Marcus Hellner (SWE) in charge today. © Nordic Focus
November 20, 2010 (Gallivare, Sweden) – Sweden’s Marcus Hellner scored the win in the men’s 15km race today as the WCup season is underway. American Kris Freeman had a strong day placing 9th while team mate Noah Hoffman turned heads with a great race finishing in 31st just out of the points. Top Swiss skier Dario Cologna finished second and Daniel Rickardsson (SWE) was third. The Canadian men were flat today with Alex Harvey leading the charge in 34th.
“I had a very good feeling, I felt like I had control today,” said Hellner. “It was really inspiring to race with all my best friends cheering out on the course, in my home town. During the first lap I was thinking “you’re gonna win this” but I don’t want to feel like that. I should be focused on the race and not on what I would be or not. I tried to stay focused and push myself.”
Kris Freeman - a strong day. © Nordic Focus
For the US team it was another strong performance for Freeman following last weekend’s double podium in Muonio. “Freeman is is looking good and feeling good,” said US coach Matt Whitcomb. “But today wasn’t the look or feel of what he can do – he’s in good control and overall we’re all pleased.”
Hoffman, 21, from Aspen, CO, was in high spirits following his first Euro World Cup performance. “I’m super-psyched about my race. It’s an awesome course and the scene and atmosphere here is much bigger, louder and really cool. The Swedish fans are really into the sport and the energy is really high,” commented Hoffman, “I felt good out there and I was getting splits each lap so I knew I was having a good day. It would have been good to be in the points (top 30) but I’m happy with my race and looking forward to the relay on Sunday.”
Noah Hoffman turned heads. © Michael Lessard file photo
Whitcomb was equally happy with Hoffman’s performance. “Noah was confident and it was important for him to have a strong day at his first European world cup. He’s very talented and willing to work hard and break his back. We’re confident in him and are fired up about his race here and in Muonio.” Both Chris Cook and Andy Newell had a lackluster day but Whitcomb was not expecting much from Cook who just arrived.
For the Canadian squad it was tougher going with Harvey having an ok day in 34th but not what he was hoping for. “I felt pretty good all week while training here in Gallivare. We got a chance to adapt a little bit to the cold since we’ve been here for six days now,” said Harvey. “In the warm up I felt good. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as expected. My first lap was horrible. I was slow but most importantly I felt like complete garbage! I felt better and better as the race went on but it’s hard to gain time on people on the World Cup so I missed the points by two seconds.”
Alex Harvey (CAN) - not the result he was hoping for. © Nordic Focus file photo
For Canada’s Devon Kershaw who raced well in Bruksvallarna, Sweden, last weekend it was simply a day without punch for most of the team. “Today was not good at all for our team. We tried our best, but for the most part (other than Alex) we all felt really flat and didn’t have much punch/jam in the legs today. We were struggling to change gears, and on a course that is very rolling with longer, gradual climbs – if you cannot turn it over well you are in some big trouble. Either way, I fought hard. It was painful – both physically and (at the end, and the rest of the day) mentally. I am not used to starting terribly like this at the World Cup opener – but our team’s goals remain the same. We want to hit the podium at some point this season.”
Both squads are hoping for a good day on Sunday for the relays. “I’m really excited as I’ve never done a relay before,” said Hoffman who’s ready for more World Cup action.
Devon Kershaw - no punch today. © Nordic Focus
“Our guys were a little flat today and it didn’t go as well as we expected, but it is nothing to panic about,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Canadian XC Ski Team. “We were really fresh and skiing fast going into last weekend’s FIS race so I know our shape is there. We’ll put this behind us and get ready for the relay tomorrow.”
Full results HERE.
1. Marcus Hellner (SWE) 32:26.0
2. Dario Cologna (SUI) 11.4
3. Daniel Rickardsson (SWE) 20.1
4. Chris Andre Jespersen (NOR) 22.0
5. Petr Sedov (RUS) 24.7
9. Kris Freeman (USA) 43.1
31. Noah Hoffman (USA) 1:19.2
34. Alex Harvey (CAN) 1:22.1
54. Ivan Babikov (CAN) 1:55.7
58. Devon Kershaw (CAN) 1:59.7
78. George Grey (CAN) 2:32.2
87. Andy Newell (USA) 3:08.9
94. Brent McMurtry (CAN) 3:36.4
102. Chris Cook (USA) 4:48.6