Tag Archive | "feature"

USSA SuperTour Craftsbury Days 1-2 – FR Sprints + 10km FR – Bender, Rose and Freeman x 2 Top Fields

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February 08, 2015 (Craftsbury, NH) – The USSA SuperTour in Craftsbury kicked off on Feb. 6 with the 1.3/1.5km FR Sprints as Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) took the women’s 1.3km race while veteran distance strongman Kris Freeman (Freebird) was the surprise winner of the men’s 1.5km contest.

W Sprint FR podium (l-r) Flowers, Bender, Mooney [P] Bridger Ski Foundation

Joining Bender on the podium were Erika Flowers (SMS T2) in second followed by Heather Mooney (Middlebury) in third. Taking second place in the men’s race was APU fastman Reece Hanneman followed by his teammate Eric Packer.

Kris Freeman [P] River Valley Graphics

Saturday’s 10km FR competition saw Mary Rose (Sun Valley SEF) triumph over Flowers who edged out Annika Taylor (UNH) in a very tight battle for second. Freeman made it 2-for-2 as he took his second win with a comfortable 38.3s margin over UVM’s Rogan S Brown with Alexander Treinen (APU) at 1:04 behind the winner.

Women’s FR Sprint
Women’s Brackets

Men’s FR Sprint
Men’s Brackets

Women’s 10km FR
Men’s 10km FR

 

USA’s Patterson 15th and Caldwell 20th as Norway’s Haga Wins U23 Men’s 30km Skiathlon at Worlds + Interview w/Patterson

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February 07, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – The USA’s Scott Patterson took home another solid top-20 result with his 15th place finish in the U23 Men’s 30km (15CL/15FR) Skiathlon today as Magne Haga of Norway got the win he hoped for at the U23 Nordic World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Scott Patterson (USA) [P] USSA

Patterson’s teammate Patrick Caldwell from Vermont also had a fine day finishing 20th while the top Canadian was Whitehorse’s Knute Johnsgaard just out of the points in 32nd. American Kyle Bratrud was 37th, Ben Saxton finished 41st, Canuck Colin Ferrie was 44th, Scott Hill was 45th and Quebec’s Raphael Couturier was 48th.

Haga chased down France’s Clement Parisse and made a great tactical coming out of Parisse’s draft on the downhill as they came into the stadium to edge out his rival by a mere 0.6 second for the win. Parisse was unable to hold off the Norwegian and settled for the silver while Russia’s Dmitriy Rostovtsev took the bronze at 2.6s behind.

U23 M Skiathlon podium [P] FIS

According to US Coach Bryan Fish, “The conditions made the courses more demanding today.  The snow has continued to thin each day making the courses very dirty.  Also, the overnight temperature was 8C warmer than the previous days, so the courses didn’t firm up like previously in the week.”

We caught up with Caldwell and Patterson post race for their comments on the day.

Patrick Caldwell [P] USSA

“It was a slushy and muddy 30km today. Our skis were really good on the classic leg. I struggled to keep pace during the first 15km (classic leg) but tried to work my way back up in the skate leg. My transition from classic to skate was pretty slow, nothing major just had some trouble unclipping my bindings. I am really psyched with the result from today. That was a tough race and I’m excited to have had a good race. Shoutout and HUGE thanks to NNF for all their support for this trip! Gearing up to head home early tomorrow morning,” Caldwell told Trax.

Scott Patterson (USA) [P] USSA

Interview with Scott Patterson (USA)

How were you feeling on the start line ?
SP: I was surprisingly calm on the start line. I figured that I had done everything I could to prepare, now it was just time to go out and enjoy my last race of U23s.

Walk us thru today’s race – how were the conditions and your skis during the classic leg ?
SP: The classic race conditions were quite interesting.  We were racing on straight klister as the temperatures had increased significantly during the last couple days. With a thin snow pack to start, the warmer temperatures made the course extremely dirty and quite sticky. It seemed as if there were only a few millimeters of snow separating our skis from the mud. Even so, my skis had amazing kick, but the klister was definitely a bit draggy.  Looking back, I should have taken more time to dial in my kick and reduce drag. Due to the skis, I spent most of the classic leg yo-yoing in various packs slightly back from the lead before picking off a few people towards the end. After feeling mediocre for most of the classic, I was ready for a change of rhythm with the transition to skate.

USA's Ben Saxton leading Canada's Colin Ferrie (USA) [P] USSA

Did you know you were in the top 20… ?
SP: I could see the entire race in front of me for the classic, but really had no clue other than just a rough estimate of where I stood.  Once on the skate course, that lack of information turned into an information overload as every coach, wax tech, and many of the athletes out there gave me my placing.  Also along several of the sections of the skate course, there was good visibility so I even had a measure of the distance up to the leaders.

Talk about the skate leg where you moved up a couple of spots.
SP: Coming out of the transition, my legs were feeling quite tired; however, a quick recovery down the first hill along with skis that felt fast then boosted my energy level back up and I immediately set out to catch the groups in front of me. This rate of ascent quickly dwindled when we arrived on the sun baked portions of the course. In retrospect, I probably should have selected a different pair of skis, but I made the best of the pair I had.  About one lap in I caught up with an Italian and a lap later we were joined by a Russian from behind.  This little group of three stuck together up until the final spring with some lead changes and a few people picked off. At several points during the race I was  struggling to keep up with the other two as I couldn’t compete on the downhills. My skis also defined the sprint as the course drops down one final hill into the stadium and I was left a little to far behind to duke it out with the Russian and Italian.

Kyle Bratrud [P] USSA

Did your results meet your expectations ?
SP: The results did not meet my expectations going into the race, but these expectations were tossed out the window in the classic portion.  Instead of racing for result, the race expectations became a goal to survive.  Needless to say I survived and even managed a decent result (even though I feel pretty terrible now).

Would you do anything different if you could redo the race ?
SP: Redoing the race, the big thing I would do differently would be to make further efforts to dial in my skis.  I think with good skis, I could have raced up to my expectations.

Full results here.

 

Canada’s Bouffard-Nesbitt Solid 12th in U23 Women’s Skiathlon @JWSC2015 – USA’s Reid 22nd

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February 07, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt scored Team Canada’s best performance of the week placing 12th in the U23 women’s 7.5CL/7.5FR Skiathlon at the Nordic U23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan on Saturday. The Morin Heights, Que., skier made her move on the field towards the end of the classic leg, and kicked things into top gear following the transition where she posted the 6th-fastest skate leg on the day.

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt [P] CCC

Switzerland’s Nathalie Von Siebenthal took the win with Norway’s Barbro Kvaale claiming the silver medal at 22.5s behind while Italy’s Giulia Stuerz grabbed the bronze close behind at 26.1s back.

Joanne Reid [P] USSA

Joanne Reid was the top American in 22nd at 2:47.8 behind Von Siebenthal followed by Cambria McDermott in 29th and Cendrine Browne in 30th, all in the points. The USA’s Anne Hart finished 33rd with her teammate Deedra Irwin in 34th.

It was overcast in Almaty, a change in the weather from the last few days of bright sunshine and the temperatures rose to +4 C for the women’s race. Von Siebenthal took an early lead that she never relinquished. She led by four seconds in the transition zone and skated away from the field to claim the gold.

Irwin, Reid, McDermott [P] USSA

Bouffard-Nesbitt moved up from 23rd to 18th in the second half of the classic and pushed the pace on the skate. With 2k to go she started to hammer and gapped the small group she was in catching Russia’s Alisa Zhambalova near the finish to claim 12th – with the 6th fastest skate race on the day.

Annie Hart [P] USSA

The race was marred by a serious crash around the 11k mark as Russian Evgenia Oschepkova caught an edge on a moderate downhill and crashed into the metal guardrail that was marking the edge of the race course from the steep hill below. She was carried away in a blanket/stretcher and looked to have a fairly serious lower body injury from the fall.

Dahria Beatty was leading the way for the Canadians until pulling out of the race near the midway mark. The Whitehorse resident had been fighting a flu bug overnight.

Full results here.

With files from CCC.

 

 

USA’s Dunklee Strong 9th in Women’s Sprint as Dahlmeier Scores First World Cup Victory in Nove Mesto

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February 07, 2015 (Nove Mesto, CZE) – American Susan Dunklee delivered a strong 9th in the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint at the at the IBU World Cup in Nove Mesto chalking up her third consecutive top-10 World Cup finish. With only one penalty Dunklee was 46.3s behind winner Laura Dahlmeier of Germany who scored her first World Cup victory.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“The hilly course here is one of my favorites on the circuit and the full stadium is electrifying,” said Dunklee. “My body felt good and it was a lot of fun to race today. Something about Nove Mesto seems to agree with our team. “It’s wonderful to have three women in the points.”

Second place went to Dahlmeier’s teammate Franziska Hildebrand, one second back, as both Germans shot clean. Veronika Vitkova of Czech Republic finished third, with one penalty, 13.9 seconds back.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Annelies Cook was 28th with one penalty, Hannah Dreissigacker came in 39th with two penalties, and Clare Egan placed 73rd (25:16.8/+4). Dunklee, Cook and Dreissigacker all qualify for Sunday’s women’s pursuit.

Canada’s Audrey Vaillancourt was the lone Canadian to finish placing 66th with two penalties while Megan Heinicke did not start. Rosanna Crawford did not finish having a tough time on the range tweeting, “Well that was embarrassing. Crossed fired 4 hits, didn’t notice. Would have had an 8min penalty. #newbmistake”.

Full results here.

Team USA 7th as Norway Wins IBU Mixed Relay @ Nove Mesto – Canada 14th + Single Mixed Relay Debut

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February 06, 2015 (Nova Mesto, CZE) – Team USA scored a stellar seventh place finish using 13 spare rounds in the Mixed Relay at the IBU World Cup in Nove Mesto with 32,000 screaming biathlon fans on hand as Norway took the win using six spares.

Team Norway [P] NordicFocus

The home team Czech Republic was only 4.1 seconds back in second with five spare rounds as third place went to the Ukraine at 1:21.3 back, with one penalty and seven spares. Biathlon Canada’s Audrey Vaillancourt, Rosanna Crawford, Nathan Smith and Brendan Green ended up 14th with two penalties and 13 spare rounds at 5:12 behind.

Susan Dunklee started things off for the U.S. as the temperatures dropped and the wind died down. After using two spares in prone, Dunklee found herself in 17th place, 28.6 seconds back of the leader. She used two more spares in standing but had the team up to 10th place as she exited the range 40.7 seconds down.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic FocusDunklee put on a strong last lap to bring the U.S. up to fourth place as she exchanged with Hannah Dreissigacker, now just 33 seconds out from the lead. “I didn’t shoot as well as I am capable of tonight, but I felt great about my skiing and I had a lot of fun chasing people down during my last lap,” said Dunklee.

Dreissigacker used three spares to slip to seventh in the prone stage, and two more spares in standing dropped the American squad down to 10th. Leif Nordgren went to work and cleaned in prone to bring the U.S. up to sixth, moving into a strong 4th by using just one spare in standing as he tagged Sean Doherty for the final 7.5km leg at 1:36.

Leif Nordgren [P] US Biathlon/NordicFocus

Doherty used one spare in prone and two in standing to slip to fifth place as he sprinted for the finish on the final lap. He was passed by France’s Martin Fourcade on the last lap and then was narrowly nipped at the line by 0.2 seconds by Germany’s Benedikt Doll.

“Under the lights racing in front of 30,000-plus spectators, there is nothing quite like it,” Dunklee added. “Our team came within .2 seconds of being in the flower ceremony tonight and I think we will be in the fight again at World Championships. Everyone had a great leg — Hannah skied with Darya (Domracheva) and Marie Dorin (Habert), some of the top ladies in the field, Leif move us up several places and young Sean performed beautifully in the anchor position with the likes of Martin Fourcade and Jakob Fak breathing down his neck.”

Czech Team [P] NordicFocus

Inaugural Single Mixed Relay

Earlier in the day, Russia’s Yana Romanova and Alexey Volkov shot clean to win the inaugural single mixed relay in 35:43.5. Second place went to Norway at 21.5 seconds back also shooting clean as did the Ukraine third at 24.6 seconds back.

The U.S. team of Annelies Cook and Tim Burke shot clean as well to place 9th at 2:23.8 behind the Russians while Canada’s Megan Heinicke and Scott Gow did not start.

The single mixed relay format has the female team member starting. After shooting both prone and standing she tags off to her male teammate who also shoots both prone and standing before tagging off to the same female. Each competitor on the team completes four bouts of shooting and the associated ski loops, with the female covering 6km and the male 7.5km.

“Today was definitely a fun race,” said Burke. “It was great to try something different with the sprint relay after competing in the same formats for many years. I was pleased with the result today. It’s always good to be in the top 10. Sprinting and then shooting makes for an interesting combination, which definitely makes the shooting quite tough. The conditions were also quite challenging here today with heavy wind gusts. I expect to see more of the same this weekend, so today’s race was good practice.”

Mixed Relay results here.
Single Mixed Relay results here.

With files from US Biathlon

Interviews with Ogden, Torchia, Stewart-Jones and Dumas @ FIS Junior Worlds Skiathlon

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February 06, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – We caught up with more North American skiers competing at the FIS Junior World Championships in Kazakhstan. Check out what Americans Katharine Ogden and Ian Torchia, and Canucks Katherine Stewart-Jones and Alexis Dumas, had to say about their Skiathlon results and experiences Worlds – race report here.

Katharine Ogden (USA) [P] USSA

Katharine Ogden (USA)

Thank you so much! This result was really great for me and I am psyched to be able to mix it up with some fast juniors. Going into these Championships my goal was a top 20 in the Skiathlon, but when I placed 11th in the 5km it definitely gave me a confidence boost and I revised my goal to shoot for a top-10 result today.

The conditions today were really awesome, the race organizers put in a huge amount of work to make sure that we had good snow cover on the course. Also, the weather was beautiful and warm and sunny with minimal air pollution, which was awesome. My skis were incredible thanks to the amazing wax techs here, they were ripping fast and my classic skis had perfect kick.

My race was actually pretty uneventful – I  worked to maintain my position in the pack and not break any equipment for the first leg. At the exchange I was preoccupied with pulling off a timely equipment-switch so I wasn’t paying much attention to what place I was in but I did know that I was doing pretty well.

During the skate leg I was thinking about keeping up with the girls ahead of me and skiing really big. Gradually, as people began dropping off, there were only about 6 or 7 of us that were pretty close together at the end of the second skate lap.

I think that my prep for Worlds was very successful. I had been training hard all year and so I went into the championships knowing that I was fit and I just did the same thing that I do leading up to any race series, knowing that it has worked many times before.

Next on my schedule I am heading to Nove Mesto, Czech Republic to race a Slavic Cup weekend there and then I am heading home to gear up for the Junior Nationals.

Today, Altynai, the volunteer assigned to team USA to help translate for us, brought homemade traditional Kazak buns for us to eat after our race. They are sort of like doughnuts but a little less sweet – for sure they’re my favorite Kazak food so far!

Ian Torchia (USA) [P] USSA

Ian Torchia (USA)

I am extremely psyched with my 11th place, and even more excited with all the great results this week from Team USA. Ben Saxton’s 6th in the sprint, three U23 guys in the top 20, Katherine Ogden 11th and 6th, its been a great week.

It was a klister day, and I had great skis thanks to the wax techs, especially Justin Beckwith. Great kick and great glide for both techniques.

Luckily I made it through the carnage of the Classic start and moved up throughout the race and headed into the exchange as calm and collected as possible. I was pretty surprised to hear that I had the 2nd fastest pit stop, I was just pumped to make it through smoothly and with two skate skis and skate poles!

I was in a group of three guys during the skate portion, and the coaches yelled that we were all fighting for 10th which really fired me up to try and hang at some points and try and drop the group at other points.

I’ve been skating all my life and only started classic three years ago, but thanks to my strong teammates at NMU and my coach Sten Fjeldheim, my classic has improved drastically and I now consider it my stronger technique.

I spent the summer training in Stratton which prepared me well for the increased training load at NMU. We have one of the strongest teams in history so it’s been a great freshman year experience to train and race with the best in the nation.

My next races are two college events home in Marquette where I will try and finish in the top 3 on the NMU team so I can make the NCAA team. If that doesn’t happen, I will head to Truckee for the Junior Nationals.

My favorite Kazakh food would have to be the free walnuts the street vendors gave us when we visited the outdoor market!

A happy Canadian women's team (l-r) Annah Hanthorn, Katherine Stewart-Jones, Anne-Marie Comeau and Maya McIssac-Jones [P]CCC

Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN)

It feels amazing to have achieved my goal of finishing top 15 in a distance race at Worlds. Today was my last chance to reach that goal so I am definitely super excited about my race! I am really happy about being consistent in all three races; to me being a specialist closes doors that haven’t even been opened yet. I want to be able to compete in any of the possible events that are held on the world cup circuit.

My 19th place in the sprint was a great way to start the week and definitely gave me confidence for the next races.

The conditions were pretty quick today. It was pretty warm so we were on klister. The race started with a downhill and three hairpin turns so it was pretty hectic. There were girls falling everywhere and breaking poles. During the first 2km I just focused on staying out of trouble and on my feet.

I made sure when I was testing that I had a lot of grip so that I could stay relaxed on the uphills and not waste energy. I started in 30th so I was glad to have moved up to 20th after the classic and I was ready to ski hard in the skate. In the skate leg I skied with a group of girls; I led on most of the uphills but the girls would draft me on the downhills which made it hard to break away. I knew that I would have to make a move on the last uphill if I wanted to stay in front.

The weeks leading up to worlds my coach integrated specific interval sets that resembled what I would be racing at worlds so that I was prepared mentally for the races.

The food here is pretty normal. We eat a lot of potatoes and meat. I am looking forward to eating fresh salads at home!

Alexis Dumas after the race [P] CCC

Alexis Dumas (CAN)

My race went really well. I’m super happy with the result, I knew that if I was in good shape and the skis were good
I could make the top 20. The condition were warm around +3C and the snow was pretty dirty. However, the wax techs gave me super skis in the classic and also in skate. Everything came together today and I’m super happy.

My start was a bit chaotic but I managed not to fall. At the end of the first lap I went hard to put myself in a good position. At one point I was skiing just beside the Russians in the first line. I was feeling super strong and glided well on the uphills. After I tried to relax but couldn’t follow the leading pack.

My exchange was slow because I had trouble clipping into my binding, but I stayed relaxed and didn’t lose too much time on the guys in front of me. During the skate leg I was feeling great, my legs were light and I had some energy left. Still I had a bit of trouble pacing myself and skiing with the pack. At the end I was super tired and couldn’t outsprint a Norwegian to the line.

My coaches gave me good feedback on where I was placed in the pack and that really helped me stay motivated and focused.

My form is super good, since the trials I put in some big intensity training and that really helped. My coach, François Pépin worked hard to give me the best preparation possible for this trip.

Interview with Sverre Caldwell Head Coach of SMS on FIS Junior/U23 Nordic Worlds

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caldwell_sverre199x sm.2February 06, 2015 – SMS Head Coach Sverre Caldwell gave us his thoughts on athlete performances so far at the 2015 FIS Junior/U23 Nordic World Championships currently underway in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Two of his Stratton skiers, Ben Saxton (USA) and Katharine Ogden (USA), have been logging strong results.

How do you prepare an athlete for the world stage?
Sverre Caldwell: For both Ben and Katharine, their big goals were to ski well at Junior Worlds and U23’s. So..we set up training with this in mind. The trick is that they have to ski fast enough early so they will qualify, but we don’t want them peaking early. Katharine pre-qualified for WJC’s by skiing really well in WY so she was able to train through Nationals and try to set herself up to feel good at Worlds.

We try to keep the training plan pretty simple and straightforward. For instance, Katharine knows that she will feel good if she is tapering down from some solid volume. She also knows that she needs to hammer pretty hard the day before the first race in order to wake her body up.

We try not to get too hung up on the Worlds part… My favorite quote is “Everything is practice until the Olympics”…The goal is to get to the start line feeling good and being psyched to be there. Then have a simple plan that you know works for you and go do the best that you can.

In your view how important is the mental aspect of the sport?
SC: The mental aspect is really important. You need to believe in yourself and be excited to compete. There are way too many people out there who are so afraid to fail, they don’t dare try to suceed.

Do you see a shift in US skiers believing more in themselves…?
SC: Gosh, yes… I work mostly with Juniors and I laugh because they have seen USST skiers doing well and they expect that 10 years ago we were lucky to have anyone score World Cup points, now we are bummed if we do not have 4-5 women scoring points in any given race. Katharine gets to train quite a bit with our SMS T2 team. I am sure that it helps her confidence when they ski well in WC races.

The sport is maturing in North America and Scandinavia-Europe – what further changes are you hoping to see?
SC: The sport has done a good job of having more exciting race formats etc.. I am sure that they will continue to play around with the schedule and formats. I would like to see more races in the US!

Canada’s Bouffard-Nesbitt and Browne on Racing @ FIS U23 Nordic Worlds

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February 06, 2015 (Almaty Kazakhstan) – We’ve heard from Canadian skiers Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Cendrine Browned following the women’s 10km FR individual start race at the FIS U23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan. They finished 17th and 23rd, respectively. Read what they had to say about their experiences so far in Almaty… race report on 10/15km FR individual start here.

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt [P] CCC

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt

How do you rate the course to other Worlds you’ve done?
OBN: My only other experience at Worlds thus far was in val di Fiemme last year, and that venue is exceptional. The venue in Kazakhstan is definitely very different than any other I’ve skied on. It looks like a giant ant hill or an open pit mine – it’s essentially a big sand hill with ski trails and a stadium cut into it. The conditions aren’t great because of the lack of snow and abundance of rocks, but the actual course profile is pretty fun. I like it.

Walk us through your race – are you happy with your result?
OBN: I was so happy with my result in the 10k! I was a very early starter with bib 5, and really had no idea how I was doing, but going into the second lap I was really pumped when I realized that I had the energy to push hard. I really hammered the last couple kilometres of the course, feeling strong the whole time, and I think I gained a few positions there. That was a great feeling.

How’s your form and conditioning – what prep did you do for Worlds?
OBN: I just carried on with racing and training as usual leading up to Worlds and I’ve stayed healthy, so I’m feeling really good.

What’s next on the schedule for you?
OBN: I’m not sure what is next on the schedule for me. Nothing is confirmed but I’m hoping to take part in the Canada team’s B tour which will be the Scandinavian Cups in Latvia and Estonia.

What’s the atmosphere like in Almaty?
OBN: We are sharing a hotel with a number of other teams, so that has been a lot of fun. We have the chance to get to know them at meal times, and everyone has been really friendly and positive. The volunteers are all super friendly and nice as well so that creates a really nice atmosphere at the venue. The biggest downer is probably the smog.

Cendrine Browne [P] CCC

Cendrine Browne

How do you rate the course to other Worlds you’ve done?
CB: Well the course is pretty hard considering the fact that there is not a lot of recuperation. There are a lot of ups and downs and you always have to switch techniques. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rocks in the course, but they did a good job considering the fact that they didn’t have much snow last week. They made a lot of snow to try and make the course as good as it could be.
Walk us through your race – are you happy with your result?
CB: Well, to tell you the truth my expectations were higher coming here but still, my results are not horrible. I achieved my goal in the sprint race, which was to qualify. I qualified 24th. I had trouble with my skis that day but still, I managed to qualify. Yesterday was the 10km skate race. My race. I was much to nervous for it because my expectations were high. I managed to finish 23. Not what I wanted at all, but being 23rd at World Champs is still pretty good. And tomorrow is the skiathlon race.
How’s your form and conditioning – what prep did you do for Worlds?
CB: My form is good but not as good as I would like it to. I was top shape before coming here, but it was a little difficult for me to adjust to  the big time change just before important races.
What’s next on the schedule for you?
CB: Because I performed really well in Duntroon, where were the World Champs trials, I qualified for the National Team B Tour, which is in Europe. So I’ll be heading to Europe after World Champs.
What’s the atmosphere like in Almaty?
CB: Almaty is a big city. So it is very polluted and there are cars and people everywhere. We prefer to go skiing in the morning on training days, because the smog rises as far as the days goes by so when we ski in the morning, the air is purer.
What’s your favourite Kazakhstan food so far… ?
CB: Hum… the breakfast is the best so far!

USA’s Patterson 11th, Canada’s Bouffard-Nesbitt 17th in 10/15km FR @ FIS U23 Nordic World Championships

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Scott Patterson [P] USSAFebruary 05, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – North Americans are performing well at the FIS U23 Nordic World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, but Europeans continued to dominate as Norway’s Barbro Kvaale (NOR) and Germany’s Florian Notz (GER) won the 10/15km FR individual start women’s and men’s competitions, respectively. Athletes have made several comments about the smoggy conditions in Almaty making breathing more difficult.

Ben Saxton cheers for Scott Patterson [P] USSA

The top North American performance was delivered by the USA’s Scott Patterson (USA) in the men’s event, where he placed a strong 11th, while Canada’s Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN) delivered a solid 17th in the women’s race.

Kyle Bratrud [P] USSAPatterson said, “…I left the start quite aggressively. … This strategy placed me quite high in early splits, but even then I could feel that I was going to be struggling to maintain the pace throughout the second and third laps. As each lap came by and my standing dropped in the splits, my concern was becoming reality. Good cheering from the US juniors and wax techs helped keep me going but I was definitely in survival mode by the finish.”

Logan Hanneman [P] USSAPatrick Caldwell (USA) also had a very strong performance, placing 15th. “My strategy was to ski smooth and try to really nail all the transitions. I am very pleased with how the race played out, great to have a solid race over here,” he said.

Other North American results include Kyle Bratrud (USA) 19th, Logan Hanneman (USA) 40th, Raphael Couturier (CAN) in 41st, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) was 47th, Scott Hill (CAN) 48th and Colin Ferrie (CAN) 50th.

The conditions were very similar to yesterday with firm conditions in the AM with slightly softening conditions through the men’s race,” commented Bryan Fish, US Coach. “There was a great deal of movement within the top twenty of the men’s field. At 2.5km, I had Scott in 6th, Paddy and Kyle in a 3-way tie for 16th and Logan in 34th. The final winner was in 9th at that point.  At 7.5km, I had Scott in 8th, Kyle in 12th and Paddy in 16th.  Lap 3 (12.5km) – Scott 10th, Kyle 16th and Paddy in 19th.  Seconds meant places.

“Scott, Patrick and Kyle all went out strong and put themselves within striking distance. These guys have been quietly preparing and focused on today and their attitudes and attention to detail each day here in practice reflected their strong results they posted today. I am sure they felt they fell just short of a top ten, but they skied with aggressive intent, kept themselves within reach and fought the entire way. It was inspiring to watch,” he added.

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt warming up prior to the 10k [P]CCC

In the women’s race, Canada’s Bouffard-Nesbitt was ranked 25th at the 5k mark, but she turned it on in the second half of the race to make up eight spots. A fall on the downhill into the stadium likely cost her, but she still had a strong performance.

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt [P]CCC

“I’ve been really surprised and happy about how I’ve been approaching the races at worlds mentally. I’ve been really excited and positive before my races when normally I’m much more anxious, I think that’s contributed to some good fun racing!” said Bouffard-Nesbitt. “I couldn’t tell how my race was going on my first lap, but I was really happy to find that I had enough energy to have a strong second lap. I really hammered the second lap and pushed the second half of it as hard as I could and luckily had a great feeling and a strong finish! I’m super pleased with my result today! I had no idea what to expect going into it, and couldn’t stop smiling when I realized how well my race had gone!”

Top-ranked Team USA skier Joanne Reid (USA) commented: “The course climbs for almost 4 kilometers without any real recovery before pitching down into hills that require a lot of technique, and so make it difficult to rest.  Also, I’ve never seen a course with so many 180 degree turns, which makes for an interesting ski.”

Other North American results include Cendrine Browne (CAN) in 23rd, Reid 25th, and Dahria Beatty (CAN) 30th Cambria McDermott (USA) 32nd, Annie Pokorny (USA) 36th, and Paige Schember (USA) 38th.

We heard more from Team USA and Team Canada skiers and they had lots of insight about their experiences in Kazakhstan so far. Stay tuned for their comments coming soon to SkiTrax.com.

Results

Women here
Men here

Interview with USA’s Ben Saxton at U23 Nordic Worlds

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February 04, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – We caught up with Team USA’s Ben Saxton at the FIS Junior/U23 Nordic World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan after he finished a stellar sixth in the U23 men’s 1.3km CL sprints on the opening day of competition – race report here.

Saxton in Sprint CL Qualification [P] SMS T2

How did it feel to make the U23 Men’s Sprint CL final at Worlds ?
BS: It was amazing to reach the final, I’ve been fighting to reach this level for several years now, and arriving their in such an emphatic fashion felt amazing.

Talk about the course – conditions – and your skis.
BS: The course was subject to lots of discussion throughout the week; there was very little snow when we arrived at the venue prior to the competitions, and we ended up racing on the third iteration of the original sprint course due to the lack of snow available on the course. My skis were great, it was a tough day for skis, but my tech Tim Baucom and I worked all week to dial in the race boards and we went with kick heavy skis because of the large final climb.

You qualified a strong 10th – then beat top qualifier and eventual winner Fossli (NOR) in a close quarterfinal – that was big… tell us about it.
BS: The qualifier was a great start to the day, I was a little jittery out of the start and bounced around a tad too much on the first half of the course, but I settled down before the hill and was able to move the way I wanted heading into the finish. In my quarter I got out to a great start and controlled the heat all the way to the course’s low point and from there Fossli and I charged and separated ourselves from the rest of the heat.

Saxton (#10) battling thru the Sprint CL heats [P] SMS T2

In your semi you battled with Fossli and Skar – another close one – we’d love to hear about it.
BS: Like my quarter I got out to a pretty good start but right before we began the final climb I let myself get passed  on a technical turn, and I didn’t have the lane choice I wanted heading into the hill, which is why I didn’t get to charge all the way to the finish with those two.

Your first Worlds final – were you nervous on the start line?
BS: Not really, you definitely feel excited, and just kind of joyous at making the finals, but we mentally prepare ourselves for moments like this all year, so there isn’t much reason to be nervous.

Please walk us through the final…looks like you may have crashed.
BS: The final was similar to my semi in that I didn’t position myself just right heading into the final climb, and was subsequently given a lane I didn’t want to use. During the final, a Russian skier cut over three lanes right in front of me, and I poled between my own legs which took me out of contention. That was a big bummer, because I know that throughout the day I had been as fast as the Norwegians on the hill, and I would’ve loved to get a clean run at them in the finals.

Saxton's fateful Sprint CL final... [P] SMS T2

How’s your fitness and training gone – do you feel you’re at your best for the Worlds?
BS: I really nailed the preparation period heading into these races, and I was able to bring my A-game because of it. Before US Nationals I didn’t hit that same prep-period just right, and it showed in a week of sub-par racing. Taking care of everything just right, and getting a great plan made with my Coach Pat [O’Brien, SMS T2] felt fantastic.

What’s next for you at the U23 Worlds ?
BS: The 30K Skiathlon! Should be a fun one.

Who are your sponsors ?
BS: Fischer skis and boots, Swix poles, and Julbo sunglasses.

Any shout out for fans at home… ?
BS: Big shoutout to Val Hart.

SIA 2015 Report Part 1 – Fischer, Madshus, Salomon, One Way and Atomic

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Men's Speedmax Skate Boot copy

February 04, 2015 (Denver, CO) – The 2015 SIA Snowshow took place in Denver, Jan. 29-Feb. 1, and SkiTrax was on the ground getting you the scoop on the latest in Nordic gear, skis and tech that we’ll be seeing soon on the snow. Check out what’s happening in 2015/16 with leading brands Fischer, Solomon, Madshus, Atomic, and OneWay.

Women's Speedmax Skate Boot copy

Fischer
For the 2015/2016 season Fischer focused on completing their World Cup level Speedmax line with the development of both a Speedmax skate boot and a Speedmax pole. Fischer prioritized weight and performance in the Speedmax skate boot, eliminating all but the most essential components. The integral carbon chassis provides an extremely light and rigid foundation, which sits atop the brand new Super Skate Race Sole – a two piece NIS race sole that is 50% lighter than the popular Xcelerator sole. The World Cup Carbon Cuff gives your ankle the excellent lateral stability and forward flex needed to ski at the World Cup level. If you’re wondering why this new boot looks familiar, it’s probably because Therese Johaug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby used it to ski to their respective 2014 overall World Cup titles.

Fischer Speedmax Pole copy

Fischer utilized UHM “Air Carbon” fibres in the construction of the Speedmax pole and mounted it to the newly developed Speed Strap and the Racelite aero basket to ensure that power is transferred from your body to the snow as efficiently as possible.

Madshus
The buzz in the Madshus exhibit was centered on the release of their new IntelliGrip® Integrated Base, available on the Terrasonic IntelliGrip® Classic Ski. This year Madshus focused on bringing race performance to a skin-based wax-less ski. The IntelliGrip® system utilizes a mohair/nylon mixed progressive skin that is low profile in the front and back of the kickzone and beefy in the middle. The progressive profiling improves glide while the mohair/nylon mixture prevents icing.

Madshus Itelligrip copy

The skin is completely exchangeable thanks to the hot melted glue application system, and the skin-based kick zone can be altered based on your weight and ability level to prevent drag and maximize both kick and glide. These skis will be great for tough waxing conditions, or when you need to get in an efficient training session but don’t have the time or patience to cork in some kick wax.

Madshus Terrasonic Intelligrip copy

Salomon
Our stop to the Solomon exhibit provided us with a different take on carbon skis and skate boots. The 2015/2016 season will mark the release of Solomon’s new World Cup level line of skis, boots, and poles, called the Carbon Skate Lab. The Carbon Skate LAB boot consists of a 360° carbon monocoque frame mounted to a two-piece SNS Pilot sole.

Also mounted to the carbon frame is the full carbon cuff and the instep strap for added stability and power transfer. Inside the boot is a 3D constructed heat moldable liner, which offers great comfort and foothold. What sets this boot apart is that both the outsole and liner are completely exchangeable and easily removed for greatly extended product life; and at 900g a pair this boot is definitely in the lightweight category.

Carbon SK LAB Boot copy

The Carbon Skate LAB ski is a thing of beauty. Constructed completely from ThinPly Carbon, the Carbon Sk LAB possesses much greater torsional stiffness for added stability and energy transfer, a lower profile for better ski feel, and a weight of just 490G for better swing-weight and ski return. After feeling the torsional stiffness of this ski I expect it will perform especially well on hard snow conditions.

Solomon Carbon Skate LAB Skis copy

OneWay
Among many notable additions to the OneWay lineup for 2015/2016 are the Premio 10 Skate Carbon Boot, the Premio 9.5 Skate ski, and the Premio Carbon 13 Rollerski. The Premio 10 Skate Carbon Boot boasts a carbon cuff, an anti-torsion midsole, Thinsulate insulation, and a 3d foam heel, all mounted to the SNS Pilot system to provide a light, stiff, and comfortable boot.

One Way Premio Carbon Skate Boot copy

The Premio 9.5 skate ski serves to fill the disparity in performance and price between the Premio 9 Skate and the Premio 10 HD. The 9.5 achieves this by incorporating World Cup technology like the Premio racing base and carbon laminate, but skips out on some of the HD’s bells and whistles like the honecomb core so you can have a performance ski without breaking the bank.

OW Premio 9.5 copy

The Premio Carbon 13 is a top of the line rollerski for those ready to get serious about their summer training. It is built on a 3D monocoque frame for stiffness and response, with a 1cm offset from axel to binding for more control. These features come together to create a very ski-like feel. It comes with medium-slow wheels pre-mounted, and costs $240 USD.

OW Premio Carbon Skate 13 Rollerski copy

Atomic
Atomic plans to kick off the 2015/2016 season with the release of their new Redster Worldcup Skate boot. The Redster Worldcup Skate boot is centered around a custom fit liner for comfort, which is seamlessly bonded to the boot’s carbon chassis for optimal power transfer. Atomic utilized a dissociated Quicklace system so the skier can separately adjust the lace tension over the forefoot and the instep with ease. The carbon chassis is connected directly to both the midfoot ratchet closure and the carbon arms of the ankle cuff for power transfer and control. All of these features highlight Atomic’s emphasis on fit, comfort, and performance in their boot production.

Atomic Worldcup Redster Boot copy

As for their skis, Atomic developed two brand new skate models: the Redster Worldcup Skate-A2 and the Redster Wolrldcup Skate-A1. The A2 Plus model is stiffer and sits atop a white base for warmer snow conditions, while the A2 universal works in a broad range of snow temperatures.

Atomic Worldcup Skate A1 and A2 copy

The Skate-A1 performs on cold hard snow conditions. Atomic also completed their Skintec classic line with the addition of the Pro Skintec model, making Skintec available across a much broader price range.

Stay tuned for more coverage and videos from the on-snow Demo.

Atomic Skintec Line copy

USA Ogden’s Strong 11th Leads North Americans in 5/10km FR @ FIS Junior Nordic Worlds

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February 04, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – Day 2 of the FIS Junior World Championships got underway with the 5/10km FR interval start races. The skies stayed clear and sunny and temperatures warmed up to zero degrees on the hard-packed course featuring sharp technical corners. Team USA’s Katharine Ogden (USA) with Stratton Mountain led the North American women with a strong Worlds-debut 11th place finish, as Katherine Stewart-Jones from Nakkertok was next up for Canada in 25th.

Katharine Ogden (USA) [P]USSA

Germany’s Victoria Carl (GER), the previous day’s junior women’s sprint winner, added another gold to her medal tally, while Russia swept the top four in the men’s event, with Alexey Chervotkin (RUS) taking top spot.

Other North American results include Anne-Marie Comeau (CAN) 39th, Annah Hanthorn (CAN) 44th, Maya McIssac-Jones 45th, Vivian Hett (USA) 46th, Kristen Bourne (USA) 51st, and Alayna Sonnesyn (USA) 56th.

Vivian Hett IMG_3952 copy

“Katharine was in the hunt the right from the get-go. The conditions for the women were quite firm and fast, while it started to break down just a little bit for the men,” said Team USA Junior Coach Matt Boobar.

“She did an excellent job of pacing the 5km. Katharine was tied for 11th at 2.5km and closed ground in the last couple 1.5km. It is really exciting to see her finish just 10 seconds out of the top six. An incredible result for her first ever Junior World race. We’re really looking forward to what the skiathlon brings,” Boobar continued.

Ian Torchia IMG_3965 1 copy

Stewart-Jones, 19, from Chelsea, Que., had her best distance result ever at the junior worlds. “Overall the athletes were happy with how their skis ran today,” said Lisa Patterson, high-performance development coordinator that is leading the team for Cross Country Canada. “The course was hard packed with lots of tight steep corners making for another technical course. We are looking for some strong results from our under-23 athletes tomorrow.”

The top North American man was Alexis Dumas in 30th. He was followed by American Ian Torchia (USA) in 35th, Phillipe Boucher (CAN) in 40th, Thomas O’Harra (USA) 49th, Zachary Cristofanilli (CAN) in 53rd, Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (CAN) 54th, and Team USA’ Thomas Bye (USA) and Gavin Hess (USA) in 69th and 76th, respectively.

Thomas OHarra IMG_4003 copy

“It was certainly a great result for Katharine [Ogden] today and solid results for Ian Torchia and Thomas O’Harra,” added Boobar.

Gavin Hess IMG_4012 copy

Results
Men here
Women here

American Ben Saxton Stellar 6th in Men’s 1.3km CL Sprints at FIS U23 Worlds – Canada’s Beatty Top Women in 20th

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February 03, 2015 (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – The USA’s Ben Saxton (USA) finished a stellar sixth in the U23 Men’s 1.3km CL Sprint at the FIS Junior/U23 World Championships in Kazakhstan after qualifying 10th. Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) was the top Canuck in 14th. Norway’s Sondre Turvoll Fossli (NOR) claimed the title.

Ben Saxton leads his quarterfinal heat which he won - Logan Hanneman is left rear. [P] USSA

Saxton, who skis for SMS T2, powered to victory in his quarter final with teammate Logan Hanneman, who qualified 21st, placing 5th to finish 23rd overall. Saxton was 3rd in his semi-final but it was the faster of the two heats and he advanced to the finals as one of two Lucky Losers – Richard Jouve (Fra) who finished just behind him in 4th also advanced to the finals.

Saxton, from Lakeville, MN, had an unfortunate crash in the final in close quarters with a Russian skier and his pole got between his legs and he went down. Saxton ended up 6th in the final for his best ever result at the Worlds and the best result for Team USA on the first day of the championships.

Johnsgaard qualified in 16th at just under 6 seconds behind Fossli, who was third in the Ruka World Cup sprints last November. He finished third in his quarterfinal ending up 14th on the day.

A 10th of a second separated 31st place Seb Townsend (CAN) from a qualifying result and Raphael Couturier (CAN) also missed qualifying by about 1/2 a second in 33rd place. Scott Hill (CAN) was 40th.

“Good race today,” said Johnsgaard. “My form is good this week which I didn’t feel in the Nor-Am’s leading up to the championships. It was a great day for Canada, I think. We had great skis and had quite a few athletes in the quarters. We were racing in very poor air quality. I’ve never smoked a pack of cigarettes in my life, but I definitely made up for that today by racing in the smog. I’m looking forward to the rest of the championships.”

Francesca Baudin (ITA) won the U23 Women’s event, while Dahria Beatty (CAN) led the North American women in 20th, followed closely by teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN) in 21st. Anne Hart (USA) was the top-ranked Team USA skier in 24th.

Annie Pokorny [P] USSA

“I skied the corners and downhills aggressively and tactfully well, and then worked my way into the uphill.  I got a little bit frantic towards the top, but kept it together for a solid 21st place qualifier. I had never qualified for the heats before, so that was really exciting for me,” said Hart. “Skiing with the European girls was unlike any other heat I’ve ever done, it was really eye opening and gave me a lot to think about and learn from.  I’m gearing up for a 6-week European tour, and I’m excited to put what I learned today to the test for the rest of the season.”

The USA’s Deedra Irwin (USA) finished 31st and Annie Pokorny (USA) was 32nd – we caught up with Pokorny for her take on the venue and the racing.

“Dirty, dry man-made snow, it was cold in the morning with smog rolling in as things warmed up,” described Pokorny. “The track got pretty icy by the time the U23s rolled around, but all the men still strided with the exception of a few U23s in the qualifier. The course goes out and does five downhill switchbacks before climbing up a huge climb into the stadium. High energy but lots of pollution – the course is on the hillside overlooking the city, when you can see it) – as volunteers and race officials working tirelessly to get snow on the courses.”

The Canadian women had some solid results in qualifications with Bouffard-Nesbitt leading the way in 12th, just under 4 seconds back of the winner Baudin. Cendrine Browne (CAN) was 24th and Beatty was 27th. This was an improvement from 2014 when only Widmer made the knockout rounds. The USA’s Hart led her team in qualification, finishing 21st.

Browne and Beatty were drawn together in quarter-final number 2. Beatty finished 4th in the heat, 7 seconds from the lead according to the official results. Browne must have had a fall or had equipment issues, finishing 6th well off the pace. Bouffard-Nesbitt finished 5th in her heat at about 6 seconds back from the lead.

Results

U23 Men Qualifications here
U23 Men Results here

U23 Women Qualifications here
U23 Women Results here

Russian Biathlete and Three Junior XC Skiers Test Positive

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Rusada logo_en.2January 29, 2015 (Moscow, Russia) – In separate announcements, Russian authorities revealed that three junior cross-country ski stars and a biathlete have tested positive for banned substances report RUSADA, and l’Équipe.

“The Cross Country Federation of Russia, following the materials provided by RUSADA, rendered a decision that made Mashkin N.E. and Kalinina A.G. ineligible for two years for the anti-doping rule violation, the period commencing on April 22, 2014,” reads a Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) press release.

Mashkin, 20, is the country’s reigning national junior cross-country skiing champion over 50km. The “Kalinina” referred to above is apparently Arina Kalinina, 19 who finished second in the July 2013 Team Sprint F of the Roller Skiing Junior World Cup in Novgorod, Russia.

A separate RUSADA press release reads: “The Cross Country Federation of Russia, upon a decision of the Disciplinary Anti-doping Committee, rendered a decision that made Gavrilova U.O. ineligible for two years for the anti-doping rule violation, the period commencing on September 23, 2014.”

SkiTrax believes this athlete is Ulyana Gavrilova, 21, who won the Roller Skiing World Cup SP F Final in Val di Fiemme, Italy on Sept. 20, 2014.

Meanwhile, Alexander Loginov, 22, a Russian and four-time junior world biathlon champion, failed a doping test in November, 2013 according to l’Équipe, a daily newspaper based in France. For some reason, there was a delay of over one year before his positive test result was announced on Jan. 29, 2015. Loginov won the 4 x 7.5 km relay in Annecy on December 13, 2013. He also finished 30th in the 10km at the Sochi Games in February 2014.

As reported earlier, German journalist Hajo Seppelt produced a documentary TV program in 2014 alleging widespread and systemic doping in Russia. Cross-country skiing was among those sports cited in the documentary.

RUSADA here.

L’Équipe (French) here.

SkiTrax’s previous report on Russian doping here.

FIS Cross Country Talk – Interview w/Liz Stephen

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January 29, 2015 – Liz Stephen recorded her first individual World Cup podium last weekend in Rybinsk. FIS Cross-Country News talked to the 28-year-old U.S. skier about the World Cup podium experience, good vibe in the team heading into the World Championship and much more.

Final podium (l-r) Stephen 2nd, Jacobsen 1st, Boehler 3rd [P] Nordic Focus

January has been a great month for you with a 5th place finish overall in the Tour de Ski and your first individual World Cup podium with 2nd place in the 10 km F in Rybinsk. Both results are best-ever results for a U.S. female in cross-country skiing. Were both results pre-season targets for you?
Liz Stephen: Thanks! January has been a fun month, for sure, especially since I celebrated my birthday too, which I spent in Seiser Alm. That has to be one of the more beautiful places you can hope to spend your birthday, so I feel pretty lucky. I had set a Top-Five goal for the Tour de Ski this year, so I was really happy to achieve the result. Rybinsk I knew would be a good opportunity to have a strong race, as the races suited me quite well, and as it drew nearer and I felt like my shape was in the right place to have a good race, I set a podium goal.

Stephen (l) and Bjornsen racing in Toblach last year [P] Nordic Focus

How was the World Cup podium experience for you? As you had hoped?
LS: I still can’t quite believe that I stood on that step, especially with the girls who kept me company up there. I was quite emotional in the finish area. I have spent the last two summers training a bit with Astrid and we have a close friendship, so to be on my first podium with her was really special, and Stefi is one of the happiest on the World Cup, so I have always been drawn to her personality and find myself cheering for her in the races. It was made even more special that both of them had their first podiums or wins here in 2007 and 2009.

FIS world cup cross-country,individual sprint, Rybinsk (RUS)

After the World Cup weekend in Rybinsk, it would appear the U.S. women’s team is on the way up with strong performances from yourself, Jessie Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen and newcomer Rosie Brennan. There must be a good vibe in the team heading into the World Championship?
LS: Yes, we certainly have good feelings with the team heading into the World Championship. We are spread out a bit between a few different places, but the majority of the team is training in Davos, which has been our base for much of this year, and feels like our European home. Going into the season, we had a slower start than usual, and we had to be patient, as it had been our team plan to come in a bit less “hot” than we have in past seasons. Our focus has been on being fast and ready for the Championships, and I believe we are ready to accomplish the goals we have set. That goes for our individual goals, as well as our team goals. One of our strongest assets in this team is being able to ride the highs of one another’s successes as if they were our own. I believe that this aspect of our team is one of our strongest and it is what keeps us hungry, clawing and fighting our way to the results we want to achieve.

What do the next few weeks look like for you as you prepare for Falun 2015? What competitions in Falun are you most focused on?
LS: I will only race the 10k skate, so that is my focus, and as it is the final race before the World Championships, it will be a good test race to deal with the nerves that tend to elevate a bit during a championship.

Liz Stephen, US Ski Team 2nd place today (Raced two more laps after initial 4) [P] Drew Goldsack

At 28 years of age you are coming into your peak years for distance athletes in cross-country. At the age of 34, Marit Bjoergen is having one of her most dominant seasons. Is it motivating to you having achieved personal bests this season that it can continue to climb the World rankings and add to your podium count?
LS: Marit is an incredible role model for any aspect of sport. She is a strong, caring, kind, extremely hard working, fun loving woman, from all that I have seen and experienced of her. Throughout the ups and downs of her career, the thing that stands out the most to me is that she never gave up. I think she is more dominant now perhaps than ever, because she has experienced the roller coaster of sport and learned how to weather the downs, and how to get back on the track she wants to be on. That is not an easy thing to figure out, but she has done it and it makes her extremely hard to beat, not to mention, quite an admirable role model.

As for me, I do feel like I have learned a lot in the last year. I feel like a more mature athlete in a lot of ways, and I can feel the end of my career creeping closer, which has been a good added pressure. The time is now, and time, as it turns out, has a way of slipping right through our fingers, so I have been doing my best to seize the opportunities where I have them. This wonderful, frustrating, all-consuming life of skiing is not a forever thing, though at points I wish it were, but rather a time period that is extremely special and finite. I am realizing this and finally able to figure out what I really want from it. I can tell you, the podiums are only a small part of it, but they are a fun part and an important part as well. The real fun for me lies in trying to improve, working really hard on something and seeing it get better. To mentally jump over hurdles that make the hurdles that come up in daily life feel a bit more like bumps. This team that we have right now, these people, this feeling that we all have together, this will be hard to find again in whatever the next part of life brings. So, I am taking it all in, soaking it all up, and I’m going to ride the highs and survive the lows for as long as I have these people surfing the seas next to me.

If you hung up your skis tomorrow what would you see yourself doing?
LS: Become a nurse. For sure. I can’t wait.

USA’s Soule, Masters Win Medals in XC Sprints on Day 4 of Cable IPC XC Skiing Worlds

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Andrew Soule [P]James Netz PhotographyJanuary 29, 2015 (Cable, WI) – Russia’s visually impaired skiers took both men’s and women’s cross-country sprint titles at the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, on Wednesday (28 January), while Andy Soule (USA) and Oksana Masters (USA) both won bronze in the men’s and women’s sitting categories, respectively, as Team USA advanced five athletes to the finals of the cross-country sprint on the fourth day of competition at the International Paralympic Committee Nordic Skiing World Championships.

The men’s standing event was an all-Russian top three with Vladimir Udaltcov and guide Ruslan Bogachev winning gold whilst compatriots Oleg Ponomarev, guided by Andrei Romanov, took silver. Stanislav Chokhlaev and guide Evgenii Fatkhullin raced to bronze, their third medal of Cable 2015.

Elena Remizova and guide Maksim Pirogov also cruised to gold in the women’s race, giving them their third medal.

Silver was won by Ukraine’s Oksana Shyshkova and guide Lada Nesterenko, a feat Shyshkova was pleased with given the competition.

“I have very strong competitors so as usual, the race was quite tough,” Shyshkova said through a translator. “I’m happy with the result and satisfied with my skiing.”

Russia’s Iuliia Budaleeva, guided by Tatiana Maltseva, crossed the line in third to win bronze.

After being held off the podium on Tuesday (27 January), Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi returned by winning gold in the men’s sitting. Russian Alexey Bychenok claimed silver and the USA’s Soule claimed his third medal in four races with bronze.

“It was a great day for me and for Team USA,” Soule said. “I’m so proud to be part of this team. It was a very interesting race with traffic the whole time. I was in the race the whole way, and I was able to find that last bit of speed when I needed it at the end.”

Soule’s achievement was part of a two-medal performance for the host country as Oksana Masters was awarded an emotional bronze in the women’s sitting.

Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), a two-time Paralympic medalist in Nordic skiing, won the first world championships medal of her career.

“This was a really tough competition,” Masters said. “The tracks were really tight, and I’ve never spent so much time skiing in such a close pack. I’m thrilled with my result today, especially on such a tough course.”

“It is really rewarding to get on the podium,” Masters said.

The U.S. team displayed excellent depth as three men and two women advanced to the sprint finals after the qualifying and semifinal rounds. Soule was joined by teammates Navy Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnossen (Topeka, Kansas) and Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota) as the U.S. athletes filled half of the six spots in the final; Cnossen finished fifth, Pike finished in sixth.

In the women’s final, Masters was joined by teammate and 11-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland) who finished sixth.

“We’re so proud of our team’s performance today,” said U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing head coach Eileen Carey. “So much of our focus this year has been on improving tactics and maneuvering, and those where huge components to our success in getting five athletes to the finals and two athletes on the podium today.”

After four days of competition, Team USA owns four medals with one silver and three bronze medals. Athletes will enjoy an off day on Thursday, followed by three additional days of competition.

Germany’s Andrea Eskau powered herself to her second gold medal and Norwegian Mariann Marthinsen took silver to round out the podium in the women’s sitting.

Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova continued her domination in the women’s standing, charging to an unbelievable fourth gold medal and 100 per cent record in cross-country and biathlon from Cable 2015.

Kononova beat Sweden’s Paralympic champion Helene Ripa into silver, whilst Kononova’s teammate Luidmyla Liashenko took bronze.

“It is a fight but in a good way,” Ripa said. “I think she [Kononova] is very happy today that she beat me and I think she had a very good race today and I am very happy to be second.”

The men’s standing saw Russia take their third gold of the day courtesy of Vladislav Lekomtcev. France’s Benjamin Daviet took silver to once again find his way onto the podium.

“It was a hard race,” Daviet said with the help of a translator. “Third medal in three days. It is very good.”

Lekomtcev’s compatriot Rushan Minnegulov took bronze to round out the top three.

1km CL Sprint Results
Women
Men

Competition continues on Friday (30 January) with biathlon long distance events.

Races start at 10am (CST) every day, with a rest day on 29 January.

A live stream of the competition is available at USParalympics.org. Complete results and competition schedules are available at Paralympic.org.

Canada’s McKeever Golden, USA’s Soule Bronze in Distance Races on Day 2 at Cable IPC Nordic Worlds

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January 26, 2015 (Cable, WI) – Brian McKeever (CAN) and his guide Erik Carleton successfully defended their IPC World Championship title in the men’s 20-kilometre cross-country ski race on Sunday in Cable, Wisconsin.

Brian McKeever (CAN) [P] Pam Doyle

Competing in his lone event at the 2015 IPC Nordic World Skiing Championships, the 35-year-old McKeever, of Canmore, Alta., and his guide, Carleton, hammered the field to clock a time of 43 minutes, 44.5 seconds in the men’s visually impaired skate-ski race.

“It has been a pretty rough season to now, but it is starting to come around and today is validation of that. I’m pumped to see it come together,” said McKeever, who arrived late last night and will only do this one race at the IPC Nordic World Skiing Championships. “The wax guys and coaches worked hard to choose skis for me. They deserve a big part of today’s medal because we were able to come in here, put our work boots on and race.

“I’m excited I was able to do a good job today and prove to myself I am where I’m supposed to be. I am now looking forward to the rest of the season.”

France’s Thomas Clarion (45:29.8) and guide Julien Bourla carried themselves to silver while the Russian duo of Stanislav Chokhlaev (45.42.2) and guide Evgenii Fatkhullin picked up the bronze.

The women’s equivalent saw Iuliia Budaleeva (46:49.3) and Tatiana Maltseva capture gold while teammates Elena Remizova (47:21.1) and guide Maksim Pirogov took silver. Ukraine’s Olga Prylutska and guide Borys Babar sealed bronze (49:00.9).

Russia claimed another gold medal as Rushan Minnegulov (43:43.6) won the men’s standing event. Frenchman Benjamin Daviet won his second silver of Cable 2015, finishing in a time of 44:15.9, whilst Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh (44:53.7) rounded off the podium in third.

Reptyukh’s compatriots Oleksandra Kononova (43.42.8) and Liiudmyia Liashenko (46:08.9) repeated their performance in biathlon from Saturday to win gold and silver respectively.

“I was training very long to get this kind of results” Liashenko said. “We worked very hard and the track here is really hard so it is not an easy race, which is why I am very satisfied with the result.”

Russia’s Ekaterina Rumyantseva (47:24.5) took bronze.

In the women’s sitting, Germany’s Andrea Eskau powered her way to her second medal of the competition, taking gold with an emphatic finish in 40:14.9. Marta Zaynullina (40.21.7) added a silver to Russia’s medal haul whilst Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen (41:12.3) was third.

“The temperature was not really a problem because it is not that cold yet,” Eskau said. “The course was a little bit slower than yesterday and my strategy was not to push too hard on the first run.”

In the women’s sitting race, USA’s Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky) was just shy of a podium finish. The three-time Paralympic medalist finished fourth, with only three seconds separating her from the podium. Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Maryland), an 11-time Paralympic medalist in track and field and Nordic skiing, finished eighth.

Aleksandr Davidovich claimed Russia’s latest gold medal in the men’s event, finishing in a time of 44:06.2. Ukraine’s Maksym Yarovyi (44:11.3), Saturday’s (24 January) short distance biathlon gold winner, took silver.

Andy Soule (USA) [P]James Netz

The USA’s Andrew Soule (44:26.0) picked up his second medal in as many days to complete the top three.

Olympic champion, Canada’s Chris Klebl of Canmore, Alta., narrowly missed the podium in the men’s 15-kilometre sit-ski division. Klebl, who won his first Paralympic gold on the final day of the Games in Sochi, clocked a fourth-place time of 45:37.2.

Andy Soule (USA) takes bronze in Cable. [P]James Netz

“This has been a great event so far,” Soule said. “The organisers and volunteers have put on a wonderful event, the course has been groomed out fantastically. It has just been a lot of fun.”

“It was a really good race, and the course was really fast,” Soule said. “I just focused on breaking the race down into each area I needed to think about like skiing the straights fast and getting up the hills quickly and efficiently, and it paid off. I didn’t really worry about where I was in the standings; I just skied my race and had fun with it. It feels great to have two medals.”

Andy Soule (USA) wins bronze in Cable. [P]James Netz

“This was a really amazing day for Andy [Soule] because he has never won a medal in the cross-country race,” said U.S. Paralympics Nordic skiing head coach Eileen Carey. “I think this is a good indication of his improvement in ski speed this year. He paced the race really well, and he was making gains on the athletes in front of him the whole time. It was a really exciting race to watch.”

Soule’s teammate Aaron Pike (Park Rapids, Minnesota) had his best result in international competition as he finished in fifth place.

“Aaron had an awesome race,” Carey said. “This is a really hilly course, and he’s been working on his climbing technique. This was the best result he has had, and we’re excited to see all of his work pay off.”

Other U.S. finishers included Lt. Cmdr. Dan Cnoosen (Topkea, Kansas) in eighth, Sean Halstead (Rathdrum, Idaho) in 10th and Bryan Price (Belton, Missouri) in 11th.

In other Canadian results, Derek Zaplotinsky, of Smoky Lake, Alta., and Yves Bourque, of Becancour, Que., finished 12th and 13th respectively. Zaplotinsky posted a time of 56:43.0, while Bourque clocked a time of 57:09.7.

Monday (26 January) will be a rest day with the competition continuing on Tuesday (27 January) with the biathlon middle distance races.

Results here.

A live stream will be shown at www.cable2015.com

All competitions begin at 10am (CST) every day, with another rest day on 29 January.

USA’s Diggins 5th, Stephen 7th in 15km FIS Skiathlon WCup at Rybinsk

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January 26, 2015 (Rybinsk, Russia) – Team USA women had another fantastic day as Jessie Diggins (USA) continued her upward trajectory to finish fifth in the 15km Skiathlon FIS World Cup event in Rybinsk, Russia, followed closely by her storming teammate Liz Stephen (USA) in seventh, and two more teammates in the top 20.

FIS world cup cross-country,individual sprint, Rybinsk (RUS)

Russia’s Yulia Tschekaleva (RUS) grabbed her first World Cup victory, completing the 7.5km CL/7.5km FR race in a time of 44:16.0, 15.6s ahead of second place, Martine Ek Hagen (NOR), and 22.9s in front of third place, Riitta-Liissa Roponen (FIN).

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon women, Rybinsk (RUS)

Tschekaleva made her winning move early, attacking at the end of the classic portion to finish the skate leg solo.

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon women, Rybinsk (RUS)

Diggins was pleased with her second top-five effort in as many days: “I’m super psyched to be having a great race weekend and really proud of our team – 4 in top 20 is always a sweet thing! Our techs and coaches came through with fantastic boards and I was able to keep calm and keep pushing in the classic half, and in the skate half I kept yoyo-ing off the back in a pack the was moving through the field, and somehow had just enough energy at the end to sprint it out!”

Stephen, who really started to shine during the Tour de Ski, continued to perform well in Rybinsk and had the honour of wearing the #1 bib for her first time. “I feel confident and happy at where I am going into the preparation period for World Champs and I am really excited to have some good team time next week in Davos, with great tracks, sunny weather and fun activities all together, maybe even a video!”

“The techs made great skis again, especially classic skis, and I felt, again, like I could ski as I wanted to up all the hills.  My energy was great, the hills couldn’t come fast enough and none seemed long enough, which makes me feel really good about where my fitness is right now.  The wind played a significant factor, especially in the skate race, and made it really difficult to make any breaks, though it was possible as Yulia showed today.  It was especially great to see Jessie having her form in both sprinting and distance coming back to where she knows it can be and wants it to be.  Today and yesterday were really big days for her and for our team,” said Stephen.

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon women, Rybinsk (RUS)

Sadie Bjornsen (USA) had a strong day as well, finishing 13th: “Another great day of racing here in Russia. After a solid classic leg, I struggled for a while when I first switched to skate, but was able to pull it together by the end. Russia has some challenging courses here, but I have really enjoyed them this week! I am for sure ready for a nice break for the next couple weeks!

Really great to see Jessie skiing another incredible day, and a solid 4 girls in the top 20! Fun confidence before World Championships.”

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon women, Rybinsk (RUS)

And finally, Rosie Brennan (USA) took 20th place: “I think I skied very consistently. I skied the whole race within a few places of where I started, which I am happy about. I tend to prefer classic, but the classic was a little tricky today and the hills were quite steep so I was actually happy to switch to skate. I am definitely feeling some fatigue from the last month so I didn’t feel like I had much finishing speed which was a bummer because I was skiing in a pack and would have liked to finish in the front of that pack. The conditions were solid. It’s quite humid here so the kick was a little tricky despite the hard tracks and good temperatures, but everyone was struggling a bit so it was really have keeping your calm and making it work. I thought my skis were good in both legs.

It’s inspiring and exciting to see so many girls doing really well. I am very happy for them and it gives me hope that I can continue to improve upon my own results and one day be skiing with them.”

No Canadian women competed.

Results here.

Canada’s Harvey 9th at FIS WCup 30km Skiathlon in Rybinsk as Vylegzhanin Grabs Gold

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January 26, 2015 (Rybinsk, Russia) – Alex Harvey (CAN) bounced back after a difficult sprint race to climb his way back into the top-10 in a men’s 30-kilometre pursuit race on Sunday in Rybinsk, Russia. Harvey, 26, took advantage of ideal racing conditions to post a ninth-place time of one hour, 22 minutes, 10.8 seconds (1:22:10.8).

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon men, Rybinsk (RUS)

“Having raced three times this weekend, I was feeling a little fatigued and was missing a bit at the end of the race,” said Harvey. “All the same, I’m satisfied with the result. Being in the top-10 – you always have to take that with a smile.”

Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., skied near the front of the lead pack for the majority of the 15-kilometre classic leg. After entering the transition zone to switch into skate-skiing gear with the clock still running, the two-time Olympian charged out onto the course for 15 kilometres of skate skiing. Executing his race tactics to near perfection, Harvey took his turn at the front of the pack, while leading the field through the rolling terrain

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon men, Rybinsk (RUS)

Ensuring none of the world’s best could surge ahead of the pack, Harvey was in complete control with the final five kilometre loop. Matching stride-for-stride with the lead group, Harvey was not able to respond to the pace that intensified with two kilometres to go, and fought for ninth spot.

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon men, Rybinsk (RUS)

Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) was first to cross the line and led six Russians into the top-eight. Vylegzhanin clocked a time of 1:21:54.8. Switzerland’s Dario Cologna (SUI) was second at 1:21:57.5, while Finland’s Matti Heikkinen (FIN) skied to the bronze-medal step of the podium with a time of 1:22:01.0.

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon men, Rybinsk (RUS)

Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., capped off one of his strongest World Cup weeks of the post-Olympic year. Returning to his birth country, Babikov hammered the pace in the skate-ski leg, picking off the field one-by-one until he finished in 19th spot at 1:22:26.3.

FIS world cup cross-country, skiathlon men, Rybinsk (RUS)

“I struggled a bit in classic part of the race, two times I got stuck behind some skiers crashing and after second time I wasn’t strong enough to breach that gap between our group and main pack,” said Babikov. “But I managed to gain about 35 seconds in the skate leg and get back to the main leading group. Unfortunately I spent too much energy doing that, and had not much left in the tank for the last lap and finished at the back of the leading group. I am pretty happy with my 19th place and I’m looking forward to get home to start preparing for the World Championships in Falun.”

Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was solid in the classic-ski portion of the race. Skiing through the field, Kershaw hung on to the back of the lead group until the final loop when he began to drop off the pace. Kershaw crossed the finish line in 34th with a time of 1:23:30.0. Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., skied to 40th spot at 1:24:31.1.

Meanwhile, Matt Gelso (USA) led the U.S. men in 48th place.

Results here.

USA 8th and Canada 9th as Norway Wins IBU Men’s Relay Gold in Antholz

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January 25, 2015 (Antholz, Italy) – Team USA claimed 8th while the Canadian men followed in 9th as Norway took the IBU men’s 4×7.5km Relay victory using five spare rounds on the final day of competition in Antholz-Anterselva, Italy. Germany followed 16.4s later having used seven rounds with France third at 42.0s behind using five spare rounds as well.

Team Norway [P] Nordic Focus

Windy conditions made for a challenging day on the range as US Biathlon’s Lowell Bailey used six spares tagging Sean Doherty in 10th. Doherty had a remarkable second leg, skiing the sixth-fastest time (18:53.1) and needing just one spare in prone and two in standing moving his squad up to eighth as he exchanged with Tim Burke. Burke cleaned in prone but in standing used three spares with three penalties while anchor Leif Nordgren used five spares as the U.S. held on to eighth.

Sean Doherty (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Meanwhile, rookie Christian Gow, 21, had a solid outing as the lead off for the Canadian men using two spare rounds. Brendan Green used five spare rounds battling with Italy and the USA as Scott Gow took over using four spares. Anchor Nathan Smith, battled through the deteriorating weather to get the Canadians across the finish line in ninth with one penalty and 15 spare rounds.

Scott Gow [P] Biathlon Canada

“I am happy with today’s race. It has been a big learning experience these past three weeks on the World Cup, especially so in the relay competitions,” said Christian Gow. “I felt a bit better skiing today than I have lately, and I was able to keep it together on the range again. I’m happy with the place that I tagged in, but there were a couple things I wish I had done better. It has been a great experience racing so many World Cups, and I am looking forward to continuing to learn and improve in my abilities.”

Full results here.

USA’s Dunklee Strong 6th in IBU Women’s 10K Pursuit at Antholz as Domracheva Scores a Hat-Trick

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Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 24, 2015 (Antholz, Italy) – American Susan Dunklee pushed closer to the podium with a stellar 6th place finish with one penalty at 1:40.8 behind winner Darya Domracheva (Bel) who nailed her third straight victory winning the IBU women’s 10km Pursuit at Antholz with one penalty. Russia’s Daria Virolaynen also had one penalty en route to  second as Finland’s Kaisa Makarainen pipped Franziska Hildebrand (GER) for the bronze in a tight finish despite suffering five penalties to Hildebrand’s single missed shot.

Darya Domracheva (BLR) [P] Nordic Focus

Dunklee was the eighth skier out of the gate but dropped to 13th after a penalty at the second prone position. She regrouped and cleaned both standing stages advancing to sixth, less than two seconds behind Makarainen in 4th. But she was unable to move up as Makarainen pulled away over the final stretch to steal away third place.

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

“Kaisa was a great ride to have on that last loop because she pushes the pace,” added Dunklee. “Tactically, it would have been smart to get in directly behind her early and hope the pace would be too hard for Marie Dorin, but I was feeling a little tired today and fell off the back instead. By the time Kaisa dropped Marie Dorin at the end of the loop, I was too far back to capitalize.”

Rosanna Crawford [P] Nordic Focus

Meanwhile, Canada’s Rosanna Crawford, 26, put in another solid performance in just her second race since returning from illness that kept her in bed for just over one week. Shooting clean in her first three stops on the range she moved into 17th spot, but one miss in final shooting dropped her out of the top-20 and she finished 26th at 3:28 behind.

Megan Heinicke (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Megan Heinicke (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Megan Heinicke overcame missing two shots in her first bout on the range and cleaned her last three rounds of shooting to move into 29th place at 3:32 behind.

The USA’s Hannah Dreissigacker, who started in the final pursuit position, passed 10 other competitors on the course to finish 42nd with four penalties.

Full results here.

 

Canada’s Green 18th as Streak Ends – Germany’s Schempp Takes Third Win in Men’s 12.5K Pursuit at Antholz –

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January 24, 2015 (Antholz, Italy) – A dramatic finish in the men’s 12.5km pursuit at Antholz saw Germany’s Simon Schempp triumph yet again in a battle to the line over Austria’s Simon Eder in second with Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev in third as Norway’s Ole Einar Björndalen settled for fourth.

Schempp wins [P]

The four all shot clean on the final standing session leaving together to contend for the final spots on the podium.  Björndalen was the only clean shooter overall as Schempp had two penalties and the others each one miss for the final showdown with Schempp the strongest sprinter in the fouresome as he lunged at the line for his third consecutive victory.

Four leaders at final standing [P] Nordic Focus

Canadian Brendan Green’s, 28, unprecedented streak of clean shooting, ended today as he suffered four penalties on his way to a respectable 18th place finish at 1:57.9 behind.

“I knew my clean shooting streak would have to come to an end eventually. It would have been amazing to keep it going for one more race, especially today, but it was great that it lasted so long and hopefully I can continue to have strong shooting throughout the season,” said Green.

Brendan Green (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“Today’s race was a tougher one for me.  I had anticipated that I would likely have to red line it to catch and then ski with (the leaders) on the first loop which I was able to do, but the pace absolutely crushed me,” said Green. “I knew the pace was one I wasn’t going to be able to handle. It was a great experience to be in contention for the podium for part of the race, and it was a learning opportunity for sure.  I’m happy to have had that opportunity and hopefully next time I can stay in contention for more of the race.”

The USA’s Lowell Baily moved up to 25th but fell back to 32nd after three missed targets in standing, eventually crossing the line in 31st place with 5 penalties at 2:49.5 behind. His teammate Tim Burke also suffered five missed target and moved up to eventually finish in 40th.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

“I’m happy that my skiing recovered from Thursday’s race, but I was definitely disappointed that I couldn’t put it together in the range,” Bailey said. “I’m looking forward to another chance in the relay tomorrow.”

Christian Gow, 21, of Calgary, skied to 46th in just his fourth World Cup with two penalties at 4:23.4 behind.

Full results here.

Dramatic Podium for USA’s Taylor Fletcher at FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Sapporo

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January 24, 2015 (Sapporo, Japan) – Brothers Taylor and Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) worked together to move up in a FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Sapporo Saturday, with Taylor coming out on the podium in dramatic fashion. Taylor was third, Bryan eighth as the USA picked up its first World Cup podium since Taylor was third in Seefeld two years ago. Germany’s Eric Frenzel continued to run up his win streak with his fifth straight with a 1.8 second margin over Japan’s Akito Watabe with Fletcher 3.5 seconds out.

Taylor Fletcher [P] USSA

“It was a great day, for sure!” said Taylor. “I was pretty bummed out after yesterday as I knew I was capable of much better. I have known that my good jumps are good enough to put me in a position to fight for the top three. I went out with a clear mind and knew what I needed to do on the ski jump to make it happen.”

Taylor soared 123.0 meters on his jump, putting him 28th – one spot behind brother Bryan with both starting over two minutes behind the leaders.

The two worked together quickly to move up, cutting nearly a minute off the gap in the first of four 2.5k laps.

It was a great day, for sure! I was pretty bummed out after yesterday as I knew I was capable of much better. I have known that my good jumps are good enough to put me in a position to fight for the top three,” said Fletcher. “I went out with a clear mind and knew what I needed to do on the ski jump to make it happen. I was able right away to get some good feelings after a better trial round and bring that with me. The competition jump was, hands down, my best jump of the season. I had some help with the wind, but, that being said, I produced a jump that could benefit with good wind.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to be as close to the front of the race as I wanted. But I also knew that the leaders aren’t the fastest and that it would only be (Eric) Frenzel in the lead after a few laps.” Heading into the third lap. Taylor had the leader’s in sight. “When I came around on the third lap, I was very surprised to see the leaders so close to me and knew if I put in some great efforts I could bridge the gap.”

Taylor surged forward and took over the lead on the fourth lap, but eventually succumbed to Frenzel and Watabe to take third. Taylor posted the fastest cross country time, with brother Bryan second fastest with a big gap to the rest of the field.

“Today was even more special as Bryan was eighth again and proving that he is one of the top skiers on the circuit!,” added Taylor.

“Today was another solid day. Taylor had an amazing day jumping putting him in 28th, his season best jumping result. He took advantage of it by skiing the fastest time in the cross country course and putting in an amazing attack to end up on the podium in third place,” said Bryan.

“Personally I had an OK jump, however I by no means performed at my best. I ended up 27th and knew with Taylor right there we had a group to work and ski up with. I led the first lap and then hung onto Taylor until the third lap when he attacked. I did what I could to hang but knew I didn’t have the legs to stay with him.

“I skied smart today, conserved energy and was able to continue climbing on the fourth lap to finish inside the top 10 in eighth but fighting for fifth. Overall I am very happy to have both Taylor and I in the top 10. And even more excited to have the first and second fastest times by 20 second and 10 seconds over the next best!

Full results here.

 

USA’s Stephen Claims Historic World Cup Podium in Women’s 10km FR at Rybinsk

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January 23, 2015 (Rybinsk,Russia) – The USA’s Liz Stephen skied into the record books with a historic second-place finish on Friday in the women’s 10km FR race in Rybinsk, Russia – her first full World Cup podium and the best-ever distance result by an American woman.

“It feels amazing. It has been such a special day here, surrounded by my team. It’s been a long journey, with ups and downs, as any athlete in any career has,” Stephen told Trax. “But what has made me stick with it and want to come back year after year is all of the people who make up this team and the greater team.

Final podium (l-r) Stephen 2nd, Jacobsen 1st, Boehler 3rd [P] Nordic Focus

“I didn’t realize right away but this is not only my first World Cup podium but also the best ever distance result for a US female. I really can’t believe it. It’s great to be here. I like racing in Rybinsk. It is a hard course with long climbs, which suits me very well,” she added. The previous best American result was Kikkan Randall’s 3rd in Gallivare in 2012.

Stephen took advantage of perfect conditions for her light frame, colder temperatures and newly fallen snow, to ski to an emotional first World Cup podium finish and a landmark result for the U.S. She shared the podium with Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen who recorded her first victory of the season with Germany’s Steffi Boehler in third at 36.4 behind.

Fellow American Jessie Diggins had a strong day finishing 12th while Rosie Brennan had a breakthrough result as well in 13th scoring her first World Cup points. Her effort marks the fifth U.S. woman to score World Cup points and moves the U.S. women’s distance quota up to five spots.

The breakthrough nearly didn’t happen for Stephen, who considered retiring last year following the Olympics in Sochi, but was brought back into the year by a wildly supportive team and the possibility of better results.

Liz Stephen [P] Nancie Battaglia

“I’m incredibly grateful for my team,” an emotional Stephen commented. “I told the team that after the Olympics last year, I took a long hard look at (continuing in) skiing and decided that the team was too special to leave. There was still more here for me that I wanted to be a part of. I’m so grateful to them.”

With perennial winners Therese Johaug and Marit Bjoergen, both of Norway, away for the Scandinavian championships, the top steps of the podium were more widely contested than typical.

“You take Marit and Therese off and I can see myself on that top step of the podium. I think that the changes I’ve made this year are largely due to sports psychology,” said Stephen. “I’ve taken that practice much more serious and there was an area that I hadn’t really explored. Before you can actually stand on the podium, you have to believe that you can be there. And that’s been something that I struggled through until today.”

“I am still rocking some high energy and great vibes trying to settle down now for the night, and got a chance to talk to a lot of the people who matter most in my life and who helped me get here.

“From my parents who instilled a love of the outdoors and encouraged me to pursue what I loved, to my coach, Matt, who taught me how to ski 14 years ago, to the school (Burke Mountain Academy) who instilled a deep passion for life and sport as a combined thing.  And finally, to my team now, who has become more my family than just my teammates, and who have taught me how to truly and deeply believe in myself.  Without all of these people, and many more, all of these steps along the way, this would have never happened.  So thank you to all who believed and who continue to show me and encourage me to chase my dreams.

Team USA (l-r) Randall, Sargent, Diggins, Caldwell, Stephen, Bjornsen [P] NordicFocus

“It was wonderful to see Rosie and Jessie have such good races, and especially Rosie, as she has had such a good winter in the states, and it is a hard to make this jump to Europe and she has made it look easy!

“The course and conditions were great, skis ran well and I was focused on skiing each part of the course the very best I could.  I focused on technique cues, and how to work each corner, top of the hill, down the hill, along the flats, and kept the here and now goals in mind, with the standing on top of the podium goal popping it’s head out every so often and it made for a deep level of focus out there.  I skied the best I could today, on this day, with this body and I am really happy with the effort I was able to put forth today.

“For young skiers, oh man, love the moments, take them in, smile on the start line, and believe it is possible.  Whether you know what you want right now or not, know that when you come up with your goals, they are possible to be met.  It will be a fight, but it’s one you can win.

“Thank you to the excellent staff we have and my team.  There is no better group of people I could possibly want to stand on this podium with,” she concluded.

Jessica Diggins (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Jessie Diggins USA

“Wow, I am so SO proud and happy and excited for Liz! I mean, it wasn’t a surprise because I knew this was coming for a while, but it’s just so amazing and fun to see her up there on that podium. Liz is such an amazing teammate, team leader and friend and works incredibly hard, so it’s very rewarding to see it come together for such a wonderful person!

Liz has actually been encouraging and inspiring me to work harder with Sports Psychology and start believing harder that I have what it takes. This season has been tough on my self confidence so far as I haven’t had a race where I’ve had really good feelings in my body yet, and I’ve been working on having more confidence when I step onto the snow. Especially after getting quite sick and having to drop out of the Tour de Ski, there were a lot of thoughts running through my mind  – wondering if I would be in good enough shape to race after being sick and not being able to train as planned, etc. But I was able to put those thoughts away and race with focus and the right drive today, which is a huge step in the right direction!

I thought my skis were good and I was able to execute my game plan which was to just go from the gun and try and hold the pace while recovering on the downhills. I definitely am not in my greatest race shape right now as I think everything came together quite smoothly in this race and my results weren’t close to what they were a few years ago on this course. But I need to be patient as I come out of being sick and let these three races this weekend help me get back in my best race shape!

Rosie Brennan (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Rosie Brennan USA

Are you feeling more confident following your Team Sprint result ?
I think that helped a little, but I did have some nerves as this was an individual start distance race, making it much different than last weekend.

Talk about your race today… the course and conditions etc.
It was quite cold with some wind and falling snow so it seemed key to keep pushing and keep some rhythm going. I went out pretty hard, maybe a little too hard, but I believe it is important to put yourself out there to see what is possible. I think I held myself together just enough to pull out a solid result. The course goes up and down the same hill about 4 times, making it very consistently up and down. I liked the grade and length of the climbs, but it did seem that the fatigue sneaked up a bit with every climb being very similar.

What’s the biggest challenge skiing at the World Cup level vs at home ?
There are a lot of challenges, everything is different here. I struggle the most having to join a new team, not having my all of my teammates and coach around. I think the biggest challenge most face is not having result-oriented goals and taking everyday as a learning experience. It has taken me a long time to learn how to do that.

Do you have a pre-race routine ?
I don’t do anything peculiar. I like to eat three hours before and be sure to get at least an hour warm up in with some hard skiing.

Is this your first time in Russia ?
Yes, this is my first time in Russia!

What’s your favourite Russian food…?
The pancakes…

Liz Stephen (USA) [P] Peter Graves

Matt Whitcomb – US Women’s Coach
“Today is a huge day for Liz and the team. On a team as closely knit as ours, everyone feels a small piece of each success, so we’re starting this weekend on a strong note. Watching Liz test skis and warm up for today’s race, it was evident that she was ready to contend for the win.

We decided to have Liz come to Rybinsk with exactly this result in mind.  This weekend was to be an opportunity for her first podium, and a way of squaring up to World Championships to make a hard charge at it. The confidence generated from today’s race will be drawn upon in Falun next month.

An athlete’s first podium is a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s easy for us all to be happy for Liz – an athlete that pours her success right back into the team.

Today’s podium must not shadow a breakthrough result for Rosie Brennan. This was her first trip into the points, and she did it commandingly. While watching Rosie push through this demanding course, it was clear she was having an amazing day. People back home that just competed against Rosie in Houghton can make a connection. This is doable.

Special thanks to our ski technicians today. We had very fast boards.

Five athletes – Simi [Hamilton], Andy [Newell], Sadie [Bjornsen], Sophie [Caldwell] and Ida [Sargent] – sat out of today’s race to prepare for tomorrow’s freestyle sprint.”

Full results here.

Canada’s Harvey Strong 10th as Cologna Triumphs in Men’s 15km FR at Rybinsk

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January 23, 2015 (Rybinsk, Russia) – Canada’s Alex Harvey delivered a strong 10th-place result as Switzerland’s Dario Cologna took no prisoners in cold -12 degrees conditions on his way to victory in the men’s 15km FR interval start at Rybinsk. Local hero Evgeniy Belov claimed 2nd at 16.3 back with teammate Sergey Ustiugov in third at 28.8 seconds behind.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“It was a great win for me today. I caught Sergey with about 3km to the finish and I knew that if I just stayed close to him we would have a fast finish,” said Cologna post-race. “I know he is a great sprinter. I like racing in Russia. I have good memories from Sochi last winter. It’s a nice country to come to and compete. The courses are well prepared and the people are great.”

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

For Harvey it was his first race since the Tour de Ski where he captured his first medal of the season. “My legs were a bit stiff in the first lap, but I ended the race strong to finish in the top-10,” said Harvey who was 1:15.7 behind Cologna. “The skis were great.”

Canada’s Ivan Babikov returned to his country of birth where he finished 22nd at 1:53.3 back. “It is good to be back in Russia, but it is colder than I remembered! The fresh, cold snow definitely made a big difference in the speed so it was hard to ski fast out there,” said Babikov.

Ivan Babikov [P] Nordic Focus

Babikov, 34, skied with Maurice Manificat (France), who set a strong pace for about four kilometres as the early leader, before getting dropped.

“I was able to stay with him on the flats and gradual stuff, but he was very strong and quick on the uphills, and I hop-skated all of it,” added Babikov. “I’m satisfied that I scored some points (in the top-30). My body was feeling good and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Greame Killick (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Devon Kershaw (Can) finished 36th, Erik Bjornsen (USA) placed 40th, Graeme Killick (Can) was 43rd and Matthew Phillip Gelso (USA) finished 53rd.

Full results here.

 

Cable 2015 Set to Welcome World’s Best Para-Nordic Skiers

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January 23, 2015 (Cable, Wisconsin) – Nordic skiers from around the globe are putting the final touches to their preparations for the 2015 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Cable, Wisconsin, USA, which begin on Friday (23 January) with the Opening Ceremony.

Oksana Masters and Tatyana McFadden [P] Peter GravesIn total, 135 athletes from 15 countries will compete to stand on top of the podium in one of the 38 events over seven days of biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Before the medals can be handed out, the support team for Cable 2015 has been busy preparing the various courses, perfecting every detail under the watchful eye of Technical Delegate Hans Peter Neeser.

“We are sure that we will have a good competition,” Neeser said. “That is what our goal is and what our task is. Because we have good profiles and good courses the best will win.”

US Para [P] Peter GravesWith more snow expected in the local forecast, Neeser was remaining alert to keep the courses fast and competitive, saying he wanted to provide competitors with the atmosphere of a Paralympic Games throughout the entire event.

From Sunday (24 January), Russia’s six-time Sochi gold medallist Roman Petushkov will look to set out his stall for another record haul in the men’s biathlon and cross-country sitting. Canada’s Chris Klebl will be aiming to prevent the Russian from sweeping the board as he did in Sochi.

US Para [P] Peter GravesGerman Paralympic champions Anja Wicker and Andrea Eskau will also be on the hunt for podiums in the women’s biathlon sitting.

US teammates Oksana Masters and Tatyana McFadden, both medallists at their first Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, will be aiming to delight the home crowds in the women’s cross-country sitting events.

Petushkov’s teammate Nikolay Polukhin headlines the men’s visually impaired, looking to retain his three biathlon world tiles with guide Andrey Tokarev. Compatriot Paralympic champion Iuliia Budaleeva will line-up in the women’s cross-country and biathlon, guided by Tatiana Maltseva.

US Para [P] Peter GravesFinland’s Maija Jarvela, fresh from her World Cup win in December, will aim to break the dominance of Russia’s double Paralympic champion Alena Kaufman in the women’s biathlon standing.

Sweden’s long distance Paralympic champion Helene Ripa and reigning world champion Oleksandra Kononova will go head-to-head in the women’s cross-country standing events.

The men’s equivalent will feature a face-off between Norway’s long distance champion Nils-Erik Ulset, Russia’s Azat Karachurin and Ukraine’s Ihor Reptyukh.

[P] Peter GravesAt the last World Championships in 2013, Russia finished on top of the medals table with 56 medals, 22 of them gold, following up by winning 24 of a possible 38 golds at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Competition at Cable 2015 begins with biathlon sprints on Sunday (24 January) and conclude on 1 February with middle distance cross-country.

Live results will be available at here.

A livestream will be shown at www.cable2015.com. All competitions begin at 10am (CET) every day, with rest days on 26 and 29 January.

Canada’s Green Cleans Again for Career-best 5th in IBU World Cup 10km Sprint at Antholz

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January 22, 2015 (Antholz-Anterselva, Italy) – Canada’s Brendan Green delivered superb clean shooting once again for  a career-best fifth-place finish in the IBU men’s 10km Sprint at Antholz, Italy. With today’s result Green extended his unprecedented perfect shooting streak to five races.

Canada's Brendan Green (#53) at the Flower ceremony [P] Nordic Focus

“It feels good. To be just four seconds off the podium is pretty sweet. I’m sure I’ll think about those four seconds eventually, but for now I’m especially happy with the race I executed, and the end result,” said Green.

“My parents arrived last night after travelling three days from Northern Canada, and it is just great to have them in the stands to see this race. They’ve dedicated so much time and energy toward my career. It was really special to be able to share this result with them, and I think that is what I will remember most from today – seeing my parents smiling and waving a flag from the grand stand during the prize ceremony.”

Germany’s Simon Schempp also shot clean to win the gold medal with a time of 23:18.8. Russia’s Evgeniy Garanichev was perfect in shooting as well en route to winning the silver medal at 14.0. Slovenia’s Jakov Fak missed one shot in his second round of shooting, but hung on for the bronze medal at 20.1s behind.

Simon Schempp (GER) [P] Nordic Focus

Three Calgary-based biathletes also suited up in the sprint discipline. Christian Gow shot clean to finish 52nd (25:22.7). Scott Gow placed 74th at 25:57.3 (2+1), while Nathan Smith was 78th at 26:02.1 (2+2).

Lowell Bailey led the Americans in 32nd with one penalty followed by Tim Burke in 48th and Sean Doherty in 63rd both with three missed targets with Leif Nordgren suffering four penalties in 80th.

“It is so hard to say (why I’ve been shooting so well). You definitely need luck on your side to shoot like that,” laughed Green. “I was working on a few things on the range over Christmas in Canmore. I don’t know if that is what made the difference or not, but I’ll take as many clean races as I can get and so far it has been great.”

Brendan Green (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“I’ve always loved racing here in Antholz and it is definitely my favourite stop on tour.  It’s hard to say exactly why I’ve been able to find success here.  It’s a fun venue to race, the atmosphere and fans are awesome, the weather is almost always perfect, and the course is one that maybe plays a little more into my strengths,” said Green. “ I know this is usually a venue where I can ski strong, so I knew that with solid shooting a good result would be possible, but I didn’t necessarily think it would be this good. The fact that I have had some of my better results here, like my sprint race last year, is definitely a motivator as well.”

Success breeds success as Green’s girlfriend, Rosanna Crawford, has been edging closer to her first ever podium herself with a fourth and fifth-place finish prior to the holiday break.

Team Canada celebrates with Green [P] Nordic Focus

“It’s been really fun for Rosanna and I to be on tour together. She had an amazing start to the season and that was extremely motivating not only for me but for the team as well,” said Green. “Being able to support each other in our highs and lows throughout a season is pretty special and definitely unique.  We’re raising the bar for each other but at the same time we are able to joke about it and have fun with it along the way!

“We have a strong team that has been having some good results over the last couple of years. Nathan Smith also had a couple of top-10’s before Christmas and that is motivating for sure,” added Green. “We are definitely going to build on that and keep it going.”

Full results here

With files from Biathlon Canada.

 

USA’s Annie Pokorny Prepares for 2015 U23 Kazakhstan Project and Reflects on Past Years

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January 22, 2015 – Annie Pokorny is a member of the U23 team traveling to  Kazakhstan in a week’s time. (That team is an NNF pillar project enjoying $38,000 of funding.) She reflects on the lessons learned from her first U23 trip last year in Liberec.

Annie Pokorny (USA) [P] flyingpointroad.com

The first year I made a development trip, the 2013 U23s in Liberec, CZE, I thought it would be a really good idea to bring only a backpack and ski bag. It was my first transcontinental trip and, from my perspective, saving $50 on luggage fees both ways was well worth chugging through airport terminals with my life on my back. At least it was worth it until I actually got to Europe, where my two layers, one t-shirt and one pair of pants lasted about three days before taking on the distinctly Czech aroma of the Hotel Babylon. As I traveled back to the US, nailing my fellow passengers in the head with my carabineer’d boots and water bottles before shamefully shoving the mass into the last overhead bin, I decided that next year, I would check a bag. It was worth the investment.

Last year swung in the complete opposite direction. My 55lb bag made it through security after I promised that I would carry two of my stuff sacks on, in addition to my filled backpack, tote bag and camera bag. In Val di Fiemme, I filled the Euro-sized closet with layers on layers, including but not limited to, about 12 sports bras. All to spend most of my trip in a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt I bought in Toblach two days into precamp. I paid the $100 to bring plenty of clean layers, and just as much to bring them home, untouched.

So here I stand, year three, my last as a U23. And I have to tell you, I’ve packed well. I have three non-smell-don’t-have-to-wash top layers, three bottom layers, four sports bras, wool socks, two t-shirts, jeans, sweatpants and two sweaters. I have plenty of pairs of sunglasses, buffs, spandex, and training gear for all weather. I have my NNF patches sewn on. I know where my passport is, as well as my photocopy. My credit card companies know that I’m leaving the continent. And, best of all, I can carry all of my stuff with my own two arms, without hitting anyone in the face.

Annie Pokorny (USA) [P] flyingpointroad.com

Where my first year was a matter of experience, in many ways, I showed up under-prepared. I had only ever raced at home, with people whose parent’s names I knew. Being in a foreign country felt new, exciting, and completely over stimulating. I had never seen so much high caliber skiing from a group of kids my age, and I felt totally fired up just to be there, whether or not I recognized my surroundings.

My second year, I knew what was coming, or, at least, I thought I did. I had been on a 6 hour flight before, heard the German announcements, and passed through customs. I could speak a bit of Italian, which I expected would help me soar through Italy, and had brought enough socks and underwear to last me until I graduated college (which, if you know me, would be in a long time). And I raced better. I placed higher than I did before, in a group of Olympians and World Cup skiers, but I wasn’t satisfied. When I watched the girls I competed with, I saw quite clearly the differences in our races, technique and strategy. I learned from them, saw what needed to improve, and, with the presence of so many impressive performances from US juniors and U23s, I knew it was possible.

So, as I get ready for my third year at U23s, I’m bringing with me a little knowledge I didn’t have on that first trip, beyond just how to pack. I know that when we get there, the place and the people will give us a lot to look at. But I also take with me the understanding of when to hold up my camera and when to focus my attention forward. I know that, when I step to the line, the women next to me will bring with them a tremendous amount of experience and skill. But I also recognize, as an American skier, that I have experienced a development process that will allow me to stick with, and pass them. I know that, when we look at the other teams at the championships, my US teammates and I will see evidence of great ski cultures and endless support. But, from watching my teammates perform and experiencing these races in years past, I realize that we have what we need, in talent and support, to compete when the gun goes off.

Last year, during a team meeting before our first race, Coach Bryan Fish told us that we are no longer a developing ski nation, that we are developed. His words totally fired me up and after watching the group of racers going into this trip, I can tell you that we’re not just preparing, we’re prepared.

Canada’s Valjas and Cockney Strong 8th as Russia 1 Topples Norway 1 @ Team Sprint World Cup in Otepaa

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January 18, 2015 (Otepaa, Estonia) – Russia I with Alexey Petukhov and Sergey Ustiugov triumphed in the men’s 6×1.5km Team Sprint over Norway I’s Anders Gloeersen and Finn Haagen Krogh in a close match up that saw the two rivals escape on the final leg with Ustiugov besting Krogh at the line by 0.4s. In the battle for third Italy’s Dietmar Noeckler and Federico Pellegrino outpaced Switzerland II, Russia II and Norway II for the bronze.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Jesse Cockney and Len Valjas joined forces for a solid day, finishing eighth as they battled with Poland at the finish. In only their second team sprint relay together the Canadian duo advanced to the final after posting the third fastest time in a very quick semifinal heat.

“I skied a team sprint with Lenny just over two years ago in Quebec City and we finished 10th in the final in that one,” Cockney told SkiTrax. “We didn’t really do any practice as it’s pretty much just an intensity format with a small section to tag off in between. Conditions were decent but it deteriorated by the end of the day and got fairly slushy and slow.

Jesse Cockney (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“It’s a tough course as there’s no rest until all the climbing is done and it’s quite long too. I actually felt awful warming up for this race and really wondered if I was in shape to be on the start line so skiing well in the semifinal was pretty unexpected. The final was tough and a few tactical mistakes put Lenny and I back too many positions to make up significant ground on the leaders. Overall though it was a good day and I’m really psyched to get after it again next weekend in Rybinsk.”

Len Valjas (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

The two American squads were shut out of the final as USA I’s Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell were not in contention following Hamilton’s late crash.

“Went down pretty hard in a gnarly pileup on the last team sprint lap today but better here than at Worlds! Who says XC doesn’t have carnage?,” tweeted Hamilton.

We caught up with Newell along the USA II’s Erik Bjornsen and Matt Gelso who is leading the SuperTour Series and is excited to be getting some World Cup experience under his belt.

“Not a while lot to add on the day but despite the crash (Simi went down on his last lap) I think it was a positive day for US. For me my skate skiing, power, and fitness was feeling a lot better than how it did during the TDS,” Newell told Trax. “I felt like I was able to accelerate and maneuver through the pack when I wanted to and control my positions. Simi and I had some great tags and I think we both skied well despite the crash. So bummer not to be able to practice more in the finals but it will keep us hungry for world champs.

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Bjornsen has four team sprints under his belt, “This is not my first team sprint. I’ve done one at the Olympics, one at World Champs, and two on the World Cup. I’m starting to learn the format but I need more starts before I feel confident enough,” he emailed. “For some reason I always surprise myself in this event, I’m starting to wonder if its a race built for me. Today my tactics were to ski easy for the first couple of laps unless there was a break away, in that case I would have followed.

“The conditions were slow which I think caused everyone to be pretty gun shy for the first couple laps. When my third lap came around I was handed off to with a gap between me and the leaders. I was able to close the gap and make some passes to come in behind Norway 1, Poland 1, and right behind Norway 2. I was happy because I posted the fastest time on the last lap but I wish I would have had more confidence to make a move to the front when I had the opportunity,” he concluded.

Erik Bjornsen [P] flyingpointroad.com

This is Gelso’s second trip to the World Cup, but first to a World Cup in Europe. “My only other world cup races were in Canmore, Canada a couple years ago (2012) and they were only distance starts. Major impressions are that this is serious business for the World Cup athletes. A lot of thought and preparation goes into each start- this is their job. The fans over here a great too. This was not a hugely attended World Cup and there were still tons of people and beer tens and food and filled stands, and dance parties at night. It is certainly a scene,” he told Trax.Gelso [P] Ian Harvey/Toko.

“I didn’t really know what to expect. I had only done on team sprint before and it was six years ago and it was not serious. I have not watched team sprints on TV either so I didn’t know how they play out. Before the race I talked to Erik about it (he has done a fair number of them, most recently at the Olympics) and he gave me the run down of how the guys races usually play out. Chris Grover [Head Coach] gave me some heads up advice in the start pen as well.

“It was really fun out there. I wasn’t nervous, just excited to get out and ski with some of the worlds best. It is fun to ski well and be in the pack with guys you watch on TV and realize that they are athletes just like you,” he added.

Full results here.

USA’s Sargent and Brennan Stellar 6th as Sweden-I Takes Team Sprint Gold @Otepaa

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January 18, 2015 (Otepaa, Estonia) – The day belonged to Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter and Stina Nilsson who won the women’s 6×1.2km Team Sprint FR in Otepaa, Estonia but Team USA II’s Ida Sargent and Rosie Brennan turned heads as well with their feisty 6th place finish. Norway I’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg settled for second while Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk and Sylwia Jaskowiec claimed the final podium spot.

Sweden's Nilsson (l) and Ingemarsdotter [P] Nordic Focus

A mishap during the semifinals meant Team USA I’s Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell were playing catch up. Bjornsen went down when someone’s ski crossed hers and while they found their way back to the group in the end just just missed out making the final. Yet both were happy with their teammates advancing and cheered them on.

Kowalczyk tried to get away but could not shake Ingemarsdotter or Falla as the three emerged as the leaders while five teams including USA II, Finland I, Germany I, Russia I and Finland II battled behind with Sargent and Brennan holding their own.

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) [P] Nordic Focus

On the final leg Sweden’s Nilsson surged to the front and was unstoppable in the finishing lanes as Oestberg could not counter ending up second with Jaskowiec third. Brennan, who’s last team sprint was at the Whistler World Cup back in 2009, showed her prowess and poise holding off Russia I for 6th.

This was the first team sprint of the season and will be the only one prior to the Falun 2015 Championships so it was a great opportunity to test strategy and legs making Sweden’s victory even more significant.

“It is great to win in the team sprint with Ida. We are very happy for the first place. It feels great to beat the Norwegian team. I knew Ingvild would be very strong and my plan was to attack on the home stretch. The victory today has given us a lot of confidence before the World Championships in Falun,” said Nilsson.

We caught up with Sargent, Brennan, Bjornsen and Caldwell for an inside look at today’s race.

Bjornsen (l) and Sargent battle with Kowalczyk [P] Nordic Focus

Ida Sargent

It was a really fun race. Team sprints are really hard but always fun and exciting so I was really excited for a chance to race another one today. It was raining and snowing off and on and by the final the track had completely broken down. The slush was so deep on the climb. With each heat the conditions were deteriorating so being in the second semifinal was a definite disadvantage.

With a team sprint you never know what to expect and anything can happen out there.  After a crash in yesterday’s qualifier I was just hoping to stay on my feet and I finally did that. I tried to stay conservative and relaxed and just stay towards the front of the pack on the first two laps and then go for it on the last lap and that worked well.
In the final there was a little gap in front of me when I went out for the final lap which I couldn’t quite close to the leaders but I was happy to still move up.

Rosie skied incredibly well today and I was very impressed with her. She had great sprint finishes in both heats! I think it was her first team sprint in six years or something like that – but she killed it!

Sargent (r) at the start [P] Nordic Focus

Rosie Brennan

This was actually my second team sprint on the World Cup. The only other team sprint I’ve done was in Whistler in 2009. Given that that was six years ago now, I didn’t have any expectations and didn’t even expect to be racing this race so I really just tried to make the most of the opportunity.

I just arrived here last Wednesday evening and we found out our teams last night so we didn’t really have any practice at all. Fortunately, we didn’t have any disasters. It was incredibly soft and slushy on course. The corners were all deep trenches making staying on your feet a challenge at times and also making it extra hard on the legs. I just wanted to ski with the pack, see how I felt and how things were going and then try to think about position more towards the end.

I think we both did a good job of getting into good positions and getting a bit of a draft on the downhill. This worked really well for us in the semi-final and we largely did the same in the final where the pack was smaller – but we were moving a little faster so it was easier said than done.

I surprised myself in both finishes by actually having a bit of some finishing speed so I am really happy with that. I think we both put solid efforts forward and raced smart so I would call it a good day.

Race action...  [P] Nordic Focus

Sadie Bjornsen

This was the first time Sophie and I have gotten to race together, so we were pretty excited! Today was a tough day with the weather and snow conditions, with each lap getting slower than the one before. Since we were in the second heat, our strategy was to go as hard as we could, because we knew making lucky loser positions were going to be tough given the conditions.

Unfortunately someone crossed over my ski only 100 meters out of the start, and I found myself lying in the snow. From there, I worked hard to catch back up, but Soph had to finish closing the gap. From there we had two great laps in the mix. I tagged off in the front of the pack, and Soph did a great job holding on… but she led over the top of the final hill, which meant a nice sling shot for those behind her. As we predicted, lucky loser time was tough to catch, so sadly, Soph and I weren’t able to make the finals.

But, that is team sprinting, and we are looking forward to the next opportunity. I was really happy how I felt, and maybe on a more equal day for conditions, we could be in there racing the finals.

I am incredibly excited and stoked for Rosie and Ida. I have believed that Rosie is skiing at the same level as we are since the start of the season… and it was just so exciting and wonderful for her to feel and show that today! It brings tears to my eyes to see everything she has gotten through this year, and here she is on the World Cup, challenging the strongest skaters in the world. Ida and her were very impressive today, and even though Soph and I couldn’t be there ourselves, we were happy to watch those two throw down and impressive performance!!

It is fun to go into Russia looking for more… that’s what keeps you going in this sport – when you know you can find more!

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Sophie Caldwell

Sadie and I raced a team sprint together in Quebec City two winters ago, but we had not raced one together since then. We’re still hoping for a day when everything comes together, because I know we can make a great team, but today was not that day.

We practiced a couple tags before our race today. I think that’s always a good idea to do as tags can be important during the race.

I’m feeling good. My elbow doesn’t bother me anymore. They’re not back to full strength and probably won’t be for awhile, but I’m sure they’re getting stronger each weekend.

The conditions were pretty slow out there, but I think our team had fast skis. The uphill got really sugary, so that was definitely tough. Sadie got tripped up right out of the start and I caught back up to the pack on my first lap and then after that we were basically doing pack skiing.

Sadie tagged me off in a really good position for my last lap and then Germany and Poland took off and I wasn’t able to quite stick with them enough to get in their draft and was unfortunately leading a train down the hill, so Rosie zipped right by me in my draft. I was glad it was my teammate and it was really cool to see Ida and Rosie have such a strong day.

Final results here.

Canada’s Green Cleans for 18th as Germany’s Schempp Wins Photo-finish in IBU Mass Start @ Ruhpolding

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Finishline (l-r) Slesingr, Maillet, Schempp [P]January 18, 2015 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Germany Simon Schempp gave local fans in Ruhpolding the win they were hoping for when he emerged as the victor of a 3-up photo finish sprint to the line in the men’s 15km Mass Start, out-lunging Quentin Fillon Maillet (Fra) for the gold with Michal Slesingr (Czech Republic) taking home the bronze. All three shot clean setting up the exciting finale to the weekend of racing.

Photofinish...Schempp out-lunges Maillet for the win and Slesingr is 3rd [P]

Five leaders emerged after the final standing session including Emil Hegle Svendsen and teammate Ole Einar Björndalen both from Norway and each with one penalty. Maillet was at the front looking hungry for the win but Schempp and Slesingr challenged as they hit the finishing lanes with a well-timed lunge by Schempp giving him the win.

Canada’s Brendan Green continued his hot hand on the range, shooting clean for the third-straight race to finish a solid 18th on the day at 57.1s behind the winner. The USA’s Lowell Bailey finished 28th with three penalties at 2:25.1 back.

Brendan Green (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“This is the first time I’ve had been clean shooting throughout an entire World Cup. Each shot this week has felt solid, which is a really good feeling for sure. To finish the week 40/40 is an awesome bonus,” said Green. “No matter what, you need some luck to be able to do that, but I feel like this week I’ve been able to put into action a few elements that I was working hard on throughout my training over the Christmas break.”

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

“The shooting conditions were great which made it an extremely tight race. To be in the mix today you really couldn’t afford more than one miss,” said Green, who added course conditions were more pleasant today, but yesterday’s snow made it challenging and inconsistent to ski on. “I did my best to ski smooth and relaxed. Mass start races are more intense and exciting to race, but in general, my focus was similar to any other race.”

Full results here.

Domracheva Takes Women’s IBU Mass Start Victory in Ruhpolding – Dunklee 16th, Heinicke 23rd

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Darya Domracheva (BLR) [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 18, 2015 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Darya Domracheva (Bel) claimed the women’s 12.5km Mass Start despite three penalties as her strong skiing kept her in contention in a see-saw battle on the final day in Ruhpolding. Landing second on the podium was Germany’s Franziska Preuss with two penalties at 16.5s behind, and securing third was Veronika Vitkova (Czech Republic) at 22.9s back suffering three penalties.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Susan Dunklee shot well to put herself into podium contention sitting in fourth place just 5.9 seconds behind the leader after the third round. At the final standing stage she was in third but suffered  two penalties and finished 16th, her best placement this season at 1:11.1 back.

Susan Dunklee (USA)  [P] Nordic Focus

“My goals today were to have fun, take whatever time I needed to settle and take good shots, especially in the first prone, and be patient on skis,” said Dunklee. “On the fourth loop I left the range right behind Darya (Domracheva) and we steadily picked off people one by one. Toward the end of that loop, I looked up and suddenly realized that there were only two people ahead of me! But that is exactly where I want to be near the end of the race and I felt relaxed and comfortable heading into that final shooting.”

Megan Heinicke (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Megan Heinicke, 26, missed two targets, one in prone and one in standing to finish 23rd on the day at 1:48.2 behind the winner.

Full results here.

USA’s Brooks and Switzerland’s Livers Win 41st Dolomitenlauf in Obertilliach – Brooks Leads Series

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January 18, 2015 (Obertilliach, Austria) – Once again, Obertilliach showed off as winter wonderland at the day of the FIS Marathon Cup. After new snowfall yesterday and over night, the sky cleared and the sun came out for the start of the 42km & 20km FT Dolomitenlauf. The race could take off at around -3°C with about 1,500 participants from 29 countries on the startline.

Holly Brooks (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Already soon after the start a group of around ten racers with Livers in the lead took off to decide the winner of the race between themselves. However, Livers pushed on and somehow nobody could follow him so that already at the halfway stage, the Swiss was leading with about a minute! In the end, Livers could show off his strength with advancing Petr Novak (CZE), last year’s first and this year’s second and Adrien Mougel (FRA), this year’s third, by almost two minutes.

On the women’s side, the picture was similar with Holly Brooks (USA), a team member of the US Ski Team’s Olympic Squad in Sotchi last season, breaking away early in the race creating a gap to the other girls. Aurelie Dabudyk from France and Antonella Confortola (ITA) the later second and third, skied their own race most of the time, trying to catch Holly. Especially Confortola geared up in the second half of the race however when she managed to come up from around 6th / 7th spot to battle with the French over second and third. However, the American Brooks could hold on to her lead and finally finished almost 3minutes in front of Dabudyk and Confortola who had a hard fought finish sprint, won by the French settling in for second place, pushing Confortola on to third.

Holly Brooks (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Novak and Brooks now leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup
After his second place today, Petr Novak (CZE) takes over the lead of the overall FIS Marathon Cup from Benoit Chauvet (FRA) who finished 5th in the 41st Dolomitenlauf. Novak now leads with 160 points in front of Toni Livers (150 points) and Benoit Chauvet (145 points).

On the women’s side, Holly Brooks could take over the leader bib from Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) who didn’t participate in today’s Dolomitenlauf. Brooks now leads with 180 points in front of Aurelie Dabudyk (125 points) and Roponen (100 points).

The complete result list from today’s race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standings HERE.

Quotes from the top 3 men and women.

Men's podium [P] Worldloppet1st Toni Livers (SUI):
I wanted to be in the lead right from the start and on the first uphill I tried to push away. I did not want to leave it until the end and go for a finish sprint as I know that especially Petr Nowak is very good at that.  I was surprised that the gap grew so fast. I also had super skis today, so thanks to my wax techs. It’s my first victory in te FIS Marathon Cup so I am very happy about it. My next FIS Marathon Cup will be most probably the Engadin Skimarathon in March as I will now go back to the World Cup and prepare for the World Championships in Falun (SWE). Therefore the overall FIS Marathon Cup will be very hard to get, however I will do my best to win it.

2nd Petr Novak (CZE):
Toni definitely had the best skis today – it was such a fast race! I had no chance to catch him, especially in the downhills. I also know that he is in a very good shape this season, so I am really happy with my second place. Especially as this second place was also enough to get me the lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup and therefore the red bib which I will now be wearing during Marcialonga next week. This is was my main goal and I would now like to keep this bib until the end of the season.

3rd Adrien Mougel (FRA):
As I am in the same team as Toni, it was not my goal to catch him. I let Florian (Kostner) and Petr (Novak) work and stayed in the group and prepared for the finish sprint. I know that I am usually good in this kind of sprint, even though I also knew that Petr is very good good at it, too. It has been hard to train this year in Europe and I am not in the best shape at the moment. So I am happy with the result of today. I am now eagerly waiting for the 70km of Marcialonga.

Holly Brooks (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

1st Holly Brooks (USA):
It was my first Dolomitenlauf and wow, it was such a beautiful race with a well prepared course. The conditions were just great with perfect sunshine and new snow. I am so happy to now wear the red bib, meaning that I am the leader in the overall Cup. This is so exciting! My next start will be at Marcialonga and I am really looking forward to it.

2nd Aurelie Dabudyk (FRA):
Holly was in the lead from beginning and skied very strongly. I just tried to hold on to my position until the finish which worked out even though Antonella was a strong contestant. I am very happy with the result.

Women's podium [P] Worldloppet

3rd Antonella Confortola (ITA):
I was starting pretty slowly and after the first lap I was 6th or 7th. Then I tried to start pushing forward – first slowly but persistently, especially in the uphills. Then I stayed in the bunch to keep some energy for the finish where I pushed hard again, but in the end Aurelie was just a bit stronger. Anyway, it is a beautiful race today with perfect conditions and a beautiful scenery.

Next FIS Marathon Cup race:
January 25: Marcialonga (ITA) – 3rd FIS Marathon Cup 2014-15 / 70km CT

Holly Brooks (USA) and her team [P] Worldloppet

In Memorium – Don MacLeod, Founder of the CSM

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January 17, 2015 – It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of the founder of the Canadian Ski Marathon. Don MacLeod passed away at his home in New Zealand on January 4, 2015. It was Don’s enthusiasm, persistence and passion for outdoor activities and his spirit of life that the Centennial Marathon Ski Tour was born.

Don MacLeod at the 1st CSM in '67 [P] CSM

It was entirely Don’s idea.  He was employed by the Centennial Commission in 1967 to organize a Canadian canoe pageant. The Commission didn’t think his ski tour idea would succeed. So, he organized it secretly on his own.

Don thought the Commission wouldn’t know. But, in a chance meeting in an elevator the Chairman of the Commission asked, “How is it going, Don?” and added with a wink and a smile, “and I don’t mean the canoe pageant?”

Well, we all know how well it went and after 48 years it still goes.

This year we should all be skiing in the Marathon to celebrate Don’s life.

Bill Pollock
CSM permanent bib #9

USA’s Will Rhoads 2nd in Ski Jumping COC at Sapporo

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January 17, 2015 (Sapporo, Japan) – Today is a day U.S. ski jumper Will Rhoads (Park City, UT) will likely long remember. For following his superlative second place in a COC at this historic city of Sapporo, that hosted the 1972 Olympic Winter Games, he is the talk of the town in U.S, ski jumping circles.

Rhoads 2nd, Sjoeen 1st, Gangnes 3rd [P] Clint Jones

“Today was a great day for Will Rhoads and the USASJ team,” Head U.S. coach Clint Jones said in an email…..”In training Will having some solid take-offs, but was struggling a little with the extra pressure in the air on the bill hill here. So we made an equipment adjustment, and changed our game plan a bit and obviously it made all the difference.

With a 135 meter jump, Will was leading after the first round. In the final round, Will was able to handle the pressure of being in the lead and had another great jump of 126 meters, which was good enough for second place and a wonderful finish, we are so proud.” That is grace under pressure.

Will Rhoads on the chair lift [P] Clint Jones

Anders Johnson (Park City, UT) a three time Olympian also had a fine performance finishing in 21st place. Also of note, Kevin Bickner notched a superlative jump of 129 meters in the trial round, showing that he is capable of being among the best at anytime.” Bickner finished 45th today.

And longtime U.S. coach Clint Jones is already looking towards Sunday in Sapporo noting…” we’ve got another opportunity on the large hill and with any luck we can have all three athletes at the top of the results page.”

The winner of today’s event was Norway’s Philip Sjoeen.

Full results

Canada’s Heinicke Scores Career-best 11th as Horn Wins First IBU WCup @Ruhpolding Sprint

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January 16, 2015 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Canada’s Megan Heinicke earned a personal-best 11th in the women’s 7.5km Sprint with one penalty at the IBU Biathlon World Cup in Rupholding, Germany on Friday. Norway’s Fanny Welle-Strand Horn (NOR) bested Darya Domracheva (BLR) by 3.4s in what was her first World Cup victory as Tiril Eckhoff (NOR) powered to the bronze medal.

Megan Heinicke (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“This was one of my strongest skiing performances ever.  I simply felt strong and there is nothing more fun than fighting hard when you feel strong,” said Heinicke, 26, who had great skis on the wet and slushy conditions. “Shooting wise I had been trying out some keywords and those were all I wanted to think about on the range. I have just been slowly getting more confident on the range. It is always great when the skiing and the shooting come together on the same day.

“I was really hoping to stay in 10th, but 11th is a new personal best and I am really pleased with the result,” added Heinicke. “I am really motivated by having several personal bests this season and I feel like the return of my self-confidence is good for me. I am planning to keep racing with the same determined, task-oriented approach, and who knows what can happen. I certainly wasn’t expecting these results to come this year.”

Susan Dunklee (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Susan Dunklee (USA) finished 26th, also with one penalty at 1:44 back. Zina Kocher (CAN) finished 48th, Annelies Cook (USA) was 52nd, Audrey Vaillancourt (CAN) was 68th, Hannah Dreissigacker (USA) 77th, and Julia Ranson (CAN) finished 81st. Canada’s Rosanna Crawford (CAN) did not start.

“I had a great shooting day and I found the mental zone where I felt happy and psyched to be racing,” said Dunklee. “While the end result today doesn’t look particularly special, I think it was one of my best performances of the season so far. And having those pieces come together well is a huge confidence booster going forward.”

Hanah Dreissigacker (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

Conditions were perfect for the competition, yet athletes struggled to shoot clean. Mari Laukkanen (FIN) took the early lead, cleaning prone, but taking one standing penalty. She would finish fifth. Domracheva shot clean, but required one spare.

Podium (l-r) Domracheva 2nd, Horn 1st, Eckhoff 3rd [P] Nordic Focus

Despite a few seconds lost, it looked like Domracheva would keep her advantage, but Eckhoff made a strong last charge, and despite one penalty, almost came within reach of the Belorussian. Horn was next, mastering the prone stage to take the lead, followed by a perfect standing stage, and exiting with an 8s lead and defending her advantage to the finish.

Results here.

Cockney, Jones, Macisaac-Jones and Smith Take Classic Sprint Titles on Day 2 @Haywood NorAm Junior/U23 Worlds Trials

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January 10, 2014 (Duntroon, ON) – On Saturday, the sprinters took to the trails at Highlands Nordic to compete in 1.5/1.8km classic events. The longer courses and slow conditions made breaking away difficult, which kept the leaders together until late in the race and made for an exciting day of racing.

Jones at the finish [P] Jenn Jackson

For the women, it was National Team skier Perianne Jones (Nakkertok, NST) who claimed decisive victories in both the qualifier and final. This is her first time racing on the NorAm circuit since 2011, and she says it came as a welcome change.

“It’s always nice to race back in Canada. My whole family was out today and it was lot of fun,” commented Jones.

Jones was able to control the pace in her the heats before skiing away from everyone in the final. Yet she still wasn’t entirely sure how things would play out. “I had no idea how close anyone was to me in the final so I just put the pedal to the metal – but I was really scared that someone was going to try and pass me!”

Open Women's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

While men’s sprint winner Jesse Cockney (Foothills, AWCA-NST), and NorAm leader’s Patrick Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok, AWCA) and Alysson Marshall (Larch Hills, AWCA-NST) packed up their bags right after their races to head over the Europe, Jones will return to Canmore after the weekend for some more racing and training.

“My start to the World Cup season this year wasn’t great and I want to make sure I’m in really good shape before I head back over there. Even though things seemed to go well today, I can’t guarantee that would have been a top 30 on the World Cup – so I’m not ready to go back over there until I know that’s the case.”

Jesse Cockney [P] Jenn Jackson

Jones was joined by Andrea Dupont (RMR) and Cendrine Browne (Fondeurs-Laurentides, CNEPH-NST) on the podium. This was Browne’s second U23 victory of the weekend, which leaves the competition open for the remaining spots on the World Championship team in Sunday’s individual skate race.

The open men’s race saw Bob Thompson (Team Hardwood, NDC Thunder Bay) take the top spot in the qualification, followed closely by Raphaël Couturier (Skibec, CNEPH-NST). While Cockney’s qualifying time may have been misleading at 4.6s behind Thompson, the eventual race winner was happy just the same.

“It was one of the best qualifiers I’ve had in years! I fell and broke a pole and had to chill on the side of the trail for a bit before I got a new one. I felt awesome; it was so easy to push through the qualifier but the fall kind of fubar’d me a little bit…”

Open Men's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

Cockney was quite candid about his racing, generally pleased with how he felt despite the difficulties he encountered in qualification. Having achieved a sprint top 30 in the Davos World Cup earlier this season, he will be returning to Europe for a second round of races. Contrasting how he feels now, going back to race World Cups, to previous trips he’s overseas, he said:

“The biggest thing is confidence. It’s one thing to go over there and try to participate and see how things go, but now it really feels like I’m confident at getting to the start line of a World Cup and having a top 30 (he had two close misses during Period 1). I really feel like I’m in a good spot for the rest of the year to keep trying to fight for points and hopefully move up and be more relevant than I was last time in the heats.”

Junior women's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

Men’s NorAm leader Stewart-Jones will also be heading to Europe for World Cup racing as he finished second just ahead of Thompson in the A-final. The rest of the heat was rounded out by U23 skiers Sébastien Townsend (Nakkertok, AWCA), Knute Johnsgaard (Whitehorse), and Julien Locke (Black Jack). As the top U23 skier, Townsend earns a spot on the World Championship team.

In junior racing it was a day for the top qualifiers. Maya Macisaac-Jones (RMR, JNST) and Julian Smith (Georgian Nordic, NDC Thunder Bay) took top spots in both qualification and final heats, securing them tickets to Kazakhstan for the Junior Worlds.

Macisaac-Jones proved her mettle today in the sprints after a difficult Skiathlon race on Thursday. Confident in her form in classic skiing, she didn’t want to leave anything to chance in the final.

Junior men's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

“I just went as hard as I could right from the start. I knew the conditions were pretty slow so once I got a gap I just kept the pressure on and held it right to the finish.”

Smith also struggled in Thursday’s Skiathlon, finishing a distant 23rd, well off the pace.

“After Thursday’s race, the biggest thing was to control my thoughts after the race and until today because I knew I could either dig myself a hole or get myself out of the divot I had and keep things positive.”

Staying calm and in control, Smith posted the fastest qualifier ahead of teammate David Askwith (Georgian Nordic, NDC Thunder Bay), who eventually finished 6th on the day, and had a strong finish to pass and hold off Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (Fondeurs-Laurentides) and Joey Foster (Team Hardwood) for the victory.

“In my mind, the other guys weren’t going to “out-want it” from me, so when I passed them going over the last hill I didn’t look back and just pushed hard right to the finish.”

And with the final day of Junior/U23 Worlds selection races Sunday, skiers will be taking it right to the line in 10/15km senior and junior 5/10km individual skate races.

Results

Senior Women

1.    Perianne Jones
2.    Andrea Dupont
3.    Cendrine Browne*
4.    Emily Nishikawa
5.    Alysson Marshall
6.    Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt*

Senior Men

1.    Jesse Cockney
2.    Patrick Stewart-Jones
3.    Bob Thompson
4.    Sebastien Townsend*
5.    Knute Johnsgaard*
6.    Julien Locke*

Junior Women

1.    Maya Macisaac-Jones
2.    Katherine Stewart-Jones
3.    Annah Hanthorn
4.    Sophie Carrier-Laforte
5.    Anne-Marie Comeau
6.    Andrée-Anne Théberge

Junior Men

1.    Julian Smith
2.    Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier
3.    Joey Foster
4.    Philippe Boucher
5.    Alexis Dumas
6.    David Askwith

Full results here.

Stephen Storms to Career-best 5th in Women’s 10km CL at Tour de Ski – Johaug Triumphs Over Bjoergen

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January 10, 2015 (Val di Fiemme, ITA) – The USA’s Liz Stephen skied to a stellar fifth place in the women’s 10km CL mass start, the penultimate stage of the Tour de Ski, while Therese Johaug (NOR) the defending champ toppled her teammate Marit Bjoergen finally winning her first stage at this year’s Tour. Bjorgen continues to lead overall by over 2min.

Therese Johaug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Stephen’s effort was her best individual classic distance result and boosted her to sixth overall with the famed 9km Alpe Cermis climb remaining on Sunday, one of her favourite stages where she has previously had the 2nd and 3rd fastest times.

“I had great skis today. It’s so warm and it was perfect klister skiing out there,” Stephen explained, “These courses really suit the way I ski, steep hills and long hills. I really liked being in Val di Fiemme with the memories of World Championships.”

Early in the race it became a battle between the top three women in the overall standings with Norwegian teammates Bjoergen, Johaug and Heidi Weng pulling away by the 2.5 km mark. Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk tried to go with the fast early pace but began to struggle and dropped back into the chasing group and end up in 7th place on the stage.

Women's start [P] Nordic Focus

Stephen started conservatively before moving through the field in the final kilometers of the race, skiing closely with Finnish racer Ano-Kaisa Saarinen. “I didn’t have a really fast start. I always had my eye on the person in front of me. I chased her down skiers in the final kilometers with Ano-Kaisa. We never looked back. There were times when I thought was I blowing up and done. But then I said, this is the day and why not me?

“I was really nervous before the race. It’s hard to race so late with the whole day ahead of you and the guys going first. I was spending a lot of time calming my nerves. Once the race started I was focused and comfortable.

“It’s my favourite event of the whole year,” Stephen said about Cermis following her finish, “It’s just you and the mountain, the gates and the people. I won’t sleep much tonight because I can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Liz Stephen [P] Nordic Focus

Stephen had a special fan club trackside. Members of the women’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team, including World Cup skiers Resi Stiegler and Paula Moltzan, who were training nearby during a break in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

“Four of our alpine athletes, girls that are training twenty minutes up the valley came to watch today. It really meant a lot to have them come and watch and cheer me on at this event,” she continued.

She has also enjoyed the benefit of extra support as the only remaining U.S. athlete competing in the Tour de Ski. “I had seven techs working on my skis,” she laughed. “It’s a really nice change of pace to be overstaffed. I had amazing skis.”

The seventh stage begins tomorrow at noon CET. Universal Sports Network will carry same-day coverage at 3:00 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday.

Results here.
Overall standings here.

Tscharnke Pips Poltoranin in Men’s 15km CL TdS at Val di Fiemme

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January 10, 2015 (Val di Fiemme, ITA) – Germany’s Tim Tscharnke claimed an exciting victory by 1/2 boot length in a photo-finish over Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin in men’s 15km CL at the Tour’s penultimate Stage 6 in the final charge to the line. Dario Cologna of Switzerland recovered from earlier fall with Evgeniy Belov (Rus) to claim third at only 0.4s back.

Tscharnke pips Poltoranin [P]

In one of the closest competitions this season the top five finishers were separated by a mere 0.7 seconds as fourth and fifth were also decided by photo-finish between Russians Stanislav Volzhentsev and Alexander Bessmertnykh.

The Canadians did not have their best day in part due to their skis being not quite perfect, essential on such a tough course. Alex Harvey finished 34th, Ivan Babikov was 40th and Devon Kershaw was 41st.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

The course was very demanding – 6 laps of 2.5km course – with two significant climbs, followed by a shorter steep climb just before the descent to the stadium. With the changing snow conditions the course also included some challenging downhill sections.

First Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway went down taking teammate Niklas Dyrhaug with him. Later Cologna fell midway through the race on the same hill where Sundby crashed, apparently stepping on the back of one of Belov’s skis in close quarters –  the Russian was not impressed but Cologna recovered to land on the podium.

Cologna and Belov crash [P]

Tscharnke’s win was his first since Canmore in December 2012 and the stage saw the first podium without a Norwegian. Petter Northug Jr (NOR) still leads the overall Tour standings despite finishing 21st today with a mere 3.1s lead over Sundby who was 8th place today. Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson, 27th today, still sits in 3rd at 26.8 back.

Final results here.

Kris Freeman and Rosie Brennan Take 20/30km CL Titles @US XC Ski Nationals

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January 08, 2015 (Houghton, Michigan) – Kris Freeman (Freebird) stamped his authority on the men’s 30km CL race outpacing all challengers for the victory on Day three of the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships.

Men's 30km podium [P] Peter Graves

At just 3.5s behind APU’s Alexander Treinen battled with local star, Kyle Bratrud (Northern Michigan University), winner of the 15km FR on Day 1, for the silver as Bratrud settled for the bronze at a mere 0.4s back.

APU’s Eric Packer and David Norris finished 4th and 5th respectively as the top 5 were just over 11s apart. Reese Hanneman (APU) in 6th and Matthew Gelso (Sun Valley SEF) in 7th were just behind making for a close race.

Women's 20km podium [P] Peter Graves

Rosie Brennan delivered more gold for APU nailing her second title at these championships in the women’s 20km CL with a 5.5s margin over Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in second and Eliska Hajkova (Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team) in third.

Top Juniors today were Ian Torchia (Northern Michigan University) in the men’s 10km CL race and Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School) in the junior women’s 5km CL race.

Results (links below)

Women

1. Rosie Brennan (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:10:42.4
2. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 1:10:47.9
3. Eliska Hajkova (Boulder Nordic Junior Racing Team) 1:10:50.9
4. Chelsea Holmes (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:10:56.2
5. Becca Rorabaugh (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:11:21.3
6. Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 1:11:51.6

Men

1. Kris Freeman (Freebird) 1:31:14.8
2. Alexander Treinen (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:31:18.5
3. Kyle Bratrud (Northern Michigan University) 1:31:18.9
4. Eric Packer (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:31:19.7
5. David Norris (APU Nordic Ski Center) 1:31:26.0

Open men’s results here
Open women’s results here
Junior men’s results here
Junior women’s results here

Killick, Nishikawa, Dumas and Comeau Claim Skiathlon Victories at Haywood NorAm Junior/U23 Worlds Trials

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January 08, 2015 (Duntroon, ON) – Faced with extreme wind and blowing snow, athletes had to compete against the elements as well as each other in the2o/30km Skiathlon races at the NorAm World Junior/U23 Trials event hosted by Highlands Nordic.

Tough windy conditions [P] Jenn Jackson

The competition runs January 8th-11th and doubles as the selection races for Canada’s Junior/U23 Nordic World Championship teams. Qualifying athletes will have a couple weeks to make final preparations at home before travelling to Kazakhstan for the championships held from Feb. 1-8.  While the younger athletes compete for spots on those teams, seniors continued to battle for Continental Cup points to earn themselves World Cup and B Tour starting positions.

The first race of the day saw the Senior Men take to 3.75km loops, making four rounds in classic and four rounds of another 3.75km loop in skate to complete the 30km event. Graeme Killick (Ptrarmigan, AWCA-NST) was first across the line in a time of 1:31:24, winning his second consecutive NorAm Skiathlon ahead of first-year U23 skier Scott Hill (Team Hardwood, NDC Thunder Bay), who finished 47.5s behind Killick. The podium was rounded out by Michael Somppi (Lappe, AWCA-NST), who finished 51.3s off the pace after leading much of the earlier parts of the race.

Killick in charge of Senior Men's race [P] Jenn Jackson

“It went really well… yesterday skiing and testing the track was very windblown and I thought it would be really difficult to break away from the group today, which we tried a couple times today, me and (Michael) Somppi. He gunned it up the first climb on the first two laps and I was trying over the top but the group kept coming back, but on the final (classic) lap I able to start cruising a little faster on the flat sections leading into the hill then lengthen the hill out a bit and I was able to make a small gap then double pole as hard as I could for the rest of the lap and was able to hold it,” explained Killick.

“(In the skate) I kept the power on the whole time and just trying to keep a steady pace. I wasn’t sure what the group would end up doing, because going around the skate it was especially soft and windblown so I wasn’t sure if they would just catch me right away or what would happen. I just kept the power on and skied a 15km individual race and was able to put in a few seconds every lap,” he added.

Killick also talked about this World Cup experience. “At the World Cup I was just shy of a top 30, within 25s in one race, but I’m still just getting a taste of what it’s like to race close to the points. My first goal from here is to get to Rybinsk, Russia and get some World Cup races in and then see from there.”

Scott Hill had an impressive showing [P] Jenn Jackson

Scott Hill felt in control while en route. “The race went as I had hoped, as planned. The pace never got to hard at all, and with the wind the group stayed together for most of the classis then slowly split up through the skate. I was in the chase pack for the majority of the skate race then was able to break from the pack with about 2km to go.

“I made a fairly decisive move, no one really made a huge effort to try to go but everyone realized it was the time of the race where if moves were going to be made, they had to be made there, so the pace just increased with the whole chase pack at that point.”

On qualifying versus last year’s pre-qualification for the Junior World Juniors. “I think the excitement will be higher after qualifying closer to the actual World U23 races so I’m hoping that will result in some better races than last year.”

Nish leading Browne in the Senior Women's race [P] Jenn Jackson

In the women’s 15km Skiathlon, it was top female distance skier Emily Nishikawa (Whitehorse, AWCA-NST) who took prevailed for the win over U23 skier, Cendrine Browne (Fondeurs-Laurentides, CNEPH-NST), in a time of 50:37 (19.9s ahead of Browne) after skiing together for the first half of the race. In the battle for third, Andrea Dupont  (RMR) pulled away from teammate Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Fondeurs-Laurentides, RMR) to claim third.

“I had a good race, Cendrine was really strong today as well, she was right on my heels the whole time which was good,” Nishikawa told Trax post-race. “I struggled a bit with the kick so I used a lot of energy in the classic and then I used what I had left in the skate to go as hard as I could.”

“It was really windy out there today,” she continued. “I probably could have conserved more energy if I wasn’t leading the whole time but sometimes that’s how it goes, I knew I was feeling strong today so I was out in the lead the whole time but there were definitely some major headwinds and I could barely see where the trail was at time because it was a complete whiteout in front of me when the wind picked up.”

Senior Women's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

Looking forward Nishikawa shared her plans, “It’s great to be back in Canada, racing NorAms is always a fun time and it’s nice to see everyone again. I’ll be racing the NorAm next weekend as well, in Canmore, and then doing a bit of training at home there. I’m going to skip the Rybinsk World Cups and prepare for World Champs and the races after too. There’s lots to look forward to for the rest of the season.”

For Browne it was a fun race but tough at times. “I started really well with Emily, I was relaxed and it was hard with the wind but I found it really fun – the conditons were really hard today but it was a good race, a good day for me, I had great skis in both classic and skate so overall it was a good.

“She [Emily Nishikawa] pulled away from me on the first skate lap, then I caught up but she pulled again in the first uphill – I lost her there and couldn’t catch up. I lost both my contact lenses and couldn’t see anything so it was pretty hard, but yah, it was good,” added Browne.

In preparation for U23 Worlds, “We (CNEPH) will go to the United States to race and continue skiing as we prepare ourselves.”

Junior men's race [P] Jenn Jackson

The junior races proved to be very exciting, with athletes contending for a spot on World Championship teams and the chance for some international racing. The first NorAm of the new year always showcases the younger athletes on top form.

The Junior Men were first to take to the trails for their 20km journey, and a sizeable pack formed for the first couple turns of the 2.5km loop. As the racers came in to the transition, Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier (Fondeurs-Laurentides) and Alexis Dumas (Skibec, CNEPH), both of whom were on last year’s Junior Worlds team, had established a 20s lead over David Askwith (Georgian Bay, NDC Thunder Bay).

In the early parts of the skate leg, Askwith and Zachary Cristofanilli (Orford, CNEPH) both started to pull back time on the leaders, but as the race progressed they were unable to make up the deficit. Cristofanilli had a strong skate ski and was able to pass Askwith to take 3rd position while the top of the podium was decided in a sprint finish which saw Dumas getting the better of Izquierdo-Bernier by 1s.

Junior men's podium [P] Jenn Jackson

The last NorAm event of the day was the Junior Women who raced a 10km Skiathlon. A shorter race often requires more aggressive tactics; Maya Macisaac-Jones (RMR) set the early pace, extending her lead over chasers Katherine Stewart-Jones (Nakkertok) and Anne-Marie Comeau (MSA, CNEPH) by 20s and 38s respectively, at the transition.

Macisaac-Jones’ early pace may have been too much, given the slow conditions, as she was quickly caught and passed by her pursuers in the first skate lap. Comeau had a remarkable skate leg, splitting the 5k nearly a minute faster than the second fastest skater in the field, to win the race ahead of Stewart-Jones who finished second. Macisaac-Jones was able to hold on for third place, just ahead of Marie Corriveau (MSA).

Results

Junior Women

1. Anne-Marie Comeau       41:27
2. Katherine Stewart-Jones            +:34
3. Maya Macisaac-Jones     +1:24
4. Marie Corriveau               +1:29
5. Sophie Carrier-Laforte    +2:20

Junior Men

1. Alexis Dumas                   1:11:16
2. Ricardo Inquierdo-Bernier         +:1
3. Zachary Cristofanilli                    +:38
4. David Askwith                  +1:10
5. Eduoard Reed-Métayer   +1:54

Open Women

1. Emily Nishikawa              50:37
2. Cendrine Browne*                       +:19.9
3. Andrea Dupont                 +1:36
4. Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt*            +1:54
5. Dahria Beatty*                 +1:55

Open Men

1.     Graeme Killick          1:31:24
2.     Scott Hill*                  +:47
3.     Michael Somppi       +:51
4.     Knute Johnsgaard*  +1:02
5.     Colin Ferrie*             +1:02

* Under 23

Full results here.

Canada’s Harvey 6th as Northug Wins TdS 25km FR Pursuit in Toblach

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January 08, 2015 (Toblach, Italy) – Canada’s Alex Harvey finished a strong 6th as Petter Northug Jr. (NOR) won his second stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy today, taking the 25km FR Pursuit, to extend his overall lead to +7s over defending TdS champ Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR).

Petter Northug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

Northug started the day with a +1.5s lead over Sundby and was soon joined by three chasers, eventual second place finisher Calle Halfvarsson (SWE), Sundby, and Evgeniy Belov (RUS). The quartet skied together, gaining time over their chasers, with Northug sitting on the back of the group, biding his time.

He struck late in the race with the winning attack, snagging the bonus points and precious time. Sundby took third spot, only +2.2s back. Andrew Musgrave (GBR) logged the fastest time of the day, which moved him into 11th place in the overall rankings.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Meanwhile, Harvey skied behind in second chase group and powered to a solid sixth at  +1:46.0 behind the leader. Canadian teammate Devon Kershaw picked up five spots and finished in the points again placing 25th while fellow Canuck Ivan Babikov was just out of the points in 31st. No US skiers started.

“My optimistic goal was to ski back into the top-five. I just got outsprinted at the end, but I improved on my result so I have to be happy with today,” said Harvey. “The group didn’t push too hard today so I’m feeling less tired than I did at this point last year. I’m pretty much on par with my goals throughout the Tour. I’d like another podium and I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s race.”

Results here.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

Vote for Walk to Tuk with Sharon Firth former Canadian XC Ski Star – Jan. 9-16

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Shirley and Sharon Firth were Aboriginal athletes and members of the first Canadian women’s cross-country ski team at the Olympics. [P] CCCJanuary 08, 2015 – Sharon Firth is involved in a program to support active living that produced Walk to Tuk, one of six finalists in a contest, and the winner receives up to $1 million from the Government of Canada – read more on the Firth’s here.

I just wanted to thank you again for your support and participation in the taping of the Play Exchange show. The show is airing tomorrow at 7:00pm on CBC and the voting starts at 4:00pm.  You all have great cameos in the footage and you all look great!

Thanks again and feel free to share the info below with all your northern and southern contacts! As you know we are up against all southern initiatives and could use all the help we can get.

We need your support!

The NWTRPA’s Walk to Tuk is a finalist in the Play Exchange, a national challenge to find and support groups that are promoting active living across Canada. Out of 422 entries, we were selected as one of six finalist – but now we need your help!

The next step of the challenge is the voting stage, where Canadians like you will select the winning idea. The winner of the Play Exchange will receive an investment of up to $1 million from the Government of Canada.

Help us rally support by voting and spreading the word!

Here are some ways you can help:

1. Watch the Walk to Tuk be featured on CBC at 7:00pm this Friday January 9th
2. Vote! It’s easy and only takes a minute here.

Voting takes place as of 4:00pm this Friday January 9 – 16, 2015

3. Share our story, videos, photos on Twitter and Facebook!

Thanks for all your support! Let’s share this northern program with the nation!

Cheers

Sheena Tremblay
Active Communities Coordinator
NWT Recreation and Parks Association

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2014/15 Contest Standings after Toblach 5/10km CL

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January 08, 2015 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to present the standings of our 7th annual international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Tour de Ski 2014/15 Contest after round four in Toblach, Italy. Team USA’s Sadie Bjornsen was the top North American finisher in the women’s 5km CL race in eighth place (read our coverage here) and Canada’s Alex Harvey skied to 14th position in the men’s 10km CL (read our coverage here).

The contest lead changed hands again, with team 2015 TdS WINNERS taking back the top spot with 452 points. Team DJN has moved up a spot into second with 448 points, while team ofsss’s hero moved into third place with 444 points. With over 400 teams entered from around the world the 2014/15 edition of our contest competition is proving to be a good battle.

For the contest standings after Toblach pls click HERE.

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Madshus, Nipika Mountain Resort, Rudy Project, Bjorn Daehlie, Yoko, Supercamp, Stoneham, Cross Country Canada, One Way and High Peaks Cyclery.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS TdS 2014/15 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Madshus Redline Carbon Skate skis, Super Nano Skate boots, Nano Carbon Race 100 UHM poles (value $1,815)
* 2nd PrizeNipika Mountain Resort – 2 nights lodging in fully equipped cabin incl. all amenities (value $875)
* 3rd Prize
Rudy Project Sunglasses For Sport Agon + For Life Spinhawk (value $450)
* 4th PrizeBjorn Daehlie XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th PrizeYoko  9100 poles (value $299)
* 6th Prize – Supercamp 2.5-day weekend camp w/coaching, lunches, trail passes etc. (value $275)
* 7th PrizeStoneham First Cut Jacket (value $249)
* 8th Prize Cross Country Canada package Sweater/Gloves/Touque (value $210)
* 9th Prize One Way Pro Team Day Bag (value $100)
* 10th PrizeHigh Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

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).

APU’s Brennan and Rorabaugh 1-2 in Women’s Sprint CL at 2015 U.S. XC Nationals – Blackhorse-von Jess Tops Men’s Field + PHOTOS

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January 06, 2015 (Houghton, Michigan) – Snowy conditions and +5 degree temps saw Rosie Brennan and Becca Rorabaugh give APU Nordic Ski Center a 1-2 top podium finish in the women’s A-Final Classic Sprint CL on Day 2 of the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships. Craftsbury Green Racing Projects Liz Guiney claimed the final podium spot while Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School) won the B-Final.

Rorabaugh (l) and Brennan at the front [P] Andrew Gardner

“It was definitely a tough day with a heat taking somewhere over 5 minutes in some cold, slow snow, but I had some rocking boards and was feeling fit so I just kept pushing,” said Brennan.

Women's podium [P] Andrew Gardner

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) proved to be unbeatable again in the men’s race as Benjamin Saxton (SMST2/USST) took second with top qualifier, Haakon Hjelstuen (Lyn Ski) Michigan Tech Huskies, a U23 skier from Trondheim, Norway in third. Logan Hanneman (University of Alaska Fairbanks) was the fastest man in the B-Final.

“I’m excited about today,” said Blackhorse-von Jess. “This was always part of the plan, to win this while ramping up to be ready for the World Championships in February. This wasn’t the focus, but I knew I could do this and I’m happy I did.”

“I look at things differently, since missing out on the Olympic Team. I was very reflective about returning to skiing again this year and I did because I know I can be in the top thirty in the world, I ski with Simi (Hamilton) and Andy (Newell) enough during the year that I know I can ski with them and I know they are top thirty in the world skiers,” he added.

Blackhorse Von Jess [P] Andrew Gardner

“It’s always exciting to win but this is my second championship and the goal is to put myself in a position to make the World Championship team and to win the sprint Super Tour to compete with the best in the world.”

Ben Saxton [P] Andrew Gardner

Second place finisher Saxton said: “I did everything I could to win today. But I didn’t get out well at the start of the final and that was on me. Overall I have to be happy as I skied well, my skis were amazing, the coaches did a great job and I gave it everything I have.”

 
Senior men's podium [P] Andrew Gardner

Top Juniors today were Zak Ketterson (Loppet Nordic Racing) in the men’s race and Ann-Cathrin Uhl (University of Alaska Fairbanks) in the junior women’s competiton.

Qualifications here.
Full Senior results here
Full Junior results here

USA’s Hamilton Strong 8th in TdS Men’s Sprint FR at Val Mustair – Pellegrino Wins Squeaker UPDATED

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Pellegrino celebrates [P] Nordic FocusJanuary 06, 2015 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – Simi Hamilton scored a strong 8th as Italy’s Federico Pellegrino delivered a knockout punch besting Norway’s Petter Northug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby at the line in the men’s 1.4km Sprint FR turning the tables on Norway’s stronghold at the Tour de Ski. The feisty Italian came from behind as Sundby faltered and Northug was ready to pounce as he out-dueled them both by boot with a well-timed final lunge.

(l-r) Pellegrino, Sundby, Northug in the final charge to the line. [P] Nordic Focus

Hamilton raced well to finish third in his quarterfinal advancing to the semis as a Lucky Loser where he ended up fourth behind Evgeniy Belov (RUS), Calle Halfvarsson (SWE) and Maciej Starega (POL). His 8th place result is his best this year as Switzerland has been good to him – he won his first stage World Cup sprint at the Tour last year in Lenzerheide.

(l-r) Roman Furger (SUI), Petter Northug (NOR), Len Valjas (CAN), Simeon Hamilton (USA), Ilia Chernousov (RUS) [P] Nordic Focus

“For the most part, I’m happy with how the day turned out”, said Hamilton. “I didn’t feel great in the qualifier and a crash on one of the extremely icy corners didn’t help too much. But I knew that on such a long course, I still had a chance of making it through to the heats if I focused on getting up as fast as possible and skiing as hard as I could all the way through the line. It was bittersweet to actually make it through in the top 30, knowing that Andy’s [Newell] fall was what most likely kept me in there….”

(l-r) Simeon Hamilton (USA), Len Valjas (CAN), Ilia Chernousov (RUS), Petter Northug (NOR) [P] Nordic Focus

“My body felt better once I started the quarters, but I definitely just felt a little flat all day. On such a long course, I chose to kind of hang in the back of the pack through 1+ laps and then put in a surge the second time up the steep climb to try to pick off some of the more tired guys in my heats. It worked better in my quarter than in my semi… I was running out of steam in that semi and with such icy corners from the top of the course to the finish stretch, it was nearly impossible to pass anyone in that last 800 meters,” recounted Hamilton.

“Obviously I would have been much happier with the day if it had ended like the race in Lenzerheide last year, but like I said, ski racing and courses are always different and you just have to pull out the positives from every day you’re out there. I feel like my fitness and speed are only getting better as we get closer to Falun, I’m healthy, and I’m really looking forward to getting in a few more sprints in the next couple weeks before we head into our Davos training camp pre-Ostersund and World Champs,” he added.

(l-r) Simon Andersson (SWE), Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

Canada’s Alex Harvey was next in 16th as he looked destined to make the semifinal but was pipped at the line by Simon Andersson from Sweden and did not advance. Teammate Devon Kershaw also qualified but finised 5th in his heat ending up 22nd while Len Valjas, who has been battling a cold all week, skied to 28th spot. Harvey now sits fifth overall.

Alex Harvey (CAN) [P] Nordic Focus

“It was good to qualify for the heats, but I wanted a little more,” said Valjas, who has decided to pull out of the remaining four races on the cross-country ski grind through Europe. “I went out really fast today, and just had nothing left up the final hill. I just didn’t have the energy today, but I gave it all I had.”

The USA’s Erik Bjornsen was 59th, Ivan Babikov (Can) finished 73rd and top sprinter Andy Newell (USA) was an uncharacteristic 83rd due to a big crash that took him out of the running. According to U.S. XC Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover, “Andy [Newell] fell on a corner on the second lap. Very disappointing because he was running fifth in the qualifications at the 1/2 way mark.”

Andrew Newell (USA) [P] Nordic Focus

We caught up with Newell later and he told us, “Yeah saying the Tour has been tough on me would be an understatement. The body has been feeling pretty crappy and I really struggled with crashes and skis in the first two stages. Even when I’m not feeling great sprinting tends to still go well so I was pumped to get a shot in the skate sprint but ended up crashing out (apparently with a top-5 time at the time of the crash). So it has really been frustrating for me.

“Regardless of any results this past week, something just isn’t working. I’ve been struggling with an allergic reaction the past few months and also a little sickness over Christmas so it’s hard to tell what kind of effect that might be having on my body while racing. But I haven’t felt good in a distance race in quite some time. Hoping to straighten things out before the next few sprint weekends,” he concluded.

Qualifications here.
Final results here.

A Guide to Trips at Stake at the U.S. Cross Country Championships

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January 05, 2015 – Every year, the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships, often called “Nationals” plays host to the skiers not racing in Europe, skiers making a jump to the next step, beyond racing in the U.S. to international competition and a global ski career.

“A popular question is, ‘How do we obtain International success in Cross Country skiing?’,” explains U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish, “Obviously, it takes hard work and well-planned consistent training, however success also stems from knowing the key opportunities as an upcoming skiers.  These opportunities are both domestic and abroad.”

[P] courtesy of NNFThe 2015 US Cross Country Skiing Championships January 2-10 on at Michigan Tech Nordic Training Center in Houghton, Michigan is that opportunity. These are the events that are measured as key pillars in becoming a World Class skier. “ALL athletes need a FIS license for these trips.  Some/parents/ coaches encourage their athletes to not purchase a FS license until they qualify for the U18 trip for example.  This however means they go into these races with no FIS profile and hence poor starting positions at the races. FIS licenses are good to have in advance for this purpose.”

So athletes need a FIS license, a Passport, but what of the trips? What are the details? Here are the basic sketches of the NNF funded, USSA sanctioned devo trips at the US Cross Country Skiing Championships. Skiers will be competing for berths in the following three critical international development teams. Selection for the teams is competitive and spots are limited.

– The U18 Trip – Often called the Scando Trip, this competition is geared for 16 and 17 year old athletes en route to a career of international racing. An annual two week trip focused on raising the level of skiing awareness for developing Americans this event focuses athletes by exposing them to stronger competitive events, skiing clubs and programs in Scandinavia.
Details: Feb 1-11 Örnsköldsvik, Sweden (Trip total: 12 athletes – 6 female & 6 male)

– The WJC / U23 Championships – Internationally recognized as a stepping stone to World level skiing, racers who go on to World Cup success often have posted results in the top ten at World Junior competitions (for athletes under 20 years old) or the U23 World Championships (for athletes under 23). The NNF funds the majority of this trip, subsidizing the individual costs for those that qualify through strong domestic racing.
Details: Jan 28 – Feb 9 Almaty, Kazakhstan (22 athletes – Juniors  = 6 female & 6 male; Under-23 = 5 female & 5 male)

– The World Cup/ World Championships (Double points for US Champs to name SuperTour Leaders & compete for World Champ berths) – Skiing’s highest level of competition, young skiers have the capacity to make this leap early if talent allows. (Jessie Diggins and Sadie Bjornsen are examples of women who raced from a young age at the World Championships.)
Details: Based off points selections. Numbers will vary.

Each of these teams builds towards the next team, the next level, the next caliber of racing.  Success requires step-by step-opportunities to allow the athletes to grow and improve their skiing. Lastly, all of this takes money and the USST does not provide funding. The National Nordic Foundation was founded by Reid Lutter for this very reason back in 1995. The NNF funds the majority of the expenses associated with these events as NNF Pillar Projects.

“Step one for every developing skier is taking part in events like the US Cross Country Skiing Championships,” Fish continued. “You have to toe the start line and compete for a position to qualify for one of these teams. “

For more information on the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships, visit here.

For more information including the criteria in determining each of these teams, log onto the USSA website here.

To learn more about the National Nordic Foundation, visit here.

Interview with Alex Harvey after TdS 2015 15km CL Pursuit Silver

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FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, pursuit men, Oberstdorf (GER)

January 05, 2015 (Obertsdorf, Germany) – Canada’s Alex Harvey executed a near-perfect race yesterday in the men’s 15k CL pursuit, Stage 2 at the Tour de Ski in Obertsdorf, Germany to capture a close silver, only 0.6s behind winner Petter Northug Jr. (NOR). Fast skis and good sensations indicated to the young Canadian that it was going to be a good day and he was able to put it all together and nab a podium at the prestigious Tour de Ski 2015, despite many challenges at the front from other race favourites. Read our race coverage here.

Bratrud and Gregg Triumph in 10/15km FR Races at 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships + PHOTOS

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January 04, 2015 (Houghton, Michigan) – Cold and windy conditions greeted skiers for the opening of the 2015 U.S. Cross Country Championships with the 10/15 km FR race. Snow conditions have be great in Houghton, Michigan which was a welcome sight for the nearly 400 athletes who have converged here for the coveted titles on Michigan Tech’s renowned Nordic ski trails.

Men 15K podium [P] Andrew Gardner

Kyle Bratrud (Northern Michigan University), 21, took home the first national title besting Kris Freeman (Freebird) in the men’s 15km FR contest by a comfortable margin with Patrick Caldwell (Dartmouth College) edging out Matthew Gelso (Sun Valley SEF) for the final podium spot.

Freeman, Bolger [P] Andrew Gardner

“My goal coming into today was to get a top ten,” said Bratrud. “Coming from NMU, I ski this course all the time and I know it pretty well and I was excited when I saw this snow.”

Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus), fresh off the period one World Cup schedule, raced to victory in the women’s 10km FR contest with APU Nordic Ski Center’s Chelsea Holmes taking second followed closely by her teammate Rosie Brennan in third – check out our pre-race interview with Brennan here.

Women's 10K FR podium [P] Peter Graves

“It feels absolutely great to come back to the U.S. and race so well at the national championships. The race today was hard and I had to fight the whole way! I am so grateful for the awesome support from the U.S. Ski Team while I was over in Europe this fall on the World Cup,” commented Gregg.

Caitlin Gregg [P] Andrew Gardner

“The race was quite tough,” said second-placed Holmes. “The nature of the course and the cold snow meant there was no rest out there.  I am happy with the effort I gave, it was a great way to kick off the week!”

Chelsea Holmes [P] Andrew Gardner

Due to forecast sub-zero temperatures the classic sprints has been moved back one day and will now be held on Jan. 6 with the same timing as originally planned on Jan. 5.

Results

Men

1. Kyle Bratrud (Northern Michigan University) 42:01.6
2. Kris Freeman (Freebird) 42:51.6
3. Patrick Caldwell (Dartmouth College) 42:54.3
4. Matthew Gelso (Sun Valley SEF) 42:54.4
5. Fredrik Schwencke (Northern Michigan University) 43:13

Full results here.

Women

1. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) 30:31.5
2. Chelsea Holmes (APU Nordic Ski Center) 30:43.6
3. Rosie Brennan (APU Nordic Ski Center) 30:44.2
4. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) 31:03.2
5. Jessica Yeaton (APU Nordic Ski Center) 31:03.8

Full results here.

Bjoergen Rules Women’s 10km CL at Tour de Ski – USA’s Bjornsen 14th, Stephen 15th

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January 04, 2015  (Obertsdorf, GER) – Norway’s Marit Bjoergen stamped her authority once again on the Tour de Ski extending her margin over her closest rival to 1:01.2 as she claimed the women’s 10km CL pursuit today in Obertsdorf. Completing the Norge podium were Heidi Weng in second and Therese Johaug in 3rd. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson cracked the top 5 with the 4th fastest time of the day.

Marit Bjoergen (Nor) [P] Nordic Focus

The USA’s Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen continued their charge at the front landing 14th and 15th respectively while their teammates were further back as Ida Sargent was 40th and Kikkan Randall was 44th followed by Sophie Caldwell in 55th and Jessie Diggins in 56th.

“My goal for today was to stay focused on my performance and my competition. I had perfect skis and very good grip on the climbs,” commented Bjoergen.

We caught up with Bjornsen while she was en route to Switzerland, “On the road. What a fun race to experiment with different paces and strengths. Things were spectacular until 5k, when I had to start hanging on for dear life.

Sadie Bjornsen (US) [P] Nordic Focus

“As the tracks fell apart, I found myself stiffening up to try to find some kick- so I wasn’t able to keep up the “dream race”. It is coming though…this tour business is pretty fun!! Off we go to Switzerland!

For Stephen it was another satisfying day as she loves the Tour and is ready for more giving us an inside look as some of the other issues besides the weather that can plague organizers.

“I was feeling quite good going into today’s race. It’s fun to be starting so far up in the front for a race like today, and my body recovered well after yesterday.

“The conditions were definitely tricky, as it poured rain and was super windy from noon yesterday until about 4 this morning so the organizers had a lot of work to do putting the course back together again after such a tough night.

“Banners were blown away, tv camera stands blown down and cameras broken beyond repair, not to mention bows and debris in the trail. It’s amazing that the race conditions were as good as they were today. Again, my skis were amazing and I was able to ski the way I wanted to.

“I’m definitely happy with my result. It’s a long Tour still ahead and a lot can happen, but I am really happy with my first two stages for sure. Really fun to have Sadie to ski with too,” she told Trax by email.

Final podium [P] Nordic Focus

US star Randall had a tough second lap and struggled to finish ending up an uncharacteristic 44th but says she’s moving in the right direction and looks forward to the sprint in Val Mustair. Time will tell for defending Sprint Cup globe champ who has not come close to her results in previous years.

“I went into today’s race feeling optimistic about building off of yesterday’s good start.  With the tight start times, I knew it would be a good chance to ski with strong classic skiers.

“I had a solid first lap, moving up a couple places.  But heading into the 2nd lap i wasn’t able to hold the same pace and started slipping on the climbs.  It was a struggle then until the finish. 44th place.

“I was hoping to be stronger today.  I was mostly focused on the effort and pace over the results and I ended up a little below my expectations.  However, I know that today’s race was a good workout that will help me keep moving forward.  Just have to be patient.

“I’m really looking forward to the skate sprint on Tuesday in Val Mustair, our next race race after tomorrow’s rest day. It is a good course for me and I’ve heard they’ve added a jump! My skate sprinting has been feeling stronger and stronger! The tour is all about racing and then moving right on to the next day.  So, on to Switzerland,” wrote the triple globe winner.

Full results here.