Tag Archive | "finland"

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

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

When we started skiing it was nice and sunny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIS XC WCup Men’s 1.4k CL in Kuusamo – Kriukov Scores, USA’s Hamilton 26th

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November 30, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Vancouver 2010 Olympic CL sprint gold medalist Nikita Kriukov (RUS) won the 1.4km CL sprint in Kuusamo today, scooping favourite Petter Northug (NOR) at the finish by a mere double pole. Northug had been in the lead after throwing down a strong attack on the climb with only Kriukov able to maintain contact. Kriukov used a last-second surge to take the victory – see pics below.

Emil Joensson (NOR) was the fastest qualifier, but suffered an unfortunate crash in the semifinals and was out. The USA’s Simeon Hamilton was the top North American finisher in 26th, qualifying 29th.

He appeared strong in the first half of his semifinal, but faded at the end. Things went similarly for Andy Newell (USA), who wound up 29th. No Canadians made it past the qualifiers including World Cup #1 Dario Cologna (Sui).

Alex Harvey (CAN) finished the day in 46th, with Len Valjas (CAN) 53rd, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 62nd, Kris Freeman (USA) 63rd, Sylvan Ellefson (USA) 74th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 85th, Noah Hoffman 86th, and Kevin Sandau (CAN) 98th.


Men’s Qualifying HERE.
Men’s Final HERE.

USA’s Sargent a Strong 9th at FIS XC WCup Kuusamo Women’s 1.4km CL Sprint as Bjoergen Wins

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November 30, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – USST’s Ida Sargent turned heads as the top North American with a breakthrough 9th in the women’s 1.4km CL sprint in Kuusamo today with impressive, smart skiing. The Dartmouth skier, on the Craftsbury Green Team, was also the fastest NA qualifier in 13th. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen was the undisputed winner claiming the second round of the FIS XC WCup after qualifying fourth and squeaking through to the final as a lucky loser.

Evgenia Shapovalova (RUS) stormed to second, followed by teammate Anastasia Dotsenko in third. Top qualifier Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), was a surprise non-finalist as she was eliminated in the semis and finished up in seventh.

The USA’s Kikkan Randall, who qualified 16th, had an auspicious start storming to second in her quarterfinal behind Kowalcyzk. Randall made her move on the final climb surging into first place but settled for second in the finishing straight. In her semi she started strong, but apeared to lose power on the hill as she used the same strategy fading to fifth to finish 10th on the day.

Dasha Gaiazova (CAN) was the top Canadian qualifier in 18th and looked very strong in her quarterfinal as set the pace taking the lead. As the group hit the climb she did not have the same kick and did not advance to the semis.

Her teammate Perianne Jones, qualifying 20th, had a strong 2nd place finish in her quarterfinal advancing to the semis. She was looking good until she was thrown off pace by a minor stumble and ended up last in her heat finishing the day in 12th, matching her career-best individual World Cup result.

The final was an exciting one, with Kowalczyk out and Bjoergen sneaking in. Katja Visnar (SLO) and Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) both went down mid-race, while Bjoergen stormed away off the front.

Other North American results include Jessie Diggins (USA) 33rd, Chandra Crawford (CAN) 37th, Alysson Marshall (CAN) 38th, Holly Brooks (USA) 40th, and Liz Stephen 68th.

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Women’s results HERE.

Inside the Fence – Interviews w/Norway’s Pettersen, Brandsdal, Golberg in Kuusamo

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November 29, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Check out the second episode of the new FIS series, Inside the Fence, hosted by Jeff Ellis. This edition features pre-race interviews with Norwegian sprinters Oystein Pettersen, Erik Brandsdal, and Paal Golberg. Find out what they have to say leading up to their big race in Kuusamo.

Inside the Fence – Kuusamo Course Preview w/Kikkan Randall

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November 28, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Check out the first edition of FIS’s Inside the Fence, which includes a preview video of this weekend’s FIS World Cup XC race course in Kuusamo, Finland with USA’s Kikkan Randall.

Diggins Report – The Good, the Bad, and the Jet-lagged

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November 21, 2012 (Muonio, Finland) – Well, we made it to Muonio, Finland! And the trails here are awesome, with tons of snow and even more daylight than I thought there’d be (you can see the sun on a clear day from 11:30 – 3:00). There’s a ton of international skiers here: Finland, Russia, Japan, Spain, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, and probably a few more that I’m forgetting at the moment!

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I have a somewhat embarrassing story to report: on our flight from Washington to Munich we had a super tight connection where we ran off the plane to the next gate…and in the stress and rush, I left my laptop on the plane. Yeah, seriously. I did that.

The good news is that they found it and are holding it at the desk, but it’s been a logistical nightmare to get it back since they won’t ship it. I should hopefully have it back sometime in Gallivare, Sweden, and then I promise to update a ton of pictures! Meanwhile the girls have been so nice in letting me borrow their computers to check email everyday.

Some cool things about the trip so far: the airport where we flew in, Rovaniemi, is the official hometown (and airport) of Santa Claus. Don’t believe me? Google that thing! It’s real! Of course, I’m not sure how Cork feels about that being from North Pole, AK…

We also went to visit the local elementary school here in Munio and the kids there could speak amazing English, and some had questions about the US (are there really Polar Bears in Alaska? What’s our favorite hockey team?). They were really nice and it was cool to see a school from another country.

This week has been a pretty hard training week for me with a couple interval sets, a couple strength sessions, and 3 FIS races. So far, I’m one race in and my limbs feel a little like jelly, but I guess that’s to be expected when I’m still shaking out a whole lot of cobwebs and jetlag.

Today was the classic sprint. For me, classic skiing in general and especially sprinting is something I’ve been trying to convince myself is fun. But today felt like a total slap in the face since I fell on the steep herringbone pitch 15 feet from the finish line in the qualifier. I somehow squeaked my way into the rounds in bib #30 and then fell again…in the SAME SPOT. Geez. Wow. Ouch.

But sometimes you learn the most from the races you do the worst in. Even if what you’re learning is how to be mentally kind to yourself! And to not take racing too seriously, and remember that you’re a person, not a machine.

Saturday we have a 5km classic and Sunday is a 10km skate, and then on Monday we drive over to Gallivare, Sweden.

There’s a pretty funny story I’ve heard from 2 years ago when the team vans ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere, in between Munio and Gallivare. They had to stop at a reindeer farm and wait for the farmer to unload 150 reindeer before he could get them gas. Hopefully this year we make it!

Muonio 10km Men’s Classic Video

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November 20, 2012 (Muonio, Finland) – Check out this raw footage of the 10km Men’s Classic FIS event in Muonio, Finland on Saturday and see the USST’s men’s in action, along with top Euro contenders courtesy of US coach Bryan Fish.

Interview with US XC Ski Team’s Liz Stephen in Muonio, Finland

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November 19, 2012 (Muonio, Finland) – SkiTrax caught up with USST skier Liz Stephen after she landed her first FIS podium in Europe, placing second in the women’s 10km FR in Muonio, Finland Postsa mere 4.5s behind Polish queen Justyna Kowalczyk on the weekend. We spoke to her about her great kick-off to the 2012/13 season and found out what’s ahead for the speedster.

Brooks Blog – Lappland Here We Come!

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November 13, 2012 – I’m about to board my second of four flights taking me from home in AK to Northern Finland, “Munio.” It’s hard to see on this map but it’s to the left of “Lappi” …. you may notice this is WAY above the Arctic Circle. Don’t worry, I packed some neon to keep things bright and happy….

My favorite wax tech helping me travel wax skis. I had this pic on Facebook earlier and many people are surprised by the number of skis I have.  Reality is, everyone has this many to be competitive at the international level.  Each one is for different conditions… different cambers, stiffnesses, grinds, etc.

Fast and Female Anchorage (last weekend) is deserving of its own post. I’ll try to write an update later. Basically, it was AWESOME and we had over 200 girls. Thanks so much to everyone who pitched in and helped out!

After the main event we took the opportunity to get a bunch of Alaskan women influential in sports together for a social/pow-wow. Women shared incredible personal stories and also gave updates on the programs they are currently involved in. We had everyone from Nina Kemppal (4x XC Ski Olympian) to Deedee Jonrowe (30x Iditorod sled dog racer) to Margaret Timmerman in charge of Tuesday Night races to Joey Caterinichio – US Ski Team Nordic Program Director, Rosey Grundwaldt – 2006 Torino Bronze Medalist, etc, etc. I wish I had had a tape recorder on the conversation because it was amazing.

Rob dropped me off at the airport last night. Always hard to say goodbye. He’s my biggest supporter. (Thanks for the help babe!)

Opp! They’re calling my name to board! Next flight to Frankfurt, then to Helsinki, then to Rovanemi & finally, a drive to Munio. I have a long road ahead!

More soon!
Holly 😉

The day before my departure I got this in the mailbox. I’m excited to be writing an international column for the statewide Nordic Skier Newspaper. In case you live outside of Alaska or don’t receive the paper, I’ve included my article below….

From Alaska to Europe & Back
by Holly Brooks

Eight years ago I moved to Anchorage because I wanted to live in a ski town. After growing up in Seattle, I craved a place where roller skiers weren’t considered freaks and I could see snow outside the kitchen window. I was ecstatic to find friends who knew of Swix Extra Blue and a spider web of fabulous trails throughout the city, complete with lights for skiing at night. I made my rounds of the local ski scene working at Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, serving as the head coach for West High, spent six years as a coach for the Alaska Junior Olympic team and finally, five years as a fulltime junior and master’s coach for the APU Nordic Ski Center.

I started out racing in the local Anchorage Cup series; the Hickok, Pia’s Classic, the Sven, the Oosik, the Tour. Then, in 2009, I entered the American Birkebeiner and “lost” the race by what some called a “toenail” in a photo finish. In many ways, that race was one of the defining moments that inspired me to focus on skiing at a new level. Luckily my commitment and hard work was rewarded when this past May, I was named as an official member of the US Cross Country Ski Team.

Last winter I unexpectedly spent almost five consecutive months in Europe racing the World Cup. Needless to say, this was quite the jump from the Alaska community racing scene where I frequented the coastal trail, had a “handful of skis” thrown into the back of my Subaru or spent Tuesday nights doing intervals at Hillside with my friends. In all, I traveled to & raced in ten different countries and accumulated 26 World Cup starts. There were highlights such as my contribution to the best women’s 4x5k team relay finish in history and there were certainly low lights as well. Christmas night I was running on an icy road, fell & broke my wrist just four days before the start of the infamous “Tour de Ski” stage race. (I foolishly competed anyways!) This winter promises to be full of more tales and adventures. I’m by no means a seasoned veteran of the World Cup but I’m not a rookie either.

As you may know, three of the six US Ski Team girls reside and train in Anchorage including Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen and myself. We represent the USA, the State of Alaska and APU Nordic Ski Center on the International stage. This year World Championships will be in Val di Fiemme, Italy and in less than two years we hope to be “toeing the start line” at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

When driving up the serpentine roads to the racing venue in Slovenia or landing a chartered plane on an obscure military base in Russia to compete it’s easy to feel far from home and far from the people, specifically the Alaskans, that helped us reach the World stage. Realizing that, I’m excited to be writing a monthly column for the Nordic Skier that will attempt to bring stories from the World Cup into your hands. While I may not spend much of the winter in Alaska anymore I spend the spring crust skiing at Portage, the summer running in the Chugach and the fall roller skiing at Kincaid. While I love being on the road, my heart is always at home. I hope you’ll join me for the adventure that is the 2012-2013 World Cup season

If you would like to follow Holly’s ski adventures on a more regular basis, check out her blog @ www.hollyskis.blogspot.com

One Way to Launch High End Ski Wax Line

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October 03, 2012 (Vantaa, Finland) – The Finnish Nordic Sports brand ONE WAY will launch during the upcoming winter season a new high-end ski wax range with a wide program in Premio Fluor powders, high-Fluor and low-Fluor gliders. In addition OW will present a professional tool range for ski service with Roto brushes, hand brushes, wax iron, structure tools and other important tools.

The ski wax range is a perfect match with the ONE WAY cross country ski range combining a lot of experience and tests developing the fastest and best products for a Nordic athlete.

The testing phase for the new products with several National teams continues during this fall and the racing service team is aiming for the first medals during the World Championships taken with the support of OW SKI WAX.


Finnish Doping Saga Takes New Twist w/Ski Legend Juha Mieto

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September 26, 2012 (Helsinki, Finland) – A new documentary to be released on October 5 in Finland focuses on former decorated cross-country skier Juha Mieto and suggests for the first time that the 1980 Olympic silver medalist used performance enhancing substances, reports the Helsingin Sanomat at HS.fi.

In the film, titled “Blue and White Lies”, former Finnish weightlifing gold medalist Kaarlo Kangasniemi claims that Mieto asked his advice about the use of anabolic steroids in a conversation in a sauna in 1975. The documentary contains other interviews that claim “hormone research” and blood transfusions were used among Finnish skiers in the ’70s.

Read the full article HERE.

Canadian Athletes Add 3 Medals to Successful Haul at IPC XC WCup Finals in Finland

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March 27, 2012 (Vuokatti, Finland) – Canada’s Para-Nordic athletes added three more medals on Tuesday to their haul at the IPC World Cup Finals, bringing their week total to seven.

Brian McKeever and his guide, Erik Carleton, completed their golden sweep of the three cross-country ski events in the men’s visually impaired category. McKeever, a 10-time Paralympic medallist, dominated the men’s 10-kilometre skate-ski race while battling through the heavy winds to clock a time of 25:43.7.

“I’m feeling better than I have all year. My shape has been building and it was a pretty solid day all-around for me,” said McKeever. “My skate skiing has been stronger this year and I put it together for the first time in a Para race.”

McKeever knocked of his Russian rivals, Stanislav Chokhlaev and Maksim Pirogov, in skate skiing for the first time this year. The Russians posted a second-place time of 26:39.3. Two other Russian skiers, Nikolay Polukhin and his guide, IIya Cherepanov, rounded out the men’s visually impaired podium in third at 26:39.9.

Canada also grabbed two bronze medals in the men’s and women’s sit-skiing races.

Chris Klebl, of Canmore, Alta., brought his season medal total to six after claiming the bronze in the men’s 10-kilometre sit-ski race with a time of 29:33.8. The 40-year-old Klebl finished one minute off the golden pace set by Russia’s Ramil Ilalutdinov at 28:33.3. Roman Petushkov, also of Russia, claimed the bronze at 28:55.0.

Saskatoon’s Colette Bourgonje rounded out the trio of medals after claiming her second straight bronze in the sit-skiing middle distance races. The reigning World Champion crossed the finish line with a time of 16:15.1 in the women’s 5km race.

Norway’s Mariann Marthinsen battled her way back to the top of the podium with a time of 15:52.2, while Lyudmyla Pavlenko, of the Ukraine, finished second at 16:02.1.

The IPC World Cup Finals continue on Thursday in Finland with the start of the Biathlon events.

Full results HERE.

FIS Marathon Cup News: Finlandia Hiihto 50k Classic – Koukal and Shevchenko Win

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March 01, 2012 – (Lahti, Finland) – Normally, the skating technique is his favourite one and he would never declare himself a classic specialist, however, it was in a classic style race, that he won his first FIS Marathon Cup: Martin Koukal (CZE), World Champion from 2003 over 50km skating, crowned himself winner of the Finlandia Hiihto which is also 50km long but is skied in classic technique. The two Italians Sergio Bonaldi, who had already been second in the skating race La Transjurassienne two weeks ago, and Marco Cattaneo, placed second and third, battling had in order to leave their team mate Florian Kostner on the fourth spot.

The big favourite of today’s race, the leader of the FIS Marathon Cup, Stanislav Rezac, like Koukal from the Czech Republic, couldn’t place better than fifth. Like at the Dolomitenlauf or at La Transjurassienne, Team Skinfit Racing took its chances in the absence of the Norwegian and Swedish classic specialists and secured the top podium place in both races: With Koukal on the men’s side and with Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) on the women’s one! The Ukrainian once again knew only one thing: that she was skiing lightning-quick! She left Tatiana Manimaa (EST) and Stephanie Santer (ITA) to get second and third. Once again, the very hilly terrain of the Finlandia Hiihto helped Shevchenko to play her card, pushing hard on the uphills but enjoying racing at the same time.

With temperatures hovering around -3°C during the race, only a light breeze and no snowfall, made for perfect conditions. Over 3,000 racers took to the start in Lahti this morning, ready to explore the track to Hollola and back to Lahti.

Rezac Continues to Lead overall FIS Marathon Cup, Santer is New Women’s Leader
No changes in the men’s ranking of the overall FIS Marathon Cup: Stanislav Rezac (CZE) leads now with 345 points in front of Joergen Aukland (NOR, 256 points) and Jimmie Johnsson (SWE, 235 points). On the women’s side the leader bib goes back to Stephanie Santer (ITA) who leads now with 381 points in front of Susanne Nyström (SWE, 365 points) and Jenny Hansson (SWE, 332 points).

Elite Results HERE.
Full results HERE.

The next FIS Marathon Cup race will be the Vasaloppet (SWE), 90km classic, on March 4.

Comments from the top three:

Martin Koukal (CZE):
It’s amazing! My first FIS Marathon Cup victory and it’s in classic technique! In the beginning of the season, I had a lot of self confidence but I got back to earth right after the first couple of races and changed my goals for the season. So I am more than satisfied now with this result. I had great skis throughout the whole race, but especially in the end.

We spent almost a week here after the Tartu Maraton and I got to know almost the whole track of the Finlandia, therefore I knew that it would be possible to go without wax and do just double polling. The last kilometres were a fight, the last steep uphills were very painful, but I knew that I had to survive these kilometres if I wanted to be in front for the finish. It worked all fine and I could even choose the line for the finish when we came to down into the stadium. I will now rest a bit at home and prepare the Engadin Marathon. It doesn’t look too bad for me now in the overall FIS Marathon Cup, so that’s the focus now for me for the rest of the season!

Sergio Bonaldi (ITA):
I am very happy with my second place! A top 6 position today would have been great so I am even more satisfied with this podium! I didn’t have any wax so I was double polling the whole way which was a good decision I think. We were five guys in the last kilometres but suddenly there was a Finnish athlete coming to us, so we were six for three podium places. I tried to get in front before we came into the stadium in order to fight for the first spots. This worked out fine and I could finish second!

Marco Cattaneo (ITA):
I had hoped for the podium today, that’s for sure! I didn’t have a great season so far and this podium is really a satisfaction for me! We were five guys who went together but were caught by the following ones for several times before we could really go during the last kilometres. I hoped for the finish sprint and I am really happy that I could secure the third place.

Valentina Shevchenko (UKR):
I am really satisfied and happy. I had perfect skis – a big thank you to my service man!!! I only had one tactic and that was “just go”! I didn’t see any other of the girls but I got the info from our service crew how much of a gap it was between me and them so I could control the race very well. I really liked the track…it’s pretty hilly and that’s what’s good for me. Mostly I went with some other men, but also alone some time. This victory and my place in the overall FIS Marathon Cup is very important for me and the team this year. I won’t go to the Vasaloppet but will prepare the Engadin Marathon and hope to play a role again there.

Tatiana Manimaa (EST):
I knew from the beginning, that Valentina will be the winner today. However, I tried to give my best and I am very happy that I could finish second! I had great skis and I really enjoyed racing today. I will now go back home to ski a 38km race tomorrow in Estonia. It was my first time to race the Finlandia today and I really liked it so I think it won’t have been the last!

Stephanie Santer (ITA):
I am satisfied with the third place – but even more, to have the leader bib of the overall FIS Marathon Cup back! Valentina just took off right away and I only saw her once again at around 10km. I didn’t see Tatiana so I was just focusing on myself, skiing along with elderly Finnish men, which was pretty funny as the were really racing for some two kilometres, but were then suddenly “stopping” before taking off again. So I went kind of from group to group until the finish. I am happy to have been able to secure the podium.

Let’s see which race is next… but normally I plan to skip the Vasaloppet and race again in the Engadin

Photos from the race HERE.

More information on the race HERE.

IBU Junior Worlds Day One Women’s 10km Sprint & Men’s 12.5km Pursuit – Canada’s Ransom 8th

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February 21, 2012 (Kontiolahti, Finland) – The IBU World Junior Championships got underway in Finland yesterday and Canada’s Julia Ransom led all North Americans with an eighth-place finish in the Youth Women’s 10km Individual competition. The 19-year-old Ransom, from Kelowna, B.C., missed only three shots in four rounds of shooting, and finished with a time of 41:38.1.

Germany’s Julia Bartolmaes captured the first gold medal while Galina Vishnevskaya of Kazakhstan won the silver medal, with Norway’s Hilde Fenne grabbing the bronze.

Three other Canadians and three American women also hit the start line. Anna Kubek (USA) was 30th while Sarah Beudry (CAN) was 33rd; Tara Geraghty-Moats (USA) placed 44th, while Rose-Marie Cote (CAN) finished in 47th place. Erin Oliver-Beebe (CAN) finished in 50th, with Melissa Manning (USA) and Mikaela Paluszek (USA) finishing up in 58th and 72nd place, respectively.

Youth Men 12.5 km Individual Pursuit
France’s Aristide Begne missed just one shot on his way to gold ahead of Maksim Romanouski from Belarus, with the Ukraine’s Artem Tyshchenko finishing in the bronze medal position.

Calgary’s Christian Gow led the North American men in the 12.5-kilometre individual pursuit competition. The 18-year-old missed one shot in each of his four bouts on the range to finish in 11th overall.

Following Gow was Sean Doherty (USA) and Samuel Dougherty (USA), finishing in 26th and 28th position. Canadians Albert Bouchard, Stuart Harden, and Carsen Campbell finished mid-back (36th, 38th, and 41st place), while Nicholas Proell (USA) finished 55th and Jacob Prince (USA) ended up in 83rd place.

Women’s 10k Individual results HERE.
Men’s 12.5k Individual results HERE.

USA’s Top Biathlon Young Gun Currier Talks About Surprising Himself

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February 16, 2012 – Russell Currier, 24, a rising star on the US men’s biathlon squad, surprised even himself when he scored a career-best sixth place in the 10k sprint at the IBU Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic last month – read more HERE. He then proved he could do it again when he matched his sixth place in Kontiolahti, Finland last weekend. It was an historic day for the entire US squad, with the team’s best showing ever in a World Cup. Lowell Bailey finished 5th, while Tim Burke placed 13th and Jay Hakkinen was 16th. SkiTrax caught up with Currier after his breakthrough results and here’s what he had to say:

The coaches and I had no idea what to expect out of the sprint race on Saturday. I came down with what I think was food poisoning the day before and wasn’t even sure if I should race. I didn’t feel 100% Saturday morning, but I was close, and with the way shooting and ski speed had been going lately, I made the call and decided to go for it.

I like the course profile in Kontiolahti. It’s very basic and has a good variety of climbs. The -15 Celsius weather wasn’t as fun. I’m not a fan of racing in a buff or with tape on the face, but I didn’t have much choice in the sprint race.

My shooting has felt good the past couple of weeks. Our coach and I worked on bringing my range times down a little bit. I was able to shave off a few seconds for the race on Saturday, which ended up making a huge difference.

Ski speed felt decent considering I had to duck out of the mixed relay the day before. I don’t know what food it was, but this is not the first time this has happened to me in Finland. I didn’t have anyone that I knew was fast around me. All I could do was break the course down into increments and do each one as best as I could. On the last loop, I only had a few splits. Hearing that I was in the top eight helped get me through the last flat section before the finish.

The whole race felt surreal. My goal was to get in the top 40. With the way I had been feeling the day before, I was just hoping to make the top 60 for a pursuit start. The whole day for the men’s team was a tremendous success. It was officially the best day the US men had ever had. I was honored to be able to say that I was part of it.

The pursuit was another good day for our team. I moved down to 23rd, but it was still a good race for me. Prone was decent with one in each stage. I would have liked to have shot a little better in standing, but I wasn’t the only one struggling with shooting that day. Pacing and tactics were much more professional in Sunday’s pursuit than the pursuit in Nove Mesto. My legs felt a little heavy and stiff so I was very surprised when I found out afterwords that I had the 10th fastest ski time.

The IBU Cup field is more competitive than ever. You could say the same thing about the WC field to, but the IBU field has taken the biggest increase the past couple of years. Biathlon is such an up and down sport it’s not always fair to compare results from day to day. I can finish a race and give a better analysis of how it went than the result list can. I’ve had a few mediocre days on the IBU and WCup circuit this season. The sprint race in Kontiolahti was just one of the very good days.

Both races this past weekend were a confidence boost for the athletes and staff. We’re not working any less hard or professionally than the Euros. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be up on the result list. The weekend was simply a good example of this and our organization as a team.

Peterson and Bjoergen Win Kuusamo Sprints – Career Bests for Randall in 4th and Valjas in 5th

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November 25, 2011 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Teodor Peterson (SWE) and Marit Bjeorgen (NOR) were victorious in today’s classic sprint races in Kuusamo, Finland, the first of three days of racing in the first Viessman FIS World Cup mini-tour event of the season. North Americans had a decent day, with a handful qualifying for the heats and the USA’s Kikkan Randall and Canada’s Lenny Valjas making it into the finals. Norway’s Petter Northug, a threat in any race, was a surprise 16th, after failing to make it out of his quarter final.

Racing in icy conditions with fresh snow falling in the tracks as the finals got underway, Peterson notched his first World Cup victory with a convincing win over Russia’s Nikita Kriukov and Norway’s Oeystein Pettersen. Canada’s Valjas recorded a career best World Cup result, placing 5th in the closely contested final. Finland’s Anssi Pentsinen, something of a surprise winner in the morning’s qualifier, delighted the stadium crowd by making it into the final, in which he placed 6th.

Bjoergen, who qualified 5th, once again demonstrated her power, taking control of the women’s final at the halfway mark and never looked back. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla was second, with Vibeke Skofterud finishing third, just holding off the hard-charging Randall, who established a career-best in classic sprint result claiming 4th, and making her first World Cup final in the discipline.

A number of other North Americans qualified for the heats today in Kuusamo. Canada’s Chandra Crawford earned her way into the heats for the first time in five tries in Kuusamo, qualifying 10th, showing that her classic sprinting has come a long way. Crawford was  eliminated in the quarters and finished 22nd. Her teammate, Dasha Gaiazova, shook off the jet lag from her recent arrival in Scandinavia to qualify in 12th overall before also being knocked out in the quarter-finals and finishing 14th on the day.

The USA’s Andy Newell qualified 19th and Canada’s Alex Harvey was 29th. Both were eliminated in the quarter finals, with Newell holding at 19th and Harvey moving up to 24th.

It was a tough day for Canada’s Perianne Jones and Devon Kershaw, both of whom failed to qualify. Jones finished 44th and Kershaw 56th in qualification.



1. Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
2. Charlotte Kalla (SWE)
3. Vibeke Skofterud (NOR)

4.   Kikkan Randall (USA)
14. Dasha Gaiazova (CAN)
22. Chandra Crawford (CAN)
43. Ida Sargent (USA)
44. Perianne Jones (CAN)
47. Sadie Bjorsen (USA)
50. Alysson Marshall (CAN)
70. Holly Brooks (USA)
85. Liz Stephen


1. Teodor Peterson (SWE)
2. Nikita Kriukov (RUS)
3. Oyestein Pettersen (NOR)

5.  Lenny Valjas (CAN)
19. Andy Newell (USA)
24. Alex Harvey (CAN)
56. Devon Kershaw (CAN)
82. Kris Freeman (USA)
87. Drew Goldsack (CAN)
91. Graham Nishikawa (CAN)
100. Ivan Babikov (CAN)
102. Lars Flora (USA)
111. Kevin Sandau (CAN)
120. Noah Hoffman (USA)
122. Tad Elliot (USA)
DNS – Simi Hamilton (USA)

Women’s qualification results HERE.
Women’s final results HERE.

Men’s qualification results HERE.
Men’s final results HERE.

World Cup News – Bauer Launches Season, Heikkinen Puts it on Hold

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November 24, 2011 – Tommorow, the Czech Republic’s top Cross-Country Skier, Lukas Bauer, will kick off his FIS Cross-Country World Cup season, while Finland’s Matti Heikkinen will sit out the second round of the series due to injury.

Friday will feature the classical 1.4 km sprint, Bauer’s favourite event: “Yes, my favorite classical sprint,” Lukas Bauer said with a smile.

Bonus seconds will be distributed to the top 30, with the winner of tomorrow’s race receiving 60 bonus seconds, while 30th place gains 1 second. Stage 2 of the “Mini-Tour” takes place on Saturday with 5/10 km Free technique individual start. The 10/15 km Classic Pursuit race on Sunday will determine winners of the second edition of Ruka Triple. The overall winner takes 200 points and 33 750 CHF, winner of the day will be awarded with 50 points.

“I’m not setting for myself any goals not only for the sprint but for not the Mini-Tour either. I can only surprise after the training drop-out. On the other hand be sure I’d like to confirm good feelings from trainings also in the race,” Bauer is warning his competitors.

The Czech skier started last year’s Ruka Triple with 104th position in the opening sprint. His fastest time in the third day brought him to a decent 9th place overall. Bauer sit out the opening FIS Cross-Country World Cup season in Norway and has been catching up after the training drop-out earlier in November.

“I’ve increased the training load step by step. At first I did only one hour skiing in the morning, in the afternoon I was walking around with ski poles and excercised some light strength training. The following day I did two 90 minutes skiing training sessions and the third day it was two times two hours of skiing and quality strength training,” Lukas Bauer describes. During the recovery Bauer was under the thorough surveillance of the team coach Martin Koldovsky.

“I did not want to do the come back with too much haste. I trained four days in the row having followed the training plan from Janko Neuber,” Bauer adds up.

FIS Cross-Country World Cup overall winner from the 2007/08 season has been aiming to prepare a good training base and to carry out quality fast workouts. “In spite of having been shortly after the training drop-out, the feeling from skiing was good. I was happy about that,” Bauer says.

Matti Heikkinen to Skip Ruka Triple Due to Injury
Finland’s World Champion from Oslo Matti Heikkinen has been forced to withdraw from the home World Cup in Kuusamo and will not be starting in Ruka Triple.

Heikkinen should have led the Finnish squad in the three-day Mini-Tour in Kuusamo but unfortunately will not appear at the start of tomorrow’s stage 1, classical sprint. Heikkinen injured his eye when he jumped over the fence and fell down afterwards. Heikkinen is to leave Kuusamo and is returning home.

“I’m naturally disappointed. I’ve been in Kuusamo since Monday and have been preparing for the competition. Now, I’m going home and have to rest for 3-4 days so that no sweat gets in my eye,” Heikkinen said at the Finnish press conference in hotel Rantassipi, Ruka.

Finnish national coach Magnar Dahlen revealed he would step in instead of injured Heikkinen. “Mikko Koutaniemi will be in the World Cup team and Teemu Harkönen will start within the national quota,” the coach explained.

The first stage of Ruka Triple starts tomorrow at 9:45 (CET) with qualification and 11:30 with quarterfinals.

The Sasseville Report – First World Cup is in the Can

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November 21, 2011 (Sjusjoen, Norway) – Without a doubt, one of the most stressful weekends for a cross-country ski racer is the first meaningful race weekend of the year. All of the skiers have trained for six or more months and it is not until you race these first races that you know even a little bit about where you stand in relation to your competitors.

This is the nature of cross-country ski racing. There are no personal best times or world record times in this sport. You can do all the testing you want, and compete in roller ski racers or early season time trials, but the only way that you can really measure yourself is racing against your peers.

This is true at every level right up to the World Cup and if you read the quotes from the skiers from Saturday (link to this article) you will see that a common theme is that they didn’t know how they would do before the start and that made them nervous.

Here are some of my thoughts after the first weekend in Sjusjoen, Norway:

– I think that the Norwegian women are going to dominate all year long. They had seven of the top nine on Saturday and their relay teams finished 1st and 2nd in the relay on Sunday. Only Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Kikkan Randall of the US were able to break into the top 9 – it looked like a Norwegian championship race.

– Marit Bjoergen has lost nothing since last year. She won by almost 30 seconds in a 24-minute race. If they had been racing a track and field event she would have almost lapped the whole field. Last year Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) won the overall World Cup because Bjoergen was concentrating on winning at the World Championships in Oslo. This year is going to be different.

– it’s clear that the USA’s Kikkan Randall is better than last year – 8th in a distance race is a fantastic result. Watch out!

– I also think that the US women’s team is really improving. With Liz Stephen placing 18th on Saturday and then having a decent relay on Sunday – and Randall’s and Brooks’ strong legs – the team is now showing just how much they have improved.

– Johan Olsson is one of the best technical skaters in the world and when he’s healthy he’s certainly one of the best. He had a tough year last year after two bronze medals in Vancouver but it looks like he is back now.

– I think that NO ONE – and I mean no one seems to be able to beat Petter Northug (NOR) in a sprint. It was sad watching the last leg of the relay on Sunday. None of the lead skiers was willing to put it on the line and go for the win except for another Norwegian Sjur Roethe. The lead group was going SO slow that he was able to come from 45 seconds back to pass all of them and take the lead in only 5km. It looked like Northug was just playing with those guys. He has an almost unbeatable formula now for distance races. All he has to do is hang around the leaders, never leading and then in the last km he moves to the front and wins the sprint.

– but Northug IS beatable in the individual start races, despite the fact that he’s getting better in these events as well. He was second on Saturday and is having a much better start to his season than last year when he over-trained and did not have any good results until after Xmas at the Tour de Ski. I also think that he is pretty well a lock to win the World Cup this year unless someone can figure out how to beat him in a sprint.

– that being said Canada’s Alex Harvey may be the one to beat Northug. His 5th place showed that he is in great shape and his sprint win in Oslo over Ole Vigen Hattestad to win the Team Sprint gold at the Nordic Worlds have shown that he has the fitness and the sprint speed to win. He has beaten Northug in a sprint in the past and even Petter has acknowledged that Harvey can beat him. I think that if Canada wants to do anything in relays they have to have Alex on the team as the anchor skier. This is the second relay in a row including the relay in Olso that Harvey did not race.

Next weekend the World Cup moves to Kuusamo, Finland for a three day mini-tour de ski. The skiers will likely have to race on icy, man-made snow again, but it will be colder and darker and the hills will be bigger and steeper. It will be the first chance for the sprinters to come out and play as well as the classic skiers. Should be a lot of fun to watch.

Craftsbury Green Racing Project Update from Muonio

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November 09, 2011 (Muonio, Finland) – Its hard to imagine how different our experience in Muonio, Finland has been since we were here last year. Normally cold snowy weather has been replaced by warm temperatures and steady rain. Despite the unseasonable weather, the grooming staff at Oslo has done well to provide great skiing for the numerous national and club skiers frequenting the 3k loop. Today the track was closed to skiing as the workers frantically reallocated precious snowpack from one of the out-back sections to shore up the racecourse for the coming competitions on the weekend.

Although the weather seems to be conspiring against us, the skiing has remained solid.  Its seems we are past the worst of the rain and the mercury is finally dropping after 2 pretty nasty weeks. Big thanks to the workers at Olos for all of their hard work keeping the tracks open and several hundred people on snow. The races this weekend should certainly prove interesting with large competitive fields tearing around the shortened race loop.

World Cup Teams Announce New Coaching Staff

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May 12, 2011 – The start of May also signifies the start into the new season – summer preparations have now begun for most Cross-Country World Cup teams. For the coming season, some changes in the coaching structures have taken place. Below a summary of some that have come to the attention of the FIS so far:

In France, Christophe Deloche will be responsible for the men’s team in addition to being the head coach. As his assistant, Patrice Paquier will join the team and work as a conditioning coach. The newly introduced sprint team will be led by Matthieu Fort. Anael Huard will take over the role of the ladies’ coach while former world champion, newly-retired World Cup racer Vincent Vittoz will be responsible for the U-23 team.

In Norway, Åge Skinstad has been appointed Head of Cross-Country Skiing and will be responsible for the national team, recreational Cross-Country and marketing. Vidar Løfshus will move to Skinstad’s former position as head coach. After the retirement of Morten Aa Djupvik this spring, the position of the men’s coach is still open. Meanwhile Roar Hjelmeset (33) will become new coach for the female sprinters succeeding Jon Arne Schejtne who stepped down after last season. Roar is the younger brother of Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset who retired in 2005.

In Germany, the coaching structure for the national team stays the same with Jochen Behle in the lead. Bernd Raupach will be returning to Germany after a spell in Austria to lead the training base in Ruhpolding. Norwegian Guri Hetland has extended her contract as the Swiss head coach and World Cup distance team coach whilst her husband Tor Arne Hetland stepped down as the sprint coach for the Swiss team. Christian Flury, who was coach of the ladies’ team last season, has become new head of the National Cross-Country Performance Center in Davos and will coordinate the training base there.

In Canada, head coach Justin Wadsworth continues in his role as does Finnish head coach Magnar Dalen. The Swedish coaching trio, Joakim Abrahamsson, Rickard Grip and Arild Monsen, will work at least another year together. The Czech team remains in the hands of Miroslav Petrasek.

In several countries, negotiations are still underway and new appointments will be announced shortly. For the latest updates, visit www.fiscrosscountry.com

FIS Receives 9 Applications for 2016/2017 World Championships

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May 05, 2011 – FIS has received nine applications to be Candidates for the organization of FIS World Championships in 2016 and 2017, including four applicants for the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. By the May 1st 2011 deadline, nine applicants submitted their candidacies as follows:

– One application for the 2016 FIS Ski Flying World Championships submitted by Kulm (AUT)

– Three applications for the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships submitted by Ǻre (SWE), Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA), and St. Moritz (SUI)

– Four applications for the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships submitted Lahti (FIN), Oberstdorf (GER), Planica (SLO) and Zakopane (POL)

– One application for combined 2017 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships submitted by Sierra Nevada (SPA)

“Just weeks after the successful 2011 editions, FIS is happy to witness the continuing interest for the organization of the FIS World Championships. This high number of applications by several nations and world’s premium resorts underlines their importance in the global sports calendar,” commented FIS President Gian Franco Kasper.

The FIS Council will elect the organizers of the 2016/2017 FIS World Championships during the 2012 Congress week in Gangwon Province (KOR) on 31st May 2012. Prior to that, each Candidate, together with its National Ski Association, will prepare its detailed concept by 1st September 2011 based on a specific FIS Questionnaire, containing details such as plans for sports organization, accommodation, transportation, logistics, security, media, communications, marketing, ceremonies, the environment, spectator services and fan experience.

Tour de Barents – More Photos

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April 11, 2011 (Rovaniemi, Finland) – Here are more great photos from this past weekend’s 2011 Tour de Barents won by Petra Majdic (SLO) and Jean-Marc Gaillard (FRA). The event featured amazing racing with Gaillard winning the tour by only 0.2s over teammate Maurice Manificat. The tour also held an emotional and historical component, as it marked the retirement of Slovenian star Majdic, along with Pirjo Muranen (FIN) and Jaak Mae (EST).

Read more HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2010/11 Contest Standings after Falun Pursuit

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March 21, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – We’re pleased to present the standings for the international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2010/11 Contest after the Pursuit in Falun, Sweden. Team Maffe is holding onto the contest lead through the final WCup mini-tour so far with a total of 1,941 points. The same four (4) teams – STAR TEAM, Perugina Ski Team, SKIN-T, and rgsnow – stayed in their seemingly unbreakable deadlock tie for second with 1,913 points each, while poiss team defended third spot with 1,892 points.

For the complete standings after the Falun Pursuit click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st Prize – Fischer 10/11 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize
Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
One Way Diamond Storm World Cup Poles w/tubes (value $430)
* 4th Prize
SkiGo Clothing package (value $340)
* 5th PrizeSwenor Classic roller skis (value $310)
* 6th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
* 8th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 9th Prize
Bliz Pursuit Sunglasses and Visor (value $90)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreaksBuff Headware (value $22) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski and Oslo Nordic Worlds

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors: Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, One Way, SkiGo, Swenor, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Concept2, Auclair, Bliz Active and Buff Headware.

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).

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2010/11 Contest Standings after Falun Prologue

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March 20, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – We’re pleased to present the standings from the international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2010/11 Contest after the Prologue in Falun, Sweden. Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Ilia Chernousov (RUS) were the big winners on the snow, while team Maffe is holding onto the contest lead with 1,841 points. Four (4) teams remain locked in a tie for second: STAR TEAM, Perugina Ski Team, SKIN-T, and rgsnow – each with 1,817 points. Poiss team is still in third with 1,791 points.

Stay tuned as the WCup wraps up this weekend in Falun, Sweden.

For the complete standings after the Falun Prologue click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st Prize – Fischer 10/11 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize
Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
One Way Diamond Storm World Cup Poles w/tubes (value $430)
* 4th Prize
SkiGo Clothing package (value $340)
* 5th PrizeSwenor Classic roller skis (value $310)
* 6th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
* 8th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 9th Prize
Bliz Pursuit Sunglasses and Visor (value $90)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreaksBuff Headware (value $22) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski and Oslo Nordic Worlds

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors: Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, One Way, SkiGo, Swenor, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Concept2, Auclair, Bliz Active and Buff Headware.

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).

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2010/11 Contest Standings after Stockholm

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March 19, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – We’re pleased to present the standings after Stockholm, Sweden from the international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2010/11 Contest where Petra Majdic (SLO) and Emil Joensson (SWE) sealed the overall titles. Team Maffe is still in the lead with 1,765 points, while the battle for second continues between four (4) teams: STAR TEAM, Perugina Ski Team, SKIN-T, and rgsnow – each trailing by 11 points at 1,744. Poiss team is in third with 1,714 points.

Stay tuned as the WCup wraps up this weekend in Falun, Sweden.

For the complete standings after Stockholm click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st Prize – Fischer 10/11 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize
Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
One Way Diamond Storm World Cup Poles w/tubes (value $430)
* 4th Prize
SkiGo Clothing package (value $340)
* 5th PrizeSwenor Classic roller skis (value $310)
* 6th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
* 8th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 9th Prize
Bliz Pursuit Sunglasses and Visor (value $90)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreaksBuff Headware (value $22) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski and Oslo Nordic Worlds

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors: Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, One Way, SkiGo, Swenor, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Concept2, Auclair, Bliz Active and Buff Headware.

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).

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2010/11 Contest Standings after Lahti

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March 18, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – Here are the standings from the international SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2010/11 Contest that continued last weekend with the tenth round of the Viessmann XC FIS WCup in Lahti, Finland. Team Maffe is in the lead with 1,667 points, while the battle for second rages  between four (4) teams: STAR TEAM, Perugina Ski Team, SKIN-T, and rgsnow – each trailing by 13 points at 1,654. Poiss team is in third with 1,646 points.

Look for the standings after the Stockholm Sprints (Mar. 16) soon and stay tuned as the WCup wraps up this weekend in Falun, Sweden.

For the complete standings after Lahti click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st Prize – Fischer 10/11 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize
Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
One Way Diamond Storm World Cup Poles w/tubes (value $430)
* 4th Prize
SkiGo Clothing package (value $340)
* 5th PrizeSwenor Classic roller skis (value $310)
* 6th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
* 8th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 9th Prize
Bliz Pursuit Sunglasses and Visor (value $90)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreaksBuff Headware (value $22) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski and Oslo Nordic Worlds

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors: Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, One Way, SkiGo, Swenor, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Concept2, Auclair, Bliz Active and Buff Headware.

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).

Bjoergen Wins Lahti 1.4km Classic Sprint as Randall Struggles and Loses Leader’s Bib

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March 13, 2011 (Lahti, Finland) – Norway’s Marit Bjoergen was back on form on Sunday looking unbeatable again as she took the women’s 1.4km Classic sprint victory at the FIS World Cup in Lahti on Sunday.

On the flip side World Cup Sprint leader, American Kikkan Randall, had to deal with a topsy-turvey day as she qualified strong in 5th just behind Bjoergen only to meet disaster in her quarter final finishing 5th and was out early in the match.

It was a lucky loser day in the final as top qualifier, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR), and Petra Majdic (SLO) both landed on the podium after advancing to the final as lucky losers. Jacobsen and Majdic were 3rd and 4th in the semi won by Bjoergen in a photo-finish over Follis. In final they both advanced one spot as Jacobsen claimed the silver and Majdic the bronze.

Majdic out-skied Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) for the final podium spot as Charlotte Kalla (SWE) ended up fifth and Arianna Follis (Italy) 6th. With her 60-point podium score the Slovenian star wrestled the Sprint leader’s jersey from Randall now third overall behind Follis in second.

The final series outcome will be decided on a shorter classic sprint in Stockholm, Sweden on Mar. 16.

The Lahti sprint course is one of the toughest on the circuit starting with a grueling uphill climb followed by a bit of downhill relief leading to a second smaller climb and then a fast dowhill with a challenging final right hand turn dropping skiers into the chute into the stadium to the finish. It was on this corner that the course delivered an unusual number of crashes throughout the day – moreso in the men’s race.

Randall, who began slipping after a strong start in the quarterfinal, could not keep pace and fell back to finish fifth. She wasn’t the only one who had difficulties with the tough snow conditions and demanding course as others like Bjoergen and Kowalczyk both experienced some slippage.

“It was a real bummer after a strong qualification,” said Randall in a phone interview with SkiTrax. “My skis were fine thru the qualification and start of the quarter final and I was in contention but soon after they slicked up – I was slipping with less glide than the others as well and lost ground. We think that perhaps my skis picked up some ice along the way that slowed them down.”

Randall concurred that the Lahti course is long and tough. “It’s precarious in some parts and perhaps has the most sustained sprint climb I’ve experienced. The qualification times were over 3:30 that tells you something.”

Four other North Americans did not qualify including Holly Brooks (USA) in 34th, Daria Gaiazova (CAN) in 48th, Chandra Crawford (CAN) in 55th and Perianne Jones (CAN) in 56th.

“Tough day today,” said Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth in a brief email to SkiTrax. “Chandra and Dasha will head back to Canmore for XC Ski Nationals.”

dDespite the lackluster results for North America the day had some positives.

“Holly Brooks almost qualified for the rounds and Kikkan blazed her qualifier as if classic sprinting had been her strongest event. And perhaps it will be,” US Coach Matt Whitcomb told SkiTrax post-race.

“Kikkan struggled in her quarterfinal, finishing 5th. While her skis were great in the qualifier, they were not as competitive in the heats. The wax was the same as we used for Andy [Newell] who had great skis – both athlete and tech liked them in testing, but they didn’t roll as well as expected when the gun went off.

“It is classical racing in variable conditions. We own the choices we made and were confident in them, and own that it didn’t go as planned. When you miss by a little on the World Cup, you’re missing by a little against the best teams in the world.”

With only 29 points separating Randall from the Sprint jersey she’s keen to get another crack at it in Stockholm. “It felt good wearing it today and I’m looking forward to having the chance to take it back,” added Randall, who sits 10th in the overall WCup standings.

The US team heads to Stockholm on Monday and begins their final preparation for the remaining four WCup events in the series.

Qualifications HERE.
Final Results HERE.

Overall Sprint Standings HERE.
Overall WCup Standings HERE.

One Way Launches XC Skis and Boots for 2012

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March 11, 2011 – ONE WAY, one of the leading Nordic Sports brands from Finland, is launching a full range of cross country skis and cross country boots for 2012. ONE WAY is joining the Salomon SNS binding system. The Finnish Nordic Sports brand has probably been the fastest growing Nordic Sports brand in the last years with a wide product portfolio in cross country poles, Nordic sportswear, roller skis, Nordic Sports eyewear, technical Footwear and Nordic Walking products.

Many World Champions and medallists in cross country and biathlon are using ONE WAY products, like Martin Fourcade (FRA), Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), and Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR), and several World Cup teams are exclusively equipped with OW textiles for their teams, like the French Nordic Team or Slovenia.

From 2012, ONE WAY will offer a full product range in cross country skies and cross country boots. The product range includes high performance racing skies for World Cup and elite ski marathon skiers.

In addition, ONE WAY will offer new ski and boot concepts for young and modern cross country enthusiasts. The cross country sport has developed in the last 2 years very positively towards a younger image.

The new line allows the market and retailers to meet the new consumer demand for new and fresh concepts for skis and boots.

Finland has a strong history in building cross country skis. ONE WAY will follow the tradition, building a new Scandinavian cross country ski brand for the modern consumer in the popular sport of cross country.

ONE WAY has signed a partnership with SALOMON using the SNS binding systems for all their products. The Salomon SNS system is in many countries one of the most popular and technically advanced connection between ski and boot.

Both companies are sharing a partnership and interest in developing the image of cross country sports for young and modern consumers, but as well building a cooperation in new technologies.

ONE WAY Sport OY Chairman of the Board Lasse Korppi: “Adding the cross country skies and boots, ONE WAY will be the most complete and exciting product offer in Nordic Sports world wide, textiles-footwear-eyewear-poles-roller ski- Nordic walking- accesories.”

Holmenkollen Insider Day 7 – Fans, Oddvar Bra, Salomon and Fischer Reps, Finnish Teamers

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March 03, 2011 (Oslo, Norway) – What a day for Finland (or two days). Ahvo and I cheer for everyone, but there is an innate tendency for us to cheer for Finnish skiers and American skiers just a little bit louder – and now Canadians as well, since we’re writing for a publication based in Toronto. Ahvo was born in Finland and made his career in the US whereas Ritva was born in the US, but currently makes her home in Finland.

Norwegians are great sport fans as they cheer for everyone out on the trail or coming into the finish, but an eerie silence can fall over the crowd for a spell if the Norwegians are not in the number one spot. After Matti Heikkinen’s win he thanked the crowd for their support throughout the race. The hometown crowd certainly cheered for Heikkinen, but naturally they cheer louder for their countrymen.

Throughout the World Championships we have observed excellent sportsmanship on the part of the competitors and the fans. Every day you can see fans congratulating fans from other countries – this is truly a celebration of the sport and not just championship races.

View more photos HERE.

Today we caught up with Oddvar Bra, reps from Salomon and Fischer and some members of the Finnish team:

Oddvar Bra

Salmon (Alexander Haas) Part I

Salmon (Alexander Haas) Part II

Fischer (Thomas)

One of the Finnish Team Leaders

Toni Roponen (Matti Heikkinen’s personal coach)

Somppi Report – My First Taste of International Racing

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February 15, 2011 – Sure I’ve raced in the States and I did race the classic sprint at last year’s Canmore World Cup, but Estonia was my first real taste of international racing. It marked my first trip overseas for racing and I’m thrilled to report it was everything I dreamed it to be.

Only three days after arriving in Vierumaki, Finland it was on to Otepaa, Estonia. Two days skiing on the race courses and on my sixth day in Europe I was racing a Classic 15km Individual Start World Cup on what is touted as one of, if not the, hardest race courses on the World Cup circuit. That distance course was the hardest race course I have ever done. The majority of the course was very flowing, with challenging climbs but nothing ridiculous aside from one monstrous climb. This particular climb started at the base of the Otepaa ski jump hill and ended right at the top. It was so steep even the best World Cup athletes were forced to step out of the track and herringbone. The boisterous crowd and TV cameras lining the side of the entire climb were intimidating and acted as motivators to get up that mountain of a climb as fast as possible. With 3 laps of the 5km course my lower back was left aching for 6 days afterwards. Even that didn’t stop me from smiling once I cross the finish line. In my mind, I just conquered the hardest World Cup course; what else do I have to be afraid of now? I finished 62nd out of 75 competitors. Not exactly a note worthy result, but hey, I’ve got to start somewhere right?

The next day I managed to climb out of bed and race the Classic Sprint World Cup. The race course was much tamer and had some cool elements with bridges and laps through the stadium (which by the way is massive). My race again was nothing spectacular, finishing 66th out of 77 competitors. At least I wasn’t last! It was impressive watching Daria Gaiazova race to a personal best 8th place, huge props to her for an awesome race. Daria on the big screen duking it out in her semi-final.

With only 4 days until my next race and the major focus of my trip, the World U23 Championships 15km Skate Individual Start, it was time to utilize all the recovery techniques available to me, the cold tub, sauna, stretching, foam roller, and Normatech and rest up.

Thursday was the big day, the Skate 15km. My lower back was still aching however I did my best to forget about it and focus on racing. Thankfully the race organizers did not include the monstrous ski jump climb in the Junior/U23 race courses so the 3.75km race course for Thursday was much more manageable. I started strong up the first climb out of the stadium then settled into my race pace. The individual start format made it easier for me to dissociate from where and who I was racing and focus on myself. By the 3rd lap I was struggling to maintain a high pace. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Kevin Sandau blew by me at the start of the final 3.75km lap. I knew this was a decisive moment in my race and my competitive instincts kicked in, go with Kevin. It was exciting skiing behind Kevin who was getting splits that he was challenging for a medal. I was careful not to step on his skis or poles because every second counted for him. We came into the finish with the cameras trained in on us. I crossed the line and was surprised to see 7th place beside my name. I knew 15 fast guys were still coming behind me… how many would beat my time?

When all was said and done, I finished 14th place! Big props to Kevin for a very impressive performance finishing 5th. It was a bittersweet result for me as the Cross-Country Canada selection criteria states you need to place top twelve to qualify for the National Team and I was only 10 seconds from 12th. Initially I was somewhat disappointed. Afterwards I took as step back and I realized I have to be satisfied with all I have accomplished this season. 14th in the world isn’t too shabby. I mean I was super pumped just to qualify to race here. I had never really given much thought to what my goals would be if I happened to actually make Canada’s U23 Team.

I was exhausted after the race. Completely wiped. Though I desperately wanted to race the classic sprints, I knew one day off wouldn’t be enough to recover and race fast again. So I made the decision to skip the classic sprint and focus on the 30km Pursuit. It was exciting watching the U23 guys and gals duke it out in the sprints. Congrats to Jess, Lenny and Allyson on their awesome races, finishing 6th, 7th, and 12th respectively.

After 3 training days I was feeling very good again and ready to race fast Monday. I hopped on my warm-up skis and headed out on the Tartu Loppet trails to start warming up. The tracks were rock hard. The day before the classic tracks were soft and dry with no moisture. How did they firm up so much in one night? Surely I thought with how little moisture was in the snow on Sunday the track would still break down on race day. I was wrong. I had picked the wrong skis. I should have picked a soft, easy kicking ski to race on, not a stiffer, soft track ski. After testing my race skis and confirming I had no grip, my next plan was to load up on grip wax. Surely with enough grip wax I would still be able to kick them and at least get by in the classic portion of the pursuit. Nope. After plenty of layers of kick wax my grip was only slightly improved and to make matters worse the sun came out and the classic tracks started to marginally glaze over.

I’m not going to go into detail about the race [30k Pursuit]. Let’s just say it was a long day and I would rather remember my 14th place result in the skate than my 40th place in the pursuit. I crossed the finish line pale white and feeling sick with disappointment. It seems for every high moment in racing a low moment emerges to bring you back to reality.

Besides the pursuit race my European racing experience was phenomenal. The team was great and the coaches were very helpful. My first taste of international racing was a delicious one and I’m craving more.

After a brief training period here in Thunder Bay I’m off to race the Eastern Canadian Championships on Feb. 11th – 13th.

Until next time,


Team CXC: From Finland to Estonia over the Baltic

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January 24, 2011 (Otepaa, Estonia) – The past week in Finland has been great; good snow, good trails, good lodging…but now it’s time to get to Estonia, where the races are! After driving down to Helsinki, we boarded a ferry that took us across the Baltic Sea and docked in Tallinn, Estonia.

I’m actually pretty disappointed that they didn’t at least stamp our passports! But there was absolutely no boarder control – I guess it’s not that big of a deal in Europe.

We played some epic games of Wii bowling and golf, and were joined by a little Finnish girl that took it very seriously.

There were also some… uh… dancers on the boat. Cartwright expresses his opinion below:

Sadly, the fun and games ended after a couple of hours. We docked at Tallinn, and drove our cars off the ferry.

Since I’ve still got the tail-end of a cold, I was relegated to the cargo van for the drive to our hotel (the Waide motel), which is a very nice place about a half hour away from the race venue in Otepaa.

Hopefully I’ll kick this cold for good in the next few days. Now there’s nothing to do but explore the nearby towns and get amped up to race!

Canada’s Mark Arendz Wins Gold at IPC World Cup

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January 24, 2011 (Vuokatti, Finland) – Canada’s Mark Arendz captured his first IPC World Cup victory after winning the gold medal in a biathlon individual race on Sunday in Vuokatti, Finland on Sunday.

Arendz shot clean to post a winning time of 39 minutes, 35.9 seconds in a tight sprint to the wire with Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset and Russia’s Oleg Balukhto who he has been fighting for the medals with all week in the men’s standing division – one of the deepest on the IPC World Cup.

“That was amazing,” said Arendz. “My first World Cup victory and to shoot clean – nothing feels better.”

Ulset settled for the silver medal at 40:52.1, while Balukhto was third (41:56.1).

It was the third medal of the week for the 20-year-old Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I. The 2010 Paralympian won a silver and a bronze in the biathlon sprint and pursuit races respectively.

“I think the two podium finishes this week definitely gave me the confidence to know I deserve to be here with these guys,” said Arendz. “I woke up this morning and felt ready to go and said this is my day. I couldn’t be happier.”

Results (brief)

1.Erik Bransdal, NOR
2. Ola Vigen Hattestad, NOR
3. Nikita Kriukov, RUS
4. Emil Joensson, SWE
5. Daniel Rickardsson, SWE

31. Len Valjas, Toronto
61. Jesse Cockney, Calgary
66. Michael Somppi, Thunder Bay, Ont.
69. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta.