Tag Archive | "cross country"

Interview With Ben Popp – The American Birkie’s New Executive Director

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July 05, 2013 (Hayward, Wisconsin) – Ben Popp is from Wisconsin’s Northwoods where the Cable-to-Hayward American Birkebeiner is run each February. Since June 1, he now finds himself as the new Executive Director (ED) of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) which owns the Birkie and other events. SkiTrax caught up with Popp to learn more about him, his plans for North America’s largest Nordic ski event, and how he plans to address the various challenges he faces.

Firstly, a slightly belated congrats on becoming the new ED of the ABSF. Rumor has it you are the youngest ED ever there…so how old are you?
Ben Popp: I just celebrated my 39th birthday yesterday. Thanks for the congrats; my twin boys Luke and Grant, 7, are very excited about moving to northern Wisconsin. I grew up in northern Wisconsin and enjoy challenges and the active lifestyle that can be found there.

And tell us more about yourself…
BP: I served five years as Executive Director of the SISU Nordic Ski Foundation, near Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Twin Cities), a similar ski group promoting an active outdoor lifestyle. SISU offers a wide range programs, hosting some 14 races annually, including eight ski races. Much of this is built around the Nordic Centre at Battle Creek, MN. As for the Birkie, I started doing it when I was 18 years old. I’ve done it maybe 17 times to date. My mom and dad ski it – the Birkie is part of our winter traditions. I enjoy mountain biking, road biking… I once pedalled the 3,000 mile Race across America from San Diego to Maryland nonstop. Currently I’m building my own house so I guess you could call me a “hands-on” kind of guy.

There are some obvious challenges ahead as Telemark Lodge, over whose land the the Birkie crosses, has closed again. In previous years, the resort has played a key role in providing other facilities and infrastructure for the Birkie. What are your plans regarding the Telemark Lodge can the event still do well without it?
BP: Marty Hall wrote a good article about this on SkiTrax.com – but no, we will not be looking to purchase Telemark Lodge! For sure, it is a huge part of the Birkie’s legacy and history, and it will be an integral part of its future. Birkie founder, Tony Wise, started a cool plan – skiing from Cable to Hayward. Unfortunately, it is likely Telemark will be closed this winter so we are negotiating easements to use the property. And if the iconic lodge is closed, the Birkie will use more tents.

We’ve talked to private partners who are supportive of private events and during the transition, they’re in. In a best case scenario Telemark Lodge could be open as soon as September, but even if it is not, we can operate things although conditions would not be ideal for our staff. We do have contingency plans…

Mortgage owners, banks, and previous owners all know the importance of Telemark Lodge to the Birkie. The same trails are used in other seasons and the Chequamegon Fat Tire (Mountain Bike) Festival sees 2,500 racers. The Birkie Trail Run Trail (including a marathon and half marathon) also takes place in September; we are hoping for 1,500 runners. We own the Birkie Trail Run, however, Chequamegon is a separate event that takes place on our trails.

We understand that during Birkie weekend, all resorts and motels are booked a year in advance in the communities within 30-50 miles of the Cable/Hayward area. Telemark’s closing will reduce an already tight supply of beds…could the Birkie attract more skiers if there were more local hotel rooms available?
BP: Yes, accommodation is a limiting factor. But trail width is even more of a limiting factor. We’re planning to put people onto gym floors and find places where they can crash for night. We are reaching out to other nearby communities in Wisconsin. From, there is the possibility to charter buses from larger population centres like the Twin Cities. Creative things like this are needed.

The Birkie sees some 10,000 Nordic participants each year, do you hope to expand the event?
BP: Yes, we intend to grow Birkie brand. The Birkie is a gateway to get more people skiing, hiking, biking… trail widening is important, as is security in light of Boston. We need to secure trail heads. To grow the race, we don’t want to sacrifice quality. Just to maintain things we need 2,000 volunteers which is approximately the total population of the nearby town of Hayward. We need strategies to maintain and grow the number of volunteers.

We don’t have an exact number of estimated participants down the road yet. But we want to see a classic trail all way to Hayward. This could easily add up to 3,000 skiers.

We offer other activities such as snowshoe events and sprints. The Birkie recently hosted a “retro knickerbiner” event with a few hundred participants. We have skijoring and family tours and a “fat tire” snow bike event. We had to cap the fat tire race at 300 participants.

Much of our website traffic is from beyond a three-hour driving distance. I guess that one-third of that traffic is from Illinois. And the Birkie already draws in skiers from 19 countries and 38 states. But our distance from the nearest major airport (Twin Cities) is a limiting factor…

How do manage wacky winter weather conditions and unpredictable snow cover?
BP: “Good trails are made in the summer” according to our trail manager. Trails have to be in good shape going into winter. We already spend $250,000 a year on trail maintenance and will be spending more. We’re looking at snow making; it’s not practical on the entire length of 90km of trails, but perhaps could be used in certain areas. Some people are surprised that the Birkie trails are open 365 days a year.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your new job, the move, and building your new house.
BP: Thanks

Blog Roundup w/Brooks, Stephen, The Hoff, and Kershaw

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July 04, 2013 – Catch up with Holly Brooks, who is celebrating her Fourth of July differently this year. Plus, Liz Stephen looks back on the recent Western REG Camp, Noah Hoffman reveals his secret desire to be a track runner, and Devon Kershaw checks in from Canmore.

Holly Brooks
Hard Decisions, Obvious Decisions
This upcoming July 4th will be spent entirely different than my last couple. For the past four years I’ve raced Mt. Marathon in Seward, Alaska. Mount Marathon – they claim, is the Nation’s second oldest foot race behind the Boston Marathon and this year will be the 86th running.

It’s a tradition for Alaskans on Independence Day and the small town of Seward swells from 3,000 people to 30,000 thousand overnight. While only 500 or so people actually compete in the race, the rest crowd main street eating ice cream, socializing, and watching the race unfold. For those unfamiliar with the format, the race starts on main street, runs 3,022 feet directly up a mountain, rounds a rock at the top and descends 3,022 feet.

Read more here.

Liz Stephen
This week was full of excitement with the Regional Elite Group (REG) camp in town. This is a group that each region of the US has, and they get together for a training camp each summer. From these camps, USSA picks some athletes to come to the National Elite Group (NEG) Camp. It was really great to have these awesome athletes in town to train with and get to know some of the up and coming athletes that will represent our next generation of US skiers. Read more here.

Noah Hoffman
Track Workout
I secretly want to be a 5,000 and 10,000 meter runner. Every year my coach allows me to do one track workout to indulge my fantasies but also probably to remind me that I am not even close to fast enough to be a runner. Today was that workout. On Thursday morning I’m running a 5 kilometer road race here in Park City, so today was a little tune-up for that race. It may be my only running race of the year. My coach allowed me to plan today’s workout based on pace instead of heart rate, the same way a runner plans his workouts. Unfortunately I am full of myself and thought I could run faster than I can. Read more here.

Devon Kershaw
Kicking Back Here in Canmore, It’s Raining, I Can Be a Bit “Hippiesh”
It’s here – “monsoon-June” has rubbed its wet, stinky glove right in Canmore’s face and the rollerski boots and wet pavement are ubiquitous reminders that the Rockies “wet season” is upon us yet again. I thought perhaps Lenny’s calming influence would have had an effect – but apparently not.

As you can probably tell, I’m reaching a little for material this week. That’s a good thing. It’s been a lot of “normal Canmore living” here these last seven days. Aside from some wet training (and only “some” – for the most part it’s been fantastic weather-wise actually since I’ve been back from Bend/Tremblant/Toronto), life is ticking along in a standard way. Read more here.

FIS Cross-Country Talk w/Liz Stephen

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June 28, 2013 – Liz Stephen of the US Ski team had a historic year in 2012/13, placing 5th in the 10k freestyle at the 2013 World Ski Championships (a best-ever finish for a US female), winning the Swiss National Championship 5km FR, along with a victory at the U.S. Distance Championships 30km CL.

Stephen was also part of the 4×5 km World Championships relay team that made US Ski team women’s history placing 4th. She was also part of the Olympic squad in 2010 and earned bronze at the U23 World Championships in 2008.

You were over in Norway for a personal training camp, and were recently up on the Sognefjell Snowfield. Are you training with specific athletes or did you join a Norwegian ski team camp?
Liz Stephen: I joined up with the Norwegian ski team for their 6-day camp. It was a really great experience and I am really grateful to their coaches, Egil and Roar who made it possible for me to join. I have really enjoyed the last two summers when I have gone over to Scandinavia to train with some new skiers and have made lasting friendships that makes living in Europe for five months much more enjoyable. Part of what is so great about this sport is making friends, but also learning from one another and trying to raise the level of the whole sport by sharing training ideas, pushing one another, and getting to know the other athletes. It’s been a really fun and beneficial experience for me, and I was welcomed with open arms by the Norwegian Team and even spent three extra days in Oslo at Celine Brun Lie’s house because I was having so much fun with the girls I didn’t want to leave quite yet!

Last summer you and your US ski team teammates shared in a camp with the Swedish Women’s Ski Team in Sweden, and have had joint camps with the Canadian women in Alaska the past two summers. These must be positive experiences if you continue to do them each year?
LS: YES! Very positive! I have made so many new friends, learned so much from the Swedish and Norwegian Teams and had a really good time training hard with new groups of athletes. I think it really gives me a jump start to my summer of training and adds an element of fun that gets me psyched to work hard for the next four months before we hit the road in November again.

For North American athletes you spend most if not all of the winter in Europe. Does having friends on the different teams make the time away from home an easier experience?
LS: Yes, for sure. Our women’s team all feels like after spending time with the Swedish National Team last year we all have a great group of friends to hang with each weekend, and it makes the whole scene seem more like home and less intimidating. If you are away from home for five months, only spending time with your teammates, and racing 70 girls whom you only know by name, the scene gets very stale. Now that we feel we have friends in those 70 people who used to be just names on a result sheet, the whole atmosphere lightens and becomes much easier to enjoy and as a result, ski faster. Happy athletes perform better.

You are coming off your strongest World Cup season ever, and recorded the best ever distance finish (5th place 10km free technique) for a US female cross-country skier at the recent 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. After such a successful season do you make any changes this summer or just try and replicate last year’s plan?
L.S.: There are always changes that I make to the training each year. Some years the changes are big and some years just little tweaks, but there are always things that I think of during the season, even on a good year that I think I can improve on during the next season’s preparation period. This year, I will just tweak the training from last year a bit, adding certain elements that I think were lacking a bit during the season, and taking away things that I tried but didn’t think made much of a difference.

You and your teammates gathered a great deal of attention at the start of the season with your first ever World Cup 4 x 5km relay podium, and followed up with a 4th place finish in the same event at the World Championships. Is an Olympic medal in the relay at “team” goal for the coming year in Sochi?
LS: Yes, that is for sure a huge goal of ours, and it is for sure my biggest goal for next year. I can’t imagine a more meaningful medal than one that is won by a team of people, though I believe any medal that is won, even individually, takes a team to make it happen.

If you don’t mind sharing, what are your individual goals from the coming year?
LS: My goals for the year are for a top 10 at the Tour de Ski, be a consistent top-10 World Cup skier, and my biggest individual race focus will be the Olympic 30K Freestyle race where I hope to win a medal.

Read more HERE.

SkiTrax 2012-2013 North American (NA) Nordic Ski Awards Update

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June 27, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – There’s still time to vote for who you think are the most deserving athletes for the SkiTrax Annual North American (NA) Nordic Ski Awards honouring top skiers from across Canada and the USA for the 2012-2013 season determined by votes from readers at skitrax.com. A quick update on how things currently stand…

As expected, Kikkan Randall is leading the race for Best Overall Elite Female Skier, while USA’s Andy Newell and Canada’s Len Valjas are duking it out for the Best Male Sprinter bragging rights.

In the contest for Best Conti Cup Male, USST’s Erik Bjornsen and the Canadian Ski Team’s Graham Nishikawa are neck-and-neck. Other exciting battles include the one for Best Jr. Male honours, with Raphael Couturier and Ben Saxton in a very tight race, while it couldn’t get any tighter in the Best Collegiate Male comp, with Rune Odegaard and Harry Seaton tied for the lead. Joanne Reid is leading the Best Collegiate Female category, with several chasers close behind.

In the Paul Robbins Best Breakthrough or Exceptional Nordic Performance(s) contest, USST’s women’s stars Jessie Diggins and Randall are out front as expected, but Canmore’s Jesse Cockney is right on their heels after his world-class sprinting turned heads at the Alberta World Cup in December.

These awards recognize Elite, U23 and junior skiers, along with Conti Cup, collegiate, biathlon, Nordic combined, jumping competitors plus Paranordic skiers as well.

Don’t miss your chance to VOTE (link below) and perhaps win some great prizes from our award sponsors. Hurry, voting ends on Sunday, June 30 at 11pm EST!

This season’s contenders are up against some very tough competition as North American skiers continued their charge to the top of the international ranks and there are many great names across all disciplines to select from.

In total there are 22 categories for men and women so take your time and make your voice heard.

Plus there are some great prizes as all entrants are eligible to win one of five great prizes provided by Salomon, Swix, FI, Exer-Genie, and Auclair. Please include your email address [at the bottom] after submitting your selections if you wish to be eligible to win any prizes.

1st – Salomon S-Lab Skate or Classic boots ($450sk/$299cl)
2nd – Swix T72 Iron (value $400)
3rd – F1 Sprint Skate roller skis (value $269)
4th – Exer-Genie XC Trainer (value $229)
5th – Auclair Rail Gloves (value $50)

Cast your votes and complete as many or as few categories as you like – but you are limited to only ONE entry per person.

Deadline – voting ends at 11pm (EST) on Sunday, June 30, 2013
Winners – announced on July 1, 2013

Sorry the Awards are now closed…

The Way I See It – Birkie Ski Foundation, Telemark Lodge, CCC Board of Directors…

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June 27, 2013 – The Birkie Ski Foundation and Telemark Lodge (closes again) – Am I the only one who sees what should happen here, especially as the Birkie’s race calendar continues to fill out with more and more “silent sports” competitions? Yes, they should buy Telemark (!!!!) (Read about it HERE). No, I am not crazy! It is the perfect match and makes sense for the guarantee of the future of the race or races, BSF’s business direction and further growth in their “silent sports” business.

I know, where is the money going to come from? I’d like to think that a business plan could, or would be put in place, as the reason and means to justify the move or venture to make this happen.

Think of what lies ahead – not just the guarantee of all of the current races – as BSF would own all the land (I understand 900 acres), which is critical to putting on all these events, but also the situation to grow more silent sports events and everything around them from a business point of view. I understand a real estate venture has been suggested to support this plan. You could also move all your offices to the Lodge making it BSF’s operation central.

Your goal would be to make this the “Silent Sports” capital of North America, and host everything that makes these organizations run – all the way from their AGM’s, training camps, seminars, clinics, international conferences, World Championships, events at all levels, World Cups and of course have all the necessary facilities and staff to support these events and programs at a Class A level.

I’m sure that there are 20 or more “silent sports” that have thousands of members, competitors and staff that run these organizations, and BSF could be there “go-to location” because it covers all of the bases and the needs to pull off any type of function or event of any level.

The new ED, Ben Popp may just been the young energy to make such a giant step forward able to happen!

Of course, I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg and I’m a dreamer – but, as many athletes know – their dreams do come true.

Totally Dumbfounded – Please read this here and and now read this here HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

I know of Ken Read and he has alpine ski racing tattooed all over his body and has held just about every position there is when it comes to the domestic and international functioning of alpine ski racing in the world. Everyone knows Ken Read in the alpine world and beyond, and now cross-country skiing is going to get to know him through his new position, as a member of the CCC Board of Directors (BOD).

That is if he hangs around the BOD meetings longer then he did on election weekend – about three hours I hear. Just long enough to present himself to the board and answer a few questions… then a quick disappearance act. But, more importantly, why did this happen?

It just so happens Dave Wood (read more here) had brought his name forward for one of the available board positions this year. One would think someone with Wood’s credentials would be a huge asset to the team, but according to rumors coming out of Canmore, Ken Read, “Mr. Alpine”, was sought out to fill the position by the powers that be.

There has to be some payola down the road in the future, as I can see no other good reason to bring Read on board. The “politiking” within the present members of the association who vote for these candidates worked. Yet I’m sure they could have made it work if they’d chosen a Nordic candidate… then it wouldn’t look quite so obvious as to what they had just pulled off.

The difference between Read and Wood for this position is like night and day, especially when you consider the level of hands-on international cross-country experience of the current board. Read brings nothing Nordic that I know of, yet Wood has done it all from Jack Rabbits to Olympic medals – what a shame to lose first-hand access to all of this.

The controversy surrounding Wood’s resignation/firing back in 2010 lives on. CCC loses again.

Talk To You Soon.

PS – In all the assorted conversations I had over the past couple of weeks and articles I read, a couple of things became new information that I didn’t know – one being CCC’s masthead for administrative and technical staff (view it here and here). We’re talking close to 30 paid positions. You can do this with $6 million. So, congratulations on marketing the team and the programs and for the success in the tracks. But, only one podium like the team had in Val di Fiemme, Italy at the WSC this past winter could see this $$ number cut in half. A lot of the assistants, and assistants to the assistants, will be headed down the hill come next spring – the program is called OWN The Podium. Lets hope the magic is back!

TV Coverage of FIS Events Increases in 2012/13 Season

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June 27, 2013 – The television coverage report from the 2012/13 season provided by data provider Repucom summarises the detailed viewing figures from the FIS World Cup series. It features highlights such as the overall total broadcasting time estimated at 6’593 hours across the annually measured countries with the total cumulated TV audience for the seven FIS World Cup series in the Olympic disciplines at approximately 7’927 million television viewers.

In terms of both broadcasting time and audience, the Audi FIS Ski World Cup accounted for the highest volume with 3’221 hours and a total audience of 2’591 million. As a consequence of a season including the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming fewer World Cup events have taken place compared to the 2011/2012 season and therefore there is a small decrease of broadcasting time and cumulated audience. Compared to the 2010/2011 season which also included FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), media impact remained stable, despite less cumulated audience, but compensated by more broadcasting time. In Alpine Skiing, five countries (AUT, GER, ITA, SWE, SUI) and the Pan-European coverage by Eurosport generate more than 81% of the media impact (a combination of broadcasting time and audience), as in the previous season.

The respective figures for the men’s FIS Ski Jumping World Cup presented by Viessmann are 1’090 hours of broadcasting time and 2’315 million audience and for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann, 1’135 of broadcasting time and 1’865 audience. Compared to the World Championship season in 2010/11, in particular the broadcasting figures for Cross-Country Skiing, have seen a large rise of close to 25%.

Overall, Ski Jumping remains the discipline with the highest media impact of all FIS disciplines with close to 40% of broadcasting time generated by live coverage.This figure will be further optimised by the introduction of fixed starting times for the competitions during the next World Cup season. Meanwhile, the ladies’ FIS Ski Jumping World Cup saw a substantial 30% increase in media impact in only its second season.

Moreover, it should be noted that seasonal highlights like the Tour de Ski in Cross-Country Skiing and the Four-Hills-Tournament in Ski Jumping each generate one third of the total media impact in these disciplines showing the attractiveness of these formats.

FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships

Based on the viewing figures published by the European Broadcasting Union, the TV and marketing rights holder of the FIS World Ski Championships in the Alpine and Nordic events 2013, they were seen by almost 1.1 billion people worldwide. While some 632 million cumulative viewers watched the 855 hours of coverage (live, delayed, news or highlights) from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2013 in Schladming (AUT), the total coverage of more than 714 hours from the Nordic events in Val di Fiemme (ITA) was enjoyed by more than 444 million global TV viewers.

New Rundle Sport Inc. Innovates with RUNDLESKI Suspension Equipped Rollerski

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June 26, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Rundle Sport Inc. is a new company based in Canmore, AB, that has introduced an innovative new rollerski to the market, RUNDLESKI™. The three co-owners, Hugues Wanlin, Alain Parent, and Andrew Hicks, take care of designing, machining, testing, marketing, and assembling the RUNDLESKI™, which features their novel suspension system.

The patented RUNDLESKI™ was designed with two goals in mind: to reduce road vibration transmitted to the skier, and to simulate the feeling of compressing a skate ski on snow. According to Rundle Sport the suspension system of the RUNDLESKI™ significantly reduces the fatigue and strain on the athlete’s legs. It also minimizes the rollerskis from skipping and chatter by maintaining consistent ground contact. The rollerskis offer a maximum of 16mm of suspension with nine levels of stiffness and three options for wheel speed preference – check out the vids below and visit the site here.



Blog Roundup w/ Diggins, The Hoff, Stephen and SMSXC + Bjornsen & Gaiazova

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June 24, 2013 – Check out the latest news from US skiers in training for the upcoming Olympic season. Jessie Diggins has bid adieu to her adventures in Park City and is headed to Stratton, VT; Noah Hoffman celebrated Summer Soltice Swedish style and contested the second annual U.S. Ski Team Sufferfest uphill road bike race at Sundance; Liz Stephen returned from Norway and now back in Utah she fills us in on her bro on Mt. Denali, Sufferfest and her favourite restaurant in Park City, Vinto; plus SMS Nordic reports on its first Eastern REG camp and Sadie Bjornsen gives us the scoop on the sun, beaches, rivers, paddling and rodeos Alaskan-style…

Jessie Diggins
Last couple days in the Wasatch
This is as close to home as I’ll get in the next month; a 2.5-hour layover in the Minneapolis airport! But that’s ok because I’m going from one awesome place to another; I’ve just left Park City and am en route to Stratton, where I’ll rejoin my club teammates that I haven’t seen in way too long!

Before I left Park City, I wanted to go on an adventure OD – a fun long workout that wasn’t directly related to roller skiing. So Cork and I hiked up Mount Timpanogos, the second highest peak in the Wasatch mountain range.
Read more here.

Noah Hoffman
I went up to my teammate Liz Stephen’s house last night to celebrate Midsummer, a Swedish (European) holiday on the summer solstice. (We know we were a day late.) Liz really likes Sweden and can see herself living there someday. She made us a Swedish meal for the occasion. She recruited our coach Jason Cork to make the bulle (Swedish Pastry). Read more here.

SMS Nordic
Eastern REG Camp Update #1
Everyone arrived at SMS for our REG camp yesterday and settled in with a run, dinner and a short intro meeting. Today we started to get down to business.

USST coach Bryan Fish led the group through a V2 technique progression that started with… V2 with no poles….(6 repeats of a 15 second section)… Read more here.

Liz Stephen
Sunday Sundance Sufferfest
I’m not sure if you have noticed the super moon the last few nights, but it has been amazing.  Check it out tonight if you get a chance and haven’t seen it, as last night once the sun went down I couldn’t believe how bright my living room was with moonshine!  As I was looking at it, I was actually thinking about my brother, Andy, who for the last month has been in Alaska guiding trips for the American Alpine Institute (AAI) up Mt. Denali!  I realized last night, as I was admiring the moon from 8,200 feet, where I live, how much more amazing it must be to see it at 14,000 feet, which is where he and his team currently are on his second trip up the mountain in a month.  The last trip he led his team summited, but he was not able to, as one of the clients fell ill with altitude sickness and he stayed with her at 17,200 feet.  He is hoping to summit this time up, though he has assured me that, while summiting would of course be incredible, just being on the mountain and doing what he loves, is cool enough. Read more here.

Sadie Bjornsen
Summer is HERE!
What is summer in Alaska? I didn’t even know it existed. I can remember about 3 total sunny weeks that I have experienced in Alaska where I break out my shorts and tank tops. That’s why it’s always such a miracle when the heat makes its way up here! While we were at our camp in Bend I kept seeing pictures from Anchorage of people skiing in shorts and sports bras and I was worried I had missed my opportunity, but sure enough- when I got back, summer was still here! As amazing as the sun is in Alaska, it also has its challenges. I always get this feeling that when it is sunny, I have to be outside as much as possible. I want to do my training outside, eat my meals outside, do my homework outside, and do any form of activity outside…. but that doesn’t work so well. Read more here.

Dasha Gaiazova
Summer is HERE!
The Olympics are a scant 8 months away and I’m excited to be sharing my training and preparations progress with you as I make every workout count on the journey to Sochi. When compared to my last-minute Vancouver 2010 qualification, being already qualified for Sochi allows me to shift the focus entirely to performing on the Olympic race day and not worry about the qualification races along the way. It makes my purpose feel so simple and that’s just the way I like it… read more here.


Talkin’ with the Gravy Train – Interview w/Chandra Crawford Part 2

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June 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Talkin’ with the Gravy Train is pleased to present Part 2 of our interview with Canadian cross-country skiing star Chandra Crawford from Canmore, AB, of Olympic fame who is training on her own for the Sochi 2014 Games… listen to Part 1 HERE.

We caught up with Crawford in Canmore, AB… she was enthusiastic and happy and addressed such topics as her decision to take a step back from competition last February, how well her training is going, and her preparations for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games next February.

Chandra also talks with eloquence about what it’s like to recharge the batteries after what she called a “solid burnout”, and how she has found the joy in skiing and training again. The Canmore, Alberta native also speaks about health and happiness in this inspired interview. At the end, one thing is certain…Crawford will be a force to be reckoned with this coming season.

Interview with Chandra Crawford – Part 2


Diggins Report – Pics from Park City

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June 19, 2013 (Park City, UT) – For once, I’m going to let the pictures do the talking! Here’s what we’ve been up to in Park City the past few days full of hiking, biking, swimming, pasta… and whole lot more.

FIS 2013/14 Cross-Country World Cup Calendar Confirmed

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June 12, 2013 (Dubrovnik, Croatia) – At a meeting on Monday, June 10, in Dubrovnik, the FIS Council confirmed the calendar for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann for the 2013/14 season. The coming winter will feature many highlights including the 8th edition of the FIS Tour de Ski and the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi.

Unlike in the seasons before, the world’s best Cross-Country skiers will begin their quest for the crystal globes in Kuusamo (FIN). The traditional Nordic Opening with Ruka Triple is scheduled for the last weekend of November.

After Kuusamo, it will be time to continue the Scandinavian mission with another joint Nordic weekend in Lillehammer (NOR). Leaving the North of Europe behind, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup will then move to Central Europe where Davos (SUI) will host individual start competitions over 15 km free technique for the ladies and 30 km for the men as well as free technique sprints.

For the first time since 2008, the Italian venue of Asiago is back on the World Cup calendar with a classical sprint weekend right before Christmas.

Due to the Sochi 2014 Games, seven competitions in nine days are scheduled during the eighth edition of the FIS Tour de Ski. The Tour will traditionally kick off on 28th December with a free technique prologue in Oberhof, Germany. As a second stage, a classical technique pursuit will be held in the Thuringia Forest. After the first FIS Tour de Ski stage ever in Switzerland (Val Müstair) during the 2012/13 Tour, two stages of the Tour will be held in Lenzerheide with a free technique sprint on 31st December and classical mass start competition on the first day of the New Year.

After the second rest day, the Tour will continue in Cortina – Toblach (ITA) on 3rd January with distance competitions for the ladies and the A to B stage from Cortina to Toblach. The FIS Tour de Ski will traditionally conclude in Val di Fiemme with an individual start competition on 4th and the Final Climb on 5th January.

The first weekend after the FIS Tour de Ski is traditionally reserved for sprint specialists and the FIS Cross-Country World Cup will make a stop in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE). After a two-year break, the best sprinters are going to compete in the upgraded arena and courses there from 11th-12th January 2014.

Szklarska Poreba in Poland returns on the competition schedule the following weekend with free technique sprints and classical mass start competitions. Right before the Sochi Games, the final pre-Olympic opportunity to test the shape will be take place in Toblach from February 1 to 2.

The highlight of the 2013/14 season, the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi are scheduled from 7th to 23rd February.

The season will conclude in Scandinavia with the well-established program featuring Lahti, Drammen, Oslo and the World Cup Final in Sweden with Falun as host venue.

FIS 2013/14 Cross-Country World Cup Calendar Available Online
Please find the FIS Cross-Country World Cup Calendar HERE.

Birkie Hosts 16 Worldloppet Nations in Wisconsin – June 13-16

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June 12, 2013 (Hayward, WI) – On June 13-16, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation will host delegates from all 16 nations of the Worldloppet Ski Federation at the Worldloppet Annual General Meeting in Hayward/Cable, Wisconsin. The American Birkebeiner will host both meetings and times to socialize at various venues in Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, including Lakewoods Resort and the Lumberjack Village.

The Worldloppet Annual General Meeting is a time for ski marathon organizations to sit down together and work on ways to continually improve and promote the sport of cross country skiing worldwide. This will be the first time in approximately 15 years that the American Birkebeiner has hosted this annual Worldloppet meeting.

“The American Birkebeiner is extremely honored and excited to be hosting the organizers of the other great ski marathon races from around the world. To also have the opportunity to show off the iconic Birkie Trail as well as our local communities is fantastic,” says Ben Popp, new Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation.

Below is more about the Worldloppet Ski Federation, from the organization’s website at www.Worldloppet.com.

Worldloppet Ski Federation:
Worldloppet is an international sports federation of cross-country skiing marathons. The federation was founded in 1978 in Uppsala, Sweden. The aim of Worldloppet is to promote the sport of cross-country skiing through the various ski races around the world.

Worldloppet Members:
Only one and the best race from a country can be a member of Worldloppet. The youngest member is a polish race, Bieg Piastow, that was admitted by Worldloppet Annual General Meeting in Mora, SWE, 2008. Worldloppet currently unites 16 races from Europe, America, Asia and Australia:

  • Europe: Jizerská padesátka (CZE), Dolomitenlauf (AUT), Marcialonga (ITA), König Ludwig Lauf (GER), Tartu Maraton (EST), La Transjurassienne (FRA), Finlandia-hiihto (FIN), Vasaloppet (SWE), Engadin Skimarathon (SUI), Birkebeinerrennet (NOR), Bieg Piastow (POL)
  • North America: American Birkebeiner (USA), Gatineau Loppet (CAN)
  • Asia: Sapporo International Ski Marathon (JPN) Demino Ski Marathon (RUS)
  • Australia: Kangaroo Hoppet

Worldloppet Strategy:

  • High quality ski races around the World. Only one and the best race from a country can be a member of Worldloppet.
  • Regularity and continuity. Each race, having its own history, traditions and program, is held usually at the same time every year. After completing 10 different Worldloppet races, at least one of them overseas, a skier can apply for the Worldloppet Master title.
  • Races for everybody. Races different by length, technique, landscape and target group attract 80 000 participants every year.
  • Participation of elite skiers. FIS Marathon Cup, consisting of 10 Worldloppet races, is a Worldloppet series for top skiers.

FIS Interview w/Kikkan Randall in Dubrovnik

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June 06, 2013 (Dubrovnik, Croatia) – FIS Newsflash caught up with FIS Cross-Country World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall (USA) on the eve of the 2013 FIS Calendar Conference. Randall is present in Cavtat-Dubrovnik (CRO) for her role as one of the two Athlete Representatives for Cross-Country Skiing within the FIS Athlete Commission. The FIS Council has to formally confirm all members on June 10.

You were recently re-elected as the female athlete representative for Cross-Country Skiing. It was four years ago in 2009 when you first attended one of these meetings that just happened to be in Cavtat-Dubrovnik as well. Looking back over those four years, do you return to this location with positive feelings from your role as a Cross-Country Athlete rep?
Kikkan Randall: You know being back here in Dubrovnik really helps me reflect on the past four years. When I arrived the first time in Dubrovnik I really didn’t know what I was doing, and now four years later I know the ropes much better and have built what I feel is a solid platform for me to be able to represent the needs of the athletes.

What is on the agenda for you this year?
KR: We had a very productive athlete’s survey that focused on a few things on the calendar. For next season and the seasons beyond, we will be able to provide clear and direct feedback on things like what competitions and formats the athletes would like to see. Also I will continue to work to improve little things like athlete areas and execution of prize money payment. These are small details but this is a great time to bring attention to those items here at the meetings. It’s also important that I also take back what I learn here and present it to the athletes.

During your first term as athlete rep you were partnered with Sami Jauhojärvi of Finland. What were your first moves to build influence within FIS on behalf of the athletes?
KR: Working with Sami we developed a network and a way of getting feedback from the athletes and presenting it in a manageable form for the FIS Cross-Country Committee. Over those four years the process has become more refined and we now have an established pathway to make the needs and the concerns of the athletes heard.

As a result of your work on behalf of the athletes, you now have a voting right at the table of the FIS Cross-Country Committee. That is a first time for such a right for athlete representatives within FIS.
KR: I think that is one of the biggest accomplishments that Sami and I have achieved over the past four years. It’s huge for us. We really took the lead from the IOC Athlete Commission, where they have representation at the highest level on their Executive Board.

Aside from the FIS meetings, how is your training going in the new year?
KR: Our US competition season continued about 2 weeks longer than usual this year, so it feels like it has been a quick turnaround since my season ended, but I have been back to training again for three weeks now. I am being cautious so far to make sure none of the foot trouble I had last season resurfaces. It’s been a good start and enthusiasm is high with it being an Olympic year. I am hoping to be able to get a few little training sessions here while in Croatia.

Thank you for your time. Good luck with the meetings and the upcoming training and competition year.
KR: Thanks.

Flora to Present NANANordic to International Olympic Academy in Greece

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June 06, 2013 (Anchorage, Alaska) – Lars Flora, two-time Olympian and executive director and founder of NANANordic, is one of three U.S. representatives chosen to participate in the International Olympic Academy (IOA) from June 11 – 25, 2013, in Athens and Olympia, Greece. The other two are U.S. Olympic Committee staffers.

The IOA’s goal is to educate and motivate young people to use their experiences and knowledge gained from the session productively in promoting the Olympic ideas and educating others in their own countries. Flora will present NANANordic to the 200 participants from around the globe taking part in this year’s event.

“This has been an amazing journey,” said Flora. “We’ve introduced nearly 2,000 children in Northwest Alaska to Nordic skiing, giving them another winter recreation opportunity in a region where there’s snow on the ground eight months out of the year. This is just the beginning. Timing for the conference is great – we’re in the planning stages for our third season now. I’m looking forward to hearing ideas that will help NANANordic become even more successful.”

NANANordic was formed to introduce the lifetime sport of cross-country skiing to rural Alaska through a sustainable Nordic ski program, starting with villages in the NANA region. Two-time Olympian Lars Flora brought the idea to NANA Development Corporation in 2011. Funded by corporate and individual donations, Flora and 20 volunteers, in cooperation with the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, provided a month of cross-country ski instruction to 650 students in Kotzebue, Kiana, Selawik and Noorvik in 2012. This year, approximately 2,000 children in all NANA region villages, as well as Anaktuvuk Pass, had an opportunity to learn to cross-country ski from more than 45 volunteers consisting of Olympians, World Cup athletes, University and college coaches and elite high school athletes.

For more information on NANANordic.com or facebook.com/NANANordic.

Olympic Day with Olympian Andy Newell – June 23

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June 05, 2013 (Bennington, Vermont) – Olympic Day with Olympian Andy Newell, presented by The Bank of Bennington, is a celebration and international effort to promote fitness and well-being in addition to Olympic ideals of Fair Play, Perseverance, Respect and Sportsmanship.

When: June 23, 2013,  9-11:30 AM

Where: Willow Park – lower Pavilion

Event Details:
– Ages 15 and under
– Enjoy games and fun Olympic style events
– Create your own Olympic medals
– Photo signing with local Olympian Andy Newell
– Come any time between 9-11:30am






Cross Country Canada’s Inside Edge Episode 8 – 2013-14 Early Season Testing

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May 31, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – We are excited to bring you Cross Country Canada’s “Inside Edge” video series. With action, interviews, strategy and much more, Inside Edge gives you unprecedented access to our National Ski Team as it takes on the world’s best.

In this eighth episode of The Inside Edge, we take an inside look into Senior World Cup Team early season testing on the roller ski treadmill. Athletes Devon Kershaw, Perianne Jones, Ivan Babikov and Len Valjas talk about their goals for the season ahead.

Thanks to our partners at Twin Zebra Productions. More episodes coming soon! To view Episodes 1-8 click HERE.

The Inside Edge Episode 8: 2013-14 Early Season Testing

NNF and CXC Academy Announce Partnership

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May 30, 2013 (Salt Lake City, UT) – The National Nordic Foundation, America’s grassroots Nordic foundation, and CXC Academy, an online training subscription service are partnering up for the 2013/14 season. CXC Academy will be contributing 50% of new annual training subscription to the National Nordic Foundation for the coming season.

We at the NNF are so thankful for programs like the CXC Academy who are stepping forward to support the NNF in its quest to provide opportunities and support to our developing American Nordic skiers.

This is a great opportunity for skiers of all abilities to get back to training with a focus for the 2013/14 ski season and at the same time support America’s developing Cross-Country and Nordic Combined skiers.

The National Nordic Foundation (NNF) is a grassroots, 501(c)3 organization that supports our developing American Cross-Country and Nordic Combined skiers. This past season through the support of our American Nordic community the NNF was able to support 69 athletes with European racing opportunities in addition to domestic training camps and competitions.

CXC Academy is a program of Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC Skiing) and online subscription service that provides professional training plans and instructional videos for cross country skiers of all ages and skill levels. Whether you are a beginner skier looking to finish your first 5K, a Master skier training for a big ski event, or simply looking to improve your overall strength and fitness, we have a training program to meet your goals.

For more about these organizations go to:

Talkin’ with the Gravy Train – Interview w/NNF Director David Knoop – Part 2

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May 13, 2013 – Here is Part 2 of our interview with Dave Knoop, the Director of the National Nordic Foundation (NNF) on Talkin’ with the Gravy Train. Knoop gives an inside look at the history of the organization and how it is able to provide over $150,000 to support Nordic skiing and speaks about the mission of the NNF, the all-important pillar projects, the Nordic community and the future in general. Read more about Knoop and find our Part 1 interview HERE.

Interview w/David Knoop – Part 2

SIA 2013 Demo at Devils Thumb Videos Part 4 – New Atomic Boa Race Skate Boot

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May 13, 2013 (Tabernash, CO) – Here’s one of our 2014 product vids that was missed during our coverage of the SIA 2013 Demo at Devils Thumb in Tabernash, Colorado where SkiTrax caught up with Atomic’s Isaac Wilson who introduces the newly released Boa Race Skate boot for 2013/ 2014 – the only skate boot on the market using the Boa system.

Sargent Report – Kauai in Pictures

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May 10, 2013 – Growing up, the Sargent family vacations were backpacking, skiing, or camping trips, which always involved packed itineraries, cold climates, paddling around another lake, or summiting one more mountain.  I was forever envious of my friends who traveled to Florida and just sat on the beach.  This year, since I didn’t need to rush back to school as soon as the ski season finished, my big sister Elsa and I decided to go on a tropical vacation together.  We chose the Hawaiian Island of Kauai… Read more and see lots of pics HERE.

Final 2012/13 USSA SuperTour Standings and Grand Champions Named

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May 06, 2013 – Here are the final USSA SuperTour standings and Grand National Champions for the 2012/13 season. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) and Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) are the women’s and men’s overall SuperTour winners. Brennan also secured the women’s sprint and distance standings. On the men’s side, Sinnott scored top spot in the sprint rankings, while Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) cleaned up in the distance rankings. The Grand National Champion title went to Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) for the women, while Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) earned the crown in the men’s contest.

Women’s Overall Leader
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 654 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 507 points
3. Kate Fitzgerald (APUNSC) 362 points

Women’s Sprint Leader
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 232 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 207 points
2. Jennie Bender (CXC) 207 points

Women’s Distance Leaders
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 422 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 300 points
3. Caitlin Gregg (CXC) 254 points

Women’s Grand National Champion
1. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST)
2. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC)
3. Kate Fitzgerald (APUNSC)

Men’s Overall Leaders
1. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 474 points
2. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 445 points
3. Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) 334 points

Men’s Sprint Leaders
1. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 200 points
2. Dakota Blackhorse (Bend Endurance Academy) 167 points
3. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 138 points

Men’s Distance Leaders
1. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 307 points
2. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 274 points
3. Brian Gregg (CXC) 249 points

Men’s Grand National Champion
1. Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol)
2. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST)
3. Tad Elliott (SSC Vail/USST)

Women’s Final USSA SuperTour Rankings HERE.

Men’s Final USSA SuperTour Rankings HERE.

USSA Grand National Champion Rankings HERE.

*The tie on the Grand Nationals Champion document is denoted in yellow and tie breaker in blue.

Bysprinten in Norway to be Streamed Live – Apr. 27

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April 26, 2013 (Mosjøen, Norway) – Bysprinten, the popular nordic ski festival in Mosjøen, Norway, will be featured in a two-hour live broadcast on the Norwegian TV network TV4 on Saturday April 27. For those outside of Norway, Bysprinten will be streamed live online at www.bysprinten.no/live and www.helgeland-arbeiderblad.no .

Event Organizer Lyder Sund of Helgeland Event is excited about live coverage. He is very satisfied with the first live television broadcast from the race. “There is no doubt that live TV coverage is the important for us. When we negotiate with potential sponsors on a national level, there are always questions about TV coverage. We are much more appealing to the sponsor market when we can offer live broadcast,” Sund said.

IEC in Sport will be producing the broadcast from the event, in cooperation with the crew from Bysprinten. Jon Ola Lien has been the producer the recent years, and the production has preliminary been shown on big screens at the arena. Also this year there is a big screen production, but at the same time the crew will be producing for internet and TV.

The company IEC is known as one of the largest producers of sporting events. In the world of skiing they are the producers of Swix ski Classics, but they produce many other sporting events. Among other, they cover 40 tennis tournaments every year.

Entire Norwegian National Team to Bysprinten
Bysprinten will guaranteed be a fast race this Saturday. The event will see nearly the entire National ski sprint team from Norway.

The National team with Eirik Brandsdal, Anders Gløersen, Ola Vigen Hattestad, Tomas Northug, and Øystein Pettersen will all be at the starting line. Only Pål Golberg is absent from the race.

“The recent years we have had the best sprinters in the world in place, and it looks as if they enjoy themselves up here,” said Lyder Sund.

Last year Eirik Brandsdal won just in front of Ola Vigen Hattestad after a dramatic last turn. Swedish Teodor Peterson had a lead, but crashed in a fence.

A Norwegian – Swedish duel?
History shows that the winners are hard to predict at this event, but we are confident that both Teodor Peterson and Robin Bryntesson are eager to beat the Norwegians. Little brother Cologna is also an exciting skier. He is a really good sprinter, says Sund. Gianluca Cologna is a new star this season. He is Swiss Champion, and has been in a final in the world cup.

Germany’s Top Skier
Tobias Angerer (36) began as a sprinter many years ago, and has become the winningest German skier. In 2004, he won his first world cup race, and has in a total 10 world cup victories. He won the overall world cup in the 2005/2006 and 2006/07 season. In 2007 he became the first male winner of Tour de Ski. This year, he is finally ready to compete in Mosjøen.

“It is really exciting that he wants to come to Mosjøen. He is one of the world cups ‘grand old men’,” said Sund.

Bysprinten Start List

– Katja Visnar, Slovenia
– Denise Herrmann, Germany
– Charlotte Kalla, Sweden
– Mari Eide, Norway
– Maria Nysted Grønvoll, Norway
– Laurien van der Graaff, Switzerland
– Magdalena Pajala , Sweden
– Sanna Halberg, Sweden
– Elin Mohlin, Sweden
– Johanna Meyer, Sweden
– Ida Indahl, Sweden

– Ola Vigen Hattestad, Norway
– Øystein Pettersen, Norway
– Robin Bryntesson, Sweden
– Teodor Peterson, Sweden
– Niklas Dyrhaug, Norway
– Eirik Brandsdal, Norway
– Anders Gløersen, Norway
– Tobias Angerer, Germany
– Morten Vannebo, Norway
– Rolf Einar Jensen, Norway
– John K Dahl, Norway
– Kalle Lassila, Finland
– Daniell Heun, Switzerland
– Anders Tettli Rennemo, Norway
– Andreas Myran Steen, Norway
– Kristian Tettli Rennemo, Norway
– Chris Jespersen, Norway
– Joeri Kindschi, Switzerland
– Gianluca Cologna, Switzerland
– Håvard Klementsen, Norway
– Magnus Moan, Norway
– Tomas Northug, Norway
– Even Northug, Norway

Kershaw Report – Spring 2013

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April 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2012/13 racing season is now long over. The snow, clinging desperately to the mountains, rocks and trees, is in deep discussions, begging to let go, turn to water, spurring the “actual” beginning of next season – one of growth, new beginnings and if you are me – debilitating allergies: spring.

Spring is losing here in Canmore as of now. Snowstorms still blow through the valley and the ski touring is still light’s out delicious in the ranges behind the Bow Valley. But winter is waging a losing battle and while all good things come to an end – so too will the snowy peaks, cold temperatures and well, winter.

Speaking of winter – it’s no secret that I envisioned last season going better. I was coming off a career best season in 2011/12. Those feelings of winning World Cups, finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the distance cup were definitely fresh in the mind. Throughout the training season I was feeling stronger, fitter and faster physically for months on end – even though emotionally I could have been categorized easily by any high school girl within 30 seconds of hanging out with me as “a total mess.” I can admit it. Still though – I was sure that this year I was going to be able to take that next, last little step needed after the strong foundation laid in 2011/12.

Instead, back in November I took a little step in the wrong direction – on a stronger concrete foundation in the shape of stairs – and tore a ligament in my foot. Not the best move only a week out from the season opener. I let myself get the better of myself – if you follow that – and instead of taking a step back and recovering fully I pushed on – taping it, getting therapy, icing it and wishing with all my energy that it’d heal magically.

It didn’t and for the first 8 weeks of the racing season I had plenty of reminders that sometimes no amount of wishing and hoping can combat reality. I kept it within the team and asked that the team not discuss it publically. I guess I was just so motivated and hungry to have a good season, that if people started talking about it – it would get more real. It’s hard to explain if you aren’t an athlete and maybe you don’t understand, but I felt as though if I was racing – even if it hurt – then it wasn’t a huge deal….

As the winter rolled on, the results remained disappointing. I had some glimmers of “ok” feelings – a few top tens, 12th overall at the Tour de Ski, 4th at the World Championships with Alex in the team sprint – but on the whole I just wasn’t feeling myself. Gone were the weekends of winning and on the podium. Coupled with the torn ligament, I contracted some rough food poisoning in France that reoccurred three more times from mid January to late February which wasn’t a barrel of laughs either.

These aren’t excuses – I know that I made some mistakes in my training season, we made some mistakes with regards to my race calendar, and some other smaller ones along the way, too, that seemed to have a bigger impact that we thought. I take full responsibility for that – but it wasn’t the best to having health issues on top of that. At this level, it’s a precarious place to hang out – between success and failure. Everything needs to come together and sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned or wanted them to for whatever reason.

The last month of the season continued to be tough. I had some more stomach issues early at the World Championships – which translated into one race where I felt good (the team sprint with Alex). After the World Championships – the spring World Cup was a rough period for our team too – as we just weren’t able to deliver the results and good feelings that we’d become accustomed to when the World Cup heads back to Scandinavia in the spring.

Looking back, it’s amazing that we had the success we had at the World Championships at all – which I think speaks volumes of our team as a whole (staff, athletes, techs, everyone). Alex won a historic bronze in classic sprint – traditionally one of his weakest events. Babs was 4th in the 15km skate, and Alex and I finished agonizingly close to the bronze – 4th – in the team sprint.

Now it’s time to inject some positivity – the cool and simply reality of spring is that things melt and start growing again. Those feelings of disappointment are melting away – we’ve had great discussions about what we did, what we can do better, and what we’ll do moving forward and I’m 100% confident that we still have a great team and new plan moving forward.

I was pretty tired emotionally/mentally upon arriving in Canada and I’ve spent most of my time in the mountains back country skiing – healing the mind and letting go of all the disappointment. I’ve got out 14 days of the last 20, which has been both fantastic and rejuvenating. For me, in the spring time there’s nothing better than backcountry skiing – you are way back in some mountain range with just you and your buddies, no internet, phone, nothing – it’s simplicity at it’s best and it’s amazing.

Up next in the two-pronged “get ready to rock and roll” is the “real” rest – as I’m off to Maui tomorrow to check in on Lenny’s tan – kidding! It’ll be awesome to get some vitamin D, eat some delicious fish and tropical fruit, get completely thrashed in the waves and vibe out. I know that after that I’ll be 100% ready to go for the Olympic training year. Hard to believe that this quadrennial came and went so quickly. I have some unfinished business there after finishing 4th and 5th in the last Games in Vancouver – so this year will be about simplifying things, training well, making good decisions and enjoying it.

We’ll learn, adjust and attack going forward. My good friend and Canadian sports psych’ extraordinaire likes to quote Andre Agassi’s “I can live with disappointment, but I can’t live with regret.” Damn right. I was disappointed with how the season went – no question. But I don’t regret it. I did what I thought was best at the time – it ended up being wrong. I made mistakes, I’m learning from them, and I’m fired up moving forward.

Lao Tzu wrote, “Succeeding is the coming together of all things beautiful and perseverance is the foundation of all actions.” I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy your spring everyone and thanks for the support!


Ingemarsdotter, Olsson and Halfvarsson Named New Falun 2015 Ambassadors

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April 13, 2013 – Three of Sweden’s Cross-Country ski stars Ida Ingemarsdotter, Johan Olsson and Calle Halfvarsson have been appointed new ambassadors for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015 in Falun (SWE) and will thus become “the faces” of the event.

“They are very good representatives for ski sport and for Falun 2015. That is why we are happy to appoint them,” says Sven von Holst, CEO of Falun 2015.

In addition to strong FIS World Cup performances throughout the past seasons, all three athletes had outstanding results in the World Championships last winter. Olsson took gold and silver in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme (ITA) in the 15 and 50 km events while Halvarsson secured silver in the team sprint. In addition, Ingemarsdotter became a three-time silver medallist in the sprint, team sprint and relay competitions.

The three skiers were formally appointed ambassadors in connection with a small ceremony and received a Championships package with information about the event, as well as a training camp in Falun.

Previously, Torgny Mogren, Emil Joensson, Anna Haag, Charlotte Kalla, Jan Bokloev and Marcus Hellner have already been appointed as Falun 2015 ambassadors.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2012/13 Contest Winners Announced and Final Standings after Falun

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April 12, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the final 2012/13 SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest standings after round 12 of the Viessmann XC FIS World Cup in Falun, Sweden, Mar. 22-24.

It could not have been closer in the contest as Teams Summerstars and Little Matt were tied with the highest number of points at 2,014. The tie-break and the grand prize Fischer package goes to Summerstars, who was the earlier of the two teams to register. Team Little Matt wins the fabulous second place Trapp Family Lodge accommodation prize, while team Double Polers made a last-minute charge to grab third place with 2,010 points, winning the sweet SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis.

Read our coverage from Falun, including USA’s Kikkan Randall’s third place in the 2.5km FR here… plus Randall’s historic podium in the overall FIS World Cup standings here.

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all contestants and all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, SkiGo, Alpina, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, 2XU, Bliz, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

For the Final Contest standings after Falun, click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2012/13 Contest Winners

Summerstars – Branden Fontana – Anchorage, AK
* 1st Prize
Fischer 12/13 Carbonlite Skating Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)

– Little Matt – Matthew Ruel – Charny, QC
* 2nd Prize
– Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)

Double Polers – Dan Hone – Warwickshire, England
* 3rd Prize – SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis (value $420)

Suusakollid – Suusa Koll – Tartu, Estonia
* 4th Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)

– FastandMale – Adam Loomis – Eau Claire, WI
* 5th Prize
One Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)

maksimy – Michael Pankiewicz – Miłocin, Poland
* 6th Prize
– Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)

rgsnow – Guillaume Ruet – Fleurie, France
* 7th Prize
2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)

– Winners Club – Borger Melsom – Oslo, Norway
* 8th Prize
Bliz Proflip Visor (value $129)

– Luca D. – Luca Dallavalle – Trento, Italy
* 9th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

CATZ4LYFE – William Spiller – Ketchum, ID
* 10th Prize
Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

jesters – Jesse Heckrodt – Enderby, BC
– Little Matt – Matthew Ruel – Charny, QC
– Summerstars – Branden Fontana – Anchorage, AK
* WCup Breaks Buff Headware to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski (value $23)

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

FIS Continental Cup Season Wrap-Up

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April 12, 2013 – The FIS Continental Cup series all over the world are some of the most important Cross-Country competitions as they allow the younger athletes to prepare themselves for the World Cup level in several ways. As a bonus, the Continental Cup winners earn the right to compete in the World Cup Final. Below is an overview of the COC standings for the 2012/13 season.

The OPA Cup was again concluded in Toblach (ITA) after a series consisting of seven venues in five countries. This season was a great success for the German skiers who dominated the top 5 places in the overall ranking led by Franz Goering with 797 points. Second placed and runner-up Sebastian Eisenlauer collected 627 points whilst Lucas Boegl claimed third place with 596 points.

Also on the ladies’ side, the German skiers were dominant and occupied the top two positions with Monique Siegel claiming the Cup with 836 points, 113 points ahead of the second best and compatriot Sandra Ringwald. Spaniard Laura Orgue took an excellent third overall with 668 points.

Scandinavian Cup
This season’s Scandinavian Cup included five different venues across Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Over the course of the years, the Norwegians have dominated the top of this series and this season the Norwegian men occupied top four spots as Tomas Northug won the series ahead of Snorri Einarsson and Hans Christer Holund.

The top nine of the Scandinavian Cup on the ladies side were purely Norwegian business led by Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes who topped the podium with 766 points before Tuva Toftdahl and Britt Ingunn Nydal.

USSA Super Tour
The US SuperTour is currently still underway with two competitions remaining at Lake Tahoe (USA) to conclude the season finals. Rosie Brennan and Michael Sinnot are leading the overall standings prior to the last competitions on 11th April.

Haywood NorAm
In a very tight competition until the last races of the season in Mont St. Anne (CAN), Amanda Ammar and her Canadian compatriot Jesse Cockney took the titles in the North American Cup just 9 and 8 points ahead of their closest contenders. Ammar scored a total of 816 points while Cockney took 915 points which earned them the titles in front of Kate Brennan (807) and Alysson Marshall (763) on the ladies’ side, and Graham Nishikawa (937) and Michael Somppi (928) on the men’s side.

Far East Cup
The Far East Cup 201/13 featured three venues this season at the Alpensia Resort (KOR), Otoineppu and Sapporo (both JPN).

On the ladies’ side, Naoko Omori claimed the overall Cup victory with 380 points. Chisa Obayashi finished second, only 5 points behind the winner while Yuki Kobayashi took third with 360 points.

Among the men, last year’s runner-up Nobu Naruse was the strongest competitor and won the series with 401 points. Keishin Yoshida picked up 380 points and took second place with Akira Lenting repeating his strong performance from last year finishing third in the overall standings of the Far East Cup with 331points.

Balkan Cup
The Balkan Cup has seen its conclusion in Dvorista-Pale (BIH) at the end of March. Bulgaria’s Veselin Tzinzov clearly won the men’s series ahead of two Croatians Edi Dadic and Andrej Buric.

The standings were reversed for the ladies where Croatia topped the ranking as Vedrana Malec collected 460 points ahead of Bulgaria’s Teodora Malcheva who claimed the runner-up position and Antoniya Grigorova-Burgova in third overall with 380 points.

Eastern Europe Cup
The Eastern Europe Cup included the venues of Vershina Tea, Krasnogorsk, Kahrkiv (both UKR), Moscow and Syktyvkar (both RUS). Sergey Novikov claimed the overall victory with 394 points ahead of Vladislav Skobelev in second whilst Sergey Shiriaev took third place.

On the ladies’ side, last year’s winner Elena Soboleva (RUS) repeated her overall victory ahead of Marina Chernousova and Daria Godovanichenko.

Slavic Cup
This season’s Slavic Cup, which concluded in Zakopane (POL), was almost all about Czech and Slovakian Cross-Country skiers.

Six venues hosted competitions as Daniela Kotschova (SVK) topped the ladies’ ranking in front of two Polish skiers, Agnieszka Szymanczak in second and Martyna Galewicz in third place.

Jiri Horcicka of the Czech Republic won the men’s standings having collected 676 points. His compatriot Ondrej Horyna finish 127 points behind and took second place and Poland’s Jan Antolec defended his third place from last year with 500 points.

2013 Masters World Cup in Asiago Report – Canada Wins 20 Medals

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April 12, 2013 – Asiago, Italy, home of Rode Wax, world-famous cheese and the 2013 Masters World Cup! Between February 15th and 22nd, 103 Canadians were among the 1,173 skiers from 25 nations who competed in the annual event which is open to athletes aged 30 and older. Skiers race in 5 year age categories – in 2013 the oldest woman was 86 and the oldest man 89. (In 2011 when the Masters World Cup was hosted by Sovereign Lake Nordic Club in B.C., the oldest competitor was a 93 year old American man). Competitors can choose to race classic or freestyle in each distance, which varies from 5 km to 45 km, depending on age and sex.

Asiago lived up to its reputation and hosted a lively and unforgettable event, under sunny skies on immaculately groomed tracks. Spectators lined the course to cheer on the participants and the multi-lingual announcers kept up a lively commentary in the stadium. A large refreshment tent served hot meals, baked goods and lashings of coffee and hot chocolate, and prior to each race competitors energetically prepared their skis in the crowded wax tents. Old friends greeted one another – many of the same racers attend the World Masters every year and lasting friendships are formed even if the only form of communication is a broad grin and a hug or a handshake.

Canadians did well in podium results, winning 6 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals. This was one of the largest Masters World Cup Canadian teams for a European venue – usually the number is between 30 and 50 when the competition is held in Europe. Included in this year’s team was Pierre Harvey, who finished 4th in the Men’s 45 km classic race. Complete race results can be found at www.mwc2013.com

The Masters World Cup (MWC) in cross country skiing is actually a Canadian invention. It became an outgrowth of the masters movement in Canada – the Canadian Masters Cross Country Ski Association and the Canadian Masters Cross Country Ski Championships – initially conceived and formalized by Bill Gairdner of Ontario. Bill was the first president of the Canadian association and very quickly took the masters cross country skiing concept to the world stage to form and lead the World Masters Cross Country Ski Association which is now responsible for ensuring that an annual MWC happens.

The first MWC was held in 1980 at Morin Heights, Quebec and was organized principally by Jan Hansen of the Viking Ski Club. The following year did not see a MWC as the FIS (International Ski Federation) sorted out what to do with the demands of this bunch of old skiers who wanted a World Championship. However in 1982, after the FIS agreed to a “World Cup” concept, Sweden stepped into the breach and the MWCs have been held annually ever since.







Werner Schwar Defends Lappe Nordic Ski Club 24-Hour Solo Title

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April 11, 2013 (Thunder Bay, ON) – The 16th Annual 24 Hour Relay, in support of the Lappe Nordic Ski Club and the National Development Centre wrapped up Sunday morning at 11am. This year’s event included the traditional 24-hour event, as well as new 6 and 12 hour events. Twenty-eight teams took to the trails starting Saturday at 11 am with many goals in mind. Participants skied on teams, in pairs, and even alone. This year’s events brought many skiers from out of town, including St.Paul, MN and Winnipeg, MB.

Werner Schwar defended his 24 Hour solo men’s title with a total of 285.15km covered. Event organizers were thrilled to have enough snow for the event as in the past it has been cancelled due to lack of snow. This year, there was enough snow for the event, and to make things more difficult for skiers snow continued to fall well into the evening….

Read more HERE.

Distance Nationals 30km CL Interviews w/Stephen and Randall at USSA SuperTour Finals in Lake Tahoe

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April 11, 2013 (Truckee, CA) – Liz Stephen won a landslide victory in the women’s 30km CL event, besting teammmate and World Cup Sprint Champion Kikkan Randall, to earn herself the title at 2013 U.S. Distance National Championships in Lake Tahoe following the USSA SuperTour Finals. In this video, Martha Bellisle recaps the race and catches up with Stephen and Randall for their thoughts on how it all unfolded – full report and results HERE.

Prince George to Host 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships

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April 11, 2013 (Prince George, BC) – It’s been almost ten years since the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club hosted a FIS-sanctioned cross-country ski event, but in 2014, Canada’s top skiers will return to Prince George to compete at the 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships.

From February 14, – 16th 2014, the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club will host the ski competition—sanctioned by FIS, the International Ski Federation (the world’s highest ski-sanctioning body)—and recognized as a test event for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

The event will attract athletes from across Canada who will be vying for positions on Canada’s 2014-15 World Cup Team. Additionally athletes from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon Territories, and the Northwest Territories will be representing their province in order to determine the Western Canadian Champions. It is expected that approximately 350 athletes will compete from across Canada.

“The government of British Columbia would like to congratulate Prince George on winning the rights to host the 2014 championships,” says Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “This prestigious event is really going to ramp up the anticipation for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George. By showcasing Canada’s top athletes, this competition will give audiences a taste of the excitement to come in 2015.”

“Otway Nordic Centre is a shining jewel in our region’s incredible recreation crown,” says Prince George Mayor, Shari Green. “It’s great to see this top-class facility hosting such an important event in the Nordic skiing community. Canada’s top skiers will appreciate why Prince George earned the right to host the Canada Winter Games, as they enjoy our warm hospitality.”

The 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships will test more than the field of play explains Cal Benson, Chief of Competition for the Western Canadian Championships. “We are looking forward to trying out the new expanded cross-country stadium and brand new technical building at Otway, as well as the competitive trail system expansion developed in preparation for the 2015 Canada Winter Games,” says Benson. “This will be a fantastic opportunity to prepare for the Games and future competitions we might secure as a result of these investments.”

“This is a great example of what the 2015 Canada Winter Games is bringing to our community,” says Kevin Pettersen, President, Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. “The significant upgrades to our trails and facilities are now up to the National Sporting Organizations’ standards, and will give us more opportunities for event-hosting after the 2015 Games.”

“Now is a great time to be a sports fan in northern BC,” says Stuart Ballantyne, CEO, 2015 Canada Winter Games. “The Canada Games is the stepping-stone in the athletic careers of Canada’s top young athletes and future Olympians, and events like the 2014 Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships are a great platform to cheer on these talented athletes and learn about their sports.”

This is the first FIS-sanctioned cross-country ski event since the 2005 Ski Nationals. Six of the seven 2012-13 Canadian World Cup team raced in Prince George in 2005: Len Valjas, Alex Harvey, Perianne Jones, Daria Gaiazova, Ivan Babikov, and Chandra Crawford. All of these have won World Cup or Olympic medals since racing in Prince George. Notably, Chandra Crawford won an Olympic gold medal in the Women’s Sprint at Turin, Italy in 2006 and Alex Harvey won Canada’s first men’s World Championship individual medal in 2013 at Val di Fiemme, Italy.

APUNSC Spring Celebration – May 10

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April 08, 2013 – APU Nordic is hosting a celebration of the 2012-13 season this sprint. Please join us on Friday, May 10 at 6:00 p.m. at the APU Atwood Building to celebrate the squad’s successes, including the crowning of the first American World Champion, winning the World Cup Sprint Crystal Globe, numerous podiums at U.S. Nationals, and more!

Hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks will be provided. Plus, participate in live and silent auctions!

Please RSVP to Calisa Kastning ckastning@alaskapacific.edu by Friday April 26th

2013 Haywood Ski Nationals Videos – Interviews w/McMurtry, Heidi Widmer, Kocher + Race Footage

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April 01, 2013 (Whistler, B.C.) – SkiTrax was on site at the 2013 Haywood Ski Nationals held March 23-30 at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley to catch all of the action. Get the scoop about the competitions straight from racers Brent McMurtry, Heidi Widmer, and Zina Kocher, as well as some exciting footage from the finish of the Men’s 50km Free and the start of the Juvenile Girl’s 7.5km Free.






Job Opportunity – Cross Country Saskatchewan

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April 01, 2013 (Regina, SK) – Cross Country Saskatchewan is looking for a uniquely independent spirited technical director / high performance coach to inspire young skiers to experience success while carving new innovative futures.

Cross Country Saskatchewan is looking to hire a skilled, dedicated and passionate provincial technical director / high performance coach to lead the Saskatchewan ski team into the 2015 Canada Winter Games. As the technical director/provincial coach you will be provided with the opportunity to shape, develop and nurture athletes in the Learning-to-Train to Learning-to-Compete stages of development, while creating the framework of a sustainable provincial ski program. Saskatchewan currently has 6 clubs with active racing skiers with dozens of developmental skiers ready to benefit from an enthusiastic leader. Clubs are supported by an eager and committed volunteer base ready and willing to support the position. The successful independent candidate will be required to work from their own home in the province of Saskatchewan.

General competencies:
– Organizational and environmental awareness
– Result orientated
– Developing Others
– Flexible
– Innovative thinking
– Planning and organizing
– Team leadership
– Strong communication skills

Functional competencies:
– Current knowledge of ski technique
– Knowledge of the principles of training
– Knowledge of coaching
– Knowledge of the CCC LTAD
– Lead a team in competition
– Ability to use office technology, software & applications

General Responsibilities:
The Coach/Technical Director is accountable for all aspects of the delivery and growth of the provincial High Performance program. In collaboration with the CCS Executive, the technical director / high performance coach will be responsible for the following performance measures:

– Create the infrastructure to support a sustainable High Performance Program;
– Support the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of a provincial High Performance program;
– Demonstrate an improvement in the number and performance of Saskatchewan skiers participating at divisionally and nationally sanctioned events and improved athlete placing at the 2015 CWG;
– Ensure the coordination of single and multi-year periodized training and development programs and camps, competition schedules and integrated sports medicine plans for High Performance athletes;
– Mentor, advice and support club coaches in an effort to grow club programs aimed at encouraging the development of Saskatchewan skiers;
– Ensure individualized athlete mentoring and monitoring to High Performance athletes;
– Ensure the coordination of logistics for provincial training events and competitions, including transportation, accommodation arrangements and attendance when identified by the High Performance Committee;
– Ensure clubs work with the Coach/Technical Director regarding the coordination of activities involved in the preparation of a provincial team for any out of province event;
– Encourage coaches support of the implementation of the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) program within the province;
– Foster the development of certified provincial coaches by supporting the coordination and delivery of NCCP training courses and other professional development activities including mentoring of club coaches;
– Support the establishment and viability of clubs and High Performance athletes training with these clubs through the development and implementation of a support plan.

– A demonstrated coaching qualifications such as the NCCP Certification or equivalent certification
– Post-secondary education in a physical education or sports administration field is an asset
– Familiarity with Saskatchewan Cross Country skiing environment
– Car is required with a valid Class 5 License
– Current CPR and First Aid
– High speed internet is required

Need to know information: Competitive salary and benefits package for a 3-year term

Travel is an essential part of the position

Interested applicants can send resume to the CCS office at ccs@sasktel.net

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Final Contest Standings and Winners Announced after the Engadin Skimarathon

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March 27, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We’re sorry for the delay and thrilled to announce the overall standings and winners of the second annual SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest after the Engadin Skimarathon 42km  free technique race held in Switzerland on March 10. Read our coverage of the 45th Engadin Skimarathon, including final overall FIS Marathon Cup standings here.

Team dom managed to defend the lead to the end with 650 points, while teams beaujo and legrandbo made last-minute charges to earn top-three finishes with 644 and 640 points, respectively.

For the final contest standings after the Engadin Skimarathon, please click HERE.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to all contestants and our great sponsors including Nipika, Marwe, Yoko, Halti, Skiwax.ca, 2XU, One Way, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup Prize Winners

– dom – Dom Berrod – Fleurie, France
* 1st Prize – Nipika Lodge
– 4-nights for 2 people in luxurious cabin, including Trail Fees (value up to $1,160)

– beaujo – Rene Berrod – Vivier, France
* 2nd Prize –  Marwe
610c Roller Skis (value $349)

– legrandbo – Guy Ruet – Le Grand Bornand, France
* 3rd Prize – Yoko
9100 Poles (value $299)

– Redl… – Agris Krievans – Naukseni, Latvia
* 4th Prize – Halti
XC Race Suit Hemmo Set (value $269)

– fleur – Simone Berrod – Fleurie, France
* 5th Prize – Skiwax.ca
Racer Kickwax kit (value $235)

– swedish – Vincent Ruet – Montalieu Vercieu, France
* 6th Prize –  2XU
Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)

– lafrasse – Christiane Ruet – Le Grand Bornand, France
* 7th Prize – One Way Snowbird Glasses (value $120)

– bondin – Alex Moiroud – Montalieu, France
* 8th Prize – Fresh Air Experience
or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

– littlebig – Nadine Moiroud – Montalieu, France
* 9th Prize – Auclair
Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

– rgsnow – Guillaume Ruet – Fleurie, France
* 10th Prize – Buff
Headware (value $23)

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

Interview w/Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth in Falun

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March 25, 2013 (Falun, Sweden) – SkiTrax caught up with Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth after the FIS World Cup finale in Falun, Sweden this past weekend to get his take on the 2012/13 season, the highs and lows, and what the squad will do differently next year to get the team back on their game.

While many teams would love to have Canada’s record this season with half-a-dozen podiums and the first ever individual medal by a Canadian man at the World Championships courtesy of Alex Harvey, the Canucks were striving for more following an astounding 14 medals last season.

Things did not go as planned this season admitted Wadsworth, but he is positive the team will turn things around in the upcoming Olympic year – when it really counts.

For a quick 2012/13 season Canadian team medal recap: Len Valjas scored two medals this season, including a bronze in the Sprint FR in Val Mustair (SUI) and silver in the 15km CL Mass start in Val di Fiemme (ITA), both during the Tour de Ski. Alex Harvey finished right behind Valjas in the latter race to share the podium with his teammate winning the bronze.

At the end of the TdS, Ivan Babikov scored the silver in the final 9km FR Pursuit stage up Alpe Cermis (ITA). Babikov was also the top NA skier in the overall WCup in 20th (Devon Kershaw was second overall last year while Harvey was 6th).  Then Harvey came around again near the end of the season to be the first ever Canadian man to win an individual World Championship medal when he placed third in the classic sprint in Val di Fiemme (ITA).

On the women’s side, the highlight was when Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova scored third in the team sprint at the Sochi World Cup (RUS).

Interview w/Justin Wadsworth

38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet a Success – Report Results

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March 25, 2013 (Labrador City, NL) – The 38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet was an exciting event to remember. It was very worrisome on Friday night with blowing snow, 60-80Km winds and low visibility. But we persevered, sent our two Pisten Bullys (Menihek Nordic & Whitewolf Snowmobile Club) to Fermont 28K start at 2:00AM, held them there until 6:00AM and then came to the Duley Park 10K start and waited there until an hour before the start 10:00AM so we could achieve best possible track and skating course.
At 6:00 AM, on going out around the course start & finish areas, we found out that the snow had stopped, the winds were dying down and it warmed to 0’C. The 38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet was a go. The course was set, 129 people had signed up to ski or snow shoe, all the start finish areas were ready, all the venues, Menihek, Smokey, Whitewolf and the Club Lagopede de Motoneige in Fermont were ready, Circular road was barricaded, the railway from Bloomlake was shut and guarded, the town trucks for the skis were at the mall the buses came, the skiers arrived and away we go for the Loppet.

It was a great day for skiing,the course a challenge but it was warm. Lots of hard luck stories, the first moose observed on the loppet trail. The rest stops, feed & refreshment stations were excellent,lots of volunteers and groups from Search & Rescue, H.O.W.L.S (Ham Radio), Patrol Whitewolf, Town of Labrador City, RNC & some Canadian Ski Patrol also skied the course.
The timing crew did a great job and people were really good sending in pictures of their loppet experience.

The awards ceremony for youth was at 2:00 at White wolf, a great job there with food and refreshments for all Loppet skiers. In the evening, there was a banquet and awards ceremonies and dance at Smokey Mountain Ski Club for skiers and volunteers, guest speaker was Min.Nick McGrath. Smokey did an excellent job on the steaks and food. The dance after was a lot of fun.

Another successful PAL Great Labrador Loppet for the history books. We are very appreciative to all our skiers, organizers, staff, volunteers, and sponsors, thank you all.

Looking forward to next year… happy trails.

Full PAL Great Labrador Loppet results HERE.

USA’s Randall Podiums at Falun 2.5km FR – Brooks 7th, Diggins 8th as Bjoergen Wins

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March 22, 2013 (Falun, Sweden) – USA’s Kikkan Randall is storming strong, even as the end of the World Cup season quickly approaches. Only days ago, she successfully defended her World Cup Sprint crystal globe, but the Alaskan star is not resting on her laurels.

Today in the 2.5km free technique event, Randall snapped up a bronze medal only 6.6s behind Norwegian powerhouse Marit Bjoergen and 2.2s behind second place, Charlotte Kalla (SWE).

“The times were really tight out there and I’m happy to be on the podium. I think we had great skis today and I’m really psyched for our performance as a team. Two more races to go now, hope we can keep this momentum rolling! The course was short but challenging. The downhill turn that everyone was concerned about was definitely a little wild but safe enough,” said Randall in a team release.

“It’s been an interesting last 24 hours here in Falun, but with a seemingly happy ending. Yesterday after previewing the course there were concerns from several athletes that the new technical downhill section was going to be unsafe. We called an athletes meeting and went back and forth with the jury to try and find a compromise on a safer course. For me, as the athlete rep, it was a lot of running around yesterday. But in the end I’m glad we found a good solution and everyone agreed to start today.”

USA’s Holly Brooks had a great race, finishing seventh, while teammate Jessie Diggins also made the top-10 with a strong eighth-place finish. Other North American results include Liz Stephen (USA) in 20th, Ida Sargent (USA) in 38th, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) in 41st, Rosie Brennan (USA) in 46th, and Dasha Gaiazova (CAN) in 47th.

“It felt good to race a skate prologue – I really like this distance. It was also nice to get a good race feeling back! I had been feeling really tired and pretty done after World Champs, but today my body was ready for one last race series as we finish World Cup Finals,” commented Diggins. “The coaches did a fantastic job on the skis and it’s really exciting to have three girls in the top eight! It really boosts confidence and it’s always nice to end the season on a high note.”

After significant athlete protests, the infamous Mördarbacken (Murder Hill) hill was cut from this weekend’s race courses. Read more about it in our coverage here.

Women’s 2.5km Free results HERE.

CCC Launches National Marketing Campaign to Increase XC Ski Participation

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March 21, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Cross Country Canada will ski into communities across the country with a one-of-a-kind marketing campaign that showcases the universal appeal of the sport to Canadians of all ages and abilities in an effort to drive participation.

The innovative campaign showcases the many advantages of cross-country skiing by directly targeting other sports with catchy slogans, including:

“The cross-country ski community in Canada lives and breathes the sport’s unique characteristics, but we want the rest of the country to realize how fun, cool and edgy our sport really is,” said Alex Harvey, the two-time World Championship medallist who is featured in one of the ads and whose fan base in Nordic communities around the world rivals some of the world’s hottest rock stars.

“This campaign highlights not just what makes cross-country skiing so great, but that it is accessible for nearly every man, woman and child in the country. We believe the sport of cross-country skiing has finally arrived in Canada, and it is time for the sport to take its place,” added Harvey.

The initiative was created by Brandhealth Communications, an independent marketing agency based in Peterborough, ON that specializes in health and well-being.

“We wanted to give cross-country skiing the ‘cool factor’ that it deserves. Cross-country skiing is unlike any other sport. It’s completely pure. There is something about being in a forest in the middle of winter gliding across the snow that refreshes your body and mind. Are other sports envious of cross-country skiing? We think so,” said Rick Kemp, creative director at Brandhealth.

The campaign has two primary goals: first, it will promote and grow the profile of the sport across Canada, providing messaging and branding that CCC and its 330 member clubs around the country can use to grow membership and participant bases. Second, the campaign will help celebrate and draw attention to the National Ski Team’s journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as they travel the globe in search of medals on the FIS and IPC World Cup circuits.

“Feeding off the success of our National Ski Team, there has been increased interest in our sport across Canada – both through public attention and participation on ski trails in all provinces,” said Matthew Jeffries, director of business development, Cross Country Canada. “The more people we expose to the sport, the better the nation’s chances are at finding, fostering and developing Canada’s next Olympic and Paralympic medallists. Working with our member clubs, this unique campaign will play a key role in helping us accomplish our goals.”

The campaign will be rolled out to ski clubs and provincial associations in the coming months through a mix of print, online and social media platforms. CCC- licensed merchandise bearing some of the campaign’s messaging will also be available for purchase through the CCC online store (www.cccski.com) and at select CCC events across the country.

Earlier this year, Cross Country Canada also introduced the organization’s first-ever mascot. Symbolically created to support the sport’s introductory Jackrabbit ski programs, Klister, an oversized Jackrabbit, makes regular appearances at Cross Country Canada events and races across the country in a continued effort to inspire kids to get involved, have fun, and enjoy the sport.

“Cross-country skiing has evolved so much at the elite level to be more spectator-friendly with lots of action and excitement,” said Jefferies. “The sport is exciting and fast and has no boundaries for age or skill. Our goal is to feed that excitement to the grassroots level. You never know what corner of the country Klister may be able to find Canada’s next Olympic or Paralympic champion.”

Stockholm WCup CL Sprint Qualifications – Gaiazova 4th, Newell 10th

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March 20, 2013 (Stockholm, Sweden) – Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova placed fourth in the Stockholm classic sprint qualifications led by Finland’s Anne Kylloenen. Fellow Finn Kerttu Niskanen qualified second, with Slovenia’s Katja Visnar in third. American results include USA’s Ida Sargent 11th, Kikkan Randall 22nd, and Holly Brooks in 26th. Jessie Diggins (USA), Rosie Brennan (USA), Liz Stephen (USA), and Emily Nishikawa (CAN) failed to make it through to the heats, placing 34th, 40th, 44th, and 47th, respectfully.

On the men’s side, USA’s Andy Newell logged the top North American time to qualify 10th with Norway’s Eldar Roenning leading the charge, followed by Russia’s Nikita Kriukov, and Emil Joensson (NOR) in second and third. Other top favourites, Dario Cologna (SUI) and Petter Northug (NOR) qualified fifth and seventh, respectively.

USA’s Torin Koos was the next-highest North American qualifier in 24th, while Canucks Devon Kershaw and Len Valjas managed to just squeeze into the top 30 in 28th and 30th, respectively. Alex Harvey (CAN) did not make it through with a 32nd place qualifier, along with teammates Michael Somppi and Ivan Babikov in 48th and 50th, respectively. USA’s Noah Hoffman was 52nd.

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Qualifications HERE.

Mt. Borah Adds Neon to Custom Color Palatte

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March 20, 2013 (Coon Valley, WI) – As the sublimation market booms, Mt. Borah has been discovering new ways to advance their custom team apparel offering. Neon, a color known for its pizazz in style and value in visibility, is a growing request for every sport sector Mt. Borah serves. There are now a variety of full-neon colors available in addition to the thousands of standard colors Mt. Borah’s digital dye sublimation printing is able to generate.

“Things just got a whole lot brighter around here,” said Ben Wizner, Mt. Borah’s Marketing Director. “Neon brings a new dimension to what’s possible with a custom team design. From enhanced visibility, to complete individuality, this is the new fun-factor for any team, club or company,” added Wizner. Neon colors will run an additional $10 – $15 per piece, but for many, the extra investment is worth it.

Get a quote today for a neon infused design by contacting the Mt. Borah Customer Service Team at info@mtborah.com, calling 1-800-354-2825, or visiting the website at www.mtborah.com.

2013 Oregon Spring Camp Dates Announced

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March 18, 2013 (Bend/Mt Bachelor, Oregon) – The annual Oregon Spring Camp event in Bend/Mt Bachelor, Oregon has finalized dates for the 2013 Camp with Mt Bachelor grooming staff. Two sessions are currently planned on two consecutive long weekends.

– Session #1: Thursday, May 23 – Sunday, May 26.
– Session #2: Thursday, May 30 – Sunday, June 2.

As in past years, the Oregon Spring Camp features on-snow sessions every morning on the groomed Mt Bachelor Nordic trails and an array of optional afternoon activities including dryland clinics, training lectures, and video review. Optional world-class physiology testing is also available on select weekdays. Campers are welcome to pick their own schedule with any combination of days possible from either session.

Designed specifically for adult skiers and racers from the high beginner to expert levels, the Oregon Spring Camp also welcomes skiers under age 18 with a parent/guardian attending the Camp serving as a chaperone.

Session #1 overlaps the period that in 2012 saw both the U.S. and Canadian National XC and Biathlon Teams training at Mt Bachelor as well as a large array of top club skiers from throughout North America. Session #2 requires a minimum attendance to be guaranteed with interested campers — but also represents a unique opportunity to ski into early June on one of the world’s longest groomed ski seasons.

Complete information about the 2013 Oregon Spring is now posted HERE.

We’ll see you this spring in Oregon!

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest Standings after the American Birkebeiner

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March 15, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the standings for the second annual SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest after the American Birkebeiner 50km free technique race held in Hayward, Wisconsin on Feb. 23. Team dom has jumped into the lead with 473 points, knocking Team Redl into second with 456 points. Team asterion is now ranked third with 447 points.

Read our coverage of the 2013 American Birkebeiner and how husband and wife duo Brian and Caitlin Gregg won the men’s and women’s races, respectively here.

For the contest standings after the American Birkebeiner, please click HERE.

These are the only FIS Fantasy Nordic contests of their kind worldwide so don’t miss your chance to enjoy fabulous top level xc ski racing and win fabulous prizes –  good luck to all contestants.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup Prizes

* 1st Prize – Nipika Lodge – 4-nights for 2 people in luxurious cabin, including Trail Fees (value up to $1,160)
* 2nd Prize –  Marwe 610c Roller Skis (value $349)
* 3rd Prize – Yoko 9100 Poles (value $299)
* 4th Prize – Halti XC Race Suit Hemmo Set (value $269)
* 5th Prize – Skiwax.ca Racer Kickwax kit (value $235)
* 6th Prize –  2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 7th Prize – One Way Snowbird Glasses (value $120)
* 8th Prize – Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 9th Prize – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* 10th Prize – Buff Headware (value $23)

Thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Nipika, Marwe, Yoko, Halti, Skiwax.ca, 2XU, One Way, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

29th Annual Pepsi Challenge Results, Photos – Swank, Cecil Win 48k FR, Bender Bests 24k CL Field

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March 15, 2013 (Biwabik, MN) – Adam Swank of Duluth, MN won the men’s 48km free technique race at 29th Annual Pepsi Challenge Cross Country Ski Race held at Giants Ridge on March 9 in a time of 2:36:27.8, followed three minutes later by Chris Sachs. The race for third place was the truly exciting one, with five skiers all finishing within the same minute, and it was Drew Holbrook who won the battle for the final spot on the podium.

In the women’s 48km competition, Lynne Cecil was the big winner, sneaking into the top-20 overall with a time of 2:59:06.2. Local favourite, Jan Guenther, who runs Gear West, finished second, a mere three seconds behind, followed by Heather Norton-Bower in third.

In the men’s 24km free race, Philip Rogers finished first in a time of 1:23:32.0. Boyd Smith and Jesse Olson finished second and third, respectively.

Kristin Madsen took the win in the women’s 24km event in a time of 1:33:05.7, which was good enough for 10th overall. Second place, Erin Moening, was only 6s behind, followed by Ashley Herman in third.

Veteran skier Jennie Bender (CXC) logged the fastest overall time in the 24km classic race, besting men’s winner Tamer Mische-Richter by 9s. Sam Myers was the top men’s finisher in the 10k freestyle competition, with Sophie Schulder placing third overall and grabbing the women’s victory.

Full results HERE.

Drammen World Cup 1.28km CL Sprint Qualifications – 3 North American Women, 4 Men Advance

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March 13, 2013 (Drammen, Norway) – The 1.28 CL FIS World Cup city sprints are underway in Drammen as the FIS World Cup season is in its final phase. In the women’s qualifications, three North Americans advanced to the heats, including Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova in 16th, Sadie Bjornsen (USA) in 26th, and Kikkan Randall (USA) in 29th.

Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto set the fastest time with a 3:06.59, followed by Katja Visnar (SLO) clocking into second spot at 3:07.58, and strong favourite Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) in third with a time of 3:07.82.

Americans Holly Brooks, Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, Rosie Brennan, Jessie Diggins did not advance, finishing 34th, 35th, 48th, 52nd, and 55th, respectively. Canada’s Perianne Jones and Emily Nishikawa also did not make it through to the heats with a 45th and a 63rd place.

The Norwegians made their mark in the men’s qualifications, sweeping the top three, led by Petter Northug with a time of 2:41.27. Eldar Roenning qualified second at 2:42.95, and Kent Ove Klausen was third in a time of 2:43.24.

Andy Newell (USA) had a solid qualifier, finishing 10th, followed by teammate Torin Koos in 26th. Canada’s Len Valjas and Alex Harvey barely squeaked through to the heats with 29th and 30th place runs, respectively.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) finished 49th and did not advance. Simeon Hamilton (USA) experience the same fate with a 59th place qualifier, along with teammate Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess in 65th and Canada’s Jesse Cockney and Graeme Killick in 67th and 71st, respectively.

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Qualifications HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest FINAL Standings and Winners Announced

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March 11, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are thrilled to announce the winners and final overall standings of the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest following the one week waiting period that recognizes the Doping De-Points rule.

Check out the contest standings after the Men’s 50km CL, the final event of the Val di Fiemme 2013 Worlds HERE and read about how Sweden’s Johan Olsson delivered an astounding historic win in the event after a 35km-solo effort HERE.

And now for the winners… Team Northug – antoine-briand was able to hang on to the lead with a total of 335 points to claim the fabulous grand prize a Salomon SLab package including skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497).

The second place prize, a cool pair of Alpina ESK ski boots, goes to Team CATZ4LYFE with 280 points. And Team Rob in third place with 270 points receives an awesome pair of Fischer Carbonlite poles.

Congratulations to all winners and thanks again to all contestants and our great sponsors including Salomon, Alpina, Fischer, Bjorn Daehlie, One Way, 2XU, Ski*Go, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff Canada.

For the complete final FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds contest standings, please click HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Winners

– Team Northug – antoine-briand – Antoine Briand – Sept-Iles, QC
1st Prize
Salomon SLab package skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497)

– CATZ4LYFE – William Spiller  – Ketchum, ID
2nd Prize
 – Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)

– Rob – Rob Ragotte – Toronto, ON
3rd Prize – Fischer
Carbonlite Poles ($339)

– Redjacket – Connie Johnson – Calgary, AB
4th Prize
 – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)

– peaches – Sebastien Townsend – Chelsea, QC
5th Prize
 – One Way Skate 7 Roller Skis (value $250)

– asterion – Elise Ruet – Montalieu, France
6th Prize 
2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)

– Max’s – Max Liles – Superior, CO
7th Prize
–  Ski*go Large Wax Box with XC kickwaxes/cork/scraper (value $190)

– rgsnow – Guillaume Ruet – Fleurie, France
8th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

– Redbird – Craig Cardinal – Northfield, MN
9th Prize
 – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

– beaujo – Rene Berrod – Fleurie, France
10th Prize
 – Buff Headware (value $23)

SkiTrax is North America’s leading Nordic skiing publication and the official magazine of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Canada (CCC).

Canmore Winter Meltdown 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials – Mar. 23

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March 11, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials take place on Saturday, March 23 at the Canmore Nordic Center. There will be full-distance, novice distance, and duathlon events. Course will be on the packed ski trails at the Canmore Nordic Center. Expect to ski bike and run on snow! Great Draw Prizes for Competitors and Volunteers.

Start: 9:30am
Location: Canmore Nordic Centre
– Full Distance: 10km Cross-Country Ski, 10km Mountain Bike, 5km Run. Categories: Individual – Male & Female Pro/Expert and Age Group categories. Relay – Male, Female & Mixed
– Novice Distance: 4-5km Cross-Country Ski, 5km Mountain Bike, 5km run
– Duathlon: 5km Run, 10km Mountain bike, 5km Run

More info at www.canmorewintermeltdown.com


Gudeon and Roponen Win Engadin Skimarathon, Bonaldi and Mannima Take Overall FIS Marathon Cup

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March 11, 2013 (Engadin, Switzerland) – On Friday evening Pierre Gudeon (FRA) placed third in the night sprint, but was accidentally given the cheque for first place. Maybe it was a sign? When a lead pack of over 20 racers came into the finish together at the end of the Engadin Skimarathon, the Frenchman played his sprinter’s card and finished first in front of Italy’s Critstian Zorzi who thought he had it in the bag – but there were still three metres to go to the finish line. Christioph Perrillat Collomb (FRA), got his foot over the line in front of Remo Fischer, the Swiss who won in Engadin in 2011. The men’s race was marked once again by a big elite group, which formed right at the beginning and didn’t change much during the race, with only a few athletes getting dropped due to the high pace.

With his 27th place today, Sergio Bonaldi wasn’t able to show his best, but this performance was still enough to gain the victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. His strongest contestant Benoit Chauvet from France finished 9th today and was therefore not able to close the gap between him and Bonaldi and to take over the overall which he already lead after his victory in La Transjurassienne in February.

On the women’s side, it looked relatively open in the beginning, with Roponen already pushing hard but with last year’s winner Faivre-Picon being placed not far from the Finn. Seraina Boner (SUI), from Davos not far away from the Engadin, was third in St. Moritz at kilometre 14, right in front of a group of girls. After a lot of World Cup races and the World Championships, Faivre Picon was not as fresh as last year and could not hold on to her second place in the end, having Boner passing her only around four kilometres to go to the finish. Roponen finished with a two minute lead in the end. She will now have to carry the big Capricorn head, each winner of the Engadin Skimarathon gets, with her back to Finland. Surely a burden she likes to take.

In total, over 11,000 racers took the start of the Engadin Skimarathon under perfect sunshine and great snow conditions. This meant an increase of 6.4% (around 800 participants more). The weather forecast was not always that good so it was a nice surprise when the sun appeared on a cloudless sky this morning. All the racers can now enjoy the new medal series which will continue until 2017 with some motives of the animals of the Alps. The 45th Engadin Skimarathon also had a little “royal” touch with Pippa Middleton competing as well.

A 27th place was enough today for Sergio Bonaldi (ITA, 271 points) to fix his victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2012/13. Benoit Chauvet (FRA, 227 points) who tried hard to get the red bib of the leader back in the last race of the season, and who finished 9th today, wasn’t able to get enough points to overtake the Italian. Anders Aukland (NOR, 220 points), who didn’t take part in today’s race as it was a skating race and the Norwegian is a classic specialist, takes third place in the overall ranking.

On the women’s side it’s Tatiana Mannima (EST, 402 points) who can now finally say “I am the winner of the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2012/13”. Already after the American Birkebeiner (USA) it was clear that nobody would be able to take the title away from her any more. Seraina Boner (SUI, 320 points), today’s second, is also second in the overall FIS Marathon Cup with Antonella Confortola (ITA) placing third (274 points).

“I am really happy that I could win the overall FIS Marathon Cup! It is a really important success for me and I hope the whole Italian team can profit from it! At the beginning I didn’t really have good results but suddenly, before the American Birkebeiner (USA), I realised that I would be able to win the overall if I would have a great race in the Birkie, so I gave everything. Today, it wasn’t a great race for me, the more I am happy that it worked out with the overall!” tells overall winner Sergio Bonaldi (ITA).

“Winning the overall FIS Marathon Cup means a lot to me! I focused on long distance racing this season and I am more than happy that it worked out that well! I am already looking forward to next season, but before I have our national Estonial Championships to race and then I will go on holidays!” says a happy Tatiana Mannima (EST).

Full results and the final overall FIS Marathon Cup standings HERE.


Pierre Guedon (FRA):
I never expected that I could win today. It’s my second marathon race and my first Engadin Skimarathon so I am still pretty unexperienced when it comes to long distance racing. But the race was very fast today and when I start in a race I also want to win or get onto the podium at least. So I tried to go with the fastest ones. I got told that you have to be one of the five first skiers when you come to the last 500m and I placed myself in that way right before the finish. In the end I could play the card of a sprinter and get these precious centimetres in front of the second one. I am really really happy. The Engadin is a great place for skiing and I really enjoyed racing here.

Cristian Zorzi (ITA):
Of course I wanted to win, but in the end, Pierre was faster and stronger. I am happy with my second place.

Christoph Perrillat Collomb (FRA):
Of course I hoped that I could win this race for once after I could already gain some podium places here, but I am also happy with the third place in the end. I really like this race here and the track is made for me – that’s why I still hope that I will be the winner one day! I tried to attack together with Ivan Perrillat in St. Moritz to get the leading group a bit smaller, but in the end, everybody came back together and over 20 athletes sprinted for the places. I am happy that I could place my foot over the line for a podium place. Now I go to Oslo to race the 50km there and I am looking forward to that.

Riitta Liisa Roponen (FIN):
I felt really good today and as I only did three races in the World Championships, I wasn’t tired at all. I got told before that it will be crowded in the beginning, but I was still surprised how crowded it got. My plan was to follow the men as long as possible and that was what I did and it worked well. I knew the Engadin already from three weeks of training in summer and I really like it here.

Seraina Boner (SUI):
I felt very good today, but until St. Moritz it was pretty hectic and it wasn’t much fun to race. In reality, I could only go as fast as I wanted to during the last five kilometres. I could then catch Anouk and knew that I would be able to finish second. I am really happy with this result. Maybe I should have tried to get behind Roponen straight from the beginning, but it came differently. But she was also very strong today.

Anouk Faivre-Picon (FRA):
After my victory last year, I hoped of course to do it again. But after a lot of World Cup races and the World Championships in my legs I didn’t feel fresh enough to really fight with Riitta-Liisa and Seraina in the end. So I am very happy that I could get onto the podium. The Engadin is a really great race and it’s always fun to ski here!

The Hoff Report – Vierumäki, World Cup Periods, Old Friends and New + Season Goals

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March 08, 2013 (Lahti, Finland) – Kris Freeman, Tad Elliott and I decided to ski on the great tourist trails here in Vierumäki this morning instead of driving the 35 minutes into Lahti. It was fun to have a low key session on some quiet trails. Here’s Tad:

When we started skiing it was nice and sunny.

Then it started dumping snow. It is a bit of a shock to be back in full winter after the temperatures in the 70s in Italy. Here’s Kris:

The bathrooms in our dorm rooms are very typical Finnish. They have no system to keep the water in the shower.

Instead they are equipped with a squeegee to dry with when you’re done.

The World Cup season is broken down into four periods. In each period a leader (one man and one woman) from each of the continental cup race series (lower level race series around the world) gets a paid World Cup start position for the entire next period. The continental cups are the Scandinavian Cup, the OPA cup, the SuperTour (USA), the NorAM Cup, the Far East Cup, the Slavic Cup, the Baltic Cup and the Australia-New Zealand Cup. (There may be others I’m missing. I’m not sure if there’s one in Russia.)

For World Cup period four (which includes the three weekends after World Championships), each continental cup gets to send three (instead of one) men and three women (only the top athlete gets funded and gets to go to World Cup Finals) to the World Cup.

The U.S. has chosen to define these three spots as the overall, sprint and distance leaders of the SuperTour. Because the overall and distance leaders are often one in the same, generally only two athletes of each gender from the U.S. come. The athletes with World Cup starts from the U.S. this period are Torin Koos (overall and distance leader), Dakota Blackhorse-von-Jess (Sprint leader), Rosie Brennan (overall and distance leader) and Sadie Bjornsen (sprint leader).

It is amazing (and a testament to her great skiing) that Sadie continues to lead the sprint standings considering that she hasn’t raced in the U.S. since U.S. Nationals in early January. She is a U.S. Ski Team athlete and has been racing World Cups since then. In addition to the SuperTour leaders and U.S. Ski Team members, Sophie Caldwell is here on invitation after her great results in previous World Cups and the World Championships. In total, there are fifteen athletes from the U.S. competing this weekend.

I am rooming with my former U.S. Ski Team teammate and World Cup veteran Torin Koos:

I have been to many Junior Olympics, camps, Junior Scandinavian Cup trips, and World Junior trips with Rosie (right) and Sophie.

I’m psyched to have some old friends around and some new faces on the team!

Lastly, I wrote an update about my season for The Aspen Times. In it I talk about where I stand with regards to my goals of qualifying for the Red Group and making World Cup Finals. You can find the article here.

Bjornsen Blog – Val di Fiemme Wrap

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March 08, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – I am just finishing up my week of Championships here in Val di Fiemme… looking back on all the great moments. At the same time, I am going through the process of reviewing my week and thinking about all the things that went very well, and the things to improve for next time. I must say, I didn’t have quite the Championships that I was hoping for, but in other ways- things were also very positive.

As a ski racer you can never look at anything as a failure. If you did, you wouldn’t make it very far beyond one year of racing on the World Cup- because this process is not very forgiving. The difference between an average day and an overly excellent day could be .15 seconds… one size larger boot. Or the difference between putting one too many layers of kick wax on your ski, or simply the difference between finding one more gear of energy for the last climb of the course. It is all so small, yet so important. So even though my two individual start races were less than my best, there were some very encouraging parts at the same time!

So in honor of moving forward in a positive manner; here are a few of the things about Val di Fiemme that I won’t be forgetting.

1. Fans! After having my first World Championships in Oslo, my standards of World Championships fans was set sort of high. To my surprise though, these Italian fans lived up to the challenge. Maybe 70% of them traveled all the way from Norway… but regardless they were out there in full force. It was also special to have so many US fans as well. World Masters took place somewhere near here, so there was an extra bunch of familiar voices and faces out there that made it special!

2. Hills- Holy hills! This venue knows how to test your fitness, test your mental strength, and test your hill climbing. I remember many of my teammates warning me of this after they raced the final stages of the tour here last year… but I didn’t experience the full feeling of it until racing. It was fun to test my hill climbing skills though.

3. Wax Crew- This week has been one of the most challenging weeks for waxing yet. With temperatures hanging around zero, and constantly changing… things get tricky and tough. The techs have been incredible at working hard and moving forward. The important thing to remember is just like an athlete, tech teams have tough days as well. Even if they are putting 100%, there will always be challenging days. So thanks techs for working your butts off and always staying positive.

4. Records- While the week started off with much less than our best, the following days were filled with records, bests, firsts and everything else. Kikkan and Jessie set the mood with winning the team sprint for US Nordics FIRST World Championship Gold. That was one of my more emotional moments of being a ski racer. As I watched the girls ski their hearts out and cross the line first, emotion struck. As tears rolled down the faces of all the US group… I may have spotted a tear rolling down the Norwegian coaches face too. Finally, US is a force to recon with. Over the years as Kikkan has set an example of believing that we can compete, the rest of our team has started following along!

5. Sunshine- It is hard to not absolutely love every second of the day when you are out ski racing hard in the sun. Black suits sometimes make that experience a little more miserable than it should… but for the most part, the sunshine always brings out the best in us! If there is one thing you can count on in Italia, that is sun!

6. Team Spirit- The team “spirit” has been great throughout the week. The success of the team just spreads through our group. I think this is one of the things that is bringing us to a higher level as a team. Because one person’s success is contagious, it helps us all believe!

7. Relay- Yesterday I got to participate in my first World Cup 4×5 relay. Since being a young girl, relay racing has always been my favorite. There is something about the different pressure, and your collective effort… it just gets me in a new level of energy… as with all the US ladies. Aside from being fun, the US Team managed to finish our best result ever in history. Although we were just off the podium, we were extremely stoked with a 4th place finish. This was a huge improvement from our last World Championship finish in 9th. With our goals set on a medal of course, we came away proud and pleased that we had reached 4th place! Everyone skied their hearts out, and our goal is certainly attainable in the near Olympic future!

All of these things have made this Championship week incredible and memorable. With two more races to go, the 30 and 50k, we will be back on World Cup soon. Next weekend we will be racing a 10k Classic and Team Sprint, so some more exciting racing in the near future!

Let’s say that the scene was the most beautiful and the American athlete of the relay this morning (yesterday, ed), shooting as he undressed. Sadie Bjørnsen has affected all of us photographers, the femininity and grace of gesture, of usual when it comes to the masculinity of athletes.

Thanks everyone for the cheers and nice emails this week. I really appreciate it!! A few more days here, and then off to Scandinavia!

2013 NCAA Championships 5/10km CL – Gruber and Oedegaard Top Fields on Day 2 + PHOTOS

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March 07, 2013 (Middlebury, VT) – Vermont’s Anja Gruber took the women’s 5km interval start FR crown for the host team at the famed Rikert Nordic Center with a time of 15:31.1 as the 60th annual 2013 NCAA Championships kicked off Day 2 in Middlebury, VT.

Dartmouth’s Mary O’Connell, who hails from Steamboat Springs, was the last racer to cross the finish taking second overall. Freshman Marine Dusser from the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves finished third for All-American honours. Dusser, a local of Villard de Lans, France, completed the cross-country course in a time of 15:43.0 for her sixth career podium result.

In the men’s race, the University of Colorado, led by an individual title in the classical race from sophomore Rune Oedegaard, moved into second place at the midway point of the championships. Oedegaard won the 10-kilometer men’s CL race in a time of 26 minutes and 0.2 seconds. He was just a couple of seconds off the lead at the first split, then took over the pace at the second split by nearly seven seconds and was ahead at the third and fourth splits for the victory.

New Mexico’s Mats Resaland finished second in 26:05.4. Making his NCAA debut with a third-place finish in the men’s race was rookie, Viktor Braennmark, a native of Alvsbyn, Sweden, who registered a time of 26 minutes, 28.5 seconds, helping UAA place  three finishers in the top 10 for 108 points.

Defending champs Vermont maintained their first-day lead, extending it by five points as the Catamounts have 389 points through four of the eight events. The University of Colorado Buffaloes are next with 368.5 points, making up 31 points on UNM thanks to a 193-point day on Thursday, the best by any school in the 21-team field.

Results (brief)


1. Anja Gruber, UVM, 15:31.0
2. Mary O’Connell, Dart., 15:42.2
3. Marine Dusser, UAA, 15:43.0
4. Joanne Reid, CU, 15:44.2
5. Sloane Storey, Utah, 16:02.1
6. Maria Nordstroem, CU, 16:03.3
7. Annie Hart, Dart., 16:04.1
8. Linda Davind-Malm, UVM, 16:05.7
9. Silje Benum, DU, 16:10.0
10. Anna Svendsen, Utah, 16:17.1


1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 26:00.2
2. Mats Resaland, UNM, 26:05.4
3. Viktor Brannmark, UAA, 26:28.5
4. Ben Lustgarten, Midd., 26:32.6
5. Silas Talbot, Dart., 26:37.7
6. Miles Havlick, Utah, 26:46.2
7. Scott Patterson, UVM, 26:46.2
8. Lasse Molgaard-Nielsen, UAA, 26:50.6
9. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 26:51.3
10. Erik Soderman, NMU, 26:56.5

Women HERE.