Coming off a big Nationals week, the BSF teams raced in Sun Valley, Idaho, over the weekend. Two days of distance freestyle and classic racing featured Olympic-bound professionals, collegiate teams, and juniors from around the West. More than 60 BSF skiers competed on the ultra challenging courses at Lake Creek. For BSF Devo, Comp, and PG skiers, the races were the first of three junior national qualifier races for the Intermountain Division, and skiers notched multiple victories and podiums in the age group races. For the BSF Nordic Pro Team, The Sun Valley Supertour races marked the end of the US Olympic qualification period.
With the last two weekends of World Cup races in Europe canceled, the Supertour competitions were highly contested with many of the country's top World Cup skiers in attendance. (Notably, the BSF Pro Team had qualified 4 athletes to race at the Slovenia World Cup, but the races were canceled by FIS due to covid precautions leading up to the Olympics.)
Sun Valley was a double distance weekend with a 5/10 kilometer skate on Saturday and a mass start 10/15 classic on Sunday.
Hannah Rudd led the women's squad finishing 15th place overall. Hannah is currently ranked 5th in the country on the overall Supertour list because of her consistently strong performances. Erika Flowers finished 18th, Mariah Bredal 23rd, and Lauren Jortberg 30th. Bozeman High senior, Clara Wyatt was 16th in the U20/18 category and Natalie Nicholas finished 2nd in the U16's.
In the men's race Finn O'Connell finished 9th in a close fight for the podium while Graham Houstma had his personal best performance of the year placing 11th, just 1:12 off the winner Johnny Hagenbuch of Sun Valley. Ried Goble and Simon Zink finished 23rd and 33rd.
Pro Team: Crisp and clear conditions continued for Sunday's mass start events. This was the Pro Team's first shot at a mass start classic race this season and they showed strong pack skiing skills and tactics. In the men's race Finn O'Connell once again found himself at the front with the leaders until he lost contact on the last lap finishing 9th once again. Ried Goble, who has come back from sickness during nationals, showed that his form is improving, finishing 23rd. The BSF Pro women continued to show their team depth with Mariah Bredal, Erika Flowers, and Hannah Rudd finishing in 9th, 10th, and 11th respectively and just within 3 seconds of one another. Lauren Jortberg was also not far behind with a strong 18th place finish.
Juniors: Kolibri Dorbish was 12th in the U20/U18's. Natalie Nicholas dominated the U16 race winning by over 40 seconds. Phineas Fischer was 2nd in the U18's and Landon Wyatt won the U16 race.
BSF Pro Team Coach Andy Newell said, "Sun Valley really delivered a spectacular race weekend. With so many US Ski Team athletes here and top collegiate racers in the field I think these were the most competitive races in years. The new FIS course at Lake Creek is very challenging so it was cool to see such a high level of racing on super tough courses. The Pro Team held tough against some of the best skiers in the country. Racing back to back distance races on these courses is not easy."
BSF Pro team skier Finn O'Connell noted, "It's awesome to race such a competitive field in a beautiful place like Sun Valley. It's also awesome to get this chance to compare myself to US Ski Team members and prove to myself and others that I can be competitive against them. I'm looking forward to the next couple weeks of racing and hopefully landing some podiums."
The Pro Team will travel to Lake Placid, New York, on Monday for the next Supertour stop and more chances to qualify for World Cups. Meanwhile the junior teams will gather at Crosscut this weekend for the Ski For Soren races, in memory of their teammate Soren Hartnett. They'll return to West Yellowstone January 29-30 for the another junior national qualifier weekend.