The City of Lakes Loppet SuperTour Sprints was a true urban event, with finals contested under the lights on snow covered Minneapolis boulevards. In a way, the Finn Sisu/Toko SuperTour sprints were an all-day event as well since athletes met at 9:00 am at Wirth Park to take part in qualifying heats. For athletes and spectators, the morning sprints were a good chance to stakeout the race venue, as Wirth Park is also the start area for Sunday’s 35-kilometer events. The morning qualifying course was less than 1000 meters and climbed up and down one long hill in a series of ascents, descents, and curves. The snow surface was rock hard and consisted of mostly transformed snow with just the slightest bit of fresh snow mixed in. Given a short course, screaming downhills, and very fast snow, times around the course were very fast. Time spreads between competitors were minimal and thus just a second or two separated those making the coveted top-8 qualifying from those whose day ended at Wirth because of times not good enough to advance.
Athletes in the top-8 had lots of time to go home, rest, and re-wax before convening on the streets of Uptown for rounds’ 5:00 pm start time. The course used for the evening event differed from that of the previous year’s due to the snow challenges that race organizers experienced in the week leading up to the race. Instead of the usual L-shaped course in front of Calhoun Square, this year’s course was a straight shot out and back with a small portion on the lake. The course was significantly more challenging, tactical, and exciting as it wound racers around trees, benches, light-posts, and various other types of road furniture. Athletes had an approximately 50-meter double pole zone at the start, the section of the lake, and the final 100 meters for easy passing. To win, athletes had to make good use of these three areas.
Going into the night, Russian Natasha Naryshkina knew that a win in the City of Lakes Sprints could secure her the SuperTour sprint title for the season. Also in that formula was Carin Camenisch’s result. With that in mind, Naryshkina made skiing away from the field look particularly easy, putting enough of a gap over the A-finals field of Karin Caminesch, Erin Hood, and Muriele Huberli to have time to look back over her shoulder and choose to coast the final meters with her arms held aloft. Caminesch took a clear second place, followed by Hood, and then Huberli. As it sorted out, Carin Caminesch took the SuperTour Sprint title for the second year in a row.
After the race, Caminesch took time to reflect on her night of racing. “I’m happy. I love sprinting, and it’s fun to sprint in the city.” She was positive in her evaluation of the new course, as compared to last year’s, noting that it’s only drawback was that it seemed to draw fewer walk-by spectators. Speaking for her self and the other two Rossignol competitors in the finals, Caminesch said that she felt that the group’s skis had run well. Considering Sunday’s 35-kilometer event, she explained: “I’m not as good at distance. We’ll see. I’ll try to hang with the pack.”
All of the heats in the men’s race were extremely tight with the results not becoming clear until the last 100 meters. In the men’s final, true to form, the men stayed in a tight pack throughout the bulk of the race. While two skiers tangled slightly on the way out towards the lake, everyone stayed up and stayed together. When the men charged into the final two hundred meters, Dave Chamberlain had pulled into a clear lead, which he held to the line. Brayton Osgood captured second place over the final meters, followed by Alex Churikov (third), and Chad Giese (fourth).
Race winner Dave Chamberlain spoke enthusiastically about the urban racing experience. “I love racing in the city. This is definitely something that we should do more often.” Chamberlain, who skis for Atomic was using a pair of skis with a Z40 grind from Engineered Tuning. He was enthusiastic about the way that his skis ran both on the predominantly manmade snow surface of the Uptown street as well as the icy conditions at Wirth Park, and predicts that they are the skis he’ll choose for Sunday’s race.
Unofficial Results are listed below.
Men: 1. D. Chamberlain 2. B. Osgood 3. A. Churikov 4. C. Giese 5. C. Rodgers 6. J. Graci 7. A. Hunter 8. M. Weier 9. B Kremer 10. M. Liebsch Women: 1. N. Naryshkina 2. K. Caminesch 3. E. Hood 4. M. Huberli 5. C. Compton 6. K. Bono 7. K. Underwood 8. B. Chamberlain 9. C. Coogan 10. A. McLoon 11. A. Weber