Today was the main event. Those of us who weren't racing were psyched to see the big battle up front between Killian and his challengers. We were also psyched to see how our strong contingent of US racers would fare.
The day dawned clear and crisp and the mass start was violent with one racer taking a face plant right in the middle of hundreds of sharp objects whirling forward. The usual central European suspects were up front with perfect technique and our guys were in the middle of it.
We took a couple lifts to near the top of the course and awaited the leaders. As expected, Killian was up front crushing the field high on the second climb. The French were 2nd and 3rd around 40 seconds back. Our guys were running around 30th at that point with the Canadians in similar positions. As the last two Canadians passed by, I started singing the only portion of their national anthem that I know, "O Canada...." One of the Cannucks then began continuing his song of pride while a British racer just in front shouted, "Who cares!? GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!" We all got a good laugh at this and then waited to cheer the women.
Janelle Smiley was the first American woman and was strongly positioned in 12th place. Then came Stevie Kramer, Nina Silitch, McKenna Douglas, and Meredith Edwards. Pseudo American (really Canadian), Melanie Bernier was also near the front of the women's pack.
Hoarse from yelling, "Allez Allez, Va, Va, Go Go, Venga, Venga!" to the various racers, we turned around to try and ski to the bottom before the first racers finished (I also would regularly yell, "Go Japan!" or whatever country was passing by).
Unfortunately, we missed the men's finish but I did catch Janelle and Stevie as they skated to the finish. Everyone was pretty pleased with their efforts and their overall place, even if we had hoped for some top 20 finishes.
The big story for most was that Killian was third by virtue of losing a frantic skate to the finish. This was a surprise to me at the bottom since he was literally crushing the field after nearly 5000 feet of racing. Apparently, early in the race he broke a heel piece and spent the rest of the race trying not to drop a knee. Add another story to the legend.
Here are a couple pics:
|Kilian demonstrating some pretty good nordic technique|
|John Gaston and Tom Goth|
|Maxwell Kai-Ming Taam|
|Maxwell Kai-Ming Taam|
Tomorrow is the vertical race and the end of racing for me. The US will have one more chance to compete on Friday in the team relay race. Right now, we are ranked 9th in the world which is a pretty good showing for us. Let's hope we can find a way to score a few more points!