CRAFTSBURY — Fresh snow and elite-level racing action were on display at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center with a registered 450 participants in the annual Craftsbury Marathon on Jan. 31, followed by the USSA SuperTour on Feb. 6-8.
Normally held as a linear race between Craftsbury and Greensboro, the Craftsbury Marathon was held on a groomed 12.5K loop this year, as it has been in three of the past four years. Marathon director, John Broadhead said weather conditions wouldn’t allow for a consistent trail to form with adequate coverage.
“We’ve tried to do that, but we just haven’t had any luck with the weather,” he said. “The logistics of a 50K linear course are pretty awesome and we just haven’t been able to do it.”
Race organizers avoided a delay in the start of the Craftsbury Marathon, as temperatures lingered just above just above -4 degrees Fahrenheit. First aid staff monitored racers for signs of frostbite, and race officials decided to go ahead with the scheduled 9 a.m. start. Elizabeth Youngman of Sun Valley, Idaho finished first in the women’s 50K with a time of 3:13:19.1, seven minutes ahead of Vermonters Jane McClelland and Lindley Van Der Linde, taking second and third, respectively.
In the women’s 25K, Emily Hannah, of Steamboat Springs, Co., took first with a time of 1:35:32.2 followed by Madeline Leopold from Middlebury, Vt., who finished at 1:43:29.4. Megan Killigrew followed 20 seconds behind Leopold for third.
For the men’s 50K, Patrick O’Brien, racing for the Craftsbury team, took first with a time of 2:36:03, ahead of second-place finisher Chris Ziegler at 2:39:54.2, and Dylan McGuffin who finished third at 2:41:30.8.
Dartmouth Ski Team member Magnus Bigelow won the men’s 25K with a time of 1:22:18.8, followed three minutes later by Chris Nice from Hanover, N.H. with a time of 1:25:15.6. Jake Hollenbach, racing for the Vermont Cross Country Ski Team took third with a time of 1:26:57.5.
In the USSA SuperTour races, US Nordic Ski Team member Kris Freeman dominated in four out of his five races, starting with the 1.6K sprint, his first sprint victory since 2009. Freeman skied a tactical race to beat Alaska Pacific University’s Reese Hanneman in the closing meters as the two neared the finish line. With a time of 2:59.07, Freeman bested Hanneman by 0.06 seconds to take the win.
In third was Alaska Pacific University’s Eric Packer, who skied in sixth for much of the race before surging through the pack on the final hill. He trailed Freeman’s time by 2.03 seconds. Behind Packer in fourth and fifth were a pair of University of Vermont skiers – Jørgen Grav (+2.72) and Cole Morgan (+2.84), who were the first college skiers.
The 1.4K women’s sprint featured Bridger Ski Foundation’s Jennie Bender, finishing in 3:01.29. A charging Erika Flowers from Stratton Mountain School T2 followed 1.9 seconds behind. Middlebury College’s Heather Mooney claimed the remaining spot on the podium 4.2 seconds behind Bender.
In the 10K freestyle, Freeman continued his winning streak, finishing with a time of 25:04.3. University of Vermont skier Rogan Brown followed 38.3 seconds behind. APU Alexander Treinen took third, 1:04 behind Hanneman.
In the women’s 10K, Mary Rose sprinted from third at the 5K mark to finish 10 seconds ahead of the entire field with a time of 30:10.3. Behind Rose was a tie for second place between Erika Flowers and University of New Hampshire’s Anika Taylor. With a time of 30:20.5, Flowers and Taylor earned a rare podium tie.
Freeman made his time at the SuperTour a three-peat, by winning the 15K classic race as well. Freeman established a comfortable lead over the rest of the field by the 10K mark and finished 20 seconds ahead of the skiers behind him.
In closely-contested battle for second, Gordon Vermeer of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project barely edged Lex Treinen of Alaska Pacific University, diving across the finish line just .01 seconds ahead of Treinen.
Following a strong season-long performance, Freeman was named to the US World Championships team and will compete in the FIS World Championships in Falun, Sweden from Feb. 18 – March 1.