With the start of the second consecutive super tour weekend being held at Craftsbury Outdoor Center came a whole lot of athletes, excitement and cutting edge spectating up here in the kingdom. Wicked sweet dude. The racing began friday morning with the freestyle sprint qualifier and it was a perfect storm of eastern racing circuits, with the Dartmouth College Carnival, Eastern Cup and the Supertour all converging into one massive event with hundreds of athletes entered to race. The mobs of athletes and fans combined with the new webcasting system created an exciting atmosphere for the skate sprint that would happen later in the afternoon.
The grueling 3 minute long sprint qualifier was fast and furious and put most of the GRP athletes into the top 30 that would race in the heats. The most impressive of the crew was Alex Howe, throwing down a 3rd place qualifier and reminding us all of his days as the faster junior in the world, if not the universe. Howe would hope to match his qualifier performance in the heats, but with a stacked field of some of the fastest skiers in the country along with the fastest college skiers in the east anything could happen.
The boys quarterfinals went off first. Many of the big names were knocked out early, including Alex Schulz and Gordon Vermeer. Pete Hegman and Mike Gibson also couldn’t move out of their competitive quarterfinals past world class athletes like Kris Freeman and Reese Hanneman. This left all the GRP fans rooting for Alex Howe and the fast and furiously female GRP women. Howe cruised in to win his quarterfinal heat and looked poised for his semifinal round.
Howe would now have a quick break while the girls quarters took place. Many of the girls team had been struggling with sickness through the week and it left them feeling a bit run down coming into the long race weekend. But their toughness and competitive spirit pushed them to race…and race well. Caitlin Patterson powered through her cold and skied past her fellow athletes in her heat to move onto the semis. Kate Miller would also comfortably move onto her next heat and would confirm any ideas that floated around of her becoming a natural sprint dawg and a force to be reckoned with on the Super Tour circuit.
Howe’s semifinal matchup was next and there was a palpable tension in the air as 6 titans of skiing took to the line. There would be no cruising across the line to victory in this heat. Howe would have to pull out all the stops in order to move on to the A final.
Sadly Alex couldn’t muster the juice needed in order to move on to the finals. This left him unsatisfied but still with a great result. He would use this as motivation for tomorrow in the 10k freestlye.
This left all our hopes on the girls. The K(C)aitli(y)n(n)s. Both of their semi finals were incredibly close and it came down to whose time was faster. For those who are not familiar with how the sprint brackets work: top 2 in each heat move on and after that there are 2 “lucky losers” who are chosen by the 2 fastest times in all of the heats. Kate was one of those lucky losers.
Unfortunately, it was not in the cards today for a recovering Caitlin Patterson who would be forced to ski home and try to get healthy again for the next 2 days of racing. Because, as we all know, a healthy Caitlin Patterson is virtually unbeatable.
Kate’s final was a who’s who of United States skiing and she finished the day in a very respectable 6th place and 100 dollar payday. Congrats Kate. And get healthy Caitlin and Liz! Also happy birthday shout out to Liz Guiney.
The next 2 days will be more jammed pack action with another stacked interval start race Saturday and the always exciting mass start classic race on Sunday. Good luck to all the athletes and if you want to join the action either come up to Craftsbury Outdoor Center or watch the online webcast thats being provided by fasterskier.