Sprint racing is not what NCAA college skiing is all about. Our college racing calendar doesn’t include any sprint races. But here at US Nationals, there was a skate sprint race today, and most of our skiers competed. For us, a sprint is an opportunity to work on racing skills in a competitive environment, and a good opportunity to learn race tactics that can be used in the last kilometer of mass-start distance races.
Mackenzie Kanady and Marine Dusser were 22nd and 25th respectively in the qualifying round, allowing them to compete in the afternoon’s heats. For both of them, it was quite an improvement over previous sprint race performances to have made it through to the quarterfinals at a national championship. Both Mackenzie and Marine skied very patient, tactically smart races in their quarterfinals, holding back in the first half of the race and then accelerating through the field 500 meters from the finish to put themselves in good position with the leaders in the final 200 meters, and separated from the remainder of their fields. But both Mackenzie and Marine were simply outgunned in the final 200 meter gradual uphill sprint to the finish, and both finished third in their quarterfinals. The writer of this blog, though, was very impressed with their races.