While the main appeal of Park City training camp is logging valuable training time at altitude in scenic surroundings, it’s always fun to race, too. And having the lion’s share of the U.S. Ski Team in town, not to mention most top domestic racers as well, made for some deep fields. When athletes strapped on their matching Swenor rollerskis for a distance skate and a classic sprint day over the weekend, they were doing so against the most robust competition for a rollerski race on the continent this season. Read on for results highlights and more.
Saturday: Scott Patterson and Jessie Diggins lead the way in distance skate
Saturday morning brought a 10-kilometer interval-start skate race for both genders. For the men, Scott Patterson (USST/APU) was in or very near the lead the entire way; he was 1.1 seconds off the leading split time (set by sprinter JC Schoonmaker) a minute into the race, and was in or tied for the lead at every time checkpoint thereafter. His lap times for the 3ish-kilometer laps were 6:13, 6:19, and 6:22. His final time of 20:18.0 held up as the day’s best time.
Behind him, Zak Ketterson (USST/Team Birkie) in second, 13.8 seconds back, and Tom Mancini (University of Utah, +16.7) in third rounded out the overall podium. Mancini was third despite breaking a pole and having to ski with only one pole for several hundred meters.
Michael Earnhart (USST/APU) in 10th (+52.0) and Brian Bushey (University of Utah) in 11th (+1:05.8) were the top juniors in the men’s race.
There was somewhat less drama in the women’s race, as Jessie Diggins (USST/SMS T2) set the pace throughout. She was first at the 90-second time checkpoint, and had the fastest time in the women’s field for each 3ish-km lap: 7:07, 7:16, and 7:19. Her final time was 23:14.2.
Behind Diggins, Novie McCabe (USST/Utah) was second (+42.7), narrowly ahead of Sarah Goble (BSF, +46.4) in third. Agnes Macy (Bowdoin, +2:15.7) in eighth and Nina Schamberger (Summit Nordic Ski Club, +2:22.7) in 10th were the top junior and U18 athletes in the women’s field.
Sunday: Diggins repeats, Noel Keeffe wins in sprint
Sunday saw a full day of classic sprinting, with a qualifier and heats en route to the final. Logan Diekmann of BSF flashed his speed in the qualifier, edging out JC Schoonmaker (USST/Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy) by 0.01 seconds for the day’s fastest time. Noel Keeffe (Utah) was slightly over a second back. Owen Young (Alaska Winter Stars, 12th), Trey Jones (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, 13th), and Max Kluck (BSF, 15th) were the top three juniors in qualifying.
For the women’s qualifier, it was Jessie Diggins leading the way once again, with USST and SMS T2 teammate Julia Kern close behind her. Alayna Sonnesyn, also of SMS, was roughly five seconds back for third in qualifying. (Notably, Lauren Jortberg was sixth in qualifying, giving SMS four of the top six spots in qualifying.)
The top three juniors in qualifying were Sofia Scirica (Eastern Massachusetts XC Skiing) in ninth, Natalie Hood (APU) in 15th, and Cora Scott (SVSEF) in 16th.
The women’s final saw relatively few surprises, with Diggins taking the sprint in a rollerski lunge over Kern (+0.04), suggesting that her on-snow time practicing lunges in an antipodean August paid off. Novie McCabe was third (+1.02), with Sonnesyn, Erin Bianco (Team Birkie), and Jortberg another 10 to 20 seconds back. Finishing positions in the women’s final went to the athletes who had finished first, second, third, fourth, sixth, and seventh in the qualifier.
There was somewhat more drama in the men’s final. For one, it included Reid Goble (BSF), who had finished “only” 11th in qualifying, suggesting that the men’s final was not quite so much chalk as the women’s. (That said, the five other athletes in the final had finished first, second, third, fourth, and fifth in qualifying.)
For another, a large crash near the end of the race took out two-thirds of the field. Noel Keeffe (Utah) won in 2:43.30, with Logan Diekmann (BSF) slightly over a second back… but another 90 seconds elapsed before Reid Goble (BSF) crossed the line for third. He was slightly ahead of Kevin Bolger (USST/SVSEF), Schoonmaker, and Luke Jager (USST/APU) in the sprint for the final step on the podium.
Keeffe had logged a nearly three-hour, 44km rollerski on Saturday morning, with 2,300 feet of elevation gain, per his Strava, underscoring the extent to which the entire field had trained through these races. Keeffe trained 20 hours this past week, for example, according to workouts publicly available on his Strava.
Video interviews with athletes
Aaron Power, Max Kluck, and the rest of the National Elite Group did yeoman’s work in compiling a series of three-word athlete reactions to race day, which may be viewed here:
— Gavin Kentch