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Sun Valley Skiers Win Gold Medals and a Marathon
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The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation XC Gold Team includes (front row) Sammy Smith and Mariah Bredal and (back row) Head Coach Chris Mallory, Jake Adicoff, Peter Wolter and Bentley Walker-Broose. COURTESY: SVSEF
   
Tuesday, January 30, 2024
 

BY HEATHER FOSTER

Jake Adicoff added three gold and one silver medal to his extensive collection of medals at the ParaNordic World Cup circuit over the weekend, and Mariah Bredal grabbed two top-10 results on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Super Tour. And Annika Landis won the Craftsbury 50 km Freestyle Marathon, which is a big race on the East Coast--part of the larger Marathon series similar to the Boulder Mountain Tour.

Several members of the SVSEF XC Gold Team were far from home this weekend, competing amongst the best in the world.

In the FIS Cross Country World Cup at Goms, Switzerland, Sammy Smith (USA), Peter Wolter (USA), and Bentley Walker-Broose (AUS) joined their respective national teams to battle the powerhouse teams from Scandinavia and Europe.

The ParaNordic World Cup season kicked off at Toblach, Italy, where Jake Adicoff (USA) added to his extensive hardware collection bringing home three gold medals and one silver. Stateside,

And Mariah Bredal (USA) continued her quest on the US Ski & Snowboard SuperTour at Craftsbury, VT, where she grabbed a top-10 in the women’s 1.5km sprint event on Friday and a fourth in the 20km freestyle on Sunday.

“That was a special weekend for the team, to have three athletes racing in the World Cup and have Jake winning at the Para World Cup,” said Chris Mallory, SVSEF XC Gold Team Head Coach. “They’ve got momentum and it’s fun to see them reach some of their goals, but there’s still a lot of exciting racing to come.”

The women’s 1.5km Coop FIS Cross Country Freestyle Sprint Qualifier on Saturday saw Team Sweden take six of the top 10 qualifying spots. Sammy Smith (USA) had an exceptional qualifying round, finishing in 13th and earning a spot in the quarter finals up against 2023 Sprint Crystal Globe winner, Maja Dahlqvist (SWE).

Alongside Team USA teammates Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan, Smith was one of 30 women to qualify for the quarter finals out of 51 competitors. Diggins and Brennan qualified ninth and 17th respectively.

Over the two-lap course, it was clear early on there would be key tactics to play out on the climbs and into one of the final corners where some grabby ruts were being quickly established. Commentators of the race commended Smith as she chose to make a pass on the outside up the climb, ultimately putting her alongside Dahlqvist 1:29.3 into the race.

Just over two minutes into the race, Smith got caught up on a short climb, setting her back a bit. She rallied to regroup with the field only to slide out on the heels of another competitor on a final corner at 2:38.0. Dahlqvist won the quarter final heat in 3:05.4 and went on to take the silver medal in the final. Smith’s finishing time in the quarter final heats landed her in 21st place for the event.

“The races in Goms were a ton of fun,” said Smith. “There were a lot of spectators which made for a killer race atmosphere. Unfortunately, during the relay our second leg skier passed out, (thankfully she’s okay though!) I was planning on anchoring the relay, but the U.S. ended up not finishing.

It did enable me to go in fresher to the skate sprint, where I ended up qualifying 13th which is my best qualifier. I was in a strong position for most of the quarter final but got tangled up on the last climb, lost some spots, and then a skier fell in front of me on the last corner and I tripped over her pole. It definitely didn’t go the way I hoped, but I’m looking forward to World Juniors (Planica, Slovenia) and Minneapolis (World Cup)—hoping to be able to put some races together there!”

The men’s Sprint Qualifier directly followed the women. Peter Wolter (USA) finished in 58th, 14.25 seconds off the fastest time of 2:34.03 set by Lucas Chanavat (FRA) and 5.50 seconds of the final qualifying time of 30th place at 2:42.78. Bentley Walker-Broose , an Australian skiing with the SVSEF Gold Team, finished in 70th. Chavanet went on to win silver for France in the final.

“Sun Valley-type weather in Goms this past weekend!” said Wolter. “The conditions were all time and the racing was fast. I jumped in the sprint and felt strong, I didn’t qualify for heats, but I was overall happy with my first World Cup sprint. Sunday’s 20k skate mass start was fast and chaotic but I was happy to end in 49th, a personal best on the World Cup circuit. I look forward to beating that in the Canmore and Minneapolis World Cups.”

“The races in Goms were super hard!” said Walker-Broose. “Great fun though and fantastic to carry some harder racing experience into world U23’s coming up at the start of February in Slovenia.”

The 20km Mass Start Free was contested under bluebird skies on Sunday at Goms. For the women, Smith (USA) finished in 45th with a time of 49:20.9 and 3:54.6 back from teammate Jessie Diggins’ (USA) gold medal time of 45:26.3. Wolter (USA) crossed the line in 41:49.3 and 2:24.1 behind gold medal winner Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR), landing him in 49th and his personal best World Cup finish in his fifth World Cup start. Walker-Broose (AUS) finished in 74th with a time of 46:14.0.

Para Nordic World Cup at Toblach, Italy

The Para Nordic World Cup season began in Toblach, Italy with a four-event line up. Up first were two 10km classic races, one interval start and one a mass start followed by a freestyle sprint and a freestyle 10km race to round out the week. Jake Adicoff (USA), Olympic gold medalist, continued his quest for gold, winning three of the four races and taking silver in the fourth.  

On Wednesday, in the VI 10km classic Interval start race, Adicoff, along with guide Jake Brown, raced to gold with a time of 30:37, just edging out the Swedish team of Zebastian Modin and guide Emil Joensson who finished second with a time of 30:53. On Thursday, the USA vs. Sweden duel continued, with USA’s Adicoff and guide Brown taking the win with a dramatic sprint to the finish line to edge out the Swedish pair of Modin and Joensson once again, this time by only one second.

After a day off to recover and regroup, the races resumed on Saturday with a 1.2km freestyle sprint. Adicoff and guide Matt Seline finished second, just one second behind Germany’s Nico Messinger and three seconds ahead of Ukraine's Anatoliii Kovalesvskyl. 

The triple crown, however, belonged to Adicoff who came back to win his third gold of the World Cup in the 10km freestyle on Sunday with guide Logan Moore, finishing the series with four medals in four events.

“Had an awesome week in Toblach,” said Adicoff. “I’m really happy with the racing and the results. I worked with three new guides in four races, and it was really cool to see the strength and support from American skiing. Also, so cool to be watching Bentley, Sammy, and Peter crush it in Goms, as well as Mariah in Craftsbury. Inspired by the team as usual!”

US Ski & Snowboard SuperTour at Craftsbury, VT

Mariah Bredal, who competed in the Craftsbury Super Tour races over the weekend in Vermont, finished 10th in the Freestyle Sprint and fourth overall in the 25km Freestyle Mass Start event. This was a great showing for Bredal, who has qualified to compete in her first World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, Feb. 9-13. 

Sandwiched in between the two Super Tour races in Vermont was the Craftsbury Freestyle 50km Marathon. Alumni Annika Landis won the marathon for the second year in a row, with a time of 2:23:48. This is a big race in the East, a part of a larger Marathon series that carries the same status as the Boulder Mountain Tour. Landis was three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Green Racing Project alum Caitlin Patterson.  

What’s next for the SVSEF XC Gold Team?

Former 2023 Boulder Mountain Tour Champion Peter Wolter will return home from the World Cup this week and decide if the timing is right to defend his title. He will be in between World Cup events with a focus on his next World Cup start in Canmore, Alberta, Feb 9-13. He will be joined in Canmore by teammate Mariah Bredal, who finds herself in the same conundrum.  

Sammy Smith (USA) and Bentley Walker-Broose (AUS) are set to compete at the World Junior/U23 Championships in Planica, Slovenia Feb. 5-11. They will both be returning for a second time, having competed in 2023. Smith, who was also granted a start at the Canmore World Cup, declined that invitation to compete for the US at World Juniors with the goal of bettering her results from last year and maybe, it all goes her way, skiing onto the podium this time around.  

Jake Adicoff will remain overseas for the next stop on the Para Nordic World Cup in Martello, Italy, where he will compete in the classic sprint on Jan. 31.  He will stay in Europe to train for a few weeks before returning to the states to compete in the Slumberland American Birkebeiner on February 24.

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