Tag Archive | "feature"

Interview with USA’s Patterson Sibs on Their Good Form in PyeongChang


February 09, 2017 – Team USA skiers and sibs, Caitlin and Scott Patterson from Anchorage, Alaska, showed their fine form at the PyeongChang World Cup in South Korea this past weekend. The duo had strong performances in the women’s and men’s Team Sprints – career-first for both – and the Patterson’s were up to the challenge showing their prowess in the discipline at the 2018 Olympic test event.

Caitlin Patterson [P] Nordic Focus

Caitlin, who races on the Green Racing Project team at home, and teammate Liz Stephen raced to a hard fought fourth place, missing out on the podium by 0.35 of a second against their fellow USA I team of Sophie Caldwell and Ida Sargent who won the bronze. Caitlin was also a stellar 4th in the women’s 15km Skiathlon for her best ever World Cup result behind Stephen who landed on the podium in second. Meanwhile Scott, who races for APU at home, and teammate Matt Gelso ripped it up as well skiing a solid semifinal to make it into the final round. They concluded their Team Sprint debut with a solid ninth.

USA's Patterson (l) and Hoffman [P] Nordic Focus

SkiTrax spoke to both Caitlin and Scott about the PyeongChang World Cup, and this is what they had to say:

Caitlin Patterson

Fab day for USA in Korea – wow you and Liz had a barn-burner race against US-1 no less.
CP: Yes, that was a pretty incredible day to cap off a fantastic weekend of racing!
Sorry it’s taken me quite a while to get back to you – it was a very quick turnaround after the team sprint to a long travel day returning to the US.

First tell us about winning your Semi…
CP: Throughout both rounds, Liz and I knew that it was to our advantage as predominantly distance racers to tire people out by pushing the pace. So in the semi, after a chill first lap, it happened that Liz tagged off to me in the lead of the pack, and I just ran with it. I pushed the pace from the front in order to string out people behind, and each leg after that we built our lead a little with both of us skiing from the front. Since only top 2 teams advanced automatically to the final, we wanted to ensure that we’d be in it, so we won the semi. At the time, I knew that I needed to push the pace and went for it, but looking back, it’s kind of incredible that I was able to personally do that in a World Cup team sprint! Of course if I could have been even stronger, we might have dropped more teams, but overall I’m really proud of how both Liz and I skied. We put everything out there.

Were you nervous as we believe this your first World Cup Team Sprint ?
CP: This was definitely my first World Cup team sprint. In fact I think I’ve only ever done 3 team sprints on skis, and the most recent of those was in 2012 at Canadian Nationals. It was quite the experience top partner with Liz in Pyeongchang, especially to cap off a tough 3 days of racing. It was really fun, and makes me wish there were more opportunities to team sprint on the racing calendar!

Caitlin Patterson (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Both US teams were in the running – that had to feel good.
CP: It was great fun to have two US teams in the final, pushing each other and the rest of the teams. It’s such a hectic event that I didn’t feel like we were actually able to work together, but I still did enjoy the few moments of skiing with Sophie during my legs.

How tiring is the course – looks tough and “hilly” ?
CP: The course was in nice shape, there was a bit of fresh snow on top of the grooming when we arrived, but after some skiing the trails glazed and sped up a bit. It’s quite a challenging sprint course, particularly that second large uphill. Especially after a few laps, it was difficult to get my legs working very well to crest the hill at high speed. And then the challenge continues, because while the downhill into the stadium is very skiable in training, it’s not so easy on lactate-flooded legs. In the classic sprint I fell during my quarterfinal on the downhill, but luckily I was able to stay on my feet for the other two races. I’ve seen quite a few of the World Cup sprint courses now, and I think this has to be one of the very hardest out there, especially when on the team sprint day we raced it 6 times each!

Read more about Caitlin Patterson here.

Scott Patterson

Great skiing by you and Matt Gelso – making the final had to feel good.
SP: In the semi the pace felt somewhat relaxed but we were still moving. There were enough weaker teams and tired racers that by the third lap gaps had formed. We would have liked to get an automatic berth in 4th but 5th was good enough.

Would love some comments on the semi and your race in the final.
SP: In the finals we went out hot from the gun. Russia and Norway both pushed the pace. On my first leg I was caught a little further back than I liked and held up a bit by some of the other teams that were clearly tiring. From there we had lost the lead group but had a good battle with Germany and a few other teams. I would have like to be battling for first but I think gelso and I put out a pretty good show.

Scott Patterson [P] Ian Harvey

Tell us about the venue – the course – conditions.
SP: Over the 3 races we saw warming temperatures. By the team sprint it was somewhat glazed underneath with new snow falling. This was quite a contrast to the first few days of testing with cold manmade. Overall the courses are quite good. The sprint course is very challenging and the skate has some good hills and nice flow. The classic is a little dull and could potentially be doubled poled so it could use a little work in my opinion.

Was this your first WCup Team Sprint ? Were you nervous ?
SP: This was my first World Cup team sprint and first team sprint race since 2012 so I didn’t really know what to expect. I wouldn’t say I was nervous. Just a little lost. However once things got going I settled in quickly. We do lots of team sprint workouts on eagle glacier in the summer to make intervals a little more fun. This just upped the seriousness a bit.

Are you feeling more “at home” on WCup ?
SP: I am feeling a bit more at home on the World Cup. Obviously this one wasn’t quite the usual European crowd but it was a good confidence builder.

How inspiring is it to see Caitlin doing so well ?
SP: Of course it is awesome to see Caitlin doing well. We both were a bit dissapointed with nationals for various reasons and it is sweet to both be racing fast again.

Read more about Scott Patterson here.



Johaug Misses Mandatory Anti-doping Education Seminar and Norwegian Ski Federation Fails to Monitor


February 01, 2017 – Norway’s Sveriges Television (SVT) Sports Expert, Anders Blomquist, voiced his criticism last week of both Norwegian Nordic skiing star, Therese Johaug, as well as the Norwegian Ski Federation. Blomquist believes that a serious misstep was taken when Johaug, who is currently provisionally suspended after testing positive the anabolic steroid clostebol, failed to attend a mandatory anti-doping education seminar. Johaug ingested trace amounts of the banned substance when using a topical lip balm while training in Italy – read more here.

Therese Johaug (NOR) [P] Nordic FocusAnti-Doping Norway’s education program called “Clean Practitioners” or “Ren Utövare” is mandatory, and while Blomquist acknowledges that it is the athlete’s responsibility to attend, in this case Johaug, he also criticizes the Norwegian Ski Federation for not ensuring such a high-profile star be allowed to forgo the program.

Quoted in a SVT article posted on January 25, Blomquist says, “It is remarkable that a nation with such high-profile practitioners, and which traditionally is very critical of other in doping matters, failed to ensure that the training [was] undertaken.”

Johaug has been in trial proceedings throughout last week, but yesterday was reported to have been testing out the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic venue with coach Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass. If Anti-doping Norway’s suggested 14-month suspension is approved (read more here), Johaug would be able to compete on December 18th of this year, enough time to qualify for the Olympics.

Read the SVT article with Blomquist (in Norwegian) here.

Read the SVT on Johaug training (in Norwegian) here.


USA’s Morgan Strong 9th as Norway’s Riseth Wins Gold in Men’s Sprint C at U23 Worlds – Canada’s Palmer-Charrette 33rd


January 31, 2017 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – The USA’s Cole Morgan raced to a top-10 finish claiming 9th in the U23 Men’s Classic Sprints behind winner Fredrik Riseth from Norway who claimed a decisive victory with a 1.05-second margin over Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov. Norwegian Joachim Aurland took bronze at 2.3 seconds back. The top Canadian was Evan Palmer-Charrette in 33rd.

USA's Cole Morgan [P] flyingpointroad.com

It was another sunny day, with temperatures near -8 C for the start of the qualifiers at 10am, and rising to -2 C by the finals. The challenging three-climb course kept almost all of the men competing on kick wax, and forced many into a herringbone at the top of the final climb. While it was important to have good kick for the three climbs, the final descent offered the chance for a slingshot maneuver, and fast skis made the difference in a number of heats.

Norway's Riseth wins over Russia's Bolshunov [P] flyingpointroad.comIn the qualification round Bolshunov and Russian Andrey Sobakarev took the top two spots. Three Americans made the top 30 to advance to the heats, led by Morgan in 11th. Patrick Caldwell was 20th, and John Hegman was 23rd. Callan Deline finished on the wrong side of the bubble in 31st, a mere 0.14 seconds out of the top 30. The three Canucks racing stacked up within half a second of one another with Palmer-Charrette in 33rd, Julian Smith in 34th, and Scott James Hill placing 35th.

Evan Palmer-Charrette [P] flyingpointroad.com

The men’s heats were hotly contested, with the decisive move often coming on the final climb of the course, and plenty of double-pole drag races into the finish. In the first quarterfinal, Morgan went hard from the gun, double poling to 2nd place, only 0.85 seconds behind Russian Bolshunov.

Patrick Caldwell [P] flyingpointroad.comCaldwell raced to fourth in the same quarterfinal as Morgan, crossing the line at 6.17 seconds back. Morgan was the only skier to double pole the course. Hegman raced well in a challenging fifth quarterfinal, finishing in 6th at 5.71 seconds behind Norway’s Chrisander Skjoenbe Holth.

Morgan was the lone American in the semifinals, where he placed 5th in a fast first semifinal after fading on the final two climbs ending up as the top North American finishing 9th overall.

Final podium [P] flyingpointroad.comThe A Final was a showdown between Norway and Russia with three Norge skiers and three Russians toeing the line. When the dust settled it was Norwegian Riseth taking a decisive victory over Bolshunov with Aurland giving Norway the bronze as well. Russian Andrey Sobakarev was in contention for the win until the final 50m, when he fell while switching to an outside track, eventually finishing 6th.

Racing continued today at the World Junior and U23 World Ski Championships being held at Soldier Hollow, UT with the U23 men’s and women’s CL sprints. –

Qualifications here.
Brackets here.
Overall here.

Canada’s Beatty Solid 12th in Women’s Sprint CL as Sweden’s Dyvik Claims Gold at U23 Worlds – USA’s Knori 15th


January 31, 2017 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – Rising Canadian star, Dahria Beatty, led the North Americans in 12th as Anna Dyvik of Sweden blew apart the field in the U23 women’s CL Sprint A Final for the win. Norwegian Thea Krokan Murud utilized fast skis and strong double poling to lock up the silver, as Sweden’s Maja Dahlqvist won a tight race for bronze.

Dahria Beatty (#8) [P] flyingpointroad.comIt was another sunny day at Soldier Hollow, with temperatures near -8 C for the start of the qualifiers at 10am, and rising to -2 C by the women’s final.

The challenging three-climb course kept all of the women competing on kick wax, and forced most into a herringbone at the top of the final climb. While it was important to have good kick for the three climbs, the final descent offered the chance for a slingshot maneuver, and fast skis made the difference in a number of heats.

Anna Dyvik [P] flyingpointroad.comIn the qualification round, Dyvik led a Scandinavian-heavy top 10 as seven North Americans led by the USA’s Kelsey Phinney in 6th made the top 30 and advanced to the heats. Beatty was 8th, Nicole Bath (US) claimed 14th, Jesse Knori (US) was 19th, Jennifer Jackson (CAN) finished 22nd, Corey Stock (US) was 26th, and Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) raced to 28th. Maya MacIsaac-Jones was less than 4 seconds out of the top 30 finishing 32nd in the qualifier.

North Americans raced well in the quarterfinals, but struggled to match the pace set by the Europeans as Beatty was the only one to make the semis. She finished 3rd in her quarterfinal at 2.45 seconds behind Norway’s Murud, but was fast enough to advance as a Lucky Loser. Fellow Canuck, Stewart-Jones, was in the same quarterfinal but was knocked out finishing 5th.

Jesse Knori (USA) [P] flyingpointroad.comAmerican Nicole Bathe finished 4th in her heat at 7.14 second behind Sofie Krehl of Germany. The USA’s Phinney and Stock placed 4th and 5th respectively behind their heat winner Lotta Udnes Weng from Norway. Phinney looked to be in good position before losing kick on the final climb, and dropping to 4th on the downhill into the finish. American Knori and Canadian Jackson raced well with Knori 3rd and Jackson 5th behind winner Tiril Udnes Weng of Norway.

Women's podium [P] flyingpointroad.comIn her semifinal Beatty struggled to maintain contact on the climbs, finishing 6th at 8.04 seconds behind Norway’s Murud to claim 12th overall. Knori was the top US skier in 15th overall, Jackson finished 21st, Stock was 22nd and Stewart-Jones was 24th on the day.

After an intense day of racing top qualifier Dyvik of Sweden skied her way to gold as she was one of only a couple of women to stride the entire final climb, which is where she made her break. Murud claimed the silver and Dahlqvist put another Swede on the podium capturing the bronze. Norway’s Lotta Udnes Weng was taken out of contention by a fall part way through the final.

Racing continues tomorrow with the Junior women’s 5km Freestyle competition.

Qualifications here.
Brackets here.
Overall here.


Interview with Julia Kern #Utah2017


January 31, 2017 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – Julia Kern first joined the US Development Team for the 2015-16 season, after breakthrough performances on the US domestic circuit, as well as solid results at Junior Worlds and on the OPA Cup. At the 2017 US National Championships, Kern won the Junior 7.5km CL mass start, finished 7th in the open women’s CL sprint, and 11th in the open women’s FR sprint qualifier. She hails from Waltham, MA, where she grew up skiing for the CSU club. She now skis for the Stratton Mountain School T2 Elite Team. SkiTrax caught up with her after the opening CL sprint races at the Junior World Skiing Championship at Soldier Hollow, UT, where she finished 9th as the top North American.

Julia Kern [P] flyingpointroad.com

What race are you most excited for here at Soldier Hollow?
Julia Kern: I am so excited to have the Junior Worlds not only in our home country, but with plenty of snow, incredible courses, and an amazing fan club of family, friends and coaches!

How is it to race on home turf compared to traveling to Europe for these races?
JK: I think it is quite different to race on home turf. The Park City area feels like home to me since I have spent out so much time out here training and racing over the past five years and I feel comfortable here. I think we as Americans have a huge advantage to be the ones who don’t have to adjust to the large time change, the different food, and unfamiliar settings for once. One of the biggest challenges I have found at international races like these is to feel comfortable and confident. This year, I am more comfortable and confident because everything is familiar from the food to the courses to the time zone and I feel like we as team USA belong here and are more respected than ever before.

Talk about the CL sprint, the course, competition and conditions – any surprises?
JK: I am pretty excited about my races yesterday; my goal was to get top 10 and I achieved that. I was a little frustrated because I skied exactly how I wanted to ski but an unlucky crash out of my control took away my chance to make the A final, which I have always dreamed of racing in. It is easy to get wrapped up in the “what ifs” and beat yourself up about it, however I gave 110% and skied tactically how I wanted to and that is all I care about. It was definitely an adjustment to race in deep, hard tracks, which is something I haven’t done all season. I was surprised by how long and spread out the qualifier was. It is very unusual that the field is that spread out at this level of racing.

Did you have a specific strategy for the qualifier and/or the heats?
JK: In the qualifier my strategy was go hard from the start, but also remember to ski relaxed throughout since sprinting at altitude is a different kind of sprinting; you can’t thrash around in a hectic way or you’ll blow up hard.

In the heats I knew that I didn’t want to lead any of the downhills since the draft was fast. My tactic was to get out and sit behind the leader and relax and push really hard over the top of the hill to gain momentum for the “shake and bake” tactic on the downhill. My strategy worked out really well in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal I was positioned exactly where I wanted to be coming into the last downhill, but an unforeseen crash by a Norwegian in the tracked part of the downhill caused me to go down with her. My skis were incredibly fast thanks to our amazing staff so I knew I had the speed for the downhill and double pole into the finish.

How’s the recovery going – are you feeling good about the upcoming races?
JK: My recovery is going great! We are fortunate to have the Center of Excellence right here in Park City so we can use various recovery methods as well as the physical therapists there. I am feeling even more fired up for the races to come after yesterday’s sprint. The crash left me hungry for more and I am really looking forward to channeling that for the Skiathalon on Friday.

Congrats and all the best.
BH: Thanks

Interview with Bill Harmeyer #Utah2017


January 31, 2017 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – Bill Harmeyer is a newcomer to the international ski racing scene, but not to success on the ski trails. A four-time Junior All-American, Harmeyer hails from South Burlington, VT, where he grew up skiing for Mount Mansfield Union HS and the Mansfield Nordic Club. He now skis for the University of Vermont, along with his twin brother Henry.

Harmeyer broke a pole and answered with a telemark turn in front of the US coaches on the way back into the stadium. [P] flyingpointroad.comAt the 2017 US National Championship, Harmeyer finished 10th in the Junior Men’s 10km CL mass start, and 32nd in the open men’s CL sprint (6th Junior). SkiTrax caught up with him after the opening CL sprint races at the Junior Nordic World Championship at Soldier Hollow, UT, where he finished 12th at the top North American.

What race are you most excited for here at Soldier Hollow?
Bill Harmeyer: The race I was most excited for was the classic sprint. Definitely my strongest discipline, but I’m also looking forward to throwing down in the 10k skate on Wednesday.

How is it to race on home turf compared to traveling to Europe for these races?
BH: This is my first time racing at an international level, so it’s hard to compare the two. But it’s a complete honor to be able to represent the USA on home turf. And Soldier Hollow knows how to put on a killer event!

Talk about the CL sprint, the course, competition and conditions – any surprises?
BH: I’m incredibly happy with my performance yesterday. Being my first time competing against guys of this calibre, I was pretty stoked with the result. The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect, and the volunteers at Soldier Hollow did an awesome job putting on this event.

Did you have a specific strategy for the qualifier and/or the heats?
BH: My main goal for the qualifier was skiing with good energy. Out of the gate, my double pole felt strong but the transition to striding into the first hill wasn’t perfect. Throughout the qualifier, my stride was a bit off, but I felt strong through the transitions. For the heats, my main goal was to find that rhythm in my striding, and to stay relaxed. I tried to approach it like any other weekend of racing.

Congrats and all the best
BH: Thanks

USA’s Randall Claims Stellar 5th in Women’s Sprint FR – Nilsson First Swedish Woman to Win in Falun


Kikkan Randall [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 28, 2017 (Falun, Sweden) – The USA’s Kikkan Randall skied to a breakthrough finish claiming 5th in the women’s 1.4km Sprint FR as Stina Nilsson became the first Swedish woman to win a World Cup in Falun. It was Randall’s best performance in nearly two years.

Nilsson (l) and Falla at the finish [P] Nordic FocusNilsson edged out Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in second a mere 0.01 behind with Overall World Cup leader Heidi Weng of Norway in third at 1.88 back.

Nilsson vs Falla [P]The USA had a strong day in qualifying with five women making the top 30 field. Sophie Caldwell qualified third with Jessie Diggins fifth, Sadie Bjornsen was 17th, Randall was 26th and Ida Sargent was 30th. Rosie Brennan (USA) in 37th did not advance while Canada’s Cendrine Browne in 46th also did not make the heats. Liz Guiney (USA) finished 56th.

“Today sure was fun to be back in the final,” Randall said. “My sprint racing has been steadily improving all season and today was another step forward both in terms of getting closer to that top race feeling and building my confidence. Now with a month to go until World Championships and a good training block ahead, I am feeling optimistic and excited about where my trajectory is headed.”

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic FocusDiggins and Randall advanced to the semis after finishing second in their respective quarterfinals – the fastest two heats of the round. Diggins was 0.33 behind Norway’s Maiken Jaspersen Falla while Randall was 0.62 behind Swede Hanna Falk.

Fate saw both Diggins and Randall in the same semifinal that featured a star-studded heat with Falla and Falk. Diggins suffered an unfortunate fall, finishing fifth, but Randall went on to finish second at 0.35 seconds behind Falla, to move on to the finals.

“I’m really proud of how I skied today,” Diggins said. “My energy felt awesome, my tactics worked well and I felt like my leg speed was where it needs to be with the World Championships coming up. Of course, with my eyes on the podium it would have been awesome to not have a spill, but overall I’m happy with where my body is. I’m slowly getting my sprint heat confidence this season and it’s great to feel like I’m able to see the windows open up and be able to move through them.”

Sophie Caldwell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Caldwell, who finished 16th on the day, told Trax, “It was a solid day for me with some moments of greatness and some things I wish I had done differently. I was thrilled with my qualifier and felt like I paced it well. I maintained a solid position for most of my heat before getting passed by a couple people towards the end of the course. Even though I was determined to make it to the semis, I’m confident with my fitness and really happy with my qualifier.”

Stina Nilsson (SWE) [P] Nordic FocusBjornsen was also happy with her day. “A fun day of sprinting out there today. I once again struggled to find my opening with sprint racing, just getting stuck every time I tried to get to the front of the pack. I haven’t yet found my sprinting tactics for myself, but each time I try, I learn a little something. Learning is part of this game. Super fun to see Kikkan so strong today! I’m really happy for her!! I am really looking forward to tomorrow,” commented Bjornsen.

Final podium (l-r) Falla, Nilsson, Weng [P] Nordic FocusIn the finals, Nilsson and Falla stole the show in a photo-finish, with Nilsson taking the win. Randall was fifth, 2.56 seconds back.

“I purposely tried to stay relaxed in the first half of each race and then move up coming into the stadium,” said Randall. “That tactic worked great in the quarters and semis and I was really happy with how strong I was skiing the finish stretch. I stuck with that tactic again in the final only this time I got trapped behind Sundling when the break happened and I lost the crucial draft. Almost made it back into the race for third but wasn’t able to bridge that last gap before the final stretch.”

Qualifications here.
Final results here.

Canada’s Valjas 10th as Pellegrino Takes Men’s 1.4km Sprint FR in Falun – Newell 16th


January 28, 2017 (Falun, Sweden) – Canada’s Len Valjas claimed 10th as the top North American in the men’s 1.4km Sprint FR in Falun, Sweden today. Winner, Federico Pellegrino from Italy, won his first free technique sprint since January 2016 by a mere 0.6 seconds over Norway’s Emil Iversen as fellow Norge Sindre Bjoernestad Skar took third at 0.47s back edging out of local favourite Swede, Oskar Svensson.

Len Valjas [P] Nordic Focus

Andy Newell led the Americans in 16th followed by Simi Hamilton in 18th and Erik Bjornsen in 43rd followed by Canada’s Alex Harvey in 46th. Matt Gelso (USA) was 59th.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic FocusAfter advancing to the semifinal round after a hard-fought effort in the quarters that saw him charge down the finishing stretch into second place on a demanding course that makes you work on the first half and puts an emphasis on tactics heading home. Valjas’ day came to an end after crossing the line fifth in his semifinal. It was his best sprint result of the World Cup season.

Pellegrino (r) pips Iverson [P] Nordic Focus

“I’m definitely happy with the personal best today,” said Valjas. “I had great skis and I know the fitness is there. Being in the fifth heat in the quarters, I likely could have used about five more minutes of rest time before the next heat, but I can’t complain and have to be happy with a top-10.”

“I definitely felt like I had a little more. I was able to close in the finish, but I just lost a little too much contact with the pack. I had the speed at the finish and felt great. I was really comfortable staying at the back. I thought I could bring it back on the second hill, but I just stayed a little too far back.  I needed to work on my tactics a bit better,” he added.

“Today’s result for me isn’t really good or bad but I’m happy with the way my body is feeling. I think today was the first sprint all year where I felt strong enough to be in the final. It was a tight quarter final and it didn’t shake out that way but my sprint legs are feeling better and better.

“Both in qualification and the quarter finals I felt like I was able to power to the finish better than the last few weeks. We still have a lot of racing left and three good weeks until world champs so I’m encouraged with the direction things are going. It was awesome to see Kikkan [Randall] back in the finals,” commented Newell.

Qualifications here.
Final results here.

Canada’s Julien Locke Wins Korean CL Sprint Nationals


January 27, 2017 – A pre-pre-Olympic classic sprint, was held as the Korean National Championships in Pyeongchang, Korea. The event was a night sprint, with 41 racers, using the course for the upcoming World Cup at the beginning of February. The snow was mainly man-made with fast, icy conditions, and 2 large climbs, temperatures were -15 deg. C.

julian Lock [P] CCC

Julien Locke was the only Canadian participating, arriving the day before from Canada. He dominated the morning qualifier, winning by 16 seconds. This is Julien’s account of the racing experience:

“It was fun to race in the Korean Nationals. The sprint day was very well organized and there was a good turnout of skiers. It was nice to see the enthusiasm of the young Koreans. The course is long and challenging. It was a great opportunity for me to race the WC course ahead of next week and get a feel for the demands of the climbs, best lines for the descents and a handle on the tactics.

“The Koreans were racing fast at the beginning of each heat but this is a course that favours endurance with a substantial climb near the end. The last climb ends with a steep herringbone pitch before you drop back down a twisty descent into the stadium. It will be a critical section in the World Cup next week.

“I was happy with the body felt, particularly with racing the day after arriving. I plan to race the 10km classic as well.”

Qualifying Results

Live Streaming of Nordic Junior World Championships


January 26, 2017 (Salt Lake City, Utah) – Family and fans around the world will be able to watch the USANA FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships live from Utah’s 2002 Olympic venues January 30-February 5.

[P]Every event of the World Championships will be streamed live through the National Nordic Foundation (NNF).

Global fans can register now for the live stream here.

Daily coverage of all qualifying and competition rounds in cross country, Nordic combined and ski jumping will be broadcast daily.

NNF will be offering the full week of coverage in all sports for $49.95. Fans can also purchase events individually for $4.95 each. Competition begins on Monday, January 30.

Cross country coverage at Soldier Hollow will be produced by Central Cross Country Ski Association, with USA Nordic managing production of ski jumping from the Utah Olympic Park.

Veteran cross country announcer Peter Graves will anchor coverage from Soldier Hollow along with Peter Ashley and Matt Heimburger.

At the Utah Olympic Park ski jumps, Olympian Anders Johnson and veteran ski jumping announcer Carl Roepke will provide commentary.

Read more on the USANA FIS Nordic Junior and U23 World Ski Championships here.

FIS Doping Panel Denies Appeals of Provisionally Suspended Russian XC Athletes Legkov and Belov


January 25, 2017 – Six Russian Cross Country athletes Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Julia Ivanova, Evgenia Shapovalova, Alexey Petukhov and Maxim Vylegzhanin were provisionally suspended on 22nd December after the findings in the McLaren Report outlined alleged anti-doping rules violations in connection with the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi (RUS).

Alexander Legkov (RUS) Tour de Ski [P] Nordic FocusThe athletes and the Russian National and Cross-Country Ski Associations were duly notified of the disciplinary proceedings and further investigations by the IOC, and the implementation of provisional suspensions by FIS. Following this notification, the athletes appealed the provisional suspension.

Evgeniy Belov (RUS) [P] Angus Cockney

The FIS Doping Panel, after having heard Evgeniy Belov and Alexander Legkov, and the FIS, has decided today, 25th January 2017 by majority not to reverse its initial decision, but to uphold the provisional suspensions of Evgeniy Belov and Alexander Legkov until further notice. As a result of the decisions, the above-mentioned athletes may not take part in any competitions or national team activities.

The decisions of the FIS Doping Panel may be appealed exclusively to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne (CAS) in accordance with the applicable provisions of CAS. The time to file an appeal to CAS is 21 days.

The other four provisionally suspended athletes Julia Ivanova, Evgenia Shapovalova, Alexey Petukhov and Maxim Vylegzhanin have also filed appeals, which are currently in progress. The decisions will come at a later date.

Interview with US Head Coach Chris Grover on World Cup Finals Criteria and Quotas


Chris Grover [P]January 25, 2017 (Ulricehamn, Sweden) – The US Ski Team recently posted selection criteria and quotas for the upcoming World Cup Finals in Quebec City, March 17-19, relocated from Russia due to the doping scandals in that country. With a North American venue now in the mix, both Canada and the USA have the opportunity to channel more skiers to start lines via respective Nation’s Group quotas – Canada has 10 women and 8 men, while the US has five of each. This is great news for each country’s development programs but adds challenges to both organizations to quickly devise selection criteria and other logistics not planned for. We caught up with Chris Grover, US XC Head Coach, in Sweden during the recent World Cup there to chat about the fabulous racing there on the weekend and to find out more about the “behind-the-scenes” scrambling to create “multiple pathways” as he describes it, for skiers to earn a berth to Quebec City. With the 2017 Junior/U23 Worlds also taking place in Utah very soon there’s lots of excitement along with challenges as well. Grover estimates 20-30 US athletes are vying for their 10 Nations spots for QCity – read more about the US selection criteria and quotas here.

Canada Wins Historic Brilliant Bronze in Men’s Relay at World Cup in Sweden – Team USA 10th


January 22, 2017 (Ulricehamn, Sweden) – Canada’s fab-four including Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Knute Johnsgaard and Len Valjas delivered historic bronze reaching the podium the first time in the men’s 4×7.5km World Cup relay in Sweden on Sunday.

Canada's fab-four air guitar (l-r) Len Valjas, Alex Harvey, Knute Johnsgaard and Devon Kershaw. [P] Nordic FocusNorway I’s Finn Haagen Krogh took the win over Sweden I’s Calle Halfvarsson in the finishing straight in a very close battle as Canadian anchor Valjas closed on Halfvarsson for a photo finish that went to the Swede as the partisan crowd roared watching the thrilling finish. Only 0.5s separated the top three teams on the final podium.

(l-r) Krogh, Halfversson, Valjas [P] Nordic FocusFinish line (l-r) Krogh, Halfversson, Valjas [P]Photo finish with Halfversson and Valjas [P]“The team relay and the 50 kilometre are the biggest races in our sport by far so this means the world to us,” said the 34-year-old Kershaw, who skied onto the podium for the first time in three years. “We have talked about this medal a lot when I first came onto the World Cup. It is something we have always wanted, and weren’t able to get it done in previous generations – even back to the Pierre Harvey days. Even when Lenny, Alex and I were all winning multiple medals individually a few years ago we weren’t able to get it done so it shows how hard it is.”

Devon Kershaw (r) [P] Nordic Focus

Harvey agreed and was over the moon with the team’s effort. “It is incredible. We’ve been chasing this feeling since I’ve been on the team and for some reason we just could never get all four us on the same day,” said Harvey, who also skied classic. “Winning individual medals you enjoy it but you can’t share that enjoy as much with your teammates. When you do this together it is so emotional.”

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus“I’m speechless. It is pretty amazing and one of the best days of my life. Everything just came together,” said Johnsgaard. “This is all so new to me. It was only my second relay ever so to see Len come into podium position was an unreal feeling.”

Knute Johnsgaard [P] Nordic FocusValjas played his hand smartly on the final leg to land on the podium. “I was just fighting so hard with my head down. I fought right to the end and when I looked up I saw the three guys running at me. I put out my arms and grabbed them all like a big fish net. They were my brakes and it was the best feeling I have ever felt in cross-country skiing to have them in my arms,” commented Valjas.

Valjas and Team Canada at the finish [P] Nordic FocusTeam USA, consisting of Andy Newell, Erik Bjornsen, Noah Hoffman and Simi Hamilton raced to a respectable 10th place finish battling back from 13th at one point.

“Conditions were great despite the warm temperatures and the fans were out in force even with a thick fog so it was a fun race,” said Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus their lead off skier. “Leading off in the scramble leg we knew that the big climb on course would be a deciding factor. First lap we were all jostling for position going up the big hill and the hammer really dropped on the second lap. It was and interesting race and really tough to pass with only two tracks and lots of V boarded sections that you couldn’t cross. As a team we know we can do more and are capable of a much better finish so we are looking forward to the next one.”

Simi Hamilton (USA) [P] Nordic FocusHamilton their anchor was pleased with the team’s effort on the day, and for Canada as well. “It was a solid day for sure. I felt good during my leg, especially since I’ve been dealing with a little achilles tendonitis for the last week or so. It was fast snow and a good course for me,” commented US anchor Hamilton. “My skis were great and it was for sure one of the more fun distance relays I’ve had the chance to race. All and all, it was a really fun day, especially since there were close to 40,000 fans lining the course and our great friends from the north skied on to the podium.”

The men’s relay came down to nine teams fighting out. Russia-1 and France lost contact near the end but caught back on with just 2 kilometers remaining and at the finish all nine were separated by just 3.8 seconds. As the finish line approached Norway, Sweden and Canada emerged as the top three teams ready to battle for the medals.

Sweden’s Halfvarsson led into the finishing straight as the crowd roared but Krogh overtook him as Valjas came up on the outside and almost pipped him at the line in a photo finish for the final podium spot.

Team Canada celebrates [P] Nordic Focus

“Winning individual races is awesome, but to stand on the podium with four guys from your country is the greatest feeling in the world. The relay is the only way to show the depth of program. Our team is on a shoe- string budget right now – especially compared to the rest of the world. We have been given every opportunity to fail and we are still doing this. It is a testament to the hard work of our entire staff and team so I am doubly proud of that,” added Kershaw.

“Seeing Yves Bilodeau, (lead wax technician) who has been at this sport for more than 30 years in the finish with Babs (Ivan Babikov) crying was amazing. Both of them weren’t able to win this as athletes and we are so happy they are now a part of this. You need the whole team including the support staff clicking to make this happen. They are the ones making sure we are ready. It is just so special for all of us,” shared Harvey.

“I wanted to experience this feeling of being the last one to cross the finish line. It was amazing. We have wanted this for so long. Dancing to the music just cranked in the wax room is something I’ll never forget. We were the happiest team out there for sure,” said a smiling Valjas.

Canada's fab-four (l-r) Len Valjas, Alex Harvey, Knute Johnsgaard and Devon Kershaw. [P] Nordic Focus

The only other time a Canadian cross-country ski team won a World Cup relay medal came 30 years ago when a women’s foursome of Angela Schmidt-Foster, Carol Gibson, Jena McAllister, and Marie-Andree Masson won the bronze in Canmore, Alta.

“It was really inspired by our fifth-place finish in Nove Mesto last year,” said Tom Holland High Performance Director at Cross Country Canada. “The key was to have complete buy-in from everyone on the men’s team to focus on this team goal recognizing if all the parts came together – we had a podium chance. After sitting down with the team, we got that buy in and today shows what can happen. This is a big day – a huge day for our program.”

Results here.

Canada’s Harvey Wins Stunning Men’s 15km FR Individual Start GOLD in Sweden for Historic Back-to-Back Victories


January 21, 2017 (Ulricehamn, Sweden) – Canadian Alex Harvey, 26, put the hammer down for his second consecutive World Cup victory winning the men’s 15km FR individual start at the new venue in Ulricehamn, Sweden on Saturday. Last weekend he and Lenny Valjas won Team Sprint gold in Toblach, Italy.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“It does feel great to win again today,” said Harvey, who won his first individual race since the World Cup Finals in 2014. “Everything was clicking today. This is a new place for us, but the course was really good and suited my abilities. I was in it from the beginning and felt good the whole way today.”

Harvey at the finish [P]The win was historic as he became the first Canadian cross-country skier to claim back-to-back gold medals in consecutive weekends on the World Cup. Legendary Beckie Scott also won in back-to-back races during her memorable 2005-06 run, but not on consecutive weekends according to Cross Country Canada.

“We’ve had a lot great champions in Canada. It is nice to be able to own a statistic like that, but I do it for the result and to be the best I can be each race,” said Harvey. “If that means that I win back-to-back then that is a bonus.”

(l-r) Hellner, Harvey, Sundby [P] Nordic FocusHarvey was joined on the podium by Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who finished six seconds back while Sweden’s Marcus Hellner won a tight race for the bronze.

“The plan was to start fast and be in the hunt. Sometimes when I start fast I can’t handle the pace, but I was in the top-five for the first three kilometres. When I got the splits that I was leading midway, I knew I could push to the end,” said Harvey. “There was one really long steep hill which is not my normally my strength, but the rest of the course was a lot of fun. You had to be proactive and always working and pushing the entire way.”

The USA’s Erik Bjornsen had a good day finishing 28th while Canada’s Valjas was 35th with teammate Devon Kershaw in 38th. American Noah Hoffman was 41st, Simi Hamilton was 53rd and Matt Gelso was 68th.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusIt was the 20th World Cup medal, and sixth victory for Harvey to go along with his four World Championship podiums. Saturday’s win marked the first time he has ever won a 15-kilometre skate-ski race in his nine-year career.

“Individual starts have been harder for me in the past. It gives me a lot of satisfaction and confidence to know that I can be in the hunt in all race disciplines,” said Harvey, who edged closer to third, but remains in fourth place in the overall World Cup standings “I really believe I can be on the podium every time I race and that’s important. When you don’t throw all your eggs in one basket in one discipline like a sprint race, it takes the pressure away of having to perform on one single day. I’m fortunate to have been born with that ability to race in sprints or distances and in classic and skate-skiing, but I’m also working really hard for it as well, and that feels great to see it pay off.”

The World Cup continues on Sunday in Sweden with the relay events.

Results here.

USA Solid 6th and Canada 16th in Men’s Relay at Antholz as Germany Pips Norway


January 21, 2017 (Antholz, ITA) – Team USA claimed its best relay performance of the season finishing 6th in the men’s 4×7.5km event at Antholz as Germany’s Simon Schempp pipped Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen at the line for the victory. Russia was third while Team Canada finished 16th.

Leif Nordgren [P] US Birthlon

The foursome of Lowell Bailey, Leif Nordgren, Tim Burke and Sean Doherty was in the mix for a podium spot for the majority of the race using 10 spares. Canada’s Christian and Scott Gow, Macx Davies and Brendan Green suffered two penalties while using  11 spares.

Germany pips Norway [P]

“Today we showed that we are competitive with the best in the world,” said Bailey needed just one spare in both prone and standing on the opening leg as he made the first exchange with Nordgren in sixth place. “With 10 extra rounds, this is far from our best, but it is a big step in the right direction and exactly where we want to be heading into world champs.”

Nordgren moved the team into third with two spares in prone and one in standing. He left the range just 11.9 seconds behind the leader after standing, but fell back to ninth by the time he made the second exchange with Burke, now 27.6 seconds back.

“Happy with the effort today,” said Nordgren. “It was nice to ski with the lead group on the first loop. I had a bit of a gap after the tag from Lowell, but it was no problem to reel them in eventually. In the last loop I was holding on for dear life.

After three extra shots in prone, Burke settled down to clean standing from the clip as he tagged Doherty in sixth. “This was a great race for the team to have going into world championships,” said Burke, echoing the sentiments of the entire squad. “The team has struggled this year with injury and illness, so it was important for us to show that we are still among the best in the world.”

“Today’s sixth place was a very strong effort for the team,” added Doherty. “I am very happy to be skiing up in the mix and looking at the podium. There is still room to improve for world championships but it seems we are headed in the right direction.”

Results here.

Updated World Cup Criteria for USA + Quotas


US Ski Team LogoJanuary 20, 2017 – We have just posted an amended selection criteria for World Cup which provides for the selection of a USA 1⁄2 Nation’s Group to the World Cup Finals in Quebec City, CAN March 17,18, 19.  Because these races were originally scheduled to be in Russia, we did not have a selection criteria for a Nation’s Group in place.  Because we have USA athletes currently racing all over the planet, and participating in various race series, this criteria is intended to provide multiple paths to qualifying for Quebec City, including World Cup, the Lahti World Champs, the SuperTour, and the WJC/U23 World Championships.

The races in Quebec City will be a 3-day mini-tour, and the exact formats will most likely be decided tomorrow evening here in Ulricehamn.

The total quotas for USA will be:

6 National Quota USA
1 COC Overall Leader
5 Nation’s Group
12 Women Total

5 National Quota USA
1 COC Overall Leader
5 Nation’s Group
11 Men Total

Link to World Cup 2016-17 Criteria here.
Main USSA Criteria page here.

Canada’s Emma Lunder Nails Career-best 21st at Debut 15km Individual Start IBU World Cup in Antholz


January 19, 2017 (Antholz-Anterselva, Italy) – Canada’s Emma Lunder, 25, delivered a career-best 21st in her first-ever 15km IBU World Cup individual competition, missing just one shot in four rounds of shooting despite gusty winds, as round six of the series got underway in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy.

Emma Lunder (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“To finish just out of the top-20 today feels amazing and I am so happy to add this to my resume,” beamed Lunder who began the season on the IBU Cup development circuit. “This was a definite boost of much-needed confidence going into the rest of the season.”

Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier recorded two penalties to win with a time of 44:48.7. France’s Anais Chevalier challenged Dahlmeier with only one missed target but finished second at 3.8 seconds back. Local Italian favorite Alexia Runggaldier placed third with one penalty at 46 seconds behind, for her first career podium.

Women's podium [P] Nordic FocusIt was also a solid outing for Canadian Megan Tandy as the two-time Olympian finished in 33rd with four penalties while teammate Julia Ransom placed 55th also with four missed targets. Clare Egan led Team USA in 59th with six penalties and was followed by teammate Joanne Reid in 60th with six penalties as well. Susan Dunklee with eight penalties, and Maddie Phaneuf with seven penalties, finished 71st and 81st, respectively.

Megan Tandy (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“I had the fastest skis I’ve ever had in my life today, and three out of four good shooting stages,” said Egan. “Unfortunately, a stupid mistake in the first standing stage foiled any chance I had at a good result. I tried to shoot through gusting wind instead of waiting until I could take a good shot. I made a strong comeback from that point on, but 59th place is hardly what I was hoping for.”

Clare Egan [P] Dave AllenThe only other time Lunder finished in the points on the World Cup came in her first ever start on the elite circuit in 2014 when she was 30th in a sprint race in Pokljuka, Slovenia. Lunder first made headlines in the international biathlon circles when she broke through with a silver medal in the sprint event when the IBU Cup circuit made its way to her hometown in 2015.

“I was extremely happy to hit 19/20 on a tough day,” said Lunder. “I was really focused on executing some new shooting cues that I’ve been working on the last few days, and I’m happy with how they worked. I had fairly consistent wind for both prone and standing, and was happy not to have any big gusts blowing around me.”

“The course was in perfect condition, and our team had really competitive skis thanks to our hardworking wax team. Today was a huge day for me on the range. There’s still work to be done on the skiing side of things, but I know I’m headed in the right direction,” she added.

The victory gave Dahlmeier an 11-point lead in the World Cup standings over Gabriela Koukalova of the Czech Republic who finished 24th on the day suffering six penalties.

Results here.

Strong U.S. Team Announced For FIS Nordic World Champs in Lahti


January 18, 2017 (Park City, Utah) – The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has named 17 athletes to the cross country team that will compete in the International Ski Federation’s 2017 Nordic World Ski Championships next month in Lahti, Finland. The biennial World Championships brings together the best athletes in the sport for the Feb. 22-March 5 event which will be live streamed in its entirely on NBCsports.com.

Simi Hamilton and Jessie Diggins, both of whom finished on the podium in the first stage at Ski Tour Canada last season, will lead the U.S. Team at the 2017 Nordic World Ski Championships next month [P] USSA“This is undoubtedly the strongest team that the USA has ever fielded at a major championships,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “We have many veterans with World Cup podium experience in this group – athletes that are at the heights of their careers and their racing abilities. We have an experienced staff that knows how to manage the challenges of the major events and a world-class service team that has been making great skis all season long.  Lahti will be the perfect setting for the USA to showcase our newfound strength in cross country ski racing.”

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic FocusThe team includes three medalists from past championships including Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), Caitlin Gregg (Minneapolis) and Kikkan Randall (Anchorage). Diggins and Randall teamed up to win gold in the 2013 World Championships team sprint in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Diggins and Gregg went silver-bronze two years ago in the 10 km individual freestyle event in Falun, Sweden. Randall also won silver in the freestyle sprint at Liberec, Czech Republic in 2009. Only four Americans have won a cross country medal at World Championships.

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) [P] Nordic FocusThey will be joined by Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA), making her fourth team appearance, coming on heels of her first World Cup podium during the Tour de Ski. It will be the fifth worlds for Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT), who was second fastest in the Tour de Ski hill climb. Other World Championships veterans will include Sophie Caldwell (Peru, VT), Ida Sargent (Orleans, VT) and Rosie Brennan (Park City, UT). New to the team this year is Chelsea Holmes (Girdwood, AK) who was on the podium at the recent L.L.Bean U.S. Championships at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Utah.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic FocusLeading the men will be Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO), who was on the podium in a freestyle sprint in January, along with veterans Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Noah Hoffman (Aspen, CO) and Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, WA). Among a host of first time team members are Kyle Bratrud (Eden Prairie, MN) and Ben Lustgarten (Burlington, VT), who each won gold at the recent L.L.Bean U.S. Championships at Soldier Hollow. They will be joined by Tad Elliott (Durango, CO), on his third worlds team, and Cole Morgan (Bozeman, MT), making his first appearance.

It will mark the ninth appearance on a World Championships team for Randall and eighth for Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT).

Lahti is a regular stop on the World Cup tour and will be holding the Championships for a record seventh time, with the first dating back to 1926 (1926, 1938, 1958, 1978, 1989, 2001, 2017). Over 700 athletes from more than 60 nations will take part in cross country, nordic combined and ski jumping. A quarter-million spectators are expected over the 12 days of the Championships.

Team USA coaches Chris Grover (l) and Matt Whitcomb [P] Peter Graves

“Lahti is an iconic cross country venue with a proud tradition of ski racing and a massive fanbase,” added Grover. “The trails have been redesigned to provide more technical and aerobic challenges for the athletes and more opportunities to place the racers in front of the fans.  The atmosphere will be loud and electric.”

Competition opens on Thursday, February 23 with the freestyle sprint – the strongest event of the Championships for the USA. Randall, Diggins, Caldwell, Newell and Hamilton have all been on the podium in World Cup sprints in the past. Action continues Saturday, February 25 with the multi-technique skiathlon. Diggins was second in the Tour de Ski skiathlon.

The mid-distance events this year are classic, with 10 km for women and 15 km for men. The women will be eyeing a medal in the 4×5 km relay event on Thursday, March 2, with the men running the following day in a 4×10 km relay. The Championships conclude March 4-5 with a 30 km women’s and 50 km men’s freestyle mass start.

(Name, hometown, USSA club, birthdate, age at start of championships)

Kyle Bratrud, Eden Prairie, MN (Central Cross Country) 2/9/1993 (23)
Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA (Alaska Pacific University) 7/15/1991 (25) * **
Tad Elliott, Durango, CO (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail) 7/2/1988 (28) *
Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO (Stratton T2) 5/14/1987 (29) * **
Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO (Ski and Snowboard Club Vail) 8/1/89 (27) * **
Ben Lustgarten, Burlington, VT (Craftsbury Green) 4/17/1992 (24)
Cole Morgan, Bozeman, MT (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) 3/10/1994 (22)
Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT (Stratton T2) 11/30/1983 (33) * **

Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA (Alaska Pacific University) 11/21/1989 (27) * **
Rosie Brennan, Park City, UT (Alaska Pacific University) 12/2/1988 (28) * **
Sophie Caldwell, Peru, VT (Stratton T2) 3/22/1990 (26) * **
Jessie Diggins, Afton, MN (Stratton T2) 8/26/1991 (25) * **
Caitlin Gregg, Minneapolis (Loppet Nordic Racing) 11/7/1980 (36) * **
Chelsea Holmes, Girdwood, AK (Alaska Pacific University) 1/20/1987 (30)
Kikkan Randall, Anchorage (Alaska Pacific University) 12/31/1982 (34) * **
Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT (Craftsbury Nordic) 1/25/1988 (29) * **
Liz Stephen, E. Montpelier, VT (Burke Mountain Academy) 1/12/1987 (30) * **

* Past World Championship team member
** Olympian

Kikkan Randall – 9 (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Andy Newell – 8 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Liz Stephen – 5 (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Sadie Bjornsen – 4 (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Jessie Diggins – 4 (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Simi Hamilton – 4 (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Noah Hoffman – 4 (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Ida Sargent – 4 (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
Sophie Caldwell – 3 (2013, 2015, 2017)
Erik Bjornsen – 3 (2013, 2015, 2017)

Lahti, Finland
Cross Country Schedule (Finnish times; seven hours ahead of EST)

Wednesday, Feb. 22
7:00 p.m. Opening Ceremony

Thursday, Feb. 23
3:00 p.m. Freestyle sprint qualifications
5:30 p.m Freestyle sprint heats

Saturday, Feb. 25
12:00 p.m. – Women’s 7.5k CL/7.5k FS Skiathlon
2:30 p.m. – Men’s 15k CL/15k FS Skiathlon

Sunday, Feb. 26
11:30 a.m. – Classic team sprint semi finals and finals

Tuesday, Feb. 28
1:45 p.m. – Women’s 10k classic

Wednesday, Mar. 1
1:45 p.m. – Men’s 15k classic

Thursday, Mar. 2
3:00 p.m. – Women’s 4x5k relay

Friday, Mar. 3
1:30 p.m. – Men’s 4x10k relay

Saturday, Mar. 4
2:30 p.m. – Women’s 30k freestyle mass start

Sunday, Mar. 5
2:30 p.m. – Men’s 50k freestyle mass start
5:35 p.m. – Closing Ceremony

1 – Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, freestyle team sprint – 2013, Val di Fiemme
2 – Jessie Diggins, 10 km freestyle – 2015, Falun
2 – Kikkan Randall, freestyle sprint – 2009, Liberec
2 – Bill Koch, 15k – 1976, Seefeld (Olympics doubling as World Championships)
3 – Caitlin Gregg, 10 km freestyle – 2015, Falun
3 – Bill Koch, 30k – 1982, Oslo

USA’s Burke 24th in Men’s Pursuit as Fourcade Rules on Final Day in Ruhpolding


January 15, 2017  (Ruhpolding , Germany) – The USA’s Tim Burke finished 24th in tough snowy conditions with three missed targets in the men’s 12.5k pursuit that kicked off the final day of competitions in Ruhpolding as the BMW IBU World Cup 5 wrapped up on Sunday.

Tim Burke (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

France’s Martin Fourcade battled through the heavy snow with three penalties to claim his 10th win of the season. Norway’s Emil Hegle Svendsen shot clean but finished second at 22.5 seconds back while Michal Krcmar of Czech Republic, also shot clean to take the last podium spot, for his first career podium at 19.5 seconds behind Fourcade.

Burke’s teammate, Lowell Bailey, was just behind him in 26th with two penalties while the lone Canadian on the start line, Scott Gow, finished in 41st with three misses at 3:09 behind. Amerian Sean Doherty finished 43rd at 3:22 back with four penalties.

Lowell Bailey [P] Nordic Focus

“Today was another solid race for me,” said Burke. “I felt solid on the course but have not quite found my timing on the shooting range. I feel like things are headed in the right direction for me and I am looking forward to competing in Antholz next week, which has always been one of my favorite courses.”

Burke got off to a great start by cleaning both prone stages to move up to 11th out on the course. However, two misses in the first standing stage knocked him back to 28th and, despite another miss in the final standing stage, he rallied back to place 24th, 1:31.6 back of the winning time.

“I struggled a bit on the skis today,” Bailey said. “No explanation, but I’m still happy with a solid top-30 going into Antholz. It was difficult conditions with falling snow, so I was satisfied with the shooting. Of course, I wish I could have those two misses back, but I’ll have to wait until Antholz.”

Results here.

It’s OFFICIAL – 2017 FIS XC World Cup Finals are Coming to Quebec – UPDATED


January 14, 2017 (Quebec City, QC) – It’s now official – the FIS Cross-Country World Cup Final will be back in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham – see release below.

While not officially announced the FIS Cross-Country World Cup finals are coming to Quebec March 16-19. SkiTrax has learned from reliable sources that the teams have been notified and plans are underway. Not all details are in place but the wheels are turning and more details will be revealed by the middle of this coming week.

Alex Harvey (CAN) at Quebec City [P] Nordic Focus

The success of Ski Tour Canada 2016 and race organizer GESTEV’s previous Sprint World Cup (2012) in the legendary city, have been key factors in ensuring things can fall into place for the upcoming finals. This is likely a big relief to FIS which was under pressure to find a replacement venue for Tuymen, Russia and given that Pierre Mignerey, FIS Cross-Country Race Director, recently reaffirmed to SkiTrax that,”…Quebec City is our first choice and the leading candidate to host the finals.”

With the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships taking place in Utah at Soldier Hollow, January 30th-February 5th, this year is shaping up to be another blockbuster season for North American skiers and fans. We’ll have more news as it breaks.

FIS Cross-Country World Cup Final in Quebec City

It is now official, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup Final will be back in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham ! The Quebec Winter Events Corporation, Cross-Country Canada and Gestev are proud to confirm the return of the cross-country skiing elite to Quebec City from March 17 to 19, 2017.
 “We’re excited to announce this great news for Canadian athletes and the people of Quebec City, and it’s all taking place thanks to teamwork and dialogue between numerous stakeholders,” said Patrice Drouin, President of Gestev. “An event like this reiterates our support for cross-country skiing and these remarkable athletes as well as strengthening existing ties between the FIS, the City of Quebec, the National Battlefields Commission and many more public and private event partners.”
Recall that when the Russian city of Tyumen pulled out of hosting the event, the International Ski Federation (FIS) approached Quebec City to take over the event as a matter of priority.

Read our previous coverage here.

USA’s Hamilton Stellar 2nd in Uber-Close Photo Finish in Men’s Sprint FR #Toblach – Skar Claims 1st WCup Win


January 14, 2017 (Toblach, Italy) – The USA’s Simi Hamilton was a mere boot tip away from victory as he delivered a superb sprint performance to claim second in the men’s 1.3km freestyle Sprint at Toblach, Italy, battling to a photo-finish with Norway’s Sindre Bjoernestad Skar who claimed his first World Cup win.

Hamilton (l) vs Skar [P] Nordic Focus

Hamilton misses by a boot toe [P]Hamilton, who won his first stage World Cup in 2014 in Lenzerheide, SUI, at the Tour de Ski, was just three hundredths of a second away from victory. In third place was Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, earning his third podium of the season.

“I’m psyched with the day for sure, though I sure wish I could have moved up one step on the podium from last year. I felt great going into my quarter final. I knew that my body was in good form and my skis were smoking fast after my qualification, so I wanted to ski my quarter smart and in control,” commented Hamilton.

Men's podium [P] Nordic Focus

“Our heat was pretty scrappy the entire race, but I made a good move going in to the corner before the final climb. Getting into a good position before the final long downhill into the turn before the finish stretch is really key on this course, so feeling good and being aggressive on that final climb was probably my best asset I had going for me all day today.

“Our semi was also very tight, and I knew it had been a pretty fast pace from the start, so even though I couldn’t get through much traffic in the final 500 meters, I focused on crossing the line in the best position I possibly could hoping that my third place time would be good enough for a lucky loser spot. Fortunately, it was,” he explained.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Fellow American, Andy Newell, who qualified in sixth one spot behind Hamilton, was fourth in his opening heat. He held onto a lucky loser spot for a while but was ultimately bumped and finished 13th.

Canada’s Alex Harvey was 17th and Len Valjas was 20th. The result bumped Harvey one spot up the overall World Cup standings into fourth.

“It was pretty good today. I think that was my best qualifier in two years so I was a bit surprised,” said Harvey, who was only going to start the team sprint on Sunday with Valjas. “It was such an easy trip to come down to Toblach. I just felt if I’m doing race prep I might as well put a bib on and see what happens. I felt a lot of speed today and was quite happy.”

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

The men’s final was hotly contested, with Hamilton hanging behind the leaders until late in the race when he made a strategic move to take the lead. He set the pace into the finish, but wasn’t in a good stride position at the line as Skar just barely edged him out for the win.

“In the final, I basically tried to ski as efficiently as I could for the first 2/3 of the race. On this course the key is skiing the last climb really well, and all day I was making a good, decisive move right before that to move from the back of the pack to the front. So I wanted to use the same tactics that had worked for me all day,” said Hamilton.

“I felt really good coming off the top of that hill, especially knowing that I was probably going to get a good sling shot off of Pellegrino on the long turn before the finish stretch (which was exactly what he did to me last year). That worked really well, and I had the best position possible going into the finish lanes, but I stumbled a tiny bit at the start of the very soft finish stretch, and it took me a second to regain my composure.

Simeon Hamilton [P] Nordic Focus

“I knew Sindre was coming in hot on my left as we neared the finish, and I just focused on going through the motions and setting myself up for a good lunge. It came down to the wire and he had just a little bit of a better lunge than I did to nip me by a couple centimeters at the line, but I’m still really psyched with how the day played out.

“Our techs did an outstanding job with giving us amazing boards all day, and it was definitely a team effort. It’s pretty unbelievable to see 5 of us in the top-13…

“I think that is historical and it’s a testament to the momentum that this collective team has right now. I’m psyched for tomorrow, but also for another skate sprint coming up in Falun, Sweden in two weeks and I’m really looking forward to a great training period before World Champs,” he concluded.

Sunday will showcase a team sprint and Hamilton will team up with Newell, while Harvey and Valjas will take on the world for Canada.

Results here.

USA’s Randall and Caldwell Out in Fateful Crash as Matveeva Takes Sprint FR Over Falla in Toblach


January 14, 2017 (Toblach, ITA) – A fateful crash took out Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell as they collided in the same semi final heat in the women’s 1.3km Sprint in Toblach, Italy, as the FIS World Cup schedule resumed following the Tour de Ski.

Randall and Caldwell go down [P]

Still smiling [P] Natalia Matveeva (RUS) earned her second career individual sprint victory as she pipped overall sprint leader Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway at the line in thrilling finish. In third place was Sweden’s Hanna Falk for her third podium of the season.

Matveeva bests Falla at the line [P] Nordic Focus

Caldwell advanced to the semis finishing second in her heat while Randall advanced as a Lucky Loser. The duo drew the same heat which saw Randall was running directly behind Caldwell tucking a downhill into a left turn when Caldwell was pinched into the corner, spun around and Randall collided with her.

Sophie Caldwell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“Our skis were incredibly fast today and that was actually a little bit of the problem,” said Randall. “When our pack came down the hill that first time in the semi, everyone came together into the corner. The other girls went right so I could really only take the inside. I came up on Sophie faster than expected and tried to sneak by on the inside. But there wasn’t much space and I think I may have knocked her boot with my ski.”

“It was for sure a bummer of a way to end the day, but that is part of our sport,” said Caldwell, who had been down with a stomach ailment earlier in the week after winning a key Europa Cup sprint last weekend in Slovenia. “I felt like I skied the quarterfinal tactically well and had set myself up in a good position in that first half of the semi before falling.”

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“I feel really bad because I think I caused the crash. It was a real bummer because both of us were feeling good and ready to mix it up. But luckily we are both okay and there was no broken bodies or equipment,” Randall added.

The World Cup sprint standings top 3 is shared by today’s top 3 ladies but with Falla with a big lead followed by Falk and Matveeva who are separated by just 2 points.

Results here.

USA’s Dunklee 33rd, Canada’s Crawford 55th as Makarainen Wins Women’s Sprint in Ruhpolding


January 14, 2017 (Ruhpolding, GER) – The USA’s Susan Dunklee placed 33rd with two missed targets in the women’s 7.5km sprint on Saturday in Ruhpolding at BMW IBU World Cup 5 at 2:13.5 behind Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen who shot clean for her first victory of the season.

Susan Dunklee [P]

Gabriela Koukalova of Czech Republic also shot clean for second at 22 seconds back, while Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier matched the top two on the range but finished third, 30.1 seconds behind Makarainen.

Women's podium [P] Nordic Focus

Rosanna Crawford was the top Canuck in 55th followed by Megan Tandy in 56th with Julia Ransom 60th. American Joanne Reid was 71st and her teammate Clare Egan finished 77th. Canada’s Lunder placed 89th and Maddie Phaneuf was 94th.

Rosanna Crawford [P] Nordic Focus“I put myself in the race right from the start, taking advantage of a great ride behind Gabi for a loop,” said Dunklee. “Unfortunately, my pace fell off in the loops after that and my range performance was mediocre. I will have a great pack of athletes within two seconds ahead of me to chase tomorrow.”

After an overnight snowfall, more light snow accompanied by light winds began falling just before the start of the women’s sprint.

Canada 10th as Germany Triumphs in Women’s IBU WCup 4x6km Relay in Ruhpolding – Team USA 17th


January 12, 2017 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Canada battled to 10th in the women’s 4x6km relay in Ruhpolding (GER) on Thursday as Germany came from behind for the win at home with France claiming second over Norway at the line in a thrilling race. Team USA’s debut squad finished 17th.

Rosanna Crawford (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

The Canadian team of Megan Tandy, Rosanna Crawford, Emma Lunder and Julia Ransom shot well using only three spares and was as high as 8th courtesy of Crawford who started the second leg in 15th from Tandy.

Megan Tandy (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“We had a great shooting day today, and some really fast skis,” said Crawford. “I think with just three spares for the whole team, our expectations should be quite a bit higher, but this year the ski speed seems to be below where we usually are.”

“Ruhpolding has one of the easier ranges on the World Cup circuit with little to no wind,” Crawford added. “It was raining for most of the morning and through the first two legs, but the track was still quite fast and held up nicely.”

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic FocusDunklee fired up to second place on the first leg but three extra shots in her first standing bumped her to 12th place. She tagged Phaneuf,  the youngest member of the team, in 11th. Phaneuf shot well using two spares but dropped to 16th as Egan took over. Both she and Reid used three spares for 17th overall.

Madeleine Phaneuf (USA) [P] Nordic Focus“I enjoy the extra challenge of starting at the back of a mass start,” said Dunklee. “I’m good at weaving through crowds and it’s incredibly satisfying to pass lots of people. It was wonderful to finally put together a full women’s team and we look forward to improving upon today’s performance in the coming weeks.”

Germany (l-r) Hinz, Hammerschmidt, Preuss, Dahlmeier [P] Nordic FocusNorway took an early lead but a collision with Germany put them behind as the Germans took over with Italy, Ukraine and France chasing. Norway battled back and Marte Olsbu left the final standing range out front but Laura Dahlmeier chased her down for the win.

France (l-r) Aymonier, Bescond, Braisaz, Chevalier [P] Nordic FocusFrance’s Celia Aymonier battled from fourth to overtake the Ukraine and Norway for second with the Norwegians settling for 3rd.

Full results here.

Norway (l-r) Olsbu, Eckhoff, Fenne, Nicolaisen [P] Nordic Focus



Full results here.


Lustgarten Takes First National Title Winning Men’s 30km CL @ US Cross Country Nationals – Johnsgaard Top Canuck in 6th


Benjamin Lustgarten wins Men's 30km CL [P] Tom Kelly / USSAJanuary 10, 2017 (Heber City, Utah) – Ben Lustgarten, competing in his first year with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, raced to his first national title in the men’s 30km CL mass start competition despite more challenging and sloppy conditions at the 2017 L.L.Bean US Cross Country Nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah.

David Norris [P] Tom Kelly / USSADavid Norris, of APU Nordic Ski center, finished second for the silver at 20 seconds behind, while multi-decorated veteran, Kris Freeman (Ski Club Vail), grabbed the final podium spot in third, another 45 seconds back.

Kris Freeman [P] Tom Kelly / USSA

Leading the Canadian charge was Whitehorse skier, Knute Johnsgaard, of the Alberta World Cup Academy, who finished 6th. Renowned para-Nordic skier Brian McKeever (Canadian Para Nordic Team) placed 12th leading a small group of fellow Canucks including Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA), Bob Thompson (NTDC Thunder Bay) and Erik Carleton (Canadian Para Nordic Team).

Lustgarten’s stellar performance adds another strong bid for selection to the World Championships, as the 24-year-old Middlebury College graduate also had a second-place finish at the West Yellowstone Supertour in December.

Full results here.

Julia Kern Wins Junior Women’s 7.5km CL Title at 2017 L.L.Bean US XC Nationals – Canada’s Richardson 3rd


Junior Women's podium (l-r) Hailey Swirbul, Julia Kern, Annika Richardson [P] [P]January 10, 2017 (Heber City, Utah) – Julia Kern from Stratton Mountain School topped the Junior Women’s field for the title in their 7.5km CL mass start race on Tuesday at the 2017 L.L.Bean US Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow. Hailey Swirbul (University of Alaska Anchorage) claimed the silver at 34.7 seconds behind, while Canada’s Annika Richardson (NTDC Thunder Bay) landed third on the podium at 1:12 behind the winner.

Full results here.

Julia Kern [P] Toko

Bender and Newcomer Bolger Top Fields in Classic Sprints at 2017 L.L.Bean US XC Ski Nationals

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January 09, 2017 (Heber City, Utah) – Kevin Bolger of University of Utah and Jennie Bender of BSF claimed the 1.5km Classic Sprint senior titles at Soldier Hollow on Sunday, day two of the 2017 L.L.Bean US Cross Country Nationals. While Bender has won at numerous championships it was NCAA athlete, Bolger’s first national title as he took advantage of changing conditions that saw many race favorites eliminated in the qualification round.

Jennie Bender wins Classic Sprint at L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships [P] Tom Kelly/USSA

Moritz Madlener of the University of Denver, another NCAA athlete, finished second in the men’s race as Jesse Cockney of the Canadian NST landed third on the podium, the top male Canuck of the day.

Senior Men's podium (l-r) Madlener 2nd, Bolger 1st, Cockney 3rd [P] Tom Kelly/USSAFollowing Bender, a pre-race favourite, was a late-charging Becca Rorabaugh of APU Nordic Ski Center. Women’s qualification winner, Kaitlynn Miller of Craftsbury Green Racing Project, took home third. Dahria Beatty of Alberta World Cup Academy was the top Canadian female in 4th.

Kaitlynn Miller [P] Ian HarveyA steady cold rain became a major factor for both the men and women. “Each time [between heats] we stripped down to spandex, we would get soaked from the snow/rain,” women’s winner Bender told SkiTrax, “After each finish we only had 20 minutes or so until the next heat. It was definitely a “focus only on what you can control” kind of day.”

Snow was falling steadily before and during the men’s qualifier, making for slow conditions and tricky kick wax decisions. As the first starters finished, the snow switched to rain, glazing the course and speeding it up drastically. While usually the first starters are the highest seeded according to FIS rankings, only seven of the top 30 starters advanced to the quarter finals.

Reese Hanneman [P] Ian HarveyAmong the victims were pre-race favorite Reese Hanneman of APU Nordic Ski Center, who won the most recent North American Sprint at the NorAm/Supertour in Silverstar in December. He called the race “a nightmare,” after finishing in 57th. His teammate Tyler Kornfield, also a former National Champion in the distance, who finished 34th explained that the wax techs were not to blame. “The skis were good, if the whole field had skied in the same conditions,” he commented post race.

Ben Saxton [P] Ian HarveyDespite his apparently difficult start position in 10th, Ben Saxton (Stratton) managed to take a decisive qualification win by 1.27 seconds, attributing the success to fantastic skis by his techs. In 2nd place was the 139th starter, Ettiene Hebert of Montereski and the 142nd starter Reed Godfrey.

Kevin Bolger wins Classic Sprint at L.L.Bean U.S. Cross Country Championships [P] Tom Kelly/USSAIn the final, Bolger, a relative unknown 23-year-old originally from Wisconsin, said he had a rollercoaster day dealing with good and bad results. “After qualifying 7th I had high spirits and I knew that I was in for all long day but I wasn’t sure how long. I knew I had chance to make the A final absolutely; but winning it really wasn’t on my mind,” he confided.

Anne Hart [P] Ian Harvey“During my semi-final I was in second and in my head I told myself that I was going to win today, until I crossed the finish line in 4th, I thought my day was over until I snuck in as a Lucky Loser. After that the top of the podium was all I wanted and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. Going into the last hill I went all in and committed to my attack and it paid off,” commented the winner.

Bolger’s previous best finish at a Nationals race was 23rd in 2014 in a 15km race at Soldier Hollow. “Honestly I feel like I have a lot more in me so I am excited to see where this season will go,” he added.

Chelsea Holmes [P] Ian HarveyBoth Bolger and second-place finisher Madlener are NCAA athletes who attributed both their coaching support and team with their success. “I think my success the last two days is really the accumulation of hard and smart work throughout the year,” wrote Madlener, who finished a surprise third place in Saturday’s 15km skate as well, “As student-athletes, we don’t always have that much time, so it is very important to be focused during every session and think through everything we do,” he explained.

The women’s race was slightly more predictable but no less exciting, as Becca Rorabough blasted from 6th to 2nd on the final downhill and challenged Bender for the win. Rorabaugh said that she was used to the sloppy conditions, “I thought the conditions were very much like Eagle Glacier to tell the truth. The rain during the heats never solidified enough to really slow things down,” she said. “I was pretty comfortable with the weather and my skis were good so it worked out.”

Rorabaugh, a traditionally fast sprinter and high-speed racer, said she used her strengths to her advantage. “I came from behind because it was my best card to play, given the terrain,” she added.

Jennie Bender [P] Ian HarveyFor Bender, meanwhile, the victory was a statement of a comeback after some rough years. “Critics have judged me harshly over the past five years: ‘she can’t ski distance’, ‘she only does well in heats,’ etc.,” she told Trax by email. “I’ve changed both of those this year, and maybe I’ve said too much already, but when I hear this nay-saying, I’m tempted to answer back, ‘Well why don’t you get Mono, Lyme disease, and herniate a disc in your back all in less than a year and a half, and let me know how you come back from that!’”

Bender, a definite contender for a World Championships berth said that she hoped her case was made. “If I was a coach truly looking at me as an athlete, I hope I’d see the drive, tenacity, experience, and growth potential, [in me] that comes from someone who has fought for every inch of her career,” she shared.

Bolger, meanwhile, was definitely not a contender until today. “I’m not sure what this means [in terms of qualification for Worlds]. For now all I can do is keep racing and hope everything will take care of itself. I’m feeling fit, and strong I can only hope for the best,” he told SkiTrax.

Junior Men's podium (l-r) McKenny 2nd, Jackson 1st, Beaulieu 3rd [P] Tom Kelly/USSA

Canadian Ryan Jackson (Team Hardwood) topped the Junior Men’s field with Lance McKenney (Mountain Endurance) in second followed by another Canuck, Nicolas Beaulieu (Orford) in third. Northern Michigan’s Nicole Schneider won the Junior Women’s CL Sprint race with Taeler McCrerey (University of Denver) in second and Hailey Swirbul (University of Alaska) in 3rd.

Commenting on the unique conditions, US Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover told Trax that the selection process would still be fair. “As you know, changing weather is a part of outdoor sport and something that happens frequently,” he said, “We have built the selection criteria for the Lahti World Championships to accommodate the potential for a tough waxing day.”

With only a skate sprint qualifier left to compete in, and with double points offered for US Nationals podiums in the  selection criteria, many of the strongest contenders lost a serious chance at gathering points in their best two out of four performances per discipline.

Junior Women’s Brackets here.
Junior Men’s Brackets here.

Senior Women’s Brackets here.
Senior Men’s Brackets here.

Canada’s Harvey Career-best 7th at Tour de Ski as Russia’s Ustiugov Claims Overall Title


Alex Harvey [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 08, 2017 (Val di Fiemme) – Canada’s Alex Harvey raced to a career-best 7th overall with Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov crowned the king of cross-country skiing on Sunday as the Tour de Ski wrapped up on legendary Alpe Cermis, the grueling final 9km FR Stage 7 Pursuit climb.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Defending champ, Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway), finished second while Switzerland’s Dario Cologna held all all challengers to land third on the final podium at 45 seconds behind the winner. Ustiugov impressively won 5 of 7 stages – a record for the Tour celebrating its 11th edition this year.

Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) [P] Nordic Focus

“It was quite good today. That was the best position ever for me up the climb, and I had the 14th best time on the day,” said Harvey, who also skied faster than the overall leader Sergey Ustiugov on the day. “I was skiing with Manificat and Heikkinen who had the top-two times on the day. I was with them for a bit, but it was just a bit to fast for me. They crushed everyone on the hill.”

Alex Harvey [P] Nordic FocusThe real battle of the day was for third as Harvey, Maurice Manificat (Fra) and Finland’s Matti Heikkinen worked together to reel in Cologna. Manificat was on a mission to become the first Frenchman to podium at the Tour and was on Cologna’s heels at one point but the Swiss star closed the door and Manificat settled for fourth.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusHarvey’s teammate Devon Kershaw, one of only three athletes in the world to have started all 11 Tours, finished 25th overall while the lone American man, Noah Hoffman, crossed the final finish line to claim 26th overall. Only 40 of the 85 athletes who started, successfully finished this year’s Tour.

Noah Hoffman (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“This gives me a lot of confidence for next year to know that if I’m in the top-three I am fast enough to keep it together on the last day and get on the overall podium,” said Harvey, 28.

“The first part is not so bad, but when you hit that first pitch your legs feel like concrete and then you have to tough it out for the last 15 minutes. Normally you have a downhill, and flats, to recover, but here you don’t flush any lactate. You just keep going and it is a battle against yourself. With six races before this one, it’s an absolute relief when you get to the top,” he added.

Alex Harvey [P] Nordic Focus

Harvey also finished 3rd behind Ustiugov and Sundby in the Tour’s Sprint Standings which are based on the first sprint race and bonus seconds accumulated during the seven stages.

“Toblach was the stage I was fearing the most. It is a bit of a dark hole for me, but I had my best result (11th) ever there. Yesterday was just a bit of a mix of fatigue and we overdid it a bit with grip on the skis. I felt quite good today and I think this was a step in the right direction towards World Championships,” Harvey concluded.

Results here.
Overall here.

Diggins Captures Career-best 5th Overall to Match US Top Result at Tour de Ski – Weng Wins Title


January 08, 2017 (Val di Fiemme) – The USA’s Jessie Diggins captured a career-best 5th overall to match the best American result as the Tour de Ski wrapped up on Sunday with 9km FR Pursuit final Stage 7 won by Norway’s Heidi Weng for the overall title.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic FocusFinland’s Krista Parmakoski claimed second with Stina Nilsson of Sweden in third as Diggins’ teammate Liz Stephen took home the second fastest time of the day moving up from 19th to finish 14th overall. Only Weng skied faster up the renowned Alpe Cermis climb. Fellow American Rosie Brennan was 28th for her best Tour finish.

Women's final podium [P] Nordic Focus“I was really proud of the team – athletes, staff, volunteers and coaches for straining together day after grueling day and coming out strong in the tour! It was hard, but so worth it! Today I was really happy with my pacing – I tried to catch Ingvild and didn’t quite get there but to have my best TDS finish ever made it a great feeling at the top of the mountain,” said Diggins.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic FocusIn an aggressive climb up Alpe Cermis, Diggins was within about eight seconds of Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway in fourth. But Oestberg sensed the danger and bolted away trying to reel in Nilsson, but the Swede was not easy prey either and did the same when the Norwegian got too close.

“Today I was really happy with my pacing,” said Diggins. “I tried to catch Ingvild and didn’t quite get there but to have my best Tour de Ski finish ever made it a great feeling at the top of the mountain.”

Liz Stephen [P] Nordic FocusFor Stephen it was the third time in her career she’s been second fastest on the legendary climb. “Cermis doesn’t get any easier, but I look forward to the challenge all year,” shared Stephen.

So what’s her strategy? “Just keep pushing, just look down and don’t think about how far away the finish is or how much pain you have left to endure. Just think about the moment you are in,” commented Stephen.

“Jessie matched her top-5 finish at Ski Tour Canada too. She’s a force to be reckoned with and it’s really cool to see her mature and grow into the strong athlete I knew she could be. Plus our staff is the best staff an athlete could hope for. They work so hard and always have a smile on their faces. It’s truly amazing,” she added.

(l-r) Stephen, Brennan, Diggins [P] Matt Whitcomb

Brennan showed her experience and talent in rebounding to claim a top-30 result. “This was only my second time up Alp Cermis, but it was definitely easier knowing what to expect. I struggled on the flat section, but was able to find a solid groove on the climb and pick people off one by one. I am very happy with my climbing.

“This was definitely not the Tour I had hoped for, but I am really happy that I was able to turn things around in the last few stages. I am always inspired by my teammates. It was especially nice to see Sadie get her first podium. It gives me confidence to see them succeed because I know it is possible for me too,” commented Brennan.

Following a few days to recover the US team will gather for a training camp in nearby Seiser Alm. “I love that place and I fully intend to go sledding every day,” quipped Diggins.

The World Cup returns next weekend with a freestyle sprint and distance race in the Tour town of Toblach, Italy.

Results here.
Overall here.

Dunklee Battles to 9th and Crawford 25th as Koukalova Wins IBU WCup Mass Start in Oberhof – Schempp Bests Fourcade


January 08, 2017 (Oberhof, Germany) – The USA’s Susan Dunklee raced to a 9-place finish in the women’s 12.5km mass start on the final day of the BMW IBU World Cup 4 in Oberhof. The American found herself in a 3-woman lead pack halfway through the race but three misses in standing took her out of contention as Gabriela Koukalova (Cze) shot clean for the victory.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic FocusGermany’s Laura Dahlmeier finished second with one penalty while Koukalová’s teammate Eva Puskarcikova also shot clean for third at 45.4 seconds back for her second podium this season. Canada’s Rosanna Crawford placed 25th with two missed targets.

Rosanna Crawford [P] Nordic Focus

“Earlier this week, things weren’t clicking on the shooting range,” said Dunklee. “I’m trying out a very specific shooting plan this year, with a different type of focus each week. This week I learned a lot about what doesn’t work. Today I modified my focus slightly to go back to a faster style of shooting like I had before Christmas.”

Despite a miss in the first standing stage, Dunklee only dropped down one place to fourth and was still in contention for the podium. However, two more misses in the final standing stage pushed her further back in the field.

Women's podium [P] Nordic Focus“My standing shots all felt good except for my very last shot,” she commented. “I couldn’t get the barrel to stay on the target. Rather than taking an extra breath to reset, I over held it. That is my only regret of the day.”

“I am very grateful for our excellent wax technicians who put together incredible skis,” Dunklee added. “I was able to slingshot around other athletes on some key downhills sections.”

Earlier in the day, Germany’s Simon Schempp battled with France’s Martin Fourcade to win the men’s 15k mass start at the line. in 38:09.9. Schempp suffered one penalty while Fourcade had two. Schempp’s teammate, Erik Lesser, with one penalty as well, was able to lunge past Fourcade in the final sprint to claim second at 0.4 seconds behind the winner. No North Americans competed.

Women’s results here.
Men’s results here.

With files from US Biathlon

USA’s Diggins 8th in 10km CL as Nilsson Wins and Regains Tour de Ski Lead – Stephen 19th


January 07, 2017 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – The USA’s Jessie Diggins battled to 8th for a strong finish at the penultimate women’s 10km classic mass start on Stage 6 in Val di Fiemme won by Stina Nilsson as the Swede regained the Tour de Ski lead. Diggins, in fifth, is poised to post her best Tour result.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Finland’s Anne Kylloenen followed Nilsson in second place at 3.0 seconds back for her first podium of the season. In third was Charlotte Kalla (SWE) who recovered from an early fall and finished at 3.7 seconds behind her teammate.

Women's podium [P] Nordic Focus“I had good skis and one of my better 10k classics today,” Diggins said. “It was really fun to to so close to the leaders for almost the entire race, and a great confidence booster in my classic skiing. All those drills and technique work in the summer are starting to pay off. We’re all pumped to kick off one last hard race and finish strong in the Tour.”

Her teammate Liz Stephen moved up to make the top 20 finishing 19th and is ready for a strong finish on Alpe Cermis where she has finished second in the past – but she’s aiming for the top spot.

“The race today was fun and went pretty well for me. I love the courses in Val di Fiemme and I am really excited for tomorrow. I look forward to this race all year and so bring it on. My goal is to go out and catch as many people as I can, but also have the winning time of day split. It’s been my goal since the first year I watched the Tour, so I’m hoping to be able to put together a really strong race tomorrow,” said Stephen.

It was a bittersweet day for the USA with Sadie Bjornsen waking up sick and having to withdraw from the Tour. It came just a day after a brilliant career-first individual podium alongside race winner Diggins in the Toblach 5k freestyle.

Diggins maintained contact within the lead group the entire race protecting her fifth place overall. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski, in fourth, made a big move up to third while Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Westberg fell back into fourth only 23 seconds ahead of  Diggins, who has more than a minute over sixth place. With Nilsson’s victory she now has a 19.2-second lead over Heidi Weng.

As planned prior to the start, Kikkan Randall departed from the Tour after Friday’s 5km race to rest in preparation for the upcoming weekend’s freestyle Sprint in Toblach, Italy.

Results here.
Overall here.

Canada’s Crawford 22nd and Dunklee 44th in IBU World Cup Women’s Pursuit @ Oberhof – Dorin Habert Wins


January 07, 2017 (Oberhof, Germany) – Canada’s Rosanna Crawford battled tough conditions to finish 22nd in the women’s 10km Pursuit with four missed targets as France’s Marie Dorin Habert took home the victory with two penalties and a time of 34:33.3.

Rosanna Crawford [P] Nordic FocusCzech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalova finished second, with three penalties at 38.8 seconds back, while Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen was third with four penalties at 1:19.1 behind Dorin Habert.

Women's podium [P] Nordic FocusAmerican Susan Dunklee struggled with the conditions on the shooting range suffering nine penalties to place 44th while Clare Egan had seven missed targets en route to 49th.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus“Today was back to a bit more like Oberhof, but it was really cold so lots of cold feet and hands out there,” said Crawford. “The wind for my prone was pretty consistent and the miss was me. I just wasn’t quite focused enough and that was the same for my first standing.

“My last standing was a different story. The wind was really inconsistent and cold fingers made it hard to hit the targets. The potential was there for a really great race even with four misses, but my ski speed has been holding me back,” she added.

Dunklee will be the lone U.S. competitor in the women’s mass start on Sunday. “We had cold temperatures amplified by a brisk wind,” said Dunklee of the conditions. “I tried to draft someone on every loop entering the stadium because of the strong headwind. I am capable of shooting a lot better than I have these past couple days and now I am focusing on putting together a strong performance for tomorrow.”

Full results here.

USA’s Burke 26th as Fourcade Tops Field in Men’s Pursuit @ IBU World Cup in Oberhof – Canada’s Scott Gow 45th


January 07, 2017 (Oberhof, GER) – The USA’s Tim Burke was the top North American in 26th with four penalties as strong winds and cool temperatures presented challenging conditions for the men’s IBU World Cup 12.5km Pursuit in Oberhof, Germany.

Tim Burke (USA) [P] Nordic FocusNo athlete shot clean as World Cup points leader Martin Fourcade of France claimed his eighth win of the season with one penalty. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer finished a distant second at 1:09.9 back with three penalties while Italy’s Dominik Windisch suffered five penalties to claim third at 1:32.4 behind Fourcade.

Men's podium [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Russell Currier climbed 12 places to finish 34th with five missed targets. Calgary’s Scott Gow was the lone Canadian starting in 43rd place as he dropped two spots to 45th with seven penalties.

Russell Currier [P] Nordic Focus“Today was another challenging race with extremely windy and cold conditions,” said Burke. “Considering the conditions, I am happy with my performance today. It’s always good to move up in the pursuit and I feel like my ski shape is getting better with each race. Hopefully I can continue this trend next week in Ruhpolding.”

“It’s been four years since I last finished in the points,” Currier pointed out. “It was frustrating knowing I could do it, but never being able to execute on the few chances there were. Today was the sign of progress I’ve been training for all year.”

Results here.

USA’s Diggins 1st and Bjornsen 3rd for Historic Double Podium in Women’s 5km F Individual at Tour de Ski in Toblach


Historic US podium (l-r) Krista Parmakoski (FIN) 2nd, Jessica Diggins (USA) 1st and Sadie Bjornsen (USA) 3rd [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 06, 2017 (Toblach, ITA) – Team USA celebrated a historic double podium with Jessie Diggins of Minnesota taking another victory in the women’s 5km individual skate while Sadie Bjornsen from Alaska earned her first individual World Cup podium taking a third-place finish on Stage 5 of the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus“We are dreamers, but we are also believers,” said Bjornsen in an email after the race, “It’s crazy how much confidence you can get from a teammates success if you allow yourself to stand beside them.”

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) [P] Nordic FocusDiggins’ time of 12:45 was 30 seconds faster than her win at the same event and venue last year, which was her first individual World Cup victory. “This was such a great day for our team! To stand on the podium with a great friend and teammate is so much more exciting,” she said via email, “I was just thrilled for Sadie today and with my own race, I went into the day feeling ready and believing in myself…ready to make it happen again!” Her time was nearly fifteen seconds ahead of second place finisher Krista Parmakoski of Finland.

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) [P] Nordic FocusFor Bjornsen, who has shown promise for years but has narrowly missed podium finishes, the result was a dream come true. “Today was just amazing,” she commented, “I purposely asked for no splits today, because I wanted to go out there today and see how strong I could be inside my head. I love this course, but pacing is important, and I wanted to do my own thing. When I crossed the line, I had no idea where I had finished, so it was a fun surprise… like Christmas.”

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic FocusEarlier this year, Bjornsen won a World Cup sprint qualifier but failed to make it through the semifinals. She said consistent skiing was the key to today’s success. “I had two things in mind today, ‘stay strong Sadie’ and “what would Jessie Diggins do?’” she said, “There is so much work on the second half of the race, and Jessie is just amazing at being strong on that section… so I was imagining her the whole second half in front of me, and it seemed to have worked. Big thanks for amazing skis, and amazing cheers from all over the world! I think today opened a new door for me, I can’t wait.”

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Kikkan Randall, former World Cup overall Sprint winner was especially excited for the performance of her APU Nordic Ski Center teammate. “We’ve known Jessie would be strong in this race but I’m especially psyched for Sadie,” she said, “All fall she was battling problems with her heels but she stayed focused, didn’t get deterred and now she’s flying! I vividly remember the joy and excitement of getting those first podiums and it makes me so happy to see the girls get to experience that for themselves. I’m glad I have played a part in helping them succeed and it’s such satisfying vindication for our whole program and everyone that helps contribute to USA’s success!”

Bjornsen has been dealing with injuries off and on for over the past ten years. This season, she struggled with bone spurs on her heels that prevented her from running and wearing normal ski boots during fall training.

Results here.
Overall here.



Canada’s Harvey 11th and USA’s Hoffman 25th in Men’s 10km FR as Russia’s Ustiugov Takes Record 5th Victory at Tour de Ski


January 06, 2017 (Toblach, ITA) – Canada’s Alex Harvey finished 11th in the men’s 10km FR individual start on Stage 5 at the Tour de Ski and slipped to 4th overall as Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov racked up an unprecedented fifth straight stage win.

Alex Harvey [P] Nordic Focus

Maurice Manificat, of France, was second at 21:48.3, while Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krueger locked up the final spot on the podium with a time of 22:04.5.

Noah Hoffman (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Noah Hoffman had a solid day finishing in the points in 25th with Erik Bjornsen just outside the top thirty in 31st. Canada’s Devon Kershaw was just behind in 32nd followed by Graeme Killick in 35th.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusIt was 28-year-old Harvey’s best result on the unique Toblach course. “We shouldn’t be greedy. He is consistently right there every day, and this 10-kilometre race was very quick with the podium under 21 minutes. Alex missed a little speed today, but the skis were good and he is still feeling good,” said Canadian coach Babikov.

“Alex just keeps delivering and it is really impressive to watch,” added Babikov. “This was his toughest day on the Tour, yet it was his best ever skate result here in Toblach. Of course we are hungry for more, and tomorrow is going to be a really good race.”

Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) [P] Nordic FocusUstiugov appears to be skiing away with the title. No male athlete had won more than four stages in the previous 10 editions of the Tour de Ski and today’s win in the 10km free technique was also his first ever win in an individual start competition on World Cup.

(l-r) Maurice Manificat (FRA) 2nd, Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) 1st and Simen Hegstad Krueger (NOR) 3rd [P] Nordic FocusSimen Hegstad Krueger of Norway recorded his first ever World Cup podium with a third place finish +16.6 seconds behind Ustiugov. Krueger took third place away from Finland’s Matti Heikkinen but just 0.7 seconds.

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby struggled on today’s stage and finished 14th place losing valuable time to Ustiugov in the overall standings. He remains in second place but is now 1:34 back while Switzerland’s Dario Cologna moved up to third overall bumping Harvey to 4th.

Results here.
Overall here.

USA’s Hamilton and Caldwell Win Europa Cup Freestyle Sprint in Slovenia


Simi Hamilton on men's podium [P]January 06, 2017 (Planica, Slovenia) – The USA’s Simi Hamilton and Sophie Caldwell each took hard fought freestyle Sprint wins Friday in Planica, Slovenia against a strong field that included a host of World Cup sprinters no longer in the Tour de Ski. The FIS World Cup returns to freestyle sprint racing next weekend in Toblach, Italy.

Sophie Caldwell tops women's podium [P]

W Qualifications here.
M Qualifications here.

W Finals here.
M Finals here.

Canada’s Crawford 21st in 7.5km Women’s Sprint at IBU World Cup in Oberhof


January 06, 2017 (Oberhof, GER) – Canada’s Rosanna Crawford, 26, shot clean to earn her best result of the season, finishing 21st in the BMW IBU World Cup 7.5km women’s sprint race in Oberhof, Germany on Friday.

Rosanna Crawford (CAN) [P] Nodic FocusThe Czech Republic’s Gabriela Koukalova also shot clean for her second straight victory. Kaisa Makarainen of Finland was second with two penalties at 21 seconds back while France’s Marie Dorin Habert grabbed the last spot on the podium at 23.7 seconds behind Koukalova, with one penalty.

Susan Dunklee was the top American in 50th with four penalties at 2:36.3 behind followed by Clare Egan in 52nd with two missed targets.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic FocusCrawford took advantage of little wind to shoot clean for the first time in more than two years at 1:32.3 behind Koukalova. “It was a dream day out there with conditions more like Canmore than Oberhof,” said Crawford, who lives just west of Calgary. “There was little to no wind in the range and the tracks held up nicely. It was great to have a good shooting day, but the ski speed is still way off.”

“Oberhof was the most beautiful I have ever seen it with great snow, almost no wind and plenty of sunshine,” commented Dunklee. “I felt a little rusty after the break, particularly on the shooting range. I don’t think the jet lag helped matters either. Missing two in prone is already more mistakes than I want in a race, but that just make it more important to ski hard and come into the range fully focused for standing.”

Women's podium [P]While happy with her shooting Crawford is looking for more speed on her skis.  “The coaches and myself are still scratching our heads as to where the ski speed is,” she added. “Hopefully things will turn around in time for World Championships. I am happy that my results are getting better, but when you analyze the ski speed it is similar to what it was in December. I had good skis today though and the techs did another great job.”

FIS Still Bullish on Quebec City to Host XC World Cup Finals in March 2017


January 05, 2017 (Oberhof, GER) – The International Ski Federation (FIS) has re-confirmed that Quebec City is the leading candidate to host the FIS Cross-Country World Cup finals from March 16-19, following the Dec. 23 announcement that Russia has declined to host the finals in Tuymen in light of WADA’s McLaren reports on systematic, state-sponsored doping in the country.

Some Scandinavian sites are also contenders but all of this means that the FIS is scrambling to find a replacement for Russia. Important factors, most notably financing, are part of the equation in the search for a new venue in light of the sudden change.

Pierre Mignerey [P]

SkiTrax caught up with FIS Cross-Country Race Director, Pierre Mignerey, who is currently in Oberstdorf, GER, at the Tour de Ski, to find out more about the situation.

“Yes that’s correct,” Mignerey told SkiTrax. “We are in close contact with Cross Country Canada (CCC) and Québec (GESTEV). Québec City continues to be our first choice at the moment. Sweden, Finland and Norway are also interested but our focus is on Québec for many reasons.

“The success of Ski Tour Canada is one of them, but not the only one. World Cup races in Québec City have always been great events, with a lot of spectators, a great atmosphere and a professional organization,” Mignerey continued.

FIS has been eager to develop the sport outside of Europe which led to Ski Tour Canada last season that encompassed eight races. “It’s important for the development of cross-country skiing to have World Cup organizers outside of Europe. Canada is an important nation in the sport and this is a great opportunity to come back to North America. The World Cup finals should always be something special and Québec City is clearly the right place to host a great World Cup finals,” shared Mignerey.

Alex Harvey racing to the finish ahead of Petter Northug in Quebec [P] Reese BrownWe wondered if the dates would be the same as originally scheduled which Mignerey confirmed but one event may be cancelled. “Yes the dates will remain the same as for Tuymen. In any case we will probably have only three races though on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” he commented (the 3/5km FR Prologue scheduled for Thursday, March 16 will likely be cancelled).

The logistics of the XC ski caravan transferring to North America is no small undertaking and we wondered how the teams and athletes are reacting to the news.

“The first feedback from the teams and athletes was positive even though the logistics will be more complicated for Québec compared to Scandinavians sites. Such late changes need fast decisions and it’s difficult to involve everyone in the process. Nevertheless we are in constant discussion with all the stakeholders – including the teams – in order to make the appropriate decisions,” explained Mignerey.

Dave Dyer (CCC), Dahria Beatty, Drew Goldsack [P] skitrax.comWe contacted Dave Dyer, CCC’s event coordinator, a key player in the execution of Ski Tour Canada for his take on things. CCC is also in the middle of a leadership transition as Shane Pearsall is taking over from out-going CEO Pierre Lafontaine – read more here.

“We’re supportive as this would be another fabulous opportunity for cross-country skiing in Canada and for our developing athletes who would normally not get a World Cup start,” commented Dave Dyer, CCC’s event director. “With the time of year and the holiday period the project is taking a bit longer to confirm final logistics and whether the Finals are financially viable under the timelines provided by the International Ski Federation. We hope to have a decision shortly.”

Mignerey confirmed that around 60 women and 70 men are expected to compete at the final competitions, and that FIS has not set an effective deadline for making a decision on the venue, but hopes to finalize things as soon as possible. “We are expecting some news from CCC very soon and we will hopefully be able to make a decision next week.”

Devon Kershaw (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusThe 2016 Ski Tour Canada FIS cross-country Stage World Cup races in Montreal and Quebec City were organized by GESTEV which also organized a very successful downtown sprint in Quebec City in 2012.

“FIS approached us and we are very happy and grateful,” explains Marie-Michelle Gagné, Chief of Media Relations for GESTEV. “On the other hand, with the very short deadlines between now and the event, we must analyze everything to see the feasibility of the project, thus obtaining the necessary permits from the City and the (Plains of Abraham) Battlefields Commission, as well as the support of Cross Country Canada. We will have to position ourselves quickly, just like our partners from a financial support point of view, to hand over our decision within the time-frame prescribed by the FIS.”

Maiken Caspersen Falla with Sprint Cup globe in Canmore, Alta. [P] Pam DoyleGESTEV’s President, Patrice Drouin, previously told the Journal de Quebec that while hosting the event is organizationally feasible, the main question is about financing. Questions we asked GESTEV and CCC about possible government support have so far been unanswered.

The successful Ski Tour Canada 2016, from March 1-12, which included the historic FIS cross-country World Cup finals in Canmore, Alta., marked the first time the legendary Crystal Globes were awarded outside of Europe.

SkiTrax’s previous report here.

Canada’s Harvey 8th in Men’s 10km CL and Sits 3rd Overall as Ustiugov Wins Again at Tour de Ski


Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 01, 2017 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – Canada’s Alex Harvey finished strong in 8th and is now third overall following the 10km CL mass start race on Stage two at the Tour de Ski won by Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov taking his second straight victory. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby finished nearly two seconds back at 24:51.9 with fellow Norge Didrik Toenseth in third.

“It was a good day. I’m happy with the result and the way I skied,” said Harvey, who has consistently been in the top-10 this year. “The skis were good and I made up some spots on the down hills today.”

Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) [P] Nordic FocusHarvey’s teammate Devon Kershaw finished in the points in 27th with a solid effort as he started in 54th. Graeme Killick also moved up nicely 14 spots to finish 33rd while Len Valjas rounded out the Canadian contingent in 38th. The USA’s Erik Bjornsen finished 42nd, Noah Hoffman was 46th and Simi Hamilton placed 75th.

Starting in fifth spot on the front line of the mass start race, Harvey executed his tactics to near perfection as 78 of the world’s best Nordic skiers jockeyed for position while venturing around the narrow 2.5 kilometre loop four times.

“The course was pretty dangerous. The snow was super fast with sharp corners. The first goal was to stay near the front and out of trouble. The second goal was to stay with the leaders. I accomplished both of those today so it was a great first two days,” added Harvey.Devon Kershaw leading Graeme Killick [P] Nordic Focus

A lightening quick pace, skiing at altitude on a tricky layout that features a long, four-minute climb off the start mixed with tight corners, down hills and flats along in a rare 10-kilometre race distance were the perfect ingredients for a tough day at the office.

“Skis were great – they have been good all year this year. The boys are doing a fantastic job,” commented Kershaw. “It was hard to pass for sure. It was a short loop (2.5km) and a lot of turns – so it was hard to make any passes. Especially early. I started in the 11th row with bib 54, so it was really busy out there for me – but I was patient and managed my energy well I felt. I did what I could out there.

Len Valjas (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“I’m decently happy. I don’t want to be living just inside the top 30 – especially in classic distance races – but to move up from such a bad bib and deep in the field on this course – I felt like I did what I could,” he concluded.

Men's podium (l-r) Sundby, Ustiugov, Toenseth [P] Nordic FocusHarvey, who has been battling heavy legs the last couple of days added, “I still didn’t feel 100 per cent today but better than yesterday. It is a bit higher altitude here than in Davos. It is the same for everyone, but it will be nice to get to sea level again in Oberstdorf.”

Results here.
Overall here.

USA’s Diggins Stellar 6th in Women’s Sprint FR at Tour de Ski as Sweden’s Nilsson Rules


December 31, 2016 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – The USA’s Jessie Diggins delivered a solid 6th place finish in the women’s Sprint FR as Stage 1 of the 11th annual Tour de Ski got underway on man-made snow in great conditions at Val Mustair, Switzerland.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took the women’s win over Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) in second at 2.48 seconds behind with Heidi Weng in third at 6.47 seconds back.

Diggins, who qualified 9th, was the only American to advance thru the heats as Sophie Caldwell qualified fifth, Sadie Bjornsen was eighth, and Kikkan Randall, who also celebrated her birthday today, made the heats qualifying in 29th.

Stina Nilsson (SWE) [P] Nordic Focus

In her opening 1/4 final Diggins raced fast and smart into second place at 0.52s behind Nilsson. She was also matched up with Nilsson in the semifinals, finishing third, but again, a fast heat that put her into the finals as a lucky loser.

In the finals, no one could match up with Nilsson. Diggins fell behind at the start and had to constantly work to keep up with the torrid pace being set by Nilsson, who skied a full two seconds faster than her semifinal time to take a win by 2.48 seconds – huge by sprint standards.

Women's podium [P]“I was happy with a good start to the Tour and especially since I didn’t know what to expect after being sick and not having quite the training I wanted during break,” said Diggins. “It’s always nerve-wracking when you haven’t raced in a while, but it felt good to get back at it and I’m excited for the rest of the Tour. Our staff did a great job and delivered great skis, and it was fun to race on a course with some rollers and fun downhills!”

Caldwell narrowly missed second in a photo finish but was in a slow heat and did not advance while Bjornsen led much of her heat before fading to fifth.

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic FocusRandall’s performance was a bright spot in her return to the World Cup after a year off. In each race since her return a month ago she has incremented her results, this time sneaking into the finals and coming away with a strong finish.

“Today definitely felt like another step forward toward getting my race sharpness back,” said birthday girl Randall. “My qualifier was decent and I felt like I had more punch in my quarter final. Tough to just miss the lucky loser spot because I was feeling stronger as I went and actually felt competitive for the first time this season. Still lots of racing ahead, though, so I am satisfied with today as a good start and am feeling good about the races ahead.”

Qualifications here.
Results here.

New Wax Truck for Team USA is Coming in September 2017


December 31, 2016 – Team US is having a solid start to the season but the squad has been celebrating even more good news over the holidays as next September they will take delivery of their new wax truck. Fundraising for the $500,000 project has been underway for a little over a year and was spearheaded by Liz Arky and Kikkan Randall.

Liz Arky (l) and Kikkan Randall [P] Arky is a member of the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees at USSA, and the chair of a US Nordic Advisory group she formed. Well connected in Washington she is also the principal at Arky Group Consulting, LLC, a specialty firm providing strategic, government relations and development advice to corporate and non-profit clients.

The US team has been making steady performance gains on the World Cup with Randall leading the way over the years against many strong and well-funded Scandinavian and European teams such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France and Russia… all of whom have wax trucks for their service crews.

“We’ve been talking about this for awhile, perhaps five years, but needed to get some other fundamentals in place first,” said US XC Team head coach Chris Grover. “We wanted our wax tech team and support crews in place along with some training projects and a few other segments dialed before focusing on the wax truck. We were ranked 6th in the world at the end of last season, but the USA is only team ranked in the top-9 last year without a wax truck – now that it’s almost here it’s pretty amazing to see it all come together.”

Canadian wax truck [P] Jeff EllisInside look of Canadian wax truck [P]“We’re working with the same Swedish companies as the Canadians did – Scania and SKAB who also work with the Russians and Norwegians. Our wax truck will be similar to Canada’s but we’ve customized it for our needs so it will open in three directions including a covered porch option for outdoor waxing,” Grover continued.US wax truck interior drawing [P] courtesy of USSA

The US team’s head of service, Oleg Ragilo, was also heavily involved reviewing what other wax trucks offered and providing valuable design input for the US team’s utilitarian requirements. It was a real “team effort” stressed Grover. Randall says the team members were bubbling with enthusiasm and “overjoyed and pumped up” when news that the funding for the truck had been secured.

US wax truck drawing [P] courtesy of USSA

Randall and Arky were somewhat of a dynamic duo and things snowballed rapidly when the two began the process of raising the half a million price tag. It was Arky’s earlier work with the formation of a Cross Country Advisory Group to the USSA Cross Country team that was the foundation for projects like the wax truck. The Group’s mission has been to help with fundraising, visibility and messaging.

(l-r) Tiger Shaw, Sophie Caldwell, Kikkan Randall, Andy Newell [P] Sodie

“In the two and a half years I’ve been working with the team, I’ve been really impressed with the innovation and togetherness of the team so along the way I formed a Cross Country Advisory Group. There is an incredible camaraderie and longevity of the athletes, a consistency of leadership and coaching as well as an innovative support team that has enabled high performance in spite of less resources than the nations ahead of us,” said Arky.

“I travelled to World Cup races in Davos with USSA CEO Tiger Shaw two years ago. We were both surprised to see the waxing environments and the wax trucks of the nations ahead of us. While we were impressed with how well our team was doing in spite of not having one, we became determined to level the playing field,” Arky explained.

Randall was the perfect partner as a veteran star of the US team who was the lone woman at the Torino Games in 2006 and is now surrounded by a very talented group of women coached by Matt Whitcomb.

Team USA coaches Chris Grover (l) and Matt Whitcomb [P] Peter Graves

“I helped out with the fundraising for the wax truck but it was really Liz Arky that worked the magic. She brought me to the USSA Board of Trustees meeting last year in Vail and I just got to talk about our team and what we do. A lot of the board members were surprised to hear how small our budget is compared to some of the powerful Nordic nations and how “outgunned” we are by the teams with trucks,” commented Randall.

“I shared my story from Sochi and stressed that it not only takes the world class physical and mental preparation to win medals, it also takes a world class service team and getting the right skis on the right day. I shared the stories and Liz made sure the right people heard them… then she followed up to keep them invested,” she continued.

Norway's wax truck [P] Jeff Ellis

The message hit home and things began to fall into place. “With Tiger’s Foundation staff, we appealed primarily to individuals. While we have not widely appealed to companies some announcements are coming,” said Arky. “We found many individuals who are impressed with the rising performance of the team, who agreed the truck will help the wax techs to produce consistently competitive skis in a state of the art work environment. A number of the individuals are cross-country enthusiasts who are new donors to the team, while several are members of the Board of Trustees.”

Sweden's wax truck [P] Scania

Swedish wax truck [P] ScaniaRandall’s passion for the sport and the team is infectious and she is also the Chair of the FIS Athletes’ Commission and President of Fast and Female USA. “I was really impressed with how interested the trustees were in our team and how much they were willing to throw their support behind this project. Our board tends to be dominated by the alpine world so I think it was really eye opening for the trustees to hear more about the cross-country team, how far we’ve come and how close we are to those Olympic medals,” added Randall.

Arky echoed how well the message resonated. “The Board of Trustees has always been supportive of the cross-country team, and several found the wax truck to be a tangible, viable and visible resource to level the playing field. As a group they were delighted to hear directly from Kikkan, who is of course widely admired and respected. The Trustees all look for the ways in which they can contribute to giving our athletes an edge — Kikkan brought tears to their eyes with her stories of Sochi and the World Champs, and made it clear how critical the waxing process is to high performance. We are all excited to provide a resource that will be a source of pride for the team, staff and supporters for years to come,” shared Arky.

Grover estimates 500 pairs of skis will need to be stored [P]

For Grover the safety and comfort of the team is always top of mind and the working environment of the wax crew is crucial to delivering consistent top level skis at every race site. “The elements of the environment in our wax truck include consistent ventilation, more space to move about and operate, consistent lighting, customization and familiarity with the service techs work space, etc.  These things should help the staff stay healthier, work more efficiently, and provide better overall ski service,” said Grover.

We wondered how many skis the team will need to have on hand. “Right now we carry about 500 pairs. It will depend on the size of the World Cup Team and how many athletes we have who are skiing at that level,” commented Grover.

He answered the tough question about how many more podiums the team might see this way. “It’s hard to objectively say what kind of improved consistency of fast skis we can expect from the new working environment. The truck will provide an environment that doesn’t change from week to week which should allow the us to more consistently make great skis.

“This investment gives us a 20-year mandate and it’s amazing and rewarding to see it come together. The plan is to take delivery on Sept. 1 next year as we head into an Olympic season – it will be stored in Estonia until we head to Europe – we couldn’t be more excited,” concluded Grover.

Kikkan Randall (USA) with teammates celebrate her 3rd Sprint Cup globe [P] Nordic Focus

For Randall the wax truck adds additional kick to her swan song season in 2018.

“I was really motivated to help fund raise for this truck because I’ve seen how hard our service team works and I know how good this truck can be for their health and their capacity to make even better skis. I also was secretly hoping it would arrive before I retire so I could get a chance to experience the truck for my final season,” quipped the legendary triple Sprint Globe winner.

Team USA’s Wax Team
– Oleg Ragilo – Head of Service, Head of Kick
– Jean-Pascal Laurin – Head of Glide
– Marek Sander – World Cup Serviceman
– Tim Baucom – World Cup Serviceman
– Andrew Morehouse – World Cup Serviceman
– Jason Cork – World Cup Coach and service for Jessie Diggins

9-Strong US Team Unveiled for Tour de Ski 2017


December 29, 2016 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team will enter one of its deepest and most experienced squads ever with nine athletes named, as the FIS Tour de Ski 2017 gets underway in Val Mustair on New Year’s Eve day with a freestyle sprint. The 7-stage tour will cover four stops in three nations before the finale up the staggering Alpe Cermis hill climb in Val di Fiemme, Italy on Sunday, January 8.

Jessie Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Among the top U.S. skiers will be Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN), who led the USA last year finishing 10th overall; Sophie Caldwell (Putney, VT), who won a classic sprint stage a year ago; Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, VT), a powerhouse on the final climb who holds the U.S. best overall finish in fifth; and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO), winner of a sprint in the 2014 Tour at Lenzerheide (SUI); also returning to the Tour after a year’s absence will be Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), who won the Val Mustair sprint in 2013.

Sophie Caldwell [P] Nordic Focus

Simi Hamilton takes the biggest win of his career [P]Andy Newell (Shaftesbury, VT), the lone skier at Team USA’s inaugural Tour in 2010, is sitting out this year while fellow American, Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), skied to the best-ever U.S. men’s finish in 2011 claiming 7th. Randall scored the first U.S. podium at the Tour in 2012 finishing second in the sprint at Toblach; the next year she earned two stage wins. As mentioned Hamilton won in 2014 and last year, Caldwell won a classic sprint while Diggins took a 5km freestyle victory.

Kikkan Randall (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Liz Stephen [P] Linus TryggDiggins, who took a World Cup win this season at the 5k freestyle in Lillehammer (NOR), will be looking to improve on her 10th place TdS finish a year ago. Bjornsen, meanwhile, has had a solid and consistent early season across both freestyle and classic races and is poised to improve on her 14th place Tour finish a year ago.

Sadie Bjornsen [P] Nordic FocusAgain this year, NBC Sports will be covering the entire Tour de Ski with live streaming each day at NBCSports.com, plus same-day broadcast coverage every afternoon (USA time) on Universal HD featuring commentary from world champion and Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane. Live scoring data will be available at FIS-Ski.com, including GPS tracking on several events.

2017 U.S. Team Tour de Ski 2017 Roster

Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA
– Third Tour de Ski start
– Finished 41st in 2016, only full Tour finish

Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO
– Fifth Tour de Ski start
– Won 2014 Lenzerheide freestyle sprint
– Has not completed full Tour

Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO
– Fourth Tour de Ski start
– Fastest time in freestyle pursuit from Cortina to Toblach in 2014
– Finished 22nd in 2016
– Has three full Tour finishes

Sadie Bjornsen, Anchorage (Winthrop, WA)
– Third Tour de Ski start
– Finished 14th in 2016 in lone Tour finish
– Strong, consistent early season results this year

Rosie Brennan, Anchorage (Park City, UT)
– Second Tour de Ski start
– Was 42nd in first appearance in 2016

Sophie Caldwell, Putney, VT
– Fourth Tour de Ski start
– Won Oberstdorf classic sprint in 2016
– No full Tour finishes

Jessie Diggins, Afton MN
– Fifth Tour de Ski start
– Finished 10th in 2016 – matching second best U.S. women’s finish ever
– Won Toblach 5k freestyle in 2016
– Three full Tour finishes
– Strong early season including 5k freestyle World Cup win in Lillehammer

Kikkan Randall, Anchorage
– Returning after year’s absence to make fifth Tour de Ski start (skipped 2014 Tour to prepare for Olympics and 2016 while pregnant)
– Won two stages in 2013 including Oberhof prologue and Val Mustair freestyle sprint
– Finished 10th in 2012
– Three full Tour finishes

Liz Stephen, E. Montpelier, VT
– Seventh Tour de Ski start
– Has finished all six Tours she has entered
– Holds top U.S. Tour de Ski finish of fifth (2015) as well as a seventh (2014)
– Second in Alpe Cermis hill climb in 2013, 2014 and 2016
– 5th in Val di Fiemme10k classic mass start in 2016

All events to be live streamed on NBCSports.com

Saturday, December 31 – Val Mustair, Switzerland
8:50 a.m. – Men’s and women’s freestyle sprint

Sunday, January 1 – Val Mustair, Switzerland
7:00 a.m. – Men’s 10k classic mass start
10:00 a.m. – Women’s 5k classic mass start

Tuesday, January 3 – Oberstdorf, Germany
6:15 a.m. – Women’s 5k/5k CL/FS skiathlon
9:15 a.m. – Men’s 10k/10k CL/FS skiathlon

Wednesday, January 4 – Oberstdorf, Germany
5:30 a.m. – Women’s 10k freestyle pursuit
6:45 a.m. – Men’s 15k freestyle pursuit

Friday, January 6 – Toblach, Italy
4:45 a.m. – Men’s 10k freestyle
7:00 a.m. – Women’s 5k freestyle

Saturday, January 7 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
8:30 a.m. – Women’s 10k classic mass start
9:30 a.m. – Men’s 15k classic mass start

Sunday, January 8 – Val di Fiemme, Italy
5:30 a.m. – Women’s 9k freestyle pursuit – hill climb
9:30 a.m. – Men’s 9k freestyle pursuit – hill climb

Team Canada Announced for 11th Annual Tour de Ski 


Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusDecember 29, 2016 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – Canada’s Alex Harvey (St.-Ferreol, Qué.), Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.), Len Valjas (Toronto), and Graeme Killick (Fort McMurray, Alta.) are set to hit the start line when the world’s best cross-country skiers kick off the ultimate high-performance 9-day grind at Val Mustair, Switzerland on December 31 as the 11th edition of the epic Tour de Ski gets underway.

Devon Kershaw [P] Nordic FocusKershaw is one of a handful of athletes that started in all 10 previous editions of the Tour that is modeled after the Tour de France in cycling. One of the featured events on the Nordic calendar it features seven punishing races at four different venues in three countries to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing.

Len Valjas (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusTeam Canada’s four entries will focus on fighting for the podium at each stage while contending for spots in the top-10 at the overall Tour when it wraps up on Jan. 8 in Val di Fiemme, Ita.

Graeme Killick [P] Nordic FocusFormer Alpe Cermis winner, Ivan Babikov, has been assigned Canada’s coaching duties for the Tour, and has assembled a closely-knit wax team of six experienced techs. To contend for the overall Tour lead there’s no margin for error in ski preparation and Team Canada will have one of the best athlete-to-wax tech ratios for each Tour stage.

Tour de Ski 2017 Schedule

December 31 – Val Mustair, Sui.
Skate Sprint

January 1 – Val Mustair, Sui.
10km Classic Mass Start

January 3 – Oberstdorf, GER
10km Skiathlon

January 4 – Oberstdorf, Ger.
15km Skate Pursuit

January 6 – Toblach, Ita.
10km Skate

January 7 – Val di Fiemme, Ita.
15km Classic Mass Start

January 8 – Val di Fiemme, Ita. (Alpe Cermis)
9km Skate Pursuit

Cross Country World Cup Athletes Request IOC and FIS Leadership for Clean Sport


December 24, 2016 – Dear President Bach, President Kasper, members of the IOC Executive Board, and members of the FIS Council, We find the handling of the evidence of state-sponsored systematic doping named in the McLaren report and other doping violations surrounding the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics to have been disturbingly lenient across multiple sports. This has damaged the credibility of what it means to be an Olympic athlete. We believe that this lenience is not befitting to an organization such as the IOC which should be working to clean up sport.

We are also concerned with some of the comments coming from FIS leadership regarding doping in our sport.  We would like to request an open meeting with President Kasper at the FIS World Ski Championships in Lahti in February 2017 to discuss the future of clean sport.

We believe a soft-handed approach to anti-doping is allowing cheating to persist in our sport. We request stronger leadership by both the FIS and IOC to be dedicated to clean sport.

Thus, we, the undersigned athletes of the Cross Country World Cup support the following statements:

– We deserve the right to compete on a doping-free playing field, and request stronger leadership from the FIS, IOC and WADA to accomplish this.
– We support a stronger, independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with the power and autonomy to impose meaningful sanctions on the signatories to the WADA code in the case of their non-compliance.
– We expect strict, swift, consistent and transparent sanctions for any signatories to the WADA code who violate the code.
– We will not intentionally violate the WADA CODE, and support all measures to uphold it.

These statements have been drafted by an international committee consisting of World Cup athletes from eight nations.


Alex Harvey (CAN)
Bob Thompson (CAN)
Tim Puiras (CAN)
Devon Kershaw (CAN)
Emily Nishikawa (CAN)
Cendrine Browne (CAN)
Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN)
Maya Macisaac- Jones (CAN)
Julien Locke (CAN)
Timothy Smith (CAN)
Sam Greer (CAN)
Knute Johnsgaard (CAN)
Dahria Beatty (CAN)
Lenny Valjas (CAN)
Graeme Killick (CAN)
Laurien Van Der Graaff (CH)
Nadine Faehndrich (CH)
Heidi Widmer (CH)
Hannes Dotzler (DE)
Sebastian Eisenlauer (DE)
Sandra Ringwald (DE)
Thomas Wick (DE)
Stephanie Boehler (DE)
Florian Notz (DE)
Victoria Carl (DE)
Valentin Maettig (DE)
Hanna Kolb (DE)
Thomas Bing (DE)
Jonas Dobler (DE)
Nicole Fessel (DE)
Katharina Hennig (DE)
Sofie Krehl (DE)
Julia Regleb (DE)
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FI)
Sami Jauhojärvi (FI)
Martti Jylha (FI)
Ristomatti Hakola (FI)
Lari Lehtonen (FI)
Krista Pärmakoski (FI)
Perttu Hyvarinen (FI)
Jean-Marc Gaillard (FR)
Maurice Magnificat (FR)
Clement Parisse (FR)
Clement Arnault (FR)
Robin Dullivard (FR)
Paul Goalabre (FR)
Baptiste Gros (FR)
Lucas Chanavat (FR)
Coraline Hugue (FR)
Virginia De Martin (IT)
Greta Laurent (IT)
Federico Pellegrino (IT)
Lucia Scardoni (IT)
Ilenia Defrancesco (IT)
Elisa Brocard (IT)
Francesco De Fabiani (IT)
Gaia Vuerich (IT)
Francesca Baudin (IT)
Giulia Sturz (IT)
Ragnhild Haga (NO)
Ingvild Flugstad Østeberg (NO)
Marit Bjørgen (NO)
Maiken Caspersen Falla (NO)
Astrid Jacobsen (NO)
Eirik Brandsdal (NO)
Sindre Bjørnestad Skar (NO)
Natalia Korosteleva (RU)
Elena Soboleva (RU)
Alisa Zhambalova (RU)
Daria Vedenina (RU)
Anna Haag (SE)
Teodor Peterson (SE)
Jens Burman (SE)
Ida Ingemarsdotter (SE)
Maria Nordstrøm (SE)
Stina Nilsson (SE)
Emma Wiken (SE)
Simon Andersson (SE)
Evelina Settlin (SE)
Maja Dahlqvist (SE)
Emil Joensson (SE)
Jonna Sundling (SE)
Jennie Oberg (SE)
Daniel Rikardsson (SE)
Martin Johansson (SE)
Charlotte Kalla (SE)
Hanna Falk (SE)
Linn Somskar (SE)
Kikkan Randall (US)
Noah Hoffman (US)
Simeon Hamilton (US)
Sophie Caldwell (US)
Ida Sargent (US)
Elizabeth Stephen (US)
Kris Freeman (US)
Caitlin Patterson (US)
Sadie Bjornsen (US)
Eric Packer (US)
Rosie Brennan (US)
Jessie Diggins (US)
Andrew Newell (US)

Six Russian XC Skiers and Two Biathletes Provisionally Suspended due to McLaren Report UPDATED


December 23, 2016 – Earlier today FIS provisionally suspended six Russian cross-country skiers linked to doping violations during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics while yesterday the IBU held a special Extraordinary Executive board meeting to announce two Russian biathletes have also been provisionally suspended.

 (l-r): Alexander Legkov (RUS) and Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) at the finish line [P] Nordic Focus

These steps are the direct result of the McLaren Report 2, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which suggested as many as 1,000 athletes could be involved in Russia’s massive doping scandal of which 28 Nordic athletes were highlighted by the International Olympic Committee. The IBU (International Biathlon Union) has 31 biathletes listed within the pages of McLaren’s scathing report.

While the six Russian cross-country skiers appear to have tested positive at the Olympics, the majority of cases under investigation by the IOC appear to have occurred during other events.

As previously reported Expressen based in Sweden discovered a coding system used in the McLaren Report to identify athletes being investigated and their findings pointed to top Russian skiers Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, and Nikita Kriukov.

While not officially named Ski-Nordique.net used the same coding system to identify and list the six Russians xc skiers serving the provisional suspension as Legkov, Vylegzhanin, Evgeny Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Julia Ivanova and Yevgenia Shapovalove – and provided a link to the spreadsheet that correlates the coding system to the athletes.

The Russian website championat.com has also listed the 6 skiers reporting that, “… according to confirmed sources in the Russian Ministry of Sports and the Russian XC Ski Federation, the Russians that have been provisionally suspended are Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, and Yulia Ivanova due to the presence of foreign substances in their doping samples.”

According to a report in Langren.com Ivanova confirmed to Russian news agency TASS that she’s been suspended. As yet the two biathletes remain unnamed and apparently are not related to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The Russian XC Ski Federation issued an official release as well confirming that six athletes are under investigation while claiming “The Russia Cross-country Skiing Federation once again underlines its zero tolerance policy towards doping, is a champion of fair and equal play in sports, and counts on objectiveness of the current investigation.”

Neither FIS nor the Russian XC Ski Federation have indicated the skiers in question and SkiTrax has not verified the published names. Russian XC Ski Federation President, Elena Vialbe, claims the athletes were not doping.

In light of these developments, the FIS XC Ski World Cup finals scheduled to take place in Tyumen, Russia, in March 2017 will be relocated to a new venue not yet announced. Meanwhile the IBU is apparently considering to move the 2021 Biathlon World Championships out of Russia.

Coupled with this news is a recent headline in The Guardian that Anti-Doping Organizations are frustrated with IOC President Thomas Bach who is said to have sidestepped a meeting the organizations are keen to have.

Ski Noridique here.

Expressen Report here.

IBU Release here.

FIS Statement here.

Russian Ski Federation here

Championat here.

Anti-Doping vs Bach here.

FIS Statement on Provisional Suspensions of 6 Russian XC Skiers – Finals in Tyumen to be Moved


December 23, 2016 (Switzerland) – On December 22 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) communicated to FIS that it has opened investigations into alleged anti-doping rule violations in connection with the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi (RUS) for six Russian cross-country skiing athletes.

As a result of the current circumstances whereby the FIS competition season is in full swing and the competitions and sporting accomplishments of the athletes are being undermined by the shadow of the McLaren Investigation Report, the IOC has empowered FIS to undertake follow-up actions in its own competence with the alleged anti-doping rule violations that took place during the period of the Sochi 2014 Games.

The six athletes against whom the IOC has opened Disciplinary Proceedings are thereby provisionally suspended from 22 December 2016, in accordance with the FIS Anti-Doping Rules, article 7.9. The investigation of the alleged anti-doping rule violations will be carried out by the IOC Disciplinary Commission, which has the results and case management authority for anti-doping at the Olympic Winter Games, whereby the provisional suspensions are imposed by FIS. Both organisations IOC and FIS will cooperate and share information in the investigation of these cases.

The athletes and the Russian National and Cross-Country Ski Associations have been duly notified of the disciplinary proceedings, further investigations and the provisional suspensions. The FIS is not empowered to communicate the names of the athletes before the disciplinary proceedings are concluded in accordance with the provisions of the World Anti-Doping Code, and leaves it to the athletes and the Russian Ski Association to do so.

The Russian Cross-Country Ski Association has communicated to FIS their determination to build its credibility in the cross-country skiing community and commitment to clean sport. As a first step it has returned to FIS the upcoming Cross-Country World Cup Finals, which were scheduled to take place in Tyumen in March 2017. Details of their re-allocation will be communicated by FIS in due course.

FIS President Gian Franco Kasper said: “The findings in the McLaren Report have seriously damaged the integrity of sport and we are determined to ensure the necessary measures are undertaken to punish the offences. We will work together with the Russian Ski Association to rehabilitate the Russian cross-country skiing community and we sincerely count on their commitment to clean sport.”

IOC President Bach in Hot Water with Anti-Doping Organizations


December 22, 2016 – IOC president Thomas Bach has apparently ruffled the feathers of 24 Anti-Doping Organizations who sought to meet with him for an urgent face-to-face meeting to discuss the problems in the global anti-doping system reports The Guardian. Bach is reported to have sidestepped their request and instead IOC director-general, Christophe De Kepper, responded after a two-week delay to suggest a meeting in January. The urgent meeting was in reaction to the second part of the McLaren report that identified that more than 1,000 Russians athletes across more than 30 sports were involved in, or benefited from, state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015. Bach’s sincerity to take action is being called into question – read more here.




Canada’s Harvey 7th and USA’s Bjornsen 20th in Men’s 15km FR in La Clusaz – Krogh Bests Sundby


Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusDecember 17, 2016 (La Clusaz, FRA) – Canada’s Alex Harvey was a strong 7th in the men’s 15km FR in La Clusaz but a fateful crash took him out of the mix for the podium as Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh made a late charge for the finish line, edging out his teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby at the line. Russia’s Alexander Legkov snagged the bronze medal.

Final podium [P] Nordic FocusThe USA’s Eric Bjornsen scored his first skate distance points with a solid 20th-place finish – a career-best result for him. His teammate Noah Hoffman was 49th still feeling the impact of illness. Harvey’s 7th is his best early season result on the World Cup

“Really disappointed, the guys gave me great skis,” said Harvey post race. “I had a good body but fell at the end of the 3rd lap and dropped to 26th. I made it back to the group but the top 4 were gone.”

Erik Bjornsen [P] Reese BrownSkiing at the top of the pack in fifth place on the third of eight laps, Harvey crashed and dropped way back into 26th spot on the narrow 2km loop made entirely from man-made snow.

“There is no snow at all in Europe so they actually cut blocks of ice from a lake to create a base on the track and put snow on it so the corners were icy. We are used to that, but I just lost my focus for a bit and crashed on my own,” said the 28-year-old who has consistently been in the top-10 this year.

Sundby leading [P] Nordic Focus“The hardest lap was the one right after. When you crash you are super tense, but I was able to recover and get back into relaxed mode. The course was super narrow so it was hard to pass. I slowly made my way up to the front. I felt really good, but I think it was a missed opportunity today.”

Knute Johnsgaard was the only other Canadian to finish placing 63rd. Devon Kershaw pulled out mid-race with illness while Andy Shields was lapped.

Full results here.

USA Brennan 22nd and Career-best 26th for Canada’s Beatty in Women’s 10km FR at La Clusaz as Weng Wins


December 17, 2016 (La Clusaz, FRA) – The USA’s Rosie Brennan was the top North American in 22nd while Canada’s Dahria Beatty continued her good form chalking up the best distance result of her career, finishing 26th in the women’s 10k freestyle mass start World Cup in La Clusaz.

Rosie Brennan (USA) [P] Angus CockneyHeidi Weng led a Norwegian podium sweep with Marit Bjoergen taking the silver and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg landing on the final podium spot.

Fellow American Liz Stephen finished just behind Brennan in 23rd with Beatty 26th, Kikkan Randall 36th, Caitlin Patterson 37th. Canadian Cendrine Browne was 41st while her teammate Emily Nishikawa finished 48th.

The race was run on a narrow swath of snow, but the track was excellent reported skiers. The illness-ravaged U.S. Ski Team meant the both Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen were unable to start.


Women's podium [P] Nordic Focus“It is truly amazing what the organizers were able to do without any snow! We had a solid 2k loop that held up remarkably well. It didn’t break down much or get too icy. The course has 3 short steep hills and 3 downhills with some somewhat fast and technical corners. Knowing this I was hoping to be aggressive from the start and get into a good position knowing that it would be hard to pass and that the downhills were going to take some people down,” commented Brennan.

“Unfortunately, I got in a tangle about 100m into the race, spun around and fell over, leaving me headed up the first hill in last place. I was able to quickly regroup and found Liz who also had a tough start. We are both better on the climbs so we just moved together through the field as best as we could, picking people off one by one on every uphill and holding it together on every downhill. I have had a tough start to the season and I was so happy to feel more like myself today and be able to be in the race. Our team has been destroyed by illness the last few weeks. It was so sad to not have the full squad out there, but I was happy to have come back from the illness myself after sitting out last weekend and I’m sure everyone will be back in force after the holidays,” wrote Brennan by email.

Dahria Beatty [P] Angus CockneyBeatty was over the moon with her result earning her first World Cup distance points at her first European mass start race. She finished 25th in a skate-sprint race in Davos, Switzerland last weekend.

“This was my first European WC mass start. I have raced a couple in Canadian WC’s. It unfolded as I had hoped. Honestly it was better than I expected. I was able to ski on the outside up to about 35th place on the first lap after being caught behind a little crash at the start. I was feeling good today and on my second and third lap was able to slowly move up through the field a bit. The last two laps were really hard but I new that I’ll I had to do was hold my position to score my first ever distance WC points.

“I am thrilled with the result. The course was hard and fun and stayed in good condition. There was lots of cheering with the short course which really helped at the end. Before today my best distance result was 40th so I am super super happy to have finished 26th,” she concluded.

Kikkan Randall [P] USSAMeanwhile according to Randall when the world cup was in La Clusaz in the late 80’s, “We had no USA skiers racing. So we’re pretty pumped to have a strong team over here now that can contend every weekend.”

“The course was a challenging but exciting 2km lap.  The snow was actually stayed in good condition throughout most of the race.  There were some high speed turns that held up surprisingly well,” she continued.

“My goal today was to go out hard and try to move up into the front of the pack on the first lap.  Even though I started near the back I was able to move up pretty well in the first lap and held a good position in the top 20 for the first two laps.  Started to fade going into lap three and wasn’t able to keep the speed up to maintain my position.  Laps 3 and 4 were tough and then I worked hard the final lap to empty the tank.

I’ve had some indications in the first period that my fitness is better than my results are showing and that is a matter of sharpening my race form. Every race is helping me get a little bit closer. I am moderately satisfied with my race today.  I had a good first half but there were a few windows to try and get a little more out of myself in the 2nd half that I didn’t quite get today.  Going to learn from this and keep pushing forward,” commented Randall.

With the illnesses in the US team the starting lineup for the 4x5k relay remains in jeopardy. Coaches will make the determination on Sunday morning. The US women have been on the podium in the last three team events.

Results here.

USA’s Dunklee Nails Personal Best 4th in Women’s Pursuit at IBU World Cup in Nove Mesto – Canada’s Ransom 19th


December 17, 2016 (Nove Mesto, CZE) – American Susan Dunklee continued her world class performances with a personal-best 4th in the women’s pursuit at the BMW IBU World Cup 3 in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic on Saturday. France’s Anais Chevalier took the win for her first-ever World Cup victory with one missed target.

Susan Dunklee [P] Nordic Focus

Italy’s Dorothea Wierer had a season best in second place, with two penalties, 9.5 seconds back. Sprint winner Tatiana Akimova of Russia finished third, with one penalty, 19.4 seconds back.

Women's final podium [P] Nordic FocusCanada’s Julia Ransom matched a career-best World Cup pursuit result in 19th. The 23-year-old from Kelowna, B.C. shot clean until her fourth and final stop on the range where she missed one.

Julia Ransom (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Dunklee started third off the line in the women’s race, five seconds behind Friday’s sprint winner Akimova and less than a second back of Chevalier. In the first prone shooting stage Dunklee was the only one to go clean, giving her the lead and a 15-second advantage over Wierer who also went clean.

“I wanted to catch a ride on the first loop,” Dunklee said of her race strategy. “I now trust my range work to put me where I want to be. Mostly I was just focusing on skiing in control as the race is long and leading early doesn’t necessarily mean much.”

Susan Dunklee at the finish [P] Nordic FocusAfter a miss in her second prone stage, Dunklee dropped back to fourth place, 14 seconds out of first. Another miss on her last target in the first standing stage knocked her down to fifth, but she reclaimed fourth with a clean final standing. That put her five seconds behind Akimova leaving the range, but she couldn’t close the gap in the final stretch.

“Everyone was struggling a lot today with the icy surface,” Dunklee added. “It is impossible in places to get any purchase on the snow.” Dunklee, who had the fastest total range time in the field, crossed the line 8.6 seconds after Akimova.

Canadian Rosanna Crawford moved up five spots to finish 32nd with two misses on the range while American Joanne Reid hit 18 of 20 targets to finish 54th.

Full results here.