard-nesbitt had a large lead at the top of the saddle climb, and maintained that to the finishing straight, where the three American skiers overpowered her in the double-pole dash to the finish.
Hanneman led a U.S. podium sweep in the men's race after qualifying 15th. Morgan (SVSEF) and Saxton (SMS Elite Team) rounded out the podium. Denver University's resident German Moritz Madlener was fourth ahead of Gelso (SVSEF), who precipitated a big semifinal crash that left Antoine Briand (CNEPH/SKIBEC) as the only Canadian in the A Final, ending up sixth.
In the junior women's race, Hannah Mehain (Sovereign Lake) dominated the qualifier by 6.3 seconds and comfortably won all three heats to take her first win of the season. Claire Grall-johnson (Nakkertok) finished second ahead of Katie Weaver (National Junior/hollyburn). Taeler Mccrerey (Denver University) was to top U.S. skier in fifth.
Gareth Williams (Telemark) was in dominant form in the junior men's race, winning the qualifier and all three heats to easily own the day. Graham Ritchie
(Team Ontario/big Thunder) and Levi Nadlersmith (NDC Training Centre) filled out the podium, with Canyon Tobin (APU) the only American in the A Final.
Day Two at Sovereign Lake was a wintry day, -10°C. with light falling snow, for the Interval-start skate races. For the women's 10km, Holmes (APU) came away with the win, 36 seconds ahead of Flowers (SMS), who was followed four seconds later by Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) in third.
The U.S. dominated the podium in the senior races as Patterson gave APU another win in the men's 15km skate event, powered by a blazing-fast opening lap. He finished 13 seconds ahead of Gelso (SVSEF). Third was Tad Elliott (Vail), another 13 seconds later.
For the juniors, U.S. sensation Ogden (SMS) won the race in a time that would have placed her second in Open Women's race, 13 seconds from the lead. Annika Richardson (Hollyburn) was the top Canadian in second at 2:20 behind Ogden. Halvorsen (Sugar Bowl) was third just behind Richardson, and fourth and fifth, (second and third of the Canadians) were Mehain (Sovereign Lake) and India Mcissac (Rocky Mountain Racers).
Philippe Boucher (Skibec) was the top junior man in a time that made him the third-fastest Canadian in the Open Class. Ty Godfrey (Canmore) was 46 seconds back, followed by Williams (Telemark) eight seconds later.
(above left) Junior Katharine Ogden (SMS) had a strong start to her season with several podiums
(top) Matt Gelso (SVSEV) won his first Supertour is the men's series overall leader.
(above) Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) took the opening women's freestyle sprint.