US Nationals Sprint Relays: Awesome and Intriuging
I took my son to the US Nationals on Wednesday, after working with the split timing crew on Tuesday. I'm not a huge fan of sprinting (but I still enjoy it!), but this is like sprint-endurance.
Talk about a rugged interval session, try doing 3X 1.5K, mostly all out, 3 times over, during a 2 hour period. We watched the men's semi-final, and both men's and women's finals. By the time the finals rolled around you could see that most of the athletes were tired, and all but a few (top two or three in each final) were rigged up with lactic acid and such by the last two legs.
In the women's final, five teams established an early break, with a pair of US Ski Team combos and the Swedes exchanging the lead, and the all-Alaskan teams of Kikkan Randall and Katie Ronsse dropping back and catching up, while local homegrown favorites Kate Pearson Arduser and Becca Rorabaugh stayed in contact until the final two or three laps before falling off the pace.
Diminutive Liz Stephen, more of distance skier, put the hurt on the entire field the 4th and 6th laps and managed to force sprint star Randall to work extra hard in a game of catch-up. Randall had 60 meters to make up on the final loop, which was too much after she had pushed hard in the 4th lap. So Stephen held off the CXC team and Swedes to win.
The men's race was tighter, with eight or nine teams still in the hunt until the last couple of laps. The team of Chris Cook and Torin Koos put the hammer down and powered to a conving win, followed the team of Garrot Kuzzy and Leif Zimmerman, just a couple ticks back. In third, a smooth sprinting Lars Flora was looking good to hold off the Canadians until the final turn; he rigged bad but held on to take third with Anders Haugen, less than half a second ahead of the Canadians.