Rosie Frankowski - Supertour of the Midwest
''From leaving a below zero Anchorage to arriving in a brown, warm Minneapolis, the first two weekends of racing were full of transformations. It also was full of surprises, with an unusually snowless North Shore of Minnesota and this distance specialist nabbing some rare sprint podiums.
The first weekend of Supertour races started in Duluth, MN, at a brand new venue. Because of the lack of natural snow, we raced on a 2 kilometer loop. The sprint was quite flat, with an icy downhill corner right before the finish. I happily finished 3rd on the day with my APU teammate, Becca, taking the win. For a flat sprint course, I pretty excited with the result. Lucky for me, an overnight snow storm bogged down the speed for Sunday’s 5-kilometer skate race. As a small, fitness skier, having to grind through slow powder was a boon and I narrowly grabbed the win (see podium photo above). It was a great way to start off the season’s distance races.
After Duluth, we drove down to Cable, Wisconsin, for 3 days of racing at the start of the Birkebeiner Trailhead. These trails were also new, and it was a blast to try out some courses with a few more hills. On Friday, we had a mass start 15 kilometer skate race with 6 laps on a 2.5 kilometer course. I tried to start conservative, but found myself pulling away from the pack after lap 2, and skied the last four laps solo to take another win.
Saturday’s classic sprints featured more head-to-head action, and a lot more excitement. After face planting on the first hill out of the start in the qualification round, I also crashed on the icy downhill corner. I thought for sure I wouldn’t make the quarterfinals and got ready to pack my bags for a day of spectating. But when I saw the results, I realized I must have skied the other sections fast because I finished 18th and got to move on. I breezed through the quarterfinals, but in the semifinal, I made things hard for myself again with another face plant after tangling with another racer. I recovered to finish third, but wasn’t sure if it was enough to punch a ticket to the finals. The organizers were delayed with the heat timing, so I I had to wait suspenseful minutes before I knew I’d done enough to get through with a ‘lucky loser’ spot. In the final, I skied the downhills very conservatively but managed to grab 3rd overall—what a day of staying patient and calm with all of the falls, crashes and uncertainty!
I realized I might have used up my luck on Saturday because as Sunday rolled around, the day felt like a struggle. After two days of racing, my body and mind felt spent and ready for a break. We had a limited time on course and I was an early racer out, so I didn’t get to adequately test my classic skis wax to make sure it was grippy enough. Out on course, I realized my skis were extremely slick, and combined with a tired body, Sunday was a battle against my mind. Another face plant on one of the uphills in the middle lap of our 10 kilometer race didn’t help either. I finished in third place, 12 seconds out of the win and about 4 seconds out of second. I was disappointed for a bit, but I quickly realized I had given everything I had on the day, and sometimes the odds just aren’t in your favor. The day was made better by having an old friend come watch the race so I got to do a cool down jog with her and catch up.
All in all, a very successful first few weekends of racing: 5 races, 5 podiums, 2 wins. I can’t ask for more! And truly, the icing on the top was seeing all of my old Midwest friends and reuniting with the ski community there. All of the volunteers and race officials in Duluth and Cable were absolutely fantastic, and I loved chatting with them post-race and during the sprint heats. It filled my heart to be part of such a kind, enthusiastic community.
Now I am in Anchorage for a brief week and will jump into some local races this weekend. Then I am off to Red River, New Mexico, to prep for US Nationals at altitude. So far, Red River doesn’t have snow so I will be back on rollerskis and running while enjoying the holidays and gearing up for the final Olympic qualification races.''
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