Tag Archive | "Italy"

2013 Masters World Cup in Asiago Report – Canada Wins 20 Medals

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April 12, 2013 – Asiago, Italy, home of Rode Wax, world-famous cheese and the 2013 Masters World Cup! Between February 15th and 22nd, 103 Canadians were among the 1,173 skiers from 25 nations who competed in the annual event which is open to athletes aged 30 and older. Skiers race in 5 year age categories – in 2013 the oldest woman was 86 and the oldest man 89. (In 2011 when the Masters World Cup was hosted by Sovereign Lake Nordic Club in B.C., the oldest competitor was a 93 year old American man). Competitors can choose to race classic or freestyle in each distance, which varies from 5 km to 45 km, depending on age and sex.

Asiago lived up to its reputation and hosted a lively and unforgettable event, under sunny skies on immaculately groomed tracks. Spectators lined the course to cheer on the participants and the multi-lingual announcers kept up a lively commentary in the stadium. A large refreshment tent served hot meals, baked goods and lashings of coffee and hot chocolate, and prior to each race competitors energetically prepared their skis in the crowded wax tents. Old friends greeted one another – many of the same racers attend the World Masters every year and lasting friendships are formed even if the only form of communication is a broad grin and a hug or a handshake.

Canadians did well in podium results, winning 6 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals. This was one of the largest Masters World Cup Canadian teams for a European venue – usually the number is between 30 and 50 when the competition is held in Europe. Included in this year’s team was Pierre Harvey, who finished 4th in the Men’s 45 km classic race. Complete race results can be found at www.mwc2013.com

The Masters World Cup (MWC) in cross country skiing is actually a Canadian invention. It became an outgrowth of the masters movement in Canada – the Canadian Masters Cross Country Ski Association and the Canadian Masters Cross Country Ski Championships – initially conceived and formalized by Bill Gairdner of Ontario. Bill was the first president of the Canadian association and very quickly took the masters cross country skiing concept to the world stage to form and lead the World Masters Cross Country Ski Association which is now responsible for ensuring that an annual MWC happens.

The first MWC was held in 1980 at Morin Heights, Quebec and was organized principally by Jan Hansen of the Viking Ski Club. The following year did not see a MWC as the FIS (International Ski Federation) sorted out what to do with the demands of this bunch of old skiers who wanted a World Championship. However in 1982, after the FIS agreed to a “World Cup” concept, Sweden stepped into the breach and the MWCs have been held annually ever since.







SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest FINAL Standings and Winners Announced

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March 11, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are thrilled to announce the winners and final overall standings of the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest following the one week waiting period that recognizes the Doping De-Points rule.

Check out the contest standings after the Men’s 50km CL, the final event of the Val di Fiemme 2013 Worlds HERE and read about how Sweden’s Johan Olsson delivered an astounding historic win in the event after a 35km-solo effort HERE.

And now for the winners… Team Northug – antoine-briand was able to hang on to the lead with a total of 335 points to claim the fabulous grand prize a Salomon SLab package including skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497).

The second place prize, a cool pair of Alpina ESK ski boots, goes to Team CATZ4LYFE with 280 points. And Team Rob in third place with 270 points receives an awesome pair of Fischer Carbonlite poles.

Congratulations to all winners and thanks again to all contestants and our great sponsors including Salomon, Alpina, Fischer, Bjorn Daehlie, One Way, 2XU, Ski*Go, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff Canada.

For the complete final FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds contest standings, please click HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Winners

– Team Northug – antoine-briand – Antoine Briand – Sept-Iles, QC
1st Prize
Salomon SLab package skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497)

– CATZ4LYFE – William Spiller  – Ketchum, ID
2nd Prize
 – Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)

– Rob – Rob Ragotte – Toronto, ON
3rd Prize – Fischer
Carbonlite Poles ($339)

– Redjacket – Connie Johnson – Calgary, AB
4th Prize
 – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)

– peaches – Sebastien Townsend – Chelsea, QC
5th Prize
 – One Way Skate 7 Roller Skis (value $250)

– asterion – Elise Ruet – Montalieu, France
6th Prize 
2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)

– Max’s – Max Liles – Superior, CO
7th Prize
–  Ski*go Large Wax Box with XC kickwaxes/cork/scraper (value $190)

– rgsnow – Guillaume Ruet – Fleurie, France
8th Prize
Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

– Redbird – Craig Cardinal – Northfield, MN
9th Prize
 – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

– beaujo – Rene Berrod – Fleurie, France
10th Prize
 – Buff Headware (value $23)

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).

Bjornsen Blog – Val di Fiemme Wrap

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March 08, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – I am just finishing up my week of Championships here in Val di Fiemme… looking back on all the great moments. At the same time, I am going through the process of reviewing my week and thinking about all the things that went very well, and the things to improve for next time. I must say, I didn’t have quite the Championships that I was hoping for, but in other ways- things were also very positive.

As a ski racer you can never look at anything as a failure. If you did, you wouldn’t make it very far beyond one year of racing on the World Cup- because this process is not very forgiving. The difference between an average day and an overly excellent day could be .15 seconds… one size larger boot. Or the difference between putting one too many layers of kick wax on your ski, or simply the difference between finding one more gear of energy for the last climb of the course. It is all so small, yet so important. So even though my two individual start races were less than my best, there were some very encouraging parts at the same time!

So in honor of moving forward in a positive manner; here are a few of the things about Val di Fiemme that I won’t be forgetting.

1. Fans! After having my first World Championships in Oslo, my standards of World Championships fans was set sort of high. To my surprise though, these Italian fans lived up to the challenge. Maybe 70% of them traveled all the way from Norway… but regardless they were out there in full force. It was also special to have so many US fans as well. World Masters took place somewhere near here, so there was an extra bunch of familiar voices and faces out there that made it special!

2. Hills- Holy hills! This venue knows how to test your fitness, test your mental strength, and test your hill climbing. I remember many of my teammates warning me of this after they raced the final stages of the tour here last year… but I didn’t experience the full feeling of it until racing. It was fun to test my hill climbing skills though.

3. Wax Crew- This week has been one of the most challenging weeks for waxing yet. With temperatures hanging around zero, and constantly changing… things get tricky and tough. The techs have been incredible at working hard and moving forward. The important thing to remember is just like an athlete, tech teams have tough days as well. Even if they are putting 100%, there will always be challenging days. So thanks techs for working your butts off and always staying positive.

4. Records- While the week started off with much less than our best, the following days were filled with records, bests, firsts and everything else. Kikkan and Jessie set the mood with winning the team sprint for US Nordics FIRST World Championship Gold. That was one of my more emotional moments of being a ski racer. As I watched the girls ski their hearts out and cross the line first, emotion struck. As tears rolled down the faces of all the US group… I may have spotted a tear rolling down the Norwegian coaches face too. Finally, US is a force to recon with. Over the years as Kikkan has set an example of believing that we can compete, the rest of our team has started following along!

5. Sunshine- It is hard to not absolutely love every second of the day when you are out ski racing hard in the sun. Black suits sometimes make that experience a little more miserable than it should… but for the most part, the sunshine always brings out the best in us! If there is one thing you can count on in Italia, that is sun!

6. Team Spirit- The team “spirit” has been great throughout the week. The success of the team just spreads through our group. I think this is one of the things that is bringing us to a higher level as a team. Because one person’s success is contagious, it helps us all believe!

7. Relay- Yesterday I got to participate in my first World Cup 4×5 relay. Since being a young girl, relay racing has always been my favorite. There is something about the different pressure, and your collective effort… it just gets me in a new level of energy… as with all the US ladies. Aside from being fun, the US Team managed to finish our best result ever in history. Although we were just off the podium, we were extremely stoked with a 4th place finish. This was a huge improvement from our last World Championship finish in 9th. With our goals set on a medal of course, we came away proud and pleased that we had reached 4th place! Everyone skied their hearts out, and our goal is certainly attainable in the near Olympic future!

All of these things have made this Championship week incredible and memorable. With two more races to go, the 30 and 50k, we will be back on World Cup soon. Next weekend we will be racing a 10k Classic and Team Sprint, so some more exciting racing in the near future!

Let’s say that the scene was the most beautiful and the American athlete of the relay this morning (yesterday, ed), shooting as he undressed. Sadie Bjørnsen has affected all of us photographers, the femininity and grace of gesture, of usual when it comes to the masculinity of athletes.

Thanks everyone for the cheers and nice emails this week. I really appreciate it!! A few more days here, and then off to Scandinavia!

Norway Claims Men’s Team Relay Gold at 2013 Nordic Worlds – USA 10th, Canada 12th

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March 01, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – Like their female counterparts the Norwegian men, took the gold in the 4x10km relay event at the FIS Nordic Worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy on Friday and once again defended their title. But spectators were on the edge of their seats as a late race bid by Sweden’s Calle Halvarsson threatened the four final contenders including the famed Petter Northug (NOR).

Northug responded on the final Zorzi climb as he and Halvarsson shook off Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov and Italy’s David Hofer making it a two-horse race. Halvarsson was still leading over the final bridge to the finish but Northug quickly caught his rival and took over the lead down the finishing lanes for the win by a 1.2s margin.

The battle for bronze was won by Ustiugov who sprinted fiercely for third over Hofer denying the host nation spot on the final podium. It was a close finish in the 40km event as the top five all crossed the line within 12s of one another. Teams USA and Canada finished 10th and 12th, respectively.

Waxing played a large role as race day dawned at a balmy 10°C. The pack stuck close together on the first two laps of the race as Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov set the pace. Germany’s Hannes Dotzler was also high up in the fray, animating the action with an attack on the final lap, which was marked by Norway’s Torde Asle Gjerdalen. The USA’s Andy Newell was well positioned near the front throughout the race and was a strong 5th at the exchange. Canada’s Len Valjas skied well over the first two laps as well but dropped to 11th as the 10km-leg ended.

Leg #2 saw Germany’s Tobias Angerer leading a seven-man group, including Norway, Sweden and USA. However, a motivated chase group soon caught back on to double the size of the lead group, that included the USA’s Kris Freeman who was well-positioned near the front as Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin assumed control at the front. Canada’s Devon Kershaw in 12th tried to bridge to the leaders.

Local fans cheered loudly as veteran Giorgio Di Centa (ITA), at his 9th Nordic Worlds, seized the opportunity to attack on the Velena climb on final lap. But Swiss superstar Dario Cologna jumped on his tail, followed by Vylegzhanin, Angerer, Johan Olsson (SWE), and Eldar Roenning (NOR) to create a lead group of six. Freeman and Kershaw did not make the selection, with the American skier handing off to Noah Hoffman in 9th at 1:14 back with Kershaw tagging Ivan Babikov in 12th.

The start of the third leg saw the top six nations stay together with Norway, Russia and Sweden exchanging the lead. Japan’s Nobu Naruse, whose squad was putting together a brilliant race, chased in seventh, followed by the Czech Republic in eighth. USA’s Noah Hoffman had a strong leg with the 5th fastest time but the team remained in 10th as Babikov fought in vain as well. On the final lap Sweden’s Marcus Hellner attacked as Russia’s Alexander Legkov responded along with Sjur Roethe (NOR) as four leaders charged to the final transition as Germany and Switzerland suffered behind.

The final leg of the race started slowly as the strategizing began at a training pace. Suddenly Germany’s Axel Teichmann was able to regain contact with the lead group, while the other trailing skiers also gained back time including the USA’s Tad Elliott. On the second lap of the leg, Elliot was positioned in seventh as Finland’s Matti Heikkinen put in a surge and bridged to the front group putting his team back into contention. Canada’s anchor, Alex Harvey, was too far back to fight for contention.

As the finish approached, the lead group – now six strong – picked up the pace forcing the chasers to dig even deeper. Sweden’s  Halfvarsson finally initiated the attack before the on the last climb up Zorzi and the only skier able to respond was Northug. But the Norwegian veteran was on to Halfvarsson like bees to honey and suddenly they emerged at the front of the race alone contesting the gold. The storming Northug gave Norwegian fans what they were hoping for and defended Norway’s relay title yet again. The USA finished in 10th and Canada ended up 12th.

Full results HERE.
Full results detail HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Standings after 10/15km FR Individual Start

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March 01, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to report the standings for the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest after the 10/15km free technique events. Read our coverage of the race, including Canada’s Ivan “Bulldog” Babikov’s stellar fourth place – the best result by a Canadian male in the event at a World Championship – here. Then check out the recap of the women’s 10km event in which USA’s Liz Stephen scored a career-best fifth – here.

In the contest, Team Northug – antoine-briand managed to break the suspenseful three-up tie for first place to take the lead with 205 points. Team CATZ4LYFE sits in second spot with 185 points, followed by Redjacket in third with 170 points.

For the complete contest standings after the Fiemme 10/15km F races, please click HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Salomon SLab package skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497)
* 2nd Prize Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 3rd Prize – Fischer Carbonlite Poles ($339)
* 4th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th Prize – One Way Skate 7 Roller Skis (value $250)
* 6th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 7th Prize –  Ski*go Large Wax Box with XC kickwaxes/cork/scraper (value $190)
* 8th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 9th Prize – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* 10th Prize – Buff Headware (value $23)

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to FIS, Fiemme 2011 and all of our great sponsors including Salomon, Alpina, Fischer, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff Canada.

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

USA Scores Best-Ever 4th as Norway Wins Women’s Team Relay at 2013 Nordic Worlds – Canada DNF – PHOTOS

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February 28, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – The powerhouse Norwegian squad led by Marit Bjoergen charged to victory today in the women’s 4x5km CL + FR at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, while Team USA’s Sadie Bjornsen, Kikkan Randall , Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins, scored a best-ever fourth place. The Canadian women did not finish.

Leg #1 of the race kicked off with the classic mass start as Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova skied strong near the front of a pack that included Norway, Finland, and Russia. The USA’s Bjornsen was also positioned in the top 10. During the second lap, Norway’s Heidi Weng chose the inside track vs the slicker centre lanes to take the lead.

Chasing Finnish skier, Anne Kyllönen crashed and got caught up in the fencing to lose 15s. Weng attacked on the climb gained her a massive 20s gap, which second place, France’s Aurore Jean, and third place, Russia’s Julia Ivanova, fought to earn back. Meanwhile, American Bjornsen had moved into sixth spot, while Gaiazova appeared to run out of steam and fell back through the pack. At the end of the first leg, Weng tagged off to her teammate Therese Johaug with a healthy 20s lead, followed by Finland and Russia in second and third, USA sixth, and Canada 11th.

Leg #2 saw Norway way ahead, while the scrap for silver and bronze continued with Russia moving into second spot and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk jumping up to third, while USA’s Kikkan Randall maintained her sixth place spot. Farther into the leg, the Polish ringer threw down a gutsy attack to assume second place and gain time on Norway’s Johaug.

Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen also put in a big dig to bring her crew back into contention, moving up to third. Meanwhile, Kowalczyk heroically caught and passed Norway’s Johaug, leaving Sweden and Finland behind to fight over the bronze medal position. Still in sixth, Randall tagged off to teammate Stephen, with Canada’s Perianne Jones coming through in 12th to tag Emily Nishikawa.

The start of Leg #3 saw Norway’s Kristin Stoermer Stiera quickly pass Poland’s Paulina Maciuszek for the lead, while the battle for bronze heated up, with Finland’s Riitta Liisa Roponen fighting Sweden’s Anna Haag tooth and nail in a back-and-forth nailbiter. Their efforts allowed them to overtake the flagging Polish skier, as they trailed Norway by a massive 35s.

Farther back, USA’s Stephen looked strong and smooth as she cruised up the field to take over fourth place. Back in the medal fight, Haag delivered a big attack the final time up the Zorzi climb to put a gap into Roponen, while Stephen continued to gain time with Russia’s Mariya Guschina in tow.

At the end of the leg, Stiera tagged off to Marit Bjoergen maintaining a 25s lead over Sweden, with Finland crossing in third at 30s. Stephen delivered a 4th place hand-off to US anchor Diggins at 55s in arrears with Russia fifth at 1:03. Nishikawa handed off to Brittany Webster at 3:27 behind.

With such a large advantage going into the final leg, Bjoergen proved unstoppable on her uncontested charge to win the gold medal by 26s over Poland. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla quickly dropped Finland’s Riikka Sarasoja-Lilja for second spot, while Diggins battled fiercely with Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva.

The bronze medal was far from sewn up as Sarasoja was obviously struggling. Tchekaleva overtook Diggins and then caught Sarasoja to assume third, while Diggins continued to advance. In the end, the Russian skier was too quick for Diggins, but the young American hunted down the fading Finn to claim fourth for Team USA at 1:12 – the team’s best ever result in that event. It was a tough day for the Canadians as their anchor Webster did not finish.

Full results HERE.
Full results detail HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Standings after the Team Sprint

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February 27, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to announce the standings for the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest after the Team Sprint events. Racing is getting hotter in Val di Fiemme as the weekend nears. Read our coverage of Team USA winning historic GOLD in the women’s team sprint, courtesy of Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins here.

The competition is just as sizzling in the contest there’s a tie between the top three teams for first place, all in a stalemate at 140 points. The teams are CATZ4LYFE, Team Northug – antoine-briand, and Max’s.

For the complete contest standings after the Fiemme Team Sprint please click HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Prizes

* 1st Prize Salomon SLab package skis, poles, boots, bindings (value $1,497)
* 2nd Prize Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 3rd Prize – Fischer Carbonlite Poles ($339)
* 4th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th Prize – One Way Skate 7 Roller Skis (value $250)
* 6th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 7th Prize –  Ski*go Large Wax Box with XC kickwaxes/cork/scraper (value $190)
* 8th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 9th Prize – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* 10th Prize – Buff Headware (value $23)

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to FIS, Fiemme 2011 and all of our great sponsors including Salomon, Alpina, Fischer, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff Canada.

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

USA’s Stephen Stellar 5th in Women’s 10km FR as Johaug Wins Gold

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February 27, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – The USA’s Elizabeth Stephen raced to the best result of her career, finishing in 5th place, only 8.5 seconds off Russian bronze medalist, Yulia Tchekaleva, in women’s 10km FR Individual Start on Tuesday at the 2013 FIS Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme.

Taking the win was the diminutive Norwegian, Therese Johaug, who charged with her characteristic quick tempo to best her teammate Marit Bjoergen for the gold by 10.2 seconds. The win marks Johaug’s third career gold as super-star Bjoergen started to falter with fatigue in the latter stages of the race. Biathlete Miriam Goessner of Germany had an incredible day, missing the podium by only a half a second.

“I’d never skied the course as a skate course before. We always do it as a classic on the Tour de Ski, so I was psyched to be able to skate up those hills and just kept channeling the Tour de Ski energy and vibes,” said Stephen post-race. “Heck, it’s World Championships, there’s pretty good vibes here with Kikkan [Randall] and Jessie [Diggins] getting the win the other day. The mood of the team is outstanding right now – lots of energy kicking around.”

Teammate Jessie Diggins who placed 23rd, voiced her excitement to SkiTrax: “I am first and foremost super pumped for Liz! Nobody deserves it more and I’m so proud of her and excited to cheer for her at the awards ceremony tonight. As for my race, I definitely could have used an extra recovery day beforehand. The racing and emotion of the last two days has definitely left me without that extra gear, but I know I’ll be recovered in time for the relay.”

Kikkan Randall was disappointed with her 30th place, but expressed excitement over her teammate’s success. “Today was a tough one for me personally,” said Randall. “I felt like I was missing the power and capacity I had in my distance skating earlier this season. I was probably a little fatigued from the team sprint two days ago and since I haven’t done very much distance skate racing since the Tour, my aerobic system may have been a little asleep.”

“It was still, however, a spectacular day as my teammate Liz Stephen was fifth in the world, just eight seconds off the podium! I’ve been training alongside Liz for a few years now and have witnessed how hard she works. She has been reaching new levels this season, including skiing the second fastest time up the Alpe Cermis on the Tour’s final day, and she is so deserving of this amazing result. Her finish today is the best ever US women’s distance finish in a major championship. The whole team came out to the awards this evening to cheer her on.”

Coach Matt Whitcomb is pleased with Stephen’s success and after the gold medal performance by Randall and Diggins in the Team Sprint, and the team is moving ahead with excitement and confidence. “Today was just a perfect day for Liz, and one that makes pretty good sense given how our team works. Our athletes really get behind each other’s successes – they feed off of each other. And so with the gold medal from Kikkan and Jessie the other day you could feel the energy building. Liz skied an aggressive race under a lot of pressure to perform and she rose to the occasion.”

As for the Canucks, the top finish was Daria Gaiazova in 40th. “I really don’t have much to say today,” said Gaiazova. “It was not great, but I guess it was a good preparation for the relay, which I am really excited to do.”

Other North Americans included: Holly Brooks 27th, Kikkan Randall 30th, Daria Gaiazova 40th, Emily Nishikawa 57th, and Brittany Webster 68th.

The relay is up next for the women on Thursday. The Americans look to be positioned favorably. The foursome of Brooks, Diggins, Randall, and Stephen had already climbed on to the World Cup podium early in the season in Gaellivare, and they hope to carry that momentum towards World Championship gold.

Canada’s Babikov Just Off Podium in 15km FR as Northug Wins First Gold of Nordic World Championships

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February 27, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – Norwegian Petter Northug set a devastating pace out of the start in the 15km individual start and created a gap large enough to hold on to his first gold of the 2013 FIS Nordic World Championships. At the 6.8km mark he was more than 23 seconds up on the silver medalist, Sweden’s Johan Olsson. While Olsson was faster than Northug over the final kilometers of the course, it wasn’t enough to take the title from the Norweigan great, and he had to settle for the second spot on the podium.

Canada’s Ivan Babikov hung on to Alexander Legkov (RUS), who skied the first half of the 15km slow enough for Babikov to catch up, but the Russian picked up the pace in the final stages of the race allowing Babikov a great slipstream.

Yet the Canadian bulldog was just pushed out of the medals by the aviator-sunglass-wearing Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR). Gjerdalen, who is the alternate for the Norwegian relay team, tied his best-ever individual result at the World Championships as he won bronze in the 50km in Oslo in 2011.

“It isn’t a medal, but I’m pretty happy for sure,” said Babikov, who has enjoyed the best season of his career – crediting his strong results to a new training program set out by himself and Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth last summer. His performance is the best result by a Canadian male in the 15 kilometre individual start skate-ski race at Worlds.

“I have not been feeling great last week, and was pretty down after the pursuit. To get my body and legs back is really good. Our team worked amazingly well today. My skis were awesome, and it was really important for my confidence to have this race today.”

American Noah Hoffman also had an incredible day in 15th. Hoffman went out slow, and picked his way through the ranks on each subsequent split time.

“My plan was to go out under control. I was able to do that today. I felt very under control in the 40s at 1.8k which was exactly where I wanted to be,” said Hoffman. “Late in the race I got on (Lukas) Bauer. I was struggling to stay with him but he was a good ride for me. With a lap to go I was 20th and following him I moved up to 15th.

Other North Americans included Devon Kershaw in 33rd, Tad Elliot in 34th, Graham Nishikawa in 39th, and Erik Bjornsen in 48th.

Full results HERE.

Val di Fiemme 2013 Preview, Race Schedule, Course Maps and Info

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February 20, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – The 2013 Nordic World Ski Championships begin today! Val di Fiemme welcomes over 700 athletes from 57 countries – all names have been unveiled. Let the games begin. Opening ceremony is today at 6pm in Trento and Val di Fiemme

The time has officially come and the curtains are about to be raised tomorrow on the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Italy’s Val di Fiemme. Over 700 athletes from 57 countries and five continents are going to take the field today (Qualification Rounds XC Men and Women) and will be battling it out until the 3rd of March.

Almost 60 nations will be represented in Cross-country, Ski jumping and Nordic combined competitions. The first training days have already taken place inside the XC Stadium (Lago di Tesero) and SJ Arena (Predazzo).

The World’s best skiers are about to test their abilities on the snow in order to grab a World medal. In cross country, the Norwegian armada will be counting on double Olympic champion Petter Northug who will attempt to improve his Oslo 2011 record of five medals. Dario Cologna, Alexander Legkov (2013 Tour de Ski winner) or Markus Hellner are certainly his main opponents, but the list is way longer and includes also Italian Giorgio Di Centa, Roland Clara and Federico Pellegrino, ready to fight hard in front of their home crowd.

On women’s side, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Marit Bjoergen of Norway will be drawing everyone’s eyes on them, even though Johaug, Steira, Kalla or Randall will surely be in the mix.

The first cross-country qualifying rounds will kick off today at 10.45 am at the XC stadium and everyone’s invited to support athletes from all over the planet from place like Togo, Nepal, Brasil or Perù.

The 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships opening ceremony is scheduled for tonight at 6pm in central Duomo Square in Trento. The national squads will be parading through the picturesque city centre and gathering beside the majestic cathedral, on the square where the torch will be lit and a fantastic show will entertain all the guests with dancers, actors, climbers and much more. The very last minutes of the ceremony will take place in Lago di Tesero (broadcast live on video walls in Trento as well), 150 paper lanterns will illuminate the valley together with fireworks.

Learn more about the courses and legendary climbs of Val di Fiemme HERE.
Read about past World Championship winners in Val di Fiemme HERE.


Competition Schedule
During the 2013 FIS World Nordic Ski Championships there will be 8 individual gold medals up for grabs between the two genders (Skiathlon, 10/15km F, Sprint C, 30/50km C) and 4 for team events (team sprint, team relay). In total there will be 36 World Championship medals handed out over 11 days of competition. Stay tuned in with the complete competition schedule listed below.

– 20.02 – Qualifications Ladies 5km – free technique – 10:45 CET
– 20.02 – Qualifications Men 10km – free technique – 12:45 CET
– 21.02 – Sprint Ladies and Men (Qualification) – 10:45 CET
– 21.02 – Sprint Ladies and Men (Final) – 12:45 CET
– 23.02 – Ladies Skiathlon 7.5km C + 7.5km F – 12:45 CET
– 23.02 – Men Skiathlon 15km C + 15km F – 14:15 CET
– 24.02 – Team Sprint Ladies and Men (Qualification) – 10:00 CET
– 24.02 – Team Sprint Ladies and Men (Final) – 12:00 CET
– 26:02 – 10km Ladies Interval Start – free technique – 12:45 CET
– 27.02 – 15km Men Interval Start – free technique – 12:45 CET
– 28.02 – Ladies Relay 4×5 km – 12:45 CET
– 01.03 – Men Relay 4×10 km – 13:30 CET
– 02.03 – 30 km Ladies Mass Start – classic technique – 12:15 CET
– 03.03 – 50 km Men Mass Start – classic technique – 12:30 CET

Hellner and Cologna to Sit Out Classic Sprint in Val di Fiemme

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February 20, 2013 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – Cross-Country stars Dario Cologna (SUI) and Marcus Hellner (SWE) will not contest the Sprint on Thursday, the opening round of competition at the Nordic Ski World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, according to the German news site Handelsblatt.com.

Cologna, Olympic champion in the 15km distance, and Sweden’s Hellner, who won gold in the 30km event at the Vancouver 2010 Games, want to conserve their strength for the distance races, which begin on Saturday with the 30km Skiathlon. In the sprint competition, both had only an outside chance.

Read the original article HERE (German).

Randall 8th as Kowalczyk Triumphs at 15km FR in Toblach at TdS Stage 4

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January 03, 2013 (Toblach/Cortina, Italy) – The women attacked the 15k freestyle pursuit, stage 4 of the 2012/13 FIS Tour de Ski, after a well-deserved rest day. Ideal conditions met the skiers as three-time TdS champion Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) aimed to defend her lead and her closest chasers fought to gain back precious time.

Kowalczyk started 50.3s ahead of Therese Johaug (NOR), but the top Norwegian in the competition was unable to maintain her position as she was caught by 2008 TdS winner Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and Johaug’s teammate Kristin Stoermer Stiera.

The USA’s Kikkan Randall who started fifth couldn’t keep pace and fell back to finish eighth on the day, also causing her to slide from fifth to eighth in the overall standings. Her teammate Liz Stephen was a strong 19th while Jessie Diggins was also in the points placing 27th with Holly Brooks just behind in 34th.

The big move today came from Sweden’s Kalla who claimed second at 18.3s behind Kowalczyk who held onto her lead while Johaug took the third spot at 18.7s. Kalla now sits second overall behind Kowalczyk who is winding up to claim her 4th Tour title… but it’s not over yet.

Results HERE.
Overall standings after Stage 4 HERE.

Worldloppet and FIS Marathon Cup 2012/13 Update – La Sgambeda Set for Dec. 16

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December 11, 2012 – After a year of absence due to lack of snow, La Sgambeda is back! Perfect conditions await all racers around the Italian town of Livigno. Just over the Swiss border and not far from Austria, the “little Tibet” valley features a 21km loop which will be raced two times for this 42km race in free technique. The race track develops along the river Spöl and through all the villages along it: Florin, Pont Lonc, Li Mina, Tresenda and runs as far as Campaciol. From around the Hotel Forcola (12,5 km point) the track turns back into the direction of the cross country stadium where the 21km mark is reached – half time! To finish after 42km, the racers have to turn once again towards the river Spöl in order to do another loop on the wonderful track running through the valley. The spectators cheering loud alongside the track will help the athletes to do this second round before they turn to the finish in the cross country stadium.

A lot of snow and pretty cold temperatures made it possible to perfectly prepare the track and to have it ready for all the cross country enthusiasts who are looking forward to this season opener of long distance racing! The forecast for this weekend announces slightly warmer temperatures (around -4°C) and the possibility of light snowfall.

The racers – who is on the start list?
As La Sgambeda functions as season opener, the best long distance racers will be on the start line! Just some of the classic specialists have decided to open their season with the Jizerská Padesatka 50km classic race, which will be held close to Liberec (CZE) on January 13.

Fabio Santus (ITA), winner of the 2011 edition, will try to race as fast as possible in order to gain the victory again. However, his team mates Florian Kostner, Cristian Zorzi and Sergio Bonaldi will try to prevent this. The same goes for Stanislav Rezac and Martin Koukal (both CZE) of the Skinfit Racing Team as well as for Espen Harald Bjerke and Morten Eide Pedersen (both NOR). Some World Cup skiers have decided to skip the races in Canada and to prepare their Tour de Ski, waiting for them at the end of the year, by taking part in La Sgambeda. So, names like Jean Marc Gaillard (FRA), Thomas Moriggl (ITA), Toni Livers (SUI) or Martin Bajcicak (SVK) will also be present to join in the battle for victory!

On the women’s side, one can find equally the names of the best of the discipline: Stephanie Santer (ITA), the overall FIS Marathon Cup winner of last season, will race as will do last years runner up Seraina Boner (SUI) and third placed Jenny Hansson (SWE). To be even more precise, six of the best seven of last year’s overall FIS Marathon Cup will be present, including names like Antonella Confortola (ITA), Tatjana Mannimaa (EST) and Valentina Shevchenko (URK). The last trying to win again after her victory in Livigno in 2011. Also World Cup skier Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) will be on the start line, preparing for the Tour de Ski and the Nordic World Ski Championships later in 2013.

The actual start list for the elite skiers can be found HERE (always subject to change).

Also this year: The SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Marathon Cup contest
FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest – Register Your Team Today
The second annual FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest is now open for team registration for fans around the world as the series kicks off in Italy with the season opener La Sgambeda, on Dec. 16. You can win great prizes and have fun while following the Marathon Cup all season. Register your team of four (4) men and four (4) women plus one “Outlaw” male skier not in the top 15 and one “Outlaw” female skier not in the top 10 of the FIS Marathon Cup overall rankings. Points are awarded following each Marathon Cup World Loppet based on each skier’s performance and published regularly at skitrax.com – plus you can earn bonus points as well.

All information and contest rules are available when you register your team here. The deadline to register or revise your team is Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10pm EST. To register click HERE.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup Prizes
And of course you can also win something!!! Have a look at the great prizes that wait for you at the end of the season:

* 1st Prize – Nipika Lodge-4-nights for 2 in a luxurious cabin, incl. Trail Fees (value up to $1,160)
* 2nd Prize – Marwe 610c Roller Skis (value $349)
* 3rd Prize – Yoko 9100 Poles (value $299)
* 4th Prize – Halti XC Race Suit Hemmo Set (value $269)
* 5th Prize – Skiwax.ca Racer Kickwax kit (value $235)
* 6th Prize – 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 7th Prize – One Way Snowbird Glasses (value $120)
* 8th Prize – Fresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 9th Prize – Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* 10th Prize – Buff Headware (value $23)

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).

Important dates & Information:
– 16 December 2012 – La Sgambeda (ITA), 42km FT, First FIS Marathon Cup of the season 2012-13 – 11am: start of the 42km La Sgambeda at the Cross Country stadium

Winners in 2011:
– Men: 1st Fabio Santus (ITA), 2nd Simen Oestensen (NOR), 3rd Cristian Zorzi (ITA)
– Women: 1st Valentina Shevchenko (UKR), 2nd Sabina Valbusa (ITA), 3rd Natalia Zernova (RUS)

More information about La Sgambeda:
Official website HERE.
Track information HERE.

Next FIS Marathon Cup: January 13 – Jizerská Padesatka (CZE), 50km, classic technique

More information: www.worldloppet.com
Visit also the official Worldlooppet Facebook Page HERE.
Never miss an info about the world of marathon skiing – follow @WLandFISMaCup

Thumbs Up For Val di Fiemme 2013

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October 18, 2012 – The FIS Final Inspection before the 2013 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme was held on 15th October in Cavalese (ITA). Representatives from FIS, the Italian Winter Sports Association (FISI), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and their host broadcaster RAI, as well as marketing partner Tridem Sportswere very optimistic when reviewing the preparation work that has been carried out by the local Organising Committee, which also includes representatives from each of the valley’s towns of the valley and region of Trentino.

At the conclusion of the presentations, FIS President Gian Franco Kasper summarised: “I am in particular very positively surprised about the amount of creative side events that are planned to promote the Championships and create a real Ski Festival for everyone who attends. Naturally, there is still some work to do, but preparations are well on track and less than 125 days ahead of the event, we can be confident that everything will be ready on time.”

Both venues in Lago di Tesero for the Cross-Country races and the Ski Jumping hills in Predazzo have been fully renewed in the past couple of years and they were already successfully tested at the beginning of 2012 with the Tour de Ski, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined FIS World Cup competitions that confirmed the excellent work carried out from a technical, functional and structural perspective. The Tour de Ski 2013 event to be held in Val di Fiemme on 5th and 6th January 2013 will be the final test for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

The official presentation on the current state of preparations by the Fiemme 2013 Organising Committee was followed by various on-site inspections and working group meetings in specific areas. Observers from Falun 2015 and Lahti 2015 also attended the final inspection as part of the FIS Transfer of Knowledge programme designed to exchange information and lessons between Organisers.

FIS Interview with Italian Coach Silvio Fauner

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October 11, 2012 – Italy will be hosting two major events next season, the final stages of the seventh edition of the FIS Tour de Ski and the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme. The Squadra Azzura has been working hard to meet the challenges of competing on the home ground. FIS Cross-Country News talked to Italy’s head coach Silvio Fauner.

Silvio, how was the off-season for your team and your athletes?
Silvio Fauner: We had a very good summer. The team was healthy except for David Hofer who was coping with muscle injury in July, however, it was a minor injury and he did not have to stop training. The team has been working very hard. The men’s team is now training in Passo Stelvio together with the B team. Ladies team is in Ramsau.

Have there been any changes in your coaching staff?
SF: We have made only one change; Paolo Riva has become the main coach of the men’s team. He was the B-Team coach and also coached the Italian Biathlon World Cup team. Saracco remains the sprint coach and Stauder coaches ladies.

For Italy, Roland Clara had a very strong start into the last season. Do you expect him to be again strong, or somebody else?
SF: I hope Roland will again be in good shape. On the other hand, I would wish that other young skiers will do well. David Hofer has been working hard on the free technique and Thomas Moriggl has been looking good, too. There are other good young skiers with a potential in the B-team. I would like to take one or two of them to the first World Cups of the season.

Italian ladies’ team has been through a generation change. Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?
SF: I think we have really good young ladies, but this year will probably be too early for them. I feel they are still too young to break through on the World Cup level. Deborah Agreiter is the silver medalist from the U23 World Ski Championships in Erzurum last year. She is 22 years old and even the big names such as Paruzzi, Longa and Follis had their first big successful competitions and results when they were 27 or 28. I see young women with a potential but not yet for this season.

What is your preview to the next winter?
SF: The season will be long and most likely we all our athletes will not compete in all World Cups. Also not all the athletes will finish the Tour de Ski, maybe two or three. The rest will continue preparation for the World Championships. For sure our biggest goal for the season is to perform well at the home Championships in Val di Fiemme. The dream would be to claim a medal every day, but that’s not so easy. I see our biggest chance in the sprint, 15 km free technique and team sprint, maybe in the relay.

How is the upgraded Val di Fiemme venue?
SF: It is a new venue with upgraded Cross-Country courses. The stadium has been changed and the tracks are very, very hard, especially the ladies’ sprint. On the other hand they are very nice and fair.

You are representing Italy at Cross-Country Committees here in Zurich. Will you return home satisfied?
SF: Yes, I am leaving Zurich satisfied. Perhaps we will speak with other nations to suggest some small changes.

FIS Marathon Cup News – Aukland and Nyström Win 70km CL Marcialonga

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January 29, 2012 – The sun had just risen when nearly 7,000 competitors started their 70km classic long journey through the Fassa and Fiemme valleys for the 39th edition of the Marcialonga (ITA) . The best marathon skiers in the world stood in the front row, but most eyes where on Petter Northug Jr. (NOR). Everyone was very curious about how the Olympic champ would fare in the 70km Marcialonga, considering his biggest goal this season is to win the famous Vasaloppet.

However, it was not Northug who arrived in Cavalese first. Instead, it was Joergen Aukland from Norway, who managed a tremendous race, despite trailing the lead group not long from the start. He battled hard at the finish, especially with his older brother Anders, who took second place in the end. Both had already won the Marcialolnga: Joergen twice (2006 & 2003) and Anders once (2004). Third in this family affair was Stanislav Rezac (CZE) – winner of the first FIS Marathon Cup this season, the Jizerská Padesatka.

After 70 long kilometres and almost half an hour after the Auklands, it was time to celebrate the best women: Susanne Nyström (SWE) crossed the finish line first.  At the start, Nyström wasn’t too sure what to expect, as many things can happen over 70 kilometres.

Her team mate Jenny Hansson (SWE) followed in second and Italy’s Stephanie Santer skied into third spot.

Blue sky and perfect conditions made this traditional long distance race in the Trentino Area a wonderful experience for all – racers and spectators alike. The last racers were expected around 7pm.

Rezac (ITA) is tied with Joergen Aukland in the FIS Marathon Cup. Both have one victory and one third place on their account – now they are tied on the first place in the FIS Marathon Cup ranking with 160 points, followed by Anders Aukland who has 125 points – as does Jimmie Johnsson of Sweden.

It’s clearer on the women’s side: Jenny Hansson leads with 172 points on front of Susanne Nyström (165 points) and Stephanie Santer (146 points).

Elite results HERE.
Full results HERE.

Photos HERE.

Quotes from the top three

Joergen Aukland (NOR):
It’s fantastic to be the winner of the Marcialonga again! However, it didn’t seem to be that way in the beginning when I soon lost ocntact to the leading group. A fall on the way back down to Moena didn’t help either, but my team worked really well for me today. On the downhill part, I could catch some other racers and we went together while my skis got better and better and suddenly, when the leading group seemed to have made a full stop, we caught the remaining 30s and I was once again in the match. I saw that the others were already quite tired and I knew that I could still have a chance. I feared especially Rezac in the last steep uphill and was surprised that the others just let me go when I started my attack. However, I was only sure that I would win about 50m before the finish line! The last uphill is very special and you need to start training for it already in summer to get the right upper body strength. It’s my third victory now and I will certainly come back next year to fight for the famous fourth one.

Anders Aukland (NOR):
I am really satisfied with my second place today. The plan today was to start very hard as after the first 20km, not much happens until the last kilometres. So our team decided to attack right at the start to get a gap between us and the others. We worked really well together so that it was also possible for Joergen to join us again in the flat part. The Marcialonga is such a big cross country party and the atmosphere is amazing. For sur it’s also great to have so many Norwegians taking part in the race. But no, Petter Northug didn’t have too much influence in this race, even though we all put him together with about ten other people how could win today. Sure, it’s a great feeling to be an Olympic 50km Champion, but this is long distance racing! Petter really wanted to win today, but marathon skiing is different! And in the Marcialonga, it’s the strongest man who will be on the top! Petter just lost too much energy before arriving at the final climb. Surely he will be better at the Vasaloppet as the finish is different.

Stanislav Rezac (CZE):
I felt in good at the start this morning and I know that I am in good shape at the moment. However, I lost too much energy before the last climb, so I couldn’t attack as I had planned. I still caught Jerry Ahrlin, but that was it – I wasn’t able to fight for the victory. I stayed in Obertilliach after the Dolomitenlauf, but I will now get back home to my family before going to the König-Ludwig-Lauf. This is “my” race – I really like the finish, so I hope I can be in front again there!

Susanne Nyström (SWE):
It was an amazing feeling to pass the finish line as the first woman and to get the wreath. Jenny and me we worked together very well the whole way through – only at the last uphill, everyone was on her own. I felt good at the start, but I wasn’t sure what it would be worth as you never know what happens in such a long race. And the last climb is very special. Either you arrive in a good condition and you can win or not. When I arrived at the bottom today, I thought, I have a good chance to win so I went for it – and I got it! I am really happy!

Jenny Hansson (SWE):
I have a little problem with my eye, maybe because I looked too much to Susanne?! (laughs) However, the race was really good. It was perfect team work. Susanne and I skied together the whole time and helped each other. It was really fun to race and I really enjoyed skiing, even though it was a hard and tough race. Maybe this was also because we gave each other energy?! I am very happy for Susanne and for her victory and I am also very happy for my second place. To be the leader in the overall FIS Marathon Cup has been one of my goals this season, however, the season it not yet over, so let’s see how the other races go. I will definitely fight for the victory.

Stephanie Santer (ITA):
Right after the start I fell down and had huge problems to even get up again as people were standing on my skis and pushed from behind, but when I finally stood up and people were shouting at me “Stephi you are great, you can do it”, I thought, well I have to give it a try – if they believe in my, I won’t let them down. And throughout the race I recovered pretty fine. I pushed a lot outside the tracks as my skis seemed to be better outside them and I also did a lot of double polling. When I came to the final climb, I just gave everything I had left in me and it worked! I am so happy. I didn’t know the climb before, therefore I walked it up yesterday evening – but then it seemed to be longer than today somehow. But maybe that’s because people were encouraging you the whole way and were shouting your name – that really helped to give your last bit!


CBC to Broadcast Tour de Ski Highlights – Jan. 21-22

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January 18, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – Calling all cross country ski racing fans! The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has announced that it will broadcast highlights of the 2012 Tour de Ski this weekend, including Alex Harvey’s silver medal performance in the 8th stage in Val di Fiemme and the final climb up the Alpe Cermis.

The broadcast will feature commentary by Scott Russell and colour analyst Jack Sasseville (SkiTrax columnist) this Saturday, January 21st at 3:00pm ET. Relive the highlights of the race, including Devon Kershaw’s historic 4th place overall finish.

CBC’s broadcast schedule for the Tour de Ski:

CBC TV broadcast schedule:
– Sat. Jan. 21 @ 15:00-17:00 ET LIVE
CBC Sports Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

– Sun. Jan. 22 @ 00:30-02:30 LOCAL
CBC Sports Late Night – Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

cbcsports.ca broadcast schedule:
– Sat. Jan. 21 @ 15:00-17:00 ET LIVE
Championship Cross Country Skiing: Tour de Ski 2012

View the full CBC sports broadcast schedule HERE.

Randall and Diggins Reflect on History-making Milan Team Sprint

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January 16, 2012 (Milan, Italy) – It was a historic day for North American’s female skiers at the FIS WCup 6×1.4km free team sprints in Milan on Sunday, with both the U.S. and Canadian squads sharing the podium in the silver and bronze medal positions, respectively. The Swedish duo of Hanna Brodin and Ida Ingemardsdotter scored gold.

This was Jessie Diggins first Team Sprint ever so landing on the podium was uber-special for the Afton, MN native. She suffered two crashes during the competition but dusted herself off, kept her cool, and came back for more.

For Randall it was another brick in the wall as the Sprint WCup leader continues her march toward claiming the Red Leader’s bib for good this season – with six events remaining and a strong lead in the series things are looking up for Randall.

SkiTrax spoke with the U.S. team’s Randall and Diggins after their silver-lined effort and learned how they overcame a fumbled exchange to regain their medal spot. We reached Randall first by email (see below) then caught both in the team car as they jetted out of Milan on their way to Seiser Alm for a break and some training before the upcoming WCup in Otepaa, Estonia this coming weekend – great team pic HERE.

Jessie Diggins

Kikkan Randall

Congrats on an amazing day. How was the start?
Kikkan Randall: The start was good, pretty uneventful. Jessie started near the back but did a good job of getting right in the pack.

How congested was it on the Milan course?
KR: It was definitely pretty narrow, and without any major terrain changes, everyone was going the same speed and it was hard to pass.

How were your skis today and conditions on the track?
KR: Conditions were much firmer and faster than yesterday. Our skis were running really well. We each raced on our two fastest pairs.

You and Jessie have never raced together like this – what kind of prep did you do?
KR: Yeah, we hadn’t raced together before and Jessie had actually never even done a team sprint before. So we talked strategy before the race, Sadie passed along some advice from Ddorf, and we practiced some tags in the warmup.

It’s hard to predict these kinds of races, but did things play out as you expected?
KR: More or less, yes. There was a lot of teams changing places, depending on tags and crashes, etc. We wanted to get in a good position early and then move up through the race.

The exchanges are crucial – can you describe the tension and feeling during the exchanges?
KR: The exchange zone was really close coming off the final turn, so it was always hard to line up for your teammate. Everyone was coming in so fast and together that it was hard to navigate without collisions.

What happened on the crash exchange?
KR: I think another skier cut right in front of Jessie just before the tag. I was already accelerating, thinking we were about to have an awesome tag, when I felt Jessie crash into me. I didn’t feel the hand to body contact though so I had to stop and go backwards toward her. She fell again as we tagged, but we got the right contact this time and I had to charge after the pack, which had already turned the corner.

What was going thru your mind as you tried to catch the pack?
KR: I knew I still had a shot to get back up there, so I chased hard to make up the gap. Just as I got on the back, the pace picked up again and I had to dig one more level.

Jessie really got after it on her final lap and then we nailed the final tag, which shot me into the lead going into the final leg. I didn’t really want to lead, but I tried to keep the pace high to hopefully wear out some of the others.

On the final stretch, did you think you could catch Ingemarsdotter?
KR: She made a good acceleration with 200m to go and got a little gap. I tried to close back up, but the finish stretch was so fast today and my legs were pretty flooded.

Did you know Chandra had moved up so well and was now challenging you?
KR: I didn’t realize it was Chandra coming up until we were meters from the line. Really awesome to see her have such a strong finish. I had to make a big lunge to hold her off.

It’s got to feel good to land another Team Sprint silver and make history with Team Canada?
KR: At our joint camp in Alaska last summer, we talked a lot about getting more North Americans on the podium and so it was great to get the double podium today. It’s really a symbol of how far we’ve come!

Canada’s Crawford and Jones Comment on Winning Historic Team Sprint Bronze in Milan

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January 16, 2012 (Milan, Italy) – Canada’s Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford won bronze in the women’s 6×1.4km team sprint FIS WCup in Milan on Sunday – their first-ever medal together and Jones’ first time on the WCup podium.

The moment was made even more special by the fact that Jones and Crawford had the honour of sharing the limelight with their American friends, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, who grabbed the silver medal – a North American first.

But their medal was not a given however, as a crash in the semis by Jones put their spot in the finals in jeopardy. Ten teams of two skiers made it to the final, including the Canuck duo, who worked efficiently together in their exchanges and skied excellently to earn their podium spot.

“This feels great. Today our whole goal was to relax, stay on our feet and kick when it counts,” said 28-year-old Crawford. “It is dynamite to be on the podium with Peri. We are a real team out here and want each other to succeed and it is awesome to share this with her.”

Last season in Dusseldorf Crawford landed on the podium in the team sprint with teammate Daria Gaiazova taking home the bronze. In Saturday’s individual sprint Crawford was 7th and her bronze in Milan on Sunday was her second WCup medal this season, after she won silver in the individual freestyle sprint in Rogla, Slovenia in December.

Jones was 12th in the individual sprint matching her career-best finish on the World Cup earned in Stockholm, Sweden last season. Her first visit to a WCup podium is a dream come true for the Almonte, Ont. skier and SkiTrax caught up with Jones after the team sprint event:

You lead off today – how was the start?
Perianne Jones: The first lap was totally crazy, I crashed in our semi-final, so I was just trying to stay out of trouble and read the rest of the people around me to make sure that didn’t happen again. There were lots of broken poles, and crashing everywhere, but we stayed out of trouble.

Is this is your first Team Sprint with Chandra – what kind of prep did you do?
PJ: Chandra and I have teamed up a few times in Dusseldorf, so this wasn’t our first time racing together, but we just practiced our tags a few times, and chatted briefly, but we have total confidence in each other after training so many hours side by side, so we didn’t talk much just went out and did our thing.

How were your skis today and conditions on the track?
PJ: Skis were amazing today, our techs are the best. The track held up really well too, so it was super fast.

Talk about the congestion on the Milan course and your exchanges.
PJ: We totally nailed the exchanges today, in the semifinal we figured out what worked, and we stayed with it through the final, and were always making up places in the exchanges.

You’ve been making steady solid gains with your skiing – what are you doing differently?
PJ: Nothing drastically different, just building on the fitness I have and being able to handle more training.

This is your first-ever WCup podium – how special is it for you?
PJ: It feels pretty great to hit the podium, it’s been a goal for a long time, and it’s also great to share it with Chandra. We have been teammates for a long time, since we were juniors…and being up there with Kikkan and Jessie was a real bonus.

All the best Peri – we are really proud of you guys.
PJ: Thanks!

The Sasseville Report – Milan Sprints and Other Things

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January 16, 2012 – I’ve got to hand it to Juerg Capol and Vegard Ulvang from FIS. They truly have made an effort to bring cross-country skiing to the people of the world. The Tour de Ski with it’s various interesting stages concluding with a climb up a downhill slope is a great example of how they have turned what was once a boring sport to watch into something that is exciting for every kind of fan.

Another example of this is the city sprints like the ones in Milan, Italy, this past weekend. Milan rarely has snow and the Milanese usually have to travel a long way to ski. To bring the best sprinters in the world to this city is brilliant.

What is also brilliant is how well skiers from North American are doing on the World Cup this year. Kikkan Randall, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, and Chandra Crawford have all consistently been at the top of the results list and it has become a pleasure to report on their success this season.

As well, Len Valjas, Ivan Babikov, Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova from Canada as well as Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell, Sadie Bjoernson, Holly Brooks and now Jessie Diggins have also had good races and have scored World Cup points and in some cases have been on the podium.

Every week it seems that someone different from Canada or the US is standing on a podium. The most consistent has been Kikkan Randall who finished 2nd twice in Milan, once on her own in the individual sprint and a second time with young sensation Jessie Diggins in the team sprints.

Diggins had dominated the domestic racing scene in December after a stellar junior career. She is a legitimate talent who has the speed and endurance to be a star on the World Cup.

Chandra Crawford, after a 7th place in the individual sprints, hit the podium again this time with Perianne Jones in the team sprints where they finished right behind the Americans in 3rd. Chandra has been consistently in the top 10 over the past few races and is now a contender in every sprint race.

Len Valjas was the best of the North Americans in the individual sprints finishing in 14th. Simi Hamilton continues to improve finishing in 19th while Andy Newell continued to struggle in heats finishing in 26th after qualifying 8th.

Randall is showing incredible endurance by continuing to race in every World Cup. She has said that she wants to race every one and, barring illness, she will. She continues to lead the Sprint World Cup and sits 4th in the overall World Cup. I have stopped thinking of her as a sprinter. She is now a great overall skier who can succeed in any race.

Kershaw, Harvey and Babikov have taken a much needed rest this week before returning to the World Cup circuit next week in Otepaa, Estonia. There will be classic sprints on Saturday followed by classic individual start distance races on Sunday. The course in Otepaa is one of the hardest in the world and it is one where the best classic skiers and climbers in the world can shine.

This race is another example of how the FIS has created a World Cup circuit for everyone. It appeals to the traditional fan who likes to see an individual start and classic technique race like the old days – 15 years ago!

One last question that I would like to ask all of you – do you think that the Tour de Ski with 8 races over 11 days is as hard as a professional cycling tour that would be the same number of races? Do you think that it is as hard as the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia? And finally what makes it harder or easier?

Russia Wins Men’s Team Sprint in Milan

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January 15, 2012 (Milan, Italy) – The Russian duo of Alexey Petukhov and Nikolay Morilov scored the win in the men’s 6×1.4km free men’s team sprint at the FIS WCup Sunday in Milan. Sweden’s Calle Halvarsson and Teodor Peterson took the silver medal, while, to the delight of the Italian crowd, David Hofer (ITA) and Fulvio Scola (ITA) sprinted to bronze.

The U.S. squad of Andy Newell and Simeon Hamilton did not advance to the final, finishing off with a 19th-place ranking. No Canadian team was entered in the event.

Results HERE.

Brooks Blog: The Penultimate Race of the Tour de Ski

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January 11, 2012 (Toblach, Italy) – Oh Italy….. I am finally back in connectivity after no Internet for days. There is a theory that Internet is especially sparse in Italy due to some Mafia thing but that has yet to be confirmed. Alas, my apologies for those of you that have checked back only to find my blog without recent updates. It’s been out of my control, for sure! (This also creates a huge back log in correspondence so if I haven’t written you back yet, this is why!)

This afternoon we have our second to last race of the Tour, a 10k classic mass start race at Val di Fiemme. I will make this post brief because I need to get ready but I really want to get something up to let you all know what has been going on.

As I’m sure some of you have seen or read in other publications, I took a slip on the ice Christmas day while running in Ramsau, Austria. It’s taken a while to get a proper diagnosis…. this has included lots of fitful reading on wikipedia, Web MD, and all of those other scary Internet sources where you diagnose yourself and then continue to have nightmares…. However, I was finally able to get both an x-ray and MRI, mid-tour in Oberstdorf, Germany. We were able to deal with an Orthopedic specialist but lots of the medical lingo was lost in translation and there was a fair amount of uncertainty- plus, we were literally trying to get on the road to arrive at the next stage of the Tour. It was quite a debacle of a day but more on that later.

The conclusion from the MRI is/was that I have a non-dislocated fracture of the distal radius bone. They were initially worried about the scaphoid-lunate ligament as well but that appears to be okay which is terrific news.

The second I fell on the ice I knew that something was terribly wrong. My hand was extremely swollen and my range of motion was poor. Christmas was literally 4 days before the beginning of the Tour and it was hard to know what to do. Since then, I have been racing every day, doing my best to compete. While my results have been extremely sub-par, I feel the need to complete the Tour. I’ve worked so hard to get here – and there are so many people who have helped me out along the way. I know there are a handful of other skiers from the US who would have loved to have the start opportunity and I feel the need to represent the US. I often wonder if the decision to keep racing is tough or just plain stupid. I was concerned about the potential of permanent damage to my arm but have been told since that it’s probably just pro-longing my recovery period.

Coming into the Tour my goals included fighting for a top ten stage results and finishing in the top 20 overall. While those goals are completely out of the question now, I continue to race because each time I put a bib on, I learn something valuable. With each stage of the Tour has come another World Cup start, another experience at a new venue, and some pointers and direction towards my results here (hopefully) next year, not to mention later this season.

Also, Val di Fiemme, (where we are now) is the site of the 2013 World Championships so while I’m racing today, I will literally be trying out the course for next year’s Championships. After yesterday’s “inspection ski” I was really psyched – I think the courses suit me well and it gives me a ton of direction for summer and fall training.

I promise a more complete update with tons of pictures soon. In the meantime, THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SUPPORTED MY JOURNEY!!!! YOU ALL MEAN THE WORLD TO ME AND I WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL! This injury has been especially difficult in that part of me feels like I’ve let some of you down but I’ve been told that I cannot think that way… and I know I can’t. Nonetheless, THANK YOU and I will continue to do my best to represent you all and get some stories and photos as soon as I possibly can!


Bjoergen Takes Over TdS Race Lead on Stage 7 – Randall Now 5th

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January 05, 2012 (Cortina, Italy) – Marit Bjoergen (NOR) finally claimed the red leader’s bib over her closest rival Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) on Stage 7 of the 2012 Tour de Ski, a 15km free race with handicap start. The two were tied at three wins apiece before the stage, but at the end of the day, Bjoergen edged ahead grabbing the win and the leader’s bib for the first time during the nine-stage contest.

While it’s a small margin of seven seconds it’s the first time Bjoergen has ever been the Tour’s overall leader. She is now poised to become the first Norwegian to win the TdS. Team mate Therese Johaug (NOR) raced in a lonely limbo, maintaining her third place ranking and finished +3:16.9 behind.

The USA’s Kikkan Randall had a solid day, finishing fifth after starting fourth. She didn’t have the best first half but as her engine warmed up she picked up the pace. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) caught and passed her on the second lap to claim fourth on the day and is now 4th overall. Randall won a hard-fought race for fifth in an all-out sprint with Marthe Kristoffersen (NOR) and Charlotte Kalla (SWE), who settled for sixth and seventh, respectively.

Temperatures on race day were a comfortable minus 3 C when Kowalczyk pushed off first, 4.8s ahead of Bjoergen, who proceeded to bridge to her. Together, Kowalczyk and Bjoergen maintained their head-to-head battle over the entire 15km distance, neither able to shake the other.

When Bjoergen launched an attack on the second lap, Kowalczyk responded, refusing to be shaken. The race was decided in the final metres, when Kowalczyk made a small technical mistake, allowing Bjoergen to surge away and gain precious seconds for the win and the overall lead.

Johaug, in third place overall, now trails the leader by 3:20 and will have a hard time making up lost ground on the final two stages of the Tour. Randall also has her work cut out as she is 15 seconds from Lahteenmahki in fourth but is being hunted closely by Kristoffersen at only four-tenths of a second behind. In fact, sixth through 11th place are all within a minute of the American.

Women’s 15km FR results HERE.
Women’s 15km FR results detail HERE.
Women’s TdS Overall HERE.

Cologna Breaks Northug on TdS Queen Stage 7 – Strong Kershaw Still 4th Overall

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January 05, 2012 (Cortina, Italy) – Switzerland’s Dario Cologna pulled away from Petter Northug of Norway on Stage 7, the Tour de Ski’s Queen Stage, a 32km point-to-point freestyle race, breaking his Norwegian rival with a convincing win.

Cologna, who was in a league of his own today, turned what had been a meagre 13.5-second lead into a much more significant gap of one minute and 28 seconds. Skiing alone out front for all but a few minutes of the the race, Cologna stopped the clock at 1:09:25.2.

Canada’s Devon Kershaw, had a strong race as well posting the third fastest time finishing 4th on the day, to retain his 4th place overall position. Kershaw looked smooth and skied much of the day at the front of the chase group of five skiers that formed behind Cologna in the latter half of the gruelling race.

“This is a race I have been thinking about all year for 365 days. I was so nervous last night and this morning it was unreal,” said the 29-year-old Kershaw. “This is probably the best skate-ski race I have ever had.  I couldn’t have imagined to have skied this strong.”

His teammate Alex Harvey, who was skiing with a second chase group, also had a good day, managing to hold onto 9th overall, although he lost a few seconds and is currently at 3:07.8 behind Cologna.

While Northug managed to hold on for second in today’s stage, he struggled early on and is now in a dogfight to stay on the podium at this year’s Tour. Cologna led out today’s handicap-start race with a 13.5-second lead over the Norwegian but Northug charged after him and quickly closed the gap. His push cost him tho’ as his Swiss rival accelerated soon after Northug caught him but the Norwegian could not match Cologna’s pace and quickly faded.

Northug was soon caught by Russia’s Alexander Legkov and the two skied together over the top of the long initial climb at 11.5km. The duo was eventually caught at about the 22km mark by a chase group of three that included Kershaw, Marcus Hellner (SWE), and Maurice Magnificat (FRA).

Entering the stadium just over a minute after Cologna crossed the line, the chase group of five was left to battle for the final two spots on today’s podium and the bonus seconds that came with them. Northug, who had been lurking at the back most of the time, showed off his classic finishing speed and out-sprinted the small pack to the line, followed by Legkov and Kershaw.

Cologna retains his overall lead in the Tour, but gave up time to all of his nearest rivals except Northug. There are now five skiers within a minute and half of Cologna, with two hard and decisive stages to go.

Also having a good day today was the USA’s Kris Freeman, who finished 42nd to moved up to 29th overall at 6:48.3 behind Cologna. Canada’s Ivan Babikov also skied well to move up from 43rd to 35th today and sits 6:56.1 behind the race leader.

Men’s 35km results HERE.
Men’s 35km results detail HERE.
Men’s TdS Overall HERE.

Legkov Victorious at TdS Stage 5 as Cologna Now Leads – Kershaw Top North American in 18th

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January 03, 2012 (Toblach, Italy) – Russia’s Alexander Legkov finally broke through for his first podium of the season, a victory in today’s 5th stage of the Tour de Ski, an individual start 5km classic race in Toblach, Italy. Legkov finished today’s race in 13:49.5. Norway’s Eldar Roenning came in 2nd at 1.7 seconds followed by Dario Cologna (SUI) in third at 2.0 seconds back as he takes over the race lead from Norway’s Petter Northug was a little off the pace today, finishing in 12th.

The Russians were out in force in today’s race and surely nailed the wax or made the best of their zero skis, after placing six men in the top 11. Canada’s Devon Kershaw lead the North American men placing 18th as he finished 24.6 seconds behind Legkov. His teammate Alex Harvey had a bit of an off day, placing 29th at 37.5 seconds back of the leader. Ivan Babikov, who is nursing an injured arm after crashing in the Skiathon on Jan. 1, finished in 72nd place.

It was another tough day for the US team as well, with Simi Hamilton pulling out the Tour prior to today’s race, the victim of a stomach virus, according to Head Coach Chris Grover. The sole remaining US man in the Tour, Kris Freeman, finished 52nd on the day.

Cologna moves into the overall Tour lead after today, while Northug drops to 2nd, followed by Legkov in 3rd. Legkov’s victory today, including a 15-second time bonus for the win, has closed the gap to Northug  to less than 30 seconds, so the Tour is beginning to look more like a three-man race.  Kershaw holds onto 5th place, while Harvey has dropped to 15th overall after today’s disappointing result.

5km CL results HERE.
Tour de Ski Overall HERE.

Canadian Men’s Team – Livigno Update Video

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December 05, 2011 (Livigno, Italy) – Canada’s Devon Kershaw just tweeted this entertaining video of the men’s National XC Ski team in Livigno, Italy. Viewers are treated to wine-tasting with Alex Harvey and clips of the team training, all with some great background beats. Check it out.

Sweden Bullish on 2012

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October 27, 2011 (Italy) – A high altitude training camp of the Swedish cross country ski team is coming to an end and Swedish coaches are satisfied with it. Running, cycling, roller skiing and strength training at 1800 meters were on the training schedule of the first week in Livigno.

The camp continued with seven days at 2,000-3,000 meters altitude in Val Senales and glacier skiing every day. Thin air, hard work and stress – what it takes to become an even better national team.

“We have been constantly developing both as individuals and as a group. Autumn high altitude has given us a lot. We are looking towards the season with confidence. What we have seen and experienced by the active attitude and performance during the camp week in the Italian Alps makes us look forward to the season with confidence. It is a hungry bunch who bit down and have shown what they want,” head coaches Joakim Abrahamsson and Richard Grip said.

The training load has been calibrated so that athletes do not go over the limit. “It must not be too much. The athletes have different training backgrounds and differing abilities to handle heavy loads at high altitude over time. Therefore we have chosen to send home some of younger skiers. Calle Halfvarsson, Hanna Falk, Hanna Brodin and Jesper Modin had cut short the camp three days before the others who traveled home on Wednesday,” coaches revealed.

“We want our skiers to be fresh and active at the next camp, which begins the first week in November. The quartet went home and had done a good job. They will have a little more time to recharge their batteries,” the coaches say.

Anna Haag also left Val Senales, slightly sick. “It is the coach’s responsibility not to let the athlete “run down” or walk around with cold,” the coaches explained.

Weather was on the side of the cross country squad and the team could carry out the training program as planned. “Although we are now done here in the Alps and the athletes are tired, their minds are positive,” Joakim Abrahamsson comments while waiting for Marcus Hellner and Anders Sodergren to come back from a demanding long ride.

In the meantime, recovery of Emil Jönsson and Johan Olsson has gone well in Sweden. Emil Joensson pulled his thigh muscle in Livigno and Johan Olsson developed a problem with a shoulder before the trip to Italy. “Both of them are in training, but do not run up,” Joakim Abrahamsson says.

Magda Genuin Retires from World Cup Racing

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October 26, 2011 – Elite Italian cross-country ski racer Magda Genuin, 32, recently announced on her personal website her intention to retire from World Cup racing. In the post, Genuin wrote that she returned early from a training camp in Val Senales after making her decision after a successful 11-year career, which included four World Cup individual podiums and a fifth-place finish at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

“It is not a bolt from the blue, already last spring as I anticipated that I would need to find a period of stimulation and see if I still had the ability to return after the disappointment of how things had gone to the World Championships in Oslo,” Genuin wrote about her decision (translated from Italian via Google Translate).

“I leave the World Cup, but I do not leave cross-country skiing, because it’s what I’ve done all my life and I still like to ski, but now I will only do for me!” she added.

Read the full article on the FIS website HERE.
Read Genuin’s announcement HERE (Italian).

Sweden’s Joenssen Cuts Training Camp Short Due to Injury

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October 19, 2011 (Livigno, Italy) – Top Swedish sprinter Emil Joenssen was forced to leave team camp in Livigno, Italy early when he sustained a thigh injury during training. “I was on the camp in the Italian Livigno and had a great time with the rest of the team and the training was perfect! Then, on Friday afternoon we were doing a special training in order to get in more “into it”. That is, you start with an easy pace and then you increase the speed up to maximum speed. And during my second round the back of my thigh cramps and I fall to the ground and simply felt something was not right,” Emil Joensson explained on his website.

Emil Joensson returned quickly to Sweden and underwent in Oestersund several medical check ups including a MRI that revealed the cause of an injury. “As it turned out, the injury was smaller than what we had thought and it is a small simple burst within the back of the thigh up towards the bum. An incredible small little bugger which isn’t at all as serious but you don’t want to go on and burden it too fast due to the risk to turn it into a more severe injury,” Joensson reveals.

Expected recovery time remains unknown. “It will take weeks before I am fully back in action,” Joensson confirms. With the season kick off round the corner the Small Crystal Globe winner is not laying down his arms. “I have to adjust my training not to put on myself inappropriate load. So it is looking like a fun break in training having the chance to try out some new training variations,” Joensson claims.

First FIS XC World Cup in Toblach – History of an Event

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September 13, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – One of the most interesting stages of next FIS Tour de Ski will be the one in Toblach/Dobbiaco ITA. During three days, six races will be carried out in this relatively small village in Pustertal. In my article I will use the German name Toblach (there is also Italian version Dobbiaco).

As Toblach has become a frequent organizer in the FIS Tour de Ski it may be interesting for you to know how Toblach organized their first World Cup Competition. We have to go back to season 1987/88 and (as always) the winter was warm in Middle Europe. And perhaps some of you remember that the relay race Dec. 19 in Davos was cancelled due to the fact that the Swiss TV did not want to cover the competition, as the snow situation was very poor. As you had seen before, the men and the ladies competed sometimes at different resorts the same weekend.

The weekend Jan 15-16 was scheduled for Klingenthal DDR for women and Strbske Pleso TCH for men. It was still warm and we had to make changes of the program in Ski jumping as well as in Nordic Combined. The snow situation in Klingenthal did not allow any World Cup competition taking place and no substitute resort could be found in DDR. As always FISI (the Italian Ski Federation), was interested to take it over. The secretary general of FISI Angelo Vergani informed me that Cogne or Toblach were candidates to host the competition and he recommended Toblach. I remembered that I had met a person from Toblach, Herbert Santer, at the men’s Mass-start race in Kastelruth three weeks earlier. He asked me what he should do so that Toblach could become the organizer of a World Cup race in the future. Who could know at that time that the future was within three weeks?

I called Franco Nones, the representative of Italy and asked him to check the possibilities.

The answer was positive and after having involved our decision makers Gian Franco Kasper FIS General Secretary, Odd Martinsen Cross-Country Committee and Stig Roland Bergqvist World Cup Committee, we decided that Toblach would organize its first World Cup event.

This was the paper work, now to reality – how to organize a World Cup race in Toblach?

The OC of Toblach consisted of persons with experiences from the popular cross-country race Cortina-Toblach and from a number of Alpen Cup competitions. You must also be aware of the reality at that time. The weekend January 15-16 was the last competition before the opening of the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary/Canmore 1988, which started February 14. That meant that one month was reserved for preparations before the games.

The key persons were Herbert Santer as Chief OC, Elvira Bachmann as competition secretary and Karl Walder as Chief of track. The TD was Madeleine Vion FRA. With excitement we waited for the teams but which nations would come? SOV and FIN did not come and NOR came with a B-team.

The preparations were underway and I remember that we had troubles with how to improve an uphill.

However at the end we had fantastic competitions with many engaged spectators and a new organizer was born. At last I want to mention one thing that happened during the team captains meeting that never will happen again. The technical delegate suddenly asked is it okay that we will start at 09.30? One captain said that is more convenient to start at 10.00. And that was confirmed by Madeleine Vion the Technical delegate without any control. Such things could occur as late as 1988.

Simone Greiner Petter DDR won before the Swedes Anna Lena Fritzon and Marie Helen Westin. In the relay SWE, DDR and NOR were the three best.

For me personally I got a close friendship through the years with the Family Santer with the parents Herbert and Live and the three daughters Natalie, Saskia and Stephanie.

Thank you Toblach and good luck for the future.

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.


Val di Fiemme Hosts FIS Rollerski Technical Delegate Seminar

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June 20, 2011 (Val di Fiemme, Italy) – The FIS Rollerski World Cup kicks off next week in Bessand, France. On June 11-12, rollerski technical delegates met in Val di Fiemme at a seminar. Eleven participants from seven countries were warmly welcomed in Val di Fiemme, which will host FIS Nordic World Championships 2013 and also became organizer of the FIS Rollerski World Championships in 2015. Participants of the seminar got an update on rollerski rules and talked about challenges in organizing of rollerski competitions. Technical delegates also inspected possible Rollerksi World Championships courses for 2015. Final part of the seminar was reserved to examinations and three participants got FIS Rollerski TD license.

Oslo 2011 Debriefs Val di Fiemme 2013

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May 12, 2011 (Cavalese, Italy) – The traditional debrief by the Oslo 2011 team for the benefit of the upcoming Organizers in Val di Fiemme 2013 took place in Cavalese, the administrative center of Val di Fiemme, on 5th and 6th May. The Norwegian group was led by the Oslo 2011 CEO, Asne Havnelid along with Sports Director John Aalberg and Finance Director Stein Opsal. Delegations from FIS and Falun 2015 (SWE) also attended along with representatives of the European Broadcasting Union, the Fiemme 2013 host broadcaster RAI and EBU’s marketing partner Tridem Sports.

In a candid exchange of their lessons learned, the Oslo 2011 team especially highlighted the challenges of dealing with more than 1.2 million spectators that needed to be transported and managed. They also noted the great efforts by the organizers and the city of Oslo stage the World Championships as eco-friendly as possible, such as using bio-diesel only for all buses. The Oslo 2011 representatives praised the great cooperation from the Fiemme 2013 team for the Casa Trentino Fiemme 2013 in Oslo during the event. Oslo 2011 also looks as though it will be a financial success.

The 6th meeting of the Coordination Group for Fiemme 2013 followed the Oslo 2011 debrief. Since the previous meeting in October, the Fiemme 2013 team took full opportunity of the winter’s World Cup season, especially the 5th FIS Tour de Ski, to further test promotional and organizational concepts such as the South Nordic Festival in Cavalese and the Rampa con i Campioni popular race on Alpe Cermis. The renovation projects at the Cross-Country Ski Center in Lago di Tesero and the Ski Jumping stadium in Predazzo have advanced well and are on schedule for the first tests during the coming winter. Next season, the official test events in all Nordic disciplines, including the first ladies Ski Jumping events are planned in Val di Fiemme. The Fiemme 2013 team also revealed plans for the opening ceremony that will take place in the historical city center of Trento, 60 km from Cavalese, on 20th February 2013.

Sarah Lewis, FIS Secretary General commented: “Every time we return to Val di Fiemme we are newly impressed by the level of preparedness and energy to embark on new initiatives to create a festival spirit at the Championships With less than two years to go, we can already be excited about the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Fiemme in 2013, which will have a special focus on servicing the athletes and teams in many new ways.”

For more information visit www.fiemme2013.com

FIS Seminars – Homologation May 20-22 and Roller Skiing June 11-12

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April 30, 2011 – FIS will be presenting a cross-country homologation seminar in Falun, Sweden from May 20-22, 2011. The core content will include group works in order to design a venue that will promote the Cross-Country sport in the best way, and thus attract spectators and media to the venue during competitions and TV viewers to switch on their TV equipment.The aim of this seminar is three-fold:

– to provide re-certification to existing Homologation Inspectors,
– to train new FIS and National Homologation Inspectors and
– to provide education to those who design cross-country skiing facilities that will be used for any level of competition.

This seminar is purposely set on the 2015 FIS WSC venue in Falun so that an understanding of the processes of redeveloping trails in order to adapt them to the competition formats that are now included in the WSC Cross-Country program.

Click HERE for more info.

FIS TD Seminar for Roller Skiing
FIS is also hosting a TD Seminar for Roller Skiing June  11-12 in Val di Fiemme, Italy. Deadline for registration is June 5.

For information click HERE.

Watch Devon Kershaw’s First WCup WIN at the Tour de Ski Italy

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March 23, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – Check out this fantastic video coverage of Devon Kershaw’s (CAN) first World Cup victory during Stage 5 of the 2011 Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. He beat out the world’s best sprinters with the ultimate breakthrough performance that paved the way for a historic season in Canadian men’s XC skiing, including a gold medal in the Team Sprint with teammate Alex Harvey at the Nordic World Championships, at the famous Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway.

Berger 4-for-4 at 12.5km IBU Mass Start – Spector 29th UPDATED

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January 24, 2011 (Antholz, Italy) – Norway’s Tora Berger won her fourth consecutive individual competition on Sunday, netting the top podium spot in the women’s 12.5km Mass Start at the IBU World Cup in Antholz. Berger narrowly edged out Marie Laure Brunet of France to win by a mere .6 seconds after hitting 18 of 20 targets from the range.

“I left the stadium with Kuzmina and was only trying to be third,” Berger told Biathlonworld.com, “Then I was going so fast and saw the other two people in front of me. So I tried to fight the hardest that I could. . . I just fought with all I had at that point. I was strong enough.”

Brunet, who was chasing down her first ever World Cup win before Berger spoiled the party, settled for 2nd place after a one-miss performance. Bulgaria’s Darya Domracheva was the only racer to hit all 20 targets on the day, grabbing the last podium spot with a time of 34:02.1.

“This place seems to be lucky for me. I really like the nature and the tracks,” said Domracheva post race, “I was very happy with my shooting today, after five penalties in the sprint. But I was disappointed in my skiing. I did not have the best skis, as fast as some of the others.”

Laura Spector, the lone North American, finished 29th after a 5-miss performance that gave her a finishing time of 38:33.5.

“I felt so tired today, my legs were really heavy. I can’t believe that I missed the last shot, but that happens,” commented Spector in a US Biathlon report. “It’s really good to have a break now to recover a bit.”

The weather, which has been nothing short of perfect most of the week, continued to create a great environment for the racers. The skies were clear and the course was hard packed and fast.

Results HERE.

Results (brief)

1. Tora Berger, NOR (0+1+0+1) 33:56.3
2. Laure Marie Brunet, FRA (0+0+0+1) 33:56.9
3. Darya Domracheva, BLR (0+0+0+0) 34:02.1

29. Laura Spector, USA (1+1+1+2)

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

TdS Stage 8 Final Alpe Cermis Men – More Photos

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January 10, 2011 (Alpe Cermis, Italy) – Check out these great photos from Stage 8 of the 2011 TdS. The final stage of the Tour was a 9km uphill pursuit won by Lucas Bauer (CZE). The overall Tour win went to Dario Cologna (SUI), followed by Petter Northug (NOR) in second and Bauer third. Canadians Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey, who throughout the Tour have posted some of their country’s most impressive World Cup results ever, finished in 7th and 10th respectively overall – read the full story on the final stage HERE.

Tour de Ski Stage 8 Final Alpe Cermis Climb Women – More Photos

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January 10, 2011 (Alpe Cermis, Italy) – Here are some more fantastic photos from the 9km uphill handicap start pursuit women’s race in Alpe Cermis, Italy, the final stage of the 2011 TdS. The stage was won by Therese Johaug (NOR), but it was Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) who won the overall Tour to claim her second consecutive TdS title. Kikkan Randall (USA) was the first North American woman to successfully complete the TdS. She finished 21st overall – read more on the final stage HERE.

Cologna Wins TdS Overall as Bauer Powers to 3rd – Kershaw 7th and Harvey 10th

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January 9, 2010 (Alpe Cermis, Italy) – It’s over. The 5th annual FIS Tour de Ski finished atop Italy’s Alpe Cermis today, crowning Swiss super star Dario Cologna as the best all-round ski racer in the world. Cologna had little trouble defending his commanding lead on the 9km uphill climb.

Norway’s Petter Northug claimed 2nd over all, but the real story was Czech Lucas Bauer’s phenomenal display of climbing prowess. Like Therese Johaug (NOR) in the women’s race Bauer hurled himself up the mountain, posting the fastest time of the day and vaulted himself from 10th to 3rd in the over all.

Canadians Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey, who throughout the Tour have posted some of their country’s most impressive World Cup results ever, finished in 7th and 10th respectively overall.

In come-from-behind moves of their own, Canadian Ivan Babikov and US skier Kris Freeman posted impressive results on the final day. Both skiers have struggled during the Tour, but today they left that all behind, skiing together and snagging the 6th and 7th fastest times of the day respectively – Babikov ended up 21st overall and Freeman was 28th.

For Freeman having the 7th best time up Alpe Cermis behind Babikov in 6th was a final coup for him at the Tour and retribution for yesterday’s waxing debacle in the 20km classic.

“For sure today was an attempt to make good on yesterday which was a 19-km sufferfest. I felt good going into the 20km on Stage 7 but knew after the first kilometre I knew that I was in trouble – it was a frustrating day out there and no one felt good about it.”

An interesting twist to Freeman’s day was forgetting his transponders, “a rookie move” as he put it. “I was distracted today because of yesterday and some personal issues and only realized at 1.5km into today’s race that I’d forgotten my transponders – a rookie move. Chris [Grover, Head Coach] appealed to the jury later and I was super lucky that they understood and allowed my day to count.”

For the first few kilometres of the race things stayed relatively calm. At 3.5km Harvey was skiing very well, having moved into 3rd behind Cologna and Northug with Kershaw in 6th. But by the 5.6km mark, Harvey had been overtaken by Italy’s Roland Clara and France’s Jean Marc Gaillard who had passed Kershaw now in 7th… as Bauer lurked behind in 10th.

Nothing much changed by the next interval at 6.5km but soon after everything did. Just as the skiers hit the toughest point on this toughest of courses, Bauer dropped the hammer and suddenly attacked vaulting himself into 3rd by the 7.4km mark. From there, it was all about masochism, and Bauer certainly knows how to punish himself.

So too, does Babikov, who last year took the win in the Tour’s final hill climb. The former Russian skier, and veteran of three tours said he felt strong on today’s stage.

“I always felt pretty confident on this stage,” said Babikov. “I knew I had a chance for a good time on the day, so I went for it hoping to get some points.”

He said this year’s edition of the challenging stage was especially tough.

“Every year it seems longer, or maybe I’m just getting older. Either way, it’s tough. Some places are very narrow and it’s hard to pass. With the 6th fastest time, I’m happy,” commented Babikov.

Devon Kershaw was quick to agree with his teammate.

“Hill climbing is super hard,” said Kershaw. “I moved into 7th, and I’m happy to have stayed in the top 10. Losing time in the overall is a little disappointing, but with four podiums and such solid races, we must have done some good training.”

With one bronze, two silvers and a gold medal from this Tour, Kershaw also takes home some significant prize money. Cologna will take home 150,000 Swiss Francs ($155,000US) for the overall win, with Northug picking up 100,000. Bauer get’s 50,000 thanks entirely to today’s powerful showing…not bad for a day’s work.

All told Kershaw will head back to Canada with 25,000 Swiss Francs. When asked about his plans for the cash, Kershaw joked, saying “The guys have been razzing me about my old ’96 Saab…maybe it’s time I passed it along and might get something newer in the spring.” A new set of wheels is certainly a well-deserved reward for Kershaw’s impressive results of late.

Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth couldn’t be happier with how this year’s Tour has gone.

“I knew Dev and the guys would ski well,” said Wadsworth. “They’ve been working hard. I thought one podium for sure, but four… I couldn’t have predicted that.”

U.S. coach Chris Grover was also gratified with Freeman’s solid day to end the Tour. “Considering our wax issues yesterday it was really important for Kris to have a good day – it was a great finish for him on good skis.”

Freeman heads to Munich later today and will be home tomorrow where he’ll take a short break and then prepare for the Nordic Worlds in Oslo in Feb.

Alex Harvey echoed his teammates enthusiasm for their accomplishments over 10 days of grueling racing.

“It’s like a circle,” he said. “Dev medals, and we all get pumped, and it pushes us. Then it happens again and it keeps coming around.”

Harvey posted some very strong splits early in today’s race, even taking over 3rd place for a short while.

“It was really good, I’m really happy with how my body felt. The real skiing, in the stadium and early on felt really good…but when I hit that wall, man, with all that off setting…my legs just cramped up. That climb is just so hard.”

Harvey also heaped praise on the coaching and wax staff, pointing out how well taken care of he, Devon and Ivan were.

“Justin’s been really good, pushing us on recovery and stuff like that. Having the bus was a huge advantage. It’s a great lounge for us after the races. We’ll have it again next year.” The Canadians may just be on to something. The tour bus has been such a hit that it’s likely other teams will follow suit.

For now, the Canucks are heading home. Kershaw and Babikov will head back to Canmore, and Harvey home to Quebec for a month of recovery and prep training before returning to Europe for World Championships. But Harvey will first make a quick stop at the U23 World Champs.

“It’s my last year U23,” he said. “And I want to use that. I’d like to go for a U23 World Champs title while I can.”

Men’s 9km Pursuit Results HERE.
Men’s 9km Pursuit finishing order HERE.
Final Overall HERE.
Final Overall detail HERE.

Johaug Destroys Alpe Cermis as Kowalczyk Defends her TdS Title – Randall 21st

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January 9, 2010 (Alpe Cermis, Italy) – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) claimed her second consecutive Tour title on Sunday but all eyes were on Norway’s Therese Johaug who put on a show of force as the fastest woman up Alpe Cermis this morning, dominating the final stage of the 2011 Tour de Ski.

Johaug flew up the 9km uphill handicap start pursuit course to take the win by over a minute ahead of second place finisher, teammate Marte Elden. Third place completed the Norwegian sweep, going to Marthe Kristoffersen.

Kowalczyk finished 4th on the day, good enough to become the first person to defend the overall title. Johaug’s stellar performance earned her 2nd overall, atop Italy’s Marianna Longa who finished 3rd.

Overall winner Kowalczyk started cautiously compared to Johaug, who started strong at 3:21 behind the leader in the handicap start race.   Johaug picked off racer after racer, passing Slovenia’s Petra Majdic by 3.5km. By 5.6km Johaug had overtaken Italy’s Arianna Follis to claim 3rd.  Her charge continued up the mountain, taking 2nd away from Longa by 7.4kms.

Closing in on the finish she was taking huge chunks out of Kowalczyk’s lead but wasn’t able to close the final 1:21 gap, though certainly not for lack of effort. Though she wasn’t able to take the overall away from Kowalczyk, Johaug still put in a 100,000 Swiss Frank performance, her prize for 2nd overall. Kowalczyk takes home 150,000 for the win and Longa got 50,000 for her trouble.

“It is a really good victory to me,” said Kowalczyk post-race in a FIS XC interview. “It has been 10 tough days. I am very happy about being on top of Alpe Cermis, and next week will be all about resting.”

Johaug was triumphant with second place. “I had a dream about finishing second today – my shape is really good and I had great skis. This is the best I have done in my career so far. It will be good to come home and take a break – Oslo is of course my dream of the season.”

With large chunks of change on the line, considering the shocking attrition rate for a race like this, it’s safe to say the winners earned it. Of the 58 women who began the Tour, only 32 finished.

Among them was top American sprinter, Kikkan Randall, who became the first American woman to complete the Tour de Ski, finishing 23rd on the day and 21st overall. Completing the Tour was a landmark in Randall’s career and her strong effort on the final Stage 8 up Alpe Cermis was uplifting compared to yesterday’s 10km classic.

“Yesterday was pretty disappointing so for sure I wanted to have a strong day to finish the Tour,” Randall told SkiTrax in a phone interview. “This is by far the toughest, hardest, steepest climb I’ve ever done – nothing compares. And to complete it after the last seven stages…whew – I’ve got a lot of respect for the women at the front.”

“Kikkan felt like she missed a few opportunities out there today,” said US head coach Chris Grover. “But overall she’s satisfied. The whole Tour has been a learning experience us. It’s the first time these guys have attempted it.”

Randall said she thinks the Tour is cool – she loves the different stages and the concept. In fact she told us the rest days were almost an intrusion. “I like the back-to-back racing and felt good each stage. It was hard to get going again after the rest days and almost felt like it was better not to have them. Now that I’ve completed the Tour I know what it takes. The mental element is huge – you need to dig in when you’re really tired – that’s the biggest part of the experience that I’m taking away from Tour.”

Randall, teammate Andy Newell and Grover will stay on in Val di Fiemme preparing for the upcoming WCup skate sprint in Liberec next weekend transferring there on Monday. She said she’ll take it easy over the next few days in preparation and looks forward to it and the possible match up against Norway’s Marit Bjoergen who sat out the Tour.

“I’m looking forward to the Liberec sprints after some rest. The next 2-3 sprints are all skating which is my strongest suit so I’ll be ready. Haven’t heard if Bjoergen will be in Liberec or not. But if I do get the chance to race her it will be sweet practice for Oslo!! Hope Follis and Majdic will be there too.”

Women’s 9km Pursuit Results HERE.
Women’s 9km Pursuit finishing order HERE.
Final Overall HERE.
Final Overall detail HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2010/11 Contest Standings after Toblach-Cortina

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January 07, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the standings after Toblach-Cortina for the SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2010/11 Contest. The current contest leader is jbskiin with 597 points and a very narrow two (2) point margin over 17 teams, all tied for second place with 575 points. Team les pitchounes is now ranked third with 572 points.

Congratulations to jbskiin the winner of our second Rest Day prize of a $100 $100 Gift Certificate to High Peaks Cyclery.

For the complete standings after Toblach-Cortina click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS TdS 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st PrizeRossignol Xium WCS2 skis/boots, Xcelerator skate bindings, One Way DS 10 poles (value $1,620)
*2nd Prize
Mont Ste-Anne – 2 nights lodging w/breakfast + 3-day XC gift certificate, tune-up (value $800)
*3rd Prize
Atomic WCup Classic boots (value $370)
*4th Prize
Swix Digital T72 Iron (value $350)
*5th Prize
Halti Blow Down two-piece race suit (value $270)
*6th Prize
– Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup 2011 jacket (value $200)
*7th Prize
Sporthill Women’s Summit top (value $140)
*8th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
*9th Prize
Skadi Package – BootBuddies, BootMates, BootDocks and Ski Scraper (value $90)
*10th Prize
Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

Rest Day Leader Prizes
*Jan. 4 – $100 Gift Certificate Fresh Air Experience
*Jan. 7 – $100 Gift Certificate High Peaks Cyclery

Thanks to FIS and all of our great sponsors including Rossignol, Mont Ste-Anne, Atomic, Swix, Halti, Masters World Cup 2011, Sporthill, Rottefella, Skadi, Auclair, Fresh Air Experience and High Peaks Cyclery….

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 Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2010/11 Contest Standings after Oberstdorf – REVISED

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January 07, 2011 (Toronto, ON) – Here are revised standings after Oberstdorf for the SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Tour de Ski 2010/11 Contest. After hearing from some contestants we investigated further and found other unexpected glitches. The contest leader after Oberstdorf is les pitchounes with 377 points followed by 17 teams all with 370 points making it a tight race. The maximum number of points after four stages is 391. Thanks for everyone’s input and patience and we apologize for the discrepancies. Look for the contest standings after Toblach-Cortina later today.

les pitchounes wins our first Rest Day prize – a $100 Gift Certificate to Fresh Air Experience.

For the complete revised standings after Oberstdorf click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS TdS 2010/11 Contest Prizes

*1st PrizeRossignol Xium WCS2 skis/boots, Xcelerator skate bindings, One Way DS 10 poles (value $1,620)
*2nd Prize
Mont Ste-Anne – 2 nights lodging w/breakfast + 3-day XC gift certificate, tune-up (value $800)
*3rd Prize
Atomic WCup Classic boots (value $370)
*4th Prize
Swix Digital T72 Iron (value $350)
*5th Prize
Halti Blow Down two-piece race suit (value $270)
*6th Prize
– Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup 2011 jacket (value $200)
*7th Prize
Sporthill Women’s Summit top (value $140)
*8th Prize
Rottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $130)
*9th Prize
Skadi Package – BootBuddies, BootMates, BootDocks and Ski Scraper (value $90)
*10th Prize
Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

Rest Day Leader Prizes
*Jan. 4 – $100 Gift Certificate Fresh Air Experience
*Jan. 7 – $100 Gift Certificate High Peaks Cyclery

Thanks to FIS and all of our great sponsors including Rossignol, Mont Ste-Anne, Atomic, Swix, Halti, Masters World Cup 2011, Sporthill, Rottefella, Skadi, Auclair, Fresh Air Experience and High Peaks Cyclery….

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).

Kowalczyk in Charge at TdS Cortina 15km Pursuit – Randall Strong in 15th

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January 06, 2011 (Cortina, Italy) – She may have had difficulties in yesterday’s sprint, but Poland’s Justyna Koxalczyk quickly sealed that chink in her armor by winning today’s 15km freestyle handicap start in Cortina, Italy, at stage 6 of the Tour de Ski

Kowalczyk took a page from the men’s race earlier in the day where winner Dario Cologna (SUI) got out of gate hard and never let up, staying out front from start to finish. Italy’s Arianna Follis and Marianna Longa claimed 2nd and 3rd at just over 22 seconds behind while Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla claimed 4th ahead of Petra Majdic (SLO) in 5th.

The USA’s Kikkan Randall also had a good day, moving up from 17th to 15th overall, a very solid result for the American sprinter.

“It was a really hard race and I am satisfied,” said Kowalczyk in a FIS XC post-race interview. “I hope the next race in Val di Fiemme will be OK as well, and then there is only Alpe Cermis left. Last year’s race in Val di Fiemme was not good for me, I hope this year will be better. Kalla, Follis, Longa, Majdic and Lahteenmaki are all contenders that can win the Tour de Ski, but I hope I can beat them.”

From the gun, it was clear this would be a race to catch Kowalczyk and it would not an easy task. Majdic also started hard, trailing Kowalczyk by only 39 seconds and ahead of Kalla who was 1:08 down.

By 5km Kowalczyk was still powering ahead while behind a small chase pack of four skiers had formed including Kalla, Majdic, Longa and Follis. About a minute behind them were two more chasers with Anna Haag (SWE) and the young Finn Krista Lahteenmaki hoping to bridge to the quartet.

The four chasers worked well together at first and were slowly chipping away at Kowalczyk’s lead until about 7.5km, when they started to lose ground.

By 10km Majdic couldn’t hold on, and was dropped as Kalla pushed hard at the front, trying to close the 51.8-second margin to Kowalczyk. Behind Haag shook off Lahteenmaki but the Finnish skier regained her composure and latched on to the Swede again soon after.

Kalla’s efforts paid off, as she, Follis and Longa cut Kowalczyk’s lead down to 25 seconds, leaving Majdic scrambling to recover with only 2.5km left to go.

Ultimately Kowalczyk proved too strong, and preserved her lead to take the win. On the finishing straight teammates Follis and Longa overtook Kalla, who had done most of the work, putting the Italians 2-3 behind the Kowalczyk. With that effort, Follis now moves into 2nd, at 27 seconds down on the leader. Longa holds onto third, 33 seconds down with Kalla and Majdic rounding out the top 5.

“It was a fun race today,” said Randall now in 15th overall. “I ended up in a big pack of 10 or so, so I tucked in with them for most of the race. In the last few kms I put on a few surges, which strung things out a bit.”

Over the last part of the race Randall found herself skiing close to Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgren who just barely nipped her at the line. Ironically it was Johansson Norgren who crashed in yesterday’s skate sprint women’s final and took down Randall as well.

The women’s races have been relatively short and incredibly high-paced, making for some grueling racing. That’s something that Randall said didn’t change despite today’s longer course. “The way the course skied with the climbs there were lots of surges followed by little recoveries, so it was still tough,” she continued in a phone interview with SkiTrax.

With a rest day tomorrow, the athletes will be preparing for Saturday’s classic race and Sunday’s final hill climb up Alpe Cermis.

“We’re planning on previewing the courses tomorrow,” said Randall. “We’ll check out the final climb by skiing it downhill and sort of see what’s in store for us.”

“We are very excited with Kikkan’s race,” said US coach Chris Grover in an email to SkiTrax. “She looked great. Fighting hard with lots of energy for so late in the Tour.”

Super Dario Wins as Harvey Takes 5th and Kershaw 10th at TdS 35km Pursuit UPDATED

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January 06, 2011 (Cortina, Italy) – Dario Cologna (SUI) hammered out a lonely 35km from Cortina to Toblach, Italy to maintain his dominant overall lead in today’s 6th stage at the FIS Tour de Ski. As leader of the Tour, Cologna started first in today’s handicap start, and no one could catch him. Swede Marcus Hellner came the closest, finishing second at 1:11.4 behind. Norway’s Petter Northug was the strongest in the chase group to finish third at 1:50.3 behind.

Canada’s Alex Harvey skied a very strong race today, finishing 5th. He helped control a chase pack of about 10 skiers that formed behind Hellner who broke away on his own attempting to bridge to Cologna to no avail. The group was intent on hunting down the leaders and by km 16, Harvey was pulling for Kershaw.

“It feels pretty good sitting in 5th! I’m kind of surprised, I was always coming to the Tour with the ambition of having 2-3 good days, not going for the overall,” said Harvey by email.

With Cologna skiing off the front at 5km, Canada’s Devon Kershaw had initially gained about 5 seconds on the leader and  was followed closely by Hellner but couldn’t maintain the pace.

“Today’s race was frustrating. I felt good again but when Hellner went by me he was on another level,” Kershaw told SkiTrax.  “I was going for it – but alone in the wind with a chase group of 10 breathing down hard on me – I was quickly swallowed up. I know I will celebrate my two 2nd place finishes and my career-first win when I get home, and I know I’ll be thrilled about them, but today I was left frustrated.”

Harvey said Kershaw’s three recent medals were on his mind as he raced. “I was motivated by watching Devon yesterday,” he said in a CCC press release.  “We saw Devon win a race and have three podiums – we know it’s possible. Today I was right there myself and I know I can get on the podium too.”

Along with the Canucks, the 10-skier chase pack included top skiers like Petter Northug (NOR), Lucas Bauer (CZE), Martin Jaks (CZE) and Daniel Rickardsson (SWE). The group skied well together at first, but by km 21 they seemed disorganized. When it became apparent that they weren’t likely to close in on Cologna or Hellner, they began to lose time as they each worried about the approaching finish line.

In the final few kms the pack began to splinter and it was every man for himself.

“The pack was very disorganized out there coming down the hill,” said Kershaw.  “Northug and Alex’s skis were definitely a notch above the rest, but with an opportunity for 3rd place in that pack – no one was willing to sacrifice to get back on Hellner.”

“I was pushing hard on the downhill part with Northug,” said Harvey.   “It seamed like people gave up on chasing Hellner and started racing for 3rd place, which is kind of stupid in a handicap start.  Who cares about the 3rd place really? I’d rather be 9th 30sec down on Hellner than 3rd 55sec down.  I was surprised that Northug was pushing the pace… he’s not known for doing that, but was 3rd in the end.”

Harvey said he felt that Kershaw’s pack could have done more to catch Hellner early on instead of resigning themselves to third, but as for catching Cologna, “No way in hell. He’s just better than anyone else right now, calm, strong and always putting himself in the right spot.”

As the skiers closed in on the finish line, Northug was able to best the few survivors of the chase pack, with Harvey taking a photo-finish over Rickardsson and Curdin Purl (SUI) to finish 5th. Kershaw finished 10th behind Matti Heikkinen (FIN) and Jean Marc Gaillard (FRA).

“It was OK for the guys today,” said Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth. “Alex was in good company to move up well. I would say it was a good day for him. Devon was OK too – he maintained his spot for the whole way up the hill, but succumbed to the group on the gradual down. It would have cost a lot of energy today for him to really go for it, and it might have been too much of a risk, especially with the 20km classic coming up. Ivan had a good day and moved up which puts him in a spot to improve more in the following days.”

Wadsworth said the team’s “rock-star” bus proved yet again to be a great tool for the athletes. “The bus is really serving it’s purpose with great recovery between stages, and a sanctum for the guys to prepare for battle. It came in really handy this morning in Cortina where there was no good place for the athletes to be.”

Canada’s Ivan Banikov finished 25th and the USA’s Kris Freeman placed 28th after starting in 20th and is 28th overall. Freeman’s teammate Andy Newell decided to call it quits and didn’t start today’s race. He joins 34 others who have abandoned the grueling Tour including Tobias Angerer (GER), Axel Teichmann (GER), Alexander Legkov (RUS) and Emil Joensson (SWE).

“Kris wanted more for sure and was hoping to move forward instead of falling back,” said US coach Chris Grover. “However, I was proud of his effort, especially for his first time seeing and skiing such a specialized course. I think this course requires some experience.”

As for Newell’s decision to withdraw, Grover said, “Andy and I decided it was best for him to stop the Tour. His distance skiing has not been close to his ability or potential this week, so we feel we need to take some days off and re-evaluate his preparation for the second half of the season.”

Kershaw Wins First World Cup Gold at TdS Toblach Skate Sprint

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January 05, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – In dramatic style that’s been building since his two silver medals at the Tour de Ski, Canada’s Devon Kershaw went for broke and claimed the gold medal win he’s been craving as he brought the nation to it’s feet.

His coach predicted it and Kershaw delivered winning today’s 1.3km freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy, the fifth leg of the FIS World Cup Tour de Ski.

Kershaw is only the third Canadian man to win a World Cup. Ivan Babikov won the final 10km freestyle uphill stage at the 2009 Tour de Ski while the great Pierre Harvey (father to Kershaw’s teammate Alex Harvey) won three World Cups, one in 1987 and two in 1988.

Kershaw’s been on fire lately laying down incredible results in the Tour this year. He racked up back-to-back silver medals first in the classic sprint, and then in the 15km classic. After his classic sprint performance, coach Justin Wadsworth predicted that “Devon’s first win was imminent.”

“I’m thrilled. I’m more than thrilled. I absolutely cannot believe it,” said Kershaw describing his win in a CCC press release. “Justin [Wadsworth – Canadian Ski Team head coach] kept telling me all year to be patient and the win would come. I wanted to believe him and I just kept staying with the plan. This is just unreal.”

Kershaw only narrowly sneaked into the final, taking the second lucky loser spot. Clearly, he took that near miss to heart, skiing an absolutely perfect final for the gold. He held back early on, staying in 4th and 5th position.

On the first climb he made a move to take over the lead, but it wasn’t until the final climb that he really blew the doors off, dropping the field and making for the finish like a man possessed. He opened a large gap heading into the final stretch and it proved enough to stave off the hard-charging Dario Cologna (SUI) and Petter Northug (NOR).

His break-away, which he called a “suicide move” wasn’t something he’d planned, said Kershaw.  “It kind of just materialized. I was tucked in the pack while some other guys were working for the first lap. When I saw [Marcus] Hellner making a bit of a move, I just went with it,” said Kershaw in a phone interview.

Waiting to hear about the lucky loser spot while the second semifinal raced must have been nerve wracking, but Kershaw said he was pretty relaxed.   “The reality is the goal was just to get through the quarters today,” he said. “I knew that worst case scenario I’d end up 7th…and the pace had seemed pretty high, so I was nice and relaxed.”

Kershaw had stellar skis under him today, and has throughout the Tour.

“Our hats go off to Yves (Bilodeau) and all our wax guys,” said Wadsworth. According to the NST head coach, their skis are turning heads in a big way. Even Cologna commented to Wadsworth that the Canadians have consistently had “the best skis in the field.”

American fast man Andy Newell qualified strongly in 6th this morning, and skied well taking the win in his quarterfinal. In his semifinal, he had some difficulties, getting boxed in on the last corner and finished third, but the pace in his heat was not fast enough to snag a lucky loser spot, both of which went to the 3rd and 4th skiers of the first heat – including Kershaw.

Newell’s teammate Kris Freeman qualified in a World Cup sprint for the second time in his career but was paired with Newell in the quarter finals and did not advance.

Canada’s Alex Harvey, 8th in the qualifications was also out early placing third in his quarterfinal heat – but gets more time rest is not a bad thing at the Tour de Ski.

Now with a win – and the 60-second time bonus that accompanies it – under his belt, Kershaw is closing in on Tour de Ski leader Cologna, but he said taking the over all win isn’t a priority for him.

“No, it’s definitely not a goal right now.” He said his goal for the Tour was never the overall, but to have solid races. He’s had four impressive results, including two silvers a now a gold medal, and he said he’s happy with that and is already thinking about preserving his form for World Championships.

Kershaw sounded a little nervous about Thursday’s 35km handicap start freestyle race, saying “I’ll be out there on my own for a lot of it, which isn’t the best. I just hope I can hang on.”  Even so, coach Wadsworth thinks Saturday’s 20km classic will be perfect for Kershaw. “That’s a race he could potentially win by 20 seconds or more,” said Wadsworth.

Tomorrow’s 35km handicapped freestyle race will be a challenge for Kershaw, but look for him to continue his medal streak in the 20km classic on Saturday. Finally there will be the infamous 9km hill climb in Val di Fiemme, Italy for the racers to contend with.

Video of Kershaw’s win HERE.
Press Conference HERE.

Sprint results HERE.
Overall HERE.

Majdic Dominates TdS Skate Sprint – Randall 5th

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January 05, 2011 Toblach, Italy – The women’s 1.3km freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy this morning was shaping up to be a showdown between the Tour de Ski’s biggest names but after the first round of quarter final heats two of those names were out. Tour leader Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Charlotte Kalla of Sweden were eliminated quickly leaving the door open for classic sprint winner Petra Majdic (SLO) and US skate specialist Kikkan Randall among others vying for the podium.

As well as Kowalczyk and Kalla there were some other surprises. Sweden’s other speed queen, Anna Haag, who was part of the heat that pushed Kowalczyk out of the quarters, was herself eliminated in the semis by the French youngster Laure Barthelemy.

Majdic wasted no time in demonstrating her intentions charging to the front and dominating every heat she raced all day. Randall, who was looking for another podium, had also been strong all day as well, winning her quarterfinal heat handily, and skiing very well in the semifinals, placing second in a photo-finish with Italy’s Arianna Follis.

In the final Majdic took the pole position again early as the partisan crowd cheered on the two Italians, Follis and Magda Genuin, who had made cut as one of the lucky losers, but neither was a match for the neon yellow Slovenian.

Behind Randall was keeping pace and setting up to advance but her luck went south when she got tangled with Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgen, the second lucky loser, who crashed when another skier stepped on her pole.

At the front it was Majdic’s day again as the two Italians put up strong fight in the final meters but the Slovenian star took her second sprint win and was jubilant once again at the finish as Follis took 2nd ahead of Genuin while Barthelemy was 4th, Randall was 5th and Johansson Norgren finished 6th.

“I figured out how the race would go in the quarter final, and realized I can win although I was in the front all the time,” Majdic said in a FIS XC interview after her race. “I was scared for a moment though, because I heard the speaker said Arianna was attacking. When we went body to body, I knew that I was in front as I was prepared to put my foot on the finish line.”

For Randall there was no chance to recover and get back in the mix with such a fast pace. “It was going so well, I was feeling like I had a shot at the podium,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m really kicking myself.  Coming out of the draft and into the climb I tried to go right, but someone stepped on Norgren’s pole and we got really tangled.”

Randall has now moved up to 17th overall.

“Kikkan was disappointed because she was felt like she was feeling pretty good and had great skis,” said UST coach Chris Grover. “She’s had three podiums in a row in skate sprint on the World Cup and this was the first time she’s been off the podium in a little bit. She knows she can reach it [the podium] most days if things are going OK”

Tomorrow’s TdS race is a 15km freestyle handicapped start for the women, followed on Saturday by a 10km classic race and the final 9km hill climb on Sunday.

Sprint Results HERE.
Women’s Overall HERE.

FLASH: Devon Kershaw WINS his First World Cup at Tour de Ski

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January 05, 2011 (Toblach, Italy) – His coach predicted it and Devon Kershaw delivered winning today’s 1.3km freestyle sprint in Toblach, Italy, the fifth leg of the FIS World Cup Tour de Ski. Kershaw is only the third Canadian man to win a World Cup. Ivan Babikov won the final 10km freestyle uphill stage at the 2009 Tour de Ski while the great Pierre Harvey (father to Kershaw’s teammate Alex Harvey) won three World Cups in 1987 and 1988.

Kershaw has been laying down incredible results at the Tour this year, racking up two silver medals in the classic sprint and the 15km classic, slotting him in second position overall behind Dario Cologna (SUI) heading into today’s skate sprint race. Following his classic sprint performance, Canadian head coach Justin Wadsworth said that Devon’s first win was “imminent.”

Kershaw won his quarter final heat but narrowly sneaked into the final taking the second lucky loser spot. Clearly he took that near miss to heart, skiing an absolutely perfect final. He held back early on, staying in 4th and 5th position, and it wasn’t until the final climb where he really blew the doors off, dropping the field and making for the finish like a man possessed.

He opened a large gap heading into the final stretch that proved enough to stave off the hard-charging Cologna and Petter Northug (NOR).

With the win – and the 60-second time bonus that accompanies it – under his belt, Kershaw enters the history books and is now in perfect position to challenge Cologna for the overall Tour de Ski title as they head into the final three races of this grueling tour.