The first US Super Tour races of the season were held at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota, on December 4 and 5 on a mix of artificial and natural snow. The Super Tour is a national race series used to select athletes for international competitions including World Cup and the Olympics. Saturday's sprint race and Sunday's 5/10k skate races are the first of 10 Olympic qualifying events.
Conditions on Saturday were fast and sugary and the BSF team fared well early on, qualifying 7 athletes in the top 30 with Logan Diekmann posting the 2nd fastest time. A highlight of the morning was BSF U18 skier Max Kluck qualifying 24th in the open-men and finishing 27th on the day. Logan was in a fight for the podium but had a crash in the final pushing him back to 5th place. Hannah Rudd also looked really strong but crashed out on her way to the semi-finals and finished 17th on the day.
Sunday's individual start 5/10k skate race took place in challenging soft conditions as a storm blew fresh snow onto the course. It was a hard fought race for all competitors. In the women's race Mariah Bredal finished 7th, just 28 seconds off the podium. Erika Flowers and Hannah Rudd also had top 15 finishes in 12th and 13th, respectively.
The men's 15k was a real nail-biter with Finn O'Connell sitting within striking distance of the win for most of the race. Finn finished 4th just 8.9 seconds from the win and 3 tenths of a second off the podium. Newcomer to the BSF Pro Team Reid Goble also continues to show big promise, finishing 7th on the day and the top US under 23 skier. Ried will compete at the US Nationals in January to fight for a spot on the U23 World Championship team.
"It was really fun to put a bib on and start the first Super Tour race in over 18 months. I was confident I could be a top finisher and I believe the results showed that. I look forward to continuing momentum this weekend in Cable and try to take home the gold" - Finn O'Connell
"I was excited to race again this weekend because we have been putting in a good amount of training this summer and fall. I now have a good idea of where I'm at in comparison, and looking forward to the rest of the season." - Mariah Bredal
"I was happy with my sprint race in Duluth. Finishing second in qualifying was about as good as I could hope for. I have focused heavily on my qualifying speed over the last couple years and it was nice to put things to the test. This weekend I'd like to do even better. As a skier that focuses on sprinting I know what challenges I face when trying to qualify for World Cup races. Fewer races and unpredictable heat racing means you have to be at the top of your game all the time." - Logan Diekmann