Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pletcher off to Quebec after sprint victory

Four SVSEF skiers earn World Cup berths

Express Staff Writer

Reid Pletcher finishing Septemberís Baldy Hill Climb. Photo by Willy Cook

Ketchum’s Reid Pletcher, 24, put together a solid series of cross-country sprint races Thursday at Bozeman, Mont. and won the USSA SuperTour skate sprint head-to-head final on the Bohart Ranch trails.

In doing so, former University of Colorado Nordic skier Pletcher earned one of 10 U.S. men’s berths for the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup sprint races Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8 at Quebec City, Canada.

Pletcher, a former captain of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Junior Nordic ski team, joins a talented American men’s squad of Torin Koos, Andy Newell, former SVSEF racer Simi Hamilton, Sylvan Ellefson, Ryan Scott, Erik Bjornsen, Reese Hanneman, Skyler Davis and Pat O’Brien.

The 11 U.S. women headed to Quebec City are Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins, Ida Sargent, Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell, Lauren Fritz, Corey Stock, Becca Rorabaugh, Kate Fitzgerald and Caitlin Gregg.

At Quebec City, men’s and women’s sprints will take place on an 850-meter course in front of Quebec’s Parliament building in the old city. It is the first FIS World Cup event staged in eastern North America.

Nordic athletes then travel to Canmore, Alberta, Canada for World Cup races Dec. 13-16. They are mass start classic Dec. 13 (women’s 10k/men’s 15k), skate sprints Dec. 15 and mass start skiathlon Dec. 16 (women’s 15k, men’s 30k).

Ketchum’s Mike Sinnott, 27, has earned a World Cup berth for Canmore based on his third-place finish (top American) in Sunday’s 15-kilometer mass start classic race at Bozeman, and his third-place finish in the West Yellowstone SuperTour 9k freestyle Nov. 23.

Sinnott will be joined for the World Cup at Canmore by fellow SVSEF racers Chelsea Holmes and Matt Gelso for the distance races. Pletcher will then travel from his two Quebec sprint races to compete in World Cup sprints at Canmore.

Thursday at Bohart, Pletcher saved his best for last in the season’s first true sprint.

Not particularly experienced in sprints during his University of Colorado tenure, 2011 NCAA mass start 20k classic champion Pletcher trained well during the off-season and placed second in September’s challenging Baldy Hill Climb.

He was fifth of 88 racers in Thursday’s qualifying, then second in the quarterfinals and third in the semi-finals. In the final, the son of Del and Johnna Pletcher nosed out Alaska Pacific’s Erik Bjornsen and Vail’s Ryan Scott for the top spot.

Sinnott placed eighth in the sprints. Stratton Mountain School’s Sophie Caldwell, 22, from Vermont and Dartmouth College won the women’s freestyle sprint final. SVSEF racers Holmes placed 19th and Alexa Turzian 20th out of 47 skiers.

On Sunday, Holmes finished second of 52 racers just 18 seconds off the winning pace of Alaska Pacific’s Sadie Bjornsen in the women’s 11k mass start classic race at Bohart Ranch.

Also, 19-year-old SVSEF racer Kevin Bolger won the Junior Men’s class of Sunday’s 15k men’s classic; and former SVSEF racer Sloan Storey, 18, of the University of Utah took the Junior Women’s title on the 11k women’s classic course.

Storey was the third junior, 24th overall, in Saturday’s SuperTour classic sprint behind winner Sadie Bjornsen. Alaska Pacific’s Reese Hanneman won the men’s classic sprint, with SVSEF racer Matt Gelso seventh, Pletcher 13th and Sinnott 16th in Saturday’s competition.

In USSA SuperTour rankings after four races, SVSEF racers are right up there:

Men: 1—Erik Bjornsen 79 points. 2—Sinnott 60. 3—Gelso 54. 4—Pletcher 49.

Women: 1—Sadie Bjornsen 103 points. 6—Chelsea Holmes 55.

Classic results from Bozeman’s Bohart Ranch:

( Sunday, Dec. 2, women’s 11-kilometer mass start classic: 1—Sadie Bjornsen, 23 (Alaska Pacific) 39:49. 2—Chelsea Holmes, 25 (SVSEF) 40:07. 9—Alexa Turzian, 24 (SVSEF) 42:42. 23—Sloan Storey, 18 (Univ. of Utah) 43:46 (1st Junior). 37—Maranda Stopol, 18 (SVSEF) 49:45 (7th Junior). 42—Laurel Fiddler, 17 (SVSEF) 51:08 (10th Junior). 46—Katie Feldman, 16 (SVSEF) 52:28 (14th Junior)—52 finishers.

( Sunday, Dec. 2, men’s 15k mass start classic: 1—Mats Resaland, 22 (New Mexico) 47:02. 3—Mike Sinnott, 27 (SVSEF) 47:09. 9—Matt Gelso, 24 (SVSEF) 48:59. 10—Reid Pletcher, 24 (SVSEF) 49:10. 16—Patrick Johnson, 23 (SVSEF) 49:54. 29—Kevin Bolger, 19 (SVSEF) 51:18 (1st Junior). 43—Nick Lovett, 18 (SVSEF) 53:43 (8th Junior). 51—Ketchum Wilt, 18 (SVSEF) 54:50 (12th Junior). 58—Scott Phelan, 21 (Montana State) 55:14. 63—Luke Costley, 18 (SVSEF) 56:37 (18th Junior). 75—Torin Tucker, 19 (Dartmouth) 58:53 (25th Junior). 84—Stephen Pfeiffer, 16 (SVSEF) 1.00:21 (30th Junior)—57 finishers).

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