Tag Archive | "race"

Interview With Ben Popp – The American Birkie’s New Executive Director

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July 05, 2013 (Hayward, Wisconsin) – Ben Popp is from Wisconsin’s Northwoods where the Cable-to-Hayward American Birkebeiner is run each February. Since June 1, he now finds himself as the new Executive Director (ED) of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) which owns the Birkie and other events. SkiTrax caught up with Popp to learn more about him, his plans for North America’s largest Nordic ski event, and how he plans to address the various challenges he faces.

Firstly, a slightly belated congrats on becoming the new ED of the ABSF. Rumor has it you are the youngest ED ever there…so how old are you?
Ben Popp: I just celebrated my 39th birthday yesterday. Thanks for the congrats; my twin boys Luke and Grant, 7, are very excited about moving to northern Wisconsin. I grew up in northern Wisconsin and enjoy challenges and the active lifestyle that can be found there.

And tell us more about yourself…
BP: I served five years as Executive Director of the SISU Nordic Ski Foundation, near Minneapolis-Saint Paul (Twin Cities), a similar ski group promoting an active outdoor lifestyle. SISU offers a wide range programs, hosting some 14 races annually, including eight ski races. Much of this is built around the Nordic Centre at Battle Creek, MN. As for the Birkie, I started doing it when I was 18 years old. I’ve done it maybe 17 times to date. My mom and dad ski it – the Birkie is part of our winter traditions. I enjoy mountain biking, road biking… I once pedalled the 3,000 mile Race across America from San Diego to Maryland nonstop. Currently I’m building my own house so I guess you could call me a “hands-on” kind of guy.

There are some obvious challenges ahead as Telemark Lodge, over whose land the the Birkie crosses, has closed again. In previous years, the resort has played a key role in providing other facilities and infrastructure for the Birkie. What are your plans regarding the Telemark Lodge can the event still do well without it?
BP: Marty Hall wrote a good article about this on SkiTrax.com – but no, we will not be looking to purchase Telemark Lodge! For sure, it is a huge part of the Birkie’s legacy and history, and it will be an integral part of its future. Birkie founder, Tony Wise, started a cool plan – skiing from Cable to Hayward. Unfortunately, it is likely Telemark will be closed this winter so we are negotiating easements to use the property. And if the iconic lodge is closed, the Birkie will use more tents.

We’ve talked to private partners who are supportive of private events and during the transition, they’re in. In a best case scenario Telemark Lodge could be open as soon as September, but even if it is not, we can operate things although conditions would not be ideal for our staff. We do have contingency plans…

Mortgage owners, banks, and previous owners all know the importance of Telemark Lodge to the Birkie. The same trails are used in other seasons and the Chequamegon Fat Tire (Mountain Bike) Festival sees 2,500 racers. The Birkie Trail Run Trail (including a marathon and half marathon) also takes place in September; we are hoping for 1,500 runners. We own the Birkie Trail Run, however, Chequamegon is a separate event that takes place on our trails.

We understand that during Birkie weekend, all resorts and motels are booked a year in advance in the communities within 30-50 miles of the Cable/Hayward area. Telemark’s closing will reduce an already tight supply of beds…could the Birkie attract more skiers if there were more local hotel rooms available?
BP: Yes, accommodation is a limiting factor. But trail width is even more of a limiting factor. We’re planning to put people onto gym floors and find places where they can crash for night. We are reaching out to other nearby communities in Wisconsin. From, there is the possibility to charter buses from larger population centres like the Twin Cities. Creative things like this are needed.

The Birkie sees some 10,000 Nordic participants each year, do you hope to expand the event?
BP: Yes, we intend to grow Birkie brand. The Birkie is a gateway to get more people skiing, hiking, biking… trail widening is important, as is security in light of Boston. We need to secure trail heads. To grow the race, we don’t want to sacrifice quality. Just to maintain things we need 2,000 volunteers which is approximately the total population of the nearby town of Hayward. We need strategies to maintain and grow the number of volunteers.

We don’t have an exact number of estimated participants down the road yet. But we want to see a classic trail all way to Hayward. This could easily add up to 3,000 skiers.

We offer other activities such as snowshoe events and sprints. The Birkie recently hosted a “retro knickerbiner” event with a few hundred participants. We have skijoring and family tours and a “fat tire” snow bike event. We had to cap the fat tire race at 300 participants.

Much of our website traffic is from beyond a three-hour driving distance. I guess that one-third of that traffic is from Illinois. And the Birkie already draws in skiers from 19 countries and 38 states. But our distance from the nearest major airport (Twin Cities) is a limiting factor…

How do manage wacky winter weather conditions and unpredictable snow cover?
BP: “Good trails are made in the summer” according to our trail manager. Trails have to be in good shape going into winter. We already spend $250,000 a year on trail maintenance and will be spending more. We’re looking at snow making; it’s not practical on the entire length of 90km of trails, but perhaps could be used in certain areas. Some people are surprised that the Birkie trails are open 365 days a year.

Thanks for your time. Good luck with your new job, the move, and building your new house.
BP: Thanks

FIS Cross-Country Talk w/Liz Stephen

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June 28, 2013 – Liz Stephen of the US Ski team had a historic year in 2012/13, placing 5th in the 10k freestyle at the 2013 World Ski Championships (a best-ever finish for a US female), winning the Swiss National Championship 5km FR, along with a victory at the U.S. Distance Championships 30km CL.

Stephen was also part of the 4×5 km World Championships relay team that made US Ski team women’s history placing 4th. She was also part of the Olympic squad in 2010 and earned bronze at the U23 World Championships in 2008.

You were over in Norway for a personal training camp, and were recently up on the Sognefjell Snowfield. Are you training with specific athletes or did you join a Norwegian ski team camp?
Liz Stephen: I joined up with the Norwegian ski team for their 6-day camp. It was a really great experience and I am really grateful to their coaches, Egil and Roar who made it possible for me to join. I have really enjoyed the last two summers when I have gone over to Scandinavia to train with some new skiers and have made lasting friendships that makes living in Europe for five months much more enjoyable. Part of what is so great about this sport is making friends, but also learning from one another and trying to raise the level of the whole sport by sharing training ideas, pushing one another, and getting to know the other athletes. It’s been a really fun and beneficial experience for me, and I was welcomed with open arms by the Norwegian Team and even spent three extra days in Oslo at Celine Brun Lie’s house because I was having so much fun with the girls I didn’t want to leave quite yet!

Last summer you and your US ski team teammates shared in a camp with the Swedish Women’s Ski Team in Sweden, and have had joint camps with the Canadian women in Alaska the past two summers. These must be positive experiences if you continue to do them each year?
LS: YES! Very positive! I have made so many new friends, learned so much from the Swedish and Norwegian Teams and had a really good time training hard with new groups of athletes. I think it really gives me a jump start to my summer of training and adds an element of fun that gets me psyched to work hard for the next four months before we hit the road in November again.

For North American athletes you spend most if not all of the winter in Europe. Does having friends on the different teams make the time away from home an easier experience?
LS: Yes, for sure. Our women’s team all feels like after spending time with the Swedish National Team last year we all have a great group of friends to hang with each weekend, and it makes the whole scene seem more like home and less intimidating. If you are away from home for five months, only spending time with your teammates, and racing 70 girls whom you only know by name, the scene gets very stale. Now that we feel we have friends in those 70 people who used to be just names on a result sheet, the whole atmosphere lightens and becomes much easier to enjoy and as a result, ski faster. Happy athletes perform better.

You are coming off your strongest World Cup season ever, and recorded the best ever distance finish (5th place 10km free technique) for a US female cross-country skier at the recent 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. After such a successful season do you make any changes this summer or just try and replicate last year’s plan?
L.S.: There are always changes that I make to the training each year. Some years the changes are big and some years just little tweaks, but there are always things that I think of during the season, even on a good year that I think I can improve on during the next season’s preparation period. This year, I will just tweak the training from last year a bit, adding certain elements that I think were lacking a bit during the season, and taking away things that I tried but didn’t think made much of a difference.

You and your teammates gathered a great deal of attention at the start of the season with your first ever World Cup 4 x 5km relay podium, and followed up with a 4th place finish in the same event at the World Championships. Is an Olympic medal in the relay at “team” goal for the coming year in Sochi?
LS: Yes, that is for sure a huge goal of ours, and it is for sure my biggest goal for next year. I can’t imagine a more meaningful medal than one that is won by a team of people, though I believe any medal that is won, even individually, takes a team to make it happen.

If you don’t mind sharing, what are your individual goals from the coming year?
LS: My goals for the year are for a top 10 at the Tour de Ski, be a consistent top-10 World Cup skier, and my biggest individual race focus will be the Olympic 30K Freestyle race where I hope to win a medal.

Read more HERE.

Roller Skiing World Cup Season is Underway

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June 27, 2013 – On June 21, FIS Roller Skiing specialists started their fight for the season title as the FIS Roller Skiing World Cup 2013 began. The competitions got underway in Oroslavje, Croatia with free technique mass start uphill and free technique sprint competitions.

On the women’s side, title defender Marika Sundin of Sweden landed on top of the podium twice, while the men were led by Simone Paredi of Italy who scored his first World Cup victory of the season in the mass start before his fellow countryman Alessio Berlanda triumphed in the sprint competition the following day.

The Roller Skiing World Cup circuit will now visit locations across Italy, Russia and France, and conclude in the well-known resort of Toblach/Dobbiaco (ITA) from 20th-22nd September.

In the first week of September 2013, Roller Skiing will see its season highlight with the FIS Roller Skiing World Championships taking place in Bad Peterstal (GER) from 4th-8th September.

To access the FIS Roller Skiing World Cup calendar, click here.

Pictures can be found on FIS Roller Skiing Facebook.

TV Coverage of FIS Events Increases in 2012/13 Season

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June 27, 2013 – The television coverage report from the 2012/13 season provided by data provider Repucom summarises the detailed viewing figures from the FIS World Cup series. It features highlights such as the overall total broadcasting time estimated at 6’593 hours across the annually measured countries with the total cumulated TV audience for the seven FIS World Cup series in the Olympic disciplines at approximately 7’927 million television viewers.

In terms of both broadcasting time and audience, the Audi FIS Ski World Cup accounted for the highest volume with 3’221 hours and a total audience of 2’591 million. As a consequence of a season including the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Schladming fewer World Cup events have taken place compared to the 2011/2012 season and therefore there is a small decrease of broadcasting time and cumulated audience. Compared to the 2010/2011 season which also included FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), media impact remained stable, despite less cumulated audience, but compensated by more broadcasting time. In Alpine Skiing, five countries (AUT, GER, ITA, SWE, SUI) and the Pan-European coverage by Eurosport generate more than 81% of the media impact (a combination of broadcasting time and audience), as in the previous season.

The respective figures for the men’s FIS Ski Jumping World Cup presented by Viessmann are 1’090 hours of broadcasting time and 2’315 million audience and for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann, 1’135 of broadcasting time and 1’865 audience. Compared to the World Championship season in 2010/11, in particular the broadcasting figures for Cross-Country Skiing, have seen a large rise of close to 25%.

Overall, Ski Jumping remains the discipline with the highest media impact of all FIS disciplines with close to 40% of broadcasting time generated by live coverage.This figure will be further optimised by the introduction of fixed starting times for the competitions during the next World Cup season. Meanwhile, the ladies’ FIS Ski Jumping World Cup saw a substantial 30% increase in media impact in only its second season.

Moreover, it should be noted that seasonal highlights like the Tour de Ski in Cross-Country Skiing and the Four-Hills-Tournament in Ski Jumping each generate one third of the total media impact in these disciplines showing the attractiveness of these formats.

FIS Alpine and Nordic World Ski Championships

Based on the viewing figures published by the European Broadcasting Union, the TV and marketing rights holder of the FIS World Ski Championships in the Alpine and Nordic events 2013, they were seen by almost 1.1 billion people worldwide. While some 632 million cumulative viewers watched the 855 hours of coverage (live, delayed, news or highlights) from the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2013 in Schladming (AUT), the total coverage of more than 714 hours from the Nordic events in Val di Fiemme (ITA) was enjoyed by more than 444 million global TV viewers.

FIS 2013/14 Cross-Country World Cup Calendar Confirmed

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June 12, 2013 (Dubrovnik, Croatia) – At a meeting on Monday, June 10, in Dubrovnik, the FIS Council confirmed the calendar for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann for the 2013/14 season. The coming winter will feature many highlights including the 8th edition of the FIS Tour de Ski and the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi.

Unlike in the seasons before, the world’s best Cross-Country skiers will begin their quest for the crystal globes in Kuusamo (FIN). The traditional Nordic Opening with Ruka Triple is scheduled for the last weekend of November.

After Kuusamo, it will be time to continue the Scandinavian mission with another joint Nordic weekend in Lillehammer (NOR). Leaving the North of Europe behind, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup will then move to Central Europe where Davos (SUI) will host individual start competitions over 15 km free technique for the ladies and 30 km for the men as well as free technique sprints.

For the first time since 2008, the Italian venue of Asiago is back on the World Cup calendar with a classical sprint weekend right before Christmas.

Due to the Sochi 2014 Games, seven competitions in nine days are scheduled during the eighth edition of the FIS Tour de Ski. The Tour will traditionally kick off on 28th December with a free technique prologue in Oberhof, Germany. As a second stage, a classical technique pursuit will be held in the Thuringia Forest. After the first FIS Tour de Ski stage ever in Switzerland (Val Müstair) during the 2012/13 Tour, two stages of the Tour will be held in Lenzerheide with a free technique sprint on 31st December and classical mass start competition on the first day of the New Year.

After the second rest day, the Tour will continue in Cortina – Toblach (ITA) on 3rd January with distance competitions for the ladies and the A to B stage from Cortina to Toblach. The FIS Tour de Ski will traditionally conclude in Val di Fiemme with an individual start competition on 4th and the Final Climb on 5th January.

The first weekend after the FIS Tour de Ski is traditionally reserved for sprint specialists and the FIS Cross-Country World Cup will make a stop in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE). After a two-year break, the best sprinters are going to compete in the upgraded arena and courses there from 11th-12th January 2014.

Szklarska Poreba in Poland returns on the competition schedule the following weekend with free technique sprints and classical mass start competitions. Right before the Sochi Games, the final pre-Olympic opportunity to test the shape will be take place in Toblach from February 1 to 2.

The highlight of the 2013/14 season, the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi are scheduled from 7th to 23rd February.

The season will conclude in Scandinavia with the well-established program featuring Lahti, Drammen, Oslo and the World Cup Final in Sweden with Falun as host venue.

FIS 2013/14 Cross-Country World Cup Calendar Available Online
Please find the FIS Cross-Country World Cup Calendar HERE.

SIA 2013 Demo at Devils Thumb Videos Part 4 – New Atomic Boa Race Skate Boot

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May 13, 2013 (Tabernash, CO) – Here’s one of our 2014 product vids that was missed during our coverage of the SIA 2013 Demo at Devils Thumb in Tabernash, Colorado where SkiTrax caught up with Atomic’s Isaac Wilson who introduces the newly released Boa Race Skate boot for 2013/ 2014 – the only skate boot on the market using the Boa system.

Season in Review with FIS XC Race Director Pierre Mignerey

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May 09, 2013 – FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey took a moment to evaluate the past season 2012/13 competitive season. He spoke about Val di Fiemme, TV viewership, the Worldloppet series, his personal season highlights, and what’s on tap for next season.

Looking back, what is your overall evaluation of the past 2012/13 season?
Pierre Mignerey: It was, first of all, a very good season in terms of snow conditions and the Organisers did an excellent job. From a sporting perspective, we had a full season calendar with great World Championships in Val di Fiemme (ITA) and an exciting Tour de Ski and World Cup tour in general.

In terms of TV audience, our season review is looking positive. Although we still have to improve the quality of some of the TV productions, we are overall very satisfied with our TV exposure. In addition to the World Cup competitions, the season was a great success for the Worldloppet Organisers with a new record number of almost 135,000 athletes participating in the world of ski marathons.

Your personal highlights?
PM: I will definitely keep in mind the fight for the men’s overall World Cup title which lasted until the last weekend of the season with only 15 points separating the first three athletes at the start of the World Cup Final in Falun (SWE).

In addition, we will be remembering the amazing 50km in Val di Fiemme with the incredible solo-escape by Johan Olsson (SWE), for a long time.

On the ladies’ side, Cross-Country Skiing is still dominated by Justina Kovalczyk (POL), Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and the Norwegian team in general, but we could see that some other teams are remarkably improving including a young and promising Finnish team and an astonishing USA squad.

On the road to the next season….
PM: Next season, the focus will naturally be on the Olympic Winter Games. I’m also looking forward to the first part of the World Cup season with another exciting Tour de Ski.

With regard to television aspects, we are in permanent contact and discussions with our TV broadcasters in order to improve the quality of the TV production especially for the interval start competitions.

Concerning the team support, we will concentrate our efforts on the team service area and try to solve the recurrent issues with waxing cabins.

Final 2012/13 USSA SuperTour Standings and Grand Champions Named

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May 06, 2013 – Here are the final USSA SuperTour standings and Grand National Champions for the 2012/13 season. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) and Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) are the women’s and men’s overall SuperTour winners. Brennan also secured the women’s sprint and distance standings. On the men’s side, Sinnott scored top spot in the sprint rankings, while Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) cleaned up in the distance rankings. The Grand National Champion title went to Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) for the women, while Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) earned the crown in the men’s contest.

Women’s Overall Leader
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 654 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 507 points
3. Kate Fitzgerald (APUNSC) 362 points

Women’s Sprint Leader
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 232 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 207 points
2. Jennie Bender (CXC) 207 points

Women’s Distance Leaders
1. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC) 422 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 300 points
3. Caitlin Gregg (CXC) 254 points

Women’s Grand National Champion
1. Sadie Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST)
2. Rosie Brennan (APUNSC)
3. Kate Fitzgerald (APUNSC)

Men’s Overall Leaders
1. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 474 points
2. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 445 points
3. Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) 334 points

Men’s Sprint Leaders
1. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 200 points
2. Dakota Blackhorse (Bend Endurance Academy) 167 points
3. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 138 points

Men’s Distance Leaders
1. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST) 307 points
2. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley SEF) 274 points
3. Brian Gregg (CXC) 249 points

Men’s Grand National Champion
1. Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol)
2. Erik Bjornsen (APUNSC/USST)
3. Tad Elliott (SSC Vail/USST)

Women’s Final USSA SuperTour Rankings HERE.

Men’s Final USSA SuperTour Rankings HERE.

USSA Grand National Champion Rankings HERE.

*The tie on the Grand Nationals Champion document is denoted in yellow and tie breaker in blue.

Diggins Report – Freak Snowstorms… and Car Troubles

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May 03, 2013 – Okay, what is UP with snow on May 2…? And not just a dusting of it – 6.5 inches in my backyard! A half-hour’s drive North of Afton there wasn’t any snow at all, and down by Redwing they got about a foot. This is weird.

I went out to the park today (the Afton State Park, where they don’t groom but you can break your own trail and poach the downhill slopes of Afton Alps) and had a really fun ski. It was slow going and the snow brought down more than a few trees, so there was a lot of ducking going on while cruising downhill.

I was debating whether or not to post about my “car troubles”, but since no real lasting damage was done, I decided… why not? I already write about most everything else going on in my life.

This was two spring snowstorms ago, on April 18th. It started out as icy rain, which quickly froze and started turning to snow. I wasn’t psyched about driving in it in the first place, but I needed to get my little sister from the bus stop, so I decided I’d be fine if I just drove slow. So I got my sister and headed home.

But we weren’t fine. Neither was the car.

The annoying this is, I thought I was doing everything right. I had both hands on the wheel, was going super slow, wasn’t on my phone, ect. But at the top of a hill about a mile and a half from home, I drove under some trees where the rain had frozen and must have tapped my brakes at exactly the wrong time. The car started to skid, and I panicked, and probably made it worse by overadjusting.

We went off the road and hit a tree going sideways, scraping along before coasting into a cornfield. The windshield cracked, the two left windows shattered, the side airbags deployed and the frame bent inwards. If we had gone off the road three feet later, we wouldn’t have hit anything and been fine, but if we had gone off the side three feet earlier, we would have been seriously hurt. As it was, Mackenzie’s side of the car was completely pristine and she was shaken up but fine, and although my side looked wrecked I was also untouched except for a few small cuts from the glass all over me.

I was actually able to drive the car out of the ditch, but since the airbags went off and all, it was decided that the car was totaled. Luckily, our insurance was great and we were able to get a new car. The only lasting damage is this: the song “Radioactive” was playing when we hit the tree and now everytime I’m driving and the song comes on the radio, I get a sudden wave a panic and have to change the station. Super weird and annoying, because I loved that song. But life goes on!

I guest coached the strength workout today for Loppet Nordic Racing, which was fun. They were a really motivated group and it was cool to share new ideas and have everyone try them out.

Visiting Podiumwear in the cities was a real treat – I got to see what new fabrics and designs are coming out soon! Luckily I’m writing, not talking, so I don’t accidentally spill the secrets :)

I also got to kayak in a pool as part of a relay – the YMCA challenge games in Red Wing, MN. I was part of the Red Wing Slumberland Furniture team, and it was suprisingly challenging to navigate a turn around a buoy in a narrow lane!

Ski Jumping Season Review with FIS Race Director Walter Hofer

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May 02, 2013 – FIS Ski Jumping Race Director Walter Hofer took some time to share his reflections on the past competitive season. Overall, Hofer is pleased with the 2012/13 season and offers some constructive feedback to making next year’s competitions even better.

Looking back, what is your overall evaluation of the past 2012/13 season?
Walter Hofer: First of all it was one of the most successful World Cup seasons ever. It was mainly based on the excellent organisation by our various organisers and overall good external conditions. Only one competition day had to be cancelled due to strong winds.

What were your personal highlights?
WH: From a sporting point of view, it was great to see that the restrictions with regard to jumping suits worked out extremely well. We never had so many close and exciting finals in any of the events. Many more athletes and nations were able to gain podium places compared to the years before. The fluctuation among the winners is a very positive sign with Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer once again showing an outstanding performance. Especially the number of possible winners in team events has increased.

On the road to the next season …
WH: Our season analysis has detected the need to better communicate the information to spectators especially with regard to the evaluation of the individual performance of the jumps. In this respect, we are going to completely review the single interval of an athlete´s run down in order to make the calculation of the final score more transparent and more easily understandable to the audience. The upcoming FIS Ski Jumping Summer Grand Prix series should give us the right tool to test out these details.

FIS and TV Experts Analyze XC Ski Season from Broadcasting Perspective

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May 01, 2013 (Zurich, Switzerland) – “After the season is before the season,”. Under this motto, this week saw a specific TV seminar for Cross-Country Skiing held at the Hotel Hilton Zurich Airport on Monday, 22nd April, followed by the overall TV Briefing on Tuesday 23rd April, where all FIS disciplines had a chance to review the past season together with the main European broadcasters and TV rights holders.

The Cross-Country TV Seminar has become an annual meeting where the season can be analysed from the TV production and quality perspectives A group of more than 20 highly engaged FIS Cross-Country TV experts, commentators, representatives of the international TV rights holder Infront Sports & Media and FIS timing and data partner Swiss Timing, along with staff from both FIS and FIS Marketing AG, gathered in Zürich (SUI) to focus on possible TV production for each of the different competition formats, the World Cup calendar as well as on general development of Cross-Country Skiing.

Additional discussion points included inputs on various items such as the use of TV graphics, pre-event running order, winner presentations and international flash interviews.

“We are very happy about working together with such a highly engaged group of experts and Cross-Country Skiing enthusiasts. The annual TV meeting is one of the most important sessions after each season providing us with valuable feedback and interesting suggestions for the future of Cross-Country Skiing,” commented Pierre Mignerey, FIS Cross-Country Race Director.

The cross-discipline TV briefing on Tuesday featured reviews of the past season for each discipline by the respective FIS Race Directors with additional feedback presentations provided by the rights holders, European Broadcasting Union and Infront Sports & Media, as well as detailed input from the main broadcasters. The ensuing discussions focused on planned future enhancements in TV production, graphics and formats to continue to improve the presentation of the FIS disciplines on television. The upcoming season calendars and timelines for finalising the event starting times were also reviewed in detail. Thanks to all participants for a great dialogue!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Prince George to Host 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships

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April 11, 2013 (Prince George, BC) – It’s been almost ten years since the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club hosted a FIS-sanctioned cross-country ski event, but in 2014, Canada’s top skiers will return to Prince George to compete at the 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships.

From February 14, – 16th 2014, the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club will host the ski competition—sanctioned by FIS, the International Ski Federation (the world’s highest ski-sanctioning body)—and recognized as a test event for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

The event will attract athletes from across Canada who will be vying for positions on Canada’s 2014-15 World Cup Team. Additionally athletes from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon Territories, and the Northwest Territories will be representing their province in order to determine the Western Canadian Champions. It is expected that approximately 350 athletes will compete from across Canada.

“The government of British Columbia would like to congratulate Prince George on winning the rights to host the 2014 championships,” says Bill Bennett, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. “This prestigious event is really going to ramp up the anticipation for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George. By showcasing Canada’s top athletes, this competition will give audiences a taste of the excitement to come in 2015.”

“Otway Nordic Centre is a shining jewel in our region’s incredible recreation crown,” says Prince George Mayor, Shari Green. “It’s great to see this top-class facility hosting such an important event in the Nordic skiing community. Canada’s top skiers will appreciate why Prince George earned the right to host the Canada Winter Games, as they enjoy our warm hospitality.”

The 2014 Haywood Noram Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships will test more than the field of play explains Cal Benson, Chief of Competition for the Western Canadian Championships. “We are looking forward to trying out the new expanded cross-country stadium and brand new technical building at Otway, as well as the competitive trail system expansion developed in preparation for the 2015 Canada Winter Games,” says Benson. “This will be a fantastic opportunity to prepare for the Games and future competitions we might secure as a result of these investments.”

“This is a great example of what the 2015 Canada Winter Games is bringing to our community,” says Kevin Pettersen, President, Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. “The significant upgrades to our trails and facilities are now up to the National Sporting Organizations’ standards, and will give us more opportunities for event-hosting after the 2015 Games.”

“Now is a great time to be a sports fan in northern BC,” says Stuart Ballantyne, CEO, 2015 Canada Winter Games. “The Canada Games is the stepping-stone in the athletic careers of Canada’s top young athletes and future Olympians, and events like the 2014 Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships are a great platform to cheer on these talented athletes and learn about their sports.”

This is the first FIS-sanctioned cross-country ski event since the 2005 Ski Nationals. Six of the seven 2012-13 Canadian World Cup team raced in Prince George in 2005: Len Valjas, Alex Harvey, Perianne Jones, Daria Gaiazova, Ivan Babikov, and Chandra Crawford. All of these have won World Cup or Olympic medals since racing in Prince George. Notably, Chandra Crawford won an Olympic gold medal in the Women’s Sprint at Turin, Italy in 2006 and Alex Harvey won Canada’s first men’s World Championship individual medal in 2013 at Val di Fiemme, Italy.

2013 Haywood Ski Nationals Videos – Interviews w/McMurtry, Heidi Widmer, Kocher + Race Footage

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April 01, 2013 (Whistler, B.C.) – SkiTrax was on site at the 2013 Haywood Ski Nationals held March 23-30 at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley to catch all of the action. Get the scoop about the competitions straight from racers Brent McMurtry, Heidi Widmer, and Zina Kocher, as well as some exciting footage from the finish of the Men’s 50km Free and the start of the Juvenile Girl’s 7.5km Free.

 

 

 

 

 

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Final Contest Standings and Winners Announced after the Engadin Skimarathon

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March 27, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We’re sorry for the delay and thrilled to announce the overall standings and winners of the second annual SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest after the Engadin Skimarathon 42km  free technique race held in Switzerland on March 10. Read our coverage of the 45th Engadin Skimarathon, including final overall FIS Marathon Cup standings here.

Team dom managed to defend the lead to the end with 650 points, while teams beaujo and legrandbo made last-minute charges to earn top-three finishes with 644 and 640 points, respectively.

For the final contest standings after the Engadin Skimarathon, please click HERE.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to all contestants and our great sponsors including Nipika, Marwe, Yoko, Halti, Skiwax.ca, 2XU, One Way, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup Prize Winners

– dom – Dom Berrod – Fleurie, France
* 1st Prize – Nipika Lodge
– 4-nights for 2 people in luxurious cabin, including Trail Fees (value up to $1,160)

– beaujo – Rene Berrod – Vivier, France
* 2nd Prize –  Marwe
610c Roller Skis (value $349)

– legrandbo – Guy Ruet – Le Grand Bornand, France
* 3rd Prize – Yoko
9100 Poles (value $299)

– Redl… – Agris Krievans – Naukseni, Latvia
* 4th Prize – Halti
XC Race Suit Hemmo Set (value $269)

– fleur – Simone Berrod – Fleurie, France
* 5th Prize – Skiwax.ca
Racer Kickwax kit (value $235)

– swedish – Vincent Ruet – Montalieu Vercieu, France
* 6th Prize –  2XU
Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)

– lafrasse – Christiane Ruet – Le Grand Bornand, France
* 7th Prize – One Way Snowbird Glasses (value $120)

– bondin – Alex Moiroud – Montalieu, France
* 8th Prize – Fresh Air Experience
or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)

– littlebig – Nadine Moiroud – Montalieu, France
* 9th Prize – Auclair
Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)

– rgsnow – Guillaume Ruet – Fleurie, France
* 10th Prize – Buff
Headware (value $23)

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

Interview w/Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth in Falun

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March 25, 2013 (Falun, Sweden) – SkiTrax caught up with Canadian Men’s XC Team Coach Justin Wadsworth after the FIS World Cup finale in Falun, Sweden this past weekend to get his take on the 2012/13 season, the highs and lows, and what the squad will do differently next year to get the team back on their game.

While many teams would love to have Canada’s record this season with half-a-dozen podiums and the first ever individual medal by a Canadian man at the World Championships courtesy of Alex Harvey, the Canucks were striving for more following an astounding 14 medals last season.

Things did not go as planned this season admitted Wadsworth, but he is positive the team will turn things around in the upcoming Olympic year – when it really counts.

For a quick 2012/13 season Canadian team medal recap: Len Valjas scored two medals this season, including a bronze in the Sprint FR in Val Mustair (SUI) and silver in the 15km CL Mass start in Val di Fiemme (ITA), both during the Tour de Ski. Alex Harvey finished right behind Valjas in the latter race to share the podium with his teammate winning the bronze.

At the end of the TdS, Ivan Babikov scored the silver in the final 9km FR Pursuit stage up Alpe Cermis (ITA). Babikov was also the top NA skier in the overall WCup in 20th (Devon Kershaw was second overall last year while Harvey was 6th).  Then Harvey came around again near the end of the season to be the first ever Canadian man to win an individual World Championship medal when he placed third in the classic sprint in Val di Fiemme (ITA).

On the women’s side, the highlight was when Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova scored third in the team sprint at the Sochi World Cup (RUS).

Interview w/Justin Wadsworth

38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet a Success – Report Results

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March 25, 2013 (Labrador City, NL) – The 38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet was an exciting event to remember. It was very worrisome on Friday night with blowing snow, 60-80Km winds and low visibility. But we persevered, sent our two Pisten Bullys (Menihek Nordic & Whitewolf Snowmobile Club) to Fermont 28K start at 2:00AM, held them there until 6:00AM and then came to the Duley Park 10K start and waited there until an hour before the start 10:00AM so we could achieve best possible track and skating course.
At 6:00 AM, on going out around the course start & finish areas, we found out that the snow had stopped, the winds were dying down and it warmed to 0’C. The 38th PAL Great Labrador Loppet was a go. The course was set, 129 people had signed up to ski or snow shoe, all the start finish areas were ready, all the venues, Menihek, Smokey, Whitewolf and the Club Lagopede de Motoneige in Fermont were ready, Circular road was barricaded, the railway from Bloomlake was shut and guarded, the town trucks for the skis were at the mall the buses came, the skiers arrived and away we go for the Loppet.

It was a great day for skiing,the course a challenge but it was warm. Lots of hard luck stories, the first moose observed on the loppet trail. The rest stops, feed & refreshment stations were excellent,lots of volunteers and groups from Search & Rescue, H.O.W.L.S (Ham Radio), Patrol Whitewolf, Town of Labrador City, RNC & some Canadian Ski Patrol also skied the course.
The timing crew did a great job and people were really good sending in pictures of their loppet experience.

The awards ceremony for youth was at 2:00 at White wolf, a great job there with food and refreshments for all Loppet skiers. In the evening, there was a banquet and awards ceremonies and dance at Smokey Mountain Ski Club for skiers and volunteers, guest speaker was Min.Nick McGrath. Smokey did an excellent job on the steaks and food. The dance after was a lot of fun.

Another successful PAL Great Labrador Loppet for the history books. We are very appreciative to all our skiers, organizers, staff, volunteers, and sponsors, thank you all.

Looking forward to next year… happy trails.

Full PAL Great Labrador Loppet 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.

Stockholm WCup CL Sprint Qualifications – Gaiazova 4th, Newell 10th

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March 20, 2013 (Stockholm, Sweden) – Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova placed fourth in the Stockholm classic sprint qualifications led by Finland’s Anne Kylloenen. Fellow Finn Kerttu Niskanen qualified second, with Slovenia’s Katja Visnar in third. American results include USA’s Ida Sargent 11th, Kikkan Randall 22nd, and Holly Brooks in 26th. Jessie Diggins (USA), Rosie Brennan (USA), Liz Stephen (USA), and Emily Nishikawa (CAN) failed to make it through to the heats, placing 34th, 40th, 44th, and 47th, respectfully.

On the men’s side, USA’s Andy Newell logged the top North American time to qualify 10th with Norway’s Eldar Roenning leading the charge, followed by Russia’s Nikita Kriukov, and Emil Joensson (NOR) in second and third. Other top favourites, Dario Cologna (SUI) and Petter Northug (NOR) qualified fifth and seventh, respectively.

USA’s Torin Koos was the next-highest North American qualifier in 24th, while Canucks Devon Kershaw and Len Valjas managed to just squeeze into the top 30 in 28th and 30th, respectively. Alex Harvey (CAN) did not make it through with a 32nd place qualifier, along with teammates Michael Somppi and Ivan Babikov in 48th and 50th, respectively. USA’s Noah Hoffman was 52nd.

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Qualifications HERE.

29th Annual Pepsi Challenge Results, Photos – Swank, Cecil Win 48k FR, Bender Bests 24k CL Field

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March 15, 2013 (Biwabik, MN) – Adam Swank of Duluth, MN won the men’s 48km free technique race at 29th Annual Pepsi Challenge Cross Country Ski Race held at Giants Ridge on March 9 in a time of 2:36:27.8, followed three minutes later by Chris Sachs. The race for third place was the truly exciting one, with five skiers all finishing within the same minute, and it was Drew Holbrook who won the battle for the final spot on the podium.

In the women’s 48km competition, Lynne Cecil was the big winner, sneaking into the top-20 overall with a time of 2:59:06.2. Local favourite, Jan Guenther, who runs Gear West, finished second, a mere three seconds behind, followed by Heather Norton-Bower in third.

In the men’s 24km free race, Philip Rogers finished first in a time of 1:23:32.0. Boyd Smith and Jesse Olson finished second and third, respectively.

Kristin Madsen took the win in the women’s 24km event in a time of 1:33:05.7, which was good enough for 10th overall. Second place, Erin Moening, was only 6s behind, followed by Ashley Herman in third.

Veteran skier Jennie Bender (CXC) logged the fastest overall time in the 24km classic race, besting men’s winner Tamer Mische-Richter by 9s. Sam Myers was the top men’s finisher in the 10k freestyle competition, with Sophie Schulder placing third overall and grabbing the women’s victory.

Full results HERE.

Drammen World Cup 1.28km CL Sprint Qualifications – 3 North American Women, 4 Men Advance

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March 13, 2013 (Drammen, Norway) – The 1.28 CL FIS World Cup city sprints are underway in Drammen as the FIS World Cup season is in its final phase. In the women’s qualifications, three North Americans advanced to the heats, including Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova in 16th, Sadie Bjornsen (USA) in 26th, and Kikkan Randall (USA) in 29th.

Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto set the fastest time with a 3:06.59, followed by Katja Visnar (SLO) clocking into second spot at 3:07.58, and strong favourite Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) in third with a time of 3:07.82.

Americans Holly Brooks, Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, Rosie Brennan, Jessie Diggins did not advance, finishing 34th, 35th, 48th, 52nd, and 55th, respectively. Canada’s Perianne Jones and Emily Nishikawa also did not make it through to the heats with a 45th and a 63rd place.

The Norwegians made their mark in the men’s qualifications, sweeping the top three, led by Petter Northug with a time of 2:41.27. Eldar Roenning qualified second at 2:42.95, and Kent Ove Klausen was third in a time of 2:43.24.

Andy Newell (USA) had a solid qualifier, finishing 10th, followed by teammate Torin Koos in 26th. Canada’s Len Valjas and Alex Harvey barely squeaked through to the heats with 29th and 30th place runs, respectively.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) finished 49th and did not advance. Simeon Hamilton (USA) experience the same fate with a 59th place qualifier, along with teammate Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess in 65th and Canada’s Jesse Cockney and Graeme Killick in 67th and 71st, respectively.

Women’s Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Qualifications HERE.

Canmore Winter Meltdown 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials – Mar. 23

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March 11, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – The 2013 Alberta Winter Triathlon Provincials take place on Saturday, March 23 at the Canmore Nordic Center. There will be full-distance, novice distance, and duathlon events. Course will be on the packed ski trails at the Canmore Nordic Center. Expect to ski bike and run on snow! Great Draw Prizes for Competitors and Volunteers.

Start: 9:30am
Location: Canmore Nordic Centre
Events:
– Full Distance: 10km Cross-Country Ski, 10km Mountain Bike, 5km Run. Categories: Individual – Male & Female Pro/Expert and Age Group categories. Relay – Male, Female & Mixed
– Novice Distance: 4-5km Cross-Country Ski, 5km Mountain Bike, 5km run
– Duathlon: 5km Run, 10km Mountain bike, 5km Run

More info at www.canmorewintermeltdown.com

REGISTRATION FOR 2013 HERE!

Gudeon and Roponen Win Engadin Skimarathon, Bonaldi and Mannima Take Overall FIS Marathon Cup

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March 11, 2013 (Engadin, Switzerland) – On Friday evening Pierre Gudeon (FRA) placed third in the night sprint, but was accidentally given the cheque for first place. Maybe it was a sign? When a lead pack of over 20 racers came into the finish together at the end of the Engadin Skimarathon, the Frenchman played his sprinter’s card and finished first in front of Italy’s Critstian Zorzi who thought he had it in the bag – but there were still three metres to go to the finish line. Christioph Perrillat Collomb (FRA), got his foot over the line in front of Remo Fischer, the Swiss who won in Engadin in 2011. The men’s race was marked once again by a big elite group, which formed right at the beginning and didn’t change much during the race, with only a few athletes getting dropped due to the high pace.

With his 27th place today, Sergio Bonaldi wasn’t able to show his best, but this performance was still enough to gain the victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. His strongest contestant Benoit Chauvet from France finished 9th today and was therefore not able to close the gap between him and Bonaldi and to take over the overall which he already lead after his victory in La Transjurassienne in February.

On the women’s side, it looked relatively open in the beginning, with Roponen already pushing hard but with last year’s winner Faivre-Picon being placed not far from the Finn. Seraina Boner (SUI), from Davos not far away from the Engadin, was third in St. Moritz at kilometre 14, right in front of a group of girls. After a lot of World Cup races and the World Championships, Faivre Picon was not as fresh as last year and could not hold on to her second place in the end, having Boner passing her only around four kilometres to go to the finish. Roponen finished with a two minute lead in the end. She will now have to carry the big Capricorn head, each winner of the Engadin Skimarathon gets, with her back to Finland. Surely a burden she likes to take.

In total, over 11,000 racers took the start of the Engadin Skimarathon under perfect sunshine and great snow conditions. This meant an increase of 6.4% (around 800 participants more). The weather forecast was not always that good so it was a nice surprise when the sun appeared on a cloudless sky this morning. All the racers can now enjoy the new medal series which will continue until 2017 with some motives of the animals of the Alps. The 45th Engadin Skimarathon also had a little “royal” touch with Pippa Middleton competing as well.

A 27th place was enough today for Sergio Bonaldi (ITA, 271 points) to fix his victory in the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2012/13. Benoit Chauvet (FRA, 227 points) who tried hard to get the red bib of the leader back in the last race of the season, and who finished 9th today, wasn’t able to get enough points to overtake the Italian. Anders Aukland (NOR, 220 points), who didn’t take part in today’s race as it was a skating race and the Norwegian is a classic specialist, takes third place in the overall ranking.

On the women’s side it’s Tatiana Mannima (EST, 402 points) who can now finally say “I am the winner of the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2012/13”. Already after the American Birkebeiner (USA) it was clear that nobody would be able to take the title away from her any more. Seraina Boner (SUI, 320 points), today’s second, is also second in the overall FIS Marathon Cup with Antonella Confortola (ITA) placing third (274 points).

“I am really happy that I could win the overall FIS Marathon Cup! It is a really important success for me and I hope the whole Italian team can profit from it! At the beginning I didn’t really have good results but suddenly, before the American Birkebeiner (USA), I realised that I would be able to win the overall if I would have a great race in the Birkie, so I gave everything. Today, it wasn’t a great race for me, the more I am happy that it worked out with the overall!” tells overall winner Sergio Bonaldi (ITA).

“Winning the overall FIS Marathon Cup means a lot to me! I focused on long distance racing this season and I am more than happy that it worked out that well! I am already looking forward to next season, but before I have our national Estonial Championships to race and then I will go on holidays!” says a happy Tatiana Mannima (EST).

Full results and the final overall FIS Marathon Cup standings HERE.

QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE

Pierre Guedon (FRA):
I never expected that I could win today. It’s my second marathon race and my first Engadin Skimarathon so I am still pretty unexperienced when it comes to long distance racing. But the race was very fast today and when I start in a race I also want to win or get onto the podium at least. So I tried to go with the fastest ones. I got told that you have to be one of the five first skiers when you come to the last 500m and I placed myself in that way right before the finish. In the end I could play the card of a sprinter and get these precious centimetres in front of the second one. I am really really happy. The Engadin is a great place for skiing and I really enjoyed racing here.

Cristian Zorzi (ITA):
Of course I wanted to win, but in the end, Pierre was faster and stronger. I am happy with my second place.

Christoph Perrillat Collomb (FRA):
Of course I hoped that I could win this race for once after I could already gain some podium places here, but I am also happy with the third place in the end. I really like this race here and the track is made for me – that’s why I still hope that I will be the winner one day! I tried to attack together with Ivan Perrillat in St. Moritz to get the leading group a bit smaller, but in the end, everybody came back together and over 20 athletes sprinted for the places. I am happy that I could place my foot over the line for a podium place. Now I go to Oslo to race the 50km there and I am looking forward to that.

Riitta Liisa Roponen (FIN):
I felt really good today and as I only did three races in the World Championships, I wasn’t tired at all. I got told before that it will be crowded in the beginning, but I was still surprised how crowded it got. My plan was to follow the men as long as possible and that was what I did and it worked well. I knew the Engadin already from three weeks of training in summer and I really like it here.

Seraina Boner (SUI):
I felt very good today, but until St. Moritz it was pretty hectic and it wasn’t much fun to race. In reality, I could only go as fast as I wanted to during the last five kilometres. I could then catch Anouk and knew that I would be able to finish second. I am really happy with this result. Maybe I should have tried to get behind Roponen straight from the beginning, but it came differently. But she was also very strong today.

Anouk Faivre-Picon (FRA):
After my victory last year, I hoped of course to do it again. But after a lot of World Cup races and the World Championships in my legs I didn’t feel fresh enough to really fight with Riitta-Liisa and Seraina in the end. So I am very happy that I could get onto the podium. The Engadin is a really great race and it’s always fun to ski here!

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

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

When we started skiing it was nice and sunny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bjornsen Blog – Val di Fiemme Wrap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 NCAA Championships 5/10km CL – Gruber and Oedegaard Top Fields on Day 2 + PHOTOS

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March 07, 2013 (Middlebury, VT) – Vermont’s Anja Gruber took the women’s 5km interval start FR crown for the host team at the famed Rikert Nordic Center with a time of 15:31.1 as the 60th annual 2013 NCAA Championships kicked off Day 2 in Middlebury, VT.

Dartmouth’s Mary O’Connell, who hails from Steamboat Springs, was the last racer to cross the finish taking second overall. Freshman Marine Dusser from the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves finished third for All-American honours. Dusser, a local of Villard de Lans, France, completed the cross-country course in a time of 15:43.0 for her sixth career podium result.

In the men’s race, the University of Colorado, led by an individual title in the classical race from sophomore Rune Oedegaard, moved into second place at the midway point of the championships. Oedegaard won the 10-kilometer men’s CL race in a time of 26 minutes and 0.2 seconds. He was just a couple of seconds off the lead at the first split, then took over the pace at the second split by nearly seven seconds and was ahead at the third and fourth splits for the victory.

New Mexico’s Mats Resaland finished second in 26:05.4. Making his NCAA debut with a third-place finish in the men’s race was rookie, Viktor Braennmark, a native of Alvsbyn, Sweden, who registered a time of 26 minutes, 28.5 seconds, helping UAA place  three finishers in the top 10 for 108 points.

Defending champs Vermont maintained their first-day lead, extending it by five points as the Catamounts have 389 points through four of the eight events. The University of Colorado Buffaloes are next with 368.5 points, making up 31 points on UNM thanks to a 193-point day on Thursday, the best by any school in the 21-team field.

Results (brief)

Women

1. Anja Gruber, UVM, 15:31.0
2. Mary O’Connell, Dart., 15:42.2
3. Marine Dusser, UAA, 15:43.0
4. Joanne Reid, CU, 15:44.2
5. Sloane Storey, Utah, 16:02.1
6. Maria Nordstroem, CU, 16:03.3
7. Annie Hart, Dart., 16:04.1
8. Linda Davind-Malm, UVM, 16:05.7
9. Silje Benum, DU, 16:10.0
10. Anna Svendsen, Utah, 16:17.1

Men

1. Rune Oedegaard, CU, 26:00.2
2. Mats Resaland, UNM, 26:05.4
3. Viktor Brannmark, UAA, 26:28.5
4. Ben Lustgarten, Midd., 26:32.6
5. Silas Talbot, Dart., 26:37.7
6. Miles Havlick, Utah, 26:46.2
7. Scott Patterson, UVM, 26:46.2
8. Lasse Molgaard-Nielsen, UAA, 26:50.6
9. Lukas Ebner, UAA, 26:51.3
10. Erik Soderman, NMU, 26:56.5

Women HERE.
Men HERE.

 

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Standings after the Women’s 30km CL

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March 06, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are happy to present the standings for the SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest after the Women’s 30km CL competition. Check out our coverage of the race that saw Norway’s Marit Bjoergen score the world title, while USA’s Liz Stephen logged the best North American result with a strong 16th place – here.

Team Northug – antoine-briand is still leading with 255 points followed by Team CATZ4LYFE in second with 245, while Team beaujo moved up into third spot with 220 points.

For the complete contest standings after the Women’s 30km CL, please click HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Prizes

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

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

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

Vasaloppet Crash Video

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March 06, 2013 (Sweden) – Check out this video of participants crashing hard as they hit an icy patch of track during this year’s 90km classic Vasaloppet marathon ski race in Sweden between the towns of Salen and Mora. This year’s edition saw 15,000 registrants. Watch the video HERE.

Countdown to 2013 Haywood Cross Country Ski Nationals Begins

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March 06, 2013 (Whistler, BC) – In a few short weeks, athletes from around the country will converge on Whistler for the 2013 Haywood Cross Country Ski Nationals. March 23 to 31 will include races in both skate and classic techniques, from sprints to mid-distance to the final 50k men’s race and 30k women’s race.

Joining new and returning racers will be Canadian National Team members Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Len Valjas, Daria Gaiazova, Perianne Jones, and Ivan Babikov. This March competition marks the team’s return from the World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

For the first time in Canadian history, the Biathlon Championships, the Haywood Cross Country Ski Championships, and the Aviva Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships will all be happening in succession at the Whistler Olympic Park venue at Callaghan Valley.

WOP has proven to be a well-used facility since the 2010 Olympics as the sport of cross-country skiing becomes more popular within Canada. A great source of cardio, Nordic skiing is a good way to stay fit and to keep healthy.

“We’re excited to be hosting an event of this calibre so soon after the Olympics,” said Sherryl Yeager, Event Chair. “We’re seeing a growth phase in the sport so it’s more exciting than ever to have Nationals here in Whistler.”

Entry to watch all races is free and spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer. This will be the last major race for the Canadian National Team in Canada before the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ski Nationals 2013 would like to thank event sponsors Haywood Securities, Buff Canada, Clif Bar, The Nordic Shop of Squamish BC, Deep Cove Outdoors, Impact Canopies Canada, Q Energy, Executive Suites Hotel & Resort, the Whistler Question, The Squamish Chief, Avis, Salomon, Fischer, Swix, Nesters Market, Halti Skiwear, Sauce Headwear, Bliz Active Eyewear, One Way, Rossignol, Ski Go Wax, RC, Icebreaker, Whistler Hotels, Silverfoot, Whistler Chocolate, Whistler Brewing Company, as well as the support of the Whistler Athletes’ Centre, and Hosting BC.

Fitzgerald Leads USA Women’s Sweep at Slavic Cup 10/15km CL Pursuit in Nove Mesto

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March 04, 2013 (Nove Mesto, Czech Republic) – Kate Fitzgerald (USA) bettered her performance landing on the top step of the podium at the Slavic Cup in Nove Mesto on day 2 of the competition in the women’s 10km CL Pursuit, leading an American sweep of the top three spots, with Sophie Caldwell and Rosie Brennan finishing second and third, respectively.

Patrick Caldwell was the best American finisher in the 15km men’s event placing ninth, followed by Eric Packer in 20th, and Peter Kling in 28th. Jakub Graef (CZE) won the event.

Women’s 10km CL Pursuit HERE.
Men’s 15km CL Pursuit HERE.

Canada’s Dupont 11th in Legendary Vasaloppet

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March 04, 2013 (Mora, Sweden) – Canada’s Andrea Dupont, known for her sprinting prowess on the Haywood NorAm circuit, finished an impressive 11th in the women’s field of the fabled 90km Vasaloppet in Sweden to log the top Canadian result in a time of 4:51.46, trailing women’s winner Laila Kveli of Norway by 0:29.24. The event drew nearly 15,000 participants, including almost 2,000 women.

Dupont represented Canada in the sprint events at the recent FIS Nordic Worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and stayed on in Europe to race the Vasaloppet marathon.

“Pretty good for a sprinter,” said Rodney Ruddock of Ski*go Canada.

For full Vasaloppet results click HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results HERE.
Full results detail HERE.

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

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

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

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

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy Fiemme Worlds 2013 Contest Prizes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results HERE.
Full results detail HERE.

Canada’s McKeever and Carleton Stomp to Gold at IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships

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February 28, 2013 (Solleftea, Sweden) – Brian Mckeever and his guide Erik Carleton cranked out another gold medal at the IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships in Solleftea, Sweden on Wednesday.

Feeding off a hard-fought victory in the sprint race earlier in the week, the Canadian duo stomped the field in the men’s 20-kilometre skate-ski visually impaired race, capturing their second-straight World Championship title with a time of 51:18.9.

“We are still feeling jetlag a bit so we tried to pace things as best as we could today,” said the 33-year-old McKeever. “It was pretty warm with wet and variable snow conditions so we started conservatively, stayed in control, and were able to step on it when we had too.”

With many of the top Para-Nordic skiers in the world running out of gas for the finish, the dominant Canucks pulled away from the field, finishing nearly one minute ahead of the silver medallists.

Russia grabbed the next two spots on the podium. Nikolay Polukhin and his guide, Andrey Tokarev, clocked-in at 52:16.8. Sergei Chokhlaev and Maksim Pirogov skied to the bronze medal with a time of 52:52.7.

“All of the focus right now is setting us up for Sochi,” said McKeever. “We are just trying to be at our best because we know the Russians are not going to want to lose at home. We are doing everything we can so that we are well prepared this time next year.”

A winner of 10 medals in three trips to the Paralympics with his brother Robin as his guide, McKeever and his Calgary-based childhood friend, Erik Carleton, have been nearly perfect since teaming up with each other for the World Championships two years ago.

“I don’t think the guides get nearly as much recognition as they should,” said McKeever. “It is tough being the guide because you are out front and not skiing your own race. He needs to be out front and controlling the pace. When I need him to hold off he has too, and when I need him to increase the pace he needs to do that as well.

“There are lots of little things that make a great guide. Erik has learned so much in the last year and was great again for me today. It is definitely a team effort out there, and Erik needs a lot of credit for our success.”

The IPC Nordic World Ski Championships continue on Thursday in Sweden with the start of the biathlon competitions.

The IPC World Championships can be viewed on the IPC’s YouTube Channel at www.YouTube.com/ParalympicSportTV. Next up on Solleftea are the distance races on Tuesday.

For complete Canadian and IPC World Cup results, please click HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full results HERE.

Fischer Loppet, Jackrabbit Races and Festival at Hardwood – Feb. 23

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February 22, 2013 (Oro Station, ON) – Mark your calendars for the Fischer Loppet at Hardwood Ski and Bike on February 23. The new course is now open for skiing – ask at the front counter for a map.

The annual Hardwood Fischer Loppet features 15 km and 30 km skate and classic events into one amazing day of racing. This a favourite or racers of all ages to work towards all winter. After the races, participants are treated to a spagetti dinner during the prize ceremony.

The courses that will be fun and challenging for all levels of skiers. Racing starts at 9 am.

On line registration is now closed but you can still register up to 8 am on Saturday morning either in person or by phone at 705 487 3775.

Course Map HERE.

Costs:
– Skate 30km – $36
– Skate 15km – $31
– Classic 30km – $36
– Classic 15km – $31

Register now HERE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.fiemme2013.com

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

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

2013 Haywood Ski Nationals – Canada’s Best Nordic Skiers to Race at Whistler Olympic Park

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February 20, 2013 (Whistler, B.C.) – Join Olympic and World Cup gold medalists Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey, along with rising stars Len Valjas and Perianne Jones as they compete in the Haywood Ski Nationals – the last major domestic racing event before the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

More than 600 of Canada’s best cross-country skiers will race in the 2013 Haywood Ski Nationals, the largest of three Nordic national championships to be held at Whistler Olympic Park, March 23 – 30, 2013.

The Olympic Park is the site of the Sea to Sky Nordic Festival where Canada’s elite winter athletes will compete in Biathlon Nationals and North American Biathlon Championships, Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Canadian Nationals.

With hundreds of athletes on site for biathlon, cross-country, and ski-jumping/Nordic combined, the event will “return us to the excitement of 2010 Olympics,” says event chair Sherryl Yeager.

“We’ll have more athletes, more races and more adrenalin pumping in this two-week period than we did in 2010,” says Yeager. “This event is going to give you non-stop all-day high-level racing from Canada’s best.”

Whistler Olympic Park is the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics and offers world-class racing trails and a picturesque recreational trail system that meanders through old growth forest in the Callaghan Valley. This is only the third time the Ski Nationals have been hosted in the Sea to Sky Corridor in 20 years. They were first held in Vancouver in 1991 and at Whistler Olympic Park in 2008.

All events are free of charge for spectators.

www.skinationals.com

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

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

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

Read the original article HERE (German).

Interview with Track Star Tara Whitten – Former XC Great and Gatineau Loppet Honorary President

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February 18, 2013 (Gatineau, Quebec) – Last year was a rough one to have heroes in cycling. It was a reminder that all too often the attributes that make successful athletes need not be those that make holistically praiseworthy people.

So it was refreshing to sit down with Tara Whitten at this year’s 35th Gatineau Loppet for a wide ranging interview. Not just an Olympic bronze medallist, multiple world champion and PhD candidate in neuroscience, Whitten is also a genuinely nice person, discussed topics from; ski racing, to track development, to her own athletic plans for the future.

She went as far as to apologize for being “wishy-washy” about her future in the sport, but then again, after a decade of international competition, first as a skier, and then as a cyclist, Whitten has earned herself a break.

Whitten was this year’s Honorary Gatineau Loppet President, and while the Edmontonian had won this 50km skate event here in 2004, she hadn’t done a proper ski race since Nationals in Quebec in 2007, by which point her heart was no longer in the sport. It was at that point that she began to shift her attention to track cycling – a sport in which she had first dabbled back in 2005.

Whitten did admit to having done the Edmonton Birkie last week, and said she felt much less beat up than after this weekend – joking that maybe she was already making a training adaptation. For an athlete that Cycling Canada’s HP Director, Jaques Landry, once called “a freak of nature” such an adaptation isn’t entirely unlikely.

So right upfront what are you plans right now for your own sporting future?
Tara Whitten: To be honest I’m a little uncertain. On one hand I’m excited about the prospect of the 4 person four-kilometer women’s team pursuit. It’s an interesting change, and would be neat to be a part of as our whole team just keeps on getting stronger. It’s tempting to think about being part of. I’m also excited about maybe focusing more on time trialing.

So the Omnium has no part in your plans?
TW: For the Omnium we’d have to wait and see, I think its future as an Olympic event is a bit more uncertain. I also think its future might be more with the sprinter – not pure sprinters, but riders with real speed. I actually think Gillian [Carleton] has a chance to combine that pure speed I don’t have with the endurance needed for the event. But we’ll have to see how it all develops in the next few years.

Team pursuit with four women. Good or bad for Canada?
TW: There are two ways to look at that, it can be good or bad. There are some countries with more depth and a deeper pool than us for sure. But at the same time after what we accomplished in London, I think that will help attract younger athlete into being interested in the track. I think we will find some strong new team pursuiters in the next four years to compliment the ones we already have.

How is the situation in Canada now compared to when you first started five years ago?
TW: There is so much more depth now. I really believe that team events have a huge impact on development. They give so many more opportunities for women to get involved, and from there they can branch out into the individual events as well. In 2007 when I started I was the only women in Canada pursuiting under 3:45. Now every girl in the pool can do that – that is four women if you don’t count me.

Have you spent much time in the Ottawa area before?
TW: A couple times for the Keski, and for my first ski nationals in this region in 1995. As well I’ve come out twice in the summer for the Women’s GP – so I’ve spent a bit of time here.

There is a group in Ottawa working to build a velodrome in the National capital region- how important it to have development opportunities like this in Canada?
TW: The importance of facilities like that is hard to overestimate. You need kids to have the chance to do a sport to get excited about it – especially a sport like track that you don’t even see on TV except for the Olympics. There is no chance for a development system without these facilities. The more opportunities there are for kids to try different sports the better. And some of those sports will cross over – like  cycling and skiing did for me. We can’t just be building hockey arenas.

How long were you a ski racer before you became a cyclist?
TW: I spent 13 years as a ski racer before cycling. Cross country skiing has a GREAT development system. When you go to a ski race you see the whole family, with two year age categories for boys and girls aged 7 and up. The kids are just out there having fun and racing Jackrabbit. It’s very different from most bike races you go to which is made up mainly of masters and men. They are guys that love the sport, but it’s not development.

Cross-country skiing also seems to be far more co-ed.
TW: Fore sure, hugely so. I’m not sure if cycling has an intimidation factor that keeps girls out or what, but the numbers of girls competing is so much smaller. There was definitely a tendency for the girls to drop out of the skiing more than the guys as they got a little older, but they are there in the younger ages.

How important was Richard Wooles’ decision to move the Canadian track program to L.A.?
TW: I don’t think there is any way we could have done what we did without a world class facility as a training base. Los Angeles isn’t necessarily ideal- the road riding around there isn’t great for example. But having access to that facility and training as a team were so  important to Team Canada’s success.

It would have been nicer to have been able to be in Canada. A lot of people felt really disconnected from home and the people in their lives. It was definitely a bit of a sacrifice to be based there. It wasn’t even like significant others could get visas and relocate there.

Do you think the new velodrome in Milton will be a big change?
TW: For sure! Just being able to be in Canada, I can’t explain how exciting that is. I imagine the endurance riders will have to do some road  camps in the winter. And it’s not just great for the elites, but for young athletes to be able to see high level track cycling in their own  backyard will be a huge step forwards for the next generation.

Just for the record, what exactly is your PhD in?
TW: Neuroscience, my thesis in high frequency rhythms in the hippocampus in sleep-like states. It is an area of the brain that is involved with memory, which we’ve known about since the 1950’s because of the case of Henry Molaison.

At this point Whitten was whisked off to hand out medals to the podiums in the skate races. In a funny twist the first winner Whitten presented a medal to was former national cycling team teammate Veronique Fortin, who had won the 27km freestyle event.

NENSA Final Eastern Cup – Athletes Dig Deep at Quarry Road

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February 18, 2013 (Waterville, ME) – Team efforts, tricky waxing, tempestuous winds, and a technical course were the trademarks of the final TD Bank Eastern Cup held at Quarry Road in Waterville, Maine.

The first team effort was that of Augusta Trails and the Quarry Road Recreation Area partnering to move the race from its scheduled location at Bond Brook in Augusta to neighboring Waterville and the Quarry Road Trails. Thanks to those teams of volunteers who made the events possible.

Despite a change in venue due to low snow, the Bond Brook Eastern Cup went full steam ahead today. Relocated to the Quarry Road Recreation area, athletes had the chance to ski on a challenging FIS homologated race course that was new to most.

Julia Kern, CSU, made a move on the final uphill before the stadium, to open a gap on Katherine Ogden, SMS, and Leah Brams, CSU. Katherine and Leah managed to close up the gap heading into the stadium, but some confusion ensued within the lap and finishing lanes, which led to a shuffling of the finish order. Julia took top spot, followed by Leah, then Sonya Jampel of Newton, MA in third.

In the J2 Boys division, Koby Gordon, SMS, skied a very strong race finishing 1st. Zane Feilds, Woodstock, VT came in 2nd and Gavin McEwen, CSU, rounded out the podium in 3rd.

The snow kept falling making conditions very slow for the open races -combined with the tough climbs, skiers definitely knew they had raced today In the women’s 10km mass start, Heidi Halvorsen, GMVS, also opened up a gap in the final kilometers, only to see Hannah Benson, Mt Washington Nordic, and Cate Brams, CSU, closing in fast at the finish. Heidi held them off though to take the win over Hannah with Cate in 3rd.

The final race of the day was the mens 15km mass start. Three laps of the grueling course took its toll on many of the skiers but Welly Ramsey, MWSC, made it look easy. Welly broke away early and stayed away finishing in convincing style. Alex Schulz, Dartmouth, and Justin Freeman, Holderness Nordic, hung tough for 2nd and 3rd places.

The racing continues on Day 2 with a freestyle interval start at 10 AM with the J2 boys starting off the activities.

Day 2
Day Two was a test of mettle given the cold temps and sharp winds that buffeted the racers throughout the day. Competition was strong as J2, J1 and OJ athletes raced for their final chance at points needed to qualify for New England’s Junior National Team. Junior National rankings will be available here at 1:00pm Monday.

The tough conditions were no match for the Campridge Sports Union athletes who had a banner day on Saturday and took five of the top six spots in the women’s freestyle race on Sunday. Maddy Pheifer of Green Mountain Valley School spoiled the podium sweep skiing into second place splitting CSU’s Leah (3rd) and Cate Brams, the eventual winner.

Stratton Mountain School’s Koby Gordon completed another weekend sweep, winning both J2 Boys races ahead of Zane Fields of Woodstock Nordic who took second both Saturday and Sunday. Nathaniel Kuzio of Mansfield Nordic took third on Sunday.

In the men’s field, Bred Bedart took top honors ahead of biathlete Raleigh Goessling of Maine Winter Sports Center in second and in third, Jack Schrupp of Gunstock Nordic.

Full results HERE.

Gatineau Loppet Skate Skiers Turn Out Despite the Cold – Canada’s Murray Wins Men’s 51k

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February 18, 2013 (Gatineau, Quebec) – The sun shone high overhead, but the temperature dipped low all around on the second day of the Gatineau Loppet. Still, everyone was in a great mood, and the participants, which included elite as well as recreational skiers, were eager to get into today’s freestyle races.

51 and 27 km freestyle
The 51 and 27 km races were delayed 30 minutes because at 8 this morning the mercury had plunged to -28 with the wind chill. But even that could not deter the 1000 participants gathered at the start line at 9:30 a.m. sharp. The first to cross the finish line was Ian Murray (Canmore, CAN), with a time of 2 hours, 30 minutes and 11 seconds. He was followed by Jonathan Tremblay (Chicoutimi, CAN), who finished one second ahead of Ryan Atkins (Oshawa, CAN). On the women´s side, Robyn Anderson (Stowe, USA) crossed the finish line 9 minutes ahead of her closest rival, Martina Stursova (CZE), who was back on the podium for the second day in a row. Lea Davison (Jericho, USA) rounded out the women´s top three in the 51 km freestyle.

The men´s 27 km freestyle was won by Peter Novak (CZE), followed by Cameron Raynor (Huntsville, CAN) and Benjamin Osorio (Orillia, CAN), who had finished the 20 km classic in third place the previous day. Among the women, it was a local, Véronique Fortin (Gatineau, CAN), who made it to the top rung of the podium. She was followed by the first member of the Legend´s Path, Sheila Kealey, who had finished second in the previous day´s 55 km classic. Annie Chenard (Montréal, CAN) took third place.

10 km BFL Canada
Finally, the 10 km BFL Canada women´s freestyle went to none other than the event´s Honorary President, Tara Whitten, who had finished in fourth place in Saturday´s 55 km classic style. Next on the podium were Laura Leclair (Chelsea, CAN) in second place, and Alyssa Stowe (Almonte, CAN) in third. Among the men, Benjamin Wilkinson-Zan (Ottawa, CAN), Nicholas Pigeon (Gatineau, CAN) and Aaron Fahey (Chelsea, CAN) finished first, second and third, respectively.

And last but not least were the hundreds of children accompanied by their parents who took part in the 2 km Mini Sport Échange Outaouais. This untimed race is part of the Carnaval Soleil Polaire, a huge neighbourhood celebration initiated by the municipal Councillor for the L’Orée-du-Parc district, Mireille Apollon. Entertainment for the kids, music, inflatable structures and dishes from around the world all helped to warm up the families and skiers at the site.

Results

10k free HERE.
27k free HERE.
51k free HERE.

www.gatineauloppet.com.

Oestensen and Hansson Win Tartu Maraton, Aukland and Manimaa Lead FIS Marathon Cup

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February 18, 2013 (Otepää, Estonia) – Simen Oestensen of Norway and Sweden’s Sandra Hansson won the 2013 men’s and women’s 63km CT Tartu Maraton in Otepää on Sunday. Conditions were ideal, with temperatures of -4 C at the start, no wind and a beautiful 63km long track through the Estonian woods.

The race ended in a bunch sprint, with 17 racers finishing within 10 seconds of one another! The elite skiers tried to break the group up on the long and steep climb at Harimägi, about 16km after the start, but it didn’t work out as planned. So the big group stayed together, and only in the last 15km did the race get faster and faster, but still 17 racers fought for the finish sprint. Oestensen was the fastest and scored the win. This victory is his first ever FIS Marathon Cup victory! Behind him, last year’s winner Jörgen Brink (SWE), got his foot across the finish line for second place, right in front of Anders Aukland (NOR), who also previously won the Tartu Maraton.

On the women’s side, it was a lonely race for Hansson. The first woman to cross the finish line led the women’s race from start to finish, only experiencing a challenge in the first 15km, in which she was followed closely by Tatiana Mannima (EST), who would pay for the high pace and the energy used to obtain it. Stephanie Santer (ITA) and Ursina Badilatti (SUI) chased the Swede, but with over five minutes advantage, Hansson’s victory was never in question. Even though Santer and Badilatti were in the same group, it was not a “girls ski out”. Both fought hard with Badilatti, having the better skis in the downhill sections, always passing Santer but having to let her go when it pointed uphill again. In the
end, Santer was able to gain an advantage, pushing her skis to finish second ahead of Badilatti.

Aukland, with his third place today, is now the new leader of the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 220 points. Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and Benoit Chauvet (FRA) are now tied in the second place with 166 points each (having finished in the exact the same places). Two Norwegians are following in third spot: Joergen Aukland and Petter Northug both have 160 points apiece.

On the women’s side, the ranking is much clearer: Tatiana Manimaa (EST) is enlarging her lead in the overall with her fourth place today. She now leads with 293 points in front of Seraina Boner (SUI, 240 points) and Stephanie Santer (ITA,222 points).

QUOTES:
Simen Oestensen (NOR):
I knew from training that I am fast, but I couldn’t really show it in competitions until now. So I am really happy that it finally worked out! Anders and I talked a bit during the race and we tried to ski very hard from around km 15/16. But it didn’t really work out so we all stayed together. Already about 15km before the finish I knew that it would be a finish sprint so I prepared for that and it worked! I am really happy! Now I will prepare the Vasaloppet and then I hope that I can do the World Cup in Lahti.

Joergen Brink (SWE):
Well, Simen was just faster today, I would say! Surely I wanted to repeat my victory from last year, but I now happy with the second place! Tartu Maraton is really on of the best long distance races … I really like the track! It’s not completely flat but a lot of up and down.

The conditions were really good today but a little snow on top of the track made it very difficult. The two Russians and Team Xtra made a lot speed in the beginning, but then we became a big group again and it was not worth trying to get away. I am happy that in the end it worked out with the second place in the finish sprint!

Anders Aukland (NOR):
I am really happy that I could make the podium today. With a finish sprint it’s not that obvious – everything can happen! We tried to break the group from the big climb on, which was not long after the start, but it was easy to close the gap for the others and so we were a big group again and the race turned out to finish with a finish sprint.

Sandra Hansson (SWE):
It’s wonderful to be back finally! And to win for the 4th time here in Tartu is really something special! I really like this track – the Tartu Maraton is one of my favourite races! The track profiles demands a lot of double poling which I like and the uphills are not that long which is great!

Stephanie Santer (ITA):
Wow, that was a hard race! My skis didn’t glide that perfectly so I had to push pretty hard the whole time. But of course I am really happy that in the end it worked out with the second place. At around km 25 I caught Tatiana and then I knew that something might be possible and I just kept pushing.

Ursina Badilatti (SUI):
YES! Finally a podium! That is just so great! It was a hard race but I had great skis! I tried to stay with Stephanie who was always a little bit in front of me. When we caught Tatiana I knew I had to keep pushing to make sure that this would end with a podium for me today! I am really really happy. It’s a great feeling that finally all the work pays off!

Click HERE for full results.

Important dates & practical information
– February 23: American Birkebeiner (USA) – 8th FIS Marathon Cup 2012-13 / 50km FT

2013 Boulder Mountain Tour Video + Photos

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February 08, 2013 (Sun Valley, ID) – Watch this highlight video courtesy of John Plummer and SV Resort, and check out some great photos by Nils Ribi from the Boulder Mountain Tour, the renowned 32km freestyle race and one of America’s longest running and most respected cross-country ski events. The video includes interviews with women’s winner Lauren Fritz (APU) and men’s champ Sylvan Ellefson (Vail Ski and Snowboard Club), as well as race action.

Results and more HERE.

Annual Kamview Tour in Thunder Bay – Feb. 9

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February 08, 2013 (Thunder Bay, ON) – The annual Kamview Tour is tomorrow and it’s not too late to register. Drop by the chalet today, or download a registration form online. Race day registration is available-but why wait? You can ski a 5, 15 or 30km distance and enjoy a hot pizza lunch and great awards from Fresh Air Experience and Wilderness Supply. Find the registration form HERE.

Kamview-SkiTrax Special Offer!
Kamview-Thunder Bay Nordic Trails Association and SkiTrax Magazine, the largest cross-country ski magazine in North America, have teamed up to bring you great savings. SkiTrax keeps you up to date on all the latest Nordic news, ski gear, adventure and recreational skiing, including race reports from across Canada, the USA, and around the world – check out skitrax.com.

Kamview/TBNT members save 30% off regular subscription prices – try a SkiTrax-Pedal Combo Deal and get Pedal Magazine as well – to order click HERE.

Profile on Kamview Nordic Centre and TBNT in your first issue!

Kam Jam – Feb. 16
Frank Pollari and crew will be hosting the second annual “Kam Jam” on February 16th. Everyone is welcome for this fun evening of skiing and music. Fabulous Friday after Five rental and trail pass rates will apply. A perfect night to introduce a friend to cross-country skiing at Kamview.

Sleeping Giant Loppet – Mar. 2
Online registration for the Sleeping Giant Loppet ends on Tuedsday February 26th. Click HERE to register. Our special edition pins are reserved for the first 500 registrants, so don’t delay! Remember our Park n ‘Ride service is free this year, thanks to sponsorship from Lakehead Marine and Industrial, e-mail info@sleepinggiantloppet.ca to reserve your seat. Make 2013 your ROOKIE YEAR !

Kamview Ladies Day – Mar. 6
Yes-we will be having a Kamview Ladies Day! Mark Wednesday March 6th on your calendars for a day of great skiing and an amazing lunch prepared by Chef Kerry and the Kamview crew.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Tartu Maraton – Team Modification Now OPEN

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February 06, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to announce that team modification is now open for the FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest – the twist. Contestants can modify their team until 10pm EST on Feb. 9, prior to the 57/76km CL Tartu Maraton in Estonia on Feb. 10.

Contestants may only swap one of their team’s four main skiers – either male or female – not their Outlaw Skier. All points earned to date by the skier that’s out are retained, and only points earned by the new skier from Feb. 10 going forward will be counted.

Note: you only have one chance to make the swap – once completed you will not be able to change your selection so please be sure of your choice before making the change.

To revise your team click HERE.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup Prizes

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

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Nipika, Marwe, Yoko, Halti, Skiwax.ca, 2XU, One Way, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, 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).

Watch Canada’s Jones and Gaiazova Score Women’s 4×1.25km CL Sprint Bronze at Sochi WCup

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February 06, 2013 – Check out this great video of the FIS women’s 4×1.25km team classic sprint in Sochi, where Canada’s Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova snapped up a thrilling bronze medal with an incredible surge in the final leg.