Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sinnott shines up another silver at nationals

Classic sprint runner-up in Maine

Mike Sinnott, two-time U.S. Nationals classic sprint silver medalist Photo by David N. Seelig

Ketchum's Mike Sinnott, 26, is bound for International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup cross-country ski races at Milan, Italy Jan. 14-15. He has another U.S. national championship silver medal tucked in his back pocket for good tidings.

Turning 27 on Jan. 23, Sinnott placed second in the men's 1.6 kilometer classic sprint Sunday at Black Mountain in Rumford, Me. Former Dartmouth College captain Sinnott trailed only Tyler Kornfield, 20, of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Both men moved up after Torin Koos was disqualified for illegally switching lanes in front of another skier.

Koos, 31, a three-time U.S. Olympian from Minneapolis and the Bridger Ski Foundation of Montana, had won his sixth national title Jan. 3 in the U.S. Nationals opening event, the men's 1.6k skate sprint.

But Koos was given a written warning by race officials for lining up in the wrong starting position of Friday's men's 30k classic race—an event in which Koos placed fifth.

Then, in Sunday's classic sprint finale, Koos crossed the finish line first in the Men's "A" sprint finale, ahead of apparent runner-up Kornfield—the 2010 classic sprint national king—and third-place Sinnott. It seemed Koos had swept the sprints for a second consecutive year at the national meet.

Lining up for the podium ceremony, Koos learned he had been disqualified for moving into a lane in front of Ryan Scott of Montana State University during the race. It resulted in contact between the tails of Koos' skis and Scott's ski tips. Koos protested that it was unintentional obstruction and announced plans to appeal.

Further details of the incident can be read in reporter Audrey Mangan's Jan. 9 comprehensive account on the Web site.

Sinnott was a beneficiary of the change in results, which cost Koos the $1,200 winner's purse and possibly World Cup start rights. Sinnott is now headed for not only the Milan race this coming weekend, but also the FIS World Cup Jan. 21-22 at Otepaa, Estonia.

With the silver medal, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team racer Sinnott duplicated his feat of finishing second in the classic sprint at the 2011 national championships last January at Rumford.

"It is a great result for Mikey," SVSEF Nordic Director Rick Kapala said. "It gets him up going into the World Cup." Sinnott said to, "I'm pretty happy. Obviously you always want the win, but I can't really complain about a podium at nationals."

Sinnott, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) 2011-12 SuperTour men's leader entering nationals, left Rumford in second place by a 236-232 margin behind 2011 Boulder Mountain Ski Tour king Sylvan Ellefson of Vail, Colo. Sinnott gained 72 points at nationals (50 classic sprint, 22 skate sprint) while Ellefson picked up 88 points for the lead.

Other highlights of a challenging week because of mild weather and low snow conditions at Rumford:

SVSEF Gold Team member Matt Gelso, 23, from Truckee, Ca. skied to sixth place in Friday's men's 30k classic race in 1.28:13. The winner was former SVSEF racer Noah Hoffman of the U.S. Ski Team with a time of 1.26:49. Gelso also threw down a sixth-place finish in the Jan. 5 men's 15k freestyle.

Gelso is ranked third in the USSA SuperTour with 186 points. He collected 72 points at nationals, same as Ellefson.

"Last year Matt did not have one top-10 finish, so what this says is he is back on track," Kapala said. "As a collegian at the University of Colorado he was our country's most promising distance racers and now he's jumping back on the international track." Former Buffs All-American Gelso did win the U-23 men's classic sprint at last year's nationals.

An expected women's contender, SVSEF Gold Team racer Morgan Arritola, 26, of Ketchum didn't compete at Rumford because of an appendectomy and recent surgery.

SVSEF J1 (ages 16-17) racer Sloan Storey earned the right to compete at the Scando Cup next month in Estonia. The event is for the top 16-17 year old racers in the world.

At the conclusion of the week-long national championships in Maine, Storey, a senior at Wood River High School, is the eighth-ranked junior in country. She also received an automatic berth in this year's Junior National Championships. Storey's top finish at Rumford was a ninth in the junior women's 5k. She was also 17th in the junior women's freestyle sprints.

Also earning automatic Junior National berths for 2012 were two SVSEF Post-Grad racers. They were Cole Morgan, 17, a former J2 (ages 14-15) Junior National champion from Bozeman, Mt., who was named to the World Junior Team as well, and Kevin Bolger, 18, from Wisconsin.

Morgan posted a 17th-place finish in the junior men's 10k classic and Bolger was 20th. Morgan was named as a World Junior qualifier after last week's nationals. Kapala said, "Cole is the best J1 boy in the country right now relative to the seniors."

Here are top results and locals from the final three events at Rumford:

Women's 10k freestyle, Jan. 5: 1—Jessie Diggins of Afton, Minn. (CXC/USST) 24:56. 10—Chelsea Holmes (SVSEF) 26:58 (5-SR). 16—Alexa Turzian (SVSEF) 27:25 (9-SR). 39—Sloan Storey (SVSEF) 28:37 (5-J1). 59—Annie Pokorny (Middlebury) 29:11 (12-OJ)—161 starters, 159 finishers.

Men's 15k freestyle, Jan. 5: 1—Tad Elliott of Durango, Colo. (USST) 30:18. 6—Matt Gelso (SVSEF) 30:38 (5-SR). 25—Mike Sinnott (SVSEF) 31:50 (18-SR). 42—Kevin Bolger (SVSEF) 32:26 (5-OJ). 54—Max Christman (Bend) 32:44. 57—Cole Morgan (SVSEF) 32:46 (3-J1). 65—Reid Pletcher (Univ. of Colorado) 32:53. 101—Scott Phelan (SVSEF) 33:45. 117—Jack Steele (SVSEF) 34:26. 119—Daniel Sundali (Middlebury) 34:32. 137—Torin Tucker (Dartmouth) 35:26. 180—Evan Martell (SVSEF) 37:41—201 starters, 197 finishers.

Women's 20k classical, Jan. 6: 1—Jessie Diggins 1.05:49. 20—Alexa Turzian 1.09:33. 21—Chelsea Holmes 1.09:54—56 starters, 53 finishers.

Men's 30k classical, Jan. 6: 1—Noah Hoffman 1.26:49. 6—Matt Gelso 1.28:13—85 starters, 76 finishers.

Men's 1.6k classical sprints, Jan. 8: In the 121-racer qualifying heats, top local placers were Reid Pletcher 9th, Mike Sinnott 12th, Matt Gelso 28th and Cole Morgan 34th. Sinnott won his quarterfinal heat, placed second in the semi-final and second in the Men's A Final. Pletcher was 21st and Gelso 27th in the finals. Morgan didn't start the Junior Men's heats, while former SVSEF racer Max Christman ended up 10th.

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