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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

New Sophie-Simi Training RAP Launched

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Sophie and Simi [P] December 09, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – We’re excited to announce our exclusive “Sophie-Simi Training Rap” is now live at SkiTrax.com. This regular feature stars two of the sport’s top competitive XC skiers, Sophie Caldwell and Simi Hamilton. Hamilton has teamed up with our training-rap-regular Caldwell to give readers valuable insight into their training while answering reader questions about what they do day-in and day-out to stay on top of their game throughout the season.

Final sprint in Lenzerheide SUI at the 2014 Tour de Ski (l) Harvey, Hamilton, Pellegrino [P] Nordic FocusSimi Hamilton takes the biggest win of his career [P]

Both talented athletes have landed on the World Cup podium and are eager for more, with Hamilton bagging his first win at the 2013-14 Tour de Ski stage World Cup in Lenzerheide when he won the FR sprint on new year’s eve day. Caldwell’s palmares include the best all-time US Olympic women’s XC ski result with her 6th place in the FR sprint at Sochi 2014 and place third at the World Cup in Lahti for her first individual sprint FR podium.

Historic final sprint podium (l-r) Visnar 2nd, Randall 1st, Caldwell 3rd [P] Nordic Focus

This past season was extremely challenging for Caldwell, however, as she struggled with injury. She broke her right elbow in May of 2014 and subsequently broke the left one just before the season kicked off in October of the same year. We were grateful as Caldwell shared her journey with us as she dealt with setback – something every athlete faces. We wish her and Hamilton all the best for the new competitive season.

Sophie Caldwell (USA) debuts at the Games in style with historic 6th in the Sprint FR [P] Nordic Focus

We’re excited to have both of these talented skiers on board to share their respective daily training activities in this unique daily blog. Both will also answer questions from readers so get ready to learn how the stars get it done as another exciting season unfolds.

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

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December 09, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the first leaders of this season’s SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest featuring over 400 teams from around the world after round two of the 2015-16 Viessmann FIS World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway where the US Women’s Team bagged bronze in the relay (read our coverage here) and Canada’s Alex Harvey powered to 10th in the men’s skiathlon (read about it here). Harvey’s strong top-10 in Norway came on the heels of a seventh place in the Ruka Mini Tour World Cup opener the previous weekend (read more here), while USA’s Sadie Bjornsen earned her best result in the Ruka Triple with a 14th place (read more here).

Team Knapp has pulled into the early lead with 417 points, followed by ABC Team 10 points behind in second spot with 407 points. Skinorge06 holds third place with 395, with team xium in fourth with 389 points, and team dom rounds out the top five with 381 points.

View the full contest standings after Lillehammer 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).

Behind the Gold – U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Makes History in Lillehammer

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December 09, 2015 – Rosie Brennan paced nervously alongside the Olympic ski tracks in Lillehammer as start time approached, staying close to the technicians working to prepare the best classic skis they could for her from their tiny wax cabin. It was a long way from the trails of White Pine Touring in Park City where she grew up racing, dreaming of that day when she would be in the spotlight like her heroes Marit Bjoergen and Kikkan Randall.

The USA women battled it to the podium in the Lillehammer sprint on Saturday, taking third. [P] U.S. Ski Team/Getty Images-AFP

Alongside her were three teammates, all scrambling in the leadup to the women’s 4x5k relay. There was a time a decade and more ago when the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team was a mere participant in the relay. Today, that team is a contender.

The relay is the toughest event in cross country ski racing. It requires four athletes to perform on the same day at their highest level – there’s no margin for error. Each athlete has a role and has to execute.

It was Rosie Brennan and Sadie Bjornsen’s job in the two opening classic legs to remain in contact with the pack, keeping a reasonable distance back from the second and third place teams. Next up would be Liz Stephen for the first skating leg. Now it would get intense. The Americans have one of the best closers in the world with World Champion Jessie Diggins. It was Liz’ job to setup Jessie for the kill.

A day earlier, Rosie hadn’t had her best performance and she wondered if she would get the nod for the one open relay spot. “This team is so strong, it’s never safe to think you have a spot on the relay team,” she said. “I was overwhelmed with joy when I learned I would be racing. Being a part of that team means the world to me. It was an unbelievable day!”

That morning, the girls went through their ritual face painting and glitter. They pulled on their brightly colored relay leggings over their SmartWool racing socks. They came together as a team, marching into the stadium ready for battle.

Conditions were nasty with the course freezing as solid as an ice rink overnight. It presented challenges for the wax team and fear for the athletes on the highly technical downhills.

As the gun sounded, Brennan charged out of the start. It was a battle for 5k’s as she fought to stay in contact, holding off the Russians and coming in seventh, tagging Bjornsen who went on to ski the fifth fastest leg. But the team was still in seventh – a minute out of third. An uphill battle for Stephen and Diggins. But they were tenacious.

As the race went on, Brennan’s emotions were a rollercoaster – in part wishing she had been faster but soon seeing that she and Bjornsen had provided Stephen and Diggins with an opportunity. Two years ago she was on the sidelines in Lillehammer cheering the same girls on to third. Now it was her turn to be a part of the team.

“I went from feeling a little disappointed to nervous to overjoyed quite quickly as the race progressed,” said Brennan. “I think that speaks hugely to the girls on this team. They never give up and we all believe anything is possible.”

As Stephen took the pass from Bjornsen, the action began in earnest. Stephen had a tough task, but is also one of the best skaters on the team. As she headed out on her 5k leg, the USA was over a minute out of the podium. Thirteen minutes later, she passed off to Diggins only 21 seconds out of third.

“I love relays,” said Diggins. “I live for that anchor leg pressure. I wanted so badly to help our team get a relay podium this season.”

The next 13 minutes were legendary.

One by one, Diggins picked off the contenders. It took just a kilometer to pass Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla and move into fourth. Next up was Ragnhild Haga and the Norway 2 team. That one didn’t come easily. But with just over a kilometer to go, Diggins moved past her into third. Stride for stride, the Norwegian matched her every move – waiting patiently to pounce back on Diggins.

Harder and harder she skied, but Diggins could not shake Haga. As they came into the final climb just a hundred meters to the finish, Diggins charged like a bull up the steep. Haga could not keep pace and the Americans had their podium.

As Diggins collapsed in the finish, Brennan, Bjornsen and Stephen ran to hug her, tears streaming over the face paint. For only the third time in history, the American women were on a relay podium.

Individual podiums are great,” said Diggins. But getting to share a medal with a team is such a bigger deal for me because we work so hard all year round together and travel all winter as a family.

“It was a great day for team USA!”

USA’s Clare Egan Shoots Clean for Career-best 16th in Women’s 7.5km Sprint in Oestersund – Soukalova Unstoppable

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Clare Egan (USA) [P] Nordic FocusDecember 05, 2015 (Oestersund, Sweden) – The USA’s Clare Egan shot clean as she raced to a personal best 16th place finish in the women’s 7.5km Sprint today in Oestersund, Sweden. Gabriela Soukalova, of the Czech Republic, also shot clean to take the win over Italy’s Federica Sanfilippo who was perfect on the range as well at 15s behind. The Ukraine’s Olena Pidhrushna rounded out the women’s podium with one penalty at 38.4s back.

Soukaleva [P]

“Wow! I was not expecting to do that today,” said an excited Egan who upped her game a mere two days after posting a career-best 44th-place finish in the 15km women’s individual. “I am thrilled with my race and the result that came out of it. Sixteenth is a 24-place improvement from my previous personal best and a major confidence boost for the season ahead. I’m proud of my work on skis and on the range, and looking forward to racing head-to-head tomorrow in the pursuit.”

Rosanna Crawford [P] Nordic Focus

Rosanna Crawford was the top Canuck in 22nd with two missed targets while American Annalies Cook was 25th with one penalty, veteran Zina Kocher (Can) was 27th (0+1), Julia Ransom was 32nd (1+0), and Megan Tandy finished 46th (1+1).

Susan Dunklee (USA) got off to a strong start shooting clean in prone, but faltered in standing missing four targets which knocked her back to a 64th-place finish. Hannah Dreissigacker (USA) was 91st. Egan, Crawford, Cook and Kocher earned starts in Sunday’s Pursuit race.

Full results here.

 

FIS XC Interview w/Kikkan Randall – World Cup Mama Soon to Be

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December 04, 2015 – This the season of the World Cup mama with both Claudia Nystad and Katja Visnar having already welcomed their first children and Marit Bjoergen, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Natalia Korosteleva and Kikkan Randall all due within the next 6 months.  FIS Cross-Country had the chance to catch up with Kikkan Randall in Anchorage, Alaska as she prepared to watch her first World Cup season in 14 years through the TV.

Kikkan Randall roller ski training at Soldier Hollow [P] USSA/Tom Kelly

FIS: Best part of being pregnant so far? The worst part?
KR: The best part so far has been being able to relax a little bit and just enjoy getting to train everyday without pressure to perform. I’ve been lucky that I’ve felt good so far and have been able to do pretty much everything. The worst part is knowing that I am going to be missing the whole 2015-16 season. I love racing and it’s going to be hard to miss all the action and miss seeing all my favorite world cup friends.

FIS: Any plans to compete at all during the upcoming season?
KR:
I don’t plan to do any serious racing this winter. I will mostly be at home training in Alaska. If a local race comes up, I might jump in just for fun.

FIS: Do you plan to return to World Cup competition for the 2016-17 season?
KR:
Yes! My motivation for ski racing on the World Cup is still very high and I’m excited to share the experience with my family. I’m looking forward to the next World Championships in Lahti in 2017. I hope to resume normal training next summer to be ready to compete for the start of the next World Cup season in November 2016.

FIS: Will you find out the gender of the baby before it is born?
KR:
We’re hoping to make it a surprise! I think waiting until the baby comes out is one of life’s greatest surprises. I just want a healthy baby and would be pumped whether it’s a girl or a boy.

FIS: Do you hope your child will become a World Cup Nordic ski racer like yourself?
KR:
It’s a great life and I would be happy if my child became a World Cup Nordic ski racer. However, my passion doesn’t have to be their passion. I just hope they find something to be just as passionate about. And I hope they enjoy being active and healthy.

FIS: How has pregnancy affected your training?
KR:
In the 2nd month, I was pretty tired and had few days where I had to turn around early because I didn’t feel very good. But mostly my energy has been good and so far I’ve been able to train close to normal. My coach and I decided to reduce my volume slightly by about 20% and back down my intensity training to just aerobic threshold work. I am still doing speed and strength work but being careful not to push my body too far. I am not preparing for a race season but instead have the goal of maintaining good fitness through my pregnancy.

FIS Is there a food that you love to eat now more than before being pregnant?
KR:
After the first month I had some queasy feelings throughout the day and only Mexican food sounded really good to me. So I was eating Mexican style meals almost every day for a while.

FIS: Anything you don’t like to eat now?
KR:
I’ve had a hard time with oatmeal since I got pregnant. The consistency is just a little tough to swallow. Also, vegetables aren’t always as appetizing as usual so I have to make an effort to eat enough.

FIS:  What do you think about so many female athletes being pregnant this year?
KR:
I’m pretty excited that there are so many world cup athletes pregnant at the same time this year and that everyone is planning to return to racing next year. I think it’s great for the sport that our female athletes don’t feel they have to choose between having a family and ski racing, they can combine the two together. I am looking forward to sharing our experiences and seeing more families on the World Cup next winter!

FIS: Thank you for the interview and all the best to you with your pregnancy. Looking forward to seeing you back on World Cup next season.
KR:
My pleasure! Thank you.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2015/16 Contest – Team Registration NOW OPEN

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November 24, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – With the first FIS World Cup kicking off the season in Kuusamo, Finland on Nov. 27, we’re pleased to announce the launch of our annual SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2015/16 Contest for contestants around the world and apologize for the delay. Next up is our popular Tour de Ski Contest as the legendary tour celebrates its 10th anniversary.

And finally we’re also excited to announce the grand finale, Ski Tour Canada 2015 Contest, as the iconic season-end crystal globes are awarded in Canmore, Alberta, for the first time making history for Canadian fans, the sport, and the global xc ski community around the world.

For our FIS Fantasy World Cup 2015/16 Contest please register your team of four (4) men, and four (4) women including two (2) Outlaw Skiers – one (1) male and one (1) female not in the top 15 of the FIS World Cup overall rankings.

Points will be awarded following each World Cup based on each skier’s performance and published regularly at skitrax.com so you can see how your score compares to other international players and the actual FIS standings. Earn bonus TdS or Ski Tour Canada points, and other bonus points – all information, skier menus and contest rules are available when you register your team.

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

The deadline to register or revise your team is Friday, Dec. 4, at 10pm EST, the day before round two of the XC FIS World Cup season gets underway in Lillehammer, NOR –  good luck to all contestants.

We’re still finalizing our prizes and thanks to all of our great sponsors so far including Madshus, Nipika Mountain Resort, Cross Country Canada (CCC), Salomon, Yoko, High Peaks Cyclery, Bliz and Concept2.

To register click 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).

Diggins Report – This IS my Game Face!

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November 23, 2015 – This weekend was a great way to kick off the race season and shake out the jet lag, the pre-race jitters, and the months of hard training, and see what shape we’re in as we head towards the World Cup season opener in Kuusamo next weekend. I like racing in Gällivare, because the tracks are challenging with a lot of climbing and twisty, turning descents, and because Sweden is always so good to our team!

Today’s podium Me, Novacova in 2nd, Caitlin in 3rd [P] Matt Whitcomb

The funny thing about my pre-race game face is that it usually looks pretty happy. And that’s a good thing, for me. A lot of times people have told me to focus, to stop goofing around, to “get in the zone”…but, folks, my happy zone IS my zone, and me smiling and bouncing around the start pen? That IS my game face. I’m most focused and ready to rock and roll when I’m happy and enjoying the sport, because to me skiing is fun. It’s like a game…how fast can I possibly go? How small can I tuck on the downhills? How hard can I push myself over this hill?

It’s go time. [P] Jessie Diggins

Everyone has a different pre-race ritual, and different ways to get themselves psyched up. I’m not saying my way is better or worse, but it works for me. And the great thing about it is, if I’m not in the right head-space during warmup, there’s always time to turn it around! This morning I showed up to test skis with Cork feeling pretty tired and a little out of it. I didn’t make any tasteless, cheesy jokes, and Cork could tell that something was up. I went and gave myself 10 minutes to get happy and to get psyched about this skiing game we play, and I showed up on the warmup track in an infinitely better mood. Then I raced really, really hard. And I won my second race this weekend, which was an awesome confidence boost, and simultaneously a round of applause for the techs and coaches for bringing their A-game right from the start.

Drag racing it out with Soph in yesterday’s classic sprint final! [P] Matt Whitcomb

This week has been a great training block before the races started, and a good opportunity to get back on snow and get used to the new time zone. It’s also a good time to test out new equipment and skis!

Testing out my new Salomon boards [P] Jason Cork

Part of the team is living in a big hotel, and the other half is living in these little cabins. The Czech team has been pulling some funny pranks, and I couldn’t resist putting up the photo of the life-size snowman…that was leaning against the Czech girls team door. Good one, guys.

It even has a heart on its chest. [P] Jessie Diggins

We also had a birthday girl this week! Sadie turned 26 and Rosie, Caitlin and I had so much fun making her birthday cake. Unfortunately, using grams and ml instead of cups to measure ingredients may have impacted the cake a tiny bit… but don’t worry, it was still good.

Sadie with her cake! [P] Jessie Diggins

The Gällivare newspaper came to the ski tracks one day looking for quotes and photos, so we posed it up, mostly as a joke with the selfie shots. But then….guess what showed up on the front page of the local paper? We then, of course, had to take a selfie of us with our selfie in the newspaper. We thought we were pretty funny. Obviously, we take ourselves quite seriously and never joke around.

Our little moment in the news… [P] Jessie Diggins

Kikkan is, of course, not with us right now since she’s having a baby in April, but she’s such a part of the team that we now have a Kikkan Barbie doll to travel with us! We’re taking her to team meetings, important events, and of course now I finally get to do Kikkan’s pre-race hairdo.

Doing Kikkan's race day braids, while Tom photo-bombs in the background. [P]  Caitlin

Tomorrow we will be driving from Gällivare to Kuusamo (also called Ruka), where the World Cup opens next weekend. We’ll have the whole week to train, test skis, and go neon bowling underneath the shopping center. Should be a good time!

Canada’s Heidi Widmer Races for Swiss National Team in Saariselkae, Finland

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November 22, 2015 (Saariselkae, Finland) – The Finish season is underway with Saariselkae the site of it’s third weekend of competitions as Dario Cologna and the Swiss team, along with Alexander Legkov and the Russian squad stretched their legs. Legkov took top honours in the Day One 10km FR with Cologna 4th while Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) grabbed the 15km CL victory on Day 2 as Cologna settled for third.

Widmer at the start of the 5km FR [P] Martina Nägele

A lone Canuck was on the start line, Heidi Widmer, who finished 14th on the women’s 5km CL race but didn’t compete on Day Two because, “I did a classic sprint simulation with the men’s team and some of the Russians on Friday,” said Widmer.

We almost missed her in the results as she’s listed as a SUI…so we caught up with Widmer for the inside scoop on her Swiss connection to Dario and Co.

Widmer is all smiles for the camera [P] Martina Nägele

“I originally looked to Switzerland to come train this year for the summer and fall season. I had an awesome experience in 2013 training with the team and had made the connection because I had met Christian Flury (SwissSki) in Canada when he worked for the Alberta World Cup Academy in 2010/11,” wrote Widmer.

“The question to come to train then turned into being offered a place in Training Group 3, TG3, on the Swiss National Team and switching nations. They were looking to strengthen their women’s team and I was looking for a change in my training. I have been living and training in Davos since June,” she continued.

New pals (l-r) Nadine Fähndrich, Widmer Nathalie Von Siebenthal [P] Martina Nägele

So how can she switch nations we wondered? The answer lies in her blog…”My father is Swiss and my mother Canadian which makes me a Swiss-Canadian citizen. This season I will be racing under a different formation of red and white! I am excited for this opportunity and although this change hasn’t come without a fair amount of challenges, I am confident that by immersing myself and being open to new philosophies and opportunities, I only have room to grow.”

Widmer provided more details regarding the paperwork required. ” Snow Sport Canada required that I sign a ‘letter of release’ and send it to FIS, essentially saying that there were no outstanding conflicts that would prevent me from leaving Canada. SwissSki was also required to send a ‘letter of request’ that was also received and processed by FIS at their June meetings. My dad was born in Switzerland which means that my siblings and I have Swiss nationality and passports. With a copy of my dad’s passport and a copy of my Swiss Passport submitted, it was up to FIS to approve the change in Nation.”

Widmer graduated from high school in Banff in 2008 and from then until 2015 was part of the Alberta World Cup Academy in Canmore, Alberta. She also raced for the Canadian National Ski Team from 2013-2015 and represented the red maple leaf at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

Widmer explores new ways to grow...[P] Martina Nägele

Her new home in Davos is exciting but challenging at the same time. “It is not easy to truly live away from my home and family for the first time, but incredibly rewarding. I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity and for the season and years ahead!

“The challenges of dealing with a new language, new team, home sickness and a new country are all well lessons I am enjoying learning. Sounds strange, but constantly being outside my comfort zone has forced and enabled me to grow mentally and physically,” she added.

We wondered about her schedule this season and if Ski Tour Canada is in the cards as well.

“We travel home to Switzerland today and then I will race the Swiss Cups in Goms on December 5/6. Providing that these races go well, I’ll start in the Davos World Cup, with focus on the sprint. After these two race weekends, I will have a better idea as to whether I’ll be racing more Continental Cups or if the door to race Toblach and Lenzerheide World Cup will be open.

“Ski Tour Canada is possible – but one step at a time! My dream is absolutely to represent Switzerland at the Tour de Canada. It is a long shot, but I will race as fast as possible and let the decisions fall as they may,” she concluded.

All the best Heidi…read more about Widmer here.

Results

Day 1

LADIES’ 5 km F 

1.  TIKHONOVA Yulia BLR 11:22.7
2.  TANYGINA Alevtina RUS +0.2
3.  VON SIEBENTHAL Nathalie SUI +4.3
4.  FAEHNDRICH Nadine SUI +8.7
5.  STADLOBER Teresa AUT +12.2

14.  WIDMER Heidi CAN +38.3

Complete ladies’ results available HERE.

MEN’S 10 km F

1. LEGKOV Alexander RUS 23:07.4
2. TURYSHEV Sergey RUS +3.1
3. VYLEGZHANIN Maxim RUS +4.6
4. COLOGNA Dario SUI +5.8
5. PERL Curdin SUI +7.5

Complete men’s results available HERE.

Day 2

LADIES’ 10 km C 

1.  STADLOBER Teresa AUT 29:27.1
2.  TIKHONOVA Yulia BLR +1.5
3.  NEPRYAEVA Natalia RUS +6.4
4.  NIKOLAEVA Svetlana RUS +11.5
5.  ZHUKOVA Natalia RUS +13.7

Complete ladies’ results available HERE

MEN’S 15 km C

1. VYLEGZHANIN Maxim RUS 37:13.1
2. TURYSHEV Sergey RUS +13.1
3. COLOGNA Dario SUI +57.7
4. LARKOV Andrey RUS +1:13.8
5. PERL Curdin SUI +1:19.8

Complete men’s results available HERE

Gällivare Premier Sprint CL – MORE PHOTOS

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Alex Harvey [P] Michael Renström, Imega PromotionNovember 22, 2015   (Gällivare, Sweden) – Check out these great photos from the Day One Sprint CL races at the Gällivare Premier where Team USA’s Jessie Diggins claimed her first victory of the season in the Women’s 1.2km CL Sprint w/teammate Sophie Caldwell second. Fellow American Andy Newell skied to second place landing his first podium of the season while Alex Harvey was the top Canadian in 7th – read our report here.

Liz Stephen [P] Michael Renström, Imega PromotionLen Valjas [P] Michael Renström, Imega PromotionNoah Hoffman [P] Michael Renström, Imega PromotionJess Cockney [P] Michael Renström, Imega Promotion

USA’s Diggins and Caldwell Go 1-2 in FIS Sprint CL @Gällivare Premier – Newell on Podium, Harvey 7th

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Jessie Diggins all smiles [P] Michael Renström, Imega PromotionNovember 21, 2015 (Gällivare, Sweden) – Jessie Diggins led Team USA with a victory in the Women’s 1.2km CL Sprint as teammate Sophie Caldwell, the top qualifier, claimed second while Canada’s Emily Nishikawa made the final as well finishing 6th at the Gällivare Premier FIS competitions. Diggins, who was second in the qualifications, was all smiles at the finish. Karolina Grohova of the Czech Republic took the bronze while the USA’s Caitlin Gregg was 7th and Liz Stephen was 9th.

“I was really happy with today’s race! The techs and coaches did a great job and I’m really happy with how well everything worked out – the testing, the race prep, the training leading into today’s competition,” said Diggins. “I feel like my body is in a good place and I’m super excited to start the World Cup races next weekend in Kuusamo.”

Jessie Diggins in action [P] Michael Renström, Imega Promotion

Caldwell was stoked to share the podium with her teammate. “I was happy with the race today and it was especially fun to share the podium with Jessie. Even though it was a small field, I wanted to give my qualifier the same effort I would on the World Cup and I was really happy with how it went. I felt that I skied it well and that I had great skis. The heats were fun and each one got progressively faster and harder. I came away knowing what my strengths are and where I still have room to improve and that was exactly what I wanted from a warm up race for the World Cup,” she commented.

Whitehorse skier, Nishikawa, 26, who was 5th in the qualifications and is better known for her strengths as a distance skier, won her opening heat to advance to the finals. “I was happy to start the season with a good race! I’ve had a good summer of training and feeling strong coming into the race season so I was really excited to race today,” said Nishikawa. “I felt strong in my quarter- and semifinal, but not as good in the final.  I made some poor lane choices at the start and got myself boxed out on the first climb and wasn’t able to really do much after that.  Overall, I was really happy with how I skied today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the start of the World Cup season next weekend.”

Emily Nishikawa [P] Michael Renström, Imega Promotion

In the men’s 1.4km CL fellow American Andy Newell skied to second place landing his first podium of the season behind Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in first with Evgeniy Belov, also from Russia, in third.

Alex Harvey was the top Canadian in 7th, finishing just ahead of Erik Bjornsen (USA) in 8th with three-time Olympian Devon Kershaw 9th and Toronto’s Lenny Valjas in 10th.

“I’m pretty stoked with the way things went today for the first sprint race of the season. It’s always fun to start the season with a podium but more importantly I’m happy with the way my speed and fitness felt. It’s always a little unknown how your body will respond to the first hard race on snow and things felt great. I’m definitely already at a higher level of speed and fitness than I was at any point last season so I’m fired up to get back on the World Cup,” said Newell.

Alex Harvey  [P] Michael Renström, Imega Promotion

Newell’s teammate Simi Hamilton finished 13th overall while Graeme Killick (CAN) was 19th followed by Ivan Babikov and Jesse Cockney in 25th and 27th respectively. The USA’s Noah Hoffman ended up 29th.

“It wasn’t a super tactical race which was nice, so there was just a lot of good hammering on the uphills and hard finishes. Conditions were fair and consistent and the Russians are always good at pushing a fast pace in the heats so it turned out to be a tough fitness race as well as speed,” Newell continued.

“This sprint was a prefect warm up race for next weekend in Kuusamo (FIN) because they are both classic sprints. Last year we were caught off guard a little bit in Kuusamo because we weren’t able to get in a high level FIS race before hand. This year we will be much more prepared to have strong results at the opening World Cup weekend,” he concluded.

Caitlin Gregg [P] Michael Renström, Imega Promotion

Matt Whitcomb, Head Women’s Coach was enthused to see the team off to a solid start. “We are very happy with our start to the season. Week one is always a wildcard with some athletes feeling great and others still trying to adjust. To take three of six podiums is fun regardless of the race, and to do it with some strong World Cup skiers here – especially in the men’s field, gives us confidence. The important thing is that we had three skiers still skiing exceptionally well in the final.

“Today was the best classic sprint result we’ve ever seen out of Jessie, so Kuusamo will be exciting. I have a lot of confidence in the way she is skiing right now, and to see her hit full-gas in the finish stretch was awesome.  For Andy, he gave up a gap to Ustiugov out of the start and up the first climb, but was quickly tracking him down on the final climb and chased his tails into the finish. Today is a big boost for the team.

“While today wasn’t the most difficult day to make good skis, sometimes these days are the most important to make the great ones. Our skis were awesome, which is exciting because we have four new faces on our service staff for Period 1 of the World Cup. The service team worked very well today, even though we have a very interesting combination of heavy French and Estonian accents,” he quipped.

Results

LADIES’ Sprint C – Final

1. Diggins Jessica USA 3:04.01
2. Caldwell Sophie USA +1.37
3. Karolina Grohovoa CZE +6.74
4. Novakova, Petra CZE +7.27
5. Svendsen Anna NOR +8.95
6. Nishikawa, Emily CAN +13.72

Complete ladies’ results HERE.
Qualifications HERE.

MEN’S Sprint C – Final

1. Ustiugov Sergey RUS 2:45.95
2. Newell Andrew USA +1.63
3. Belov Evgeniy RUS +2.63
4. Starega Maciej POL +4.96
5. Volzhentsev Stanislav RUS +6.36
6. Haeggstroem Johan SWE +13.07

Complete men’s results HERE.
Qualifications HERE.

Kalla Doubles Up at Bruksvallarna Opener on Days 1 & 2 – Northug Jr. and Dyrhaug Strong Showings

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Charlotte Kalla [P] Kjel-Erik KristiansenNovember 21, 2015 (Bruksvallarna, Sweden) – Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and Petter Northug Jr (NOR) were the clear winners at Friday’s 5/10km classic FIS competition at Sweden’s season opener in Bruksvallarna which sets the stage for three days of competition.

Nicolas Dyrhaug [P] Nordic FocusOn Day 2 Kalla proved unstoppable again winning the women’s 10km FR race while Nicolas Dyrhaug (NOR) signaled his intentions with a victory in the men’s 15km FR competition. Things wrap up with the Sprint F on Sunday, Nov. 22 – watch live streaming of the Bruksvallarna races here.

Results

Day 1

LADIES’ 5 km C 

1. KALLA Charlotte SWE 12:18.6
2. INGEMARSDOTTER Ida SWE +25.6
3. HENRIKSSON Sofia SWE +29.8
4. FALK Hanna SWE +31.7
5. LINDBORG Sara SWE +33.7

Complete ladies’ results available HERE

MEN’S 10 km C

1. NORTHUG Petter Jr. NOR 23:43.3
2. JOHNSSON Jimmie SWE +36.1
3. JOHANSSON Martin SWE +38.1
4. GUNNULFSEN Mikael NOR +38.3
5. JESPERSEN Chris Andre NOR +38.6

Complete men’s results available HERE

Day 2

LADIES’ 10 km F

1.  KALLA Charlotte SWE 24:01.5
2.  NILSSON Stina SWE +35.8
3.  INGEMARSDOTTER Ida SWE +1:03.7
4.  SOEMSKAR Linn SWE +1:10.6
5.  SETTLIN Evelina SWE +1:15.0

Complete ladies’ results available HERE

MEN’S 15 km F

1.  DYRHAUG Niklas NOR 31:44.6
2.  HELGESTAD Daniel Myrmael NOR +2.9
3.  JESPERSEN Chris Andre NOR +9.8
4.  SVANEBO Anders SWE +17.2
5.  JOHANSSON Martin SWE +18.1

Complete men’s results available HERE

WADA Athlete Committee Leader Beckie Scott Calls for Investigation of all Russian Sports

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Beckie Scott [P] Pam DoyleNovember 19, 2015 – Canada’s Beckie Scott, a WADA athlete committee leader, is calling for an investigation into all Russian sports after an inquiry into the country’s Track and Field program revealed a widespread doping scandal and was subsequently found non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code and banned from competition (read our coverage here).

According to newser.com, WADA president Craig Reedie agreed with Scott that all Russian sports, as well as all sports worldwide need to be put under scrutiny, but the biggest hurdle is finding funding for the undertaking. Read the full article here.

Scott is a former Olympic XC skier who was personally affected by doping when she won bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, only to be awarded the gold retroactively when both Russian women who finished ahead of her tested positive for banned substances.

Interview with Pierre Lafontaine, New CEO @Cross Country Canada

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November 18, 2015 (Canmore, AB) – Pierre Lafontaine will take over December 1 as Cross Country Canada’s (CCC) new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Board of Directors recently announced. Lafontaine previously served as CEO and national coach of Swimming Natation Canada from 2005-13, followed by two years as CEO of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. Prior to taking the reins of swimming in Canada, Lafontaine spent three years as head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). Prior to that, he coached with a swimming club in Arizona.

Pierre Lafontaine [P] CCCLafontaine explains here how coaching and managing accolades, mostly earned in swimming, are transferrable to cross-country skiing. He also talks about his upcoming move to Canmore (west of Calgary) from Ottawa. Lafontaine equally shares his vision for how he wants cross-country skiing to develop in Canada.

Please tell us a little about Pierre Lafontaine i.e. your home town, alma mater and how you got into sports.
Pierre Lafontaine: My hometown is Beaconsfield, QC (just west of Montreal). My mother, father, sister, and brothers are still on the West Island of Montreal. My wife is really outdoor-oriented; she’s originally from Portland, OR, but we met in Calgary.

I started coaching at the Pointe Claire swimming pool in the 1970s with a program for disabled swimmers (i.e. Down’s syndrome) before moving to Calgary for another coaching job. In 1988, I moved to Arizona to work with the Phoenix Swim Club and relocated briefly to Atlanta Georgia for 1995-96. After 2000, I moved to Australia to take a job as assistant coach at the AIS, but within a few months they offered me the job of head coach.

At the 2004 Athens Games, Canada didn’t win a single medal in swimming. After that, Swimming Canada offered me a job. I said that I might take it if they made me head coach and CEO, to which Swim Canada said “yes.” I worked there from 2005-2013. After that I worked for CIS university program, but it was a bumpy road.

I celebrated my 59th birthday recently (Nov. 11) and have completed the 33km Gatineau Loppet. I am the father of two boys and two girls. My own kids got into biathlon for three years or so before moving into xc skiing at the Nakkertok Nordic. My 9-year-old did well there, but none of them grew up on snow. They’re all good swimmers as well.

CCC has gone through some tumultuous times over the past 12 months; what are the main challenges you face?
PL: Let me answer that with an anecdote; as I was leaving Australia in 2005, I was thinking about the Canadian swim team. What could I do to build on all the great things they already had in place? So I wrote down a list of 100 great things about the Canadian sports system. I figured when I got to Ottawa, I could start working on issues that were a risk to greatness. Yes, there were certain issues then, but also a lot of great things; most things in place were contributing to greatness. There were some questions of co-ordination.

So now I am in about the same position regarding cross-country skiing. Not everything is perfect, but we have some great clubs and coaches. I want to identify all the good things and then look at whatever road blocks there are. I want to create vision and get all the sticks out of the wheels. I want to work with coaches and volunteers. With them on board, the path will be straight ahead. I can’t change CCC (by myself), but together we can.

What plans do you have for the women’s program?
PF: That’s a very good question; I don’t know if we can turn things around quickly. I will have to discuss this with my staff. I want to know what the depth of the situation is. How far back are we? How quickly can we turn around? We are 27 months out from the next Winter Games in 2018 and 72 months from the 2022 Games. Our best performers are already in the pipeline (for both). Are programs justified for their ability? We (athletes, volunteers, clubs, coaches, CCC) need to work closely together; solo coaching is definitely not the way to go. We need to identify what we have and what we don’t have…

I saw a 48-page document listing our strategic plan, but I want to distill that down to one page of the four most important ingredients that we need to put in place. We need to do that quickly and with passion.

What about the development pipeline for both men and women?
PF: Looking at the 2012 London Games, most of the kids were already in the pipeline six years earlier; it takes at least that long to develop already talented kids into world class athletes.

We obviously need to look at what has and hasn’t been done. I hope to have discussions on this topic before Christmas. We need more emphasis on development. We need to work with the provincial bodies and hopefully avoid duplication of efforts. We need to look at the Quebec and Ontario Winter Games for instance. These kinds of competitions are stepping stones. Perhaps we can work with friendly competitors such as Finland and Norway, sending our best kids to Scandinavia for a month. I think this is possible.

My role is to ask questions and to make it happen. We need to invest in young coaches. We need to kick-start (their careers) internationally. And we need to build up our membership.

What will it take to win Olympic medals for Canadian XC skiers?
PF: There is no excuse. Part of the discussion with our coaches Justin [Wadsworth] and Louis [Bouchard] is looking at the next 27 months. My job is to find how to get it done. I think Canada should be in the top three internationally with XC skiing. Maybe it’s not a clean sport (and that’s also why we’re not at the top). What do we need to be great?

You’ve said there are similarities between Swimming and XC Skiing… please elaborate and how the benefits and successes are transferable.
PF: If cross-country skiing is anything like swimming, you have to be in the hunt (for medals) the year before. In both sports, technique is crucial, but you also need tremendous fitness. Of course there are similarities in commitment and workload needed. Both sports are club based with coaches to provide inspiration.

Because both sports are club-driven, what else can we do to help clubs? XC can be the no. #1 sport in Canada. (Lafontaine was not only talking about Olympic medal counts here, but also the number of Canadians participating in the sport). We need to learn how to build up that aspect of the infrastructure.

Can we get every Canadian on skis whether it is Nordic or Alpine? Can we get every Canadian to swim? We need to work with the schools to build tracks. There are many similarities that can blossom.

Performance creates idols and makes the news; it also has potential to double our membership. But there are other aspects to building the sport. When I’m skiing in Gatineau Park, I see 80-year-olds on skis. People can ski for life. How do we get new Canadians on skis? How do we develop the best coaches? If we do that, we can win more medals than in any other sport!

We want the 17-22 year old kids to love skiing so much they don’t, want to quit. Local programs provide inspiration but are we providing stimulating or boring programs? Part of keeping kids in programs longer (is making things interesting). Maybe they will even become coaches later.

Australia is a leader in the world of sports – is Canada able to benefit with your knowledge of their success?
PF: Australia is a country of sport; most of the population lives 15km from the ocean. Everyone knows how to swim there, but Australia has fewer drownings than Canada. My kids lived happily on the beach for many weekends. (With that lifestyle, many people) become tremendously athletic there. And these skills can be transferred between sports. Australia also provides a lot of support for athletic programs. And they have good training centres.

Looking at the CCC, we have training centres in Thunder Bay, Canmore, and Quebec City. Yes, there are a lot of reasons why the Australians are good, but we need to concentrate on our strengths. The parts are all there. We need to work better together with our coaches and athletes and train them to race at the top level. I would like Canadians to be known as “the toughest in the world”. We need to have a class act.

SkiTour Canada 2016 is a huge opportunity – we’d love to hear your comments and any plans you can share.
PF: Yes, it is very exciting. I will be looking at it a lot to try and use this as an opportunity to inspire up-and-coming kids. Magazines publish unbelievably (good) stuff; imagine a cool photo skiing in front of the Parliament Buildings. For local (Ottawa) Nordic clubs like Kanata, Nakkertok, Chelsea, this really can be something special. I want to CCC work better with the media.

We need to bring the world to Canada: if Alex Harvey, or others who race in Europe do well, they make the news for a day. But with events here in Canada, we can make the news in the days before and after the event. This can be inspiration for the nation and for 35 million Canadians; something to be proud of. The media is a great tool for our sport and XC skiing is something to make people proud of.

Let’s get it done. I believe that no other country can do it this well. Everyone in the world says how they enjoy events here. Canada is known for non-obtrusive hospitality while making guests feel at home.

Another anecdote from the world of swimming: there are three major open water races in Quebec – Lac Megantic, Lake Memphremagog and Lac St-Jean. Swimmers who come here say these are the best events in the history of the sport. They really appreciate coming here. Organizers created a “wow” factor that makes visitors excited about coming here. Maybe I will only be able to sleep two hours nightly, but I will try to make SkiTour Canada 2016 that good.

FIS wants to internationalize the sport and SkiTour Canada 2016 is part of this formula, but not everyone sees it that way… what are your thoughts on this debate?
PF: Anybody can stage a cycling, skiing or swimming event. We need a magical event; we want the world to know we are experts on skis. The six hour or so time difference between Canada and Europe could be an advantage for live streaming ski races during prime TV time in Europe.

We want to capture the magic of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa or in Quebec City. Skiing on Mount Royal or in the Rocky Mountains is so cool. All this fabulous scenery is right next to very good skiing. We need to work with TV and look at new ways to see our sport. In World Cup rugby, they sometimes put cameras on the referee’s chest to get good new camera angles. Or with Formula 1 they put a camera in hole in the asphalt and you see the cars driving overhead. What can we do for skiing?

We need to find out how to make the tour way better and use TV to our advantage. Perhaps there is some way to see this through a different eye and have a different experience. Among the strategies I see is using the coaches as sounding boards.

What do you look forward to the most about the new job and about moving to Canmore…and most apprehensive?
PF: I’m really excited about the new job and want to remove roadblocks to coaching. I hope to get companies to sponsor the sport. We can make them so proud of xc skiing. I want to see the clubs grow as well; this will make me happy. I want to make XC the number #1 winter sport at the Olympics…this is what I wake up thinking about every day.

I am apprehensive about being away from my kids. I love having the kids in my life. Hopefully, I will be on this side of the country a lot as 70% of our skiers come from Ontario and Quebec. But that’s not sure thing though. I love being a dad.

Anything you’d like to add?
PF: Organic publications like SkiTrax are so crucial for inspiration for the country. In Australia, and in Oceania, rock climbing is huge. I would have eight different rock climbing magazines in my house: they were in the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedrooms etc.

Now I want to put a ski magazine on the desk of every XC skier. That way, they can read about their heroes. Magazines like SkiTrax are really great and could be crucial to changing the sport in this country. Pictures with articles help grow any sport. Our job is changing the world. I love to think that I can do it…working together is the way to make things happen and grow.

Catching Up with Canadian XC Team Head Coach Justin Wadsworth in Sweden

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Justin Wadsworth [P] CCCNovember 16, 2015 – We caught up with Canadian XC Team Head Coach Justin Wadsworth after he and his squad recently arrived in Sweden as they begin their final preparations for the start of the FIS World Cup (WC) season in Finland later this month. Wadsworth gave us the scoop on what the team is up to.

What are the conditions like in Sweden?
Justin Wadsworth: Great conditions here. They received a lot of snow last week, and we’re on the WC trails here, which has 5k plus some other training opportunities. I think we have the best conditions of anywhere in Scandinavia just now.

Which team members are there?
JW: Alex [Harvey], Devon [Kershaw], Ivan [Babikov], Len [Valjas], Jesse [Cockney], Graeme [Killick], Emily [Nishikawa], Michael Somppi (COC leader).

Is everyone healthy and ready to go?
JW: So far everyone is doing great. We have two tune up races this coming weekend in which all the athletes will race. It should be a very competitive field with Marcus Hellner (SWE), Lukas Bauer (CZE), some very good Russians, the rest of the Czech team, and the US team.

What’s the plan for the team going forward?
JW: We will be here until the 24th, at which point we go to Ruka, Finland for the first WC.

Is there a focus or goal for the Team and/or athletes?
JW: Ski Tour Canada is the number one goal, followed by the Tour de Ski and then podiums on World Cup.

Is there much talk/buzz there yet of SkiTour Canada 2016?
JW: Not yet, but we just arrived, and I’m sure once we get to Ruka there will be talk about it.

Good luck to you and the team as you prepare for the big World Cup season kick-off.
JW: Thanks.

Interview with Alex Harvey in Sweden for Final Preparation for World Cup

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November 15, 2015 (Gällivare, Sweden) – Team Canada is in Sweden where fab conditions are the setting for their final preparation as the FIS XC Ski 2015/16 season will soon get underway in Kuusamo, Finland, . We caught Alex Harvey who is in good form and ready for action as he shares his thoughts on his training, his goals this season, his leg following his operation and the team’s new Swix kit.

Alex Harvey on the trails in Gallivare, Sweden [P]

The conditions look super in Sweden – is it the same most everywhere in Europe?
Alex Harvey: I think we have the best skiing in Europe right now. We have 13km of very good training trails and the 5km World Cup course is in absolutely perfect conditions at “Hellner Stadion”. I think central Europe has been quite warm lately, they have some skiing in Livigno but not much more than 2km. Norway had 3.75″ Beitostolen…which also isn’t much.

What’s the energy like over there with the WCup about to start ?
AH: Everybody is still in a training phase right now, so I would say the energy is just “normal”. We are still two weeks away before Kuusamo so there’s still time left before we get excited for that!

How are you feeling overall with season just ahead ?
AH: I’m feeling quite good. We did a classic TT this morning and I felt like I was skiing fast, looks good on the video.

Is everything 100% with your leg/operation etc. (we heard 110%)… ?
AH: Legs are 100%.

How has your training gone – did all go as planned and/or did you do anything different?
AH: Training was good this summer. I feel like I’m still able to increase the volume of training year to year so I kept on doing that. We had three really good training camps at altitude during the summer/fall. I was able to stay away from illness and injury so that’s always good. My plan is to finish the year at 925-950 hours of training for the 11-month period. (I don’t really train in April!). Not much was different in the planning this year but I was able to push harder in running with my legs working properly, same in uphill skating.

Do you have a particular focus this season… ?
AH: The focus for me are the two big Tours, with a little edge for Ski Tour Canada 2016 since it’s at home. Kuusamo is early in the season but since it’s also a Tour format, a lot of points will be given there, so if you’re going for the overall, you need to start well there. When you look at the whole season, there are actually more races in Tour formats (3 in Kuusamo, 8 at the Tour de Ski, 8 in the Canadian Ski Tour) than during all of the other normal weekend World Cups… so if your strong in those three Tours, you’ll be looking decent!

Are people talking about SkiTour Can yet or too early… ?
AH: I had people talking to me about the Canadian Tour already at the end of last season – people are psyched for it for sure! The Norwegian girls were also talking about trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas back at Devon and Kristin’s wedding in July… they’re excited to finish the season in North America!

How does everyone like the new Swix kit… ?
AH: The new Swix kit is great. Swix is a very well established XC ski company, perhaps the most established so they know their stuff.

All the best.
AH: Ciao!

Russia’s Anti-doping Agency is Non-Compliant Says WADA Panel

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November 14, 2015 – According to an Associated Press report on Nov. 13, a WADA-appointed independent panel has declared that Russia’s anti-doping operation (RUSADA) is non-compliant with its code and has given the Russian agency a chance to respond. The report concluded that the track team might not be the only Russian squad with issues – read more here – initial report here.

 

2015 FIS Crystal Globe Winner Sundby Suffers Rib Stress Fracture

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November 12, 2015 – The 2015 Overall World Cup winner Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway has a stress fractured rib on his left side. Sundby, who has won the World Cup overall and the Tour de Ski the past two seasons is confident that the injury will not affect his World Cup season.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby, FIS world cup cross-country, mass men, Oslo (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

NRK.no reports that National coach Trond Nystad says, “Martin is exercising normal and will on Thursday test whether it is appropriate for him to compete now (Beitostolen this weekend) or whether he should wait until the World Cup opening in Kuusamo the final weekend of November.”

For more information at NRK.no click here.

Ski Tour Canada Unveils 2016 Courses – 8 Stages, 4 Canadian Cities

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November 10, 2015 – With less than five months to go until the world’s biggest Cross-Country Skiing event of the 2015-2016 season, the Ski Tour Canada 2016 courses have now been unveiled! Taking place from March 1 to 12, 2016, full details on each of the Ski Tour Canada courses are now available at skitourcanada.com.

SilverStar Unveils New Logo – Last Chance to Save on Season Passes + Early Season Specials

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SilverStar Winter is here 84a9 November 07, 2015 There’s 29 cm of snow in the alpine and more in the forecast. The mountain is on track to open November 12 for cross-country and November 26 for alpine.

It’s going to be a great season! There’s so much new this year: 130+ acres of additional terrain to play on, two groomers added to the fleet, a restaurant and pub opening in the village, and a new Race Centre.

We can’t wait to see everyone back out on the snow!

Last Chance to Save b3383Last Chance to Save

Last Chance prices have been extended to November 15. Get unlimited access to 7 winter activities PLUS you could win back your entire purchase. Buy your pass before November 15 — you’ll save big and be entered to win. Details online here.

SilverStar’s winter season pass offers a winter of value. If saving hundreds on a winter of fun isn’t enough, we’ve got great early season specials just for season passholders and a brand new reciprocal deal with Whistler Blackcomb.

SilverStar New Logo 8a9bSilverStar Unveils New Logo

Meet SilverStar’s new logo. Our fresh and lively new look was inspired by the mountain’s four faces, the resort’s colourful village, and the variety of year-round outdoor activities SilverStar offers.

Designed to reflect the fun, playful and welcoming nature of the resort, the bottom of the star is a simplified mountain shape. The four points of the star represent the four faces to the mountain – Attridge, Vance Creek, Silver Woods and Putnam Creek. The colour palette of the logo  reflects the colours of the village and also represents the many different summer and winter activities.

“Developed in-house, our new logo truly captures the essence of the SilverStar experience, especially the passion and enthusiasm for mountain culture and sport,” said Anne Haight, the resort’s sales and marketing director. “We also unveiled a new website this week, complete with new functionality and high definition webcams.”

Season Passholder Specials

50% Off at Double Diamond: Bring your skis in between November 17 and December 6 for a state-of-the-art Double Diamond robotic tune-up. You’ll get improved performance, which adds up to a lot more fun out on the mountain. Offer good on Custom Tune, Full Monty, Complete Tune and Performance Tune only.
Early Season Rental Special: Season pass holders can save 50% on Nordic, snowshoe or Fat bike rentals between November 17 and December 6.

A great way to add some excitement to your winter sports repertoire and try out a few more My1Pass activities.

Whistler Blackcomb cc270NEW! Whistler Blackcomb Reciprocal. It’s a sweet deal. You can ski North America’s top ranked ski resort for much less during its 50th anniversary season.

New Cat 487dbNew Cats

Check out the shiny new addition to our grooming fleet. This Pisten Bully winch cat will soon be at work grooming the mountain’s steep terrain. Two new groomers were purchased for this season. They made the Castanet news recently along with our snowfall story. Read about it here.

Interview with Eric De Nys – New HP Director @ Biathlon Canada

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October 23, 2015 (Canmore, AB) – While not yet officially announced Eric De Nys has been named as Biathlon Canada’s new High-Performance Director replacing Chris Lindsay who departed in June for a job with Own the Podium. The team has seen tremendous results in recent times seeing a slew of personal bests including Nathan Smith’s historic silver last season in the men’s 10K Sprint at the IBU Biathlon World Championships along with his first World Cup victory at the finale in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

De Nys at Sochi 2014 [P] courtesy of Eric de Nys

De Nys is no stranger to success with a 10-year stint at Canada’s national cross-country ski team under his belt as a coach and technical staff member including three Olympic Games. Most recently he was coaching the junior cross-country ski team at Winsport and this is a step up for De Nys. We caught up with him at his home in Canmore to find out more about his first role as a team director – the notice.

Congrats on your new appointment – how did it come about?
Eric de Nys: Biathlon Canada advertised for the position at the end of June to mid July, I applied for the position upon seeing the posting. Interviews were conducted in mid August and I was contacted for one. In late August I was informed that I was chosen for the job. It took quite a while for the entire process.

You’ve worked with the Canadian XC Ski Team and Winsport coaching juniors – is biathlon also in your blood?
ED: I’ve done a few races myself back in the day. I was a terrible shot or rather, I didn’t quite get the concept. I would absolutely tear into the range, hit next to nothing and off I’d go full blast again, like I said, going slow into the range wasn’t something I quite grasped when I was actually in a race :).  Saying that, I’ve always had friends who were biathletes and I’ve always followed the sport and I’ve been coaching a few biathletes too.

Inge Braten and Eric de Nys on the Haig Glacier [P] CCC

Tell us about your background, where you’re from and how you got into coaching.
ED: I’m originally from Prince George, BC and I’ve been skiing since I was three. As a kid, my Dad shovelled snow ramps onto either sides of our deck and away I went doing laps of the yard, in my own little world. Eventually, I started racing, enjoyed it and did well so I moved to Canmore to be part of the Training Centre there in its early years. I represented Canada at the World Juniors in 1994 and also raced my first WC that same year in Thunder Bay. In 1998 after failing to make the Olympic team, I decided to hang ‘em up at the ripe ol’ age of 24. I coached provincially for a year in BC and then enrolled at the National Coaching Institute in Calgary for the fall of ’99.

Upon graduating, I became Head Coach of the Foothills Nordic Ski Club until 2003 when Robin McKeever took over. As FNSC coach, we won three National Club Championship Banners which continued on after I left for a further six years – in hockey that would be called a dynasty. In 2003, I took a job as the National Team Development Centre Coach in Canmore and then in 2004, the NTDC Team was brought under the umbrella of the NST and I became the National Development Team coach. I continued to work for CCC for the next 10 years in many different roles.

De Nys and coach Dave Wood [P] CCCBiathon Canada has seen some incredible results – how is the team managing success so far?
ED: The team is managing success very well.  They have managed to stay grounded and continue to work on the principles that helped them achieve that success. With a small budget they have done some spectacular things by not wavering from this philosophy

How has training been going for the team and how are things shaping up for the 2016 season?
ED: Training has been going great.  The team is just coming off a fantastic camp in Park City.  Testing has gone well and athletes are showing better form than this time last year.  I think things are encouraging.

Louis Bouchard (l) and De Nys [P] courtesy of Eric de NysTalk about goals this season – the two IBU World Cups in the USA and Canada must be top of mind.
ED: The two World Cups in NA of course will be a huge highlight. The athletes are psyched to race a WC on their home trails and range and put Canmore on the world stage. We have a number of athletes that are targeting the podium. World Championships of course will be a big focus for the team. Last season’s results were fantastic but we will look to improve on those.

Is there more pressure coming off a great year to meet or exceed the previous season…?
ED: There is always pressure to perform because that’s what we are setting out to do!  We want to be better than we were last year and we have a team of athletes that can do that.  It’s a fun group and as long as we continue to focus on the right things and continue to HAVE FUN, the sky is the limit.

Smith wins in Khanty-Mansiysk [P] Nordic Focus

Any changes or new plans for the upcoming season – how does everyone like the new team bus?
ED: We haven’t made any radical changes to anything for the upcoming season and everyone is enjoying the new wheels! Clean, safe and not stinky :)

Biathlon Canada team bus [P]

What’s your take on the current biathlon development pipeline in Canada?
ED: I think it’s too early for me to make any sweeping statements.  As a whole, in the west, Biathlon popularity is at an all time high.  It’s awesome to see the number of kids coming out to train and develop and enjoy the sport.  We need to find more coaches to help with the numbers.

De Nys at Vancouver 2010 [P] courtesy of Eric de NysI hope to make a trip east at some point this winter, which will likely be tied into Nationals to get a sense of what is happening out there.  It’s an exciting time to be involved in the sport and with the WCS in both Biathlon and XC coming to Canmore this winter, wow, what a winter it will be.  Super inspiring.  Now let’s hope we get some snow!

All the best this year Eric.
ED: Thanks and cheers.

Canmore Winter Carnival – 100 Days Until World Cup Celebrations Feb. 1-Mar. 13

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October 17, 2015 (Canmore, AB) – The Canmore Winter Carnival, Feb. 1-Mar. 13, is a celebration of the season and a popular community tradition for more than 20 years. The 2016 event will be the biggest and best yet. Two World Cup events will be part of the carnival along with 45 days of events including ice carving, snow sculpting and the popular Kid ‘n’ Mutt races plus more! The most significant sporting event since the Olympics are rolling into town this winter. Join the community in celebrating 100 Days to Go until the World Cup Cross Country and Biathlon Ski Races. Meet our heroes – the Canadian Cross Country and Biathlon Teams – on Oct. 21 from 11:30am-1pm at the Canmore Civic Centre. For more info on the Canmore Winter Carnival please visit here.

Congratulations – Kikkan Randall Announces Pregnancy

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October 15, 2015 (Park City, UT) – World Champion cross-country ski racer Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) is planning to take a break from competition this season. Randall and husband Jeff Ellis announced to her teammates this week that they are expecting their first child in April. Randall will skip the upcoming season, but plans to come back strong for the World Championship year in 2016-17 and keep her eyes focused on the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

Kikkan Randall and her husband Jeff Ellis announce that they are pregnant. Randall will take the 2015-16 season off and return for 2016-17. [P] USSA

Randall, 32, who has also won three season-long World Cup sprint titles, was glowing with the news as she talked to teammates gathered in Park City for the Team’s final pre-season conditioning camp.

“After Sochi, I thought a lot about my future and the goals I still want to achieve,” said Randall. “I was always committed to continue racing, but Jeff and I also wanted to start a family. We felt this was a good time. I’m excited about becoming a mother, but am also looking forward to coming back to race in 2017.”

Randall plans to spend some time at selective World Cups this season as a spectator to maintain contact with the sport. Her husband, who serves as a marketing support manager on the FIS Cross Country World Cup tour, will continue to travel on the circuit this winter.

Randall, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, is one of its most decorated stars in history with three World Cup titles and two World Championship medals, including gold in the team sprint from 2013, pairing with Jessie Diggins (Afton, MN).

“Finding a way to balance an athletic career and being a mother has been a goal of hers for some time, so rewarding to see it come together for her,” said Head Coach, Chris Grover. “As much as we will miss Kikkan’s leadership on the World Cup tour, we know that she will be back in 2016-17. The Team is very excited for Kikkan and Jeff.“

“I plan to maintain my same athletic direction when I come back, skiing both sprint and distance,” Randall said. “I’m especially looking forward to the freestyle sprint at World Championships in Lahti, where I’ve won before, and the team events in PyeongChang.”

“If anyone has the tenacity and the drive to return to World Class form after starting a family, it is Kikkan,” added Grover. “She understands the hard work and the form that is necessary to be a Champion, and she is already showing the determination to return to the sport and to win. The Team is already looking forward to having her back in training camps next summer and we’ll be looking to her for big results in 2017 and 2018.”

Randall is continuing to participate with the Team at its dryland and roller ski camp in Park City until late October.

Randall, Bjornsen, APU Women Celebrate First Snowfall in AK

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October 02, 2015 – We caught an eye full of the white stuff on Kikkan Randall’s latest Instagram post. That’s right, Alaska experienced its first snowfall on Wednesday and Randall, along with her APU women’s teammates Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Frankowski, and Becca Rorabaugh. Link to Randall’s Instagram here.

Kikkan and friends celebrate first snowfall [P] Kikkan Randall

NNF Drive Begins Today – Support the 2015 Drive for 25

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October 01, 2015 – We’re off and running. The 2015 Drive for 25 (D25) begins officially today and the next six weeks will raise tens of thousands of dollars for skiing development in the U.S.

Throughout the drive, we’re going to dive into where motivation for skiing comes from. We kick things off on the newly redesigned, mobile responsive NNF website with a piece from SMS/T2 skier, Annie Pokorny exploring training motivation and drive. Read it here.

Annie Pokorny in the early days.  [P] courtesy of NNF

Every year, the Drive for 25 gets bigger. Help us spread the word. Kick things off. As a member of #skiingnation, it’s up to you to help tomorrow’s nordic skiing stars find the support they need today. Click below to donate or become involved in this year’s D25.

Drive for 25 (XC)

Drive for 25 (NC)

Learn more about the Drive for 25 here.

Spread the Word!!!

The NNF

We provide support for the athlete development pipeline of US Cross Country and Nordic Combined skiing.

2nd FIS Cross-Country Skiing Coaching Seminar for Women a Success

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September 30, 2015 – The second ladies’ coaching seminar took place in Seefeld (AUT) from 25th-27th September 2015. Former top Italian Cross-Country skier Gabriella Paruzzi and other international speakers prepared an intensive programme for 18 participants from 12 countries.

Roller Skiing was also on the programme of the ladies' seminar [P] FIS

The three-day agenda included topics ranging from specifics in ladies’ training, importance of the right strength body balance, impacts of high altitude on athletes, as well as an insight into the structure of Norwegian skiing model. The programme also featured a practical portion of roller skiing training.

“The second female coach seminar was great and inspiring. It was fun to see so many actively involved women from different parts of the world, “Gabriella Paruzzi, Chair of the FIS Sub-Committee for ladies’ Cross-Country said. “We had two interesting days with a lot of learning and sharing combined with outdoor activity. I am very happy to see the positive development in the engagement of women in our sport.”

Also the FIS Cross-Country Committee Chairman Vegard Ulvang was happy about the second edition of the seminar: “The ladies’ Sub-Committee has done a great job. The seminar is a great chance for the women coaches to meet and share their knowledge. I am glad to see that more and more women get engaged also on a higher level. Nevertheless, we still need more women as coaches, leaders, technical delegates and athletes.”

Canada’s Brian McKeever Nominated for 2015 Paralympic Sport Award

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Brian McKeever wins gold in Sochi [P] Matthew Murnaghan/Canadian Paralympic CommitteeSeptember 29, 2015 (Canmore, AB) – The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced the athletes and teams who have made the shortlist for November’s 2015 Paralympic Sport Awards, which are proudly partnered by Allianz and will recognise achievements from the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

On Saturday, November 14 in Mexico City, special awards will be presented in the following categories: Best Female, Best Male, Best Debut, Best Team and Best Official.

Between them, the nominees won 25 gold medals in Sochi.

Canada’s Brian McKeever, who won three golds at the 2014 Games, is up for the Best Male award.

The shortlists for the categories can be found here.

High Sierra Announced as Official Supplier of Snow Sports Canada – New Team Gear Debuts

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September 17, 2015 (Canmore, AB) – With the 2015-2016 snow sport season kicking off in just a few short weeks, the seven members of Snow Sports Canada happily took delivery of their first shipment of custom designed equipment bags from Official Supplier, High Sierra.

[P] Snow Sports CanadaFor the first time in the history of the seven-member organization, Team Canada’s national team athletes will now enjoy use of bags specifically designed and manufactured for the technical needs of their equipment. “We wanted to design a bag that fit the technical requirements of the athletes, and also represented Canadians as a whole.  I think we were able to achieve that goal with this amazing collection,” said High Sierra Canada General Manager Paul DeCorso.

The teams and athletes will travel through five continents across the globe this season with High Sierra’s gear displaying a balanced mix of style and functionality, “We worked closely with Snow Sports Canada to decide which design best-represented the teams, as well as what technical features they needed,” added DeCorso.

The result is a unique bag design that will stand out from the crowd and add some signature Canadian swagger to the team gear. Fans, keep your eyes open for them on World Cup hills across the globe this fall.

“High Sierra’s partnership with Snow Sports Canada brings an essential and  dependable luggage component to our team. This has been accomplished through attention to the grinding travel needs of sport – airline drubbing, jamming into vans and recurrent movement between training and race sites. This durability is combined with a distinguished look and functional features that boosts our athletes’ ability to embrace the mobility of our sport.” – Thomas Holland, High Performance Director, Cross Country Ski Canada.

To learn more about High Sierra’s range of unique bags and products, visit www.highsierra.ca. To learn more about the partnership between High Sierra and Snow Sports Canada visit our website here.

WADA Publishes Global List of Suspended Athlete Support Personnel

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[P] WADASeptember 16, 2015 – As part of its role in providing guidance to anti-doping organisations, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) today published a global list of Athlete Support Personnel who are currently suspended from working with Athletes or other Persons under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code’s new, ‘Prohibited Association’ (Article 2.10) rule.

The Prohibited Association List, which has been created based on case decisions and information provided by Anti-Doping Organisations (ADOs), illustrates that 114 Athlete Support Personnel worldwide are disqualified from working with Athletes or other Persons pursuant to Article 2.10 of the Code.

Under the Prohibited Association rule, Athletes and other Persons are prohibited from working with Athlete Support Personnel that are currently sanctioned, or have been sanctioned within the previous six years, for an anti-doping rule violation. For an Athlete or other Person to be found in violation of the Prohibited Association rule, they must have previously been advised in writing of the Person’s ‘disqualifying status’ by the applicable ADO or by WADA.

“WADA is increasingly of the belief that athletes do not dope alone, and that often there is a member of their entourage encouraging them to cheat” said WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie.

“This new ‘Prohibited Association’ rule sends a clear message to athletes: do not associate with individuals that have breached anti-doping rules as they could encourage you to cheat the system and to rob your fellow athletes of their right to clean sport,” added Reedie.

“By publishing this List, WADA is helping athletes know which individuals to evade if they are to avoid violating the rules themselves. This List will also assist ADOs as it is their responsibility to advise their athletes of the support personnel that have ‘disqualifying status’ and the consequences of such association.”

The list will be updated on WADA’s website on a quarterly basis, or more frequently as new information is provided by ADOs.

Full details on Prohibited Association can be found under Article 2.10 of the World Anti-Doping Code. Athletes can also read more about the rule in the Athlete’s Reference Guide to the Code (p.9).

Norwegian Superstar Northug to Leave National Team?

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September 15, 2015 (Oslo, Norway) – Norwegian XC superstar, Petter Northug will not likely be skiing for his national team during the next season according to a press release from Norges Skiforbund, the country’s xc ski federation.

Petter Northug (NOR) wins [P] Nordic Focus

The crux of the dispute seems to be a private sponsorship that Northug has cultivated with Coop Norge SA, a retail cooperative with 1.3 million members, while the Norwegian federation is sponsored by Coop’s rival, Spar.

“The Board of the Norwegian Ski Association was at the board meeting last weekend informed by cross committee chairman Thorbjorn Skogstad, that Petter Northug and Coop have not accepted the deal he was offered.”

“The agreement is the same as the one he had in successful 2014/15 season. [We] take note and regret that Petter Northug did not want to join the national team and the World Cup on the same terms as all other [national team members].”

“Norwegian Ski Federation is planning upcoming World Cup season with those athletes who have signed an agreement and will not take any further initiative towards Petter Northug or Coop.”

SkiTrax understands that this means Northug will also not be competing at the 2016 Tour de Ski.

Northug has skied professionally since 2005 and is in a class of his own with 13 world championship and 2 Olympic gold medals as part of 20 medals overall, along with 18 individual FIS World Cup wins.

Press release (Norwegian):
www.skiforbundet.no/langrenn/nyhetsarkiv/2015/9/orientering-om-norges-skiforbund-og-petter-northug/

Swedish National Team Trains in Toblach and Oberstdorf

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September 13, 2015 (Germany) – A record number of 40 skiers took part in two parallel training camps of the Swedish national team in Toblach and Oberstdorf from August 25th – September 4th. The men’s team ran 19 training sessions in 10 days. Oberstdorf in Bavaria in southern Germany offers a seven-kilometer-long rollerskiing track and many trails for running.

Swedish Cross-Country team [P] Swedish Ski Association

“Several of our athletes have skied Tour de Ski stages in Oberstdorf. Two stages will be here also next winter. The group is energized about getting familiar with the winter resort in the summer,” Rikard Grip said.

The women’s team is training in Toblach in the region of Trento, another FIS Tour de Ski host venue. Training in Toblach in the summer will be a new experience for the team, having a a five-kilometer rollerskiing trail and three alpine peaks near the hotel.

Charlotte Kalla and teammates [P]

The Swedish national team has split the ladies’ and men’s camps and brought in the development squads. “Skiers from the development team are thus able to beneif from knowledge and experience,” Rikard Grip explained and confirmed that joint camps are an important step in raising the level of national elite.

“Having Marcus Hellner, Calle Halfvarsson, Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson behind the back is a guaranteed quality for those who are trying to challenge them. At the same time the first team has to be to be on their toes all the time,” Grip stated.

Rollerskiing workout [P] Maria Rydqvist

The camps in Toblach and Oberstdorf begun on Tuesday, only 1.5 weeks after the camp in Vålådalen ended. “We’re in an intensive and heavy training period,” ladies sprint coach Mattias Persson added.