Photos by Bryan Fish
The women’s side of the CXC Team saw Laura Valaas and Caitlin Compton continue their podium streak in every SuperTour race of the season. In Wednesday’s Sprint race Laura and Caitlin went up against a very competitive field of Canadian women and were able to qualify 2nd and 3rd in the preliminary round for the third sprint race in a row. Laura was second only .24 of a second behind the winner and Caitlin was 3rd about 3 seconds back. The rounds proved to be challenging but successful for the CXC Team women. Caitlin progressed through the Quarterfinals but then fell behind in the Semi Finals and advanced to the B Final, where she ended up 6th overall. Laura led every round from the Quarterfinals through the Finals making it all seem so easy. Her Final kick up the “big” hill in the course was commanding as she left the rest of her heat far behind and posted the fastest lap of the day! Laura is now 4 for 4 in the Sprint Races this season.
On Saturday Caitlin was the only CXC woman to race as Laura was taking a day off after such a busy race schedule and was focusing on being fresh for the skate race on Sunday. The race was only 5k but at such a high altitude (7200`) it was a real test of control so as not to go out too fast. Caitlin had a very good day and finished 2nd overall behind Amanda Ammar of Canada by only 9 seconds. The entire CXC Team was out cheering and giving splits for their teammate throughout the whole race.
Sunday’s Skate race was 15k of mixed conditions and crowded skiing. The Women’s race went out fairly conservatively and Laura was exactly where she wanted to be in about 6th position. Caitlin started a little slower and although not very far behind Laura she was in about 20th position. After the first downhill people began to shift positions and Laura was able to let Caitlin into a gap that had opened up around 5th position. As the first lap was ending the snow began to fall. At first the snow wasn’t too much of a problem but slowly the track became slower and slower. Skis and grind became very important during the changing conditions. Caitlin was able to take advantage of a gap in the lead group and maintain her lead through the final 4k to finish 1st overall. Laura skied a solid race and finished 21st, eager to race another distance race at Nationals.
Both women will be only racing one race in the Soldier Hollow SuperTour next weekend. Laura will do the Classic Sprint while Caitlin will race the 10k Skate.
CXC’s Laura Valaas 1st Classic Sprint
Snowman nuzzles CXC’s Caitlin Compton 1st 10k classic
The CXC men’s team came into the Sun Valley series well rested and ready to race. Wednesday’s classic sprint featured Bryan Cook’s CXC Team debut. In a tough day on a long sprint course, Brian Gregg led the men’s squad with a 22nd place finish, followed closely by Cook in 25th. The Canadian National Team competed in the sprints on Wednesday as well, taking the top 6 places.
Saturday’s 10km classic race took place on a beautiful morning on the Galena trails. The sun crept above the mountains minutes before the race start, warming the spectators and treating races to optimal race conditions. Coach Bryan Fish tested klister covered with hard wax versus straight hard wax over binder. In the end, Toko violet hard wax provided the team with excellent rollerski quality kick and very little wear in the abrasive snow. Garrott Kuzzy started first for the team, back racing after taking several days off. The time off didn’t seem to slow Kuzzy, as he finished 14th overall and 7th American in a field that included both U.S. and Canadian national teams. Bryan Cook, working his way back into strong racing shape, finished 24th and skied his last 3km with eventual winner, Kris Freeman. Brian Gregg rounded out the CXC Team’s results finishing only 8 seconds behind Cook in 26th place.
The Grand Finale of the Sun Valley SuperTour was Sunday’s 30km mass start skate. As if 30km at 7,200 feet with 1000 feet of climbing weren’t hard enough, Mother Nature pitched in with a heavy snowfall starting an hour before the race. By the start, there were almost 3 inches of fresh powder covering the skate course, making low-cambered Salomon skis the clear choice. Gregg and Kuzzy started the race with Cook taking the day off. The race got off to a clean start with both CXC teammates in good position. The race was by far the most demanding so far this season and skiers had to pace themselves well. Kuzzy started the race too fast and was soon caught by Gregg and dropped by the lead pack. After recovering during the 2nd and 3rd laps, Kuzzy was able to catch up to Gregg and they skied much of the 4th of 6 laps as a CXC train, catching and passing a number of skiers. Eventually, Kuzzy and Gregg ended up finishing 17th and 23rd respectively. Overall, it was a solid set of races for the CXC men and they are all looking forward to more improvement next weekend on the 2002 Olympic trails in Soldier Hollow, Utah.