It was a Blue and Gold first day at the Tour de Twin Cities SuperTour stop, as the Alaska Nanooks’ Aly McPhetres earned her first collegiate win in the women’s 5K skate while teammate Tyler Kornfield took the top spot in the men’s 10K at Wirth Park in Minneapolis.
It was a particularly impressive display of depth from Alaska on the women’s side – five Nanooks skiers not only placed within the top ten among collegiate skiers, but also within the top 20 of the entire 160-skier SuperTour field.
“I think we really needed this mentally more than anything else,” Alaska head coach Scott Jerome said. “We needed to have a good day today, and we are pleased with how things went today. It’s a good first step, but tomorrow’s classic races are important as well, so we need to continue this momentum.”
Though a lack of snow forced the CCSA skiers to head to Wirth Park this week instead of the originally-scheduled Battle Creek trails, the change in venue seemed to suit McPhetres just fine. Skiing on a 5K loop of manmade snow with little room to warm up or cool down, the Alaska native enjoyed a breakout performance, soaring to a ninth-place overall finish with a time of 12:50.8 – nearly five seconds better than her closest competitor.
“Aly has really worked on her skate technique, and right now she’s skating as well as anyone on the team,” Jerome said.
Second place in the CCSA also went to the Nanooks, as Crystal Pitney landed a tenth-place finish with her time of 12:55.7.
Northern Michigan’s Jordyn Ross earned the CCSA’s bronze spot after finishing 15th overall, followed closely by a trio of Nanooks ¬– Rebecca Konieczny, Theresia Schnurr and Raphaela Sieber finished 16th, 17th and 18th, respectively after all crossing the line within three-tenths of a second of one another.
“You see it a lot: when people train together, they feed off one another,” Jerome said of the consistency of his group. “It’s fun to see it all work out as it did today.”
The College of Saint Scholastica’s top finisher, Sharmila Ahmed, took seventh in the CCSA and 19th overall in the event, completing her 5K in 13:09.2. Alaska’s Marit Rjabov finished eighth, in 13:09.7, while Michigan Tech’s Lynn Duijndam (13:11.3) and NMU’s Rosie Frankowski (13:16.1) rounded out the CCSA’s top ten.
All told, CCSA women accounted for 10 of the top 25 spots in the SuperTour field: a testament to the strength of the region’s field this year.
On the men’s side, Alaska’s Kornfield showed signs of regaining his top form by racing to a ninth-place overall finish of his own. Kornfield’s time of 21:45.1 for his 10K earned him a ten-second victory over his closest college competitor.
“This was a critical race for Tyler,” Jerome said. “He struggled a little bit at altitude earlier this season, including at U.S. Nationals. “So we are really pleased to see him do as well as he did today. I think it will be good for him mentally. ”
Two Northern Michigan skiers joined Kornfield on the podium, as George Cartwright placed an impressive 15th overall with his time of 21:55.9, and Erik Soderman continued his search for another NCAA berth with an 18th-place overall finish in 22:00.3.
Alaska’s Lex Treinen earned fourth in the region and 22nd overall with his time of 22:11.6, followed closely by St. Scholastica’s Jeremy Hecker, who took 23rd overall. Northern Michigan’s third finisher, Chris Bowler, earned sixth in the region with his 26th-place overall finish, while a pair of Alaska newcomers, Michael Fehrehbach and Max Olek, placed 28th and 33rd overall respectively.
Michigan Tech’s Raphael Bechtiger (34th overall) and Saint Scholastica’s Scott Johanik (37th overall) round out the CCSA top ten on the men’s side.
The skiers return to Wirth Park bright and early tomorrow morning, as the men’s 20K mass start classic event kicks off at 10 a.m. CST, followed by the women’s 15K mass start race at 11:15 a.m.