On a day when American skiers Rosie Brennan and Jessie Diggins continued their success at the 15th annual Tour de Ski, 20-year-old Gus Schumacher of Anchorage crept into the spotlight with his second straight top-15 finish in the demanding race series.
Schumacher grabbed 15th place in the men’s 15-kilometer classic pursuit race one day after finishing 14th in a freestyle race in Toblach, Italy. The results are the first two top-15 finishes for the Alaska Winter Stars skier, a Tour de Ski rookie who is in his first full season on the World Cup tour.
It’s fair to say Schumacher has never been tested quite like this before. The Tour de Ski consists of eight races in 10 days and three locations, with Toblach the second stop in the series. Skiers get a rest day Thursday before the final three races in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
“5/8 through the tour ahhaaaaaha....I’m not tired you’re tired,” Schumacher said on Instagram following Wednesday’s pursuit, the fifth race of the series.
With his two most recent races, Schumacher shot up to 23rd place in the Tour de Ski standings. That puts him in position for a top-30 finish, something previously accomplished by two American men — Noah Hoffman (22nd in 2016, 24th in 2014 and 26th in 2017) and Kris Freeman (28th in 2011).
Anchorage’s Scott Patterson, who was 36th Wednesday, is 36th in the Tour standings.
Wednesday’s win went to Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov, who triumphed by 55 seconds for his fourth victory in five Tour races. Schumacher was 2:13 behind the winner and Patterson was 4:02 back.
In the women’s race, Diggins took the bronze medal after losing a photo finish with silver medalist Ebba Andersson of Sweden, who finished one-tenth of a second ahead of Diggins. Russia’s Yulia Stupak won a sprint finish to claim gold by less than a second.
Brennan, an Anchorage skier who trains at Alaska Pacific University, placed fourth, 17.3 seconds behind Stupak and 20 seconds ahead of the fifth-place finisher. Fellow APU skier Hailey Swirbul finished 22nd, more than two minutes behind the winner.
“Today was a very tough fight,” Brennan said by email. “I fought with all I had today and am proud of that and happy to maintain second in the overall tour.
Diggins and Brennan rank 1-2 in the women’s standings with three races to go. An American woman has never won the overall Tour de Ski title, but Diggins, of Afton, Minnesota, is the skier to beat at this point. She’s won two of the races and has been on the podium for all five.
Brennan, meanwhile, continues to lead the overall World Cup standings, with Diggins in third place. Brennan grabbed the World Cup lead last month with two consecutive victories in Davos, Switzerland.