Friday, March 30, 2012

Freeman, Diggins grab SuperTour Finals titles

Grueling hill climb up Jay Peak

Wednesday's grueling 1.8-kilometer hill climb up Jay Peak at Craftsbury (Vt.) Outdoor Center—an event that Jessie Diggins called a "pain fest"—wrapped up the $15,600 USSA Nordic SuperTour finals.

SuperTour Finals overall women's winner Diggins, 20, of the Midwest CXC Team placed second to Burke Mountain Academy's Liz Stephen, 24, on the 1.1-mile course that challenged 160 racers including several from Sun Valley. Stephen finished her climb in 15:06, and Diggins in 15:13.

In third place for the climb was 24-year-old Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold Team racer Chelsea Holmes, whose time was 15:20. Last September's Baldy Hill Climb women's queen, Holmes actually considered the race "pretty fun," she told

Amazingly, Wednesday's men's hill climb winner Noah Hoffman, 22, of Vail, Colo. and the U.S. Ski Team (13:10) had dislocated his shoulder in Tuesday's classic sprint but still won the hill climb 24 hours later. Former SVSEF racer Hoffman underwent shoulder surgery last spring and has a history of dislocation problems.

SVSEF Gold Teamer Simi Hamilton, 24, was glad to finish the men's hill climb in fifth place at 13:58, but it wasn't enough to net Hamilton the $400 prize for finishing third in the SuperTour Finals mini-tour. Hamilton finished fourth in the Finals reckoning, just eight seconds off the podium.

SuperTour Finals overall men's winner was Kris Freeman, 31, of Vail/USST for a second straight year by 22 seconds over runner-up Hoffman. Alaska Pacific's Erik Bjornsen, 20, finished third. Ketchum's Mike Sinnott, 26, placed 13th four minutes off Freeman's pace in the overall ranks. Sinnott was 26th in the hill climb.

Women's Finals winner Diggins prevailed by 24 seconds over second-place Stephen after four events—Wednesday's hill climb, Tuesday's classic sprint, Sunday's 10k classic and Saturday's 3.2k prologue freestyle. Holmes captured ninth place.

In Tuesday's classic sprint, Hamilton placed 12th and Sinnott 18th among the men on the 1.6k loop, the winner Dartmouth College senior Eric Packer. Sun Valley's Cole Morgan was the second J1, in 36th place. Women's winner was recent Canadian Nationals queen Chandra Crawford.

Here are other SVSEF skiers and their overall SuperTour Finals placings: 21—Alexa Turzian, 37—Kevin Bolger, 39—Margaret Pope, 44—Cole Morgan, 64—Zach Lindahl, 66—Ketchum Wilt, 67—Jake Adicoff. Sun Valley's Jesse Knori had the best local women's finish in the classic sprint, 27th, but didn't compete in the hill climb.

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