Wednesday, February 6, 2008

BMT cowbells ring for a hometown hero

Ketchum?s Mike Sinnott leads 722 Boulder races, Idaho wins Boulder Cup

Express Staff Writer

BMT men?s winner Mike Sinnott poses at the finish Saturday. Sinnott started the New Year by placing 17th (2nd U-23 man) in the U.S. Nationals men?s 10-kilometer skate race Jan. 1 at Houghton, Mich. Photo by Willy Cook

Ketchum's Mike Sinnott had the wind beneath his heels Saturday on the final sprint to the finish of the 2008 Wells Fargo Boulder Mountain Ski Tour.

Racing the Boulder for the first time and wearing the #23 bib to match his age and birthdate (Jan. 23), the 23-year-old Sinnott saved what he called "a bit of pep" for the homestretch and won one of the biggest races of his competitive career.

Factory Team racer Sinnott said he got off to a clean start at Galena Lodge and was in the top two for most of the 19.8-mile distance. He was in a perfect position, the top three of a pack of 10, coming into the finish.

"I accelerated on a little downhill, took the inside corner hard and from there on it was a drag race," said 5-9, 145-pound Sun Valley Junior Nordic ski team and Dartmouth College graduate Sinnott.

Along with BMT race director Kevin Swigert, a three-time winner in the 1970s, Sinnott became the only true homegrown winner of the Boulder, now in its 33rd year. "It's an awesome feeling," Sinnott said.

Sinnott, racing in the strongest Men's Elite field the Boulder has ever assembled, out-sprinted U.S. Nordic Ski Team racer Leif Zimmermann, 24, of Bozeman, Mt. and 2006 BMT king Zack Simons in a thrilling three-man finish.

He became the eighth different men's winner of the Boulder Ski Tour since 1996. Winning time on a slow course was 1.19:45, over nine minutes behind Billy Demong's 1.10:12 top time on a fast course in 2007.

There were 909 registered skiers and 722 finishers on the 32-kilometer course from Galena Lodge near Senate Meadows to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area headquarters north of Ketchum.

Sinnott, former Dartmouth cross-country ski team captain, also led Team Idaho to the championship of the second annual Biznet Boulder Cup. Team Idaho (337 places, 14:25.21.2 team score times) defeated Oregon (702 places, 15:12.58.0) by a healthy margin.

The Boulder Cup is given to the top state represented in the results. The final placings of the top five men and top five women from each state are calculated based on one point for the winner and down—with the lowest score coming out on top.

Idaho featured Sinnott, Zack Simons, Colin Rodgers, Ben True, Reid Pletcher, Morgan Arritola, Kate Whitcomb, Kate Underwood, Nicole DeYong and Mali Noyes of Sun Valley.

Women's winner Saturday was Rossignol's Kate Pearson Arduser, 28, of Dartmouth College and Alaska Pacific University. Second in last year's BMT, Arduser emerged from a group of three Elite women to prevail in 1.28:46, good for 39th overall.

In second place was last year's BMT women's winner and Factory Team racer Evelyn Dong, 22, out of Wayland, Mass., and Middlebury College, Right behind in third place was Fairfield's Morgan Arritola, 21.

Arduser said, "I knew those two (Dong and Arritola) were incredible distance skiers so I played the game and just tried to hang on. The whole time we were trading the lead. The snow was wonderful, though, and I was glad I had the speed left for the final sprint."

Both Sinnott and Arritola were competing Saturday because the 2008 FIS Nordic Junior Championships and U-23 World Championships were postponed from Feb. 3-10 to Feb. 21-28 because of the lack of snow at Szczrk-Wisla, Poland.

They will compete in Poland with good memories of the Boulder. Sinnott said, "Ideal conditions, a little soft but good for sprinting. It was a good warm-up for the rest of the season—not super hilly, just a good, hard maintenance race."

Age class winners from the Wood River Valley included Joanne Davis, Jenny Busdon, Muffy Ritz, Adrienne Leugers, Heidi Watanabe, Maranda Stopol, Charley French, Andy Andrews, Jon Engen, Zack Simons and of course Sinnott. Community School graduate Mali Noyes, 18, clocked an impressive 10th place women's finish.

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