Hannah Rudd Takes the Win in Seeley Hills Classic as BSF Puts Two on the Podium in Birkieland


The women raced the same 32-kilometer, single-lap course as the men in Seeley, Wisconsin, early Saturday, as the Seeley Hills Classic marked the final distance race of Period 2 of the domestic SuperTour. The women started at 9:05 a.m., five minutes after the men. Despite the men’s five-minute head start, the lead women were weaving through the end of the men’s race to reach the finish line of their race.

The women’s overall podium: from left, Mariah Bredal (second), Hannah Rudd (first), and Margie Freed (third).

Hannah Rudd of Bridger Ski Foundation was the fastest of the thirty women in the SuperTour field, reaching the finish in 1:40:19. She had a gap of eight seconds over her BSF teammate Mariah Bredal in second, who was just two seconds ahead of Margie Freed (Craftsbury) in third. BSF and Craftsbury, two of the three pro teams with athletes in this race, made up six of the top seven spots; the rest of the field was athletes from primarily local schools, including Saint Scholastica, Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech, and St. Olaf.

The results sheet suggests that Rudd won with relative ease, leading in a three-women breakaway to take the win by eight seconds, but there was more to her race than that.

Here’s Rudd, via email to Nordic Insights:

“The race started out pretty conservatively and we stayed together as a pretty big pack for the first few kilometers. My teammate Mariah started to break away around 7k and Margie Freed and I went with her.

“The three of us skied together for a lot of the race with Margie pulling away just in front of Mariah and I. While taking a feed at 20k, I got tripped up and crashed which gapped me from both girls ahead of me. I knew I would have to work hard to catch back up as I could no longer see them in front of me. I tried to focusing on pushing the doublepole really hard and staying relaxed on the climbs. 

“Eventually, around 25k, I caught back up. The three of us skied the rest of the race together taking turns leading. I was feeling good on the final climb into the stadium and still had some energy left to pick up the pace so I went to break away and ended up finishing in first.”

Rudd enjoyed the experience of racing with her BSF teammate, Bredal.

“It was really fun to race so many kilometers alongside a teammate,” Rudd wrote. “Mariah is an amazing distance skier and incredible at climbing so it was great to ski behind her for sections of this race.”

Finally, Rudd was asked about something from today that she was proud of. Here’s her answer:

“Today I was proud of myself for staying mentally tough and not giving up during any point of the race. At the 20k marker both Mariah and Margie had formed a substantial gap on me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to catch up but I gave it everything I had and eventually reeled them in.”

Women’s start, ft. a bib-less Bredal. (photo: screenshot from @meredith_ing_9 Instagram story)

Behind her, Mariah Bredal had her own set of issues/this will explain why she is not wearing a bib in any of the race photos:

“I had a pretty hectic start to the race since my jacket was accidentally taken in the van that left for feeds before the race started,” Bredal wrote to Nordic Insights. “It had my bib in it along with the gels I was going to use during the race! Luckily the race organizers allowed me to still race without the bib and I found a gel to bring although it may not have been an ideal setup.. nevertheless I am super grateful to get allowed to race still and big thanks to the race organizers.”

She continued, “Otherwise I felt pretty good in the race and was able to hang in the top group and had some strong girls to ski with to the end. Our coaches did a great job with skis as well and it made for a good day of racing :).”

The SuperTour podium, and prize money, go six deep. Roughly four minutes behind the winners, Michaela Keller-Miller (Craftsbury) led in a group of four to take fourth overall, and $200 in prize money. She was followed close behind by Victoria Klevan Dybwad (College of Saint Scholastica) in fifth and Annika Landis (Craftsbury) in sixth.

SuperTour racing continues tomorrow morning with a classic sprint at the main Birkie trailhead, then resumes a month-plus from now with another Midwest sojourn, including a skate sprint and 20km classic mass start at Wirth Park in Minneapolis on the weekend of February 18, then a small, low-key race called the American Birkebeiner on February 25.


— Gavin Kentch

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