Going into the final weekend of World Cup racing for 2019, Nino Schurter had yet to find a way to win a short track cross country race. On Friday evening in Showshoe, West Virginia, the Swiss legend finally changed that.
With a last lap attack, Schurter secured his first XCC win since the format was introduced in 2018. The win Friday also seals Schurter’s seventh World Cup overall title. In the absence of Mathieu van der Poel, the closest rider to Schurter in the standings, the XCC win puts the Swiss rider far enough ahead of third place Henrique Avancini to lock up the title before Sunday’s XCO final.
Women’s Short Track XCC – Rissveds first XCC win
The women’s XCC was up first on Friday. Looking to pad her lead in the overall standings, Jolana Neff immediately attacked and created a small gap back to the field. She was quickly joined by Kate Courtney, Jenny Rissveds, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Anne Terpstra, but the pace rarely let up over the next eight laps of racing. In fact, Neff’s opening lap was faster than the first lap of the men’s XCC half an hour later.
More than a prelude to Sunday’s XCO, the short track is proving critical to the overall standings. Especially once Neff started dropping back through the field after her fast early start. Rissveds, Ferrand-Prevot and Courtney were the leading trio four lap, half way point. Catharine Pendrel had moved up to fourth, adn was leading a chase group. Neff, though, had dropped into the teens.
On the sixth lap, Rissveds made her bid for the win. Attacking through the finish line in Snowshoe village, the Swedish rider was followed by Courtney but Ferrand-Prevot was caught out mid-drink and left chasing. The attack was short lived, though, as Rissveds slipped on an off camber downhill into a sharp climb, and the trio was quickly back together. The change in pace did, though, allow Australian Rebecca McConnell, hot of a bronze at world championships at Mont-Sainte-Anne, to join the front group.
As the quartet was about to start the eighth and final lap, Rissveds attacked again. This time the 2016 Olympic champion was able to open a larger gap, and successfully navigate the off-camber to steep up hill. Cresting that steep pitch alone, Rissveds rode the rest of the lap on the front to cross the finish line solo. It is Rissved’s first Short Track XC World Cup win. It comes just weeks after her first World Cup win, in Lenzerheide, since returning from racing after a two year hiatus.
Ferrand-Prevost crossed the line second, landing on the podium in her first race back in the rainbow stripes of world champion. Courtney was third, closing the gap between her and World Cup leader Jolanda Neff to just 20 points.
Three American’s finished in the top-1o at Snowshoe, with Chloe Woodruff placing sixth and Lea Davison 8th. Erin Huck lead a sprint against Catharine Pendrel and Haley Smith, taking 13th. Smith finished 14th, matching her best Short Track finish of the season from Nove Mesto. That weekend ended with Smith on the podium, so maybe 14th is a good omen for the Canadian going into Sunday’s final. Pendrel finished 15th, putting both her and Smith on the second row of the start grid for Sunday.
Emily Batty was the final Canadian in the race, finishing 28th. That leaves the Canadian national champion with work to do Sunday, as she’ll start on the fourth row.
Men’s Short Track XCC – Shurter’s first win
It feels odd to say that, until Friday in Showshoe, Nino Schurter had not yet been able to win a Short Track XC race. The Swiss rider finally found the front of the 20 minute event, though, and his timing couldn’t have been better. The win Friday secures the World Cup overall title for Schurter, his seventh such title, before the start of Sunday’s XCO.
While the women’s XCC was an all-out battle, the men’s event was a much more strategic affair. In the absence of the powerful Dutch rider, Mathieu van der Poel, the field seemed much calmer in the early laps. All the names that needed to be were present in the front group and, for six of the eight laps, no one seemed interested in attacking too hard. Even notoriously fast starter Henrique Avancini seemed to have other things on his mind.
The strategic race was playing out well for the two Canadians, Peter Disera and Léandre Bouchard. Disera (Norco Factory Racing) quickly moved up to the teens, then into the top-1o. Not far behind was the blue Pivot Cycles-OTE jersey of Bouchard.
Disera would end up ninth, one spot behind previous Short Track World Cup winner Avancini. That puts Disera on the second row for Sunday’s XCO final. Bouchard finished 16th, claiming the final spot on the second row for Sunday.
Not far in front, Schurter made his bid for the win. The Swiss rider put in a big attack in the exact spot where Rissveds had attacked one race earlier. Only Avancini was able to follow his wheel. The two looked like they would be locked in a sprint for the line, when the Brazilian slipped out, again, exactly where Rissveds had run into trouble after her first attack. Avancini, though, went to the ground. He was quickly back up, but Schurter was long gone.
The Swiss rider rode home alone to claim his first Short Track win. France’s Titouan Carod and Jordan Sarrou flanked Schurter on the podium, taking second and third, respectively.