Tag Archive | "Kikkan Randall"

FIS Interview w/Kikkan Randall in Dubrovnik

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June 06, 2013 (Dubrovnik, Croatia) – FIS Newsflash caught up with FIS Cross-Country World Cup sprint champion Kikkan Randall (USA) on the eve of the 2013 FIS Calendar Conference. Randall is present in Cavtat-Dubrovnik (CRO) for her role as one of the two Athlete Representatives for Cross-Country Skiing within the FIS Athlete Commission. The FIS Council has to formally confirm all members on June 10.

You were recently re-elected as the female athlete representative for Cross-Country Skiing. It was four years ago in 2009 when you first attended one of these meetings that just happened to be in Cavtat-Dubrovnik as well. Looking back over those four years, do you return to this location with positive feelings from your role as a Cross-Country Athlete rep?
Kikkan Randall: You know being back here in Dubrovnik really helps me reflect on the past four years. When I arrived the first time in Dubrovnik I really didn’t know what I was doing, and now four years later I know the ropes much better and have built what I feel is a solid platform for me to be able to represent the needs of the athletes.

What is on the agenda for you this year?
KR: We had a very productive athlete’s survey that focused on a few things on the calendar. For next season and the seasons beyond, we will be able to provide clear and direct feedback on things like what competitions and formats the athletes would like to see. Also I will continue to work to improve little things like athlete areas and execution of prize money payment. These are small details but this is a great time to bring attention to those items here at the meetings. It’s also important that I also take back what I learn here and present it to the athletes.

During your first term as athlete rep you were partnered with Sami Jauhojärvi of Finland. What were your first moves to build influence within FIS on behalf of the athletes?
KR: Working with Sami we developed a network and a way of getting feedback from the athletes and presenting it in a manageable form for the FIS Cross-Country Committee. Over those four years the process has become more refined and we now have an established pathway to make the needs and the concerns of the athletes heard.

As a result of your work on behalf of the athletes, you now have a voting right at the table of the FIS Cross-Country Committee. That is a first time for such a right for athlete representatives within FIS.
KR: I think that is one of the biggest accomplishments that Sami and I have achieved over the past four years. It’s huge for us. We really took the lead from the IOC Athlete Commission, where they have representation at the highest level on their Executive Board.

Aside from the FIS meetings, how is your training going in the new year?
KR: Our US competition season continued about 2 weeks longer than usual this year, so it feels like it has been a quick turnaround since my season ended, but I have been back to training again for three weeks now. I am being cautious so far to make sure none of the foot trouble I had last season resurfaces. It’s been a good start and enthusiasm is high with it being an Olympic year. I am hoping to be able to get a few little training sessions here while in Croatia.

Thank you for your time. Good luck with the meetings and the upcoming training and competition year.
KR: Thanks.

Distance Nationals 30km CL Interviews w/Stephen and Randall at USSA SuperTour Finals in Lake Tahoe

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April 11, 2013 (Truckee, CA) – Liz Stephen won a landslide victory in the women’s 30km CL event, besting teammmate and World Cup Sprint Champion Kikkan Randall, to earn herself the title at 2013 U.S. Distance National Championships in Lake Tahoe following the USSA SuperTour Finals. In this video, Martha Bellisle recaps the race and catches up with Stephen and Randall for their thoughts on how it all unfolded – full report and results HERE.

USA’s Randall Podiums at Falun 2.5km FR – Brooks 7th, Diggins 8th as Bjoergen Wins

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March 22, 2013 (Falun, Sweden) – USA’s Kikkan Randall is storming strong, even as the end of the World Cup season quickly approaches. Only days ago, she successfully defended her World Cup Sprint crystal globe, but the Alaskan star is not resting on her laurels.

Today in the 2.5km free technique event, Randall snapped up a bronze medal only 6.6s behind Norwegian powerhouse Marit Bjoergen and 2.2s behind second place, Charlotte Kalla (SWE).

“The times were really tight out there and I’m happy to be on the podium. I think we had great skis today and I’m really psyched for our performance as a team. Two more races to go now, hope we can keep this momentum rolling! The course was short but challenging. The downhill turn that everyone was concerned about was definitely a little wild but safe enough,” said Randall in a team release.

“It’s been an interesting last 24 hours here in Falun, but with a seemingly happy ending. Yesterday after previewing the course there were concerns from several athletes that the new technical downhill section was going to be unsafe. We called an athletes meeting and went back and forth with the jury to try and find a compromise on a safer course. For me, as the athlete rep, it was a lot of running around yesterday. But in the end I’m glad we found a good solution and everyone agreed to start today.”

USA’s Holly Brooks had a great race, finishing seventh, while teammate Jessie Diggins also made the top-10 with a strong eighth-place finish. Other North American results include Liz Stephen (USA) in 20th, Ida Sargent (USA) in 38th, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) in 41st, Rosie Brennan (USA) in 46th, and Dasha Gaiazova (CAN) in 47th.

“It felt good to race a skate prologue – I really like this distance. It was also nice to get a good race feeling back! I had been feeling really tired and pretty done after World Champs, but today my body was ready for one last race series as we finish World Cup Finals,” commented Diggins. “The coaches did a fantastic job on the skis and it’s really exciting to have three girls in the top eight! It really boosts confidence and it’s always nice to end the season on a high note.”

After significant athlete protests, the infamous Mördarbacken (Murder Hill) hill was cut from this weekend’s race courses. Read more about it in our coverage here.

Women’s 2.5km Free results HERE.

Canada’s Harvey and USA’s Randall on Norwegian Late Night TV Show

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March 21, 2013 (Norway) – Alex Harvey and Kikkan Randall were recent guests on Norwegian late night talk show Senkveld (Late Night) with Thomas & Harald. Check out their great interview on YouTube (in English)!

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.

USA’s Randall Dominates at Sochi World Cup Women’s 1.3km FR Sprints

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February 01, 2013 (Sochi, Russia) – USA’s Kikkan Randall dominated the FIS World Cup women’s 1.3km free sprints today in Sochi, making her mark at the venue as the top contender for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic. The American team had a strong day overall, with five U.S. skiers qualifying for the heats. Read more here.

Randall started her day with a second place finish in the qualifier and then went onto win each of her heats, leading the final from start to finish for an undisputed victory over second place, Aurore Jean (FRA) who passed Norway’s Celine Brun-Lie near the finish to take the silver.

“I’ve been working really hard in my training to make every sprint course a good course for me so it was cool to get out there and see how it felt,” said Randall. “The course is deceptively tough and there’s not much rest out there outside of maybe 10 or 15 seconds on one downhill but you’re preparing for a turn so I think the weather conditions are really going to play in how the race goes but I think it’s a good course for me and I’m a strong finisher and it’s a really long stadium, so I like that. This is definitely a confidence boost for next year!”

Ida Sargent was the next-best American finisher with a personal best sixth after finishing second in her quarterfinal and then sneaking through in her semifinal as lucky loser to contest in her first ever “A” final.

“I like the course here,” Sargent told Trax. “It’s short but hard and technical and there isn’t much recovery out there so you’re working a lot. We had very fast skis today and I was 17th in the skate qualification which was a PB. In the rounds I tried to ski at or near the front and was very happy to make the final!  I was pretty tired by the time the final heat came around but it was still an awesome day for me.”

Jessie Diggins (USA) charged to third in her heat with Holly Brooks (USA) placing fourth in hers. Sadie Bjornsen (USA) was eliminated after her fifth-place quarterfinal. In the end, they ranked 15th, 16th, and 21st, respectively.

“I was disappointed to end the day after the quarterfinal, but considering that it was my best qualifier and my best sprint final place to date, I’m really happy,” said Brooks in a post-race email exchange with Trax. “It’s awesome to have a good experience at the Olympic venue, on the Olympic course … and be able to leave here with a great vibe. Kikkan [Randall] took the win easily which points towards success one year from now and Ida [Sargent] had her first appearance in the A-final!”f

Dasha Gaiazova was the top finisher of the two Canadian qualifiers, finishing 12th after she placed second in her heat and sixth in the semis. Perianne Jones (CAN) finished in 18th spot.

Elizabeth Stephen (USA) and Chandra Crawford (CAN) did not qualify, and finished 42nd and 51st, respectively.

Qualifications HERE.
Final results HERE.

Kikkan Randall’s Q&A – Training and Strength

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January 10, 2013 – Kikkan Randall’s 2012/13 season is off to a blistering start with numerous WCup wins and podiums, so it’s no wonder Morgan wants to know Randall’s strength workouts and training secrets. Read what Randall reveals and… check out Randall’s Training Rap HERE and check her MAILBAG for all Q&As thru the season.

Q&A – Training and Strength

You are SO beast!!
I was just wondering what kind of strength training and normal training you do to become one of the best in world. It’s so inspiring to watch you race and do so well. :)
Thanks!
Morgan

Hi Morgan,
Thanks for the compliments and your question. Strength is one of my favorite parts of my training plan. A few years ago I began working with a US Ski Team strength and conditioning coach to redesign my strength training plan and since then I have seen big improvements in my skiing. We’ve focused more on mobility and balance in the body, i.e. not just hitting the ski muscles all the time, and on some specific power and quickness stuff for my sprinting.

When I was younger, I did a lot of basic strength exercises like pull-ups, push-ups and core exercises, as well as jumping and sprinting uphill. This provides a good base and when you get older, you can get more specific.

Best of luck!

Cheers,
Kikkan :)

Tour de Ski Wrap – Team USA’s Stephen, Diggins, Brooks, Randall, Hoffman and Whitcomb Talk Shop

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January 07, 2013 – With the 2012/13 Tour de Ski in the history books, Team USA’s Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins, Holly Brooks, Kikkan Randall, Noah Hoffman, and Coach Matt Whitcomb talk shop, reflect on the TdS, and look ahead to the rest of the season.

 

Liz Stephen – 15th overall

Noah Hoffman – 46th overall

Matt Whitcomb

Jessie Diggins – 21st overall
Wow, Cermis was really, really tough. This was definitely the hardest race series I’ve ever done! And it feels so great to have completed it healthy and in one piece. I am so proud of my teammates and all the staff for such a positive and energetic ride through all the stages – because that was the most fun I’ve had on the World Cup yet!

The race today was really cool – my teammates warned me that the stretch of trail from the stadium to the base of Cermis was super narrow and really only one skier wide, so I got right out in front and me, Liz, an Italian and French girl all took turns leading. That really made a difference, too – drafting was so much easier than when it was your turn to pull! But we worked together and made up time before the base of the climb.

I’d watched the race video from last year to get a feel for what the hill looked like, but the cameras show the athletes coming up, it doesn’t show what it looks like from the viewpoint of the person actually racing! So although I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, I definitely had one of those “Oh-my-gosh-where-IS-the-finish-line????” moments out there!

Holly Brooks – 38th overall
The second half of the Tour was extremely rough for me and I’m still wondering (a bit) why I kept going…. If I was from any Euro team I’m sure I would have been sent home a long, long time ago. I kept hoping that my energy would turn around each day and it never did. Maybe that’s the optimist in me? Yesterday was especially tough and it was clear that no miracles were going to happen. But, with only one stage left to go I decided that I would “get her done.” I put on some extra sparkles, wore some white aviators and tried to have fun out there.

I had some bright spots at the beginning of the Tour (prologue and sprint) and I’m happy for that but at this point, I’ve had two tough years at this event. But, I’m glad I tried it this year so that I can plan accordingly for next year, which is an Olympic year.

Most of all, I’m just really proud of my teammate’s accomplishments. While Liz may have been #2 today on the Cermis she is “Queen of the Hill” in my book!

All of us will skip Czech in order to rest up from our efforts. Sadie and Ida will be representing us there. Our next appearance will be in La Clusaz. My plan is to take some time away from skiing and go visit some dear friends in Polcenigo, Italy. After a period of rest I’m looking forward to a training break. I’d love to do a race or two that aren’t World Cups as part of that training period – we shall see.

Kikkan Randall – 12th overall
A tough day out there – how were you feeling this morning? What was the atmosphere like on the final stage… similar to previous years? You looked solid until the very last section… tell us about today’s race.
KR: Today was a tough race for me and not the performance I was hoping to get out of myself. But, it was still a good experience and I will pull some good lessons from it. I actually felt pretty good this morning. My warm-up went smoothly and I felt like I had good energy. In my two previous tours, I have struggled on the climb. Going into today I was optimistic that my skating form was stronger and my goal was to climb better this year.

With some good skiers starting just ahead of me I put in a big effort to get myself in their pack. After about 2km, I got into the group and was able to conserve some energy for the climb. Unfortunately, once we started to head up the steeper sections, I struggled with my focus and let my tempo settle too much . I was skiing with my legs too straight and not fighting hard enough to keep my skis moving. The further I went up the climb, the more I struggled. I’m pretty sure this race is tough no matter how rested you are. So somehow I have to figure out how to keep my focus better and use my leg strength.

Still a great performance by you with second in the Sprint standings and 12th overall – and the team. Liz had the second best time today placing 15th overall and Jessie had a strong day finishing 21st at the Tour.
KR: I am still really satisfied with my Tour as a whole. To win two stages was amazing and I was really psyched with both of those performances. I had a couple solid classic races as well and to finish second in the sprint standings is a nice bonus. Despite being disappointed when my own race today I am incredibly psyched and proud of my teammates! I am really impressed with Liz [Stephen] for her first World Cup podium (although after the Blink festival climb this summer I was pretty sure she was going to rock Cermis this year)!! She dropped a full minute off her time from last year and fought hard all the way to the line. It is really fun to have such a great race to celebrate and I’ll have to do a few more climbing workouts with Liz to learn the magic!!

Also an impressive day for Jessie [Diggins], she had a really solid climb and visibly left all she had out there on the course. Holly [Brooks] also finished the Tour with a lot of heart, fighting through some heavy fatigue and making it all the way up Cermis, no easy task! Noah [Hoffman] skied a great rookie tour, Kris [Freeman] also kept pushing and Andy [Newell] had some good races in there.

I really have to thank our team of staff and coaches. We had such dedicated support through this really demanding week and it feels especially good to have accomplished what we have with a fraction of the resources and man-power of some of the bigger teams!

All of this has to feel good going forward to the Worlds.
KR: Having a good performance at the Tour de Ski is exactly what we were looking for and it fits in perfectly with our plans for the rest of the season. We’ve done a lot of racing so far, now we will focus on recovery, some training and refining everything in preparation for Worlds.

It was also really important to get some more time racing on the World Champs courses here in Val di Fiemme and we’re more confident than ever that this will be a good venue for the whole team!

What happens now as you prepare for the Liberec WCup… ?
KR: Now I will actually take a training break to recover from the Tour and I will not be racing in Liberec next weekend. It was a tough decision to miss a sprint World Cup, but last year continuing to race hard after the Tour put me in a precarious position health-wise midseason. I am heading to France tomorrow to do some training with my husband and recharge for the second half of the season. I am planning to rejoin the team and the circuit the following weekend in La Clusaz. Since we don’t get to go home for the entire season, I am really looking forward to a break from the hotel scene, I’m actually excited to do some laundry and some cooking!!

 

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.

Interviews w/the Moustache Gals – Randall, Diggins, Stephen and Brooks after the TdS 1.4km FR Sprints

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January 02, 2013 (Val Mustair, Switzerland) – Check out these comments from the “Moustache Gals” U.S. Women’s XC team skiers Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins, Liz Stephen, and Holly Brooks – after the Tour de Ski 1.4km FR Sprints in Val Mustair, Switzerland. Randall dominated the field, winning by over 8 seconds, while all of her teammates qualified for the heats. Full Stage 3 results HERE.

 

Kikkan Randall (USA) – 1st Stage 3

 

Jessie Diggins (USA) – 17th Stage 3
Felt great to be getting my racing shape back slowly after being sick! I didn’t play my tactics quite right in the quarters and was just a little too tired but I’m happy with the day for sure. Today was too fun getting all of our girls into the heats and seeing Liz in the rounds and then seeing Kikkan crush the field!!!
Elizabeth Stephen (USA) – 25th Stage 3
Today was an incredibly fun experience for me. I have never made the heats and to be able to ski World Cup heats was so much fun I can’t even believe it. I still have a lot to learn, but today was step 1 of that process and I have a few of the best sprinters around me to learn from, so I’m pretty lucky.
The two-lap course was fun and I thought Val Mustair did an amazing job making it a cool venue for spectators, racing at night was really awesome and they had a great crowd of fans show up to watch. Everything was so well organized and well thought out – it was one of those venues that was a joy to be at as an athlete. Congrats to Kikkan on her amazing performance today. She really is one hell of an athlete.
Holly Brooks (USA) – 18th Stage 3
I was really, really happy with my qualifier. If every sprint could be long, hard and at altitude I would be totally pumped! Once again, the top ten eluded me but to qualify 11th in a stacked field felt great. It was my first “heat” of the season and it was great to toe the line with my teammates. We had a great team cheer and hug for the camera which started us off on the right foot! I wish I had a bit more gas to get right behind Kikkan on the second loop. I got stuck in third and Lauren (Sui) dogged it on the hill, then went I went to pass on the right, she turned on the gas. I think that was her tactic all along but I’m not sure. When we crossed the line Liz exclaimed, “That was the funnest thing EVER!” I couldn’t agree more – I only wish I could have had a do-over because I was feeling good!
We were actually really happy to hear that we were in the same quarter as Kikkan, Her QF are generally pretty quick so we thought our chances of being “Lucky Losers” were good. I should have pushed harder at the beginning of the quarter seeing that Lauren is very good for short bursts/sprints. At the Blink Festival she might have podium’d in the 100 and/or 500 meter sprint. We went into the lanes together but she got me at the end… I also had a little stumble in the sprint which allowed Vesna Fabian to out-toe me at the line. I was bummed about that but 18th place is my best sprint to date so I have to be happy! Sometimes progress comes in small steps and it pays to be patient. I’m just trying to learn from every opportunity and that’s one of my favorite things about the Tour.
I LOVED the venue. I wish that we could finish up the Tour here. They have beautiful skiing in all directions – apparently 100k of tracks. The Swiss went all out with everything….. from the “globe lights” to brighten the course to the huge snow-sculpture Stienbock in the middle of the track, to the food in the VIP and athlete rooms. This place is great. We had cold snow, sunshine, good food. I haven’t heard a single complaint. I just felt horrible for Dario who fell in the final on his namesake ” Cologna Corner” …. it almost looked like he (ironically) got tripped up by a Swiss Flag but I’m not sure?
I’m still feeling pretty darn good. The fatigue is certainly building up but I believe it is for everyone. We’re spending a lot of time on recovery every day – jogs, ice baths, massages, eating well – and often. We shall see! I’m really looking forward to the next event, the 15km Skate in Toblach. The course is notoriously difficult to pass on (it’s narrow) but I have good memories of it from last year at the OPA finals! In the classic races and the Hill Climb I’m just going to put my head down and fight for every second, and every place! I’m really enjoying the Tour this year….

Behind the Scenes Interviews w/Grover, Wadsworth, Flora, Dyer, Jeffries, Whitcomb at the FIS Quebec City Sprint WCup

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December 12, 2012 (Quebec City, QC) – SkiTrax caught up with a few North American behind-the-scenes players at the inaugural FIS Quebec City Sprint World Cup this past weekend to get the inside scoop on how the event played out for their respective teams.

Interviews include US XC Team Head Coach Chris Grover, CCC Men’s Coach Justin Wadsworth, APU Head Coach Erik Flora, and an elated US XC Team Women’s Coach Matt Whitcomb. Plus, the legendary Peter Graves speaks with CCC Director of Events Dave Dyer and CCC Director of Business Development Matt Jeffries.

Chris Grover

Justin Wadsworth

Eric Flora

 

 

 

Interview w/Kikkan Randall after FIS Quebec City Sprint WCup

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December 11, 2012 (Quebec City, QC) – SkiTrax caught up with U.S. skiing star Kikkan Randall after the press conference in Quebec City following her exciting FIS XC Ski World Cup team and individual sprint wins on the weekend – she is now leading the Sprint Cup which she won last season. Randall then signed autographs for her fans. The Alaska star is ramping up for Canada’s second World Cup stop, which takes place Dec. 13-16 in Canmore, AB.

The Way I See It! Top-30, Kikkan, QCity Sprints, Diggins, Canadians, Team Sprint Money, Jet Lag

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December 10, 2012 – Really Quick Evaluation – If you weren’t in the top 30 in Sunday’s race and in the finals in the team sprint on Saturday, it’s time to look at what you are doing – really at what you aren’t doing. For the really young people – 22 yrs and younger, you most likely aren’t doing enough hours and not spending enough time on upper body strength.

Kikkan’s Weekend – and that is what it was – her weekend for sure. Right now in sprinting I think only Bjoergen has the strength and the power to compete with Kikkan. That sprint race was hers to win anytime she wanted to and it was fun to watch her pull away at the end.

Quebec City – couldn’t have come out better from the federal/provincial/city politicians support to the last person on a rake or shovel – pat your selves on the back. Now let’s get back on track for that OLYMPIC BID!!!

Jessie Diggins – has to love being Kikkan’s teammate!

Canadian Program – time to back-up all the talk – you have one more weekend.

Team Sprint – money only goes to 6 places. Why not have the semi-finals pare the finals down to 6 teams? Some day there is going to be a big train wreck and the course should help all teams to have a fair chance to win – the reason for the final to be 6 (SIX) teams.

Schedule Planner – not a friend of the organizers or the athletes with the loss of crowds at Friday’s race but a huge crowd on Saturday and would have been so on Sunday (when they should have had the 2nd race). What’s up with that thinking? Also, the schedule should have been Canmore the first weekend and Quebec City the 2nd weekend, for many reasons. Jet lag is easier going east to west, if QC was 2nd on the schedule the weather had a chance to be cooler with better snow – and you break up the travel flight back to Europe and cut the jet lag in half. Flying back to Europe from Calgary is going to be 7-8 hours of jet lag and 15-20 hrs of flying time – a real bitch. Help those skiers stay healthy, when their immune systems are really low after a weekend of three races.

Talk To You Next Time.
misterxc@aol.com

The Sasseville Report – Things I Think I Know after Ruka

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December 05, 2012 – The World Cup passed through its second stop of the season at Ruka, which is just outside of Kuusamo in Finland, this past weekend and this is what I think I know after the three races that took place there:

– Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug are the best skiers in the world right now. Bjoergen dominated winning all three races and is undefeated on the season in the World Cup. This comes on the heels of some talk in the Norwegian press that she was losing a step after having been beaten in some early season races. Northug did not win any of the races on the weekend – he was 2nd in the sprints to Russian Nikolai Kriukov and 2nd again to another Russian, Alexandr Legkov in the 10 km but he won the overall sprint at the end of the third race from another Russian, Maxim Vylegzhanin. He is now leading the World Cup overall.

– The Russian team is ramping it up in preparation for the Olympics in Sochi in 2014. In addition to the above mentioned men’s results they had 5 men finish in the top 10 overall at the end of the three days and that did not include their sprinters like Kriukov. The Russian women’s team is also getting better and better with Julia Tchekaleva 3rd in the 5km and Evgenia Shapovalova 2nd and Anastasia Dotsenko 3rd in the sprints.

– Justina Kowaczyk (POL) is still the 2nd best female skier in the world. She is starting to round into form after a very hard summer and fall of training and she finished 2nd to Bjoergen overall at the end of the weekend. She will be a force in the Tour de Ski after Xmas for sure.

– Kikkan Randall is the real deal in distance racing with a second podium finish in the 5km. It is interesting that she is doing better in distance than in sprints so far this season. She will challenge Bjoergen, Kowalczyk and Terese Johaug of Norway for the overall World Cup this year.

– The rest of the American women are also the real deal. Ida Sargeant had a career best 9th in the sprints and joins Kikkan, Holly Brooks, Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins to make up one of the strongest women’s teams in the world right now. They should do very well in the Canadian World Cups over the next two weeks.

– Perianne Jones (12th)and Dasha Gaiasova (14th) had great sprint races but continue to struggle in distance races. Chandra Crawford is struggling everywhere and needs to get it together quickly if she is going to race well at home in Canada.

– Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey are starting to come out of their funk. Both had decent results over the weekend but it is nothing like how they finished the year last year. The pressure is on to perform in Canada, especially for Harvey in his hometown this weekend in Quebec City. I wonder what they will do?

– Noah Hoffman is starting to shine. As a junior he had a great engine but poor technique but it seems that he is starting to put it all together. Last year he was a medalist at the World U23 games and his 19th place in the 10km and 26th place overall shows big improvement over last year. The other men on the US team are still back in the pack and need to pick it up soon.

– Many of the top skiers will not be coming to Canada for the World Cups. Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug stated after the races in Ruka that they would not attend. The Finnish team will only send 5 sprinters to Quebec City, but will send more to the distance races in Canmore including Aino-Kaisa Saarinen. This means that there will be more World Cup points available for North American skiers, as the fields will be diluted.

– Having World Cups in Canada is also a great opportunity for younger, less experienced North American skiers to show what they can do against the best. Careers can be jump started by having a great race over the next two weeks. These are the skiers that I will be watching closely. Now is the time for them to get on the “escalator” that will take them to Sochi in 2014. By skiing well now they will get more opportunities to ski at this level later on in the year which will give them more chances to qualify for their National Teams and for their Olympic Teams. It will be very hard for skiers who are not on the escalator now to make it to Sochi next year.

– All of the Canadian races will be shown on either CBC or Bold over the next three weeks. Consult your local listings for time and dates and set your PVR – there is going to be some great racing!

The American Revolution…

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December 05, 2012 – The first three weeks of the 2012-2013 World Cup season are in the bag – and they (FIS, the rest of the World) are calling our start the “American Revolution.”  And no, they are not referring to the historical event where the Colonies joined together to break free from the British Empire. Instead, they are talking about the American women’s ability to turn heads and turning heads we are…..
So far this season we have three “medals” including the first 4×5 relay performance, the first (and second) US women’s distance skiing podium and many “best ever” moments. While the lack of daylight in Lapland may have been tough for some of my teammates that can come sunnier locales it sure didn’t stop us from skiing fast!  I am currently on cloud nine sitting 14th in the overall World Cup standings. In the first race alone I accomplished one of my most ambitious goals that I thought would take an entire season to tackle.
For me, this season represents an entirely different world. I have one full season of World Cup racing under my belt. I’m familiar with the scene, the travel, I know other people on the circuit, I’m racing World Cup venues having “been there before.” The heightened level of confidence is palpable on our team. When we walk into the dining room we do so with our head’s held high…. we look people square in the eyes, media from other countries are requesting our time; they want to know what our secret is.  Funnily enough, there is no secret – just hard work and dedication.
I for one think that success is contagious. Once you get a small taste of it, it’s much easier to believe in yourself, your abilities and your performance. When you see one of your teammates doing well you think, “Hey, I can keep up with them in double pole roller ski intervals” or I can do “just as many pull ups as them”, therefore, if they can pull a top ten result in the World Cup, maybe I can too?!?!  This is where American skiing stands right now – this is the essence of the Revolution. As a ski nation, we are starting to believe in our talents and our abilities.  The rest of the world is noticing that we’re on a roll.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the way to slow us down! Go Team USA!!!!
Thank you SO SO SO much to everyone who has contributed to NNF and made these racing and training experiences possible for us. Without funding help I most surely would have stayed and raced domestically this fall. Thank you for your part in the AMERICAN REVOLUTION!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sasseville Report – Gällivare and the Start of the Racing Season

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November 29, 2012 – So here we are – at the start of another World Cup racing season with the first races in the north of Sweden in Gällivare. Last season, when there were no Olympics or World Championships races on the schedule, the races on the World Cup were the most important contests of the season and no one was really peaking for any big event, other than the Tour de Ski.

But this season, many racers are taking a different approach to their training with the Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme in February. By focusing on peaking for these championships, many skiers plan to train hard right through the first races of the season before Christmas. As a result, you will see that some of the top skiers do not have very good results during November and December. The other side effect is that many of the top skiers will not travel to Canada for the World Cups before the holidays, preferring to stay at home where they can train more and have less fatigue from travelling.

This could be seen in the individual race in Gällivare in the results of some of the top racers – most notably Dario Cologna (Sui), Justyna Kowalczyk (Pol) and even, I think, in the results of Canada’s Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey. Cologna was 19th, Kowalczyk was 27th, Harvey was 36th and Kershaw was 44th in the freestyle races.

But it doesn’t matter what the racing program is, or whether you are peaking or not if you are as strong as Marit Bjoergen (Nor). She and her Norwegian country woman, Therese Johaug, finished 1st and 2nd, followed by American Kikkan Randall in 3rd. Bjoergen won the first race last year, too.

Randall was on the podium for the first time in a distance race – a sign that she is continuing to improve over her stunning season last year where she won the Sprint Cup and was 5th overall in the World Cup. Randall, who has been walking around in an air cast most of this summer and fall due to a stress reaction in the bones of her foot, must be relieved that this injury has not affected her results.

Her teammate, Holly Brooks, has also kicked it up a notch or two, finishing 5th. Brooks, who is on the US B Team and is primarily self-funded, started well last year too, but a wrist injury slowed her down at the end of the year.

The American women were the talk of the XC skiing world on Sunday when they finished on the podium for the first time ever in a World Cup relay, taking 3rd. As well as Randall and Brooks, Jessie Diggins and Liz Stephen skied great relay legs to nip the 2nd Norwegian team finishing behind Norway 1 and Sweden 1.

The Canadian women’s team results were disappointing for everyone on the weekend with a best in the individual race of 61st by Dasha Gaiazova and a relay finish of 14th out of 18 teams. Three of the four women – Gaiazova, Chandra Crawford, and Perianne Jones, are primarily sprinters, so the hope is that their results will be better in the sprint that is scheduled in Kuusamo, Finland this coming weekend.

In the men’s individual race, the surprise winner was 28-year-old Martin Sundby of Norway. This was his first World Cup win, but he did win all three races at the Norwegian Championships last winter and was on the podium at two World Cups last winter at the end of the year.

Sundby finished ahead of another surprising skier, Alexei Poltoranen of Kazakhstan, and Marcus Hellner of Sweden. Perennial favourite, Petter Northug was 7th. Poltoranen has a history of doing well in the early season races and I think that Northug likely falls into the group of skiers who are training very hard right now for big races later.

It was nice to see Canada’s Ivan Babikov finishing 14th in this race. Babikov has had a couple of slow years since Vancouver, but he has re-dedicated himself to training hard and it is showing. Kris Freemen had the best US team result at 33rd and I am sure that he is looking forward to going to Kuusamo this week where he has had great results in the past.

In the men’s relay the Canadian men finished a terrific 5th just 3 seconds from 2nd place. Norway, anchored by Northug won the race followed by Sweden and Russia who out-sprinted the Swiss and Canada for the podium.

There has been a change in the format of the men’s relay races on the World Cup level now as they have gone from 4x10km races to 4×7.5 km to make it more exciting for the fans and shorter for TV. This shorter distance will not change the results but it will get the races to the finishing sprint sooner.

Len Valjas made his World Cup debut this season in the first leg of the relay and met his goal of finishing within 20 seconds of the top skiers. Valjas skied with a cast on his hand after breaking a knuckle and should be very happy with his result.

The American men were a disappointing 15th out of 22 teams. There is a strange parallel between the US men and the Canadian women and the US women and the Canadian men. It will be interesting to watch if this changes over the winter.

So now it is off to Kuusamo in Finland for the next leg of the World Cup. There will be a 3-race mini-tour for the men and women including a sprint race, an individual start race and a pursuit race.

From there the World Cup comes to Canada for races in Quebec City on December 7 and 8 and in Canmore on December 13, 15 and 16. I am fortunate to be involved again in the broadcast of all of these races on CBC and Bold. All of the races will be telecast so check your local listings for viewing times.

Inside the Fence – Kuusamo Course Preview w/Kikkan Randall

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

Diggins Report – The Most Exciting Race Ever!

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November 28, 2012 – Wow, that sure was an awesome way to start off the World Cup season!!! Not that I expect every weekend to be as wildly exciting with multiple historical US podium results, but geez that was cool. Our Women’s 4x5km relay placed 3rd, which was the first time ever in US History that we’ve had a podium relay finish! Here are two YouTube videos of the race:

http://youtu.be/aG8V001cMR4

I first want to say a big THANK YOU! to everyone for all the kind words, emails, tweets and more that have come flooding in, and a thanks to all those who have been supporting us US Women every step of the way. It sucks that the podium isn’t big enough to put everyone involved onto it, because there’s a whole lot more than four racers that made the day happen. The ENTIRE team includes the teammates cheering, coaches, wax techs, and friends and family and fans back home. So thanks to everyone!

Here’s the race story from the day!

I was super nervous beforehand because with the results from the previous day, it was clear that the team was in shape and ready to rock, and there are only 3 relays this year, so this was our only shot for a while at making our goal of having a team on the podium.

Then, as I was warming up, I saw the racers go by and turned to Matt, a full-blown panic attack seconds away. I’d just seen Liz in second and was like “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” I was hyperventilating. Even though I was trying to convince myself that this was going to be just another 5km skate race, I couldn’t ignore the fact that our team was higher up than we’d ever been and the extremely hard work of my teammates was about to be put into my hands.

In the tag zone, I looked over at Marit and said “No big deal… no pressure… aaaaaagh!” and she gave me a little smile that basically said “Good luck, sweetheart”.

So when Liz tagged me, I might have gone out a little hot. And by might have, I mean that I definitely did. I had so much adrenaline pumping that I didn’t feel anything till the top of the first hill, and then it hit me. I just kept trying to stay within sight of Marit, and I was so focused on keeping every second I could that I wasn’t even aware of team Sweden, Finland and Norway 2 coming in hot behind me.

When Kalla (Sweden) passed me, I tried to hang on but was going full throttle and didn’t want to hit the wall completely halfway through the race, so I had to let her go, which was tough. But when Kristoffersen (Norway 2) passed me, I did hang on, just barely, because I knew I usually have good kick at the end of a race and there was maybe a chance.

Liz and Ida and the rest of the team were screaming from the side of the course, but two things stood out to me. Ida was sprinting alongside me yelling like I’d never heard her yell before, and Liz frantically screamed “C’mon Jess, you have to believe you CAN DO THIS! BELIEVE IT!!!”

So when we got within .5km of the finish, I had this flashback to the last relay I raced, in Nove Mesto, where I waited too long to start sprinting and Kalla beat me to the line. I didn’t want to make the same mistake, and decided to make a move before the s-turn to the stadium, sliding ahead of Kristoffersen right before the first corner.

We rounded the stadium corner and started sprinting down the home stretch, and I saw Kristoffersen’s skis come into view, but the only thing I could think was No. Not. Happening. I can’t screw this up now! I think in those final hundred meters I dug deeper than I have in a long, long time.

I crossed the line only .5 seconds ahead, and made this half-yelling-half-screaming-mostely-I’m-in-so-much-pain-right-now noise, and collapsed. The next 2 minutes I was in a haze but I felt my teammates piled on top of me, and then it sunk in and we all realized what had just happened.

There were cameras going off everywhere, but we were huddled in this little circle, crying and laughing and going through this wild flood of emotions (and probably endorphins too, I’ll admit)!

The feeling we all got, standing on the podium having reached a major goal that we all set down on paper earlier this year, was incredible. For me at least, it makes me want to train hard and work even harder to keep these kinds of feelings coming – there’s two more steps on that podium to climb, after all!

I thought it was so cool that all these athletes from other teams were coming up to us and congratulating us on the day – they were psyched for us! Every one of them remembers what it felt like their first time on the podium so they knew what we were going through when we were all huddled together crying :)

That night I had such a hard time getting to sleep (gee, I wonder why?) I just kept replaying that final sprint in my mind and hearing Liz and Ida scream “BELIEVE!”. I think I’m going to be hearing that for a while.

Kikkan Randall’s Q&A – Kikkan Explains Her Foot Injury

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November 21, 2012 – SkiTrax contributor and columnist, Marty Hall, has been following USST member Kikkan Randall’s foot injury that has been plaguing her since last season and wondered how her injury happened. Randall sat out the team’s Euro season opener FIS races in Muonio, Finland this past weekend, but she hopes to be on the start line in Gallivare, Sweden for the start of the WCup this coming weekend. This is what Randall had to say about her foot…

Kikkan Explains Her Foot Injury

Kikkan, do you know how the break in your foot occurred? Was it over-use or from a fall, or from jumping or landing on a rock or some form of trauma like that? Did you have any signs or did it just sneak up on you?

Marty Hall
Dunham, NH

Hi Marty,

The stress fracture in my second metatarsal seemed to be more of an over-use injury, there was no singular moment where it happened. I started to feel the pain slightly about a year ago and felt it intermittently during the season. My foot was quite painful at the Tour de Ski from all the consecutive days of hard racing, but then would chill a little bit in between race weekends.

The pain started up again this spring with all the crust skiing up in Alaska and during our opening camp in Bend, OR. I kept trying to manage through the summer, but by the end of our Alaska camp, it was clear I needed to get my foot checked out. I got the first MRI in mid-July and was diagnosed with a stress reaction.

Cheers,
Kikkan

All of us at SkiTrax wish Kikkan a speedy recovery and the best of luck this season.

Bjornsen Blog – Doing the Snow Dance!

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November 01, 2012 (Anchorage, AK) – Since getting back from Park City Camp, Anchorage has yet to get any snow. Of course, when every skier is looking for moisture, the sun finally decides to show in AK. With no snow, the temperatures haven’t hesitated to resemble the typical Alaskan weather at this time of year.

As temps dropped down into the single digits, rollerskiing gets less fun! Pounding freezing cold pavement isn’t exactly the nicest thing for your joints. But, with a little extra clothes, and a longer than usual warm up- we made it happen.

One day we were rollerskiing at a local park, where all the ducks have decided to reside around a half frozen pond. They also have chosen to poop all over the trail. So, aside from the trail being half frozen, our skis were also being stopped and tripped up by frozen pooo. It provided for some laughing, a little swearing, and fortunately only one fall that didn’t end up too bad.

Last weekend was also the annual APU ski swap, where all the elite athletes pass down our great equipment to the younger generation of skiers. This is one of the neatest qualities about this elite/junior/devo team. A great pair of skis never leaves the team as someone grows out of them, it just keeps living down the chain. The ski swap is also a time that Kikkan takes the opportunity to clear out her closet and raffle off all her stuff to the young kids.

This is one of the most exciting things I have ever watched. Kikkan manages to accumulate some pretty awesome gear, so the kids get called out by number, have 10 seconds to pick something on the table, and then the next person goes. It’s a pretty awesome thing Kikkan does- and I am sure that 90% of those kids mark the day on the calendar, it’s that exciting!!

On that same day we had one of the young devo team boys and Rob Whitney put on a fundraiser run for Mary Robicheaux, a young devo on our team that got hit by a car while she was biking. Mary has been in the hospitals for the past two months as she is learning to walk again. She suffered a fractured skull, many broken bones in both legs, a broken spine, and a tough road to recovery. She has been amazing though as she has continued to improve from day to day with a whole lot of heart.

Anyways, one of her friends, Luke Jager headed up a running race for the community. He set up a little 5k course that weaved over logs, through trees, around in circles… you name it. It was pretty fun. It was amazing to see the community come together, with around 300 participants, who managed to raise $14,000 for Mary’s recovery.

So, this leads to last weekend. On Wednesday last week, I headed up to Fairbanks for a little on-snow time. Since Fairbanks has about 3 inches of snow, our team was off to find it. This weekend is also the First Tracks Camp, where all the skiers of Alaska group together for the first “on-snow” camp of the season.

It is pretty awesome, they all get to chase all the elite skiers around during training, and then there are a bunch of talks set up from Nutritionists, Health Specialists, NCAA skiers and coaches, and the World Cup Team. With everyone in the same place, everyone gets to take advantage of the others around them. This is the first time I have attended one of these First Tracks Camp, but it is pretty amazing. Thanks Matt Hajdukavich and Challenge Life Alaska for an awesome time!

The final day, we celebrated Halloween and dressed up in costumes for our ski. I was doing intervals this day, so it meant throwing down pretty hard in a pink onesie suit with a white cotton t-shirt on top. It provided for some entertainment though for sure.

Kikkan and Holly also organized a “world-cup field” for the final day where they brought all their race suits from other countries they have accumulated, and then raffled off who got to wear them the final day. The kids also got to wear world cup bibs on top, so it was pretty hilarious to watch the “foreigners” skiing around.

So after four days of sweet skiing, we had to head home for some good “home time” before leaving for the winter. This is also the hardest part. Trying to get your life truly organized before being gone from your home for potentially five months!! Yikes. In the mean time, if you see me on the side of the road dancing… I am just doing the snow dance!! C’mon snow.

FIS XC Athlete Interview with Kikkan Randall

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October 11, 2012 – USA’s Kikkan Randall became the best sprinter on the ladies’ side last season. The skier from Alaska talked to FIS Cross-Country News about her summer preparation, goals for the winter and her four-year term on the FIS Athletes’ Commission.

You are coming to the end of your four-year term as the female representative for Cross-Country on the FIS Athletes’ Commission. How has the experience been and would you like to continue for another four years?
Kikkan Randall: Yes, I have really enjoyed my time on the FIS Athletes’ Commission representing Cross-Country. It has taken these four years to learn the ropes and get to know the people, and I have established some good paths of communication with the top levels of the cross-country committee. So I feel that can I continue to be effective and would enjoy doing this for another four years.

After having such a successful season last year taking the World Cup Overall Sprint title, what are your goals moving forward towards the 2012-13 World Cup season?
KR: Yeah, last year was certainly a lot of fun and I would like to continue to improve at both my sprint and distance results.

You have struggled with a foot injury this summer. Has that affected your off-season training?
KR: Unfortunately, I’ve had to slow down a little bit this summer after good training through mid-August, as it became clear that I had a stress fracture in my right foot. I’ve had to take the last month a little bit easier too give the foot some rest and avoid activities that aggravate it.

What are the activities that bothered the foot?
KR: Primarily, it was skate skiing. But for the past six weeks I have also not run, and only double-poled roller skiing.

Has that changed your approach to the start of the racing season?
KR: Normally I would have been looking forward to really coming in in good form with the opening races in Gallivare, and the mini-tour in Kuusamo, as well as the two sprints in Quebec. But I haven’t been able to skate for six weeks now and it’s still another couple of weeks before that becomes a possibility. Hopefully, I will be ready to participate in those races, but don’t see my form coming around until the Tour de Ski.

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – USSA’s Tom Kelly

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May 22, 2012 (Park City, UT) – In this edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, Peter Graves speaks with USSA VP of Communications, Tom Kelly, at the recent USSA Convention in Park City, UT. Kelly has been involved in the sport for decades, sporting the role of reporter and photographer along the way, and working with such legends as Tony Wise as his Public Relations Director for the Telemark Lodge, along with the venerable journalist Paul Robbins. He was also the co-owner (with Graves) of Worldwide Nordic, a travel company that specialized in trips to the World Loppet and other international Nordic races. Born and raised in Madison, WI, Kelly is also a member of the FIS Media and Marketing Committee. In his interview, he speaks about Kikkan Randall’s historic season, but more significantly, the impact she and her team mates have created with regards to cross-country skiing in the USA.

Tom Kelly

Kikkan Randall Takes Manhattan

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April 12, 2012 (New York, NY) – On April 4, Kikkan Randall, her mother, Deborah, and brother, Tanner, hit up NYC with Randall’s FIS Crystal Globe in tow. Their reason for schlepping the globe in its big silver case to the Big Apple? Photo ops! TeamUSA.org was on hand to snap some great pics of the Crystal Globe, Randall, her family, and US XC Team member Liz Stephen in Times Square. Check out the fabulous photos HERE.

Kikkan Randall – Finally Home

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April 11, 2012 (Anchorage, AK) – After spending five months racing and training in Europe, USST member and 2011/12 FIS WCup XC Sprint champion Kikkan Randall, 29,  finally returned to her home in Anchorage, Alaska. This was the first time Randall committed to staying in Europe for the entire season and it paid off big for the US star as she took home the Sprint Cup globe. But as we all know there’s no place like home as she recently tweetedSo nice to be back in my kitchen. Home cooked Tex Mex with my hubby.

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – US XC Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover

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April 06, 2012 – On this week’s edition of Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, renowned sports journalist and announcer Peter Graves speaks with US XC Ski Team Head Coach, Chris Grover. In his interview, Grover reflects on the historic season for the US squad, that saw Kikkan Randall take home an overall World Cup series title, the American women storm the international circuit with tremendous results, the first distance points for sprint star Andy Newell, and a U23 Worlds silver medal for Noah Hoffman. Graves and Grover explore what changed within the US team and with the athletes themselves that made their fantastic season a reality.

Grover has a 25-year history in the sport, with nearly 20 of those years as a coach, telling Graves that Randall’s hard work, focus, and energy made her achievement a reality and showed the entire team it is possible to make it to the top. Looking at the next generation, Jessie Diggins floored onlookers this season with the incredible leap she made in her skiing, such as when she qualified first in the Moscow sprints.

Chris Grover

 

Talkin’ With the Gravy-Train – Sprint World Cup GLOBE Winner Kikkan Randall

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March 26, 2012 (Falun, Sweden) – Following her historic crystal globe presentation in Falun, Sweden, Peter Graves caught up with the USA’s biggest XC ski sensation of the last three decades, FIS World Cup Sprint series winner Kikkan Randall. Randall reflects on her incredibly successful World Cup season in which she placed fifth overall in addition to her Sprint Cup title victory. She was finally awarded the crystal globe on Sunday, March 18, and was awed by the trophy’s sheer weight.

Randall is the first American women to win a World Cup overall title ending a 30-year drought as the last time the US won a World Cup title was when the legendary Bill Koch captured the men’s overall in 1982. But her season is not quite over yet. The shining star stayed in Scandinavia a little longer to compete in some invitational sprints such as the Red Bull Nordix and returned home this past weekend to race in the USSA SuperTour Finals and 30/50km National Championships on from March 24-31 in Craftsbury, VT…

Kikkan Randall

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest Standings after Drammen

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March 09, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy WCup 2011/12 Contest standings after the WCup in Drammen, Norway where USA’s Kikkan Randall made history when she clinched the women’s WCup Sprint title. Read about it HERE

It was also a decisive day for team JOlca2 who jumped into the pole position ahead of longtime leader Siggy’s Speedsters.  The race is incredibly tight, with only a one-point difference – JOlca2 has 1,553 points to Siggy’s Speedsters’ 1,552. Team FxGo has maintained third place with 1,527 points. The maximum number of points after Drammen is 1,629.

For the complete FIS WCup Fantasy Contest standings after Drammen click HERE

The next FIS WCup takes place in Oslo, Mar. 10-11.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2011/12 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 11/12 Carbonlite Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd PrizeSkiGo Carbon 780 Roller Skis (value $580)
* 3rd Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $449)
* 4th Prize Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 5th Prize Sporthill XC Pants/Tights and Glacier Top (value $220)
* 6th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $150)
* 7th Prize – Bliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 8th PrizeRottefella Xcelerator Skate/Classic Bindings (value $120)
* 9th Prize
Concept2 Goodie Duffle Bag (value $100)
* 10th PrizeAuclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup BreakBuff Headware (value $23) to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski

Thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, SkiGo, Alpina, Bjorn Daehlie Clothing, Sporthill, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Rottefella, Bliz, Concept 2, Auclair, and Buff.

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).

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – FIS Sprint Cup Leader Kikkan Randall Interview

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February 15, 2012 (Poland) – This week on Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, Peter Graves checked in with top American female skier Kikkan Randall, the FIS Sprint Cup leader who is currently preparing for the inaugural WCup races in Szklarska Poreba, Poland. Despite a recent stomach bug and cold that forced Randall to sit out some races, she is pleased with her season to date – going so far to describe it as “wonderful”. Randall has two WCup wins this season and claimed two silver medals recently in Milan (in the individual sprint and team sprint, alongside team mate Jessie Diggins), plus pre-Xmas she took home a silver at the Dusseldorf team sprint with Sadie Bjornsen and at the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy she won silver in the FR Sprint. Randall sits 5th in the overall standings and Graves caught up wit her in Poland… XC ski fans rejoice – all of the Gravy-Train interviews will be archived shortly for fans to enjoy all season…

Interview w/Kikkan Randall

The Way I See It – US and Canadian Women’s Relay Teams

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February 14, 2012 – US Best – Sunday’s relay effort by the US women has to be one of the top racing days in the history of Women’s Cross Country skiing in the US – if not the top day. It opened a huge gateway into the future. There were many reasons for this relay to be a bomb of the year rather than an effort that would have everyone over here cheering in their offices, breakfast nooks, cars, and where ever they were watching this effort on their computers.

For starters Kikkan Randall, the team’s best skier, sat out another race. On top of that the four ladies on the team had skied a very hard 15km CL WC the day before, Holly Brooks (the starter) is still wearing her wrist splint (now and then) and doesn’t have a bunch of races under her belt the last few weeks and didn’t finish the classic race the day before. Ida, the 4th lady in the pecking order, was replacing Kikkan the leader – BUT – on race day they came to the start line dressed in their striped USA red, white and blue socks over their uniforms and painted red and blue USA’s on their faces to lay down four of the best performances in their careers landing the best-ever USA relay result – 5th place.

Not only missing 4th place by a second, but being less then a minute behind Norway who won – that is something to talk about. QUESTION: What does the future hold – it’s exciting for everyone – and kudos to the coaches and the skiers for their dedication to having such an aggressive approach to building the relay team’s going forward – here we come Sochi! They now have quality and depth in taking this direction that they decided on in the summer months. Sounds like a plan!

Now North of The Border – You have just the opposite direction being taken by the Ladies program in Canada. As I wrote last week the women never made it to Rybinsk and now moving forward (or backward) from there only Perianne [Jones] was in Nove Mesto, while Chandra had to go home for a family emergency and Dasha, the lone member of the newly formed “senior team”, was in Seefeld with her boyfriend for training and an Austrian Alps holiday. It’s been two weeks and only one of the three ladies has raced once in that period – not an international scope in focus that I can see.

Here are some of the numbers that will show you the disparity between the US and the Candian women’s program when it comes to racing starts from the beginning of the season in Sjusjoen, Norway to Nove Mesto, CZE.

Canadian Ladies:
– Dasha – 15 races
– Perianne – 17
– Chandra – 17 (emergency trip home)

US Ladies:
– Jessie – 24
– Kikkan – 35
– Holly – 34 (broken wrist)
– Liz – 33
– Ida – 25
– Sadie – 19 (off the circuit a couple of weeks ago)

I don’t place the blame on the Canadian girls, but on the coaching staff, mainly [Justin] Wadsworth and [Eric] DeNys as they work with the ladies and chart the course for the year. But mainly it’s the coaches direction and expertise that is counted on here for going in the right direction. You say I’m not being fair, what about the Men’s program? They’ve been pounding the circuit since Sjusjoen in mid-November, so why not the Ladies? It’s a program that is not building towards Sochi.

I can remember watching Devon [Kershaw] fighting his way through season’s 5-6 years ago and getting beaten down but going back for more the next year… and look at him now.

The Canadian Ladies are racing about 1.4 races per week (mostly sprints) which is not enough to be in racing shape. This plan has way too many breaks – the training should have been done in the summer. I think this was the way of the 90s, the old North American way, not the new dedicated “we will be in Europe all winter way” adopted supposedly by both team this year. Sorry Canadian Ladies – you got the short straw this year.

Can any of the Canadian Ladies make it to Falun for the WCup finals…? Not likely – Chandra has a chance, but it is slipping away fast. Time for this program to change gears – real fast.

Talk To You Next Time,
Marty

USA’s Diggins Makes Final as Kowalczyk Tops the Field at Moscow WCup 1.5k Free Sprint

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February 02, 2012 (Moscow, Russia) – Twenty-year-old Jessica Diggins (USA) scored sixth today in the 1.5km Women’s Freestyle Sprint in Moscow, her best-ever individual World Cup result. Diggins was on fire qualifying first with a 2.47-second margin and started the final wearing the #1 bib – read more on the qualifications HERE.

“When I heard the results after the qualifier I actually thought it was some sort of joke they were playing on me! And then I did a couple backflips on the inside. Sometimes it all comes together at the right moment and you’re just having a great day,” Diggins told SkiTrax after her race.

Veteran skier, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) put the power down when it counted in the final to take the win, followed by Natalia Korosteleva (RUS) in second and Anastasia Kotsenko (RUS) third. Diggins, who skied in third and fourth positions for most of the final, couldn’t maintain the blistering pace, and finished sixth. With her victory Kowalczyk takes over the overall WCup lead from Marit Bjoergen (NOR) who did not compete in Moscow but expects to be racing in Rybinsk this weekend.“The final was such an unreal experience for me, I was just so psyched to be there and tried my best to keep up but ran out of energy in the last couple hundred meters. But I was super pumped to be right there, in the fight and maybe someday I’ll be able to hang on longer,” said Diggins.

Diggins was the only North American to qualify for the final. Teammate and WCup Sprint Cup leader, Kikkan Randall, just missed out to finish seventh overall, with Ida Sargent 12th. Daria Gaiazova (CAN) was the top Canuck in 22nd, followed by team mates Perianne Jones in 24th and Chandra Crawford 36th.

“Wasn’t quite what I hoped for myself, but great to see my teammates ski so well,” Randall told SkiTrax. “Jessie looked like she has been doing this for years, skiing so smooth and confident. And great to see Ida get right in the mix as well.” It was an historic finish for the USA as it was the first time three Americans had made the semi finals.

Randall has been under the weather recently and we wondered if she’s 100% or still a little flat after being sick. “I think I’ve rebounded pretty well but I did feel like I was missing my final sprint gear today. I think I was about 95%,” said the Sprint Cup leader.

“It was pretty cold and windy out there!  Just like racing at Kincaid stadium in Anchorage,” quipped Randall.

The qualifying heats were exciting for Diggins, who led her quarterfinal from the start, only to be nipped at the line by Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE). Randall was in the same boat, leading her quarterfinal, only to be taken at the finish, while Sargent squeaked into her first semis as a Lucky Loser.

Things heated up for the U.S. trio in the semis, with all three contesting the same heat. The Americans led for most of the semi, with Diggins taking the win, and Russia’s Korosteleva nipping Randall for second. Sargent finished sixth.

“In the semifinal I had a moment where I realized that USA was going 1-2-3 and I was just so excited to be there and be in that moment, making some history go down,” said Diggins.

Was Randall  surprised that Korostaleva nipped her at the line? “I knew she was coming on strong and I was having trouble digging into my sprint gear. I didn’t come off the bridge as strong as I wanted too and I think that cost me some momentum.  I gave it what I had but I didn’t quite have enough to the line today. Frustrating for sure to be so close,” she confided.

Diggins is stoked for her next chance to compete with the world’s best at this weekend’s FIS World Cup events in Rybinsk, Russia, Feb. 4-5. “I don’t have any big strategies for Rybinsk… just to go as fast as I can, and do my best.”

Qualifying results HERE.
Final results HERE.
WCup Overall standings 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!

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?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More reports to come in a few days!!

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

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

Cheers,

Kikkan

Q & A with Kikkan Randall – Drafting

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December 08, 2011 – In this week’s edition of Kikkan Randall’s Q&A, biathlete Carsen Campbell asked an interesting question about drafting in racing. Kikkan responded with some valuable tips and a word of caution…. Check out Randall’s Training Rap HERE and check her MAILBAG for all Q&As thru the season.

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Q&A Drafting

Hello Kikkan,

I am a biathlete from eastern Canada and am trying to take my raceing to a new level, my question regards drafting. How effective and important is this? Any insight you could provide and tips for effective drafting would be of great help to me.

Good luck, and keep up the great results.

Thanks,

Carsen Campbell

Hey Carsen,

Thanks for your question. Drafting is always a curious topic. Sometimes it can really make a difference and sometimes it doesn’t seem to really work at all.

From my experience, if you can tuck in behind a good skier and follow their rhythm, it can help teach you how to make efficient movements and stay relaxed in your own skiing. You can also save up a little energy for that last punch you need at the finish.

The only thing to consider when drafting is that you are at the mercy of the skier ahead. They get to take whatever line they want, they could fall or bobble and you may have a hard time getting around them when it counts. So my advice is to practice skiing behind others in practice and learn to always be ready for something to happen.

Good luck in your racing!

Cheers,
Kikkan :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results

Women

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

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

Men

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

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

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

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

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – Andy Newell Interview

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November 24, 2011   – Check out the third installment of our new SkiTrax audio series, Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, featuring legendary commentator and sports reporter Peter Graves. Our guest this week is US skier, Andy Newell, who just arrived in Kuusamo, Finland for this weekend’s Viessmann FIS XC World Cup races. Newell reflects on his performance last weekend in Sjusjoen, Norway and looks ahead to round two, which starts Friday.

Peter’s first interviewee was Kikkan Randall, and if you missed that interview, click HERE. For Peter’s interview with Kris Freeman, click HERE.

Audio Interview with Newell

Sjusjoen World Cup Opener Photos by Holly Brooks

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November 23, 2011 (Sjusjoen, Norway) – Check out the gallery of photos below from this past weekend’s World Cup opening races in Sjusjoen, Norway, courtesy of  the USST’s Holly Brooks. The women of the USST had a historic weekend, with personal best results in individual distances races by Kikkan Randall (8th) and Liz Stephen (18th), and a historic ninth place in the women’s 4x5km relay (anchored by Brooks), equaling their performance in the World Championships in Oslo last year. While the US men couldn’t match the success of the women’s team, they put in some good hard efforts, including finishing 11th in the men’s 4x10km relay, and will be looking to move up the results in Kuusamo, Finland this weekend.

For Women’s Relay coverage, click HERE.
For Women’s 10km Free coverage, click HERE.

The Sasseville Report – First World Cup is in the Can

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train – Kikkan Randall Interview UPDATED

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November 11, 2011 (Hanover, NH) – Check out the first edition of an all-new SkiTrax audio series, Talkin’ with the Gravy-Train, featuring legendary commentator and sports reporter Peter Graves, who will present a series of interviews, discussions and conversations throughout this season with elite athletes and coaches. Our inaugural guest, Kikkan Randall, spoke with Graves at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Due to an unfortunate glitch the full interview with Kikkan was not posted initially but it is now with our apologies-ed.

 

 

Audio Interview with Kikkan Randall

 

Q & A with Kikkan Randall – Nutrition

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November 04, 2011 (Park City, UT) – In today’s edition of Kikkan Randall’s Q&A, Everett Wilson asked a great question about nutrition for athletes and Kikkan reveals her sweet treat of choice…. Check out Randall’s Training Rap HERE and check her MAILBAG for all Q&As thru the season.

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Q&A Nutrition

Hi Kikkan,

Really enjoying your training rap. I’m a cyclist as well and think about nutrition and the sports I partake in more than I actually put into practice but know it’s an important factor in the whole “equation” so to speak. I love all kinds of foods and any tips you can share would be great.

Thanks,

Everett Wilson
Calgary, AB

Hi Everett,

Thanks for your question. As an athlete you can appreciate the role nutrition plays in optimal performance! I like to think of my body as a race car engine, the higher the quality of the fuel I put in it, the “faster” the performance I get out. That means eating a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats and a lot of fruits and vegetables. One of the benefits of being an endurance athlete too, is that the engine burns pretty hot so there is a little room for “treats” in there too. One of my favorite treats after a tough interval session is the white chip Macademia nut cookies at Subway.

Basically, if I eat a smart balance of foods and time my meals/snacks to occur every couple hours, I keep an even level of energy that allows me to handle all of the training and racing my schedule demands.

Enjoy the winter!

Cheers,
Kikkan :)

Fast and Female Visits Fairbanks, Alaska

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November 01, 2011 (Fairbanks, AK) – As a young girl, Fairbanks’ Becca Rorabaugh had the opportunity to cross paths with Beckie Scott – the first Canadian and first North American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing with gold at the Salt Lake City games and silver at the 2006 Games in the team sprint with Sara Renner.

“North American elite skiers once did early season training in Fairbanks, and when I was about 10 years old I was lucky enough to meet Becky Scott,” explained Rorabaugh. “Basically the only words we exchanged were “Hi! My name is Becca too!”, but the inspiration of meeting her steered me to aim for the Olympics,” recalled the enthusiastic athlete.

Twelve years later, Rorabaugh, who is now 22 and an aspiring Olympian in cross-country skiing, took it upon herself to host a Fast and Female event in the hope of recreating this same magic for the next generation of Fairbanks racers.

On the eve of Halloween, Rorabaugh fulfilled her vision. Teaming up with APU Nordic Ski Center teammates and Olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks, she hosted more than 50 young female skiers ages 9 to 19 for the first ever Fast and Female Fairbanks event.

On this special occasion, the Fairbanks Nordic Ski Club saw a sea of girls in pink take part in cross-country ski drills, yoga, motivational presentations and a poster signing session – all led by Rorabaugh, Randall, and Brooks.

“Many of the girls seemed to really enjoy and absorb some great technique pointers from our experienced Ambassadors,” specified Randall, lead Fast and Female ambassador in the US and double World Cup winner on the Cross-country circuit in 2011.

“Some of the highlights for me were watching the swirl of neon colors, and especially the pink, zing around the four ski stations and then watching everyone synchronized in the warrior II pose during the yoga session,” added Randall, a full-time World Cup athlete who has already hosted three Fast and Female events in her hometown of Anchorage over the past three years.

Rorabaugh knew she accomplished her goal as girls left the event with huge smiles on their faces and a renewed sense of commitment to their own Olympic dreams.

“Kaya, Zoe and I REALLY got a lot out of it,” confirmed mom and volunteer Kim Troxel in an email following the event. “We all feel energized to go for it with skiing and running! These types of opportunities make a huge difference in girls’ (and women’s) lives so THANK YOU,” she concluded.

This activity was made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as the presenting sponsor – SBS Retirement Consultants LLC, as well as the Fairbanks Nordic Ski Club, Bettisworth North, Lulu’s Bread & Bagels, Equinox Physical Therapy, Martha Hanlon Architects, Fairbanks Cancer Treatment Center, Beaver Sports, Challenge Life Racing and Goldstream Sports.

“I can only hope that today’s event might have a similar affect for the next generation of girls, and I am proud to have helped bring it to Fairbanks,” added Rorabaugh who will soon kick off a busy season of racing. “The community response was incredible and I am very thankful that so many businesses and volunteers were so generous. Fairbanks certainly embraced the Fast and Female mission with open arms,” she concluded.

Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, LUNA Bars, and LIT Glitter – also provided key resources to making this event possible.

The next Fast and Female youth event will be the December 3 Alpine day held in conjunction with Alberta Alpine’s Legends Club in Canmore and Lake Louise, Alberta. For more information about this event, visit: www.fastandfemale.com

First-Ever Fast and Female Park City Event – October 8

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September 02, 2011 (Park City, UT / Canmore, AB) – A dynamic and inspiring group of 25 world-class female athletes is preparing to host a once-in-a-lifetime Fast and Female event in Park City on October 8, 2011 at the USSA’s Center of Excellence.

Held in partnership with the U. S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and open to girls ages 9 to 19 practicing all sports, the event will feature an afternoon of fun and non-competitive dryland training followed by a motivational presentation. The activity will conclude with a yoga segment and an autograph signing session.

The highlight of the Fast and Female Park City event will be the presence of the following 25 world-class female athletes representing the sports of Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Cross-Country Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Snowboard, and Speed Skating:

– Shannon Bahrke (Moguls)
– Erin Bartlett (Short Track Skating)
– Sadie Bjornsen (XC Skiing)
– Brittany Bowe (Long Track Skating)
– Holly Brooks (XC Skiing)
– Sarah Chen (Short Track Skating)
– Callan Chythlook-Sifsof (Snowboardcross)
– Annelies Cook (USA Biathlete)
– Emily Cook (Aerials)
– Alexa Devereaux (Aerials)
– Jessie Diggins (XC Skiing)
– Alyson Dudek (Short Track Skating)
– Kaitlyn Farrington (Halfpipe)
– Faye Gulini (Snowboardcross)
– Morgan Izykowski (Short Track Skating)
– Zina Kocher (Canadian Biathlete)
– Jana Lindsey (Aerials)
– Chelsea Marshall (Alpine)
– Andrea Mayo (Biathlete)
– Netanya Mintz (Long Track Skating)
– Kikkan Randall (XC Skiing)
– Melanie Shultz (Canadian Biathlete)
– Jessica Smith (Short Track Skating)
– Kathryn Stone (Biathlete)
– Liz Stephen (XC Skiing)

On this special occasion, more than 150 aspiring female athletes will get first-hand experience from this select group of athletes – all of which are active World Cup/Europa Cup competitors and the majority of which are Olympians.

“Sports have taught me so many important life lessons and have made me the person I am today,” said Shannon Bahrke silver medalist in moguls at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, bronze medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and 2003 was the World Cup Champion.

“Setting lofty goals, working hard to achieve them, and never giving up when things get hard are just a few of those lessons that I want to instill in young female athletes. I know they can do anything because girl athletes are awesome and we rule,” concluded Bahrke who became the first US women’s freestyle skier to win multiple Olympic medals with her bronze medal in 2010.

The key objective for the afternoon will be to motivate girls to stick to sports by exposing them to inspiring and positive female role models. It is said that girls are six times more likely to drop out of sports than boys.

“I chose to be a part of ‘Fast and Female’ because I know the difference it has made for me to live a fun and active lifestyle,” said Emily Cook, a two-time Olympian with five career World Cup podiums. “I am really excited to help pass on the lessons that I have learned through sport like teamwork, leadership, being confident and having fun to young women in our community and to have some time to play and sweat with these amazing ladies,” she added.

As a non-profit and North-America-wide program started in 2005 by Chandra Crawford – Canada’s 2006 Olympic gold medalist in cross country – Fast and Female is intensely focused on delivering effective programming to keep girls in sports. So far in 2011, Fast and Female has hosted a total of 10 events, reaching 1,030 girls. The Park City event marks the fourth event held on U.S. soil this year and also the first U.S. event ever held with ambassadors from sports other than cross country skiing. Past Fast and Female events held in the U.S. in 2011 took place in Maine, Alaska, and Sun Valley – all on snow.

“It’s been a fun journey bringing Fast and Female to the US in cross-country,” said Kikkan Randall, lead Fast and Female ambassador in the US and double World Cup winner on the Cross-country circuit in 2011. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to expand into more disciplines with this Park City event,” added the full-time athlete who has held three Fast and Female events in her hometown of Anchorage since 2009.

To complement the youth programming, parents and coaches are invited to join the “Amazing Tips Seminar”. While the girls will be taking part in the dryland stations, adults will have the opportunity to attend three insightful presentations on Sport Psychology/Mental Toughness with Dr. Lauren Loberg, NCC, CC-AASP (Director of Athlete Career and Education), on Nutrition/Fueling the Fast Female with Adam Korzun (High Performance Dietician) and on Injury Prevention and Body Maintenance with Jess Tidswell, PT. DPT, ATC (Medical Resident Physical Therapist/Athletic Trainer). All three guest speakers are experts in their respective fields and employees of USSA.

The registration fee for the youth segment is $20 per participant and includes a Fast and Female t-shirt, a Buff, a snack, an autograph poster. Parents and coaches can also secure a seat by purchasing a ticket for $20 which includes access to the seminar and a Fast and Female t-shirt valued at $20.

All registrations are compiled online HERE. Please note that financial assistance is available for participants in need. Please contact info@fastandfemale.com to inquire.

The deadline to register online is October 6, 2011. On-site registrations will be at a rate of $25 per participant.

This activity is made possible thanks to valuable local partners such as USSA, US Bank, Einstein’s Bagels, and Knead a Massage. Fast and Female’s national sponsors – including Best Buy, Buff Multifunctional Headwear, Cold-FX, LUNA Bars, and LIT Glitter – are also providing key resources to make this event possible. For a complete list of Fast and Female national program supporters and sponsors, please click HERE.

SPRINT to WIN Video

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August 24, 2011 (Canmore, AB) – Since Beckie Scott’s breakthrough win at the 2002 Winter Olympics, North American sprinters have enjoyed growing success on the international cross-country race circuit. SPRINT to WIN, produced in 2008, features commentary from some of the most accomplished sprinters including Beckie Scott, Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford. Insight on the evolution of sprint racing is also provided from sprinting greats Kikkan Randall, Bjorn Lind, Emil Joensson and Devon Kershaw.

Purchase Sprint to Win HERE.

USA’s Randall and Stephen – Stoked on Sweden

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June 23, 2011 (Ostersund, Sweden) – U.S. XC Ski Teamers Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen are back from their whirlwind 2.5-week training trip to Sweden where they hung out with the Swedish National Team for some fabulous dryland and on-snow training, including some cultural exchange while making new friends.

“Last year I trained for a couple of weeks in Norway during the off season and at the last FIS Athlete Council meeting I chatted with Anna Haag and Emil Joensson and they invited me to Sweden to train with their team,” Randall told SkiTrax on her return. “Liz was interested as well so things took off from there.”

Randall and Stephen logged some great dryland and on-snow sessions in Mora, Ostersund and Torsby where they checked out the ski tunnel. Ostersund, located in the middle of Sweden on Lake Storsjön, is known as Winter City (Vinterstaden) and has hosted several National and World Championships including the Nordic Games, a precursor to the Winter Olympic Games – read more HERE.

According to Randall Ostersund is an awesome skiing hub. “It’s like a mini-athlete’s village. Many of the country’s top athletes including lots of xc skiers live there so there’s plenty of ongoing activities and opportunities.”

“The ski tunnel facility in Torsby is uber-cool. You can be roller skiing in the morning and be on snow in the afternoon. The temperature inside the tunnel is a brisk -3 degrees Celsius. Gliding on snow during the summer there reminded me why I love this sport,” quipped Randall.

The duo were introduced to Swedish cooking along with attending Haag’s cousin’s graduation ceremony and are even more hooked on Scandinavia. “We’re stoked in Sweden,” added Randall. So how’s her Swedish? “You know as much as I’ve travelled around the world because of skiing I’ve only been able to pick up some casual phrases here and there because everyone speaks such good English.”

Look for a full report from Randall and Stephen on their Swedish escapades… meanwhile, the above pics should whet your appetite. Skol.

Enter the U.S. Ski Team Women’s Video Challenge

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June 14, 2011 – The U.S. Ski Team women are inviting women’s cross country ski teams and summer training groups throughout North America to participate in a video challenge. Rally your team, training group, or summer training camp and send in a video of your summer training experience by July 15, 2011!

Goals:
– Bring together all women ski training in North America for one project
– Emphasize the importance of group training sessions
– Celebrate and generate awareness of the number of women training in North America
– Take a step back to remember what is fun about skiing for you and your team

Video Requirements:
– 3 minutes in length
– Include a brief introduction to the team or training group
– Video should show your group training together
– Humor and hardcore training are encouraged!
– The color pink is recommended

U.S. Ski Team’s Entry:

 

To submit your video: Upload it to www.youtube.com and title your video “U.S. Ski Team Women’s Video challenge – (team/group name)”, and send the link and a brief description of your training group to xcwomenrock@gmail.com. Keep your link “unlisted” until July 15th. All videos must be submitted by July 15th. The online video festival will begin on July 20th. All videos will be featured on the USSA Nordic Facebook channel.

Prizes will be awarded.

Kikkan Randall Conquers Tallest Peak in Maui

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April 28, 2011 – U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall is currently enjoying some well-deserved vacation time in Hawaii after a long competitive XC ski season, which included World Cup medals and a top 10 in the overall World Cup standings. According to Randall’s Twitter feed, she’s not slacking off and sitting on the couch. She has been staying active, spending a lot of time on the bike, as well as canoeing and paddle boarding. She recently cycled up one of Hawaii’s tallest peak, Haleakala at 3, 055m / 10,023 feet.

Follow Randall on Twitter HERE.

Randall, Freeman and Newell to Present and Ski at the Cross Country Ski Areas Association Annual Conference

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April 07, 2011 (Auburn, NH) – Fischer Skis and Swix Sport announced they are sponsoring the participation of U.S. Ski Team members, Fischer ski and Swix pole athletes Kikkan Randall, Kris Freeman and Andy Newell at the 2011 Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) Annual Conference at the Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort, April 12-14. The three Olympians’ participation offers conference attendees as well as local Masters and Juniors Nordic enthusiasts the rare opportunity to meet and ski with the best cross country racers the U.S. has to offer.

On Wednesday, April 13, the three Fischer/Swix athletes will join CCSAA members and guests for dinner at The Ritz-Carlton hotel, Lake Tahoe. Immediately following, they will showcase World Cup race footage and share first-hand accounts of the recent competition.

On Thursday, April 14, the three will join conference attendees as they ski the 14km groomed Nordic trail from Northstar to the Tahoe Cross Country Center in the morning. That afternoon, Kikkan, Kris and Andy will host clinics open to both Masters and Junior skiers at the Northstar trails. Visit the Cross Country Ski Areas Association Web site for details on this special opportunity HERE.

“We are very excited to grant our friends at the CCSAA conference unique access to these World Cup athletes,” said Peter Ashley, vice president, Nordic Division, Fischer Skis U.S. “Exposure to this level of athlete is rare off the race circuit, and now junior racers and conference attendees alike will enjoy time with them as they share tips on technique and recount recent season highlights and record wins.”

Fischer Skis dominated the 2011 World Championships, taking 71% of ski medals and 32% of the boot medals. Kikkan Randall finished tenth in the Overall World Cup, and her third place finish in the sprint overall rankings is the best finish ever by a U.S. Nordic sprint athlete.

Andy Newell capped off his World Cup season with a fifth place finish in the final World Cup Sprint event held in Stockholm, Sweden, and has finished within the top ten sprint overall rankings five times in his career.

Kris Freeman had numerous top ten finishes in World Cup distance events this season and will begin the World Cup season next year in the prestigious World Cup Red Group, reserved for the top thirty racers in the world.