March 27, 2012 (Craftsbury, Vermont) – Dartmouth Ski Team’s Eric Packer overcame a strong field of competitors, and a pacing error in the qualification run, to take the victory in the men’s 1.6km classic sprint at the USSA SuperTour Finals at the Craftsbury Outdoor Centre today. Reese Hanneman (APU/USST) took the silver, followed by CXC’s Karl Nygren for the bronze.
The Dartmouth skier learned from the pacing mistake, however, and came up with a better strategy for the heats. “My experience in the qualifier helped shape my strategy for the heats,” Packer explained, “I wanted to ski the finish strong. I tried my best to sit back and conserve as much as possible up and over the big hill, and then make my moves on the gradual climbs to the finish.”
Packer repeated the strategy in today’s final. “I had a clean start and sat around 4th for the first half of the race. Reese made a strong move up over the big hill, creating a small gap. I reeled him in, and then with 200m to go, made my move and never looked back.”
Second place finisher, Reese Hanneman, had problems of his own in this morning’s qualifier, but was able to overcome them for the heats. “My qualifier actually didn’t feel very good at all,” he told SkiTrax. “The first thing I noticed when I started working on the big climb was that my arms were burning, which is not normal… I think that was because of the running warm up, and that maybe I forgot to warm up my arms. Oops!”
His strategy paid off for the most part, but Hanneman didn’t quite have enough to hold off Packer in the final. “In the end, Eric Packer was able to stay with me over the climb, and then came by me on the last rise to the line. He is a very good skier, physically and tactically, and so I am really stoked to finish right behind him!”
US Sprint star, Andy Newell, who was in Oslo, Norway, recently for a Red Bull Nordix competition, did not start today’s race, as he is recovering from a cold picked up while traveling home.
Racing continues tomorrow with a 6km hill climb at Jay Peak.