Tag Archive | "germany"

Oberwiesenthal Classic Sprints – Canada’s Gaiazova on the Podium

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January 04, 2013 (Oberwiesenthal, Germany) – Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova was on the podium in the 1.2km CL women’s sprint in today’s Alpen Cup event in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, finishing a strong third in the final behind winner Doris Trachsel (SUI) and second place, Alen Prochazkova (SVK). Gaiazova qualified second behind Prochazkova. Perianne Jones (CAN) finished 14th and Chandra Crawford (CAN) was 21st after qualifying 12th and 14th, respectively.

Gianluca Cologna (SUI) won the 1.4km CL men’s competition after a fourth-place qualification. Baptiste Gros (FRA) and Rok Trsan (SLO) finished second and third, respectively.

Qualifications
Women HERE
Men HERE

Final
Women HERE
Men HERE

Tour de Ski Countdown – 11 Days To Go

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December 18, 2012 – Justyna Kowalczyk who is a top favorite for the Tour de Ski overall victory has confirmed her participation in the tour-opener on December 29, 2012 in Oberhof. The Polish skier won last year’s Tour de Ski and finished second in the overall World Cup. Kowalczyk won the prologue in Oberhof 2011 before Marit Bjoergen of Norway.

In addition to the Polish national team, teams from Italy, Belarus, Russia and Romania have reported the names of their skiers. The Italian men should have some opportunities to get one of their starters to the top ten in the overall standings. The best Italian in the Tour de Ski last year was Giorgio di Centa 15th position.

Also, expected to be on or near the podium will be one of the strong Russian men with Alexander Legkov (5th), Maxim Vylegzhanin (8th place) and Ilia Chernousov (10th), three men in the top ten in the 2011/2012 Tour . The Russian women are also likely to have in their best skier Julia Ivanova. They finished second in the final statement of the Tour de Ski 2011/2012 13 team rank.

After the heavy snowfalls, a recent thaw took away some of the snow base. According to course Chief Christopher Gellert, there is enough snow remaining for the event to be held without concern. The race track currently has 40 centimeters of snow as a base. The Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski will be in Oberhof: 29.12.-30.12.2012.

Team USA Kicks off 2012 IBU World Championships Today in Ruhpolding

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March 01, 2012 (Rupholding, Germany) – The 2012 IBU World Championships open Mar. 1 in Ruhpolding, Germany with the 2×6+2×7.5 km Mixed Relay featuring a team of two women & two men. Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID), Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT), Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) and Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) will start for Team USA.

“The team arrived here in Ruhpolding on Monday after our final preparation in Ridaun, Italy. We think that we have done everything we can now, and everybody is looking forward to the start of the races ,” said US Biathlon Head Coach Per Nilsson. “The team has had an up-going trend in January and February, which we wanted due to the late date for the World Championships, so we know that we have a good capacity. The key is to continue to stay with the routine that every athlete has. They should just do the normal work and focus on things that they can impact. Then we will have some good results over the next 10 days.”

“The team really feels at home here in Ruhpolding. We’ve had several summer camps here, so it feels natural for them to be here,” said Bernd Eisenbichler, US Biathlon High Performance Director. “Everyone has done their work – the athletes, coaches, wax technicians, the physiotherapists – and now it’s time to go ahead and execute what we’ve been working on over the last year.”

The World Championships continue through March 11th. Ruhpolding has a 34 year history of hosting of World Cup and World Championship event. Ticket sales have reached 30,000 per day and the TV audience is expected to exceed 25 million viewers per competition.

Competition begins at 9:30 am (EST) Mar. 1 and will be webcast live HERE.
Please visit HERE for a link to the complete World Championship schedule and results.

2012 U.S. Biathlon IBU World Championship Team

Men
– Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY) – World Cup Ranking: 13th – two 5th place finishes
– Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY) – World Cup Ranking: 22nd – 6th & 8th place finishes
– Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME) – World Cup Ranking: 47th – two 6th place finishes
– Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) – World Cup Ranking: 33rd – 9th & 14th place finishes
– Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN) – World Cup Ranking: 94th – 33rd & 48th place finishes

Women
– Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) – 2nd & 4th place finishes in IBU Cup 7, Canmore
– Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) – World Cup Ranking: 76th – 33rd & 39th place finishes
– Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT) – World Cup Ranking: 48th – 17th & 27th place finishes
– Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID) – World Cup Ranking: 55th – 15th & 23rd place finishes

Germany’s Neuner and Birnbacher Take IBU Mass Start Races – USA’s Baily 16th

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January 11, 2012 (Oberhof, Germany) – In tough conditions with snow falling, Germany’s Magdalena Neuner won her second victory of the weekend taking the women’s 12.5km Mass Start with a winning time of 40:02 despite three shooting penalties. Norway’s Tora Berger was only 12.5 seconds back in second with two penalties while Neuner’s teammate, Andrea Henkel had only one shooting penalty to claim 3rd at 32 seconds back. No North American women qualified for the event.

The skiing was very challenging as the heavy snowfall created taxing ski conditions and difficult shooting. None of the top racers shot clean. With 2.5km to go, Neuner took the lead with her strong skiing and didn’t look back taking her second win of the weekend.

“It was a great race and a lot of fun since it is my last time here. I am in very good shape and I had very good skis, so I am very happy with my race,” Neuner told Biathlonworld post-race. “The penalties did not faze me I was always close to the lead and felt all day like I had enough power to handle Tora and Andrea. I was very relaxed all day.”

The snow subsided shortly after the men’s 15km Mass Start race began and it was Germany again as Andi Birnbacher was unstoppable shooting clean on his way to victory with a finishing time of 38:34. In second was Simon Fourcade of France at 24.3 seconds back with only one shooting penalty, followed by Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) in third with three penalties at 29.6 seconds back.

With better conditions a total of 19 men shot clean on the first round of prone shooting including Lowell Bailey of the USA, the lone North American in the field. Nine men shot clean on the second prone round and after the first standing session Birnbacher was one second behind the race leader Klemen Bauer (SLO).

Birnbacher shot clean in the final round while Bauer cracked missing three shots and was out of contention. Bailey missed two rounds in his first standing session, the only shots he missed on the day to finish 16th overall.

“I was pretty tired after the travel and competition in Schalke,” said Birnbacher, “I was still tired in the sprint so it was amazing that I did so well today. Having the wins is good for my confidence, but puts no pressure on me.”

Women’s results HERE.
Men’s results HERE.

Team USA 5th in Team Event, Demong 14th at Obertsdorf Nordic Combined WCup

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January 10, 2012 (Oberstdorf, Germany) – Heavy snowfall and wind during the jumping event and strong snowfall during the cross-country race made for challenging conditions in Oberstdorf at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, but the four-man US team comprised of Taylor Fletcher, Johnny Spillane, Bryan Fletcher (all Steamboat Springs, CO) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) moved up three spots after jumping to eighth to finish fifth overall in the team event in Oberstdorf.

Bryan Fletcher laid down another strong cross country performance skiing the second fastest leg in his round. Team Norway ultimately took the win after making up one spot after the jumps.

“Today was an OK day. It was hard on the jump with the changing wind – same old story. There was a massive snow storm during the race which made ski selection difficult. The service guys did a great job anyway. We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” said Dave Jarrett, USSA Nordic Combined Head Coach.

In the individual Gundersen on Day 2, the U.S. Ski Team’s Demong and Spillane punched into the top-15 with 14th and 15th respectively, while teammate Fletcher was 16th. Norway’s Mikko Kokslien took the win.

Spillane had the best jump for the U.S. with 20th and started the race one minute 23 seconds back, just in front of Demong and Fletcher. Fletcher skied the eighth fastest cross-country time, which was the fastest out of the Americans.

“It was a good day today. All three were close to getting the lead pack but just couldn’t close the gap all the way. Jumping was better for Billy and Johnny. Bryan had an awesome trial jump and wanted just a little more in the comp and got a little less. He is solid, though. Good skiing from everyone. Looking forward to Chaux Neuve,” said Jarrett.

Fellow US teammates Nick Hendrickson (Park City, UT) and Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) did not start after finishing out of the top 50 in the provisional competition round jump.

The weekend competitions were originally scheduled in Schonach, but forced to move earlier this week due to adverse conditions. The World Cup now moves to Chaux-Neuve, France Jan. 14-15 for a pair of large hill individual Gundersen events.

Day 1 Results HERE.
Day 2 Results HERE.

Russia and Italy Top the Podiums at Oberhof 4×6/7.5km IBU WCup Relays – US Men 11th

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January 06, 2012 (Oberhof, Germany) – The Russian and Italian teams won gold in the women’s 4x6km and men’s 4×7.5km relay, respectively, at IBU World Cup #4 in Oberhof, Germany.

In the women’s race, Olga Vilukhina (RUS) anchored the Russian team to bring home gold with an overall time of 1:19:32 and 13 shooting penalties. Team Norway cruised in +5.9 later for the silver medal, and the French team grabbed bronze.

The Italian squad put together a fantastic race in the 4×7.5km men’s race with only five shooting penalties opposed to second place Russia’s 13. Italy won by a +6.1 margin, while Sweden scooped up bronze with six penalties and a +32.7 gap.

Team USA’s Lowell Bailey, Jay Hakkinen, Tim Burke, and Leif Nordgren opened the World Cup competition with a 11th-place finish, trailing the leaders by +5:42.3 and racking up 19 penalties.

“With the rain training has not been easy, but the organizers have been doing everything they can to put a good track together, ” said U.S. Biathlon High Performance Director Bernd Eisenbichler. “In the Relay, it’s always tricky in these conditions with both skiing and waxing….”

Results
Women 4×6 km Relay HERE.
Men 4×7.5 km Relay HERE.

Canadian Video Highlights and Interviews from Day 1 at the Tour de Ski

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December 30, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Check out this great video courtesy of the Canadian Team during Day 1 of the Tour de Ski, including training clips, action in the wax room, race footage, and post-race interviews with the athletes, including Ivan Babikov and Devon Kershaw.

Kowalczyk and Northug Claim Prologue Victories at Tour de Ski – Harvey 6th and Randall 10th

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December 29, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland staked her claim to the women’s Tour de Ski overall crown with a win in today’s opening 3.1km Prologue stage in Oberhof, Germany. Kowalczyk bested World Cup overall leader, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) by 0.4 seconds over the 2.5km course. Sweden’s Hannah Brodin was third.

Among the American women, Kikkan Randall finished a solid 10th, with teammates Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks (who is suffering with an injured wrist – read more HERE) coming in 37th and 53rd respectively.

Meanwhile, Norway’s Petter Northug backed up his intentions to win the Tour this year with a win in the men’s 4.0km Prologue, beating Tour arch rival Dario Cologna of Switzerland by .7 seconds. France’s Maurice Magnificat finished third.

The Canadian men had an excellent day, with Alex Harvey finishing 6th and Devon Kershaw 12th. Ivan Babikov was further back in 38th position while Andy Newell had the top result for the US squad in 29th place, followed by Simi Hamilton and Kris Freeman in 63rd and 64th respectively.

Full women’s results HERE.
Full men’s results HERE.

The Eve of the Tour de Ski

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December 29, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – So…. I haven’t said much on my blog yet about the Tour de Ski but here it is – starting TOMORROW!  As there is no World Champs or Olympics this year, the Tour is kind of the pinnacle of the race year. Many of the top athletes have been aiming to perform well here all year. I was a last minute addition to the US Tour roster after having performances during period one of the World Cup this fall.

I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to race this event. As a distance skier and high volume trainer, I absolutely LOVE the thought of racing day in and day out, challenging myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have no idea how I’ll do or what will happen to by body as the days of fatigue add up but this is a great time to try it and I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge.

There are a ton of friends, family, and even people I don’t know that have helped make it possible for me to be here. As many of you know, I’m responsible for providing my own funding and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the generous support and enthusiasm of many of YOU. I hesitate to name anyone personally because there are so many of you and I don’t want to leave anyone out but you know who you are.

The experience of needing support and needing it fast has really been really moving. I only hope that I can repay many of you back with the generosity someday be it in the form of a ski lesson, athletic inspiration, a smile, or perhaps one day, dollars to a cause important to you. I know that on Thursday, when I put a bib on, I will feel like I’m racing with the support of people from Washington and Alaska; Kongsberger Ski Club, Alaska Pacific University, and Snoqualmie Nordic Team. THANK YOU so much to ALL of you!

As far as challenges go, I feel the need to share something that’s been on the fore front of my mind lately…. Christmas Day I decided to go for a short run before dinner. It was dark out and icy in places. Just as I was about to turn around and head back to the Kobaldhof, I slipped on the ice, falling back, and caught myself with my left hand. I knew instantly that it was not good…. but I wasn’t sure how bad. And I still don’t know. The plan for tomorrow, and each day afterwards is to ice, tape, take some anti-immflatatory medication and go for it.

The US team doesn’t have a doctor here at the moment so this morning I went and saw the Norwegian Team’s Doctor and “Physio.” (The Euro name for PT). They were incredibly generous to see me and were encouraging in that they do not think my wrist has a scaphoid fracture – my greatest worry via a couple hours on email and web MD. (Always a bad idea and also guaranteed to give you nightmares). If Petra Madjic can win a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games with broken ribs and a punctured lung, perhaps I can race the Tour, and excel in it with whatever injury my wrist may have sustained. It’s not ideal but I’m certainly not the first athlete who has gotten a bit beat up.

Time for bed as often rest provides one with the best healing and rejuvenation powers! Thank you everyone for everything and I’ll do my best to keep you posted through this incredible journey!

Sincerely,

Holly :)

Kikkan Randall’s Race Tails: Double Podiums in Düsseldorf and Davos

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December 16, 2011 – The exciting new season continues! First off a skate sprint weekend along the Rhein river in Düsseldorf, Germany. In the individual sprint, I started off the day with a 10th in qualifying and then battled my way through the rounds on the narrow course to make the final. In the final, there was some bumping early on in the race, but I was able to stay on my feet and make a free-skating charge at the end to take the win.

In the next day’s team sprint, I lined up with my APU teammate Sadie Bjornsen and made it through to the finals.  On the first lap we had some bad luck and got stuck behind a fall, dropping us to last.  We never lost faith however, kept charging and on the last lap I was able to make up a few spots and get us into the silver medal position.  The first ever team sprint podium for a US sprint team!

The next weekend took us to Davos, Switzerland where the snow finally arrived and we got to contest a 15km skate on a 7.5km loop (a rarity on WC these days), and a skate sprint.

In the 15km, I had a good start early but then faded through the race, just managing to stay in the points at 27th place.  It proved to be a great warm-up for the sprint however, and I was able to qualify 1st and lead through the quarters and semis to make the final.

In the final I took the lead midway through and made an aggressive acceleration over the top of the hill to break up the pack. I ended up breaking away for the win.  I also got to wear the red Sprint Leaders jersey through the day, which was pretty fun!

Now we’re on to Rogla, Slovenia for the last weekend of Period 1.  There’s not much snow here but the organizers are working hard to put on some good races.  We’ve got a 10km classic mass-start and a skate sprint coming up!

Quote of the Day
“We all shared in the success and it made it so incredibly special! ”

What’s Coming Up
– Dec. 17/11 – 11 Rogla WC – 10km C Mass-start
– Dec. 18/11 – Rogla WC – Sprint F
– Dec. 29/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberhof Prologue
– Dec. 30/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberhof 10k C H
– Dec. 31/11 – Tour de Ski – Oberstdorf Sprint C
– Jan. 1/12 – Tour de Ski – Oberstdorf 10k Skiathlon

The Full Report
Hello everyone!  It’s been another couple of exciting weeks!  I have to admit that I’ve been having so much fun celebrating the good races and hanging out with my teammates that I’ve been a little delinquent in getting my Race Tails out.  Here is a quick recap of the last two weekends.

Following the mini-tour in Ruka, Finland, we headed down to Central Europe to the sun!  Winter had not arrived yet here either, and the first few days of training were confined to 1-3km loops of man-made snow on top of green grass!

Düsseldorf Sprint Weekend
Once in Düsseldorf, the scene was pretty much the same as the previous years.  Except, this time in the giant stadium attached to our hotel, the soccer field was covered with a car racing track.  We got to watch the drivers test out their cars and I have to admit it was pretty fun to see them sliding the corners and revving their engines.

On Saturday morning we awoke to pouring rain.  Luckily I had all my stuff this year and packed my bag with just about every piece of ski clothing I had brought!  The most exciting thing was that I had female teammates this year, three of them, which meant that we could actually ski in the team sprint for the first time!

Individual Skate Sprint
For the qualifying round I was given bib #1 for the 2nd week in a row, so with a fresh course before me, I set off around the 750m loop!  I came around the first corner so fast that I almost lost my balance.  Luckily, I stayed on my feet and made it around the course in less than two minutes.  It was a solid burn but over so fast!  I ended up qualifying in 10th position.

Thankfully the rain stopped in time for the heats.  In the quarters and semis, I had decent starts, worked my way up through the pack on the back stretch and used strong finishes each time to advance.

In the final, I did not get a good start and ended up bumping skis with a couple competitors down the first straight away.  After a few more bumps coming up to the first turn with fellow NA racer Chandra Crawford, I decided to settle back in the pack.  As we approached Mt. Düsseldorf I noticed a narrow opening in between Chandra and the Russian, Matveeva.  I went for it.  A few more bumps.  Over the top I managed to get myself into 2nd position.   As we came off the final turn, I worked an aggressive free skate and swung wide into the outside lane.  Skating low and without poles, I managed to sneak into the finish lanes just ahead of Matveeva and secured the win at the line.  I let out an ecstatic yell!

Düsseldorf has one of the most fun awards presentations after the race, up on a big stage next to the course.  They blasted techno music while they called up the top ten and I couldn’t help but do a little dance.  After the awards were presented, they played the US National anthem and it was incredibly special to hear it out loud. I sang every word.

Right away we had another important race to focus on, the team sprint.  It was decided that Sadie Bjornsen and I would team up on the first team, and Holly and Ida would team up for our second team.  We were all pretty excited to get in the mix!

Team Sprint
The next day we awoke to clearer skies and less wind.  While the snow was much dirtier than the day before, the course was holding up well.  We did some jogging to warm-up and then hit the course for a short window of ski testing before the race.  I found my legs to be quite tired from the full day before.

In the semis, Sadie skied our lead off leg.  Over the first few laps, we just hung contently in the pack and tried to avoid all the chaos.  The exchange zones were war fields every time but we managed to make it through unscathed and in good position going into the final lap.  I was able to pass a couple teams in the finish stretch to automatically advance us to the final.  The pace had been fast and furious and we both hoped we had more left in the tank for the finals.

Sadie and I hung out together in the wax trailer during the short break between rounds.  Sadie played it pretty calm, but disclosed to me later that she was really nervous.  The funny thing is, I was too.   Although, I did manage to drift off to sleep for a few minutes and dream about Santa Claus of all things.

For the finals Sadie again skied the lead off leg.  She got off to a fantastic start and was near the front when suddenly, just past the exchange zone, she got caught up behind a fall and dropped to the back.  Not panicking, I chased hard once I got the tag and over the next couple laps we just tried to get back in contention. Sadie skied a fantastic last leg and got us back on to the back of the lead group, we were in 9th.

Once I got the final tag, I decided to go for it.  I went wide up the first rise and around the corner and made up a couple places.  While everyone seemed to relax a bit on the back stretch, I again worked the wide lane and by the time I got over Mt. Düsseldorf, I was in 4th.  When we came off the final turn, I free skated like crazy again and headed for the far wide lane.  This time I did manage to use a couple of pole plants and somehow managed to get us into 2nd place by the time I hit the line.  Podium #2!

Sadie immediately ran over and gave me the biggest hug.  A wave of emotion surged over me.  We jumped up and down together and then our other teammates and coaches, who had been yelling like crazy for us, came over and we had a big group hug.  We all shared in the success and it made it so incredibly special!

We got to go up on stage for the awards ceremony and dance some more.  We did a special tribute dance to our teammates back in the US and took in all the atmosphere.  It was pretty fun to be watching Sadie do all this for the first time!

On Monday we packed up and headed back to Davos, Switzerland.  A little bit of natural snow had started falling and through the week, it would start to look more and more like winter.

I was pretty bagged for the first couple days and took it nice and easy to recover.  Davos is one of my favorite places in Europe.  Not only is the skiing (usually) amazing, but the town is really welcoming and cozy, and there is an incredible coffee shop called ‘Kafe Klatsch’ that is great for meeting up with our international friends.

Midweek activities included a Secret Santa poem night with our team, where we all had drawn a collegue’s name out of a hat and then wrote a poem about that person and gave them a small gift.  It was good for a plethora of laughs and team bonding!

The other highlight of the week was getting a fika (coffee date) with our Swedish friends Anna Haag and Charlotte Kalla.  We were discussing the early season success of the Norwegian women’s team and decided that if we were able to displace some of them from a podium spot during the weekend, we would spray champagne at the flower ceremony to celebrate.

15km Individual Freestyle
The first race of the weekend was the 15km skate individual start.  Earlier in the week when it looked like there wouldn’t be enough snow, the race was going to be shortened to 10km.  But the organizers did an amazing job and got the 7.5km loop ready in time for the longer distance.  Over the past few distance starts here in Davos I have really struggled.  So I was hoping a longer event on a slightly different course might help me break my Davos distance curse.

My plan was to start aggressive, which had worked well in Sjusjoen, and then try to maintain a steady but solid pace through the race.  Without really noticing, I managed to hit this strategy right on and at the first split at 2km, I was leading the race with 49 racers through.  The pace felt reasonable and I was feeling confident that I could build speed through the race.  But then, only a kilometer later, as I made my way to the high point at 4km, I began to unravel.  My body felt stiff and my focus started to waiver.

I kept fighting, reminding myself to work the gradual terrain, bend my legs and keep my tempo up, but I was really struggling to kick myself into the next gear.  Skiing totally alone, I had to keep trying to coax myself to stay on pace and dig deeper.   When I crossed the finish line, I was definitely exhausted, yet didn’t have that flop-on-the-ground, totally dead feeling I had wanted to achieve.  In the end I had to settle for 27th place.

While it was my worst race of the season so far, it was still a big improvement over my other distance results here in Davos, it was still in the points and only 13 seconds out of the top 20, and I had great results from my teammates (Holly in 13th and Liz in 21st) to celebrate.  I crossed it off as a successful day and turned my attention to the next day’s sprint.

Individual Skate Sprint
This time, I did not draw bib #1 for the qualifier.   But I did get to wear the red Sprint Leader’s jersey for the first time this season.  The sprint course would be two laps of a 600m loop and required the right pacing.

During the warm-up my legs felt pretty heavy and I was anxious about the 15km’s effects on my energy reserves.  Once I started the qualifier however, I could tell the feelings were good and I set off on an aggressive first lap.  As I came through the stadium for the lap, I could feel the burn setting in.  I dug down and pushed hard through every transition, not letting up until I slid my foot across the line.  The announcer immediately called out, “And now Randall has the new best time.”

When all the racers had finished, I had managed to stay atop the leader board by 0.11 seconds!  This was the first time that I had ever qualified first and it almost made me a little more nervous than usual.  I finished my cool down and then made my way into the athlete’s tent.  Many of the other teams had their massage tables out with therapists working on their athletes. Meanwhile, I laid on a foam stretching mat on the floor, covered myself in jackets and fought off shivers for the next 45 minutes.

Thankfully I was able to warm myself back up again pretty quickly in time for the quarterfinals.  I got off to a good start and controlled the pace from the front.  I put in a little extra push over the top of the last hill and stayed in the lead to advance to the semis.  The effort was hard however, and I wondered if I could handle such a pace for two more rounds!

In the semis I got off to a good start again and led the race.  This time I was able to relax a little bit more on the flats and then put in another good push over the top of the climb to keep my lead and advance to the final.
The sun was just setting as we lined up for the final introductions.  Just happy to be back in the final again, I gave an excited double wave to the camera and to the crowd.  Then we crouched…set…BANG!

I had a decent start and came out pretty even with the other girls.  We all spread out and I gradually worked my way up towards the front, but then let Matveeva take the lead around the first corner.  I followed her up and over the hill.  My skis were fast and I glided up next to her as we came back into the lap lane.  For a second, I thought I would try and tuck in behind her, but then I got the urge to take the lead.  I V2’d powerfully up alongside and as we approached the hairpin turn, I got into the lead.  I took one more second to relax and then accelerated coming out of the turn.  I jump skated like crazy and made sure to push over the top.

As we glided back down into the stadium, I took a quick glance over at the jumbo tron.  I saw three dark figures coming down the hill together and figured that was the other skiers right on my tail.  So I kept hammering, determined to stay in front.

When I burst onto the homestretch I opened up into a tall V2 and imagined the others shadows coming up beside me at any second.  Finally, when I got a few meters from the line I realized there was no one coming up and got to raise my arms in celebration across the line.  Another thrilling day!

I was immediately just so happy to have put together such a solid day, feeling strong through four rounds.  Once I caught my breath, I did a quick interview for the TV cameras and then got to exchange hugs and high fives with my team.  Suddenly I remembered that I had made that bet with Anna and Charlotte about champagne on the podium.  I asked Grover if he could try and find some at the last minute and he set off on a mission.

Just before the flower ceremony, Grover reappeared with a bottle of champagne.  So after they presented the flowers and the medals and our official photos were snapped, Grover snuck the bottle (slightly shaken and the cork poised) to me on the podium and I popped the cork and sprayed the champagne around.  I had always seen the alpine skiers do this on the podium and I was proud to show that the cross-country skiers can celebrate a good day too!

That evening I got to share another champagne toast with my team.  They really did a fantastic job of making sure all I had to think about was racing fast.  I’m so grateful to have such a hard working team behind me and it is the best thing to celebrate all together!  Later I got to share another toast with my Swedish friends, Anna Haag and Emil Joensson (who was also on the podium) and their families over dinner.  It was a great night.

All of the hard racing and emotion caught up with me the next couple days however and I was pretty bagged again.  So I just took it easy, enjoyed the good skiing, took long naps and did some Christmas shopping.

One little thing I decided to do, in celebration of the team’s great results so far this season, was to buy a small espresso machine for the team.  Already it’s getting a lot of use and makes us feel a little more at home in our hotel rooms!

Yesterday we said goodbye to Davos after a very delightful early morning ski and headed on to Rogla, Slovenia for the final stop of Period I.  Upon arrival, it feels like we’ve gone back to September again.  It was pouring rain here today and there was even thunder and lightning this afternoon.  The organizers are busy trying to piece together a course and we’re hoping the temperature will drop back below freezing!

We’ve got a 10km classic mass-start on Saturday and another (third in a row!!) skate sprint on Sunday.

More reports to come in a few days!!

I’m posting daily updates of my training on my SkiTrax Daily training rap which can be viewed here:  Kikkan’s Daily Training Rap

And you can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.

Cheers,

Kikkan

Duesseldorf World Cup to Celebrate 10 Years – Dec. 3-4

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October 19, 2011 (Duesseldorf, Germany) – The snow spectacle on the banks of the Rhine river will fascinate visitors from near and far for the tenth time. The World’s best cross-country skiers will again compete on the spectacular course along the Rhine on December 3 and 4. The Old Town banks and Burgplatz will once again be turned into an Alpine winter fairy-tale: culinary delicacies, tobogganing track for children and an attractive music and supporting programme will once again make the FIS Cross-Country World Cup a special event for the whole family.

Tenth Anniversary
Duesseldorf’s Lord Mayor Dirk Elbers, patron of the World Cup in the North-Rhine Westphalian capital: “There is great anticipation for the tenth anniversary of the Duesseldorf World Cup. Nowhere else city slickers can experience modern skiing so closely. The sports city of Duesseldorf will present itself brilliantly again at the tenth event and with its enthusiastic fans impressively emphasise its reputation as the world’s greatest winter sports event.” Thomas Pfueller, Sports Director and Secretary General of the German Ski Federation, DSV, adds: “Duesseldorf has established itself by its successful city event and is also very popular among the athletes.”

Christina Begale, Managing Director of sportAgentur, co-organisers of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup: “This event is a real challenge for all people involved. Smooth and professional co-operation between the Jever Ski Hall Neuss, the West German Ski Association and the sportAgentur is essential for the realisation of the event. In this context the approximately 120 volunteers must be mentioned who’s contribution is also vital for the success of the World Cup.”

August Pollen, Head of the Organising Committee: “The Cross-Country World Cup in Duesseldorf will indeed be held for the tenth time – and we are looking forward to it just as for its premiere.” Pollen announces: “We shall surprise the visitors again with new ideas at the anniversary. Welcome to the Duesseldorf World Cup circuit!”

More than 200.000 Spectators
The FIS Cross-Country Ski World Cup has been the crowning conclusion of the Duesseldorf sports year since 2002 and attracts more than 200,000 spectators along the course annually. Altogether about 3,000 cubic metres of snow from Jever Ski Hall Neuss are needed for the preparation of the 800m long sprint track regularly praised by the athletes for its excellent quality. The snow is produced without any chemical additives but nevertheless withstands almost any weather conditions. Consequently Duesseldorf can boast to be the venue with the best guaranteed snow conditions within the World Cup series.

In addition, the white spectacle on the Rhine is by far the greatest event for the cross-country skiers in the entire winter season, regularly televised on public German TV and is, thanks to its excellent infra-structure, one of the most environmental-friendly World Cup event. Free entrance is also a special feature.

www.worldcup-duesseldorf.de

Watch FIS Indoor Sprint Race in Oberhof Live Online – Sept. 29

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September 27, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – The second Cross-Country Skiing sprint race will take place in Oberhof’s indoor ski venue on September 29. This is the first year it will be sanctioned by FIS. The freestyle sprints will kick off the German performance tests in a Mini-Tour format. For the first time, the athletes will fight for FIS points during the first event held on snow in the ski hall and organizers expect a larger international field to compete.

The German performance test program traditionally features Cross-Country running and Roller Skiing pursuit races.

Follow the race LIVE!
You can follow the Oberhof indoor sprint races LIVE! Competition starts on Thursday at 18:00 CET with qualifying session and finals starting at 18:30. You can watch the race HERE or on fiscrosscountry.com

Norwegian Men’s XC Sprint Team Ramsau Training Slideshow

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September 13, 2011 (Ramsau, Germany) – Check out this artistic compilation of photos from the Norwegian Men’s XC Sprint Team’s 2011 training camp in Ramsau, Germany.

Petter Northug to Contest Ski Classics in 2012

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June 22, 2011 – The Olympic gold medalist and World Champion, Norway’s Petter Northug, will compete in at least three Ski Classics distance events in 2012. According to the Norwegian TV2, he plans to contest Marcialonga in Italy, König Ludwig Lauf in Germany, and Vasaloppet in Sweden.

“Petter Northug is the greatest skier presently active, and having him competing in the peak of his career in Ski Classics is of course great news!” said David Nilsson Executive Director Ski Classics.

“Ski Classics has grown rapidly the last year and we will work hard during the summer in order to lift the sport of long distance skiing further in front of the coming season, to meet the expectations of fans, media and most important of all the athletes,” he added.

Click HERE for more info.

www.skiclassics.com

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.

Berger Scores at IBU Men’s 10km Sprint in Ruhpolding

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January 14, 2011 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Norway’s Lars Berger took no prisoners as he raced to victory Friday in the 10km Sprint at the IBU World Cup in Ruhpolding. Berger, who topped the podium for the first time since 2008, earned the third no-miss race of his career to finish with a time of 23:55.1.

“It is too bad that it does not happen so often, but I had a really good feeling in the 20K the other day,” Berger told Biathlonworld.com referring to the gap in his victories, “I felt very much in control today – I shot fast but felt secure.”

France’s star competitor, Martin Fourcade, claimed 2nd, posting the same result in Wednesday’s Individual 20km competition. The 22-year-old Frenchman also had a clean shooting day, finishing 21.7 seconds behind Berger. Ivan Tcherezov (RUS) grabbed the ninth bronze of his World Cup career with a no-miss performance that left him with a time of 24:18.9.

Canada’s Marc-Andre Bedard posted the top North American result with a 44th-place finish. The former Olympian shot clean for a time of 25:59.6 while team mate Brenden Green finished close behind, hitting 9 of 10 targets to finish 48th. Scott Perras took 54th place with two misses and a time of 26:21.5, and Jean-Phillipe Le Guellec missed a pair of targets in the final lap to finish 74th.

Lowell Bailey lead the US team again making 7 of his 10 shots to finish 50th, less than two minutes out of a podium spot. Tim Burke, a Lake Placid native who is still struggling to regain his form from last season, missed four shots and finished with a time of 26:22.6, putting him in 56th. Three-time Olympian Jeremy Teela took 58th place after hitting 7 of 10, and Leif Nordgren missed a pair of shots in each stage to finish 64th with a time of 26:34.5.

The conditions on Friday at Ruhpolding’s new arena were an improvement on Thursday’s rain trodden course, though the warm temperature hovered around 10˚C, making the course slow once again for the racers.

Full results HERE.

Results (brief)
1. Lars Berger, NOR (0+0) 23:55.1
2. Martin Fourcade, FRA (0+0) 24:16.8
3. Ivan Tcherezov, RUS (0+0) 24:18.9

44. Marc-Andre Bedard, CAN (0+0) 25:59.6
48. Brenden Green, CAN (0+1) 26:08.6
50. Lowell Bailey, USA (1+2) 26:09.6
54. Scott Perras, CAN (1+1) 26:21.5
56. Tim Burke, USA (1+3) 26:22.6
58. Jeremy Teela, USA (1+2) 26:29
64. Leif Nordgren, USA (2+2) 26:34.5
74. Jean-Phillipe LeGuellec, CAN (0+2) 27:00.9

Kershaw Report – Tour de Ski Wrap

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January 13, 2011 (Canmore. AB) – The fifth ever edition of the Tour de Ski is over and done with. I am comfortably sitting in a “Nighbor driving” laid back position up in B-Class flying home after over two months of European racing and am still in disbelief… first how fast this first half of the season has blazed by, and second how great our team performed over the last 10 days in Germany and Italy.

The Tour de Ski is the most grueling race that we do all year. We race eight distinct competitions in only 10 days at four different venues. It’s a fast-paced, high-stakes week and a half and considering how I feel at the end of it, I cannot even imagine how it is for our staff who work so hard indefatigably all day, everyday to give us every opportunity to perform.

I’ll break ‘er down race by race since I didn’t update as I went along this year.

Day One: 3.75km Skate Prologue – Oberhof (Ger) – December 31st/2010
I was psyched to get my 5th Tour under way. Ivan, Alex and I did our finishing  touches on our Tour-prep enjoying Davos’ great skiing and stellar café over the holidays. Everything went quite well for all of us in the pre-Tour period and with the added bonus of Hutchdogg tirelessly working on us over Christmas we were all feeling strong and confident – and for the most part I had great workouts and life was grand.

When December 31st finally came, I felt ready but not 100%. One aspect still lingered – some heavy legs that settled in after my last long distance ski earlier in the week. My legs were stubbornly holding on to fatigue like a dog that just won’t release that tennis ball. Justin and I had planned to push for that optimal training load before backing off but as the race day came and I was still feeling slightly sub-par – oops.

The good news was that the first race is short. The prologue is under 8 minutes and the Tour is never won or lost on the first stage. I hammered the one lap course willing my body to empty the tank. It didn’t take long before I knew things weren’t going my way. Early in the race I knew my legs hadn’t came back in time. While I was happy that my energy was back to 100%, and my legs no longer felt heavy while pushing hard, I lacked punch/power and in such a short race that’s not good.

I pushed as hard as my flat-feeling body would go crossing the line out of the points in 37th – same finish as last year. I was pissed off. No denying. I’ve been very hot and cold with prologues in the last and while I was happy that the body felt better I wasn’t expecting to be so bad on day one. Being a Tour though I had very little time to feel sorry for myself as the next day the 15km classic pursuit was quickly approaching. I did wallow of course being the drama-queen that I am blasting some Band of Horses during a cold bath, and afterwards for about an hour before putting the race in the rear view mirror and refocusing.

Day Two: 15km Classic Pursuit Start – Oberhof (Ger) – January 1st/2011

I was fired up for this race. I always am. I love classic skiing, I love the course in Oberhof and I love pursuit starts where you’re chasing the leaders. It’s exciting, fast from the start and suits my strengths. It helps that the previous two years I had finished 3rd and 10th in the same race. It was a classic Oberhof day, foggy with slightly soft tracks. Warming up I felt great far better than just one day earlier and our skis were top shelf. I was nervous, but pumped.

Still, I had a lot of work and dudes to go through to catch back up to the front. I played it patiently, slowly working through the pack for the first six or so kilometers before making sure I was hanging out in the top 10-15 out of trouble and close enough to react if an attack went.

It was a tactical affair, some surging and some half-hearted attacks but none that stuck. Then, on the last lap Cologna went to the front to assert himself. I followed; just focusing on skiing as well I could technically. Next thing I knew I was in the front with about 2km remaining. I made a snap-decision that it was time to punch it and starting a long drive to the line in the lead. Coming around the last corner and into the windy finishing stretch I was still leading. I was double poling as hard as I could, but Dario came around me with 50m to go and passed me. I slipped right in behind him and crossed the line in 2nd place.

Needless to say, I was pumped. It was only my second-ever distance podium, and after not hitting the podium at all last year it felt so good to be back. It was a great race for me, best of the year and I posted the fastest time of the day, moving from 37th to 2nd. It also confirmed that Justin and I had in fact got the training right. It would have been awesome to win but Dario was just too strong for me and to finish only 0.5 seconds from my first win wasn’t bad.

Alex was 9th putting two Canadians in the top 10 for the first time this season which was sweet!

Day Three: 1.2km Classic Sprint- Obertsdorf (Ger) – January 2nd/2011
After packing up and showering it was onto our badass bus that Justin had organized (you’ve all seen the photos and read about it. The thing ruled for recovery!) as we rolled Southwest to the site of the 2005 World Champs Obertsdorf.

I love the sprint course in Obertsdorf. It was the first time I was ever top 15 internationally back in 2005 as a 22year-old, and I watched Sara Renner make history sprinting her way to a bronze medal there. I knew the course well, and was cautiously optimistic that I could get through the quarter-finals.

Well, it went far better than I could have ever imagined. Again our skis were fantastic and Alex and I qualified 6th and 7th. I felt amazing in all my heats and moved through to the final for the first time in my life in a classic sprint on the World Cup. I was stoked!

In the final I made a desperate attack up the last climb and came over the top with a gap. The meters were flying by and I was still in the lead down the finishing stretch.

I may have even thought about what my victory salute would be but Joensson had other ideas. With meters to go, he pulled even with me and it came down to an epic lunge for the line for the victory. After some tense moments, it was announced that no, for the second day in a row I had been beat at the line. I lost the race my 1cm or something ridiculous. Joensson described it as his tightest victory ever.

After hitting the podium the day before I was shocked to snag back to back silver medals. I was choked to lose such a tight race, especially after a gutsy move over the top that I believed was enough to stick, but Joensson is the best sprinter in the world, and to even be competitive with him was more than I ever expected. Alex finished an impressive 7th so back to back great days for Canada all around!

Day Four: 20km duathlon pursuit Obertsdorf, GER January 3rd/2011
The fourth race in a row was the also the longest. The course in Obertsdorf was the same 2.5km that they used for some races back in 2005 as well, whith consisted of flatter terrain and one huge hill per lap. The only difference is that they used the same course for classic and skate (just groomed in tracks on the side) and that made for a narrow/sketchy experience.

People were attacking all over the place going for early bonus sprints and launching for the finish line. It was very messy, lots of crashes, and just pandemonium in the pack to be honest. The course was silly.

I felt great but ended the day in 7th getting caught behind traffic up the final climb  but I was still happy with how the race played out. Alex and I both thought it felt more like a zone 3 workout because of all the bodies around. That was the one positive it didn’t take as much out of me as I would have thought.

Day Six: 1.3km skate sprint Toblach, ITA January 5th/2011
After another sizable trip, but on our sweet bus from Obertsdorf to Toblach, we had a rest day which we used to test skis and train on the long 35km stage. This was the best day to date in my ski career – I finally won a world cup! I felt so good today. I qualified in 14th, then moved easily through my final. Once again that was the main goal get through the quarters, so I was pretty relaxed for the remaining rounds.

In the final, I got off to my normal snail’s paced start, and was content to hang in the back part of the pack. Then, with two uphills remaining I just went crazy and launched an attack with everything I had. I kept the pressure all the way to the line, and while I had a big lead at one point Cologna almost came right back to me, but he ran out of real estate. At the time I could not and still cannot believe it.

It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to lift your arms in victory on the World Cup after working and dreaming about it for over 10 years. Haha, it’s almost embarrassing when I put it that way, but it finally happened. Our staff did such a great job, and everything just came together perfectly. I will never forget that race!

Day Seven: 35km skate pursuit CortinaToblach ITAJanuary 6th/2011
From an amazing race, to an extremely frustrating race was the transition between the two Toblach events.

In the long race, I started in 2nd place but alone to tackle the long/fairly flat stage over the Italian Dolomites. Cologna had amassed a big lead so I wouldn’t come back on him, but my goal was to stay away from the chase packs that were sure to form.

The course is 18km of gradual climbing, before descending gradually back to Toblach, and then a final show lap of 3.3km to finish off the spectacle. I felt good, started at a good/manageable pace. Still, at 13km Hellner who had started 30-odd seconds behind me swallowed me up. I tried in vain to stay with him, but he was on another planet. I just got popped right away, and had to settle to ski my own pace keeping him in my sights to make sure I still had a good pace.

I made it over the top of the hill, but even though I was going all out down the other side in 2km the large 11-dude chase pack caught me. I was so frustrated – like in cycling it is so much harder on easy terrain to stay away. Guys that started over 2.5 minutes behind me were safely in the draft of the pack and with them working together they made quick work of me.

What’s worse, is when they caught me nobody was willing to work together. We were chewing into Hellner who would have been caught for sure but then all of a sudden everyone was thinking of the bronze medal and things got tactical in a hurry.

I ended up finishing in the first chase pack good enough for 10th. All that hard work for the overall that I did early in the Tour was erased. I was (and still am) bummed about it. It’s a tough race, and without question the most important race of the entire Tour as far as the overall goes.

Day Nine: 20km Mass Start Classic Val di Fiemme, ITA January 8th/2011
After another travel day, and another rest day training and scouting the Val di Fiemme classic course we had finally arrived at the last venue.

I love Val di Fiemme, and I was really excited about this race seeing how I had been feeling so strong in classic this year. I knew it could be good.

Conditions were pretty standard klister skiing with warm temperatures greeting us in the Northern Italian venue. Here’s a strange fact about Val di Fiemme – it was the first time this year that we saw races above zero degrees which is extremely odd for Europe. It felt like Hawaii out there!

I tried going for some of the plethora of bonus seconds up for grabs early but soon realized that it was going to cost too much energy, and that Northug and Cologna had both amazing skis and were gunning for all of them. I changed my strategy mid-race and focused on attempting to win the competition.

I sat near the front and stayed out of trouble keen with being patient and hyper-aware with what was going on around me in the pack. There were some pace changes, but for whatever reason this year no one was able to really inflict big damage. On the last lap the Swede Rickardsson launched a move with 2 km to go that could have stuck but we all caught him on a big descent. Then I launched up the final climb (600m from the line) and over the top I was in the lead going for broke.

Still, it was too early and on the flats of the stadium I was caught and passed by Northug and Cologna. Again. I finished 3rd which was my 4th podium of the week. Unbelievable. It’s been just such a great week of racing!

Alex ended up in 5th meaning with one stage remaining we were 4th and 7th overall. It was going to be a dog fight as not much time separated 3rd to 10th and both Alex and I aren’t exactly gazelles up Alpe Cermis but we were excited to see how things went.

Day Ten: 9km Skate Uphill Pursuit Val di Fiemme/Alpe Cermis, ITA January 9th/2011
The last stage. Always tough, the 9km skate consists of 6km of gradual descending before meeting the walls of Alpe Cermis, an Alpine run close to the ski trails in Val di Fiemme.

As expected, it was a large group heading down to the climb. We worked well together, exchanging leads often but it wasn’t enough to keep a hard charging Lucas Bauer at bay who caught our group (3rd-9th) on the bottom slopes of the Alpe.

Things splintered early on the climb especially when Bauer caught us, and I settled into the best rhythm I could. I am no specialist at this unique uphill event and tried in vain to stay with Perl, Clara, and Gaillardall who are far better at this event than me. Gaillard and I were dropped by Perl and Clara and in a battle with my friend from the French Team, Jean-Marc beat me to the line after I tried to attack and blew up with only 300m remaining in the race.

The Tour was over, and I ended up 7th overall. Alex had a tough climb as well, slipping to 10th, but both of us were excited to have completed a solid Tour and to have two Canadians in the top 10 was a great achievement. Babs had the 6th fastest time up proving once again that the bulldog IS climbing boom.

What now?
After traveling and racing for over 2 months, and I am now at home. It’s so good to be back in Canmore and I am already looking forward to training with friends and sipping cappos in the afternoons as I recharge and begin to get ready for the World Champs in Oslo. I can confirm that nothing is as comfortable as your own bed and I slept like a log last night.

I was able to catch up briefly with Chandra in Munich for one night as our trips overlapped (Chandra heading to the sprint World Cups in the Czech and Estonia, while I head home to recover/train for Worlds). It was great to see her – however brief – after weeks away from one another but I am already missing her here in Canmore!

After an easy week this week to catch my breath it’s back on baby. We have work to do if we want to keep this party going. Oslo and the World Cups after it are the next objective. I cannot wait!

I want to extend heart felt thanks to everyone who supported me and our team: Mostly importantly is Chandra and my family!

Thanks to Justin who has proven to be such an amazing coach, and has shown stellar leadership all year. Our technical staff is some of the best in the business. All the boys – Sasha, Joel J, Joel K, Yves and Micke – you all rule. Micke thanks for sticking with me for the past few years and putting up with my sketchy self every weekend (and during the week, haha), you’ve made a HUGE difference!

Most importantly thanks to my teammates. I am so lucky to be a member of such a bad ass/awesome Canadian Team. We respect each other, push each other and celebrate each other’s victories. It’s a lot of hours together but damn it’s fun! It’s been a trip – one that will continue for years to come!

We couldn’t do it without our loyal team sponsors (the crew at Haywood, AltaGas, Statoil and Teck) and B2ten for the mad hook ups all year most recently being instrumental behind our big black rock and roll Tour de Ski bus. Your continued support means that our entire team can push the limits all year.

Lastly, my personal sponsors, guys like Jamie Coatsworth who makes such a difference and who believes not only 100% in me but all of Canadian skiing, Stephen Dent and the whole Birch Hill crew in T.O., Chris out in Vancouver with Teck and Allison and the Stoneridge crew, thanks to all of you. Support matters, from all levels. Family, friends, team, sponsors, it all helps make

Zaitseva Scores IBU Women’s 15km in Ruhpolding – Canada’s Imrie Career-best 35th

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January 13, 2011 (Ruhpolding, Germany) – Russia’s Olga Zaitseva battled through torrential rain and sloppy racing conditions on Thursday to win the women’s 15km Individual race at the IBU World Cup in Ruhpolding. Zaitseva, who was one of only three racers to shoot clean on the day, grabbing the ninth win of her career, and first of the season, in a time of 41:46.1.

“I felt very good today, [I] had a good performance today both on the shooting range and skiing,” said Zaitseva in an IBU report, “Starting early was a big help. It maybe was a little bit easier for me than some of the athletes who started later. I also had good skis for this kind of weather.”

The rain, which began early in the morning and persisted throughout the competition, made the snow incredibly slushy, namely on the downhill portion of the course.

“The downhill was not the best part of my race today,” said Andrea Henkel of Germany, “In the final loop, I went out with 6 seconds to make up. By the top of the hill, it was 5 seconds; I knew when I left the shooting range that if I did not have the lead by the top of the hill I would never have it.”

Henkel grabbed her second silver medal of the season, shooting clean in all four stages for a time of 42:00.6, and Sweden’s Helena Ekholm took the last podium spot also with clean shooting and a time of 42:23.5.

Megan Imrie of Canada posted the top North American result placing 35th – a career-best for the 24 year-old Alberta native who missed just one shot on her way to a finishing time of 47:17. “I knew shooting would be critical because of the difficulty of the course and the insane amount of water dumping from the sky,” said Imrie who hails from Falcon Lake. Man. in a Biathlon Canada release, “Shooting is always the difference for me. Finally today I realized I don’t have to think about each target, but I just have to see every target and it worked out.”

Melanie Schultz, also from Canada, placed 70th after a 2-miss performance, and Zina Kocher hit 11 of 20 to finish 82nd.

The top US biathlete of the the competition was Sara Studebaker, who made 17 of her 20 shots to finish 55th. Fellow American Haley Johnson finished 62nd with 4 misses and a time of 50:21.2, and Laura Spector, who is coming off a record performance in the previous world cup, placed 67th after hitting 15 of 20 in the range.

Full Results HERE.

Results (Brief)

1. Olga Zaitseva, RUS (0+0+0+0) 41:46.1
2. Andrea Henkel, GER (0+0+0+0) 42:00.6
3. Helena Ekholm, SWE (0+0+0+0) 42:23.5

35. Megan Imrie, CAN (0+1+0+0) 47:17.0
55. Sara Studebaker, USA (0+2+1+0) 49:14.7
62. Haley Johnson, USA (1+0+1+2) 50:21.2
67. Laura Spector, USA (1+2+0+1) 50:49.4
70. Melanie Schultz, CAN (1+0+0+1) 51:02.1
82. Zina Kocher, CAN (3+2+2+2) 54:27.6

USA’s Van 3rd at Women’s FIS Ski Jumping Conti Cup in Hinterzarten

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January 12, 2011 (Hinterzarten, Germany) – Daniela Iraschko (AUT) and Coline Mattel (FRA) shared victories at the FIS Ladies Ski Jumping COC event in Hinterzarten today. Iraschko won the first competition of the day – which replaced the cancelled event in Schönwald-Schonach – while Mattel was first on Day 2 which was decided with only one jump due to bad weather and a deteriorating inrun track.

Iraschko won the first competition with 103.0m and 106.5m jumps for a total of 268.5 points ahead of Mattel (FRA/97.5 and 101 m/245.5 points) and Eva Logar (SLO/96.0 m and 99.5 m/234 points).

It was the 31st top ten result for Logar, but only her second COC podium after a third place finish in Zakopane in March 2010. Her teammate Anja Tepes was sixth – her 6th career the top ten finish. All together, four Slovenian athletes placed in the first ten spots.

Mattel, with 102.5 m/130.0 points, won the second competition that was decided with only one jump ahead of Iraschko (98.5 m/121.5 points) and reigning World Champion Lindsey Van (USA/97.0 m/116.5 points) in third. At the beginning of the final round, heavy snowfall began.

The Women’s Ski Jumping Continental Cup will continue with two competitions in Braunlage (GER) this coming Saturday and Sunday.

QUOTES

Daniela Iraschko
“It was a nice day after the difficult and emotional days in Schonach. I still think on Simona Senoner (the Italian jumper who died few days ago), but I was able to jump relieved.”

I tested a lot in the last weeks and changed something in my binding system. I’m happy to see that these efforts work out and bring good results.”

“I was ill but feel in great shape now. I do not look to Anette Sagen’s record of 42 COC victories, I’m looking just from competition to competition.”

“The hill in Hinterzarten is very nice, I like to jump it. In the first competition, for sure I was also lucky with the wind conditions.”

Coline Mattel
“When I started to my attempt in the second competition, the inrun was okay. I cannot say if the cancellation of the final round was correct or not but I believe that our Jury does a very good job.”

“I do not see myself in direct competition with Daniela Iraschko. It is more important for me to focus on myself and to try to do the best what I can do. If this happens, results will follow automatically.”

Eva Logar
“I got my second COC podium place in my career, therefore I’m happy. I had two really good jumps in the first competition but one not so good in the second event.”

“We trained a lot as a team last summer, today, we saw some results!”

Lindsey Van
“It was a right decision to cancel the final round of the second competition. The conditions started to become dangerous and unfair.”

“I’m happy that we go home after the competition in Braunlage for training, I do not feel myself in great shape. We will come back to Europe for the events in Ramsau.”

www.fisskijumping.com

First competition
1. Daniela Iraschko (AUT) 103.0 m (1) 106.5 m (1) 268.5 points
2. Coline Mattel (FRA) 97 .5 m (2) 101.0 m (2) 245.5 points
3. Eva Logar (SLO) 96.0 m (3) 99.5 m (4) 234.0 points

Full results HERE.

Second competition
1. Coline Mattel (FRA) ´102.5 m 130.0 points
2. Daniela Iraschko (AUT) 98.5 m 121.5 points
3. Lindsey Van (USA) 97.0 m 116.5 points

Full results HERE.

COC Standings
1. Daniela Iraschko (AUT) 840 points
2. Coline Mattel (FRA) 540
3. Jessica Jerome (USA) 526
4. Lindsey Van (USA) 443

5. Melanie Faisst (GER) 390

Full standings HERE.

Jerome 4th and Van 5th at Conti Cup Amidst Tragedy – Day 2 Cancelled

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January 11, 2011 (Schonach, Germany) – Two members of the Visa Women’s Ski Jumping Team finished in the top five Saturday in a Continental Cup event that was overshadowed by the tragic and unexpected death of a young Italian jumper. Day 2 of the competition was cancelled on Sunday morning due to strong wind and rain.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation confirmed that Simona Senoner, just 17, died suddenly Friday in Schonach, Germany after feeling ill in her hotel room. The Associated Press reported that Senoner was airlifted to a local hospital after her roommate discovered her collapsed, but she was declared dead upon arrival. No cause of death was given, though early reports cite cardiac arrest. Senoner finished 10th in the 2008 junior worlds.

Visa team member Jessica Jerome said all the women jumpers wore armbands over their jumpsuits during competition Saturday in memory of Senoner and they observed a moment of silence at the prize ceremony.

Jerome finished 4th, Lindsey Van was 5th, Alissa Johnson was 22nd and Abby Hughes was 24th. Austria’s Daniela Iraschko won the event.

“It is absolutely unfathomable what the Italian girls are going through right now,” Jerome said. “I didn’t know Simona well, but she was very well loved by her teammates. She was always smiling and happy. All the jumper girls are still in shock. I admire the Italian girls’ ability to come together and perform the way they did Saturday.”

Hughes said she plans to wear her armband in honor of Simona for the remainder of the COC season. “I really admire the Italian girls for competing this weekend. Evelyn Insam finished 7th and she told me she did it for Simona,” Hughes said. “It’s amazing how this community has come together for her team, friends and family. It has definitely given me a different perspective.”

Higher than normal temperatures gave way to rain this week in Schonach, causing training delays, though Saturday’s comp was smooth. Van was third after her first jump of 95 meters on the 106-meter hill and Jerome was sixth with 92 meters. Jerome edged forward after her second jump of 97.5 meters – highest of the round.

“My second jump was exactly what I wanted, much better technically and flying in the air and I hope to carry that into competition on Sunday,” Jerome said.

Jerome and Van are currently in second and third in the women’s Continental Cup overall standings.

The next event is scheduled in Hinterzarten, Germany on Jan. 12.

“It has been very difficult for women’s ski jumping with the loss of Simona and our hearts go out to her family and the Italian team during this difficult time. They have shown amazing strength and they are an inspiration,” said Alissa Johnson.

Continental Cup, Schonach, Germany – Jan. 8, 2011
Women’s HS106
1. Daniela Iraschko, AUT, (96.0, 96.5) 239.6
2. Coline Mattel, FRA, (96.5, 95.5) 235.8
3. Melanie Faisst, GER, (97.5, 94.5) 231.9

4. Jessica Jerome, USA (95, 90.5) 227.9
5. Lindsey Van, USA, (88.5, 91.0) 222.9
22. Alissa Johnson, USA (82.5, 83.5) 182.8
24. Abby Hughes, USA (82.5, 83.5) 178.6

Ekholm Wins Women’s Mass Start – USA’s Spector Makes History in 25th

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January 10, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Laura Spector continued her solid showing at the Oberhof World Cup by placing 25th in Sunday’s 12.5km mass start. Spector became the first US woman ever to compete in a mass start at the IBU World Cup, which features the top 30 biathletes from the sprint .

“Laura really made a strong impression today, especially in the first half of the race,” said U.S. Biathlon Head Coach Per Nilsson in US Biathlon release. “Two clean shootings at prone were really good in a race like that.”

Spector ended the day with just two misses in four shooting stages, finishing with a time of 43:28.8.

Helena Ekholm (SWE) grabbed her second win of the season adding to her World Cup pursuit victory in Hochfilzen. The Swedish biathlete shot clean for the day, finishing with a time of 39:22.9.

Ekholm said after the race that her plan was to simply shoot well and then let everything else fall into place. “I tried to stay back shoot well and then attack,” Ekholm told IBU, “Andrea [Henkel] and Svetlana [Sleptsova] were skiing well in the final loop, and I just stayed behind them. When we came up the final hill before the finishing straight, I felt that I had more power, attacked at that point, and it worked out.”

Henkel of Germany continued her solid showing in Oberhof by posting a 2nd place finish with a pair of misses, finishing just 1.6 seconds behind Ekholm. Russia’s Sleptsova was just one of two racers, including Henkel, to shoot clean on the day, grabbing the third place finish with a time of 39:28.1.

No Canadian women qualified to compete in Sunday’s mass start event. Spector’s result puts her 36th overall in the overall IBU World Cup standings.

Full results HERE.

Results (Brief)

1. Helena Ekholm, SWE (0+0+0+0) 39:22.9
2. Andrea Henkel, GER (0+1+1+0) 39:24.5
3. Svetlana Sleptsova, RUS (0+0+0+0) 39:28.1
4. Maria Laure Brunet, FRA (0+0+0+1) 39:43.2
5. Ann Kristin Aafedt Flatland, NOR (0+0+1+0) 39:49.6

25. Laura Spector, USA (0+0+2+2) 43:28.8

Boe Takes IBU Men’s 15km Mass Start – Canada’s Le Guellec 20th

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January 10, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Canada’s Jean-Philippe Le Guellec followed up his 16th place effort in Friday’s sprint by placing 20th in the men’s 15km Mass Start on Sunday, the final event of IBU WCup round #4 in Oberhof, Germany, won by Norway’s Tarjei Boe.

Le Guellec, a two-time Olympian, had a day to remember in the shooting range, coming away with just one miss in four trips through the stadium. “That was one heck of a hard race. The conditions were super soft and the snow was wet in places,” said Le Guellec in a Biathlon Canada release, “I had nothing left in my legs, but it was a great day for shooting. I established a tactic in training yesterday that worked well today.”

Canadian teammate Brendan Green also followed up a strong sprint race with a 25th place effort on Sunday, finishing with a time of 42:11.1 after missing a pair of targets. No Americans qualified for the men’s mass start as only the top 30 skiers advanced from the previous races.

Norway placed two skiers on the podium with Boe scoring his fourth race of the season, and Emile Hegle Svedsen capturing second with 3 misses and a time of 35:55.4. Ivan Tcherezov of Russia rounded out the top three with a pair of misses on his way to finishing with a time of 39:55.4.

Boe, who also won this week’s sprint competition, helped to strengthen his grip on the yellow leader’s bib, awarded to the best biathlete in the world. The 23 year-old Norwegian showed poise on the final lap, after missing a shot in the last shooting stage of the day.

“Usually, you do not win a mass start with a penalty in the final stage. But I had a strategy going into that stage,” said Boe, according to the IBU report, “I knew I had to shoot fast, so that if I missed one I could get around the loop before the others. I missed the first shot and just went on. The last one took some mental strength, because I knew the victory depended on hitting it.”

Full results HERE.

Results (Brief)

1. Tarjei Boe, NOR (0+1+0+1) 39:51.3
2. Emile Hegle Svedsen, NOR (1+0+2+0) 39:53.7
3. Ivan Tcherezov, RUS (0+0+1+1) 39:55.4
4. Martin Fourcade, FRA (0+1+0+1) 40:05.6
5. Michael Greis, GER (1+0+1+1) 40:10.4

20. Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, CAN (0+0+0+1) 41:41.7
25. Brenden Green, CAN (0+1+1+0) 42:11.1

Sweden Takes Women’s Relay in Oberhof

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January 07, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – Sweden took advantage of key shooting, despite heavy rain and high winds, on the final two legs of the 4x6km Women’s Relay held yesterday to execute a come-from-behind victory at Oberhof’s World Cup venue. Sweden’s team of Jenny Jonnson, Anna Carlin Zidek, Anna Maria Nilsson and Helena Ekholm suffered only one penalty, while utilizing eight spare rounds, to finish 52.3 seconds ahead of second place France, who compiled three penalites and nine spare rounds respectively. Belarus rounded out the top three with a time of 1:19:24.5.

Sweden’s team got off to a slow start, despite a solid shooting performance from Jonnson, and found themselves in fourth place after the first leg. Trailing the likes of Slovakia, Ukraine, and Finland, the second leg was no change in fortune for the team, as they remained in fourth after Zideck passed off to Nilsson.

Sweden’s third leg proved to be a spark for the team as they moved up to second placed behind Nilsson’s three spare round performance, and Ekholm brought home the victory with a no-miss final lap.

Thursday’s harsh weather conditions were undoubtedly a factor in determining the champions, as there were 84 penalties and 263 spare rounds used across all of the 21 teams who competed. The heavy rain and powerful winds made shooting no easy task for the world-class athletes.

Canada’s relay squad consisting of Zina Kocher, Megan Imrie, Rosanna Crawford, and Melanie Schultz, North America’s lone representative, was among an astounding nine teams who were disqualified as a result of being lapped in the challenging conditions.

The United States, although present in Oberhof, did not field a team on Thursday due to a lack of available racers.

Full results HERE.

Results (brief)

1. Sweden (1+8) 1:17:53.1
2. France (3+9) 1: 18:45.4
3. Belarus (1+13) 1:19:24.5
4. Ukraine (5+12) 1:20:46.3
5. Russia (8+16) 1:20:59.2

LPD Canada (4+14)

Germany Takes IBU World Cup Men’s Relay

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January 06, 2011 (Oberhof, Germany) – The IBU World Cup resumed in Oberhof, Germany on Wednesday with the men’s 4×7.5km relay that saw the home team take off with the early lead and stay ahead, winning their first men’s relay since 2006 in a time of 1:23:53.0. While the Germans lead consistently all race, the battle for the next two podium steps was dynamic, changing at each shooting stage. In the end, the Czech Republic edged out Norway for second, finishing with a time of 1:26:15.8 over the Norwegians in third at 1:26.17.0.

The top North American result was an 11th place finish by the Canadian men’s team at 1:27:25.8 represented by Marc-André Bedard, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, Scott Perras and Brendan Green. The American team of Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren, and Russell Currier placed 16th in a time of 1:28:41.4.

The men were beset by hostile weather conditions with howling winds blasting through the stadium making shooting difficult and no team shot clean. Competitors, who collected ten times the typical number of penalties and used more than three times the number of spare rounds expected, were resigned to doing penalty laps.

“The winds were so strong that it made standing shooting extremely difficult because it was gusting so bad,” said Le Guellec. “It was best not to fight the wind today but take your penalties, do the laps, and make up your time that way. We had fast skis so was a good day for our team.”

The result is a promising performance from the newly formed young Canadian relay team lead by two-time Olympian, 25 year-old Le Guellec.

“This is the first time us four have raced together. We have a really young team that is young and I believe is going to be very good for a long time,” added Le Guellec. “Everyone on the team has had some good results before Christmas so I think we will be strong in year’s to come. You can’t approach the relay any different. You have to focus on your individual performance and we did that today.”

Full results HERE.

Results

1. Germany (2+16) 1:23:53.0
2. Czech Republic (3+14) 1:26:15.8
3. Norway (6+14) 1:26:17.0
4. Ukraine (5+14) 1:26:37.2
5. Slovenia (5+16) 1:26:48.7

11. Canada (6+14) 1:27:25.8
16. USA (7+11) 1:28:41.4