This Wednesday some of the nation’s strongest sprinters will converge in Cable Wisconsin for the CXC Telemark SuperTour Classic Sprints.
Perhaps the strongest entrant in the field is Chris Cook, the 2006 National Sprint Champion, a member of the Olympic team for the upcoming games, and a native to the area, having grown up in nearby Rhinelander. Chris will be departing for Italy immediately following this SuperTour week.
Sprint specialist Anders Haugen, who’s attracted attention on the NorAm circuit all year for his fast skiing and his hooded skiing suit, has also committed to being in Telemark to race.
Twin Cities favorite Chad Giese, fresh off two top-five results at the national championships has also committed to racing in the series.
Zack Simons, who skied the fastest qualifying time at Capitol Square Sprints and then went on to take second in the finals, will look to earn another top finish and some more money at Telemark. Zack was the SuperTour sprint champion last season.
Canadians Gordon Jewett and Jeff Ellis who combined to take third in the Capitol Square team sprints have stayed on in the Midwest and will be competing on Wednesday.
Kevin Hochtl a sprint specialist, whose previous successes include the 100-meter World Record from West Yellowstone, will be in the field.
Other NorAm men likely to contest for the top spots include Brayton Osgood (fourth in Madison), Colin Rodgers (fifth in Madison), Dave Stewart, Zach Violett, Justin Easter, Marshall Greene, Andre Watt, and Alex Churikov.
In addition, the entire University of Alaska-Fairbanks ski team has entered the competition as they are spending the week training at Telemark prior to this weekend’s competition. Nanook’s top skier Marius Korthauer (two top tens in at the Mt. Itasca NorAm) seems likely to make his way into the final rounds, and other Nanooks may surprise at the sprint distance.
For the women, FSx/Maine Winter Sports Center’s Kate Whitcomb is the top ranked sprinter in the field. A former U.S. Nationals bronze medallist, many times NorAm’s podium veteran, and competitor in the December Canadian World Cups, Whitcomb will be the woman to beat.
Canadians Jacqui Benson and Shayla Swanson add an international flavor to the women’s race and should contend for top spots. Benson, of Prince George BC and Caledonia Nordic Ski Club, finished 19th in last year’s sprint at Canadian Nationals and was tenth at a January NorAm in Val Cartier. Swanson, who now resides in Bozeman and skis with Bridger Ski Foundation, has a fourth place at 2005 West Yellowstone NorAm sprints and fourth place at 2003 Canadian Nationals as part of her resume.
Natasha Naryshkina, Team Rossignol and RSSS is a fast 21 year old Russian woman competing in the series this year. She won the 10km classic in Itasca last weekend going away and finished 3rd just behind Whitcomb at Capitol Square.
Caitlin Compton, a rounds qualifier at this year’s U.S. Nationals, who twice made the podium in Madison, is also on the entry list for Telemark. Erin Hood, APU who skied into the top-4 at Madison and is ranked, will look to make up for a fall in Madison that kept her off the podium there.
Biathlete Beth Ann Chamberlain, C.U. graduate and Rossignol skier Muriele Huberli, UAF’s Pavla Havlova and Ingrid Olson, and Alpina’s Corey Coogan are also in the field.
The sprint event will be contested between the alpine hill and Telemark Lodge on a course that winds up and down the alpine hill and then finishes in the old coliseum. Qualifying (men followed by women) takes place at 1:30 pm, and heats follow starting at 2:30 pm.