Tag Archive | "petra majdic"

Majdic’s Former Coach Resigns from Slovenian Ski Team

Tags: , , , , , ,

April 18, 2012 – Ivan Hudac, longtime coach of Petra Majdic, has prematurely terminated the contract with Slovenian Ski Team. Majdic ended her professional racing career after the season 2010/11. Since then, Hudac has been coaching the Slovenian men’s U23 team with Gregor Kralj, Matija Rimahazi, Matej Simenc, Amel Scuk and Domen Potocnik.

“After careful consideration, and certain circumstances, I decided to prematurely terminate the four-year contract with the Slovenian Ski Team. I wish the team much success in the future, but now I want take some time for myself to consider what to do next,” Hudač said to rtvslo.si.

Ivan Hudac coached Petra Majdic for many years and led her to success including two medals from the World Championships, silver in classical sprint in Sapporo and bronze in free technique sprint in Oslo and the famous bronze medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010.

Tour de Barents – More Photos

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Read more HERE.

2011 FIS XC WCup Falun Finale – More Photos

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 21, 2011 (Falun, Sweden) – If you missed the action at this past weekend’s 2011 FIS Viessmann WCup finale in Falun, Sweden check out this great photo gallery of some of the sport’s top skiers as the season’s final champions were crowned following the 10/15km Handicap start pursuit race. Norway’s Marit Bjoergen and Petter Northug won the final mini tour while Dario Cologna (SUI) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) were crowned the overall season champions – read more here and here.

One Way Team Success with PREMIO Poles at Oslo and IBU Worlds

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 09, 2011 – One Way is pleased with its athletes’ performances at the 2011 FIS Nordic Ski Worlds in Oslo, Norway and IBU Championships in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia, with five gold medals and even more hardware, courtesy of Martin Fourcade, Vibeke Skofterud, Kristin Stoermer-Steira, the French Nordic Combined team with Jason Lamy Chappuis, Tord Asle Gjerdalen, and many more.

After the launch of the Diamond Storm PREMIO poles, all of One Way’s athletes switched immediately to the new technology. The new generation of stiffness in this high end racing pole created a lot of excitement at the World Championships.

Congratulations to all athletes.





















OSLO 2011 Nordic Worlds – Set to Open

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 23, 2011 (Oslo, Norway) – The excitement is expected to build to a crescendo this evening, not far from the Royal Palace in downtown Oslo, as the 2011 FIS World Nordic Championships are set to kick off. Members of the Canadian and U.S. Cross -Country ski team made their final preparations on Tuesday on the perfect ski tracks at Oslo’s famed Holmenkollen venue.

With the trees laden with snow and with light snow falling, it made for the ideal scene set for these much anticipated championships to begin.

Kikkan Randall took her final tune up on the tracks and said she was ready. “I feel great and very energized following the Drammen races and I am set to go. The sprint course is really one I like very much, it has all the right elements,” said Randall who goes into the FIS Championships poised and confident following her second World Cup win this season in Drammen.

U.S. Head Coach Chris Grover also said his charges are ready, “We are all healthy and everyone is happy and ready”.

While we tested announcing systems today for the qualifying events, the top ten of each race of men and women will be able to ski in these championships. Among them was Dartmouth’s former star, Ben Koons, who is skiing for New Zealand here, along with brother Nils. Well-known Kenyan skier Philip Boit also took part, who is now coached by the legendary Norwegian champion Bjorn Daehlie, who came our booth today for a chat. There were big crowds on hand for these races today, as there was no charge to attend.

At mid-day SkiTrax attended a Fischer Press Event and the room was full of among the best-known Fischer athletes in the sport also among the favorites here in Oslo – here are some notes from the press Conference…

Petra Majdic started things off on a lighthearted note with a line about her fall at Whistler. “The organizers have told me all the “holes” on the course are all protected. In some ways it is still in my mind. But I am very happy with my win in Oberstdorf with my first victory. I am happy to be here in Oslo, I will do my best.”

She made her final preparations in Doblach for three weeks at high-altitude it was a little risky. “I was not fresh in Drammen, but I feel better now here. I like the tracks in Oslo because they are not the easiest and will give everyone a very fair fight. Some of the girls are more aggressive than I am; the three uphills aren’t too steep (on the sprint course). So the course should be good for me.”

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla coming off a second place last weekend in the sprints told members of the press today, “I will start in every race except the team sprint, and my favourite race will be the last one… the 30km in skating.

“I also look forward to the relay. The World Championships are something I have looked forward to for a long time. Our team has had a great summer and fall, and there’s a lot of strong young girls coming up and this helps me to improve as well.”

Yet, current world cup points leader Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk will also figure in the mix, as will Arianna Follis of Italy. The Norwegians have a strong women’s squad and relative newcomer Maiken Caspersen Falla is primed and ready for action.

Among the women’s elite count Norway’s ski queen Marit Bjorgen as a huge favourite and likely to take several medals at these events.

And it goes without saying that Norway’s Petter Northug will be strong in all events, as will Swiss skier Dario Cologna along with Swedes Marcus Hellner and Emil Joensson. The Russians looked good today in practice as well.

Then it was time for Hellner. “We have the same great spirit like the women’s team in Sweden. I will compete Wednesday – I have been waiting for this championships to start and I am like a child before Christmas,” he said.

Lucas Bauer (CZE) said he was happy to be in Oslo adding, “it is much more easy for me to compete here than under the eye of the press. I like tough tracks, so it should be good for me here.” Bauer is a powerful, tough skier who seems to be always near the top for the Czech Republic.

Nordic Combined athlete Felix Gottwald of Austria spoke of the new hills in Oslo. “I didn’t jump so well today in training and that’s okay – but I do want to jump well on Saturday. ”

For the record, several USST combiners had a fine day of jump training with Todd Lodwick having one of the longest jumps of the day with a ride at 105.0 meters. Bill Demong and Bryan Fletcher all jumped beyond 100 meters in training as well.

Other combined picks must go to the highly regarded French skier, Jason Lamy Chappuis, born in Montana. Also watch for the pair of Norwegians Mikko Kokslien and Magnus Moan.

In ski jumping both Simon Amman of Switzerland and Andreas Kofler of Austria took part in the press function and appeared up beat and ready. They will face the likes of Tom Hilde of Norway and other top Austrians.

Team USA appears strong with a big women’s team here led by the current world champion Lindsey Van from Park City. But the local crowds will be behind another great skiing pioneer, Anette Sagen, who took the bronze medal at the last championships in Liberec.

It looks to many that both the US and Canadian squads are heading into Oslo with strong skiers, and we expect to see some improved performances over the Liberec Worlds.

Record crowds are expected to attend these championships, while many rabid fans have already been camping out in the nearby forests near the racing trails to cheering for their favourites.

Yes, it’s all good – xc skiing here is so much more than a sport, but truly “a way of life”.

The Sasseville Report – A Look at the Otepaa WCup

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

January 25, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – It was so good to see a “traditional” cross-country ski race on Saturday from Otepaa. The 10 and 15km individual start classic races were great to watch. I grew up with this form of racing and it’s what attracted me to the sport in the first place. For me racing against the clock and yourself with no one to help you is the purest form of racing. I used to argue with cycling road racers about the merits of racing by yourself or in a pack, and we agreed that it takes a different kind of mentality to do these two types of races.

You can really see this in Petter Northug (NOR). He’s a pack racer and a sprinter with the perfect mentality and physiology for those types of races. He’s not nearly as good as an individual start competitor. His 8th place on Saturday in Otepaa was actually a good race for him. I believe that 20 years ago, he would not have nearly as many good results that he has achieved when most of the races were individual starts. I also do not believe that his compatriot, the great Bjoern Dahlie, would have been as good back then if they were using mass starts because he did not have a very good sprint. Most of his races were won long before the final 200 meters.

However the same cannot be said for Norway’s queen, Marit Bjoergen. She is the best at everything. She can win an individual start by over 30 seconds like she did on Saturday and also win mass start races and sprints. She is just so dominant that it has become a surprise when she does not win. Once again, on Sunday in the individual sprints, for the second week in a row she had problems with another skier and did not make it into the final.

The distance course in Otepaa is a very tough course. The 5km loop is very hilly with one big hill that goes up beside the ski jump seemingly from the bottom to the top. The last 200 meters feature 13%-plus grade and all of the skiers had to herringbone. To win on a course like this you need great fitness, great technique, great mental strength and you need to pace properly. Bjoergen had all of these and won easily.

Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland) and Teresa Johaug (Norway) also showed great skills. Kowalczyk is in great shape and very strong mentally and Johaug is the best female climber in the world. That these three women finished one, two, and three is no surprise.

The men’s 15km race was won by Elder Roenning because he paced it better than anyone else, especially fellow Norwegian Martin Johnsrud Sundby who was the leader at 10km but faded to 7th. Daniel Rickardsson of Sweden and Maxim Vylezghanin of Russia also showed great fitness and pacing to finish 2nd and 3rd. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Andrus Veerpalu finished 5th on his home track even though he is 40 years old. He is the master of the 15km classic having won two Olympic gold medals at that distance. He also does not like the mass start races with a sprint at the end and I’m sure that this race format was set up especially for him.

While the individual distance course was a true test of the skiers the classic sprint course from Sunday was not. There were not enough hills in this course so instead of watching a classic sprint race we got to watch a double pole sprint race. Yuck! I hate it when this happens – it’s like going to watch a hockey game and all they do is fight.

So, once again, with all six men in the final only double poling someone you have never heard of before – Eirik Bransdal of Norway won. Back in 2008 the same thing happened in Canmore where Bjoern Naess from Norway won. FIS tried to fix this by forcing race organizers to change the courses (they added a big hill in Vancouver to the sprint course) and we’ve never heard of Naess since. It’s a shame, really, because Otepaa obviously has the hills to make a good course. The ironic thing is that the Norwegians have been trying for years to preserve classic technique from the onslaught of skating and you would think that the head of the World Cup committee, Vegard Ulvang, who is Norwegian, would not want to have double pole only classic races. The other ironic thing is that Norwegians keep winning these kinds of races.

The female sprinters used all of the classic techniques in their race and the best classic sprinter in the world – Petra Majdic of Slovenia – won convincingly over last year’s World Junior champion, Hanna Brodin from Sweden, and Maikan Falla of Norway. Brodin will be staying in Otepaa for another week to contest the U23 World championships and she has to be the favourite to win the sprints next weekend.

Dasha Gaiazova had the best result of her career finishing 8th. She continues to improve, especially in sprinting and she has taken over the #1 spot on the Canadian women’s team. Chandra Crawford finished 27th after qualifying 17th. Her qualifying time was almost 3 seconds closer to the top time than what she did in Vancouver, so she is improving. However, she is still 6 seconds slower than the best classic sprinters so there is still plenty of room for improvement.

There were no Americans at Otepaa this weekend and the rest of the Canadian skiers were all young skiers who were there for experience and to race on the same courses that they will use next weekend for the U23 World Championships. The best results from these young skiers were the 31st place by Len Valjas (he missed qualifying for the heats by .02 seconds) and a 33rd by Alysson Marshall, also close to qualifying in the sprints.

There are no World Cup races next weekend because of these U23 World Championships which held in conjunction with the World Junior Championships. Both Canada and the United States have full teams at these events. The World Cup continues on February 4-6 in Rybinsk, Russia with a full weekend of pursuit, sprint and relay races.

FLASH: Randall Wins Liberec Skate Sprint – Bjoergen Out in Semis

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

January 15, 2011 (Liberec, CZE) – Kikkan Randall (USA) won the women’s sprint final today at the FIS World Cup in Liberec, Czech Republic, earning her second career World Cup victory – her first was in Dec. 2007 in Rybinsk, Russia.

The women’s quarter finals were filled with drama as race favourite Marit Bjoergen (NOR) won her heat over Slovenia’s Katja Visnar while Petra Majdic (SLO) bested Randall as they shed top contender Arianna Follis (ITA) who settled for third and did not advance.

It was a tough day for Canada as top sprinter Chandra Crawford and team mate Daria Gaiazova both qualified but were matched up in the same 1/4 final heat. Crawford was well-placed in second behind Hanna Falk (SWE) but slipped up suddenly and lost her balance having to sit back on her skis. While she didn’t crash her race was done as Gaiazova finished third behind Marianna Longa (ITA) and did not advance.

The semis took their toll as Bjoergen tangled with Visnar midway through their heat, and while neither went down, both skiers did not advance. Bjoergen tried to regain some ground but ended up third to finish 7th overall – her winning streak ended.

Randall returned the favour to Majdic in their semi taking the win while Falk in third took advantage of the fast pace to advance to the final as a lucky loser.

In the end, the real battle came down to Falk and Randall in the final, with the US star coming out on top powering by Falk in the finishing stretch with a decisive victory. Celine Brun-Lie (NOR) took third while Majdic had to settle for fourth.

Liberec has been lucky for Randall, as it’s the site of her first Nordic World Championship medal – and first ever US women’s Worlds medal – where she won the skate sprint silver in 2009.

Full report and more photos HERE.
Full women’s sprint results HERE.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Majdic Dominates TdS Skate Sprint – Randall 5th

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randall has now moved up to 17th overall.

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

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

Sprint Results HERE.
Women’s Overall HERE.

Kowalczyk Takes Women’s Prologue at Tour de Ski – USA’s Randall 16th UPDATED

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

December 31, 2010 (Oberhof, Germany) – In a dramatic finish Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) took the first win of the 2010/11 FIS Tour de Ski at today’s 2.8km freestyle Prologue in Oberhof in -3 C temps, as the snow fell, and in front of a crowd of 2,000 spectators. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) took second place, only 1.5s behind the winner, with Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) in third.

“It was really hard before the finish and my coach told me I was 1 second behind Charlotte [Kalla], so I was surprised when I saw the result,” Kowalczyk told FIS XC. “You start and finish like in a sprint, and I am very satisfied that I am in the top. It is really nice to be number one in the Tour, definitely a good start. I see Charlotte [Kalla], Astrid [Jacobsen] and [Petra] Majdic as my strongest contenders for the rest of the Tour. I don’t have any specific strategy for tomorrow’s pursuit, I will think about it tonight and you will see tomorrow.”

Finland’s Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) wearing bib #34 and recently returned to World Cup racing following a shoulder injury, was in the hot seat for some time but Jacobsen took over only to be eclipsed by Kalle. Arianna Follis (ITA), the second last skier, could not match the pace and it was up Kowalczyk, who was only 0.5s behind Kalle’s time at the 1.4km mark, and was able to power through the second half of the course into the finish for the victory by 1.5s.

The top three have racked up 15, 10, and 5 points, respectively, towards their sprint ranking in the TdS and Kowalczyk will don the red leader’s bib for tomorrow’s 10km classic Pursuit where she will start 6.5 seconds ahead of Kalla and 14.8 seconds ahead of Jacobsen. USA’s Kikkan Randall, the only North American entrant, finished a respectable 16th.

Today’s Prologue course was “short and sweet – but tough,” said Randall. She said the first section was like a sprint qualifier, and then skiers were faced with a monster climb, followed by a descent and then a slight uphill to the finish.

The American star added that she doesn’t have much experience with prologues at this distance (2.7km) but it’s her best prologue to date. Her focus was to pace properly and conserve enough energy to be strong for the finish. The race was made tougher by the snow conditions. “I felt good out there and I’m happy with 16th place,” she said.

“Kikkan hasn’t done that well in prologues before. She ended last season really well at the World Cup finals tour so it’s exciting to be off to such a good start,” said US coach Pete Vordenberg.

Celebrating her 28th birthday today as well, Randall raved about the fun atmosphere at the 2010/11 Tour de Ski – her first TdS experience – and organizers even played the techno Happy Birthday song in the finish zone.

“There are always fireworks on my birthday but it won’t be the wildest New Year’s Eve,” she quipped, as she looked ahead to tomorrow’s 10km classic pursuit. “Times today were really tight,” and she will be in the mix with a lot of fast women tomorrow. “I’m looking forward to a good day.”

Women’s Prologue results HERE.