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Randall, Hoffman capture SuperTour titles Saturday in nordic ski racing at Kincaid Park

Alex Matthews

Liz Stephen had quite the task ahead of her Saturday in the first race of 2014 SuperTour Finals. Kikkan Randall's house guest for the week and her longtime buddy on the U.S. Ski Team, the 27-year-old from East Montpelier, Vt., started a minute behind Randall in the women's 10-kilometer freestyle individual start at Kincaid Park.

Usually, that would be fine, but when you hear cheers through the woods ahead of you and get splits that you're right behind Kikkan, that you're seven seconds down, one second down, it's hard to know how to beat her.

Stephen tried anyway, but at the end of the 27-minute race that was actually 10.6-K on the two-lap course, Randall finished fastest in 27:27.1, 2.2 seconds quicker than runner-up Stephen.

Alaska Pacific University's leading veteran, Randall, 31, and a four-time Olympian, repeated her win in the 10-K distance from last year's SuperTour Finals in Truckee, Calif.

Randall collected $750 for her victory and Stephen bagged $500. Caitlin Gregg finished third in 27:48.0, APU's Sadie Bjornsen, another U.S. Ski Team member and Olympian, was fourth in 27:52.1; Olympian and U.s. Ski Team member Jessica Diggins took fifth (27:56.9) and Girdwood's Chelsea Holmes seized sixth (28:22.1).

U.S. Olympian Noah Hoffman won the men's 15-K race, and $750, in 37:23.8 for an 11-second victory over Scott Patterson of Anchorage (37:34.7). Those two were the class of the field -- third-place finisher Erik Bjornsen, an Olympian from the APU program was nearly a minute back of Hoffman in 38:23.1

David Norris of Fairbanks took fourth in 38:26.2, Lex Treinen of Anchorage was sixth in 38:30.0 and Patrick Johnson sixth in 38:34.5.

Prize money went six places deep.

Stephen trailed Randall by 7.3 seconds after the first lap and was down by two seconds a couple of kilometers later. With 3-K to go, Stephen knew she had some climbing ahead, which was good for her. Randall's strength was gliding, she reasoned, so Stephen went for it on the rolling (and sometimes-screaming) downhills and tried to ski relaxed, until the last time up Elliott's Climb.

"On this final climb it was just head down and going," Stephen said. "(Kikkan) got it and it's great to see her win in her home state."

While Randall had an edge on Stephen from start to finish, she was actually down to Gregg by 3.6 seconds at the end of the first lap. Randall had little way of knowing, however, as she started five and a half minutes ahead of Gregg.

The 2014 American Birkebeiner freestyle champion, Gregg was also fresh off a flight from World Cup Finals in Europe. She arrived in Anchorage on Tuesday, one day before Randall and Stephen.

While Gregg said her energy was good and wasn't sure where she lost time on the second lap on Saturday, she credited Randall and Stephen as "great World Cup skiers" and was satisfied with ending up third, 20.9 seconds behind Randall and 4.1 ahead of Bjornsen.

"I always have really good skate races here in Anchorage," Gregg said. "Whether it was at JO's (Junior Nationals), NCAA's, nationals twice, I qualified for the Olympics here in 2010 -- for whatever reason, Alaska and I, Anchorage and I do great. I love the trails, I love the conditions, the crowds, it's a good vibe."

The ultimate hometown hero, Randall relied on the crowd to boost her the last time around Kincaid, on the same trails she grew up on.

"You spend the whole winter on the World Cup and then you come back here and it just feels so familiar," Randall said. "Just seeing everybody and the snow is familiar. It was really funny packing my race bag this morning, I was so in the routine all winter, but then to do it in your own house is kind of funny."

Stephen, who's also under APU's wing this week with wax help, said it's the kind of recognition Randall gets from her home state and supporters that stands out.

"Everybody knows her and it's a really cool atmosphere here in Alaska," Stephen said. "We were watching TV last night from some shows that had been recorded in December. Usually you fast-forward through the ads, and we were doing that, but on a number of different occasions I would be like, 'There you are!' And we'd have to go back and watch it.''

Alex Matthews is the managing editor of FasterSkier.com. Follow her on Twitter @active_alex

2014 ConocoPhillips SuperTour Finals

Saturday at Kincaid Park

Women's 10-K Interval Start

1) Kikkan Randall 27:27.1 ($750); 2) Liz Stephen 27:29.3 ($500); 3) Caitlin Gregg 27:48.0 ($250); 4) Sadie Bjornsen 27:52.1 ($200); 5) Jessica Diggins 28:22.1 ($150); 6) Chelsea Holmes 28:22.1 ($100); 7) Holly Brooks 28:23.3; 8) Sophie Caldwell 28:39.7; 9) Erika Flowers 28:40.8; 10) Caitlin Patterson 28:58.1; 11) Rosie Brennan 29:06.5; 12) Becca Rorabaugh 29:24.2; 13) Annie Pokorny 29:26.1; 14) Ida Sargent 29:34.6; 15) Linda Danvind Malm, 29:39.9; 16) Eva Severrus 29:40.0; 17) Rosie Frankowski 29:52.4; 18) Mary Rose 29:56.3; 19) Laurel Egan 30:05.3; 20) Aja Gruber 30:11.6; 21) Jessica Yeaton 30:17.0; 22) Marine Dusser 30:23.0; 23) Cambria McDermott 30:25.7; 24) Stephanie Kirk 30:32.7; 25) Elizabeth Guiney 30:33.6.

26) Anna Svendsen 30:46.8; 27) Lauren Fritz 30:53.8; 28) Sarah Cresap 31:35.0; 29) Mary Kate Cirelli 31:39.8; 30) Jennie Bender 31:44.5; 31) Heather Mooney 31:48.9; 32) Rebecca Konieczny 32:32.2; 33) Kinsey Loan 32:34.8; 34) Anna Darnell 32:47.2; 35) Emma Tarbath 33:09.9; 36) Hannah Stevens 33;25.3; 37) Anni Nord 33:26.6; 38) Sadie Fox 33:30.9; 39) Annika Flynn 34:13.9; 40) Caitlin Marine 35:25.3; 41) Sara Falconer 35:26.8; 42) Hannah Pothast 37:15.9; 43) Katarina Grumman 38:29.5; 44) Annie Connelly 39:09.8.

Men's 15-K Interval Start

1) Noah Hoffman 37:23.8 ($750); 2) Scott Patterson 37:34.7 ($500); 3) Erik Bjornsen 38:23.1 ($250); 4) David Norris 38:26.2 ($200); 5) Lex Treinen 38:30.0 ($150); 6) Patrick Johnson 38:34.5 ($100); 7) Matthew Gelso 38:53.6; 8) Reese Hanneman 38:55.0; 9) Brian Gregg 38:55.8; 10) Mark Iverson 39:00.5; 11) Lukas Ebner 39:05.9; 12) Aku Nikander 39:14.9; 13) Michael Sinnott 39:33.3; 14) Kyle Bratrud 39:34.5; 15) Andrew Dougherty 39:38.0; 16) Michael Fehrenbach 39:57.5; 17) Mats Resaland 39:58.8; 18) Logan Hanneman 40:06.3; 19) Tyler Kornfield 40:14.8; 20) Jorgen Grav 40:18.8; 21) George Cartwright 40:21.2; 22) Max Donaldson 40:24.8; 23) Thomas O'Harra 40:33.9; 24) Max Olex 40:37.4; 25) Karl Nygren 40:41.5.

26) Peter Kling 40:48.6; 27) Simeon Hamilton 41:03.8; 28) Andrew Arnold 41:10.9; 29) Christian Otto 41:15.5; 30) Gordon Vermeer 41:23.7; 31) Eric Wolcott 41:35.2; 32) Noe Bellet 41:35.5; 33) Jack Novak 41:42.4; 34) Adam Martin 41:46.0; 35) Patrick OBrien 41:53.6; 36) Daniel Serventi 41:54.1; 37) Spencer Eusden 42:00.5; 38) Seiji Takagi 42:11.7; 39) David McPhetres 42:20.4; 40) Hunter Wonders 42:36.9; 41) Forrest Mahlen 42:49.3; 42) John Farr 42:59.7; 43) Andre Lovett 43:03.3; 44) Nicholas Lovett 43:04.5; 45) Ian Moore 43:08.1; 46) Jonathan Koenig 43:11.0; 47) Cody Priest 43:21.9; 48) Tucker McCrerey 43:22.1; 49) Paul Kovacs 43:33.9; 50) Conner Truskowski 43:34.2.

51) Fisher Gangemi 43:41.9; 52) Brandon Brewster 43:50.4; 53) Alex Morris 43:52.2; 54) Matthew Hoefler 44:07.9; 55) Garth Schulz 44:08.6; 56) Tanner Ramey 44:10.4; 57) Isaac Lammers 44:15.7; 58) Jacob Volz 44:44.6; 59) Riley Troyer 45:22.4; 60) Caleb Krueger 45:24.4; 61) Alex Loan 45:28.6; 62) Tracen Knopp 45:35.4; 63) Dawson Knoff 45:45.5; 64) Gus Schumacher 45:56.6; 65) Kevin Brune 46:56.4; 66) Brett Egeland 48:39.0; 67) John-Mark Pothast 52:22.0; 68) Dan Libby 56:28.1.

 


By ALEX MATTHEWS
FasterSkier.com