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Canada Wins Stunning BRONZE in Men’s Relay @IBU Worlds in Oslo – Norway Takes Gold with USA 8th

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March 12, 2016  (Oslo, Norway) – Team Canada’s Christian and Scott Gow, Nathan Smith and anchor Brendan Green, delivered historic BRONZE in Men’s Relay 4×7.5km, today in Oslo at the 2016 IBU Worlds with an amazing run that is dream come true for the squad.

Team Canada (l-r) Brendan Green, Scott Gow, Nathan Smith, Christian Gow [P] Tumashov/Nordic Focus

Norway captured the gold over Germany as the Canadian men’s biathlon squad did what was once the unthinkable on Saturday – the talented Canadian foursome delivered Canada’s first ever World Championship relay medal bronze in the heartland of the sport in Oslo, Norway. The US Team with Lowell Bailey, Leif Nordgren, Tim Burke and Sean Doherty had a strong day as well claiming 8th overall.

“This is a race we would dream about, and the dream came true today,” said Christian Gow. “The whole thing is just incredible.”

Lowell Bailey (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

American Bailey had a super start using one spare handing off to Nordgren in second as Germany took the lead. The younger Christian Gow, who is just shy of his 23rd birthday, set the tone for the Canucks, skiing a personal best opening leg shooting clean handing off to Smith, the leader of the men’s team, in seventh spot just 14 seconds behind the leaders in front of thousands of screaming Norwegian fans – many who camped out along the trails overnight.

“That was the best performance in my life,” added Gow. “All I wanted to do was to put the team in a good position. I took some risks and really went for it.  I almost zoned out in my shooting and just let it happen.”

“Happy to be in the mix for the relay today,” said Bailey. “It was an exciting race with a ton of teams shooting well. Congrats to Canada for an incredible finish.”

Smith put down the fastest ski time in the second leg using two spares to catapult the Canadians into medal contention, and they never looked back. Nordgren also used two spares as the US found itself in 11th as Burke took over. Meanwhile Norway was on fire taking over the lead from Germany as top contenders, France, faltered on the range.

Team Canada (l-r) Brendan Green, Nathan Smith, Christian Gow, Scott Gow [P] Tumashov/Nordic Focus

“We knew we could pull off a good result, but we never thought we’d win a medal,” said Smith, who became the first Canadian male to step onto the World Championship biathlon podium when he won a silver medal in the sprint race one year ago.

“It is not easy to compare last year with this medal. With the entire team involved, I think this is a bigger accomplishment for our small sport. And to do it in front of these large crowds in the heartland of biathlon, is an amazing feeling.”

Taking the hand off from Smith, Scott Gow was well aware he was skiing in uncharted territory with the world-leaders from Norway and Germany. But the 25 year old never shied away, matching strides and shots with the legends of the sports to hold the Canadian spot in third. American Burke skied a strong leg for the US as they moved up to 7th.

“It is incredible to get on the podium. My skiing and shooting was solid and I just wanted to stay as close to the top guys as I could,” said Scott Gow, who had a career-best 18th-place finish two days ago in the individual race. “I have never raced alongside the top guys. I got a nice draft from the Norwegian and made it work. This is such a big confidence boost for me to know what is possible.”

Gow handed off to the sharp-shooting rock of the Canadian relay team, Green as Burke tagged off to Doherty. Norway’s Johannes Thinges Boe put hammer down and gapped the field by 29.4s as he handed off to Emil Helge Svendsen.

Team Norway wins gold [P]

Svendsen cleaned in prone and used two spares in standing to claim a brilliant gold for Norway on home snow. He admitted that the women’s relay was an inspiration. “We were a bit jealous of them wearing those Gold jackets…I an emotional guy and watching them on TV was an amazing experience…I was really nervous before I started, waiting there all alone, but after that I was fine.” Germany took second at 11.5s back.

Green, the two-time Olympic veteran who has consistently put up clean results on the range, shook off any jitters and delivered a medal-worthy performance – skiing fast and shooting clean for the bronze. Doherty used one spare round as well to bring the USA home in 8th.

Brendan Green (CAN) [P] Tumashov/NordicFocus

“Today was a solid team performance but we were definitely hoping for more,” said Burke. “This was the best shooting performance that I can remember from the team. With that shooting result I would have expected us to be fighting for a podium. This was one of my best relay performances and I hope that will give me some momentum heading into tomorrow’s mass start.”

Green was almost speechless at the finish after his gutsy leg. “I’m at a loss for words,” said the 29-year-old anchorman. “I watched the whole race and saw we were in contention. I was super nervous prior to the start I almost lost my lunch. Once Scott tagged me I was able to relax a bit and focus on having a good race. The rest of the guys were strong in shooting and I knew I had to be clean.

“What an incredible day. It is the culmination of a lot of work. We are a small, tight community and I think this result allows us to realize our potential and what is possible.”

Results here.

Interview with Finland’s Matti Heikkinen

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March 12, 2016 (Canmore, Alta.) – We caught up with Finland’s Matti Heikkinen following his victory on Stage 7, the men’s 15km Skate Individual Start, at the penultimate round of Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alta, for his take on his race, the Tour and the build up to the 2017 Nordic Worlds in Finland – read our race report w/lots of photos here.

 

Matti Heikkinen [P] Peter Graves

Canada’s Harvey Stellar 4th as Finland’s Heikkinen Captures the Men’s 15km FR @ Ski Tour Canada

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Matti Heikkinen (FIN) [P] Angus CockneyMarch 11, 2016 (Canmore, Alta.) – Finland’s Matti Heikkinen secured the men’s 15km skate individual start in dominant fashion for his second podium at the Tour. He was joined on the podium by Russian Evgeniy Belov, in second, and Swede Marcus Hellner, in third.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Angus Cockney

Top-ranked Canadian Alex Harvey just missed the podium with a strong 4th-place finish at 21.7 seconds off the winner. Ivan Babikov also delivered a superb effort with another 10th-place result. Noah Hoffman led the U.S. men’s in 23rd overall.

“I think it’s one of my best races of my life,” said Harvey who was amazed at his strong result as the Canmore course has been challenging for him in the past. “When I was a junior, I was struggling to be top three in Canada just on this course yet I would be top three at World Juniors. Ten days before the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in a 15km skate like today, I was 68th.” Today Harvey was reminded that “anything is possible.”

Men's podium [P]

Heikkenin expressed gratitude post-race, for being able to break down Norwegian dominance on the podium – it was also his first win since 2011. “At this point in the season, everyone is tired. I knew that I had to save some energy for the end, when everyone else was feeling tired, and attack,” Heikkinen told SkiTrax.

Ivan Babikov (CAN) [P] Angus Cockney

His race plan, he says, was perfectly executed. He also credited a slow start to his season – he was injured in the autumn – for his ability to peak at this point. “I’m glad to be back in Canada and winning a race like this,” he said.

Calling it his “best race this season,” Hellner was clearly delighted post-race. “Doing well at the Tour of Canada was one of my goals this year.”

Marcus Hellner (SWE) [P] Angus Cockney

Speaking through an interpreter, Belov was humble about his position among his Russian teammates, pointing out that he was just one of a fleet strong skiers. He did point out that his “consistently strong throughout the preparation for this race, so [my] victory wasn’t totally unexpected.”

The Canadian team showed that its home soil success wasn’t a fluke, with four men in the points for the second race in a row.

Devon Kershaw [P] Angus Cockney

Throughout most of the race, Harvey was placing the fastest time at the time checks with Babikov and Kershaw near the top as well. On such a tough day with soft snow and difficult climbs, starting controlled helped Heikkinen and Belov come from behind in the later stages of the race.

Babikov follow up his Skiathlon top 10 with another 10th-place finish. “The body felt good, the skis were amazing, and the team worked really well,” said Babikov at the finish.

Graeme Killick (CAN) [P] Angus Cockney

Kershaw and Killick also broke into the top 30 with a 20th place for Kershaw and 29th for Killick. “I felt really really good for 12km and then the last 3km, I died,” said Kershaw. “The soft snow got me and I really struggled to the line which is too bad because I think I was putting together a really, really good race until that time.”

Noah Hoffman (USA) [P] Angus Cockney

As the top American Hoffman had nothing but positive things to say. “My best races are at the end, so I was always looking forward to the end of this thing. The soft conditions make it really challenging, but the organizers have done a great job and it’s one of the harder courses we race all year. It’s world class. It was really an honour to race here.”

Erik Bjornsen (USA) [P] Angus Cockney

With a 7th place finish, Ustiugov’s position as Tour leader has made the final day an interesting affair. Northug will start tomorrow 32 seconds back and will have Sundby starting only 7 seconds behind him.

Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) [P] Angus Cockney

Ski Tour Canada leader or not, that is a formidable duo to have hunting you down. Harvey will stay in fourth position and will defend it tomorrow in the 15km classic pursuit race which is the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada.

Results here.
Overall standings here.

Diggins Strong 5th as Oestberg Wins Penultimate Women’s 10km FR in Canmore @ Ski Tour Canada

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(l-r) Heidi Weng (NOR), Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and Krista Parmakoski (FIN) [P] Nordic FocusMarch 11, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – Norway and Mashus teamed up on the penultimate Stage 7 at Ski Tour Canada as Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg claimed her first victory at the inaugural Tour winning the women’s 10km Individual Skate in Canmore. Once again the U.S.A’s Jessie Diggins lead the North Americans with a strong 5th-place finish.

Jessie Diggins leads Ida Sargent [P] Nordic Focus

Tour Leader Heidi Weng (NOR) and Finland’s Krista Parmakoski completed the all-Madshus podium today as Parmakoski broke thru the Norwegian stronghold. Emily Nishikawa was top Canadian finisher in 35th.

Although the racers had a rest day yesterday, the cumulative effects of a long season of racing were in full display. Despite her top result Diggins was unimpressed with her finish retaining her overall 5th position in the overall Tour rankings.

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) [P] Angus Cockney

“Not as good as I was hoping. You just don’t know during the Tour – you just have to get out there and do the best that you can,” said Diggins. “Stage seven is done and only one more race of the year, which is pretty exciting!”

Fellow American Sadie Bjornsen was in the points today as well with a 17th-place finish, closely followed by teammate Cailtin Gregg in 19th. This was Gregg’s best world cup result of the season, “I started out conservatively which doesn’t usually happen for me. I met up with the girl 30 seconds ahead and we worked together.”

Chelsea Holmes (USA) [P] Angus Cockney

Meanhile World Cup U.S. newbie, Chelsea Holmes, posted her best result of the Tour with a solid 22nd place flagged by US Women’s coach, Matt Whitcomb, as turning point performance for Holmes.

“While Sadie and Caitlin also posted top 20’s, I think they would each agree that the race of the day was Chelsea Holmes in the 22nd spot,” said Whitcomb.  “Watching someone ski into the points for the first time in their career is a huge success for the U.S.”

Katharine Ogden (USA) [P] Angus Cockney

U.S. Teammates Rosie Brennan and Katharine Ogden were just shy of a top 30 today in 31st and 34th respectively.

Emily Nishikawa (CAN) Nordic FocusCanada’s Nishikawa has burnt a few matches during the Tour as well. “I skied as well as I could and just focused on technique,” said the Whitehorse talent. “It was pretty good considering I am quite tired.”

Dahria Beatty (CAN) [P] Angus Cockney

Her teammate, Dahria Beatty in 40th, was also happy with her performance today. “It was a really tough race but it was really fun. Conditions were perfect. I tried to start smooth and find a rhythm and once I found that rhythm start picking it up.”

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN) [P] Angus Cockney

Other Canadians finished further back: Bouffard-Nesbitt was 42nd, Cendrine Browne placed 44th, Maya Macissac-Jones was 46th, Annika Hicks finished 48th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte was 52nd and Jennifer Jackson crossed the line in 53rd.

Invild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) [P] Angus Cockney

“I thought the 10km skate was my weakest distance and now suddenly I’m the winner by 20 seconds,” marvelled Oestberg. “Everything was perfect today. The skis, my fitness, and my technique.” She currently sits 3rd overall in the Tour Standings.

Heidi Weng (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Teammate Weng battled fatigue but finished strong. “I started slowly and wanted to speed up. I got tired in the second lap. I really happy I picked up seconds on Therese [Johaug] to build up my lead in the Tour.” Later, she added, “I’m tired. But not too tired for tomorrow.”

Therese Johaug (NOR) [P] Angus Cockney

The final stage of the Ski Tour Canada will be a battle for the crown and the huge prize purse of 100,000 CHF. Johaug, who finished 40 seconds off the lead today in 6th position, will have to fight to win the overall Tour, starting at 30 seconds behind Weng.

Krista Parmakoski (FIN) [P] Nordic Focus

Another showdown is between Diggins and Parmakoski for fifth in the overall at the Tour. After Parmakoski’s performance in the 10km FR, she crept up on Diggins in the overall standings and is now just 6.6 seconds behind her in sixth.

Results here.
Overall standings here.

Interview with Norway’s Petter Northug in Canmore at Ski Tour Canada

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Petter Northug (NOR) in the controversial CL Sprint final [P] Nordic FocusMarch 10, 2016 (Canmore, Alta.) – Going into the final two races of the inaugural Ski Tour Canada, Norwegian star, Petter Northug, is in second overall behind Sergey Ustiugov of Russia, the current leader by 47.3 seconds. A celebrity in his native Norway, Northug is renowned for both his skiing prowess and his strong and colourful personality.

Ola Vigen Hattestad (l) and Petter Northug (NOR) [P] Nordic FocusThis includes choosing not to contest the Spring CL final on Stage 5 of the Tour as the legendary Northug “raced” to the finish at a leisurely pace, a whopping 2:15 behind Federico Pelligrino’s 3:46 winning time. Speculation on his non-race ranged from saving energy for the next day’s 30km skiathlon, to not wishing to attend the awards ceremony that evening. SkiTrax managed to catch with the controversial Norwegian for a few minutes on Tour’s second rest day.

(l-r) Petter Northug (NOR), Emil Iversen (NOR) and Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) [P] Nordic Focus,

How have you been liking Canada?
Petter Northug: It’s been good. I’ve been having a good time here, skiing in new places. For the last week we’ve been back in Canmore – it’s nice to be back.

So you have skied in Canmore before?
PN: Yeah, I was here in 2008 and the plan was to be here also before the Olympics in 2010 as well but we didn’t make it.

What’s your plan for the remaining two stages?
PN: My plan is to try to attack tomorrow (May 11). To try to get as good of a gap as possible before the end. That’s my goal.

Petter Northug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Some say that you “sandbagged” the Sprint CL final in Canmore – what was your strategy behind skiing a leisurely “final sprint”?
PN: Yeh, you get very good pain when you’re in the finals. There’s not so many seconds different from sixth to second or third in the sprints.

So it was strategic to save yourself for the remaining races?
PN: Yes, it was to save power for the next, last races.

I read that you were enjoying your anonymity in Canada – can you tell us more about that?
PN: It’s good to be here, on the other side, and compete. But there have been a lot of people in the stadium, a lot of people out cheering. We’re happy for that also.(l-r) Petter Northug (NOR), Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) and Emil Iversen (NOR) [P] Nordic FocusDrammen sprint (l-r) Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR), Petter Northug (NOR) and Eirik Brandsdal (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

 

Harvey Solid 4th in Men’s 15km Pursuit @Quebec City as Ustiugov Wins and Still Leads Overall

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March 06, 2016 (Quebec City, Que.) – Canada’s Alex Harvey, dubbed the Prince of Quebec by World Cup points leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby from Norway, raced to 4th in the men’s 15km FR Pursuit at Quebec City in ideal conditions and sits fourth overall.

Alex Harvey and Martin Johnsrud Sundby [P] Reese Brown

With bluebird skies and ideal gracing the Plains of Abraham, the world’s best made their way around a 4km course four times to wrap up the eastern portion of Ski Tour Canada.  Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov led from the start holding off legendary powerhouse, Norwegian Petter Northug, to claim the win and retain his overall lead.

Russia's Sergey Ustiugov [P] Reese BrownFellow Norwegian, Emil Iversen, initially bridged to Northug, but fell back losing substantial time to cross the line in third as the Tour now enjoys two rest days prior to the final four races of the season in Canmore, Alta.

Petter Northug (l) and Emil Iversen [P] Reese BrownBehind Sundby quickly gobbled up the 16-second gap to Harvey, going on to ski to fastest time on the day. Sundby told media, “It’s so cool to have the opportunity to do a race with him [Harvey] today and his home crowd. I actually didn’t hear my coach one time during the 16km today, and that’s quite an amount of kudos for the homecrowd.”

“I asked him if he wanted to do some work in the last lap and he said ‘no man’, I thought on the last uphill that I had to let him take the finish because we are in Canada, and he is the Prince of Quebec.”

Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Alex Harvey-Harvey [P] Reese Brown

Harvey passed Sundby on the final corner accelerating down the finishing lanes ahead of Sundby to claim the ninth fastest time on the day and 4th overall at the Tour. Harvey offered a different story saying, “He knew I was the better sprinter. He did more work than me out there, that’s certain…when the guy with the yellow bib is with you, you try and let him do all the work.” Harvey added that he has target looking ahead in the Tour is, “…Emil Iversen, and we made a lot of time on him.”

With more distance races upcoming in Canmore, Harvey has a good chance of reeling in Iversen, sitting 47 seconds behind the young Norwegian sprint sensation, but must be weary of a strong Sundby on his tail.

Devon Kershaw [P] Reese Brown

Fellow Canuck Devon Kershaw lost a spot on the overall leaderboard dropping to 21st overall. The Sudbury skier who rocked the Nordic world in 2012 finishing second overall to Dario Cologna (SUI), expressed his frustration at being unable to ski his own race as he was swallowed by the large wave start behind him.

Erik Bjornsen [P] Reese Brown

American Erik Bjornsen finished the day with the 42nd fastest time on the day, to drop him to 32nd overall telling media, “There was a big surge on the third lap, and I wasn’t able to hold it and lost quite a bit of time on the last lap. Starting to feel the Tour a little bit, but feel like I’m pacing it and have a lot of energy left, so I’m ready for Canmore.”

Noah Hoffman (l) and Matti Heikkinen [P] Reese Brown

Fellow Americans Noah Hoffman (35th), Simi Hamilton (37th), and Scott Patterson (38th) packed the top 40 with stars and stripes. Canadian Ivan Babikov crashed on a downhill on the second lap and lost time on the group he was skiing in to finish 36th on the day.
Ivan Babikov (l) and Noah Hoffman [P] Reese Brown
NDC Thunder Bay’s Andy Shields skied an impressive race finishing the day in 65th with the 30th fastest time. Shields was all smiles in saying, “It felt great, I had a lot of energy out there today, and skied a great race.

Andy Shields (bib 74) leads Graeme Killick (bib 55) [P] Reese BrownFirst of all, happy to make it to Canmore. A little bit scared about getting lapped but I knew if I had a decent race I’d get through, and I had an amazing race so that’s way more than enough to get to Canmore. I’m excited to keep racing World Cups, and looking forward to the classic sprints in Canmore, on my kind of course.”

Graeme Killick raced through a solid performance to finish with the 32nd best time of the day and at the finish line commented, “It was okay, I mean I haven’t been too strong in skate this year. I didn’t want to lead too much, and was able to sit in front of the second wave for most of the race. I think we moved up a bit and threw some people. Overall I was happy to maybe get a little bit better seeded for the pursuit in Canmore.”

Killick was excited to be heading west to his current home of Canmore in adding, “It’s going to be nice to get back home, since November I have only been there something like five days. It’s going to be nice to get back home and do some races on my home course. I really like the World Cup course we have there, I’ve had some good results, so I’m excited.”

Len Valjas [P] Reese Brown

Len Valjas finished 53rd on the day, commenting, “It was better than yesterday when I was missing a gear. Today was much better and it felt like I was able to ski well. As far as distance races go, I think this was a pretty good one for me.” Valjas added, “Lungs are feeling way better, and I also had a lot more snap today.”

After securing his Sprint Crystal Globe the day before, Federico Pellegrino went on to ski the 5th fastest time of the day placing 28th. “Today I was looking to stay with the others like Hellner, Duvilliard, Heikkinen, all good skiers. We were able to gain some positions, I had really good feeling today, I haven’t been able to do distance all season. At the start of the season I wanted to a lot more distance races, but could only do relays. But receiving the Sprint Crystal Globe yesterday was quite something.”

Podium (l-r) Petter Northug, Sergey Ustiugov and Emil Iversen[P] Reese Brown

Ski Tour Canada picks up again in Canmore on March 8 with a Classic sprint on a grueling course. The shift in scenery will bode well for the distance skiers as three of the four remaining races are distance events. Canada and the USA have had success at Canmore World Cups in previous years, and hope to continue their impressive start the inaugural Tour.

Results here.
Standings here.

Diggins Takes Strong 5th as Norway Rules Women’s 10km Pursuit in Quebec City

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Jessie Diggins [P] Reese BrownMarch 06, 2016 (Quebec City, Que.) – While the day belonged to Norway the USA’s Jessie Diggins skied with heart moving up two spots to claim 5th in the women’s 10km Pursuit while her teammate Sadie Bjornsen finished a strong 10th.

Norway came out swinging to finish the day with the top four spots as Tour leader, Heidi Weng, bested teammate Therese Johaug at the line. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen took third and Maiken Caspersen claimed 4th.

Heidi Weng [P] Reese Brown

Diggins was happy to deliver following her disappointing crash the day before in the sprints. “Today I was full of energy and just ready to go for it. This was a great course for me, a lot of good winding downhills where you can just work the corners. I caught up to Ingvild, and said to her we should work together, I’ll pull,” said Diggins. “We worked really well together and it was really motivating to be hunting people down as a two person unit. On the last lap I put a move on that last hill where all my family was cheering, and it was an ideal race for me.”

Sadie Bjornsen [P] Reese Brown

Bjornsen recorded the 5th fastest time of the day, enough to move up one spot to 10th overall and sit within four seconds of 7th overall. “I had a lot of fun out there today and I had a goal of just staying with Charlotte [Kalla], I just kept my eyes on her and held on for dear life, so I was really satisfied,” said Bjornsen.

Emily Nishikawa led the Canadians in 45th moving up two spots. “I think I have a little more in me, but I think I’m getting better and better each day, so I’m looking forward to Canmore. I know those courses so well, and I race well at altitude,” said the Whitehorse skier.

Emily Nishikawa [P] Reese Brown

Crowds lined the fences along the course on the Plains of Abraham to see the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada before it heads out west to Canmore, Alberta. The pursuit start made for exciting battles among skiers jockeying for positions for a well deserved two-day rest before the action picks up again on March 8.

The QCity course featured three laps of sweeping hills on the historic Plains of Abraham, with snow conditions speeding up substantially from the day prior. Johaug quickly bridged the gap to fellow Norwegian Weng on the first lap, only to finish a close second after repeatedly attempted to shake her w/o success.

“It was a great race for me today, I tried whatever I could to get a gap on Heidi but she was really strong today. I’m really happy with the race today and really satisfied that I have a big gap going ahead,” said Johaug.

Liz Stephen [P] Reese Brown

Liz Stephen crossed the line in 29th place, having the 25th fastest time on the day. With more distance days to come Stephen shared, “It was a fun day, I fought the whole way and I am happy with it. Lot more racing to come, and only one more sprint.”

Rosie Brennan maintained her place in 32nd overall, while fellow Americans Chelsea Holmes (39th overall), Ida Sargent (40th Overall), and Sophie Caldwell (42nd overall) completed their races with solid performances.

At 0.01 seconds behind Nishikawa was Canada’s Dahria Beatty in 46th, with Cendrine Browne one spot further behind in 47th. Olivia Bouffard Nesbitt clocked the 54th fastest time of the day and at the finish told Trax, “It was really tough, the goal of everyone in my wave was to not get lapped. So we raced the first two laps pretty hard, but my legs were so burnt during the race, I wish I could have fought harder at the end but my legs just wouldn’t let me.”

Nesbitt added, “I’m super excited [to race at home] – when I doubte myself there were definitely times when I thought I wouldn’t ever race in Canmore. Everyday I get to start a race in the Tour is a privilege and I am excited to go to Canmore.”

Lots of excitement about heading west to Canmore was felt by all the North Americans where predictable conditions and familiar courses will make for good racing. This emotion was expressed by Canmore Nordic Ski Club member Annika Hicks as she commented, “I am just so, so excited to be able to race in Canmore. With Russell Kennedy (who races for Canmore Nordic) also racing, it will definitely be awesome.”

Women's Pursuit podium [P] Reese Brown

With three of the four remaining events being distance races, Johaug is sitting nicely in her search for the overall Tour lead currently held by Satur day’s winner Weng.

Racing resumes in Canmore March 8th with the classic sprint on a climb-heavy course. Although the Sprint Cup titles have already been decided, precious bonus seconds are up for grabs that may make the difference in the overall Tour leaderboard.

Results here.

 

Harvey Claims Stellar Sprint Silver in Quebec City on Home Snow – Gros Wins as Pellegrino Captures Sprint Globe

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Alex Harvey (CAN) celebrates [P] Nordic FocusMarch 05, 2016 (Quebec City, Que.) – In a down-to-the-wire finish Canada’s Alex Harvey put on quite a show winning silver in the 1.7km Freestyle Sprint World Cup in Quebec City becoming the first Canadian male to reach the podium on home soil. Fans swarmed their native son at the finish as Harvey now moves into 4th place overall in the Ski Tour Canada rankings at 1:56 back of Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov.

France’s Baptiste Gros took the gold with a massive finishing lane charge, making history as the first Frenchman to win a sprint World Cup including a first for Gros as well. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov took third to maintain his lead in the overall men’s rankings at the Tour.

Men's finish - Gros (l) takes the win over Harvey [P]

“Every time I went to the start line, the crowd got louder and louder and it really gave me wings; I was pretty much floating on the snow,” said Harvey at the finish.

After qualifying 12th, the Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que. executed smart tactics throughout his quarter and semifinals to handily make the finals for the first time this season. As the only North American the pressure was on and Harvey delivered.

Alex Harvey racing to the finish [P] Reese Brown

His father the legendary Pierre Harvey, of World Cup fame, had similar things to say, “It was basically like a dream of Alex’s, to race this fast in front of his friends and family at home, here in Quebec City.”

The top American speed king, Simi Hamilton, who finished a solid 8th place after placing 4th in his semifinal. Hamilton, feeling the effects of his Gatineau sprint effort had a tough day in Montreal telling media, “Obviously didn’t go as well as the other day [Gatineau], definitely wasn’t feeling the same energy. I’m having a tough time recovering this week of racing, I think because of the travel. I know everyone is going through that but for some reason I haven’t been sleeping too well.”

Simi Hamilton [P] Reese Brown

Also delivering in spades for local fans was Canadian Jesse Cockney who qualified 29th and skied his way up to 10th place, his second best career result. Cockney took advantage of a crash that saw American Andy Newell go down hard as Italian front runner, Federico Pellegrino, collided with Newell and went down as well. Cockney battled it out with Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave to move on to the semifinals.

Jesse Cockney (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Cockney finished 5th in his semifinal and ended with a strong top-10 result expressing, “Man, I have had a really hard go of it this year so this is a big lift for me, it was really nice to have a two-heat day today.” When asked about the crowd he commented, “Man, the crowd was loud, I was really appreciative of that, it’s really cool to have races like this in Canada.”

Andy Newell [P] Reese Brown

Newell, finished 29th and expressed his disappointment in his day saying, “I felt like I skied a perfect heat, it was a pretty technical race. I was right where I needed to be and I went to slingshot past Baptiste [Gros] to try and take the lead. We must have started skating at the same time and we totally hammered boots and skis and I went down super hard. It’s pretty disappointing, I was in a perfect position, feeling good.”

His teammate Erik Bjornsen finished 4th in his quarter final heat, to land him in 20th place, an improvement from his Gatineau finish of 25th. It was only his second time to make the heats saying, “I wish I was a little stronger so I could surge in some places and get into the semi-final but right now I’m just happy to be in the heats, mixing it up.”

Many fans wondered what happened between Bjornsen and Young (GBR) as both of them were visibly angry at each other in the finish zone with Bjornsen giving the Brit a shove.

“Ah, I think everyone was just trying to get in the best position and we were both a little angry at the end not to be in it, but I talked to him at the end and everything’s cool,” explained Bjornsen.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Len Valjas, who has been fighting a lung infection since Falun (SWE), said he was disappointed in missing the heats in 38th adding, “It was still a great day, they set up the course so well and the weather and fans were amazing.”

Fellow Canuck Devon Kershaw broke a pole on the first hill leading out of the stadium, and had trouble recovering lost time as he crossed the line in 53rd position. Kershaw expressed frustration, saying his body felt good on course but did not have luck on his side.

Gros was especially appreciative of the course and the organization here in Quebec City telling media. “In Europe we do not often get to race on “true snow” as we did today and I am a big fan of this change, it is always nice to have something new on the World Cup.”

Men's final podium [P] Reese Brown

Ustiugov showed his power all day, easily winning his quarter and semi-finals using his trademark slow start and powerful climbing to blow away his competition. In the final, Ustiugov looked to be in control going into the final uphill but was out-muscled by Gros and Harvey in the final sprint .

Ustiugov, the current Tour leader, has been very impressive in the final weeks of the season and Cockney told us, “If you remember the movie Space Jam, Ustiugov is like one of the Mon-Stars – when he wants to go, he can go.”

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

When asked about how he has been able to remain so strong throughout the final part of the season, Ustiugov responded simply “I have good coaches”.

Although he failed to make it past the quarter-finals after crashing in Andy Newell who went down in front of him, Italy’s Pellegrino still secured the Crystal Globe as the overall Sprint World Cup leader. Congratulazioni Chiccopelle!

Action resumes on Saturday with a 15k skate pursuit races as Harvey hopes to make up time on the 3rd placed skier, Emil Iversen (NOR) and Ustiugov will lead the pack  around Quebec City.

Results here.

Ski Tour Canada 2016 Fantasy Contest Launched – Registration Now OPEN

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February 25, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – We’re excited to announce the launch of our inaugural Ski Tour Canada 2016 Fantasy Contest and grand prize of an amazing Salomon Kit valued at $1,360, as the FIS XC Ski World Cup wraps up on Canadian soil with 8 stages of racing starting in Gatineau, Que. on Mar. 1 and ending at the legendary Canmore Nordic Centre on Mar. 12 with the historic awarding of the fabled Crystal Globes for the first time outside of Europe.

Anticipation is brewing as the Canadian team of 26 skiers led by local star, Alex Harvey, is ready to take on all comers along with their US counterparts led by Jessie Diggins, hoping to bring local fans to their feet as the world’s best cross-country skiers gather to battle for glory and over $900,000 (640,000 CHF) in prize money at Ski Tour Canada alone.

Team registration is now open (see link below) for our Ski Tour Canada 2016 Fantasy Contest with lots of great prizes still being finalized. Register or revise you team until 10pm on Feb. 29 – and please check back often as countries can revise their team entries up until 2pm (local time) on Feb. 29.

Here’s how the Ski Tour Canada 2016 Contest works
Submit your team of unique individual skiers including four (4) men, and four (4) women plus two (2) Outlaw Skiers (one male and one female) not in the top 15 of the FIS World Cup overall rankings as of Feb. 21 (Lahti WCup). The menus for all skiers are available at registration as well as a link to the FIS World Cup Ranking where you will find more details on each skier.

Points will be awarded following each STC stage based on each skier’s performance and published regularly at skitrax.com so you can follow your team’s progress and see how you compare with other players and the actual STC standings.

We’re still finalizing our prizes and thanks to all of our great sponsors so far including Salomon, Cross Country Canada (CCC), Marwe, Sportful, High Peaks Cyclery and Louis Garneau. Good luck to all contestants and athletes.

Register HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy Ski Tour Canada 2016 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Salomon S-Lab Kit Carbon Skate Lab Skis, SNS Pilot Carbon RS Binding, and S-Lab Skate Pro Boots (value $1,360)
* 2nd Prize CCC High Sierra Snow Sports Canada Adjustable Wheeled Combo Bag (value $640)
* 3rd Prize –
Sportful Squadra Corse Jacket and Pants (value $415)
* 4th Prize –
Marwe 610c Roller Skis (value $349)
* 5th Prize – 
High Peaks Cyclery Ski Care w/Stone Grind, Hot Box, Hardening, Race Prep (value $150)
* 6th PrizeOne Way Team Back Pack (value $120)
* 7th PrizeGarneau Nordic Shield Glasses (value $69.99)

More prizes to be finalized

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

USA Eighth in Team Relay @Youth Olympic Games

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February 20, 2016 (Lillehammer, Norway) – The Winter Youth Olympic Games closed the cross country competitions with a Nordic mixed team relay. The U.S. team included one female cross country skier, Hannah Halvorsen (Truckee, CA), one male cross country skier, Hunter Wonders (Anchorage, AK) and one nordic combined male, Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, WI). The U.S. team finished eighth overall in a 3×3.3k race on Friday.

Hannah Halvorsen [P] YIS/IOC-Jon Buckle

Russia won the Nordic mixed team relays by 21.1 seconds over Norway who stole second from Germany by just 0.4 seconds. Loomis, Wonders and Halvorsen worked together in this unique event in its inaugural year. They each had strong individual legs, which scored them in eighth overall. Wonders had the second fastest leg of the men’s cross-country ski leg, at just 15.2 seconds behind Norway’s Vebjoern Hegdal. No Canadians competed.

Results here.

Ben Loomis [P] YIS/IOC-Jon Buckle

USA’s Dunklee Stellar 5th as Soukalova Strikes Gold Again @Presque Isle in IBU Women’s 10km Pursuit

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February 12, 2016 (Presque Isle, Me) – American Susan Dunklee, followed up her Sprint silver with an outstanding fifth-place finish in the women’s 10km Pursuit as Gabriela Soukalova (Czech) continued with her winning ways with an impressive 34-second victory on a cold and blustery Friday afternoon in Presque Isle at round 8 of the BMW Biathlon IBU World Cup.

Dunklee [P] Dave Allen

Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen started the race in fifth and used fast skiing in her second two loops to move into second at the finish while France’s Marie Dorin Habert overtook Polish skier Krystyna Guzik in the final leg to claim the final podium spot despite four misses in the first standing.

Podium (l-r) Makarainen, Soukalova, Dorin Habert [P] Dave Allen

“Starting near the front of a pursuit offers lots of opportunity but also can create a lot more pressure,” said Dunklee. “What I think I did well today was setting aside yesterday’s result and what it meant, and redirecting my focus on what I needed to do to perform well today.”

Clare Egan [P] Dave Allen

Maine native and another crowd favourite, Clare Egan jumped nine positions from thirty-second a day ago to twenty-third. Egan shot well, going clean in the first prone and an single miss in each of the following shootings.

Dreissigacker [P] Dave Allen

Hanah Dreissigacker finished just 7.6 seconds behind Egan in twenty-fourth position with only three misses as well while Canada’s Zina Kocher started in forty-second position and finished in forty-sixth with five misses on the day.

Zina Kocher [P] Dave Allen

Weather conditions – cold temperatures and strong winds were a considerable factor on all of the athletes all day. Temperatures hovered around -18 all afternoon, and northwest  winds put a bite into that. Inside the shooting area, the strong winds swirled and made shooting a challenge for all. Only one athlete in the top ten – Kaia Nicolaisen of Norway had just two misses, while the rest had three or more.

Gabriela Soukalova [P] Dave Allen

Italy’s Dorothea Wierer briefly took the race lead after the third loop, but that was the only time Soukalova was out of top position. She quickly regained her form, cleaning the final standing while Wierer had three missed targets, as Soukalova soloed in again for another World Cup victory.

Soukalova shot clean in the first two prone stages, but had troubles in the first standing with three misses. “I was not concentrated for the shooting for the shooting (first standing). My legs started to shake and I was afraid of the wind. Sometimes that happens. I was happy for the last shooting.”

Gabriela Soukalova [P] Dave Allen

When asked about her experience in Presque Isle, Soukalova beamed. “It is awesome. It is nice to sit here again. It is a small place here and I am not the type of human who realizes the people are here so it helped me.”

Makarainen [P] Dave Allen

Makarainen shot clean in the final standing to hold onto the silver position, finishing the day with three misses. “I am happy to be in the podium,” explained Makarainen, “I am healthy again and I took some time to train well again. It was long and difficult in the middle of the season but I am feeling good for the championships.”

Dorin Habert [P] Dave Allen

Habert mentioned that she felt fatigued yesterday with jet lag and all the travel, but was better today. “The temperature was hard today, it was hard on the hand and foot and I am not used to the temperature. Even with the penalties, the coach told me I was within a few seconds to the podium.” Habert chased down Guzik, who was third yesterday but slipped to fourth despite only three misses on the range, as Habert charged to finish just 4.8 seconds behind Makarainen.

Susan Dunklee at flower ceremony [P] Nordic Focus

Dunklee at flower ceremony [P]Dunklee held second after the first and second loops with a clean shoot in the first and a single miss in the second prone, but dropped to sixth with two misses in the first standing. A single miss in the second standing had her back in medal contention as she improved to fourth, but fatigue set in and she dropped back to fifth, being overtaken by Guzik on the last lap.

Soukalova (l) and Dunklee at the finish [P] Dave Allen

“As a women’s team, we put together one of our strongest showings of all time, and I am very excited to fight with these ladies for strong performance in tomorrow’s relay.”

Rounding out the top six was Veronica Vitkova of the  Czech team with an improvement from tenth a day ago on the strength of strong skiing and only three misses.

Weather conditions are also impacting the schedule for the events at the venue, as the men’s 4×7.5 km relay time will be moved up 14:20 on Saturday afternoon. The women’s 4×6 km which was originally scheduled to be held at 12:10 on Sunday, will be moved to 16:20 on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday’s weather looks to be substantially colder and windier in Presque Isle and both the IBU and race organizers decided that moving the time would be a wiser move for the well being of the athletes, volunteers, and fans.

Results here.

Burke’s Strong 7th Leads 3 USA Men into Top 20 as Fourcade Triumphs in IBU Men’s 12.5km Pursuit @Presque Isle

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Tim Burke [P] Dave AllenFebruary 12, 2016 (Presque Isle, Me) – The USA’s Tim Burke claimed a strong seventh moving up from 20th in the men’s 12.5km pursuit as Martin Fourcade of France showed why he is the best in the world, coming from behind to clean the final standing stage and overtake Norway’s Johannes Boe for the win in Presque Isle at IBU World Cup 8. Third place went to Russia’s Anton Shipulin, with two penalties at 1:11.5 behind Fourcade who also had two penalties while Boe suffered three missed targets.

Forcade celebrates [P] Dave Allen

Burke had the fifth-fastest course time on the day and nearly caught Czech Michal Slesingr on the final lap, missing out on sixth by a scant 2.7 seconds. His skiing was outstanding with his times on the last four laps all being in the top ten. His three misses included two on the final standing which cost him 49.9 seconds in the penalty loop and a podium position.

Tim Burke [P] Dave Allen

“I am really happy with my performance today in some very challenging conditions,” said Burke. This was the coldest temps that we have raced in all season and the gusty wind made it feel even colder. Three penalties in a pursuit is normally not great shooting, but I was very happy with this today considering the conditions.”

Bailey (l) and Doherty [P] Dave Allen

His teammate Lowell Bailey, who had the sixth-best course time, started the day in fifteenth and improved to a 14th-place finish with five misses including three on the first standing. Sean Doherty followed up yesterday’s thirteenth place result with a very respectable 20th despite six misses on the range which was a little cruel today.

Scott Perras [P] Dave Allen

Canada’s Scott Perras improved his forty-eighth place start to finish in forty-seventh. He shot clean in the first prone, but had seven misses over his last three shooting stages.

Fourcade used perfect shooting in the two standing rounds to catch, and then overtake Norway’s Johannes Boe on his way to another World Cup victory. His race victory marked one hundred days in the leader’s gold jersey for Fourcade and invoked images of the great French biathlete Raphael Poiree.

Forcade [P] Dave Allen“I grew up watching Poiree. He is a legend.” When asked if he was a legend, Fourcade replied, “No, not yet.” With one miss in each of his prone shootings he described it as a hard day. “The cold and the wind made shooting hard but I got better.”

Boe, yesterday’s winner, had only one miss through the first three shootings and had built a 44.1-second lead going into the final standing where two key misses cost him the win. “”Second is nice but I always want to win. I was racing in the (penalty) loops and I saw Martin not miss and it was bad.”

Boe-Pursuit-Nor-2nd-131.2

Anton Shipulin of Russia started the day in second position but dropped to third after the second lap and never challenged for the top podium step. “My results and success in Presque Isle were average,” stated Shipulin. “I’m not 100% but this was more like training than racing.” When asked about the weather conditions, Shipulin was dismissive. “Where I train in Russia, this is a warm day. I actually had too much clothes on.”

Anton Shipulin [P] Dave Allen

Burke was aiming for the flower ceremony and just fell short but having three in the top 20 was a “win” for the Americans on home snow. “I fought really hard on the last loop and tried everything to make it to the flower ceremony but I simply ran out of real estate by the end. I feel like I have built some good momentum in the past two weeks and I am looking forward to starting my preparation for world championships. It was also great to see three U.S. guys in the top-20 again today. I think this is a great indicator of the depth on this team.”

Doherty [P] Dave Allen

Rounding out the top six were Austria’s Simon Eder in fourth with three misses, Norways Erlend Bjoentegaard in fifth with two misses, and Slesingr in sixth with three misses.

The relays take place on Saturday, with the American men seen as a legitimate threat to get into the medals.

Results here.

Interviews w/Burke and Smith at IBU World Cup Canmore

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Tim Burke [P] John Gibson

February 09, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – Former Canadian Team biathlete Robin Clegg of Canmore, AB was excited to be following the IBU Biathlon World Cup event on home turf in Canmore, AB last week. The now marketing guy for M1 Sports Management’s H&R Block Pro Cycling squad caught up with USST biathlete Tim Burke and Canada’s Nathan Smith.

Tim Burke (USA)

How do these North American World Cups fit in to your World Championships preparation?
Tim Burke: I don’t like a break from competition – I feel it’s most important to keep racing. Keeps me sharp. There is more than enough time to deal with the extra travel involved.

Do you see a future regular World Cup stop in North America? Why would that be important?
TB: I’m all for a regular stop here (Canmore) and the U.S. This week Canmore has proven it can hold a world class standard event. Beautiful scenery, excellent stadium and course. Races in North America also get great TV ratings overseas, they love tuning in.

What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed since the World Cup last visited North America?
TB: The biggest change is the calibre of teams that the U.S. and Canada are fielding at the moment. Both teams are much stronger now and are fighting for top spots every race. This makes it much exciting for the home town crowds to watch and get involved.

What does the “home field advantage” mean for you as an athlete?
TB: Even though these races were in Canada there were quite a few American fans supporting us out there – so there is a home field advantage. It’s always more fun to race when folks are cheering for us! It’s not just the racing but also the amenities of North America that we don’t get overseas. I absolutely love going into a supermarket and being able to find anything I want.

When was the last time you competed in Canmore?
TB: Probably over 13 years ago as a junior at North American Champs and Spring Series. Thanks, now I feel old.

Nathan Smith  [P] John Gibson

Nathan Smith (Can)

Great race today – I hope your prep for Oslo is going well! How do these North American World Cups fit into your World Championship preparation?
Nathan Smith: I’m not really using these races to prepare, other than hoping to have some good results to build confidence heading into Oslo.

Do you see a future regular World Cup stop in North America? Why would that be important?
NS: All I’ve heard is positive things about Canmore. From athletes, fans, and media. I think they would all like to visit regularly. North America is a huge market. For biathlon to continue to grow they need to broaden their fan base, as well as expose younger North American athletes to top level racing.

What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed since the World Cup last visited North America?
NS: Last time I was a relative novice on the World Cup. I think I was filling in your freshly retired spot? In the last 4 or 5 years the sport has continued to grow. More fans and more depth. The women’s category in particular has gotten larger and a lot more competitive.

What does the “home field advantage” mean for you as an athlete?
NS: It means sleeping in my own bed, eating my own food, and being in familiar surroundings with the support of fans, family and volunteers.

Thanks bud. Must be pretty cool to race every single category from Pee Wee to Men’s at every single level on your home course!
NS: Still need to race masters in Canmore. Cheers!

Canada’s Harvey Solid 20th in Men’s 50K CL @ Holmenkollen as Sundby Takes Historic Victory – Kershaw 23rd, Hoffman 24th

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Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusFebruary 06, 2016 (Oslo, Norway) – Canada’s Alex Harvey in 20th led four North Americans into the points battling through through foggy, wet conditions in the men’s 50km CL World Cup at the legendary Holmenkollen near Oslo, Norway. Local star, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, finally claimed his long-awaited 50km victory in the fabled stadium. Fellow Norge Niklas Dyrhaug settled for second while Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin battled for the final podium spot.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby [P] Nordic Focus

“I have been waiting for this moment for five years. It has always been a dream to win this race. When I was 9-years-old I was camping in the forest cheering for all the great skiers. My strategy was to shock the others today with a hard pace from the first kilometre. I think I have never been skiing 50 km that fast from the beginning,” said Sundby.

Hoffman and Kershaw [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Devon Kershaw had another solid effort finishing 23rd while the USA’s Noah Hoffman delivered a personal best 24th. Rounding out the points was Canadian Graeme Killick in 30th while American Scott Patterson was just behind in 32nd as his teammate Erik Bjornsen did not finish due to illness and will focus on his races at Falun next weekend.

Graeme Killick (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

With thousands of screaming fans lining the trails Sundby challenged the field early as a group of four began to establish a gap at around the 10km mark. About a dozen chasers including Petter Northug (Nor) formed behind with the North Americans in a second chase group just behind.

Sundby’s group stretched their lead to almost a minute and then he attacked with 10k to go and only Dyrhaug could stay with him. On the final rotation Sundby attacked again and soloed in for his 5th consecutive Holmenkollen victory, a first in the 114-year history of the Holmenkollen.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

“On paper having three in the top-30 looks good, but we were definitely looking for more today,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, Cross Country Ski Team. “The conditions were tough, but we just didn’t have the ski speed. We will keep working hard over the next couple of weeks in the lead up to the Ski Tour Canada which is our next big focus.”

Petter Northug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Hoffman was pleased with his race but felt his effort was conservative.

“Today was tough. It was foggy and warm and wet (though not as wet as it’s going to be for the women tomorrow) but it was great klister skiing. This is one of the hilliest and most challenging courses on the world cup and it was even more so this year with the addition of a short steep hill that was new to the course this year (to make a certain section of the course more spectator friendly).

Sundby and Northug [P] Nordic Focus

“My effort today was very conservative. I skied the race to make sure I had good energy at the end and I accomplished that goal. I skied the entire race with Devon Kershaw. He was a really good person for me to follow today. We had other guys around us and a good group.

“This season has been very consistent for me. I haven’t had a breakthrough performance but I believe it is coming. I’m looking forward to more opportunities next week,” Hoffman told Trax.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby [P] Nordic Focus

“Noah Hoffman and Scott Patterson put together a couple strong results in the Holmenkollen 50k. We are really psyched for them,” said U.S. coach Matt Whitcomb. “For Scott to nearly crack the points on one of the hardest 50k course in the world as a World Cup rookie is very impressive. He has a big future ahead of him.”

Results here.

USA’s Burke Strong 7th as Italy Rules Mass Start Races @ IBU World Cup Canmore – Canada’s Smith 16th

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February 06, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – While Italy ruled the day with hard-fought victories in both mass start races at the IBU World Cup in Canmore, American Tim Burke turned in a season-best 7th place in the men’s 15km contest, and Canada’s Nathan Smith salvaged a 16th-place finish for local fans in challenging conditions.

Tim Burke (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Dominic Windisch (Ita) claimed a career-first World Cup win despite four penalties and he battled for every second of it as the final lap saw him chased by three rivals, most notably Germany’s Benedikt Doll, who showed impressive ski speed moving from fifth to second finishing 4.1s behind Windisch. France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet was third at 8.6 seconds behind the Italian.

An overnight storm left some new snow on the tracks, and aggressive wind made for tough conditions. Many of the favourites suffered in the penalty loop early on but Simon Eder (Aut) cleaned in prone both times to gain an early lead.

Yet the tables turned quickly in the first standing session as Eder missed three targets and now Maillet was the new leader with Burke sitting in fourth as Smith and Lowell Bailey (USA) were behind playing catch up.

After the final standing session Burke was in 9th suffering one penalty as Latvia’s Andrejs Rastorgujevs was surprised to find himself in the pole position. But Rastorgujevs was soon caught by three chasers including Windisch who made a bid which went unchecked. Doll, who was dangling in 5th and sensed opportunity, chased everyone down to claim second as Windisch threw his arms up in victory when he crossed the line.

Dominik Windisch wins [P] Pam Doyle

“I think I have been waiting 20 years for this. It is just amazing. My skiing was really good today; when I was on the last loop, I saw Rastorgujevs was tiring and decided I needed to take my chance,” said Windisch.

Shooting well with only three misses in the windy conditions, Burke gave himself every opportunity to perform today finishing an impressive 7th, barely three seconds out of 4th place.

“Today was definitely a very challenging race with some really strong wind on the range,” said Burke. “I had the opportunity to train in similar conditions yesterday afternoon and I feel like I put together a good game plan for today. Since the wind was so variable from one one shot to the next, I decided to ‘shade’ today instead of adjusting my sights.

“Shading is a technique where you actually aim off of the target, knowing that the wind will blow the shot to the center. This worked well for me and put me in a position to fight for a top spot. I hope this result will help me build momentum as we head into the biggest races of the year with the U.S. World Cup and world championships,” he added.

Nathan Smith [P] Pam Doyle

The crowds were out in full force today, lining the stadium and ski tracks with cowbells and noisemakers to cheer on the athletes with a focus on Smith, the lone Canadian in the race.

“It was tough conditions. Obviously windy, but I hit 17 (targets) so that was pretty good for today and I’m happy with that.” said Smith who placed a strong 16th despite having heavy legs. “In a mass start, it’s windy for everyone which makes for a fair competition.”

As for his skiing, he’s hoping to feel better tomorrow. “I’m still feeling tired on the skis though, my legs just didn’t have the energy. I was making up some time in the range thankfully, so I could maintain my position in the middle of the pack.”

Men's Mass Start podium [P] Pam Doyle

With tired legs, Smith used his wizard-like shooting speed to his advantage, a strategy he plans to reenact in the single-mixed relay tomorrow which he will likely start with rookie-on-fire Julia Ransom.

“Shooting speed is my strength tomorrow. How we could do a bit depends on how the other nations enter their teams,” said Smith who is referring to the decision coaches will make in placing athletes in either the two-person relay, or the four-person relay.

Since both relays are raced tomorrow, depending on which race they hope to win, countries usually have to favour one or the other. If the nation has depth, they can field competitive teams in both events, but often smaller nations who may not have four strong competitors, will field a more heavily favoured two-person team.

Lowell Bailey [P] Pam Doyle

Lowell Bailey finished 20th in the men’s race despite five penalties. “I definitely wasn’t that happy with the way the race went today,” Bailey commented. “I was not aggressive enough in my judgement of the wind during the first prone, and didn’t account for the increase. This put my first two shots out, and left me with two penalties right off the bat – not the way you hope to start a mass start. I was able to come back a little bit in the second prone, but I had another two misses in the second standing which put me out of contact with the lead. It’s frustrating and I know I can shoot better than that, but nothing to do now except look forward and focus on the next race.”

Men’s results here.

Women’s Mass Start

Dorothea Weirer wins [P] Pam Doyle

Italy’s Dorothea Weirer proved unstoppable in the women’s 12.5km mass start race as she battled France’s Marie Dorin-Habert and Czech athlete Gabriella Soukalova in the final standing session as they came in together with Dorin-Habert looking like she might have the upper hand.

But Weirer shot clean and fast while her rivals both missed one target making her run to the finish somewhat easier as Dorin-Habert settled for second while overall World Cup leader Soukalova was happy with another strong podium finish.

W Mass Podium [P] Pam Doyle

The USA’s Susan Dunklee, the lone North America in the women’s mass start, began well but derailed alongside many others as the wind picked up.

“It started off alright, I got a great ride with Laura Dahlmeier on the second lap. We were skiing really well, and then things kind of went south.” But Dunklee’s typical sunny personality still shines through despite an uncharacteristic 10 penalties and finished 30th.

Dunklee [P] Angus Cockney

“I was not happy with my performance by the time I arrived at the finish today, but I felt very appreciative of the North American fans who cheered me all the way in,” said Dunklee. “People are here for a good show, so you just put on a good attitude and it’s the best you can do. I’ve been really psyched about the spectators, they’re willing to cheer for everyone.”

Dunklee will race the mixed relay tomorrow, but like the rest of the field, is focused on top performances at the Biathlon World Championships coming up in Oslo.

With record crowds rallying for their favourite biathletes today, the relay competitions promise to be full of excitement and fan support. Today a giant snowman carving welcomed spectators into the nordic center. Food and merchandise tents dotted the pathways, and hundreds of colourful flags and clanging cowbells made for a festive event. The visiting Europeans continually rave about how good Canmore looks, but it’s also pretty clear that biathlon looks good on Canmore.

Women’s results here.

Maya Macisaac-Jones and Julien Locke Win Buff Sprints @ Haywood Eastern Canadian Championships

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February 05, 2016 (Cantley, Quebec) – Mother Nature hasn’t been kind to the Outaouais region this year. Lots of rain, warm temperatures and freezing rain made their appearance in the week leading up to the Haywood Eastern Canadian Championships. The weather was nice on day 1 (Feb. 5), a few degrees below zero degrees C. and lots of sun. The trails were in great shape, very, hard packed with a bit of sugar snow, but as can be seen in the background of this Newfoundland team pic, anywhere off the snow was much more suited to skates, than skate skis.

Knute Johnsgaard [P] CCC

Haywood Eastern Canadian Championships, Buff Sprint, Nakkertok Ski Club, Cantley, Quebec

Today’s races were skate sprints, part of the Buff sprint series. The wax tech’s were busy preparing all sorts of skis for the conditions. In the morning’s qualifier Knute Johnsgaard was first, just ahead of Skinouk’s Simon Lapointe and Nakkertok’s Patrick Stewart-Jones.

On the women’s side it was Rocky Mountain Racer’s Maya Macisaac-Jones that had the top result, ahead of Dahria Beatty of Whitehorse and Jenn Jackson of Team Hardwood.

The top juniors, Joey Foster of Team Hardwood and Marie Corriveau of Mont Ste. Anne, both raced in the senior class to better prepare for upcoming races at the u23/Junior World Championships.

Qualifications

Maya Macisaac-Jones kept up her pace from the morning qualifier to fairly easily reach the women’s final. In the 2nd semi-final Jackson and  Beatty traded the lead back and forth with Jackson taking the semi by 4/10ths of a second.

Sr. Women's podium [P] CCC

In the final it was Macisaac-Jones setting the pace with Jackson and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt of Fondeurs Laurentide close behind until the final hill. As they were going up the climb there was a misstep by Jackson that allowed Olivia to move ahead. But Jackson managed to fight back on the last kilometre to grab 2nd place over Bouffard-Nesbitt. “Despite not knowing how to offset, I still duked it out for a nice 2nd place finish at Easterns today,” said Jackson.

Coming into the race the most in form skate sprinter in Canada would be Julien Locke of Black Jack ski club. Locke was the sprint winner in the last Buff event at Lappe and was 3rd in the same event at the U.S. Nationals also in January.

Locke just edged out the win over Johnsgaard in the first semi. The 2nd semi was a close contest and saw a tangle between two Skinouk teammates, Simon Lapointe the 2nd qualifier, and Alexis Turgeon which helped decide the ranking. Coming through in first was Jesse Cockney of Canmore, followed 3/10ths of a second later by Andy Shields of Lappe and Patrick Stewart-Jones.

Sr. Men's podium [P] CCC

In the final Johnsgaard set a fast early pace, but on the last hill Locke moved into another gear, to hold off the rest of the field on the final straightaway. A second and a half separated the six finalists, with Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand of Canmore 2nd and Cockney of Foothills 3rd. Local club skier Patrick Stewart-Jones made a strong effort at the finish, despite being limited by a pole broken earlier in the heat.

Jr. men's podium [P] CCC

In the Jr. men’s race it was Philippe Boucher of Skibec coming through with a fairly comfortable win. The next three were quite close together Boucher’s over teammate Antoine Blais placing second with Ryan Jackson of Hardwood just nipping out Nakkertok’s Maks Zechel for 3rd.

The Jr. Women’s race had a close race for the medals as the top three finished within 0.9 seconds. The winner was Sadie White of Big Thunder, followed by Hollyburn’s Katie Weaver of Hollyburn and Zoë Williams of Nakkertok.

Sadie White audio interview

This weekend’s races are also important for qualifying for Ski Tour Canada 2016 that starts up just down the road on Mar. 1st.

COC leaders based on STC selection criteria at the end of today (athletes only count once in a category):
Overall leaders (best 6 races): Kevin Sandau, Cendrine Browne
Distance leaders (best 6 races): Brian McKeever, Frédérique Vézina
Sprint Leaders (best 3 races): Bob Thompson, Andrea Dupont

Sprint Heat results

Sprint Final results

As well as the sprint competitions, there were many more younger skiers particpating in a prologue event on the beautiful day.

Larger size version of the picture

Prologue results

Para-Nordic results

Saturday features short distance skate races.

 

Canada’s Ransom Matches Career-best 19th in Women’s Sprint @ IBU World Cup Canmore – USA’s Driessigacker 28th

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February 05, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – Canada’s Julia Ransom kept her cool on a gusty day, dropping all of her targets to match her personal best with a 19th-place finish as the top North American in the women’s 7.5km Sprint on home snow on day 2 of the IBU World Cup 7 in Canmore, Alta.

Julia Ransom (CAN) [P] Pam Doyle

Gale winds couldn’t keep Ransom from being swept away by the excitement of a home world cup as the boisterous Kelowna native seized the moment on a challenging day that saw only seven other women shoot clean.

One of the seven was Olena Pidhrushna of Ukraine who completed her return to competition with a victory in 19:56.9 after sitting out last season. Poland’s Krystyna Guzik also shot clean at 7.5 seconds back while third place went to Italy’s Dorothea Wierer with one penalty at 12.4 seconds back.

Hannah Dreissigacker (USA) [P] Pam Doyle

The day ended with four other North American’s in the points: Hannah Driessigacker (USA) in 28th, Susan Dunklee (USA) 35th, and Sara Beaudry (Can) with a personal best of 38th. Matching her personal best of 19th place, Ransom was the top Canadian of the day

“I had all my loved ones here, I was so excited I could barely contain myself at the start,” said Ransom with a smile and clearly pumped about her performance. “Today the home-field advantage played in my favour, and definitely helped a lot – I felt loved.”

On the heels of her birthday celebration Ransom’s focus on the range was high. Warm weather in Canmore often arrives with wild chinook winds, which showed their strength in the first half of the field’s extreme shooting conditions. Athletes were routinely choosing lanes 29 and 30 in hopes the berm would block the wind for standing shooting.

Susan Dunklee (USA)  [P] Pam DoyleAs is the case with wind, a calm window would present itself now and then. It was your lucky day if you were shooting in that moment. As the race progressed, the wind died slightly. Ransom knew that shooting was the key to success today.

“Shooting went well, I didn’t have a hurricane like some girls, which was nice, but I did have wind in prone.” Skiing into the range, having seen many of the leaders with prone misses, Ransom said she was so prepared, she was almost over prepared.

“I was like either go left three, or right three, left three, or right three. Then I saw the wind flags, and went right three! And away I went. I felt prepared.”

Olena Pidhrushna (UKR) [P] Nordic Focus

The crowds today were even more lively than they were for yesterday’s men’s sprint race. Canadian flags were flapping wildly in the hands of every cheering child, and whom were doubly excited by hot chocolate and cookies provided by the race organizers. The odd flag was ripped away by the wind and would go flying across the stadium before the race. It added to the chaotic feeling of the weather. Ransom had a unique race preparation with her teammates and family yesterday.

“I had a birthday yesterday, so I popped a bottle of wine, and had some cake to get that momentum going,” she shared.

Ransom wasn’t the only one with a laid back approach to the event. American Driessigacker cracked the top 30 today and has been enjoying the picturesque surroundings, and the feeling of being nearly at home.

Rosanna Crawford (CAN)  [P] Pam Doyle

“I love it here. I’m very affected by beauty I think. I’m just happy when I get to see different race venues.”

Driessigacker has not had the season she’s liked, so this result was what she was looking for going into World Championships a couple weeks from now.

“I’m really happy with my race, I’ve had a rough season, so this is by far my best result this year.” As for her strategy for the wind, she relied on her training and as every experienced athlete knows, a little bit of luck never hurts.

Joanne Reid (USA) [P] Pam Doyle

“I’ve been practicing in prone. I had a good no-wind zero which gave me the confidence to look at the flags and decide where to adjust. I had a little bit of wind, but not too much, so I felt like I got kind of lucky.”

With fast ski conditions prevailing over the last two races, there’s now a chance of snow in the forecast for the Mass Start on Saturday. North Americans will have a few racers to cheer for, with Nathan Smith, Lowell Bailey, and Tim Burke in the men’s race, while Susan Dunklee is suiting up for the women.

Full results here.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2015/16 Contest Standings after Drammen

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February 05, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the leaders of this season’s SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest, after the 2015-16 Viessmann FIS World Cup in Drammen, Norway. Simeon Hamilton (USA) led the North American skiers with a strong 11th place in the men’s 1.2k CL sprints at Drammen as Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. earned his 50th victory on home snow (read our coverage here). In the women’s competiton, the USA’s Jessie Diggins was the top North American in 13th (read our coverage here) as Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla claimed her third consecutive win in Drammen.

After Drammen, Team xium continues to lead with 944 points, as The Pain Train moves into second with 921 points, while Skinorge06 and GoofyGoofyGulabs are tied at 917 points. Team agassiznordic is ranked fifth with 911 points.

View the full contest standings after Drammen HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2015/16 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Madshus  Redline Carbon Skate Skis, Super Nano Skate Boots, Xcelerator 2.0 Bindings (value $1,650)
* 2nd PrizeNipika Mountain Resort – 2 nights lodging in fully equipped cabin incl. all amenities (value $875)
* 3rd Prize CCC High Sierra Snow Sports Canada Adjustable Wheeled Combo Bag (value $640)
* 4th Prize Salomon S-Lab Skate Pro/Classic Boots (value $450)
* 5th Prize
Vauhti Wax Package – LDR HFC Block, HF Glide, Quick & Easy Glide Wax (value $300)
* 6th Prize
Yoko 9100 Poles (value $299)
* 7th Prize – Mt. Borah Custom Nordic Race Suit (value $159)
* 8th PrizeHigh Peaks Cyclery Ski Care w/Stone Grind, Hot Box, Hardening, Race Prep (value $150)
* 9th PrizeBliz Pro Flip Sunglasses (value $129)
* 10th PrizeConcept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)

* WCup Breaks SkiTrax 1-yr Subscription

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

USA’s Burke 23rd and Canada’s Davies 25th @ IBU World Cup in Canmore as Fourcade Triumphs

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Tim Burke [P] Nordic FocusFebruary 04, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – The USA’s Tim Burke was 23rd while local fans cheered Canmore hometown boy, Macx Davies in 25th, as France’s Martin Fourcade delivered a world-class biathlon lesson hitting every target for a decisive victory in the men’s 10km Sprint at BMW IBU World Cup 7 in Canmore, Alta. The podium was rounded out by Anton Shipulin (Rus) in second and Simon Schempp (Ger) in third as both were also perfect and fast on the range despite some tricky wind.

Macx Davies [P] Nordic Focus

The bluebird sky that this mountain town is known for, featured overcast cloud-cover today. A brisk left-to-right wind made the conditions not only cooler for spectators but challenging for competitors. Team North America had four in the top 30 today, with all four men within two seconds, led by Burke in 23rd who was followed by his teammates Lowell Bailey in 24th and Leif Nordgren in 26th.

Davies, son of race chair Ken Davies, gave the partisan Canmore crowd something to cheer for claiming 25th. “It’s exciting. These people actually know who I am,” commented Davies. The crowds were thrilled to cheer for their Canadian boys, and were wowed by the high level competition. Blazing fast and clean shooting began from the very first competitor, and immediately challenged the field.

Macx Davies shooting prone [P] Pam Doyle

“You have to be there in the shooting if you want to be close on a day like today,” said Davies who cleaned both sessions on the range today. “I’m very happy with my shooting today, obviously. With the skiing, I was hoping for a little bit better, but I was still able to keep pace with most of those guys, so I’m pretty happy with everything today.”

Burke who hadn’t raced in Canmore since he was a Junior athlete, had high praise for the venue and feeling of home. “It was so nice to be racing in North America, it’s so different to hear all the cheering for us out there,” Burke told Trax.

Davies also found motivation in the familiar faces at the venue to lead the Canadian men in 25th with perfect shooting. “It’s a big boost. I heard my name during warm up, and they were cheering me a little bit shooting. I was like okay, I really have to perform now, it’s my hometown crowd,” he concluded.

Lowell Bailey (USA) [P] Pam Doyle

And the hometown crowd was a good size for a Thursday morning. Local school kids shared their energy en mass, and the stadium stands were packed with Canadian and international visitors alike.

For North Americans who spend their life dealing with jet lag and schnitzel in order to race the IBU World Cup, this weekend and the next round in Presque Isle, Maine, are rare opportunities to race at home. Seldom do they hear English crowds or commentary, let alone have family on course, or drink coffee from their favourite mug in the morning.

“It’s different here, it’s better. We get to sleep in our own bed, come up and train at our leisure, and my whole family’s here,” shared Brendan Green, who finished 40th with one miss, and drew the largest cheers of the day from his green-wig-sporting, Northwest Territories fan club. “It’s a smaller crowd than we’re used to, but they’re really enthusiastic, so it’s been fun.”

Brendan Green [P] Pam Doyle

 

Despite leading the North American men Burke wanted more. “I am pretty disappointed with my feeling on the ski course today,” said Burke. “I had perfect preparation for the races here and the course is perfect for me, but I simply felt flat for most of the race. I am happy to be qualified for the mass start on Saturday and I am hopeful that I will bounce back and feel better by then.”

Still his result guaranteed him a start in Saturday’s 15km mass start race and he’ll be in good company with teammate Bailey, along with Canada’s Nathan Smith, who placed 24th and 31st respectively in today’s sprint.

“I was definitely hoping for a better performance today,” commented Bailey. “I felt like we prepared really well for this World Cup, coming directly here a week earlier than the rest of the athletes, and I hoped to capitalize on this preparation. I think it paid off on the skiing side of things, but I was just really disappointed in my standing shooting. I missed both of the first two shots by a few millimeters. It’s tough to swallow coming that close, but you just have to get back out there and try again. I am confident in our preparation looking forward and I know we can put together some quality performances over the next two weeks.”

Leif Nordgren [P] Pam Doyle

“The race today for me was one of the better ones I’ve had this season,” Nordgren told Trax. “That being said, I know that I have more in me, so I’m slightly disappointed still. It seems to me that both my shooting and skiing have been coming around a little bit lately, so I hope the next few races here in North America can be good ones.

“I really like the course here,” added Burke who celebrated his 34th birthday only days ago. “It’s laid out really nice and it’s challenging for sure, with the long climb from the bottom to the top. But it suits me well, so I like racing here.”

 Anton Shipulin [P] Pam Doyle

North American’s aren’t the only ones who were enjoying the beauty and brawn of the Canadian Rockies. Athletes and coaches from other nations were awe-struck by the mountain amphitheatre at the stadium.

“It’s my first time in Canmore and it’s an amazing place, I really like the scenery around here,” says French athlete Simon Fourcade who was 7th today. It’s a crazy track too, because it doesn’t look hard, but when you’re at the bottom of the course, you have almost no rest getting back to the top. It’s really tough.”

Final podium (l-r) Anton Shipulin (RUS), Martin Fourcade [P] Nordic Focus(FRA), Simon Schempp (GER) [P]

The winning Fourcade said his day was not as easy as it looked. ‘I was a bit nervous; I was not satisfied with my shooting this week during training and today, I had some problems zeroing. But I was confident on my skis; I was clean and fast enough to win, so I am happy,” he told Biathlonworld.com.

Men Sprint Podium [P] Pam DoyleRegarding Canmore, he added, “I really like this place; it is very friendly and I love the atmosphere with the teams and the local people…If we are truly an international sport, we need to come to places like this out of Europe.”

On Friday the women will take to the track in the 7.5km sprint.

Full results here.

2016 BMW IBU Canmore Biathlon World Cup Opening Night Photos

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Canadian team at the Canmore Biathlon opening ceremonies [P] Pam Doyle

February 04, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – Round #7 of the BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup 2015/16 kicks off in Canmore, AB today with the Sprint races starting at 11:15 a.m. local time, but last night the event officially began with its opening ceremonies, attended by Canadian team athletes as well as athletes from other nations. The festivities included fireworks, First Nations dances, and live music. More info about this weekend’s event at www.canmorebiathlon.ca.

Canmore fireworks [P] Pam Doyle

This weekend’s competition marks the first of two North American stops on the circuit as next weekend will see the eighth round of the series hit Presque Ile, Maine from Feb. 11-14. Both the Canadian and US teams are stoked to welcome the world to North America and hope to shine on home snow…catch the racing live on CBC here.

First Nations ceremonial dance [P] Pam Doyle

Rosanna Crawford and Scott Gow lead the Canadian contingent [P] Pam Doyle

Team Canada at the Canmore Biathlon opening ceremonies [P] Pam Doyle

USA’s Diggins 13th in Drammen CL Sprint as Norway’s Falla Triumphs again on Home Snow

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February 03, 2016 (Drammen, Norway) – American Jessie Diggins took home a solid 13th place finish  in the 1.2k CL sprints as Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla claimed her third consecutive win at Drammen in a close finish between teammate Ingvild Oestberg and Russia’s Natalia Matveeva who was third.

Jessie Diggins [P] Nordic Focus

Diggins was the top North American qualifier as well in 7th tweeting “First time qualifying in Drammen…and PSYCHED about it!!”. Her teammates Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell also made the heats but all three were eliminated in their quarter finals. The lone Canadian on the start line, Andrea Dupont, finished 59th.

(l-r) Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR), Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR), Natalia Matveeva (RUS) [P] Nordic Focus
In a dramatic finish Falla, who returned to the World Cup from illness, battled her teammate and the top qualifier Oestberg to the line taking the outside lane and surprise everyone with a brilliant finish to claim the win.

“I was really happy with my race today. I had great skis and my fitness is perhaps better than it’s ever been. I made some technique errors in my quarterfinal and slipped a few too many times near the top of the course, letting a gap form between myself and the leaders,” said Diggins.

“I caught back up at the end but by then I had run out of track! But overall I’m really satisfied with my race and my shape. And to finish right behind the girls in my quarter who ended up 3rd and 4th overall is never a bad spot to be in. Racing in Drammen is always super fun and exciting. It was sunny, it’s a cool course on city streets and the fans were awesome.”

Sadie Bjornsen [P] Nordic Focus

Bjornsen also skied well qualifying 10th and ended up 18th.

“Drammen I never really have a whole lot of strategy. I just go as hard as I can, hang on as long as I can, and see what can happen. My qualifier went well. I felt like I had more to give, so I was looking forward to some heats. I ended up in a pretty stacked heat, with some girls that qualified low, but were obviously really good skiers, but I tried to look forward without intimidation.

“Things were going super well until the final drag into the finish when I went on the wide track, which was super icy, and a big slip over the bump cost me a few meters on those three girls… and I wasn’t able to catch back up. I have spent the last week at high altitude, so I felt like my top gear suffered a bit today, but I am looking forward to 30k of that fun old classic skiing on Sunday. Big thanks to the team for some awesome skis out there today. I think the American Team had great skis under our feet today,” Bjornsen told Trax.

Caldwell in white battles the Norwegians [P] Nordic Focus

Caldwell, who recently won the USA’s first CL World Cup podium in Obertsdorf, Germany in early Jan., was stoked to qualify as well in Drammen – a first for her as well. She looked strong in her quarterfinal and was leading but couldn’t finish it off ending up 19th.

“I had incredible skis today. I think my skis were some of the fastest and definitely had the best kick in my quarter final. I was really happy to qualify 11th today. I’ve never qualified in Drammen. In fact, I’ve never even been close to qualifying in Drammen, so to qualify in 11th today was a huge step in the right direction. I think gradual terrain in classic sprinting is still one of my weaknesses. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but my result today showed that I’ve made some gains.

Caldwell (l) and Diggins [P}

“I had a bit of a slow start in my quarter final, but I moved into second place on the steeper uphill and pushed hard over the top. I had fast skis and was in the draft of the girl in front of me, so I skied an aggressive corner and moved into first. I came into the finish stretch battling for first, but it’s a really long finish stretch and I got a little bogged down and frantic and was passed by several people.

“I wish I could have had a stronger finish, but like I said before, this is by far the best result I’ve ever had on this sprint course and I know what I need to work on. I will be racing in Stockholm next week and then hopefully doing a distance race in Falun before the final sprint in Europe in Lahti and then heading back to the US,” she commented.

Qualifications here.
Results here.

Cendrine Browne and Bob Thompson Win Haywood NorAm 5/10km CL Races @ Mont-Ste-Anne

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January 30, 2016 (Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec) – It started off as a nice sunny day, as the women’s race got underway at the Haywood NorAm competition in Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec. Temperatures were just below 0 deg. C.  Firm tracks and some fresh powder from yesterday, made for great skiing conditions but by the men’s race, it clouded over and the wind picked up.

With about a month to go before Ski Tour Canada 2016, the competition for places on the Canadian team for those World Cups is heating up. This weekend of racing and the Haywood Eastern and Western Canadian Championships, Feb 5-7 and 18-21st respectively, will be an athlete’s final chances to make their case for selection. Selection Criteria.

Cendrine Browne [P] CCC

Going into today’s races Andrea Dupont and Kevin Sandau were the Haywood leaders, a position that provides automatic selection to Ski Tour Canada 2016.  With the absence of the top 2 men and top 3 women at these races, it is an opportunity for someone to garb some good points and move up into the lead positions.

Complete Haywood NorAm standings

The remaining Haywood NorAm’s are also important, as they will be used for selection in the various ranking lists that will help fill out the Ski Tour Canada team.

Womens podium [P] CCC

The first race off today was the open women’s 5k classic. Cendrine Browne of Fondeurs Laurentides, just back from a stint on the World Cup, carried on her great form to win the event by 7 seconds over Skinouk’s Sophie Carrier-Laforte. In 3rd was local skier Frédérique Vézina 20 seconds later.

Another Mont Ste. Anne skier, Marie Corriveau, was the junior winner, close to 30 seconds ahead of Catherine Reed-Métayer from Skibec, the other host club. Isabella Howden of Team Hardwood was 3rd.

Bob Thompson [P] CCC

The men’s 10k was a tight race, with Team Hardwood’s Bob Thompson coming through for the win ahead of Lappe’s Andy Shields by only .2 seconds.  Another Lappe skier Michael Somppi was 3rd, 14 seconds later.

On the junior side it was the Skibec duo of Antoine Blais and Philippe Boucher finishing 1st and 2nd, with Joey Foster of Team Hardwood in 3rd.

Mens Podium [P] CCC

Results

The results will tighten the competition at the top of the Haywood NorAm Leader Board, as the top few in today’s races were all in direct competition with each other, just below the previous leaders.

Audio Interview with men’s winner Bob Thompson

Audio Interview with women’s winner Cendrine Browne

Photos and audio interviews by Lisa Patterson, CCC High Performance Development Coordinator.

Next up skate pursuit races tomorrow.

David Norris and Kelsey Phinney Take their First USSA Supertour Wins at Lake Placid

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January 30, 2016 (Lake Placid, NY) – David Norris of APUNSC used fast skis and slick tactics to take his first Supertour win ever in the 1.5km Freestyle Sprint in Lake Placid, while Kelsey Phinney of Middlebury College took her first win on the women’s race. Norris bested his teammate Eric Packer on the final downhill despite having fallen behind the lead pack at the top of the course, which included a long climb out of the start to the high point of the course followed by a long descent into the finish. Akeo Maifield-Carucci of Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) was third. Finney used similar drafting tactics to take the women’s win ahead of birthday girl Caitlin Patterson of Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) and Annie Hart of Stratton Mountain School T2 (SMST2).

Elite men's podium [P] Mike Matteson

Norris, whose best results in the past had been in distance classic events, said he was lucky to learn the tactic he would use for the semi and final early in the quarterfinal, where he glided from fourth to first on the descent into the stadium. “I got a good draft in the quarter and move up from third or fourth in the lead and that seemed to work, so I stuck with that for the day and could always find a way to get through,” he said. “The skis definitely helped. I was able to use the people I was racing with to draft.” Packer, the classic sprint winner from US Nationals earlier this January, finished second, gaining valuable Supertour points along the way. His nearest competitor in the Supertour standings, Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus), finished fourth in the final after making the lucky loser spot twice.

Coming into the final fast descent, the pack was led by Maifield-Carucci followed by Alex Turgeon (Can), Packer, and Norris in that order. Packer and Norris managed to find the extra speed and came into the final 100-metre stretch with a small gap. Norris found the inside lane and held off Packer at the finish, while Maifield-Carucci pushed Gregg to the outside.

Maifield-Carucci, who graduated from Harvard this May and has since been training in his hometown of Bozeman with the BSF team, also credited fast skis with allowing him to get on the Supertour podium for the first time ever. “My goal was sitting not leading,” said Maifield-Carucci, who will race the sprint at U23 Worlds later this year. When he surged past the fading Turgeon at the high point of the course, he said he thought he had lost the race. “I was like, ‘dang it’” he said, “But I guess it worked out better than expected. Our skis were good.”

Kelsey Phinney [P] USSA

The women’s final race played out in a similar fashion with a tight group of five jockeying for position on the final descent. With distance specialist Chelsea Holmes in the lead, the four pursuers tried to find their way around her. Phinney, an NCAA skier, whose breakout race came last March at the Supertour Finals in Sun Valley, Idaho where she finished second behind US Ski Team racer Sadie Bjornsen, said that she tried not to think about the big names she was going against today.

“It was kind of a blur,” she said of her first ever Supertour  win, “I put in a good effort around the [final] corner. Once you see the finish line all you can think about is to ski your heart out.” She was greeted at the finish by her teammate Annie Pokorny, who just began racing for Middlebury after a stint with SMST2. Finney also noted that making the mistake of leading and of getting pushed to the outside of the final corner in her quarter and semi finals helped her realize she needed to be patient in the draft for the final 200 metres.

Caitlin Patterson, who turned 26 years old today, said that despite qualifying in first, she knew the final would be a different game. “I didn’t have a sense of how many of us it was until we got to the bottom…It was a little dicey for a bit. Kelsey got around everyone right when we started to corner. I was able to keep the inside line. I didn’t realize the others were right there until I watched the video that they had online.”

Patterson, who added to her Supertour overall lead, picked up $500 for second place and $250 for the qualification win, said that she will have no wild parties to celebrate her birthday tonight. “It will be a low-key evening,” she said, “My teammates are making me a cake, but trying to disguise it. It seems pretty chocolate-y with zucchini and coffee and maybe some peanut butter frosting.”

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

USA’s Doherty Claims Second Podium in Men’s 10km Sprint @IBU Youth/Junior World – Phaneuf 7th

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January 30, 2016 (Cheile Gradistei, Romania) – The USA’s Sean Doherty nabbed his second medal of the week in the Junior Men’s 10km Sprint while his teammate Maddie Phaneuf scored her second top-10 finish in the Junior Women’s 7.5km Sprint at the 2016 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships in Romania on Saturday.

Men's 10km Sprint podium [P] Nordic Focus

Day 4 saw early morning heavy fog give way to blue and sunny skies as Austria’s Felix Leitner took the men’s victory with one penalty. Doherty, with two penalties, was just 8.7 seconds behind Leitner when he left standing, but could not reduce the gap finishing 11.5 seconds back. This was his ninth individual award at the Youth/Junior World Championships, making him the all-time leader in that category.

“Today’s race was a great sprint for me,” said Doherty. “I felt really good on the skis and I was able to ski the aggressive type of race that I want to. I’m looking forward to the pursuit.” Germany’s David Zobel’s one penalty helped him to claim the bronze at 39.3 seconds back of Leitner.

Sean Doherty [P] Nordic Focus

The top Canadian was Matt Strum in 37th also with two penalties. Pearce Hanna (Can) was 48th, Aidan Miller (Can) was 55th, Paul Everett (USA) was 62nd, Alex Dupuis (Can) was 69th, Travis Cooper (USA) finished 86th, and Brian Halligan (USA) was 92nd.

Hanna Oeberg of Sweden won the gold with clean shooting while Switzerland’s Lena Haecki missed first place by a mere 0.6 seconds with two penalties. Oeberg’s teammate, Anna Magnusson, had a single penalty to win the bronze medal at 2.4 seconds back.

Phaneuf had just one penalty on the shooting range in the 67-woman field at 36.9s back. Leilani Tam Von Burg was the top Canadian in 28th with one penalty at 2:18.8 behind. Siena Ellingson (USA) was 48th, Kendall Chong (Can) was 51st, Charlotte Hamel was 62nd and CAMPBELL Caitlin Campbell (Can) DNS.

Junior men’s sprint results here.
Junior women’s sprint results here.

 

 

 

 

Salomon Launches the New Prolink System in Canada @Canmore Nordic Centre

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January 27, 2016 (Canmore, AB) – Salomon recently hosted two product launch events in North America to officially announce their new, and much anticipated, Prolink binding system. On Jan. 6 the U.S. debut was held at Jeremy Ranch near Salt Lake City in conjunction with the Outdoor Retailer Winter show while the Canadian debut was held at the Canmore Nordic Centre on Jan. 11-12. SkiTrax was on hand for both events – read our U.S. coverage here.

A new era begins... Salomon's Prolink with NNN [P] Drew Goldsack

In what may be one of the biggest Nordic equipment releases in decades, and certainly a surprise move that has rocked the world of cross-country skiing, Salomon has come out with a completely new (to Salomon) binding system for the first time since the SNS Profil was introduced to the market in the early 90s. Many readers will be familiar with the world of platform battles: 8-Track/Cassette, VHS/Betamax, Blu-ray/HD-DVD, Windows/Mac, etc. Generally this becomes a hassle for the consumer because often very similar products are being offered, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the consumer is forced to choose. This has certainly been the case with the SNS/NNN battle that has been waged for decades in the cross-country ski market.

Salomon's Prolink Boots [P] Drew Goldsack

Let’s stop right here and address the elephant in the room. What is Prolink? Why is it important? Many initial reports on the release of the Prolink system have tiptoed around the big question: Is this a true NNN-compatible system? The short answer is a solid YES, Salomon has released NNN-compatible boots and bindings – for both skate and classic – which will allow you to seamlessly use Prolink Salomon boots with Salomon’s new Prolink binding or any NNN binding you choose and vice-versa. There are some nuances to the compatibility which we’ll discuss in more detail later in this article but for those wanting a short concise answer, there you have it.

The Salomon product release events were a chance for sales reps and retailers to not only see the Prolink system in person for the first time but to actually take the new gear out for a test-ski! SkiTrax had exclusive access to these events and we’ve now taken  the opportunity to test the new Prolink system quite extensively.

Salomon Prolink gathering at Canmore [P] Salomon Canada

The most recent event was the Canadian release which took place in Canmore, AB at the world-class Canmore Nordic Centre on Jan. 11-12. Top retailers from across the country were invited to join Canadian Salomon sales and marketing reps to try out the new gear scheduled to hit stores in the fall of 2016. Nicolas Stamos, one of the head sales managers for Salomon international, was also on hand to field questions from retailers and present the many details on the new Prolink system.

Key Salomon Canadian retailers at the launch included – Radical Edge (Brian McKeown), La Cordee (Dominique Payette), Espresso Sport (Luc Baril), Boutique Courir (Gilles Labre), Wildrock Outfitters (Jamie Elcome), La Vie Sportive (Raymond Lavoie), Hardwood Hills (Bob Picken), Stride and Glide (Shayne Hoehn), Fresh Air Experience Kelowna (Jim Bates), Fast Trax (Jack Cook and Shauna), TrailSports (John Gallagher), Norseman Ski Shop (Dave Betch and Julie), Totem Outfitters (Perry and Kathryn), Campers Village (David Arsenault), Gerick Sports (Pat Fagan and Chris Bloch-Hensen), Eb’s Source for Adventure (Kevin Robinson), Fresh Air Experience Thunder Bay (Alan Cranston), Sports Experts Canmore (Craig Westlake).

 

(l-r) Luc Baril (Espresso Sports), Gilles Lachance (Montreal rep), Raymond Lavoie, (La Vie Sportive) at the Salomon Prolink launch [P] Salomon Canada

One topic raised was about the patents on the NNN system. Salomon maintains they have not infringed on any intellectual property rights with the development of their Prolink system which they claim is based on publicly available technology, and the company is moving full steam ahead for a full release in the fall of 2016. This has not stopped rumours of lawsuits being filed against them and articles in the Norwegian press stating that Rottefella has sent letters to Amer Sports (Salomon’s parent company) claiming “violation of good business practices and counterfeiting” and will be taking action – a situation which we’ll continue to monitor. The Prolink system is the culmination of at least three years of development by Salomon, incredibly kept under complete wraps until the design was leaked just before Christmas by a Russian source.

Testing Salomon's Prolink system [P] Drew GoldsackNow that we have the history and legal bits out of the way, let’s get down to the actual testing! The day started with a quick info session from Salomon and then it was time to hit the perfectly groomed tracks up at the Nordic Centre on a gorgeous sunny day in Canmore! I immediately had a chance to jump on a pair of the new Salomon S-Lab Carbon skis, paired with the new Prolink Carbon bindings and Prolink S-Lab Skate Pro boots.

Before I get into my review and first impressions, I feel that I should offer full disclosure on my background and any potential bias. I finished my race career as a Fischer/Rotefella/Alpina sponsored athlete and still ski these same brands three years post retirement. Like many skiers, I started my career as a Fischer/Salomon athlete and spent many years racing on the popular Fischer ski/Salomon boot setup. When Fischer and Salomon went their separate ways, I was forced to choose and ultimately ended up in the Fischer/NNN camp. Both were great combos, each with their own strengths.

Salomon w/Prolink binding (l) and Fischer with Rottefella's NNN NIS binding [P] Drew Goldsack

From first stepping into the new Prolink bindings to taking my first few strides, the transition was seamless. The binding was super easy to step into and very easy to open/close, feeling solid and precise. The boot/binding/ski combo felt very connected, great stability, and great feel for the snow. It did take me a few kilometers to get used to the mounting point that Salomon uses which is slightly back of the balance point of the ski causing the tips to drag when you’re not used to it but Salomon says that utilizing this mount point helps accelerate the ski when weight is shifted onto it and I quickly got used to the slight difference in ski position.

Prolink w/Fischer skis [P] Drew Goldsack

As I expected, the complete Prolink system works great, this isn’t Salomon’s first rodeo after all, so it was time to really put things to the test with the Prolink boots and jump on a pair of Fischer Speedmax skis with NIS Xcelerator bindings. The Salomon Prolink boots engaged with the Xcelerator binding seamlessly and without hesitation. Good start. I took off for a ski and was immediately impressed with how connected to the ski the Salomon boots felt, it was somewhat nostalgic to be back cruising around on Fischer skis and Salomon boots, something I have not done in almost 10 years. The feeling was great. Not sure what I was expecting, maybe something more like a first awkward school dance, but the integration was seamless. From the first stride, everything felt comfortable and stable. I was also reminded of just how nice the Salomon skate boots were, and still are. A great example of Salomon doing what they have always done better than most, boots.

Alpina Salomon [P] Drew Goldsack

Next up, it was time to turn the tables and put my trusty Alpina skate boots on and take the Salomon skis with Prolink bindings out for a spin. Again, the Alpina boots engaged with the Prolink binding with ease and I headed out for another loop. After skiing for just a few strides, there was a hint of having met for the first time. Another nuance was that the Salomon skis somehow felt slower with this set up, and this was still the case when I put a Salomon Prolink boot on one foot and an Alpina boot on the other to compare.

Another tester on Rossignol boots had similar feelings. It may have been the specific flex of the skis and the pressures on it from the boot, along with the conditions that day – tough to say in our short window of test time. To be clear, these were subtleties that most skiers would likely not notice, or would simply get used to after some time.

One of the final tests for the new Prolink skate bindings was a comparison to the SNS Pilot skate bindings. Many diehard Salomon fans are adamant that the Pilot system offers more ski control for skating. I remember this being a concern of mine way back when I switched from Salomon to NNN however my concerns quickly faded after trying the latest offering from Alpina at the time in the ESK Elite Ti-Carbon Skate boot.

The Pilot bindings definitely had their benefits in the days of the older SNS Profil Skate boots which were incredibly soft and had a lot of torsional flex to them by today’s standards. The second anchor point of the Pilot binding seemed to help stabilize the boot and offer more control. Fast-forward to the current skate boots on the market and nearly every boot above a recreational model offers some combination of carbon cuff and/or sole, meaning modern Salomon SNS skate boots are much more stiff, especially torsionally, than the boots of the early 2000’s.

S-Lab Skate Pro [P] Salomon

I have found that this is certainly the case with the Salomon S-LAB Skate Pro boots. I had the chance to ski on and directly compare one S-Lab boot with an SNS Pilot binding and one S-LAB boot with a Prolink binding. The results? I’m quite certain that if I were blindfolded and taken out for a ski, I would not be able to pick out the foot with the Pilot boot/binding. The only real giveaway is that the Pilot boot/binding sits higher off the ski than the Prolink combo, which for me is another benefit to the Prolink system. When you add in the weight savings, 260g for a pair of the top of the line Salomon Pilot Carbon RS bindings compared to just 215g for a pair of the Prolink Carbon Skate bindings (claimed by Salomon and include screws), I really can’t come up with a good reason to choose the Pilot boot/binding system over the Prolink system.

This raises another burning question, one that I heard asked repeatedly by retailers at the launch event: is this the beginning of the end for the SNS binding system?

Jack Cook of Fast Trax Run & Ski Shop in Edmonton, AB doesn’t necessarily think so. “If you were to ski on both systems the new Prolink seems to be the better system when it comes down to ski feel but when you factor in stability, the SNS system still seems to provide better support in terms of step turns, steeping in and out of the track and herring bone,” said Cook.

Salomon also maintains that they do not plan to discontinue the SNS system and that they will continue to produce SNS boots/bindings for the foreseeable future, however some seem to think the writing is on the wall and only time will tell.

After a quick break for lunch, it was time to hit the snow once again, this time to take the classic gear out for a burn. As with the Prolink skate boots/bindings, the Prolink Salomon classic boots and bindings worked flawlessly, no difficulties at all stepping into and closing the bindings. I took off for a quick ski and felt right at home on the Salomon Prolink setup. Once again, I was impressed with how connected the boot felt to the ski.

Compared to NNN, the feel of the classic Prolink was very similar, save for the more cushy, slightly softer feeling of the Salomon S-LAB classic boots which are great for comfort and fit. The racer in me prefers a stiffer feel and more direct feedback with the ski for a raw racing affect.

Prolink Classic [P] Drew Goldsack

As with the skate testing, I tried the Salomon Prolink classic boots on a pair of Fischer Carbonlite Classic skis with NIS Xcelerator bindings. The integration was seamless and the Salomon boots felt right at home on the NNN/Fischer setup. Next up, I tried my Alpina classic boots on a pair of Salomon S-LAB Classic skis with Prolink bindings and as with the same skate combo, the boots engaged easily, functioned well but just had that hint of awkwardness. Again, nothing that would prevent a skier from using this combo, but just not as seamless of a pairing as the other combinations that I had tested.

Finally, I set out to compare the Salomon SNS classic boots/bindings with the Salomon Prolink classic boots/bindings. As soon as I took a few strides, I was reminded of the benefits of the NNN boot/binding feel for classic skiing. The Salomon SNS classic boot/binding combo performs but for my taste it felt somewhat unstable, almost like you’re constantly fighting to ride/kick a flat ski. In contrast, the Prolink system offered almost the same great snow feel that I have come to know and love with the NNN system. While the SNS Pilot and Prolink bindings felt very comparable in skating, I’d give the nod to the Prolink system for classic skiing – great news for those who love the fit and feel of Salomon boots but are looking for a better feel on classic skis.

Canmore Nordic [P] Salomon Canada

It’s also worth noting that the fit of the Salomon Prolink boots are identical to Salomon’s SNS line of boots. The only difference being the external sole – Prolink or SNS. Imagine the same boot for both, just with a different sole attached at the factory depending on the platform. This is great news for skiers who like Salomon boots for their comfort.

“From a retail perspective, the Prolink system allows the customer one more option to find a comfortable boot without having to worry about which binding system they currently have on their skis,” commented Cook.

Another interesting technical detail and something that makes total sense logistically, is that the new Prolink bindings will use the same mounting hole pattern as the SNS bindings. This is an important detail because along with all of the binding system hype, Salomon has also announced that all of their new skis will now come pre-drilled for bindings from the factory. The factory will determine the optimum mount position of the binding based on the characteristics of the ski and drill holes accordingly.

This will make it much more convenient for retailers as well as customers to mount bindings. No more drilling required, just choose your binding, screw it down and you’re ready to rock! What’s more, is that those wishing to switch over to the Prolink system can simply remove their old bindings and mount up a new set of Prolink bindings without any additional drilling required – good news for retailers and consumers alike. “If I had my way all skis would have the NIS plate system, but failing that, this provides the best scenario possible given the circumstances,” Cook continued.

Also rumoured, but not 100% confirmed (I was told by Salomon it’s 95% likely) is that next year’s new top of the line Carbon Skate LAB boots will come with two different sets of lugs for the sole, one for SNS and one for Prolink, allowing the consumer to have both options for binding systems in one boot and potentially even swap back and forth between the two. More details to come on this when it is officially announced.

Salomon's Phil Villeneuve was kept busy [P] Salomon Canada

So what does this all mean for the consumer? And how do retailers feel about the announcement of the Prolink system?

“I think customers will be intrigued by the new Prolink System as it provides the ski feel they want from a boot without having to change bindings if they currently have an NNN binding on their skis. For the average consumer however, it will come down to which boot provides the best fit, generally they do not have a binding preference in mind as they are often purchasing a complete package anyway,” added Cook.

When asked about what he thinks the Prolink option means for Salomon boots, a market which Salomon once dominated, Cook says “At the elite end I do not see Salomon boots returning to the top of the sales market for a few years. For that to happen I think there would still need to be modification to the energizer cuff as I see more athletes switching to NNN based boots due to the cuff than the sole. On the sport level, I believe Salomon can regain a large portion of the market share, while at the recreational level it will all come down to comfort.”

For anyone who has been watching the World Cup this year or has seen the latest boot release from Salomon – the impossibly light Carbon Skate LAB – you may have noticed that Salomon has indeed done away with the energizer technology for their new flagship boot. Yet another sign that Salomon is fighting hard to return to a market that they once dominated.

By the numbers:

– Salomon Pilot Carbon RS Skate Binding (260g total claimed weight/pair – including screws)
– NIS Xcelerator 2.0 Skate Binding (258g total estimated weight/pair – claimed weight is 178g/pair plus NIS plate est. 40g)
– Salomon Prolink Carbon Skate Binding (215g total claimed weight/pair – including screws)
– Fischer RCS Speedmax Skate Skis w/NIS Xcelerator bindings (1,328g/pair – 192cm)
– Salomon Carbon SK LAB Skate Skis w/Salomon Prolink Carbon bindings (1,218g/pair – 192cm)

Salomon has really made a bold and positive move with the release of their Prolink system, which they’re hoping will mean a resurgence in the number of Salomon boots out on the ski trails, and hopefully put the binding-platform battle to rest once and for all. Add that to their superb high-tech offerings on the Carbon LAB Skate boot and Carbon SK LAB ski, and it seems that Salomon is aiming to recapture their spot atop the xc ski market.

One thing is for certain, the times they are a changin’…

Olympic Medallist Beckie Scott Expands Cross Country Skiing Program in Aboriginal Schools

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January 27, 2016 – The principal of an Alberta First Nation school is singing the praises of a cross-country skiing program that was expanded this week by retired Olympian Beckie Scott. “We want them to become the best learners they can and part of that is being physically active,” said Jeff Horvath, principal at Tsuut’ina First Nation High School. “We want healthy young people in our communities and cross country skiing being one of the best exercises you can do, I think it will only benefit our young people.”

Tsuut’ina First Nation High School were given to a chance to cross country ski, some for the first time [P] Evelyne Asselin/CBC

This week two-time Olympic cross country ski medallist Beckie Scott brought the Ski Fit North Alberta program to the school, the 18th one to sign up for the program.

Ski Fit North Alberta brings cross country skiing equipment to aboriginal schools across the province. The program was developed by Cross Country Canada and Cross Country Alberta and receives corporate sponsorship.

Scott says the list of benefits is lengthy – read more here.

Beckie Scott with SFN kids [P] CCC

 

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2015/16 Contest Standings after Nove Mesto

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January 26, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the leaders of this season’s SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest, featuring over 400 teams, after the 2015-16 Viessmann FIS World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic. North American skiers had a strong weekend as the USA’s Jessie Diggins led the charge with a bronze medal in the women’s 10km FR (read our coverage here), while Canada’s Alex Harvey posted the top North American men’s result with 7th in the 15km FR race (read about it here). The U.S. women went on to score silver in the relay (read about it here), while the men’s relay saw Team USA place 8th, followed by Canada in 9th (read more here).

After Nove Mesto, Team xium has a big lead with 860 points, followed by Winter Wonderland in second with 839 points, and Birkie Fever just two points behind with 837. It’s a close race, with The Pain Train in fourth with 835 pointsm and fifth place, ENSC 2, only one point back with 834. These standings include bonus points from the 10th annual Tour de Ski.

View the full contest standings after Nove Mesto HERE.

Sorry we missed posting the standings after Planica, Slovenia (Jan. 16-17) HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2015/16 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Madshus  Redline Carbon Skate Skis, Super Nano Skate Boots, Xcelerator 2.0 Bindings (value $1,650)
* 2nd PrizeNipika Mountain Resort – 2 nights lodging in fully equipped cabin incl. all amenities (value $875)
* 3rd Prize CCC High Sierra Snow Sports Canada Adjustable Wheeled Combo Bag (value $640)
* 4th Prize Salomon S-Lab Skate Pro/Classic Boots (value $450)
* 5th Prize
Vauhti Wax Package – LDR HFC Block, HF Glide, Quick & Easy Glide Wax (value $300)
* 6th Prize
Yoko 9100 Poles (value $299)
* 7th Prize – Mt. Borah Custom Nordic Race Suit (value $159)
* 8th PrizeHigh Peaks Cyclery Ski Care w/Stone Grind, Hot Box, Hardening, Race Prep (value $150)
* 9th PrizeBliz Pro Flip Sunglasses (value $129)
* 10th PrizeConcept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)

* WCup Breaks SkiTrax 1-yr Subscription

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

USA’s Andy Newell 4th at Dolomitensprint in Lienz

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January 22, 2016 (Lienz, Austria) – The USA’s Andy Newell made the final at the 7pm evening Dolomite Sprint today in the centre of Lienz, to finish 4th behind winner Mirco Bertolini (ITA). Newell won every round including his semi against Bertolini but was unable to make it a perfect scoresheet settling for fourth behind Italy’s Emanuele Becchs in second and Austria’s Tobias Habenicht in 3rd.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Also on the start line were Canada’s Lenny Valjas, 27, and American Reese Hannemann, 24, who were both eliminated in their respective quarterfinals. Hannemann will also compete in the 42km Dolomite Classic Race Worldloppet in Obertilliach on January 23. The sprint, in the medieval town of Lienz in the Austrian state of Tyrol, kicks off three days of racing that includes the 42km FR Dolomitenlauf Worldloppet and FIS Worldloppet Cup.

The Dolomitenlauf is Austria’s biggest cross-country ski event and is based on the concept that regardless of whether you’re a professional, amateur or hobby skier – the Dolomitenlauf offers ideal sporting challenges for all abilities, tastes and age groups, amidst stunning scenery. A total of seven different races with varying distances and degrees of difficulty are held over the four-day event. Besides the main competition, the Dolomitenlauf ski marathon on Sunday, the other sporting highlight and social event is the Dolomite Sprint in the centre of Lienz on Friday evening – read more here.

Results here.

Frankowski, Treinen Win 2nd Annual Qaniq Challenge in Valdez with $10,000 US Prize Purse

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Lex Treinen crossing the finish line on day 2 [P] Expeditionary Film School of Alaska

January 22, 2016 (Valdez, AK) – Elite racer Rosie Frankowski of APUNSC took the win in the women’s overall at the second annual Qaniq challenge, besting Olympian Holly Brooks by nearly a minute and a half, while her teammate Lex Treinen won for the second straight year over Tyler Kornfield. Frankowski, who made a last minute decision to fly to Anchorage from Minneapolis and try to win the $3,000 payout as the top finisher, said the decision was worth it not just because of the money.

Winners crossing the Finish line [P] Expeditionary Film School of Alaska

“Valdez reminds me of Minnesota” she said, “All the trees and the water remind me of the lakes at home-minus a few big mountains.” The Qaniq Challenge, in its second year, has the highest payout of any race in North America except for the American Birkebeiner.

Andrew Dougherty leading Holly Brooks [P] Krystal Moulton

Unlike last year, when unusually low snowfall forced race organizers to shorten the first day’s interval start classic race, this year’s 2016 course included the steep and technical Skyline Loop hills on Mineral Creek trail system, right outside of Valdez. Men’s third place finisher Paul “PK” Kovacs compared the descent to “Redbull Crashed Ice” events because of the winding, crowded, ice-covered corners, and women’s third place finisher Lauren Fritz called it an “emotional rollercoaster”. The descent saw men’s second place finisher Tyler Kornfield crash twice while Frankowski, on the other hand, had no problems with the downhills. “Snow plowing is one of my strengths,” she said. Treinen won the first day by only 15 seconds, while Frankowski dominated the women’s by 1:21.

Overlook of classic trail along river from Skyline Trail [P] Expeditionary Film School of Alaska

The 20-kilometer race ended with about 10 km of high speed double poling that hair-pinned at an isthmus overlooking the Valdez port. “It was one of the few times in a race where I looked up and looked around,” said Kovacs of the scenic view.

Franklin Dekker (l) and Diana Johnson [P] Krystal Moulton

The second day’s Mass Start freestyle races were held just outside of Valdez. Frankowski led a group of men and Brooks, her main rival in the overall standings, for much of the flat, narrow course. “My aerodynamics would have been helped by being behind somebody,” she admitted. Nonetheless, she was just narrowly beaten by Brooks on day 2, and maintained her overall lead. Last year’s runner up Lauren Fritz, who, like Brooks returned from the Tour of China three days before the first Qaniq race credited her Chinese banana chips with giving her the energy needed to hold on to third. When asked whether the $3,000 was the largest payout for and hour and a half of work, Frankowski said, “It depends if you are talking about legal or illegal work.”

Third place women's finisher Lauren Fritz [P] Expeditionary Film School of AlaskaTreinen for his part stayed behind Kornfield most of the race, making a few long pulls at the front because, in his words, “I didn’t want it to be too boring.” The lead pack of Treinen, Kornfield, Kovacs, and Dylan Watts, stayed together until the last 500 meters, when Treinen overcame Kornfield for the win. “Tyler didn’t really have many options,” said Treinen of his tactics on the second day, “It was very easy to draft.” Treinen finished the race with a mere 17-second lead of Kornfield, while Frankowski finished 1:17 ahead of Brooks.

Rosie Frankowski (l) and Dylan Watts [P] Krystal Moulton

This year for the first time awards were given to the top local male and female racers, with $500 in local gift certificates going to Ben Stolen and Sarah Histand. A total of just 35 racers started, some of whom were non-paying highschool athletes.

2016 Qaniq Results

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2016 Contest Winners and Final Standings after Val De Fiemme Alpe Cermis Climb

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January 19, 2016 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to present the winners and final standings of our 8th annual international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Tour de Ski 2016 Contest after the famed Alpe Cermis climb, the final round of the tour in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Team USA’s Jessie Diggins was the top North American skier in 10th overall as Therese Johaug (NOR) secured the overall victory (read our coverage here). On the men’s side, Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) defended his TdS title for a fantastic third consecutive win as Canada’s Alex Harvey earned a strong 14th overall. American Noah Hoffman had the 15th fastest time of the day to finish a a career-best 22nd overall at the Tour (read our coverage here).

In the contest standings, team Geo takes the top spot with 1,039 points for the fabulous grand prize Yoko YXR Racing Skate skis, 9100 Poles and Bindings (value $1,025)

Team ceolson finished second overall with 1,038 points and takes away the fantastic second prize CCC High Sierra Snow Sports Canada Adjustable Wheeled Combo Bag (value $640)

Team But-Mar!! scored 1,028 points to snag the awesome third place Ski Tour Canada VIP Passes (2) for Opening or Closing (value $500)

For the final contest standings after the Stage 7 Alpe Cermis 9km FR Pursuit pls click HERE.

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all contestants and to all of our great sponsors, including Yoko, Cross Country Canada (CCC), Ski Tour Canada, Sportful, Madshus, Le Nordik Spa-Nature, High Peaks Cyclery, One Way and Start Wax.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS TdS 2016 Contest Prize Winners

Geo – Geo Smith – Calgary, AB
* 1st Prize
Yoko YXR Racing Skate skis, 9100 Poles and Bindings (value $1,025)

ceolson – Conlan Olson – Minneapolis, MN
* 2nd Prize
CCC High Sierra Snow Sports Canada Adjustable Wheeled Combo Bag (value $640)

But-Mar!! – Amanda Ammar – Canmore, AB
* 3rd Prize – Ski Tour Canada
VIP Passes (2) for Opening or Closing (value $500)

Burwalde Bandit – Levi Warkentine – Winkler, MB
* 4th Prize – Sportful 
Squadra Corse Jacket and Pants (value $415)

Fluffyducks – Neil Price – Montreal, QC
* 5th Prize – Madshus Hyper RPS
performance race boots w/R3 outsole (value $285)

Vinny ruel – Vincent Ruel – Charney, QC
* 6th Prize – Le Nordik Spa-Nature Thermal therapy and Källa Treatment (value $250)

Snosters – Dean Steinhoff – Moose Jaw, SK
* 7th PrizeHigh Peaks Cyclery Ski Care w/Stone Grind, Hot Box, Hardening, Race Prep (value $150)

xc-racer4 – Lillian Bakker – Salmon Arm, BC
* 8th Prize
One Way Snowbird glasses (value $100)

GOFORTOURWIN – James Hoffman – Buffalo, NY
* 9th Prize
Start Wax Oslo Kickers package (value $88)

SpandyAndy – Mary Edgar – Vancouver, BC
* 10th Prize SkiTrax 2-year Subscription (value $33)

Under 23/Junior World Championship & Junior B-Tour Team Announcements 2016

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CCC [P]January 19, 2016 – The following athletes are selected to Team Canada competing at the 2016 FIS Junior/U23 Nordic World Championship that are being held in Rasnov, Romania from Feb. 22–28. The team selection synopsis will follow.

Team Leader: Francois Pepin (CNEPH)

Junior World Championships
– Marie Corriveau (Club Nordique MSA-CNEPH)
– Hannah Mehain (Sovereign Lake Nordic)
– Sadie White (Big Thunder – NDC TBay)
– Natalie Hynes (Whitehorse)
– Joey Foster (Team Hardwood – CNEPH)
– Antoine Blais (Skibec)
– Phillippe Boucher (Skibec-CNEPH)
– Ryan Jackson (Team Hardwood)
– William Dumas (Skinouk)

U23 World Championships
– Jennifer Jackson (Team Hardwood – NDC TBay)
– Sophie Carrier-Laforte (Skinouk – CNEPH)
– Kendra Murray (Whitehorse)
– Frédérique Vézina (Club Nordique MSA – CNEPH)
– Alannah Maclean (Walden Nordic – NDC TBay)
– Julien Locke (Blackjack)
– Scott Hill (Team Hardwood – NDC TBay)
– Alexis Dumas (Skibec – CNEPH)
– Jack Carlyle (Soo Finnish – AWCA)
– Angus Foster (Big Thunder – NDC TBay)

The following athletes are selected to the Junior B-Tour Team competing at the German National Championships in Oberhof, GER and OPA races in Campra, Switzerland  (Jan. 24–Feb.8, 2016).

Team Leader: Chris Manhard (CVTC)

Junior B-tour Team
– Molly Miller (Kimberley)
– Mia Serratore (Big Thunder – NDC TBay)
– Anna Goodwin (Hollyburn)
– Laura Leclair (Chelsea Nordiq)
– Claire Grall-Johnson (Nakkertok)
– Etienne Hébert (Montériski)
– Samuel Greer (Highlands – NDC TBay)
– Gareth Williams (Telemark)
– Julian Smith (Georgian Bay – NDC TBay)
– Eric Byram (Canmore – Winsport)

Canada’s Development Squad Gains Valuable World Cup Experience in Slovenia

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January 18, 2016 (Planica, Slovenia) – The results may not be close to getting on the World Cup podium, but they are providing valuable feedback for coaches and officials that Canada’s next generation of Olympians are heading in the right direction in their continued development into elite cross-country skiers.

Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusIn a strategic move to provide their development level athletes with valuable World Cup race experience, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada suited up a team of young sprinters for this weekend’s races in Planica, Slovenia as the nation’s best took the week off to recover from the grind of the Tour de Ski.

“The B-Tour this year was designed to focus on our top under-25 athletes, enabling them to gain experience in challenging races in Europe,” said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada. “We have normally done the B-tour in late February but with Ski Tour Canada being in early March this year, we looked to the OPA races and World Cup weekends in January as a good competition plan for this season.

“The six athletes on this Tour will get up to four weekends of solid high level racing and will also get to race with older and more experienced Canadian athletes on the World Cup and Senior Development Teams. This will be good preparation for their major objective this season, which is the Ski Tour Canada.”

Andy Shields (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

While finishing well back of the podium, the young Canucks were on target for top-30 finishes. Canada suited up two men’s and two women’s squads for the team sprint on Sunday. The team sprint consists of two semifinal heats with the top-two teams in each heat advancing to the final along with the next six fastest times. Athletes each ski three laps, handing off to their teammate after each loop.

 

Len Valjas (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusNone of the Canadian teams were able to advance, but they did enjoy a day of solid racing finishing in the middle of the pack. Knute Johnsgaard (Whitehorse) and Toronto’s Lenny Valjas formed Canada 1, while Jesse Cockney (Canmore, Alta.) and Andy Shields (Kitchener, Ont.) made up Canada 2. Both teams, who were lined up in a deep semifinal heat of 17 teams, kept pace with the lead group until the midway point of the race. Johnsgaard and Valjas crossed the line ninth to finish 16th overall, while Cockney and Shields finished 22nd overall after placing 13th in their heat.

Jesse Cockney (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Italy’s Dietmar Noeckler and Federico Pellegrino won the men’s race. Renaud Jay and Baptiste Gros, of France, skied to the silver, while their countrymen Valentin Chauvin and Richard Jouve claimed the bronze medal.

It was a similar story in the women’s race for the Canadians who also finished midfield. Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Athabasca, Alta.) and Dahria Beatty (Whitehorse) formed one duo, while Cendrine Browne (St-Jerome, Que.) and Emily Nishikawa (Whitehorse) were the other Canadian entry.

Maya Macisaac-Jones (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusNishikawa, who has been enjoying a solid season as a World Cup regular, and Browne placed eighth in their semifinal heat to finish 15th overall, while MacIsaac-Jones and Beatty crossed the line in 10th to finish 19th overall.

“The women fought hard but it will take some more racing at that level to get used to the speed,” said Chris Jeffries, coach. “These World Cups are definitely focused on development, and hopefully they will take some really good lessons to their training in preparation for the Ski Tour Canada races in March and the coming years.”

Emily Nishikawa [P] Nordic Focus

Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter and Stina Nilsson won the women’s race. Norway’s Heidi Weng and Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen were second, while Germany’s Sandra Ringwald and Hanna Kolb rounded out the women’s podium.

The Canadians also competed in a skate-ski sprint race on Saturday. Len Valjas finished just outside of the top-30 for the head-to-head heats in 31st to lead the way. Knute Johnsgaard was 54th, while Andy Shields qualified 56th, and Jesse Cockney 61st.

Maya MacIsaac-Jones and Dahria Beatty also narrowly missed securing a spot in the heats with the top-30 qualifiers. MacIsaac-Jones qualified 31st, while Beatty finished on her teammates heels in 32nd. Emily Nishikawa was 39th, while Cendrine Browne clocked the 42nd fastest time.

Cendrine Browne [P] Nordic Focus

“Our goal for this group was to be competitive in the European FIS races, which they did, and start to approach the top-30 in World Cups which is where athletes start to earn World Cup points,” added Tom Holland. “So far, this Tour is on track with meeting those objectives. They are gaining confidence and are motivated for more World Cup starts, including incrementally improving their World Cup ranking so we are pleased with their progress.”

The squad now heads to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, where they will join Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey for a series of races next weekend before returning home to prepare for the Ski Tour Canada.

Girl Power Canada [P] courtesy of Cendrine Browne

CCC is the governing body of cross-country skiing in Canada, which is the nation’s optimal winter sport and recreational activity with more than one million Canadians participating annually. Its 60,000 members include athletes, coaches, officials and skiers of all ages and abilities, including those on Canada’s National Ski Teams and Para-Nordic Ski Teams. With the support of its valued corporate partners – Haywood Securities Inc., AltaGas, and Mackenzie Investments – along with the Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Own the Podium and B2Ten, CCC develops Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. For more information on CCC, please visit us here.

Results
Men here
Women here

Canada Solid 9th in IBU Women’s Relay @ Ruhpolding as Ukraine Triumphs – Team USA 16th

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January 17, 2016 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – The final event in Ruhpolding saw the Canadian women’s biathlon squad battle to 9th in the women’s 4x6km relay as the Ukraine claimed the gold in a see-saw contest that came down to the wire as the host country, Germany, settled for second at 1.2s behind while Italy captured the bronze at 43.8s back. Team USA finished 16th.

Rosanna Crawford (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Led by 22-year-old rookie, Julia Ransom, the Canadians were as high as fifth courtesy of Rosanna Crawford, who shot clean and handed off to Megan Tandy. Using three spares in prone Tandy lost some ground but cleaned in standing to tag three-time ZIna Olympian Kocher in 10th. Kocher had a strong day on the range with only one miss in the final standing to finish ninth at 1:59.5 behind using seven spare rounds.

Megan Tandy (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“Julia got us off to an awesome start despite breaking a pole in her last lap. I think overall we can be happy with this result as there were a lot of positives and great momentum from today to take with us going forward,” said ZIna Kocher, 33. “We used less than eight spares together, and it’s a top-10. It is crucial for staying in 10th for overall nation World Cup points, which was our goal.”

The U.S. team of Annelies Cook, Susan Dunklee, Clare Egan and Joanne Reid were off to a slow start as Cook suffered one penalty and used four spare rounds tagging off to Dunklee in 21st. “I was disappointed I was unable to get the girls into a good starting position, although I had a lot of confidence in what could happen after that,” said Cook.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Dunklee closed the gap with the fourth-fastest time on the second leg, using just two spares as the team was now 18th. Egan needed only one spare round on her 10 targets and moved up to 16th position at the final exchange as she tagged Reid. The young rookie had two penalties and used four spare rounds but maintained position for the team in 16th place.

Joanne Reid (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“We fell just short of our goal to improve on our most recent relay finish of 15th,” said Egan. “We have proved many times already this winter that we each have the skills to put together a solid race, but we haven’t been able to synchronize those efforts on relay day, yet. We are grateful for another opportunity to reestablish ourselves higher up on the results page next week in Antholz.”

Pidhrushna leads Dahlmeier [P] Nordic Focus

Ukraine held an early lead with perfect shooting until the third leg when Valj Semerenko struggled on the range using four spares including one penalty which allowed Belarus to take over. But she regained the lead for the final hand off to Olena Pidhrushna as Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier shot and skied herself into second.

Pidhrushna forces Dahlmeier to go around her [P] Nordic Focus

Near the finish Dahlmeier tried to take the inside lane but Pidhrushna closed the door and headed straight to line for win as she forced her rival to take the outside lane and settle for second.

Full results here.

Pellegrino Roars to Victory in Men’s 1.2km FR Sprint in Planica – USA’s Hamilton 18th

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Final podium [P] FIS XCJanuary 16, 2016 (Planica, SLO) – The day belonged to Italy’s Federico Pellegrino as he kept his hot streak going to win his 4th consecutive free technique Sprint breaking his own record of three consecutive wins, which he has now accomplished twice. France’s Baptiste Gros landed on the podium in second with teammate Richard Jouve in third. The top North American was Simi Hamilton (USA) in 18th.

Simeon Hamilton (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Pellegrino also became the winningest Italian male skier of all time with seven World Cup victories breaking a tie with Pietro Piller Cottrer as both had six wins. “It felt very good in the qualification. I was worried it could get worse. I learned in my semifinal how to ski in the final. I expected Baptist to be fast on this course so my plan was to go in the front and get a gap on the others,” said Pellegrino.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

American Hamilton qualified 18th while his teammate Andy Newell was 24th. Canada’s Lenny Valjas just missed the heats by 5/100ths of a second finishing 31st. The USA’s Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess was 50th, Knute Johnsgaard (Can) got his 2nd World Cup start and finished a personal best 54th, Andy Shields (Can) was 56th, Jesse Cockney (Can) was 61st, and Reese Hanneman (USA) placed 63rd.

Len Valjas (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusKnute Johnsgaard (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Both Hamilton and Newell had good starts and looked strong in their heats but could not maintain the pace near the end. We caught up with both for their take on the day.

“It was a good day out there to get my feet back under me after getting pretty sick during the middle of the TdS. Obviously I’m not super thrilled with the final result and I would have liked to have skied into the semis or the finals because I’ve been feeling very fit this season, especially in skate sprinting, but I’ll take what I can get and move forward from here.

(l-r) Hamilton, Eisenlauer, Bakkene and Nordstroem [P] Nordic Focus

“I felt decent in the qualification; I don’t think my top gear is quite where I want it to be this week since I haven’t really done anything hard since the sprint in Lenzeheide, but I wanted to make sure that I got back to 100% healthy before pushing too hard again. I had a good start in my quarter and was happy to tuck in behind Sebastian for the first half of the short course, but when it came to dropping into a higher gear on the first long climb, my legs just didn’t really respond with the speed even though my energy felt good.

“I found myself kind of fighting to move thru the pack from there all the way to the finish lanes, where I focused on getting through as much traffic as I could in the last 100 meters. All 6 of us basically came into the lanes together and I just couldn’t find any space to slip through into the top 2. It was a really fast and short course, and because it was so twisty snaking, it was really hard to get around anyone in most places.

Jesse Cockney (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“Overall, though, I’m happy that I’m healthy again and I’m looking forward to another good effort tomorrow with Andy. I think we can ski well as a sprint team tomorrow and I’m looking forward to putting my body through the motions again.

“This venue and area is super cool. The mountains rising up from the jumping and ski complex are unbelievable and they’ve done a great job with designing a really cool sprint course as well as a unique stadium/waxing setup (all of the wax rooms are in an underground concrete bunker below the stadium). I’m really looking forward to getting back here in the future for more racing and training,” concluded Hamilton.

Chanavat leading Jouve and Pellegrino [P] Nordic Focus

Newell was also disappointed but is now focused on Stockholm and Drammen which are two venues he likes.

“Feeling pretty good after the Tour de Ski… definitely wasn’t feeling great during the Tour and didn’t have great results but feeling much stronger now.

“The Planica venue is beautiful and the course today groomed up in great shape with some really fast man-made snow. The course had a lot of twists and turns and skied pretty quickly.. in the 2:15 range for guys so one of the shorter sprints of the year.

“In Qualification I felt pretty flat. Probably from a combination of not doing too much sprint training recently. I’ve been working on more distance style intervals the last week or so. But after quali I started feeling a lot better and fired up for the heats.

“I felt like I could be quick in the start and maneuver and get around people well.. so in general even though my placing wasn’t any better I’m feeling a lot stronger than I have in the last two skate sprints. I still have been messing around but with my finishing technique and hope to improve on that. The good news is the next two sprint world cups are Stockholm and Drammen which are my two favorites.

“For tomorrow Simi and I will pair up for the relay. Even though neither of us placed well today I think we have a shot at a really good result on Sunday. Sprint relays are a different beast and I think we can both ski this course really well and are good at the fast tags necessary to stay out front.

Simi Hamilton is 12th in the overall World Cup sprint standings, Andy Newell is 16th.

Qualifications here.
Full results here.

USA’s Caldwell 13th as Nilsson Claims 2nd WCup Victory in 1.2km CL Sprints at Planica

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January 16, 2016 (Planica, SLO) – The USA’s Sophie Caldwell was the top North American finishing 13th in the 1.2km FR Sprints at the new World Cup venue in Planica, Slovenia. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson won the women’s race, her second World Cup victory, and took over the World Cup sprint series lead from Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway, who has been battling illness, and failed to qualify for today’s quarterfinal rounds. Top qualifier Astrid Uhrenholtd (Nor) was second in the final with teammate Heidi Weng third.

Sophie Caldwell (USA) [P] Nordic FocusCaldwell, who is currently fifth in World Cup sprint standings, missed out as a lucky loser finishing third in her quarterfinal as Italy’s Gaia Vuerich and Sweden’s Jonna Sundling were 1-2 respectively. Ida Sargent (USA) also qualified but after a strong start in her 1/4 final heat found herself in fifth at the finish.

Stina Nilsson (SWE) [P] Nordic Focus

“Today wasn’t a bad day for me, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Top 15 is always a solid result, but I really wanted to make it past the quarter finals,” said Caldwell. “I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t go as fast as I wanted to. I had a little cold last week after the Tour, so I’m hoping today was a chance to wake the body up and I’m looking forward to doing some team sprinting tomorrow with Ida.”

Ida Sargent (USA) [P] Lincoln Benedict/L.L. Bean

For Sargent it was great to be back on the start line but she fell short of her expectations. “It was fun to get back to racing here in Planica and also cool to see a new venue. The course was really hard but fun with lots of fun downhill corners. It also might be the most impressive venue, surrounded by beautiful mountains. I felt really good today but did not ski tactically as well as I hoped and did not save enough energy for the final meters. I’m really excited to race tomorrow in the team sprint,” said Sargent.

Maya Macisaac-Jones (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

First year senior Maya Macissac-Jones was the top Canadian qualifier in 31st followed by Dahria Beatty in 32nd. This was Beatty’s 5th World Cup and her best result to date and both are eager to make the jump into the heats. “Great first Euro World Cup coming 31st, 0.3s from the heats! Excited for tomorrow’s team sprint with @_dahria,” tweeted Macissac-Jones while Beatty posted “My best World Cup result! 32nd, 0.83sec from heats. Team sprint tmrw with @_MayaMJ who was 31!”

Emily Nishikawa (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Emily Nishikawa was 39th, Cendrine Browne 42nd, a personal best, the USA’s Chelsea Holmes was 48th and Canadian Katherine Stewart-Jones, another first year senior and World Cup rookie, finished 54th.

Qualifications here.
Full results here.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Smith 15th and Crawford 19 as Lesser and Soukalova Rule IBU Mass Start Races in Ruhpolding

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January 16, 2016 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Canada’s Nathan Smith crossed the line a solid 15th in the men’s 15km Mass Start with only one penalty in tough heavy snow conditions on the Ruhpolding track as Germany’s Erik Lesser gave the partisan crowd the victory they were after finishing as one of just two athletes to shoot clean.

Nathan Smith (CAN) on his way to 10th in the Oestersund Men's IBU WCup pursuit. [P] Nordic Focus

Martin Fourcade (France) missed one target in his final standing to claim second at 9.8s back holding off Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev who also suffered a penalty in final standing finishing 13.1s behind.

“The ski course was extremely slow going with the fresh snow falling. The 15 kilometre time was close to what the winning time was for the 20 kilometre individual race,” said Smith at 1:20 behind Lesser. “I had been feeling kind of fatigued the last few races, but I am happy that I was able to overcome that by performing well on the shooting range and end up with a very respectful final result.”

Lowell Bailey (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

American Lowell Bailey cleaned the first two shooting stages to put himself in 13th place however one miss in standing at the third shooting stage, dropped him down to 19th and he ended the race in 21st at 2:08 behind the winner.

“My shooting was really solid today. I would’ve expected 19 out of 20 to get me a little higher up the results list, but surprisingly 12 people shot 19 or better,” added Smith. “Since my miss came in the first prone, I ended up a little back heading out onto the second loop. With the next three cleans, I moved up a little each time but the field as a whole was shooting so well today, it was tough to make any big moves.”

Women’s Race

Canada’s Rosanna Crawford secured the final spot in the women’s 12.5km mass start race and had a strong start taking the lead after the first prone shooting stage. The tough snowy conditions saw her drop to 8th and while she had a strong day on the range, a missed shot in her final trip to the range saw her finish 19th.

Rosanna Crawford (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Gabriela Soukalova (Czech Republic) shot clean for the win as Germany’s Franziska Hildebrand took second at 13.9s behind with one penalty while her teammate Laura Dahlmeier was just over 24 seconds off the pace in third with two missed targets.

American Susan Dunklee suffered on the range with six penalties to finish 22nd.

Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) wins [P] Nordic Focus

“That was tough, tough skiing for me today. I felt like I was skiing through sand,” said Crawford. “But I am happy with my shooting. I am always amazed at the atmosphere here in Ruhpolding. 30,000 fans can make quite a lot of noise.”

The World Cup wraps up on Sunday in Ruhpolding with the women’s 4×6 kilometre relay.

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

Sandau and Dupont Win 10/15km CL Races @Haywood NorAm #3/Junior-U23 Worlds Trials at Lappe Nordic

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January 16, 2016 (Thunder Bay, ON) – Haywood NorAm’s Race Day 2 got underway at Lappe with interval start, classic races. Temperatures were moderate, -10 deg. C., but about 10 centimetres of fresh snow overnight made the tracks a bit “squeaky” slow. The favourite in the men’s race would be Kevin Sandau, the dominant distance skier on the Haywood circuit this year and a silver medalist in the same 15k classic event at the 2016 U.S. Nationals, earlier in the month.

Kevin Sandau on his way to victory [P] CCC

Sandau would ski to a 15-second lead over Team Hardwood’s Scott Hill on the first lap, to finish with a lead of 31 seconds at the finish. Hill staked his claim to a spot on the U23 World Championship team with his result as Brian McKeever of Lifesport took 3rd, another 30 seconds back. Hill represented Canada at last year’s  U23 World Champs in Kazakhstan, with a best placing of 40th.

Senior Men's podium [P] CCC

The Junior Men’s 10km race was a bit tighter as Antoine Blais of Skibec set a very fast pace on the first lap but faded a bit on the second, to take the win by 8 seconds over Ryan Jackson of Hardwood. The final hill “The Grunt” got the better of many racers today. Another Skibec skier, Philippe Boucher was 3rd.

Senior Women's podium [P] CCC

The Senior Women’s 10k podium was a repeat of yesterday’s sprint result as Andrea Dupont from Rocky Mountain Racers grabbed her 2nd gold medal with Team Hardwood’s Jenn Jackson at 15 seconds back in second while Sophie Carrier-Laforte of Skinouk was 3rd. As the top U23 racer for the second time, Jackson will look to be nominated for the U23 Worlds team, while Carrier-Laforte should be a frontrunner for a spot as well.

Junior Women's podium [P] CCC

The Junior Women’s 5km race was also a close contest as Annika Richardson of Hollyburn won by 8 seconds over Mont-Ste-Anne’s Marie Corriveau. As race winner, Richardson would qualify for the World Junior team, but will decline the position as she is representing Canada at the Youth Olympic Games Feb. 12-21. In 3rd was Molly Miller of Kimberley.

Audio Interview with Annika Richardson of Hollyburn

Complete Results

EISA Season Opener – Corey Stock and Jorgen Grav Win CL Sprints @ Bates Carnival

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January 16, 2016 (Waterville, ME) – After being moved from Black Mountain of Maine due to a sudden lack of snow, the 2016 Eastern Intecollegiate Ski Association (EISA) season got off to an exciting start on Friday with the Bates Carnival as Dartmouth’s Corey Stock and UVM’s Jorgen Grav from Norway took home the first wins of the season.

Corey Stock (3) leads her quarterfinal heat up Hero Hill during the Bates Carnival. [P] Matthew Doyle

Held at Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville, ME, Friday’s races were a set of fast classic sprints featuring the top EISA racers. The 1.5 kilometer course featured a tough hill right off of the start, known around Waterville as Hero Hill, followed by another kilometer of flat and rolling field along the banks of the Messalonskee River.

The day started off cold with the mercury hovering around -8*C for the women’s start. Middlebury’s Kelsey Phinney set an unmatchable qualifying time, taking 4:04.17 as the first starter, carrying bib #1 with her all the way to the afternoon heats. Maddie Watts of the University of Vermont  was second fastest through the qualifier in 4:09.57, with Stock coming in third, 0.72 seconds back. Rounding out the top 5 were Alayna Sonnesyn of UVM and Olivia Amber of Colby College.

Kelsey Phinney (1) and Corey Stock (3) drive up Hero Hill in the A-final. [P] Matthew Doyle

In the slightly warmer men’s race, Alexis Morin from Quebec’s University of Laval set the early pace with bib #1. The Rouge et Or skier finished the course in 3:27.54, relinquishing the lead 18 skiers later to Cole Morgan of UVM who finished with the fastest qualifying time of the day, with a time of 3:25.29. Peter Holmes of the University of New Hampshire pushed Morin down one more place with a time of 3:27.34. Morgan’s teammates Jack Hegman and Grav completed the top 5.

In the heats, Phinney again proved to be the one to beat, winning both her quarter and semi final handily, besting Bowdoin College’s Hannah Miller both times. Sonnesyn, Amber, Watts, and Stock would each win their quarterfinal as well, advancing to the semifinals with Taryn Hunt-Smith and Emily Hyde of Dartmouth, Mary-Kate Cirelli and Stephanie Kirk of UVM, and Katrin Larusson and Lizzie Gill of UNH.

Corey Stock (3) and Kelsey Phinney (1) finishing the 1.5km Sprint final. Stock wins by a ski length. [P] Matthew Doyle

After Phinney and Miller in semi-final 1, Amber crossed the line to punch her ticket for the A-final, with Sonnesyn, Cirelli, and Larusson going to the B-final. The A-final was filled by Stock, Watts, and Hunt-Smith, while Hyde, Gill, and Kirk topped up the B-final roster.

Morgan won his quarter-final over Dartmouth’s Fabian Stocek, who was one of the few men to don skate skis for the CL sprint event. When asked about his decision after the quarterfinal, Stocek noted that the hill may not be worth double-poling in further heats, and switched to classic skis for the semi-final. The top 5 men all advanced to the next round, and were joined by Stocek, Oscar Friedman of Dartmouth, Henry Harmeyer of UVM, Andrew Egger of Colby, Eli Hoenig of Williams College, Sean Cork of Bowdoin, Patrick McElravey of Middlebury, and Eirik Fosnaes of UNH.

Jorgen Grav (5) leads Peter Holmes down Hero Hill during the men's A-final. [P] Matthew Doyle

In a UVM-heavy first semi-final, Grav out-lunged Hegman and Morgan across the line, sending all three to the A-final, with Stocek, Harmeyer, and Egger moving on to the B-final. The second semi-final saw Morin, Holmes, and Hoenig moving on to the A-final, leaving Friedman, Fosnaes, and Cork to fill the B-final.

Both the men’s and women’s A-finals saw very tactical starts, with Stock and Phinney taking charge of the women’s race early on, then attacking at the top of Hero Hill. Stock moved Phinney into second for the first time all day on the descent, and held on to take the victory by a ski-length. Watts would come in shortly after to complete the podium.

After the race, Phinney appeared very pleased about her day. “After being in Houghton last week (at US Nationals) and a couple of crazy travel days, I didn’t really have expectations leading into today,” commented Phinney. “It was also nice having an all-college sprint for the first time in my career.”

Jorgen Grav (5) leads the men's A-final down the finish chute. [P] Matthew Doyle
The last time the EISA had a sprint that wasn’t partnered with a NENSA Eastern Cup or a USSA Supertour was held at Jackson Ski Touring in 2012, on day one of the UNH Carnival.

Grav attacked multiple times in the men’s A-final to take home the victory for UVM after a very tactical-looking start to the race. His teammate Hegman joined him on the podium in second, with Morin finishing third.

“I took the heats more tactically than others, trying to save some energy for the final,” said Grav. “And in the final, it seemed like the other guys weren’t going as hard as they could, so I used that to my advantage.” Grav pushed hard over the first hill to establish a gap behind him. Once the rest of the field caught him at the end of the lap he surged again to minimize any rest the field might have enjoyed to claim the win.

This race marks Stock’s first collegiate victory, while Grav can add this one to his three previous wins.

Mens Results here.
Womens Results here.

Salomon Debuts Their New Prolink Boot/Binding System at Jeremy Ranch

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January 11, 2016 (Salt Lake City, UT) – The ringing in of 2016 brings significant change in the Nordic world – namely a big step toward a universal boot and binding system. On Jan. 6 at Jeremy Ranch Nordic Center in Utah, Salomon debuted their 2016-17 lineup, which most notably includes the launch of their exciting new Prolink boot/binding system in parallel to their legendary SNS system. The new Prolink system makes Salomon compatible with NNN for the first time.

SNS sole (left) compared to the new Prolink sole (right). Starting in 2016, Salmon boots are offered in either sole option [P] Katy Demong

The concept of bridging the gulf between the two main binding systems in the Nordic ski world is a pretty big deal to insiders. While the Alpine world has offered one binding system for any boot for many years, the world of Nordic skiers has two products with the Salomon Nordic System (SNS) vs New Nordic Norm (NNN), creating debate and confusion at times among experienced and novice skiers alike.

With Salomon and Atomic, both owned by Amer Sports, on one side, and most other major brands led by Fischer (with SNS until 2007), Rossignol, Madshus, and Alpina on the other using Rottefella’s NNN, it’s the consumer that can sometimes be challenged to understand and choose. Salomon hopes to kick start a new era for the sport with Prolink.

“Before you talk about fit, before you talk about technology, before you talk about anything, the current question you ask a consumer, is ‘What system are you on,’” explained Isaac Wilson, Salomon Nordic Commercial Manager. “We’d like to change that conversation going forward to purely what is the best fit for you and what technology are you looking for.”

While some skiers sit squarely in one camp or the other, many novices can easily get confused. The incompatibility of the two systems is often seen as a hurdle for beginners entering the sport. In addition to the difficulty of learning to slide around on skinny skis, there’s also a steep learning curve of knowing what equipment to buy, what boots fit with what binding, and all the insider lingo that goes with it.

Showing some of the new Prolink bindings [P] Katy Demong

Can’t We All Just Get Along?
As mentioned, the Alpine community has long benefited from a standardized binding system. Unless you’re a tele skier or have a Randoneé setup, generally speaking any boot can work with any binding. While that’s an oversimplified explanation the takeaway remains true: if you buy a pair of alpine skis at a garage sale and a pair of boots on ebay, they’re probably going to work together.

The same can’t be said with Nordic equipment as it currently stands. While the new Prolink system won’t bring instantaneous universality to the Nordic world, it’s a significant step in that direction. Starting this year, Salomon will make their full gamut of boots available, from the Escape touring boot to the S-Lab Pro, with the option of either an SNS sole or the new Prolink sole. Now, tried and true users of the NNN system will be able to include Salomon in their equipment options.

A New Era
“This is such an exciting time,” Wilson said to the room full of retailers and other Nordic enthusiasts at Jeremy Ranch. “It feels like the moment when we’re all going to look back years from now and say ‘What did we do before? Why didn’t we do this earlier?’”

While Salomon could have created an NNN-compatible binding system before now, as patents on the competing system expired several years ago, Wilson said he’s excited they are doing it now. “We understand that we’ve only been speaking to a portion of the market when launching a new product and we’d like to create new opportunities,” he continued, noting that Salomon, once the dominant market leader, currently has around 30% of the market share in areas such as the east coast or some western states.

While Salomon and Atomic have retained as much as 70-80% market share in some areas, such as the midwest, they’ve seen movement in other sectors of the market to NNN’s NIS system which was launched in 2005. The split in the market became more apparent when Fischer, the leader for Nordic skis, made the switch to NNN in 2007.

Wilson is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. “This is an exciting turnaround point. Prolink is the platform that will hopefully open things up for us,” he added. While Salomon has invested a tremendous amount of money into bringing high end products to the market like the S-Lab and S-Lab Pro lines, they recognize that there’s a big portion of the market that’s not being reached and they believe Prolink can spark a change in this regard.

More Control vs More Snow Feel
Even though Salomon has created an NNN-compatible system, Wilson is careful to point out that they haven’t simply replicated it. “Low, light, and powerful” is how he describes their Prolink system, serving as both a description of the binding and to point to contrasts with the competition.

The Skate Lab Pro boot (SNS) has a higher profile than the Prolink version [P] Katy Demong

Here you can see the significantly lower profile of the Prolink boot in the same model [P] Katy DemongThe Prolink binding features a compression bar that allows a wide opening for easy step in. It is also lighter and mounts directly to the ski, as opposed to a built-in ski-mounted NIS plate used by NNN. Salomon claims their new system is very sensitive, delivering a superior “snow feel” as compared to NNN or even their own SNS system which pairs with thicker soled boots. While Prolink doesn’t offer the forward or back adjustability of the NIS-NNN binding system, it does offer a slightly lower profile and similar flat stance and ramp angles as NNN – something Salomon believes will make it easier for skiers to transition from one system to the other.

The Prolink binding continues the direct mounting tradition of SNS and will also share the same drill pattern. Additionally, all skis will come pre-mounted, based on the camber of the ski, making life a little easier for retailers. The addition of the Prolink binding and the shift to pre-mounted skis moves Salomon toward a “no mistake system” for retailers, said Wilson. Another noteworthy change is that, in order to accommodate the single point of contact of the Prolink system, Salomon developed a slightly stiffer boot, which will now be standard across the board in both sole options.

Side by side comparison of the Prolink binding (left) and SNS binding (right) [P] Katy Demong

Salomon will continue to produce and support the SNS two-bar system for the foreseeable future. Fans tout the added control and quick ski return they get from the additional point of contact, as well as a greater sense of stability, particularly on downhills and tight corners. Salomon has enjoyed a core group of loyal followers for this very reason and expects SNS products to remain popular. Asked about their future direction, Wilson said it will depend on what the market demands.

Putting it to the Test
It was time to test and there were plenty of skis and boots for all to try with Prolink or SNS systems to compare. I started out with a pair of S-Lab Carbon Skate Skis and S-Lab Pro boots – one pair for each binding system. The additional stiffness of the boots was evident, particularly in the toe box, a bonus for skate boots in my opinion. I stood a good half-inch or so taller in the SNS boot and the sole is significantly stiffer than the Prolink version of the same model.

Ski test: Prolink boot and binding on left foot, SNS on the right [P] Katy Demong

I snapped into my SNS system on the left foot and then paused, looking for a comparable lever to open the Prolink binding. The Prolink binding has a rubber tab that you pull upward to open the binding and once you get the hang of it you’re all set. A more robust tab would be my preference and now it was time to hit the snow.

I quickly experienced some nuanced differences on the hard-packed, slightly icy conditions. Heading straight down a steep hill, the tightness of the boot-to-ski interface of the SNS, with the additional point of contact, provides a degree of added stability, especially step-turning around corners. Although there aren’t too many flat stretches at Jeremy Ranch, once I got a chance to open up my V2, the Prolink system started to stand on its own. While I didn’t notice any significant difference in weight between the two, the lightness of the Prolink system came from the connection of sole to ski. The added flexibility of the Prolink sole is beneficial for climbing, while the quick ski-return of the SNS is a plus for that system.

As for classic, I ventured out in pair of Equipe RC Skins and Vitane 9 Classic. Since I had the binding system figured out the transition was quick and smooth. The skin option was definitely the way to go for a day like this one: slightly icy but quickly warming up and a track that disappears every so often. Here, the Prolink binding system quickly excelled for me, with an easier to flex sole and greater ability for nuanced motion coming through to the glide zone.

Murray Selleck, a manager from Ski Haus in Steamboat Springs, CO, said it best: “The Prolink sole has nice round even soft flex through the entire flexion of boots from kick all the way to the glide ski.”

While I still like the SNS system for skating, the adjustment is easy and most skiers will make decisions on the best “feel” that works for them. On the classic side, I clearly preferred the Prolink system to SNS as my mind drifted to how to make a combi boot work?

Is Prolink Progress and a Win for Consumers?

The new Prolink system is a good first step in bridging the gap between the Nordic world’s two systems. At the very least consumers can now benefit from having more options with fewer barriers to compatibility, while setting the stage for more potential innovation down the road.

With the launch of Prolink, Salomon hopes to shift the conversation away from SNS vs NNN and toward “more control” vs “more snow feel” and in doing so provide more choice and less confusion for consumers.

“This is a new era for us,” said Wilson. “We don’t feel like we’ve lost the binding war, or that there was a binding war. We feel like the consumer will now be able to win.”

If you’ve been dying to get your hands on some Salomon S-Lab or Carbon Skate Lab boots, but you have a rack full of NNN-mounted skis, the Prolink system will hit stores this fall. Already seen on the World Cup circuit, you can get your hands on the new system if you have a Salomon sponsorship or other insider connection, but if not, you’ll have something exciting to look forward to next season.

For more information visit www.salomon.com

 

Canada’s Harvey 14th at Tour de Ski as Norway’s Sundby Wins Third Consecutive Crown

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Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 10, 2016 (Val di Fiemme, ITA) – Canada’s Alex Harvey took on the final 9km FR stage of the Tour de Ski up Alpe Cermis to finish 14th overall as Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby led the 10th edition of the Tour wire-to-wire. Sundby to cross the finish line to claim his third consecutive Tour title. Sundby’s teammate, Finn Haagen Krogh, was second in the 8-stage race at 3:15 behind while Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov locked up third place at 3:58 in arrears.

“It has been a perfect Tour for me. I had one bad day. But everything has been perfect. The team has been great. I am happy for me and the whole team. I went for the stage victory and wanted to be fastest today. I am happy I did it and I am really tired,” said Sundby.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

“I’m going to be happy with the day. It was my best climb by far. I didn’t fully remember it from before and I think I went out a bit too conservative. Both my legs were working really well so I’m really happy with the day,” said Harvey who last did Cermis in 2012 thanks to surgery this summer to correct circulation issues in his leg that prevented him from skate skiing up steep hills.

Babikov

Harvey’s teammate Ivan Babikov, who won this stage back in 2009, posted the 11th fastest time up Cermis ending up in the point placing 29th. American Noah Hoffman had the 15th fastest time of the day to finish a a career-best 22nd overall at the Tour.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Harvey was 16th fastest while his teammate Devon Kershaw was 19th fastest and placed 32nd overall. The USA’s Erik Bjornsen ended up 41st overall. Kershaw holds the record of the best Canadian result at the Tour placing just off the podium in 4th in 2012.

“The hill is not that long, but it has three really steep pitches that have you breathing has hard as you can and your legs are super tired,” added Harvey. “You are just hacking it up the hill. You can’t find a technique that is appropriate for the terrain and it is just a really unusual feeling. The only way to describe it is it like going up a hill on your bike in the hardest gear and you are not allowed to switch gears. When you get to the finish line it is definitely a relief.”

Juerg Capol (SUI) [P] Nordic Focus

Only 55 of the 100 best cross-country skiers finished the 10th anniversary Tour that was conceived back in 2006 by FIS Race Director at the time, Jurg Capol, and legendary Norwegian star, Vegard Ulvang. “The idea was created in Vegard’s “sauna” in August 2004, after my first year as race director. I mentioned that we were missing an annual highlight and we started the discussion, looking at other sports etc.,” Capol told Trax.

Final podium (l-r) Krogh,  Sundby, Ustiugov [P] Nordic Focus

“It is a hard 10 days of racing and you for sure feel like you accomplished something when it is done,” added Harvey. “It is the same feeling for everyone, but I think there are likely five guys that are happy when it is done and the rest are wishing for more. I’m extremely disappointed with the Tour overall this year. I had a couple of good days, but I raced below my expectations.”

Fastest of the Day results here.
Final Standings here.

USA’s Diggins Claims 10th Overall at Tour de Ski Finale as Norway’s Johaug Defends her Title

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Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 10, 2016 (Val di Fiemme, ITA) – Jessie Diggins led Team USA with a top 10 finish overall with teammates Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen in 14th and 19th respectively as Norway’s Therese Johaug defended her title and claimed her second consecutive Tour de Ski title.

Therese Johaug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Diggins, who won her first World Cup stage at the Tour as well, held her ground on the final 9k FR climb up Alpe Cermis to remain in tenth, her best overall result at the Tour, while Stephen had the third fastest time moving up six places as she started in 25th and finished 19th. Stephen has been as fast as second to Johaug who made it six consecutive “fastest of the day” times up Cermis. Bjornsen, who completed her first Tour also established a strong career-best  result.

Diggins wins Stage 6 [P] Nordic Focus

“It was a great tour and a cool one for team USA with two wins and seven finishers. One of my big goals for the season was to finish the Tour in the top 10 so I made that goal today! That climb is brutally hard and I was in a world of pain, but I had to tell myself to just keep my feet moving,” said Diggins.

Diggins and Bjornsen [P]

It was the strongest overall performance by the USA ever in the Tour, with a pair of stage wins and seven finishers. Last year Stephen was fifth overall in the Tour de Ski, which remains the best result ever by an American in the multi-stage event. Rosie Brennan finished 32nd overall and Caitlin Gregg was 42nd.

Elizabeth Stephen (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“This year’s Tour was much different than last year as we had many more athletes looking to compete this year. In the Tour, the reality is who can stay healthy and survive the intensity and we had seven athletes that were able to persevere which was a huge success for us,” said Women’s Coach Matt Whitcomb.

Therese Johaug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Johaug outpaced all challengers to take home another Tour trophy. “I had a really good day today. My shape has been great today. I hoped I could take some seconds on Ingvild before the climb. It worked better than I had hoped. It was my dream and big goal to win the Tour de Ski. Ingvild has pushed me at every stage of the Tour this year. I think this was my Tour de Ski ever,” she commented.

Fastest of the Day results here.
Final Standings here.

Final podium all Norway (l-r) Oestberg, Johaug, Weng [P] Nordic Focus

Dunklee Scores Career-best 6th @ IBU Ruhpolding Mass Start – Bailey 16th

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January 10, 2016 (Ruhpolding, GER) – American Susan Dunklee skied to a career-best sixth place in the women’s 12.5km mass start at the BMW IBU World Cup 4 in Ruhpolding, Germany on Sunday with just one miss on the shooting range. Her previous best  mass start finish came at the 2014 Olympic Games where she was 11th and on the World Cup finish it was 16th on the same Ruhpolding course a year ago.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Clean-shooting Laura Dahlmeier of Germany won the race in 33:17.7 giving her four wins this season. France’s Marie Dorin Habert was second with one penalty at 15.3 seconds behind. Tiril Eckhoff of Norway, with two penalties claimed third in a photo-finish with France’s Anais Bescond, both at 21.9 seconds behind Dahlmeier.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“I have felt great on skis in past years but I had never fully felt in control in head-to-head shooting situations,” said Dunklee. “This year I’ve taken a huge step in speeding up my shooting times and in maintaining my same calm mental approach on the range no matter what craziness is happening around me. Today was a great performance for me. I didn’t quite have enough gas left to fight for third place on that last loop and I lost a couple places, but I’m confident my skiing will get a little sharper later in the season. Once again, our staff put together some blazing fast skis and I’m thankful to be a part of this team.”

Check out IBU Biathlonworld’s interview with Dunklee here.

Women's podium (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

In the men’s 15km mass start held earlier in the day the USA’s Lowell Bailey finished 16th with three penalties at 1:15.2 behind France’s Martin Fourcade won the men’s mass start in 34:07.2, with one penalty. Canada’s Nathan Smith finished 25th with an uncharacteristic six penalties at 2:23.4 behind.

Lowell Bailey (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic, the only clean shooter in the field, finished second, 13.7 seconds back. Norway’s Tarjei Boe, despite three penalties, finished third at 29.7 seconds behind.

Men's podium (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Bailey cleaned the first prone to move up to eighth place, just 5.7 seconds back of the lead pack. Another clean round at the second prone stage moved him up to fourth, only 2.5 seconds out of third. However, a miss at the first standing stage set Bailey back to ninth, but still only eight seconds our of fourth place. Two more misses at the final standing stage pushed him out of the top 10 and he hung on to finish 16th, still just 45 seconds from third place.

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

Packer and Miller Claim Inaugural Titles in Classic Sprints on Final Day at the 2016 US Nationals

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January 09, 2016 (Houghton, Michigan) – On the final day of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships presented by L.L. Bean, Eric Packer from APU Nordic Ski Center and Kaitlynn Miller from Craftsbury Racing Project claimed the National classic sprint titles.

Reese Hanneman (left), Eric Packer, Tyler Kornfield stand on the podium following the classic sprint at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships presented by L.L. Bean [P] CXC/Mary Kozloski

As the snow continued to fall throughout the day, conditions became slower with each passing heat. Eric Packer began the day on skate skis to double pole through the qualifiers, but going into the heats he wanted to save his arms for the finals and switched to classic skis. The switch turned out in his favor as he sprinted to victory just ahead of teammate Reese Hanneman, who won the freestyle sprint National Champion earlier this week. Didrik Elset from Michigan Tech University stole third in a close finish with Tyler Kornfield from APU Nordic Ski Center. Kornfield still had a chance to stand on the podium to claim third for the American podium.

Eric Packer (Bib 5) outsprints Reese Hanneman for the classic sprint victory at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships presented by L.L. Bean. [P] CXC/Mary Kozloski

“Winning at Nationals is a dream come true and is an amazing feeling for me,” said Packer. “Winning has been a goal of my for quite some time and finally making that happen was awesome. I was really tired after the 30k going into the sprints today, so during the final heat I really tried to stay focused and relaxed so I could ski as well as I could going into the final stretch.”

Kaitlynn Miller (Bib 101) skies to a classic sprint victory at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships presented by L.L. Bean. [P] CXC/Mary Kozloski

In the women’s sprint, Kaitlynn Miller showed her strength once again as she claimed the National title. Miller was undefeated during the sprints, winning the qualifiers as well as each of her heats and the finals. Anne Hart from Stratton Mountain School just came up short in second. Jennie Bender from Bridger Ski Foundation finished third.  Miller has also been on the classic sprint podiums in Period I of the USSA Super Tour Races, but this time she finally reached the top spot.

“I was really happy with how today turned out,” Miller said. “I love classic skiing, so I went out there and tried to go as hard as I could and then carried that momentum through the heats and into the final. It was a fun group to ski with in the finals and a really fun race.”

Full results here.

Salomon Launches NEW Prolink System for 2016

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January 05, 2016 (Park City, UT) – In 2016, Salomon offers skiers a choice of boots and bindings based on their personal preference: more control (SNS), or more snow feel (Prolink). Until today, skiers who wanted access to the outstanding fit and performance of Salomon boots and the technology of Salomon skis had to select the SNS system.

Salomon is launching the Prolink system in addition to the SNS system, and will deliver a complete range of SNS XC boots and bindings along with a complete range of Prolink XC boots and bindings. The SNS system provides outstanding control from the pilot system and the full length guide ridge. The Prolink system delivers exceptional snow feel from a low profile boot-binding connection. This exceptional snow feel is reinforced by the low, light, direct mounting connection to the skis.

Prolink is a system developed by Salomon and Atomic, based on a technology that is in the public domain. In addition to its exceptional snow feel attributes, it is compatible with the other primary boot-binding system on the market. Salomon guarantees the quality and compatibility of the Prolink system.

BOOTS
SNS and Prolink boots are exactly the same in terms of fit, features and design. The only difference is the outsole, allowing compatibility with either SNS or Prolink.

BINDINGS
The two complete ranges of SNS and Prolink bindings feature the same standardized mounting pattern.

SKIS

All Salomon cross country skis are available pre-drilled for optimum position and easy mounting.

The choice is yours.

About Salomon
Salomon was born in the French alps in 1947. Our passion for mountain sport progression, product development, quality, and craftsmanship drives us to create progressive gear to enable freedom and help you challenge yourself in the mountains.

For more information visit Salomon here.

USA’s Caldwell Makes History with TdS 1.2km CL Sprint Victory in Obertsdorf

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Caldwell celebrates victory in Obertsdorf with her boyfriend's parents [P] Nordic Focus

January 05, 2016 (Obertsdorf, Germany) – The USA’s Sophie Caldwell made history today as she became the second American woman to win an xc ski World Cup [the first being Kikkan Randall], and the first U.S. skier ever to win a classic Sprint World Cup.

Sophie Caldwell wins in Obertsdorf [P] Nordic Focus

“It feels pretty amazing to win! I am usually stronger in skate sprints. It was a perfect day. My one goal for the final was go behind Ingvild [Oestberg] and try to follow as far as I could. I was focused on the downhill where I knew my strength was. It worked very well for me in the finish,” recounted Caldwell.

Women's 1.2km Sprint CL Obertsdorf podium [P] FIS

Caldwell started her day strong on the 1.2km course with a third-place qualification time. She went on to win her quarterfinal heat and place second in her semifinal. In the final, Caldwell skied smart, positioning herself mid-field and attacking hard on the final climb, taking inside lane to pass Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) and claim her first World Cup victory. Heidi Weng (NOR) finished second, followed by Oestberg in third.

Caldwell celebrates her win with coach Whitcomb [P]

“If you asked me this morning if I expected this the answer would be ‘no’. But I felt good all day and the skis were fast so thanks to our technicians. In the final I knew if I attacked on the climb I had a chance and it worked out – I’m so happy with this victory,” said Caldwell.

Falk (l) goes down and takes USA's Diggins with her [P]

Jessie Diggins (USA) qualified 11th, but had a mishap while leading her 1/4 final heat when she was taken out by Sweden’s Hannah Falk (SWE), who slid out on a downhill. Ida Sargent (USA) placed 24th in qualifying and finished third in her heat which was a slow as there were several crashes, and she did not advance. Other American results include Rosie Brennan (USA), who was 35th. Sadie Bjornsen (USA), who is normally a strong classic skier qualified 44th also did not advance. Liz Stephen (USA) was 49th and Caitlin Gregg (USA) finished 53rd.

Caldwell WINS her first-ever WCup in Obertsdorf [P]

 

Results

1. Sophie Caldwell (USA)
2. Heidi Weng (NOR)
3. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR)

15. Ida Sargent (USA)
21. Jessie Diggins (USA)
35. Rosie Brennan (USA)
44. Sadie Bjornsen (USA)
49. Liz Stephen (USA)

53. Caitlin Gregg (USA)

Full results here.
Overall TdS Standings here.

 

Reese Hanneman and Jenny Bender Take 2016 US National Sprint FR Titles in Houghton

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January 04, 2016 (Houghton, Michigan) – Reese Hanneman (APU) secured his first National win of the season and his first skate title as he skied to victory in the Elite men’s 1.5km FR Sprint competition at the 2016 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Houghton, Michigan.

The final was a repeat of the three previous face-offs between Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess (Bend Endurance) and Hanneman and as expected, the race was not decided until the last 100 metres. Canada’s Julien Locke of Team Blackjack raced on to the final podium in third.

(l-r) Hanneman, Gregg, and Von Jess battle in the semis [P] Bryan Fish

After winning the qualifier for the first time this season, Hanneman felt confident going into the rounds. “To know I was the fastest in the morning, without using accelerations or full finishing kick – I knew that if I added those in I could have a good day,” he said. Advancing confidently through the quarter and semi finals, Hanneman skied the final from the front, taking a smooth pace until the top of the second long climb, where, he said, it finally turned into “sprint pace.” By the finish stretch, Von-Jess had pulled even, but Hanneman was able to find one more gear. “When you are accelerating away from Dakota in the finish you are doing good,” he added.

Von Jess, who won the previous two Supertour qualifiers, took a very different approach in the lead up to Nationals. Whereas Hanneman raced in yesterday’s 15km classic, finishing 26th, Blackhorse-Von Jess decided to skip it as he has done in the past. For Hanneman, the distance race was a way to jump-start his engine, and, after finishing 2nd in the last 15km classic race at US Nationals in Soldier Hollow in 2013, he said it would have been a tough opportunity to miss. “If the races had been switched, I definitely would have raced,” said Von Jess, “Our training system has worked well in the past.” As it was, he said, “I’m just not quite at 100%, but I will be at the end of the week.”

Final Elite Men's Sprint podium (l-r) Von Jess, Hanneman, Locke [P] Mary Kozloski/CXC

Von Jess’s next stop will be World Cups in Slovenia, at which he was offered a spot by the US Ski Team, and from there he hopes to continue with Period 3 World Cup racing – but only if he can grab the Supertour sprint points lead in next Saturday’s classic sprint. “My goal is to spend as much time on the World Cup as possible,” he said “I’m old enough that if I’m not racing the World Cup it’s time to consider something else.”

By winning, Hanneman has tied up the overall series lead with yesterday’s 15km winner Scott Patterson, who narrowly missed out on the points today. The overall leader after US Nationals is guaranteed funding and starting rights for Period 3 World Cups. When asked whether he was stressing about the points battle, Patterson was quick to play it down. “Mostly we’re fighting over money,” he said, “It’s kind of fun to do it with a teammate.”

Women’s Sprint

Jennie Bender of the Bridger Ski Foundation showed yet again that she is the woman to beat this year for skate sprinting, winning the qualification and each of her heats as she out-sprinted Anne Hart (Stratton Mountain School T2) for the final victory. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project), yesterday’s 10km CL winner, was third.

Throughout the heats, Bender was confident enough to try some different tactics and positions within the pack. “I led the quarter but then realized it was a waste of energy and wanted to do a heat sitting behind someone to see how it felt,” she said.

Hart (l) battles Bender [P] Bryan Fish

In the end, the extra energy might have been just what she needed in the final straight away, as she was able to pull away from a determined Hart, who nonetheless was able to reach her first podium of the season and first-ever National Championship podium. “I feel really great, so happy,” said Hart. “Of course there is a part of me that’s disappointed, you don’t go into a race trying to get second.”

Hart, who was frustrated with her early season feeling she hadn’t been skiing to her full ability, took time over the holidays to regroup and focus with on-snow skiing. “It’s good to know that hard work pays off,” she added.

Bender, a usual contender in the sprints, has shown remarkable consistency so far this season, a skill she attributes to getting on top on of a lingering back injury and more consistent training without re-injury. “I’ve had a lot of time working on PT to fix my back, which helps my skating a lot,” she said.

Final Elite women's podium (l-r) Hart, Bender, Patterson [P] Mary Kozloski/CXC

The relatively long sprint course – qualification times were close to four minutes – allowed for some of the distance racers to excel, including Patterson, yesterday’s winner. The result was significant in that it allowed Patterson to overtake APUNSC’s Chelsea Holmes in the overall Supertour ranking. Patterson now has a commanding 27-point lead, but emphasized that she wasn’t taking anything for granted knowing there was another two races coming up in the championships.

In another impressive showing by the Craftsbury Green Racing Project team they had three women in the top seven and four in the top 30. With another sprint coming up, Patterson was confident she and her teammates would be again in the mix. Rounding out the top six in the women’s A-Final were Craftsbury’s Kaitlynn Miller in 4th, who was on yesterday’s podium in third, Hannah Halvorsen from the Sugar Bowl Accdemy in 5th, who was also the top junior, and Erika Flowers of Stratton Mountain School T2 in 6th.

Full results here.

Harvey 9th Overall with Sundby in Charge after Stage 3 #tourdeski – Hoffman 25th

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January 03, 2016 (Lenzerheide, SUI) – The formidable Tour de Ski is taking its toll after three stages as Canada’s Alex Harvey leads the North Americans in 9th overall heading into the first rest day. Defending champ, Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby, has set an unmatchable pace and now has a commanding lead of 1:30.2 in the standings.

(l-r) Cologna, Harvey, Belov [P] Nordic Focus

In second is his teammate, legendary Petter Northug, while Finn Haagen Krogh completed the Norwegian sweep of the podium for the second straight day by edging out Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in a photo finish for third.

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. men with a solid 25th place finish, matching the American’s 2014 overall result which he hopes to better this year, while his teammate Erik Bjornsen sits 33rd overall at his debut Tour.

“It was really tough today,” said Harvey, 27, who started today in seventh. “I didn’t feel like I recovered from yesterday’s 30 kilometre race. I had a bad night of sleep and just didn’t feel good when I woke up. This was the hardest race of the year for me for sure. Given that, this is a good result.”

Men's podium [P] Nordic Focus

Lenzerheide featured superb weather as Sunby turned the screw again taking no prisoners on his way to victory. Harvey was in a group of four skiers chasing and ended up slipping back a couple of spots to 9th at the finish.

“I just tried to stay with the group today,” said Harvey. “You have to stay strong physically and mentally. Usually the long 35 kilometre stage is later in the Tour, but this time things get tougher early on. Recovery is important, but staying fit mentally is even more important. There are parts on the course like today where you just have to hang on.

“The good thing is I’m closer in time to the top-three than I was when the day started. It will be good to have a rest day tomorrow. I’m going to make the most out of that, and be ready for the sprint on Tuesday which will be important to do well,” he added.

Ivan Babikov skied to 37th while Devon Kershaw posted a 41st-place result with Len Valjas 68th and Americans Simi Hamilton, 69th and Andy Newell 76th respectively.

“The Tour to this point is going okay. Alex skied a really good race today for not feeling well. The top-three is still very much in his sights, but he knows how critical it will be to qualify in the sprint on Tuesday so he will be going all out. Lenny is also looking forward to Tuesday,” said Justin Wadsworth, head coach, National Ski Team. “Devon rebounded nicely today, and his fitness is good so I know he’ll put his focus on some daily podiums.”

Results here
Overall TdS standings here.

USA’s Diggins, Bjornsen, Stephen in Top 20 in Women’s 15km CL Mst @Tour de Ski – Johaug Dominates

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January 02, 2016 (Lenzerheide, SUI) – US teammates Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen battled to top-20 finishes in the women’s 15km CL mass start race at round two of the Tour de Ski on Saturday as Therese Johaug led a Norwegian sweep with Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg in second, followed by Heidi Weng in third.

Bjornsen (l) and Diggins [P] Nordic Focus

With a final boost of energy just meters from the finish line Diggins secured 12th just ahead of Bjornsen who finished 13th – both about 14 seconds from a top-10 result. Stephen had a remarkable comeback starting 63rd and skied her way to finish 20th.

“I was really happy with my race yesterday and today. I’ve come into the Tour confident in my plan and feeling fit and rested after a great Christmas break with my teammates in Davos,” said Diggins.

“Today my plan was to go hard at the start to get out of the mass start chaos and then settle into a rhythm. I had great kick so I was able to really get my power striding going on the long gradual climb, and I got to ski with Sadie [Bjornsen] for most of the race which was super fun,” she added.

Sadie Bjornsen [P] Nordic Focus

Bjornsen, who just just missed the final in yesterday’s Sprint FR, had another strong day in Lenzerheide.

“I was really happy with the feelings and my result yesterday. Of course I was sad to have missed the A-final by such a small amount! But, each sprint race I feel better and more confident in my abilities, so I’m just always looking forward to the next try.

“Today was another fun day. I had many highs and lows throughout the race. Sometimes feeling on fire, sometimes dropping off the back of the pack, but I never let myself give up. I had fantastic skis for the second day, and the tracks were holding together really well, so it was the perfect opportunity day. Jessie was so strong today and really helping me believe I could push harder. I just kept looking at her and getting nothing but good vibes from how well she was doing,” commented the Winthrop, WA skier.

“I had spectacular skis, and a ton of fun chasing Jessie around the course,” added Bjornsen. “Jessie and I have opposite strengths, so sometimes I was charging, sometimes her, but I think we really helped each other today.”

Johaug wins [P] Nordic Focus

Johaug escaped early and never looked back winning by a massive 37s to take over the Tour lead gaining bonus points along the way. For the Americans, Bjornson is 8th overall, Diggins 9th, Caldwell 23rd, and Stephen 27th. The U.S. women’s team is currently seventh overall.

“As a team, classic distance racing is not our race of choice, but the team put five athletes in the points with Diggins, (Sadie) Bjornsen, Stephen, Hoffman and (Erik) Bjornsen, so we are content,” commented US coach Matt Whitcomb. “With tricky conditions, I was very happy with the work the techs did as several of the athletes came back saying they had perfect skis.”

Results here.
Overall TdS Standings here.

Women's podium [P] Nordic Focus

Tahoe Donner Invests Nearly $9 Million in New Ski Centre + Amenities at Cross Country Ski Area

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The new Tahoe Donner XC facility. [P] Tahoe Donner

December 29, 2015 (Truckee, CA) – Continuing to improve and expand services and offerings is a priority at Tahoe Donner. For the 2015/2016 winter season, an investment of nearly $9 million has been made to enhance guest experiences. Providing more reasons to visit Tahoe Donner this year, visitors will enjoy the following upgrades this season:

Nearly $6 million invested at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area improvements include a new facility, known as the Alder Creek Adventure Center, which offers streamlined rental services, larger wax rooms and locker rooms, expanded indoor and outdoor seating, a large Nordic retail store, a pub with televisions and a fire place. Additional improvements include new rental equipment, such as a new fleet of Fischer SCS skate skis, classic skis and Salomon pilot combo boots; and new grooming equipment that includes a Ginsu grooming implement, allowing for higher quality, low snow grooming.

The new Tahoe Donner XC facility. [P] Tahoe Donner

In the summer, the Alder Creek Adventure Center will house Tahoe Donner’s Equestrian Center and Bikeworks operations, while allowing access to the extensive trail system of Tahoe Donner and the remote beauty of Euer Valley. The building is open year-round for shopping, dining and various events and entertainment. Within the building is a new restaurant, known as the Alder Creek Café. Items from the restaurant include fresh grab and go meals, house-made soups, salads, sandwiches and baked goods with beer and wine selections available as well, not to mention après tasting plates and happy hour.

Tahoe Donner Cross Country Ski Area is open daily to the public, offering cross country skiing, lessons, rentals, snowshoeing, fat biking, shopping, dining and a variety of events throughout the season. When fully open, Tahoe Donner Cross Country offers over 100 kilometers of groomed trails. Opening day was Nov. 26.

Nearly $2 million invested at Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area investments include a new Silent Polecast snowmaking system-the first of this technology in the USA. Silent Polecats are different from traditional snowmaking systems in that they have significantly dampened sound levels and are more energy efficient. The new system includes seven silent polecats, a pump station building, 12 hydrants and electrical pedestals, and a cooling tower. Additional improvements include new rental equipment, such as Burton snowboards, Volkl demo skis, Scarpa Telemark boots and Scott Poles; new learning and ski school equipment with aids, such as banners, flags, cones, arches, obstacles, tunnels, benches and ski racks; and new grooming equipment.

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area is open daily to the public starting this Friday, Dec. 11, and is committed to being “the best place to begin,” catering to beginner skiers and snowboarders, families and small children. Offerings include snowboarding, skiing, lessons, and rentals. Additionally, visitors will enjoy shopping, dining and a variety of events throughout the season.

Tahoe Donner Snowplay Improvements

Tahoe Donner Snowplay investments include a new food truck, known as the Snowplay Café, which offers hot lunches and hot beverages every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. with daily service during the holiday season from Dec. 19 – Jan. 2; additional improvements include new safety equipment, such as fencing and safety netting. Snowplay is open to the pubic every Friday – Sunday with daily hours during the holidays from Dec. 21 – Jan. 3. Snowplay highlights include sledding, tubing, snowshoeing, rentals, snowman building, snowball launching contests and a variety of events throughout the season. Opening day was Nov. 27.

Tahoe Donner Golf Course Improvements for your Winter Game

Tahoe Donner Golf Course investments include the creation of the Winter Golf Academy, offering the ultimate virtual golf experience to guests, complete with TruGolf HD Simulator with launch monitor and 27 world class golf courses; a V1 winter video coaching system with lessons; and a new club lounge with comfortable couches, chairs and classic bar games.

The Winter Golf Academy is open every Thursday – Sunday from 1 – 7 p.m., located in the Tahoe Donner Golf Pro Shop. Opening day was Nov. 27. Reservations to golf or practice on the range are required, and can be made by calling Rob Weizer at 530-587-9441. To learn more about the Winter Golf Academy and all of its features, pricing and specials, visit www.tahoedonner.com/golf or call 530-587-9441.

Sun Valley Nordic Center Officially Opening for the Season on Saturday

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Sun Valley Nordic Center [P]December 18, 2015 (Sun Valley, ID) – Sun Valley announced today that the Nordic Center will have their official opening on Saturday for classic cross-country and skate skiing, along with fat biking, snowshoeing and new this year – daytime sleigh rides. Private and group ski lessons will also be available for those wishing to brush up on their skills.

“We are very excited to be offering a wide range of activities for our guests – excellent skiing, expanded fat biking, family-friendly daytime sleigh rides and snowshoeing on our unique and beautiful trails, we have something for everyone,” stated Tony Parkhill, Sun Valley’s director of snowsports and guest services.

All of the Nordic trails will be open starting at 9:00 am on Saturday and the Dog Loop, Boundary Loop and Hemingway Trail will be open for fat biking. The first sleigh ride will leave the Nordic Center at 11:00 am for an hour-long loop out to Trail Creek Cabin and past such landmarks as Hemingway Memorial, then back to the Nordic Center. Sleighs will leave every 30-minutes, with the last sleigh departing the Nordic Center at 2:00 pm.

A notable addition for the season is fat biking, a sport that is quickly gaining momentum locally and within the broader cycling community. Sun Valley will also be hosting the Snowball Special Fat Bike Race for the second year in a row. The inaugural event was held last year and attracted over 60 participants, with more anticipated this year. The 2016 event will be held on January 30. Race registration and information may be found here.

Over on the alpine side of the resort, Bald Mountain continues the trend of opening more lifts and runs. Lifts that will be running on Saturday are Cold Springs (#4), Greyhawk (#7) and Frenchman’s (#8). Dollar Mountain will be adding Half Dollar to its operations on Saturday, giving skiers and boarders even more options as they hit the slopes this weekend.

Live bands will be playing at both the River Run and Warm Springs Lodges. The Barking Owls will be playing from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm on Friday at River Run and Sunday at Warm Springs. Shakewell River will be playing from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm on Saturday at River Run.

Plenty of holiday activities will be happening this weekend, including the annual Sun Valley Tree Lighting Ceremony, starting at 5:30 pm on Saturday. There will be an appearance by Santa, the traditional Sun Valley Carolers will be strolling, live holiday music will be playing, along with an ice carving demo and free cookies and hot cocoa.

The festivities continue on Sunday with the 8th Annual Classic Christmas Concert in the Limelight Room at the Sun Valley Inn. Hosted by R.L. Rowsey and special guest, Jana Arnold, this concert will feature the “Sun Valley All-Stars” of Bruce Innis, Larry Harshbarger and Brooks Hartell. There will be singing, playing, storytelling and possibly an unexpected visit from special guests. Tickets are $22 for regular admission or $50 for VIP, which includes table seating, cookies and a drink ticket and may be purchased at the Sun Valley Recreation Center.

www.sunvalley.com