Tag Archive | "Sadie Bjornsen"

Final 2012/13 USSA SuperTour Standings and Grand Champions Named

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

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.

Bjornsen Blog – Val di Fiemme Wrap

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifications HERE.
Final results HERE.

Diggins Report – Checking Out Sochi

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

January 28, 2013 (Sochi, Russia) – At the moment, the 5th Russian fix-it-man of the day is watching Holly try to explain/pantomime that the upstairs shower leaks through the ceiling and upstairs someone else is working on the pipes. And this has been the “down-time” part of the last few days! Russia has been very exciting, like this huge adventure. I’m never quite sure what to expect, where to go and when to be there, but it’s cool as long as you go with the flow. And don’t bother asking questions – you won’t get anywhere!

So here’s how our travel to Sochi started: we drove to the Zurich Airport a full 4 hours before our flight was supposed to leave. Just in case, you know. And we had to tag and drop off all our ski bags and duffels, and then go purchase tickets inside. Then we boarded the plane. So far, this sounds like a normal travel day, right?

Because this was a charter flight full of athletes and all their skis, wax tables, benches and boxes, there were about 90 bags that didn’t make the flight. But not for lack of trying. The last 10-ish rows of the plane had the seats folded down and duffels stacked up – and the row in front of them was emptied “for safety reasons”. In case the bags started sliding, I guess. I think the plane was weighted funny because when we landed, we landed HARD and there might have been a few screams from the back row (we were in the back rows).

But the flight was fine, and then we had to get through customs. Turns out getting into Russia isn’t that easy and you need an invitation, then a visa, and then you fill out identical sides of this tiny piece of paper that they stamp. What they don’t emphasize nearly enough is that the other half of that little paper is your ticket back out, and you can’t lose it. Just don’t let it out of your sight!

Our team was really lucky and all our bags made it through, so we loaded them into these huge trucks and then waited in the rain for a bus. Once we were on the bus, we waited on the side of the road for 30 minutes, then drove slowly through traffic up to the venue. Then waited some more, before going through accreditation processing.

Once we got our credentials, which you also CANNOT LOSE because there are guards in fur hats everywhere that check your creds at all these checkpoints, we went through another security scanner. Then we hopped into a gondola that took us to the Olympic village and trails at the top of the mountain, at the venue called “Laura”. Turns out the venue is named after a raging river, which is named after a girl named Laura who jumped in it to kill herself instead of living with an old prince she didn’t love. Whoa. More info on the venue and 2014 Olympics in general HERE.

After getting off the gondola, we had to check in again to get our keys to the condo, and after eating dinner at 1:00am we took the bumpiest bus ride EVER to get to our lodging. It was super exciting! We all thought the bus ride was hilarious so everyone had their phones out. The picture below helps to explain some of the bumpy ride. So yep, that was our travel to Russia! But because we arrived in the dead of night, we woke up to see beautiful mountains and check out the venue.

Basically, we’re staying in brand spanking new condos that have 5 rooms each, for 10 people total, and they’re super roomy. The only problem is the aforementioned leak in the ceiling whenever Simi and Noah shower. But we’re working on that! However, most of the village is still under construction so there are cranes and construction crews all over.

And the GUARDS. They are everywhere, and there must be several hundred volunteers all in blue jackets. The volunteers are super friendly and most speak very good english, but most of the guards don’t say a word. Except when they stop the buses to check everyone’s credentials. I told you – you don’t want to lose that thing!

Once you leave the really modern new strip of housing, things get a little messy. And I do mean that literally since there is mud and water all over, and in some parts of the road all you can smell is sewage. But what I noticed most was the absolute lack of privacy. Some people say “God is always watching”…but now I know the real deal. The Russians are always watching. There are cameras everywhere, along the fences, on the course, in the entrances to buildings.

The dining hall is about an 8-minute walk away, up the side of the bunny hill where little kids in boots up to their knees are bombing around. And what starts out as a waist-high metal fence on the right slowly morphs into a 10-foot tall fence with barbed wire spiraling over the top and cameras mounted in all directions along the wall. On our side of the fence are the new buildings, glass-walled bars, chalets and chairlifts, and on the other side there is mud, construction zones, and containers stacked on containers that provide housing for the workers. And I’m not complaining about a thing because I’m on the right side of that fence!

So here are some things I’ve figured out about Sochi so far:
– The ski trails are amazing – rolling, super wide, and with seperate trials for cross country and biathalon
– There are also two seperate stadiums, and while the biathalon is a permanent structure, the cross country stadium is a temporary one. But it’s still gigantic.
– It doesn’t look like there are other lodging options up here except for the condos, but there is a hotel at the bottom of the gondola where some of the teams are staying.
– There seem to be rules and regulations about so many little things. Like checkpoints, fences, credentials, transport, meal tickets.
– And then sometimes there seem to be no rules at all. Like what time you eat and train at, or whether your wax cabin is unlocked.

The races start on Friday with a skate sprint, Saturday a 15km skiathalon, and Sunday is the classic team sprint. I’m excited to be here and will put up more pictures when I can!

Interviews w/Bjornsen, Caldwell and Koos after U.S. 20/30km CL National Championships

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

January 07, 2013 (Soldier Hollow, UT) – APU’s Sadie Bjornsen (USA) and Stratton Mountain’s Sophie Caldwell (USA) were 1st and 3rd, respectively, at the U.S. National Championship’s 20 km CL women’s race. Both women are headed next to the World Cup in the Czech Republic. Each spoke about their race, competing with each other and working the course together, and expectations at the Liberec World Cup. Bjornsen also talks about competing with her brother while growing up.

Torin Koos (USA) won his first US National Title in a distance race, his second US title of the week and eighth National gold. Koos spoke about the 30km CL race at Soldier Hollow, his history of athletics at the University of Utah, his friends from school, his first World Cup, and the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics as part of his affection for Utah. Koos also sees the sport of Nordic ski racing maturing in North America.

Sadie and Erik Bjornsen to Host Cascade Challenge Ski Camp – Dec. 23

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

December 20, 2012 (Mazama, WA) – The Methow Valley’s elite skiers, Sadie and Erik Bjornsen, are home for Christmas with huge wins in the Super Tour. Both brother and sister came away from the competitions in Canmore, Canada, last week, as the US Nordic Ski Team’s 2012 Super Tour Leaders. The Bjornsens are determined to represent the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics and will be competing internationally this ski season with the hope of continuing their winning streak.

The Bjornsen siblings are hosting the Cascade Challenge Ski Camp, a free Nordic ski clinic, for members of the Methow Valley Nordic Ski Team ages 6 thru 13. 50 kids have registered in advance for this fun-filled morning with our local Nordic champions.

The camp will run from noon to 3 PM on Sunday, Dec. 23, at the Mazama Community Center (at the junction of Lost River Road and Goat Creek Road). The center will be open by 11:30 a.m. for those who are registered.

“Sadie and I are super excited to be hosting our annual kids ski camp at the Mazama Community Center this Sunday,” said Erik. “As of this morning the camp is full with 50 young skiers signed up.” “This is our way of giving back to the Methow Valley Nordic community that has encouraged and supported us since we first began skiing,” said Sadie.

Sadie keeps an active blog about her ski activities at www.sadiebjornsen.blogspot.com, as does Erik at www.erikbjornsen.com.

The Methow Valley Nordic Ski Educational Foundation (MVNSEF), a 501(c)(3) organization, has created the Elite Opportunity Fund to provide financial support to eligible graduates of the Methow Valley Junior Nordic Team program who have been selected by a “national governing body” in one of the Nordic disciplines (USST, USBA) to compete in sanctioned international events or training camps. The MVNSEF recognizes the considerable financial difficulties faced by promising post-junior team skiers in their efforts to compete and succeed at the international level, and the very limited support provided by the USSA.

Inside the Fence – Canmore Course Preview w/USA’s Bjornsen, Interviews w/Kershaw, Wadsworth and More

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

December 13, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Check out the latest edition of  FIS’s Inside the Fence – the Canmore preview. Follow the USA’s Sadie Bjornsen for a lap around the women’s 3.3km classic course, and watch interviews with Vibeke Skofterud, Kristen Stoermer Steira, Devon Kershaw and Justin Wadsworth.

Bjornsen Blog – Doing the Snow Dance!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USST Members to Give Free Clinic to Methow Valley Home Team – Dec. 21

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

December 21, 2011 (Early Winters, WA) – This year, the Methow Valley Nordic Team has no less than four graduates who are skiing at an elite level in international competitions. Sadie Bjornsen and her younger brother Erik Bjornsen are members of the U.S. Ski Team, hoping to make the 2014 Olympic Games.

Brian Gregg, ranked among the 10 fastest skiers in the country, has been invited by the U.S. Ski Team to compete in Europa Cup races and has earned World Cup Start rights by leading the overall Super Tour.

Casey Smith, named Junior Biathlete of the Year by the U.S. Biathlon Team, and is near qualifying for the U.S. Biathlon European Championship Team

All four of these elite athletes will be giving back to the community and their home team, by giving a free ski clinic on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Mazama Community Center, for members of the Methow Valley Nordic Team. Over 30 kids have pre-registered!

Click HERE to view the announcement on Sadie Bjornsen’s blog.

Snow is Here – The Racing Season is Coming…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

October 27, 2011 – The snow has finally fallen enough to accumulate some ski trails up at Hatchers Pass. Lots of pictures and stories have been circulating around already, so I think the word is out that the Alaskan Crew got to ski on October 20th!! Thats so early. What this means is I skied every month of the year this year, besides one! So I skied on snow 11 months of the training year… how many racers can say that???

The skiing has been great. Extra blue, packed tracks, and blue bird cold days!! The APU crew headed up last thursday for a distance ski, and by the following day I was sore. It’s funny how rollerskiing never seems to train the exact same muscles, so you are sore the first ski of the season, regardless. We then skied a second time on saturday… so by the end of the three hour ski, I was cooked. I have to say, this is the main reason that I love training in Alaska. The opportunity to be on snow as much as we are I see as a huge benefit. By getting that early “snow shape” back together in October, you can sometimes jump start the engine for the early racing season.

Speaking of early racing season, I will be on a different path this fall period. For the first time, I will be racing on the World Cup Circuit for Period 1 along with a group of 4 other girls. This has been super exciting news for me, and I have to say, I have been counting down the days for the “2012” experience to begin! The greatest thing about this year is it is the year to experiment and try new things. Because there are no main Championships of the year, I can set my own expectations and goals. Having never raced much in early season, nor raced much on the World Cup Circuit, nor left my home from November 6th until the end of March…… I will be switching things up quite a bit.

Last year I had a small introduction into this top level of racing, and ever since I have been working hard to jump into that category. This fall will be a great opportunity for me to open my eyes wide, learn some new skills and tricks, and have a great time skiing along with the best skiers in the world.

My schedule starts with me Leaving November 6th for Beitostoelen, Norway and follows:
– November 11-13, FIS Races in Beitostoelen
– November 19-20, World Cup in Beito
– November 25-27, World Cup Kuusamo, Finland
– December 3-4, World Cup downtown Dusseldorf, Germany
– December 10-11, World Cup Davos, Switzerland

Following that, December 12th I will fly back to Washington for a short break in Washington before Nationals, early January in Rumford Maine.

Unfortunately this opportunity has come with a price. Being named to the US SKi Team this last year has provided me with the opportunities and the steps at reaching this next level, but it has also provided me with some responsibility for completing these steps. Having major budget cuts this year resulted in the funding being cut for all B-Team level athletes for this top level of competition. What this means for me is that the spot is available for me, but I must find my own funding to get there.

I am not sure on my definite plans for the entire year, but I am going to guess the financial need will remain at the same level through Period 2 as well as Period 3. What it looks like for this first period of racing can be broken down easily between room and board as well as plane tickets to and from Europe, and between race venues. This comes to a total around $8000.

Being an athlete similar to every other nordic athlete in the country, this is not the kind of money we can ask our parents for, or we can raise on a side job. This is the kind of financial support we must find in our supporters and followers. This is also not only a problem for me, but every other talented young athlete in this country that is ready to make another step in their development. It starts at the 16 year old level skier who just made Scando Trips, and continues through the World Juniors level, affecting everyone all the way up to the top level of World Cup Racing.

The Nordic community has been working hard recently to make these unrealistic financial expectations more realistic. With the new push at the National Nordic Foundation level, supporters are beginning to see the sad truth of the financial demands affecting the opportunities for a new level of talent our country is now experiencing. This is just the beginning, but it is a step forward.

Which brings me to my final point. I have a long year in front of me, and it could cost me around $30,000 to race at this level throughout the season. If you would like to support either myself, or the other athletes in getting there; there are several options. As with everything, even the smallest amount makes a difference and builds towards that end goal. Just like us athletes; it wasn’t the 4-hour ski we did that made us fast, but it was the culmination of all those 1 hr., 2hr. and 3hr. workouts that made us great. So please know that every effort is greatly appreciated!

Your options for supporting our skiing goals for the year are:

1) Methow Valley Ski Education Foundation- The community in the Methow has been extremely helpful and supportive towards trying to help make this next step available. The team has created an Elite Opportunity Fund with 501(c)(3) status. Money can be donated to help support the athletes of the Methow participating in international level competition. If you would like to send a tax-deductible donation towards me, or the athletes of the Methow Valley, send to:
MVNSEF Elite Opportunity Fund
PO Box 1063
Winthrop, WA 98862

2) Donations directly towards me. Email me at sbjornsen@alaskapacific.edu if you have questions.

3) Donations towards the National Nordic Foundation, which is a non-profit organization aimed at supporting the nordic athletes of the US. They are recently doing The Drive for 25, which will include a small support of a large spectrum of supporters. Check out this site to get an idea of what we do and learn how to help HERE.

4) Support through the APU Ski Club

There are many ways to help out and support including you standing on the side of the trail cheering and screaming. It all counts, and it all keeps us going. So keep it up, and get ready…. race season is coming!!! Thanks to everyone that has helped so far, and that may help in the future! You guys are truly making it possible!

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bjornsen Blog – Park City Testing and Rookie Camp

Tags: , , , , ,

June 27, 2011 (Park City, UT) – For the past five days I have been moving along in overdrive down in Park City for a series of tests and Rookie Camp. The first two days in town we spent the entire day in the US Ski Teams new central gym called the Center of Excellence. That place is amazing; it gets you fired up just walking in to the place! With pictures and banners posted everywhere of all the successful athletes, you can’t help but get instantly excited. Not to mention there are famous people everywhere doing the same thing you are doing, just getting some work done.

Starting day one, we kicked off with a series of treadmill tests, blood tests, concussion tests, and then the following day hit two more treadmill tests, strength tests, functional movement tests, physicals, dexo scans, body composition tests, and probably a few more that I can’t remember anymore. The schedule was tight with only two days and six athletes to get through, so I felt like a lab rat for a bit, just jumping from one thing to the next. In the mean time I was trying to fit in school work and some outside training, since the sun was seriously shining.

I have watched so many people do the max tests on the treadmill with rollerskis on, so I was anxious to complete my first VO2 max test, and rollerski on the massive treadmill for the first time.I was surprised. It was pretty easy to get used to the motions of skiing on a treadmill. At first it was hard to remember to keep your skis straight, but within a few minutes it felt natural like skiing on snow. We would warm up on a separate treadmill, sometimes with another person- and then for the testing period we would transfer over to the treadmill with all the tubes, computers and harness hook up. In order to ensure that we didn’t go shooting off the back when we skid to maximum effort, they would attach a harness to your back, which would catch you when you went to a point of no return. I only got to try this out once, as the other two times I just grabbed onto the bar in front of me when I felt I could go no further. It is a funny point to go to maximum effort, because most times in races you know you have to keep going and finish the hill, so you hold yourself back from going to that place where you can no longer hold yourself up.

You had a team of about 15 doctors and coaches standing around the treadmill with each test either pricking your finger for blood, waiting to catch you when you fall, holding your breathing tube, reading your heart rates, running the machine, or simply just cheering you on. I swear the rest of the athletes in the gym that were not nordic skiers were all watching, thinking us nordic skiers are absolutely crazy! With a tube stuffed in your mouth, you are not able to talk, so Matt Whitcomb would just stand in front of us watching our face expressions for pain, and cheering us on. It was really a neat thing.

The other tests were hard in a different way. Strength tests measured our jumping power, or various mobility muscles, our stability muscles, and a few other. It turns out, all of us nordic skiers need a lot of work in that field. The concussion test was hilarious, as I felt like I failed it before I even need to be tested for a concussion. The rest of the tests were good, and it was fun to get a baseline measurement to see where I will progress from here. I have never had the opportunity to make many of these measurements, so its great to have all of this as a resource to us now.

The following three days we attended a US Ski Team class session, otherwise known as Rookie Camp. In three days, I learned more important information than I could have imagined. There were 42 athletes attending, who have just this year been named to the US Team, so it was fun to get to know these other alpiners, snowboarders, mogulists and aerialists. I don’t know much about any winters sports besides alpine, so I had tons of fun learning about these sports and what they do for training and competition. Besides that part of the three days, we also got to meet all the managers and various people that work in different areas of the US Team. A lot of times we communicate with these people over the phone or email, but we never know them by face, so I enjoyed getting to put a face to the voice or name. We also had media practice, met some trustee’s, learned about USADA, learned about Nutrition, got to speak with some of the top athletes on the team, and hear their experiences, learn about US Ski Team marketing and fundraising, did some team building exercises, played some outdoors games, and simply learned about all the various resources offered to us when you are part of the team. Starting at 6:30 in the morning when we woke up, to about 9:30 PM when we would return to the hotel- we were on a role, one thing after another!

With most of us in training at this time of year, they wanted to take the smallest amount of our time, but educate us as much as they could, so it was a successful process- plus I got to know a lot of talented athletes just introduced into the team that will probably be super famous one day!

Park City was so nice when we were there, like 85 degree days, but because we were inside testing all day, or inside doing meetings for the majority of the day, I had limited time in the sun. Somehow I still managed to completely fry my shoulders during day one of rookie camp at our ropes course. When you become used to living in Alaska, you forget about sun screen sometimes…..

For now, I have a week of dryland training in town before taking my second trip up to the glacier for a week. One thing after another- there is really no way I could get bored doing what I do. It is great!!!

Hopefully I will have more pictures from Rookie Camp coming soon! In the meantime, check out these:

Bjornsen Blog – Springtime!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

May 16, 2011 – SkiTrax would like to welcome new blogger Sadie Bjoernsen. Check out her latest blog, including lots of photos, and stay tuned for more updates from Sadie.

Mmmm, springtime in Alaska!!!! It’s just too good. Not many places can you Nordic ski all the way into middle of May. This spring I decided I was going to live a little more of a “true Alaskan winter” and spend some more time doing the kind of skiing where gravity is doing most the work. I am super lucky though, many of my friends are really into backcountry skiing, so I was having to hold myself back from going and playing every single day. Trying to stay caught up in school, and fit in some work here and there…. I got a bit behind playing that much. The good news is, for the first time I had a pretty active spring, which means I am not nearly as out of shape as I normally am May 1st. That was my first goal for this year. In staying in shape through the resting period, I don’t loose the first two months just trying to build my fitness back up.

A lot has unfolded and happened in the last month since I have started phasing into my new season. For one, it has now been exactly a year since I joined the “Big Blue APU”. I couldn’t be happier that I joined this squad, and now I managed to convince my brother to jump onto the wagon and ski for APU as well.- so its going to be fun! For the past week we have been training hard in our annual “start up camp” Start up camp normally consists of two-a-days with lots of intervals, lots of skiing hard, and lots of soreness and stiffness.

Last year I was nearly in a wheel chair by the end of the week of training with the new team, so this year I knew what to expect going into it… which is why I tried to bridge my seasons together more by keeping my fitness up during my rest period. But, of course, I still managed to put myself in a world of hurt all week. You know you are doing the right thing when showing up to training is more than just another day of work. It’s amazing, every day, regardless of how wrecked everyone is, everyone is always smiling and ready to throw down when they show up for training. I think thats what makes this training group so successful. The energy within it is always positive, so it’s hard not love it.

Read a nice article Beth wrote in the Alaska Daily News HERE.

The second big thing of my spring is being named to the National Team. I am super pumped about it. I think the National team has something great going on now. With lots of focus on young development, I think they are determine to build from the ground up and make something really happen in the future. It’s also awesome because we have our little rabbit, Kikkan Randall to watch and aim for. Being named to this team means joining in with some of the fastest girls in the country periodically throughout the summer and fall and getting in some good training.

This year, the woman’s National Team, the Canadian woman’s National Team, and some of the top APU ladies are all going to join up for a week of training up at Eagle Glacier. I don’t think those girls know what they are getting in to. I have this feeling they are going to fall in love, and before we know it, everyone is going to want to be moving to Alaska. Anyways, I am super stoked and honored to be representing not only APU now, but also the US. Unfortunately, as always in this sport, there is not much funding out there, so being on the B-Team means covering most of our own costs. So I am still always looking for support.

Which brings me to my last point. For the past month we have been working our butts off planning and putting together an awesome fundraiser for the APU team to cover racing costs for the season. We will be putting on an auction with lots of sweet items including trips to hawaii as well as bikes, skis, artwork and much more.

If you are in the Anchorage area, come out and check out what we are about! More than just a fundraiser, this is also a celebration of all the great successes we have had this year including USSA club of the year, coach of the year and athlete of the year. We are always looking for people to join the family of support and help us reach great levels. So, if you are around Anchorage, the event is May 10th starting at 6:30.

From here until May 20th, I will be training in town and starting up summer school before I take off for Bend, Oregon for my first US Ski Team Camp for 10 days. I think this year I am going to see if I can ski every month of the year. September might get a little tricky, but I am determine to make it happen.


NCCSEF, USST Partner to Fund all Athletes to World Nordic Championships

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

February 14, 2011 – The National Cross-Country Ski Education Foundation has partnered with the US Ski Team to fully fund all U. S. Cross Country athletes who represent the U.S. at the 2011 World Nordic Ski Championships.

Dave Knoop, NCCSEF director, states “The World Championships are the premier Nordic competition outside of the Olympics. We wanted to make sure each athlete who qualifies for the Championships could focus on their preparation for the games and not worry about covering the cost for this trip.”

“We will be going to Norway with a group of athletes who have all earned this honor with strong performances this season,” said Nordic Program Director John Farra. “And we are pleased that are at the championships as one united team all will be equally funded and supported. It’s a special honor for each of these athletes to be able to compete in Norway.”

NCCSEF Ski Fundraising Challenge
The NCCSEF challenges the ski community at large to help fund these athletes. Make your tax deductible contribution to NCCSEF designating World Championships and we will ensure that your contribution goes to offsetting trip expenses for all athletes. To contribute and learn about NCCSEF visit www.nccsef.org

2011 World Nordic Ski Championships U. S. Cross Country Ski Team
– Tad Elliott – Central Cross Country
– Lars Flora – Alaska Pacific University
– Kris Freeman – Andover Outing Club
– Simi Hamilton – Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation
– Noah Hoffman – Aspen Valley Ski Club
– Torin Koos – Methow Olympic Development
– Andy Newell – Stratton Mountain School

– Morgan Arritola – Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation
– Holly Brooks – Alaska Pacific University
– Sadie Bjornsen -Alaska Pacific University
– Jessie Diggins- Central Cross Country
– Kikkan Randall – Alaska Pacific University
– Ida Sargent – Craftsbury Green Racing Project
– Liz Stephen- Burke Mountain Academy

2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Cross Country Schedule – Oslo, Norway
– Feb. 24 – Freestyle sprint
– Feb. 26 – W’s 15k Pursuit
– Feb 27 – M 30k Pursuit
– Feb. 28- W 10k Classic
– Mar. 1 – M 15k Classic
– Mar. 2 – Team classic sprint
– Mar. 3 – W Relay
– Mar. 4 – M Relay
– Mar. 5 – W 30k Freestyle
– Mar. 6 – M 50k Freestyle

Jacobsen Wins Beito 5km CL – USA’s Bjornsen 4th, Diggins 5th and Canada’s Crawford 12th UPDATED

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

February 12, 2011 (Beitostølen, Norway) – American Sadie Bjornsen from Alaska was only 4.7s off the podium claiming 4th in the women’s 5km classic today in Beitostølen as Norwegian Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen skied for the win in 15:02. Morgan Arritola (USA) was 8th another 11s behind Bjornsen while Canada’s Chandra Crawford, who just arrived in Norway, claimed an impressive 12th as she continues to show gains in her classic skiing.

“Today was super cold out there in the morning – so they postponed the start for 30 mins. There were about 890 starters, so they sent us off in 15 second intervals, which made things more exciting,” said Bjornsen in a post-race email to SkiTrax. “Astrid Jacobsen, who I knew would be the potential winner stated 45 seconds behind me – so it was my goal to stay ahead of her… and if she passed me, I would stick on her like glue. I was able to hold her off though, which was nice.”

Liz Stephen (USA) finished in 17th, Ida Sargent (USA) was 20th, and Canada’s Brooke Gosling placed 37th. For Crawford it was a good result as part of her final prep before Oslo.

“I’ve been in Norway for less than 48 hours but it felt good to get the bib on and go for it,” Crawford told SkiTax by email. “Today’s race was an opportunity Justin [Wadsworth – head coach] organized for athletes who felt a need to race to get ready for Drammen World Cup and World Champs so Brooke Gosling, Ivan Babikov, Lenny Valjas and I cruised over here from Lillehammer where the team is training to do the race.

“I’m impressed with Astrid Jacobsen who is a great person and skier and just met Sadie [Bjornsen] today but am impressed with her speed. Feels good to be back in Scandinavia where the love of skiing and thousands of kilometers of groomed trails are my kind of paradise.”

In the Junior women’s race the USA’s Jessie Diggins placed 5th at 29.5s behind winner Norway’s Ragnhild Hana with a time of 15:21.8. Diggins time of 15:51.3 put her in 15th overall when considering all categories and times merged.

Bjornsen said she hasn’t skied a 5km in a while but felt good out there knowing she had to ski hard the whole way.

“The course was rolling at the beginning and then it had a really long climb that went into a gradual climb on the top at about 3km… so you had to pretty much charge the entire time. A 5km classic is a good race for me, so I was determined to ski the course really hard.

“It was nice to finish knowing I can ski right in there with some of these top Norwegians. I haven’t seen the results, but I do know that Jacobson won and I was within like 35 seconds of her or something. Skis were good, and the rest of the US girls skid strong races as well – so it was good fun,” she commented.

Full results HERE.
All categories merged HERE.

Results (brief)

1. Jacobsen, Astrid Uhrenholdt (Heming, IL – Ski) 15:02,0
2. Staver, Tuva Toftdahl (Heming, IL – Ski) +00:25,0
3. Berg, Ella Gjømle (Lyn Ski) +00:33,2
4. Bjornsen, Sadie (USA) +00:37,9
5. Slind, Astrid Øyre (Oppdal IL – ski) +00:39,0
6. Flugstad Østberg, Ingvild (Gjøvik SK) +00:39,6
7. Harsem, Kathrine Rolsted (Fossum IF) +00:47,3
8. Arritola, Morgan (USA) +00:48,0
9. Gjeitnes, Kari Vikhagen (Henning Skilag) +00:48,3
10. Grønvoll, Maria Nysted (Furuflaten IL) +00:48,8
11. Monrad-Hansen, Marte (Heming, IL – Ski) +00:49,7
12. Crawford, Chandra (Can) +00:51,2

Gloersen and Falla Win Beitostølen Sprints – USA’s Koos 4th, Newell and Sargent 5th

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

February 11, 2011 (Beitostølen, Norway) – The US Ski Team had a strong showing at today’s FIS freestyle sprints in Beitostølen, Norway, with Torin Koos and Andy Newell finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the men’s final, which was won by Anders Gloersen (NOR). Ida Sargent took fifth in the women’s final, while Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) snapped up the win.

The American squad started very strongly in the qualifiers, with three in the top 10 in the men’s category: Newell 3rd, Koos 4th, and Simeon Hamilton 10th. Hamilton finished sixth in his quarterfinal heat, however, and did not advance.

In the women’s ranks, three U.S. skiers also qualified in the top 10, with Sadie Bjornsen 4th, Jessica Diggins 5th, and Sargent 6th. Bjornsen went on to take second in her quarterfinal heat, while Diggins and Sargent placed 1-2 in theirs. Sargent was the only one to advance through the semis, taking fourth in her heat, while Bjornsen and Diggins were shut out with fifth and sixth-place efforts.

Other U.S. results: Tad Elliott and Skyler Davis qualified 32nd and 47th, respectively, in the men’s event, while Liz Stephen and Morgan Arritola finished 30th and 42nd in the women’s qualifications, respectively. Stephen moved through to the quarterfinals, but was knocked out in the first heat.

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

Men’s Finals HERE.
Women’s Finals HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Did you Know There was a World Cup in Russia this Week?

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

February 07, 2011 (Barrie, ON) – What would happen if you held a World Cup and nobody came? Well, you would call it Rybinsk, Russia and there would be free world cup points for just about everyone who was there.

This past weekend there were three – yes three World Cup races on the calendar, a distance pursuit, an individual sprint and a team relay. For the distance race there were only 33 men (11 Russian) and 30 women (11 Russian). It didn’t get much better for the sprints with fields of 54 men (15 Russian) and 34 women (16 Russian). The relay for women had 7 teams (4 Russian) and 10 for men (again 4 Russian).

This is brutal. There has got to be something wrong with the schedule to have so few skiers in a World Cup in the first week of February. When there have been World Cups in Canada the last few years they have been better supported. The Ontario Masters Championship in Parry Sound had almost as many skiers! This has to be an embarrassment to the FIS Cross Country Committee.

Now, I’ve been to Rybinsk and it is not that bad there. I know that some countries were having National championships, but that should be no excuse. In fact, I don’t think that this should be allowed to happen either. We have the same problem in North America, but we still send our best skiers to compete at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, it should be no surprise that the Russian skiers dominated the result list for these races – at least for the men. Alexei Pethukov won the sprint, Ilia Chernousov won the distance race and the Russian 1 team won the relay.

It shows how far the Russian women have fallen when they cannot win a race with at home against such small fields. They couldn’t even win the relay with 4 teams out of 7 in the field – the Italian women beat them. Katja Visnar and Vesna Fabjan of Slovenia were 1st and 2nd in the sprints and Justina Kowalczyk of Poland won the distance race and was 3rd in the sprints. She has pretty well cemented the overall World Cup title for this season as the only person who could beat her, Marit Bjoergen was at home, once again, in Norway training for the World Championships in March.

In the 1990’s the Russian women were unbeatable. Of course, we now know why. A good, structured, well organized doping program will do that for you. Now they are ordinary and need to get their act together quickly in order to have a decent showing in Sochi in 2014.

There’s a two-week break in the schedule before the World Cup resumes in Drammen, Norway on February 19-20 with a short distance race and individual sprints. Hopefully we should see full fields for this event and truly have a “World Cup” race.

I can’t close this week without some commentary on the World Junior and World U23 racing from Otepaa, Estonia last week. In my opinion, a finish in the top 10 at either level is a great indication that a skier has the talent and potential to be a consistent point scorer (top 30) at the World Cup level.

A good way to look at it is to look at junior and professional hockey in North America. If a junior hockey player is drafted in the first round by a professional team then they have a good chance of becoming a National Hockey League player. Not all of them do, of course, and there are players who are not drafted in the first round who make it. I think that less than 5% of junior hockey players ever play in the NHL.

Most of these junior players who are drafted end up playing for a year or more in the AHL – kind of the equivalent of the U23 level in skiing. Not all players in the AHL make it to the NHL – again a small percentage and only the best move on. Some of the very best junior players go right to the NHL, but they are the exception.

When I look at the North American results from Otepaa I see the same thing. Alex Harvey is World Champion at U23 and finishes consistently in the top 20 on the World Cup. He was on the podium a number of times as a junior, as well. In hockey he would have been a top draft pick as a junior and would likely have been in the NHL in his first or second year as a pro.

The other skiers that finished in the top 10 – Kevin Sandau, Jesse Cockney, Len Valjas, Jessie Diggins and Noah Hoffman all have a shot at a career as a World Cup skier. Emily Nishikawa, Michael Somppi, Alysson Marshall and Sadie Bjornsen had top 20 finishes – kind of like being drafted in the 2nd round of a hockey draft. They have shown some talent, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Don’t get me wrong, there are no guarantees that any of these skiers will make it on the World Cup (except Alex Harvey – he is already there). It also doesn’t mean that the skiers who were there from North America but outside the top 10 or top 20 (or those who didn’t make the trip) will not make it eventually, but it is going to take them much more time and work.

Malcolm Gladwell in his great book “Outliers” told us that the difference most of the time between those who “make it” and those who don’t is not talent but work and opportunity. He points out that it seems to take 10,000 hours of work for someone to be the best in just about anything.

At an age of 22 or less, all of these skiers have not put in the time yet to know if they are going to make it. They also need to continue to have the opportunity to race and train with the best in the world. I hope that the USST and the Canadian NST continue to give these young skiers as many opportunities as possible to do this.

The Way I See It – Harvey, WJ/U23s, Oslo, Crafsbury, BNS, Canadian Men’s Worlds Team, Cool, Missing Skiers

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

February 02, 2011 – Double Congratulations to FIS World Champion Alex Harvey! The first congrats is for the win and the 2nd is for saying he was going to Otepaa to win and then making it stick by winning – not always the way it happens when you think of all the variables and there is only one first place. First off he was at an altitude camp in Italy and putting in big hours, hasn’t raced in a while, and altitude is not a place you’re working on speed. I was also impressed on how much he knew about Belov and his inability as a sprinter, and that with the race ending with them together that he would, or could, take Belov in the sprint – which he did. A super effort by the World Champion on all fronts.

Another thing about the WJrs and U-23s is if your placing in the top 15 and you continue to progress in your growth as a skier – training hours, good program, coaching, international racing – you will more than likely be a top-30 skier on the World Cup in the future. People like Jessie Diggins, Noah Hoffman, Len Valjas, Jesse Cockney, Michael Sompii, Sadie Bjornsen, Kevin Sandau, Emily Nishikawa and Alysson Marshall are skiers showing these kinds of abilities and direction.

Across the board the young women (WJs) in both countries have a lot of work to do – their results could be better when you realize how many of them have been skiing for many years in formal programs with professional coaches.

One more thing about the World Jrs, is that if you’re blogging about your trip, make sure you do a good in depth job of talking about your feelings thoughts and what experiences you had. All this has a huge impact on your skiing peers and younger skiers and can accelerate their growth so they know what to expect. I know you have to do it once – go over THERE to get the stardust out of your eyes – but look at all of the guys we have at the senior level that are doing it. Kikkan Randall is the best at blogging – hands down.

Remember, at the FIS Worlds in Oslo, it is only four skiers per nation per event. So, in actuality the Worlds are easier then the WCup, except it’s the Worlds, and you’re in Norway, and every course will be totally lined with thousands of spectators. The crowds will be four times the size of the those in Vancouver if not more. A 100,000 people for some events is not out of the question – believe me. It’s one hell of a big experience.

The Craftsbury Marathon, has to be a must-do in your racing career, just for the sheer joy of every year being on one of the best and most fun XC courses in NA. The grooming is always superb and this is one fair course with all of its ups and downs. A seamless experience from entry to the final awards ceremony. I encourage you to get it on your bucket list.

BNS (Boulder Nordic Sport) in case you didn’t know, had a guide they put in the race packet at Craftsbury that you received when picking up your bib. I didn’t look at it until I got home and as I picked it up I was wondering what they were pitching as it’s 50 pages thick. Well here is how I assess it after taking the time to do a page by page – read this and you will have the information and education to help you move up in your age class. These guys at BNS have done their homework and are giving you the benefit of all this knowledge. Yes, they are selling – but in a good way – as they give you the knowledge to make the right choice for yourself if you do the reading. I was impressed! So, look for it, as they’re stuffing it at about 10-12 different marathons this winter.

One other thing about the World Champ, Alex made a quote, and the way he phrased it he insinuated that he wanted to get a World Championship title before going to Oslo – but it’s not out of the question to be thinking of another one in Oslo. I always felt, if you were afraid to talk about it, your chances of making it happen were just that much more unlikely. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Canada’s Men’s World Championships Team, is sure looking way stronger then last year’s Olympic Team that was so successful in Vancouver last winter. Much more experience, the addition of Valjas in sprinting, Phil Widmer’s return after missing the Olympics because of a shoulder injury, Kershaw has become a much better tactical skier, and they all seem to have gained international confidence from what they have done in the early winter. If George Grey is back to last year’s form, that is a real bonus. It’ll be fun figuring out who gets to ski which events – but there should be good coverage in the full schedule. Let’s get it on!!

Hey, this looks like it is going to be cool! Click HERE and give it a try.

My missing skiers for this winter, Sophie Caldwell and Fred Touchette, both are noticeably missing in a lot of the results – I hope both are well and still racing!

Talk to you soon…

The End of World Juniors – Out With a Bang!

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

February 02, 2011 (Otepaa, Estonia) – Holy cow, today’s been an absolutely huge day! With 4 races going on I have no idea how the coaches and wax techs kept up with it all! First we had the junior women’s 4×3.3km relay, in which we finished 7th. I’m so totally excited because we moved up a place from last year!

The relay went like this: Amy Glen scrambled (classic) and tagged off to Kinsey Loan, who then tagged of to me for the skate half of the relay. I tagged Joanne and she anchored us for a solid 7th place. I’m also extremely excited about finishing second for lap splits to Heidi Wang (Norway) by 5.4 seconds. It was definitely a successful day – and we definitely had some crazy fast skis (yeah Salomon!)

After the relay, we travel waxed our skis, packed out bags and set out for a long day of spectating! And we did some HARD CORE cheering. We had numerous US flags and signs, and I do believe we also had the loudest voices on the whole course.

The junior men’s 4x5km relay went second, and they ended up finishing 10th in a close sprint with Canada. Then a short while later, the women’s 15km pursuit race set off, and Sadie led the US with a 17th place finish.

The last race of the day was the men’s 30km pursuit, and it was so much fun to cheer as the sun came out and it was an absolutely gorgeous day!

Noah led the US men with a 22nd place finish, but the coolest part of the whole day was seeing Alex Harvey crush it today and WIN THE WHOLE DARN RACE!!!! It was totally inspiring to hear an anthem other than Norway being blasted in the stadium.

I’m giving a huge shout-out to all the coaches and wax techs for all their hard work and patience in dealing with US. And thanks also to NCCSEF for all the support. It wouldn’t have happened without you!

So now I’m headed over to Madona, Latvia, with the Scando Cup team… and pretty much the only thing I know about Latvia is that car-jacking is basically a sport. The next week should be very interesting!

Niskanen Takes U23 Classic Sprint Victory – Canada’s Marshall 12th as Six North Americans Qualify

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

January 29, 2011 (Otepaa, Estonia) – Finnish ace Kerttu Niskanen won the gold medal in the 1.2km sprint classic final at the U23 World Championships on Saturday morning. She started the day as the top qualifier and went on to dominate every heat on her way to the final. It was Niskanen’s second U23 Worlds gold – her first was in a 10km classic at Hinterzarten, Germany.

Niskanen came home with a clear margin in the A-Final to secure her victory. In the battle for silver and bronze Norway’s Britt Ingunn Nydal edged out Sweden’s Jennie Oeberg by a toe length to claim the silver.

“It feels great to be a U23 World Champion,” said Niskanen in a FIS post-race interview. “I wanted to win and this was a very good day for me. I was feeling very good during the whole race. My tactic today was to go as fast as possible after the shot. I had some problems to ski always in front because it was snowing.”

It was a solid day for North American skiers with six women advancing to the quarterfinals as the USA’s Sadie Bjornsen led the charge in 11th followed by Canada’s Alysson Marshall in 14th, Jennie Bender (USA) in 18th, Canada’s Emily Nishikawa in 19th, Ida Sargent (USA) in 21st and Sara Hewitt (CAN) in 30th. Canada’s Erin Tribe was 31st at 2s behind Tribe while Rebecca Rorabaugh was further back in 36th – only the top 30 advance.

Marshall was the only skier to make it through to the semis placing second in her quarter final but faced a fast and very close semi-final round ending up in 6th to finish 12th overall.

“My qualification round felt messy but I still had a decent time. I felt really strong and controlled in my quarter- final and finished in 2nd spot,” Marshall told SkiTrax post-race. “My semi-final was very fast and close. I fought the whole way but didn’t quite have the double pole strength left in the finishing stretch and I finished in 6th.

“It was a tight finish with all six of us crossing within 1.3 seconds. It was also 7 seconds faster than the other semi-final so my time in 6th spot was faster than the winner of the other semi-final. I am happy to be top-12 but I was disappointed to miss out on the final in such a tight finish,” she added.

Canadian coach Eric de Nys commented on Marshall’s performance: “Alysson Marshall skied strong all day. She was second in her quarter final and just got out-muscled in the finishing stretch in the semi, but it was a fight to the end. She should be happy with this result.”

The USA’s Bjornsen ended up 17th, Bender was 21st while Ida Sargent was 23rd. Taking 22nd overall was Nishikawa with Hewitt ending up in 30th.

Qualifications HERE.
Final results HERE.

Lahteenmaki Dominates U23 Women’s 10km Skate – Canada’s Nishikawa 16th

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

January 27, 2011 (Otepaa, Estonia) – Using her experience as a former Junior World champ, Finland’s rising star Krista Lahteenmaki dominated Thursday’s U-23 10km free technique in Otepaa. Her winning time of 26:33.3 was one minute ahead of runner up Mariya Guschina of Russia while third place went to Norway’s Hilde Lauvhaug.

Lahteenmaki, recently a remarkable 8th overall at this year’s Tour de Ski, controlled the race from the start. On the 3×3.3km course she was in the lead after every lap. The talented Swede Hanna Brodin was not far off her Finnish rival’s pace on the first lap, but the sprinter who was impressive this past weekend in Otepaa finishing second claiming her first world cup podium, paid the price for starting too fast on the challenging course and finished 14th.

Lahteemaki was pleased with her effort today. “I am happy about the victory – the feeling of being the U-23 World Champion is nice. The weather was very cold, but everything else was very good. My skis were good, the track was good. It’s a demanding course here in Otepaa. Now I will concentrate on my next race.”

For the North Americans, it was Canada’s Emily Nishikawa leading the way with a top-20 results placing a strong 16th in 28:41.5. Sadie Bjornsen was the top US skier in 23rd in 29:31.1 followed by Canuck Alysson Marshall in 25th with a time of 29:34.5.

“I was pretty happy with how things went today,” Nishikawa told SkiTrax. “I started off pretty smooth and relaxed, then on my 2nd lap I caught a sweet ride from a German girl who was just starting.  I felt strong, pushed my hardest, and I paced it pretty well so I’m really happy with this race.

“It was pretty cold today, but being from the Yukon I’m used to it and prefer racing at colder temps.  I’m looking forward to the rest of the week, it should be really exciting,” added Nishikawa.

“I had a decent race today. I was careful not to start too hard and I focused on being strong and relaxed throughout the race,” Marshall told SkiTrax by email. “The course had some difficult climbs but there were downhills after which allowed for some recovery.

“A Norwegian passed me about 1.5km before the finish and I stayed with her into the stadium so I got a good ride up the last couple climbs. I am excited to race the classic sprint on Saturday!”

Caitlin Patterson (USA) who was recently on the podium at collegiate races in Lake Placid was 26th in 29:34.8. Sara Hewitt (CAN) finished in 28th, Becca Rorabaugh (USA) was 29th and Erin Tribe (CAN) placed 36th.

Full results HERE.

USSA SuperTour 2011 Standings after US XC Ski Nationals

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

January 13, 2011 – With U.S. Championships in Rumford, ME now complete, the updated USSA SuperTour standings are now in! Thanks to the Race Organizers, volunteers and officials of the Chisolm Ski Club for their hard work and dedication in dealing with some challenging weather conditions!

1. Holly Brooks (APU Nordic Ski Cente) 280 points
2. Sadie Bjornsen (APU Nordic Ski Center) 200
3. Kate Fitzgerald (APU Nordic Ski Center) 185
4. Morgan Smyth (APU Nordic Ski Center) 172

1. Lars Flora (APU Nordic Ski Center) 267 points
2. Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation) 160
3. Torin Koos (Methow Olympic Dev Prog) 150
4. Leif Zimmerman (Bridger Ski Foundation) 117

Full Men’s Standings HERE.
Full Women’s Standings HERE.

US XC Nationals 10/15km Classic – More Photos

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

January 06, 2011 (Rumford, ME) – Yesterday saw the action continue in Rumford, ME at the US XC Ski Nationals with the 10/15km Classic individual start races. In the women’s event, it was Sadie Bjornsen (APU) who grabbed the title, while team mate Lars Flora secured a second victory for APU in the men’s competition. Check out these great photos of yesterday’s races.

Bjornsen Claims Women’s 10km CL Title at US XC Nationals UPDATED

Tags: , , , , , ,

January 05, 2011 (Rumford, ME) – Sadie Bjornsen (APU), who won the 1.4km free sprint at the Haywood Nor-Am in Rossland, BC, last month, took the victory in the women’s 10km individual start classic race at the US XC Ski Nationals in Rumford, ME, today. The classic 10/15km distance races, originally scheduled for Tuesday (Jan. 4), were moved to Wed. in order to allow better preparation of the courses for the rest of the competitions, as Rumford experienced very warm weather just prior to the Nationals creating very challenging snow conditions.

APU went 1-2 with Morgan Smyth (Park City, UT) claiming the second spot on the women’s podium with the U.S. Ski Team’s Morgan Arritola from Fairfield, ID in third.

“It was a great race out there today. Race officials managed to throw a great course together considering all the challenges they have faced over the week with the lack of snow,” said Bjornsen after her win. “I felt really great, hammered super hard the entire way and tried to stay positive. I knew that in order to make the podium today, I was going to need to put myself in a world of hurt- so I kept that thought in my head the entire way and just tried to keep the skis moving.

“Our wax techs did a great job of giving us fast skis that worked well, which is always nice in a classic race,” added the winner. “It was also fun to see how well my teammates did, with Morgan Smyth right behind me taking second place, and then a whole slew of APU’rs following. Thanks to everyone for the hard work today putting on the race! I had a great time!,”

Full results HERE.

Results (brief)

1. Sadie Bjornsen (APU) 32:09.9
2. Morgan Smyth  (APU) 32:40.0
3. Morgan Arritola (SVSEF) 32:58.5

Koos and Brooks Win CL Sprints at 2011 U.S. XC Ski Championships UPDATED

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

January 02, 2011 (Rumford, Maine) – A sudden warming trend made for challenging conditions that forced organizers to scramble working well into the evening to prepare for today’s 1.4km classic sprint event, the opening round of the 2011 US XC Ski Championships at Black Mountain just outside Rumford, Maine.

Temperatures in the 40s reeked havoc with the trails but the experienced Chisholm Ski Club crew pulled it off as pair of US Olympians from the Vancouver 2010 Games set the pace in the men’s and women’s sprint competitions. Torin Koos of the Methow Valley Olympic Development Program and Holly Brooks of APU took the top step on the podiums.

Brooks opened the day topping the women’s qualification round over teammate Sadie Bjornsen with Sophie Caldwell (Dartmouth) third, Morgan Smyth (APU) fourth and Ida Sargent (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in fifth. The Alaska skier could not be stopped as she added another victory to her resume and following the event a beaming Brooks was thrilled with her first National title.

“You know the hills are my strength and I pushed it hard, as the finish was a downhill. I just hoped I could hold on in the double poling,” said Brooks.

“I was really motivated to win a national title today. I’ve been thinking about it for months – even longer than that. It’s kind of a dream come true, so I am just happy to share the podium with a bunch of my APU teammates.” Four out of the top six represented the program at APU.

Eliska Hajkova (Colorado) finished second in the final today with APU’s Smyth taking third but Hajkova, from the Czech Republic, is not eligible for a US title moving Smyth into second on the Nationals podium, and team mate Sadie Bjornsen into third – making it an APU sweep.

In fact APU’s Lars Flora was also the fastest in the men’s qualification this morning with Koos second, Mike Sinnott (SVSEF) third, Reese Hanneman (APU) 4th, and Jericho, VT’s Skyler Davis (Stratton)  in 5th.

In the end the veteran Methow Valley sprinter prevailed and was also pleased with his race – and winning the men’s title. He was not surprised by his fitness when he spoke with SkiTrax post-race. “I had great training this fall, went to Europe and had some good races over there. It should keep get better and better,” said Koos.

Second place went to Sinnott, a former Dartmouth captain, skiing out of Sun Valley, while third went to Vermont’s Davis from Stratton Mountain. Koos expects to ski the men’s 15 classic on Tuesday (now postponed to Wednesday), and next Saturday’s free technique sprint. He plans on skipping the 30km event.

Colder temperatures are expected this evening, which might well enable additional snowmaking at the famed Black Mountain venue.

Men’s Final Results and Qualifications HERE.
Men’s Heats HERE.

Women’s Final Results and Qualifications HERE.
Women’s Heats HERE.

Rossland NorAm Mini Tour Stages 1, 3 – More Photos

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

December 22, 2010 (Rossland, BC) – Here are some more great photos from Stages 1 and 3 of the Rossland NorAm Mini Tour taken by Julien Locke. Stefan Kuhn (CAN) took top honours in the men’s tour, while Jessica Diggins (USA) won the women’s overall. Check out the full results HERE.

View more of Julien Locke’s photos HERE.

Rossland NorAm 10/15km CL – Canada Sweeps Men’s Podium and US Women go 1-2-3

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

December 19, 2010 (Sovereign Lake, BC) – It was a day of podium sweeps at the final stage of the Rossland Haywood NorAm mini-tour. The Americans owned the women’s tour podium but the Canadian men responded by taking all three top spots in the men’s. Thanks to the pursuit start, which factored yesterday’s results and time bonuses from Friday’s sprint, the first across the line today took the mini-tour title.

CXC’s Jessica Diggins won the women’s 10km pursuit with a blistering second lap to catch APU’s Holly Brooks and teammate Sadie Bjornsen, who had started 1st and 2nd respectively in today’s pursuit. By the end of the race, the start positions had reversed themselves with Diggins in 1st, Bjornsen in 2nd and Brooks in 3rd.

Bjornsen caught Brooks near the 3km mark, and the two skied the majority of the race together until Brooks started to fade on the final climb. When Diggins went by on the last few climbs, neither APU skier could hold on.

“We skied parallel for a lot of the race,” said Bjornsen. “It was probably mostly habit, just like we ski in training all the time.”

Diggins was trailing Bjornsen and Brooks by 15 seconds heading into the second lap. She was quick to give credit to her wax team for giving her the skis that helped speed her to the finish.

“The coaches did an absolutely awesome job with the wax,” said Diggins. “I’m in awe of how fast our skis were.”

As for her impressive final lap, Diggins said it just sort of happened.

“This might sound kind of weird, but I didn’t really have a race plan today,” she said. “I went into today having had a great weekend, and just waited to see what happened. My coaches have really helped with my classic technique this year, so when I had such good skis I just went for it.”

Conditions were very difficult, with unanticipated heavy snow flying all morning. Some teams struggled with wax, and those that nailed it were rewarded with podium spots.

“It was tough out there,” said Bjornsen. “You really had to pound it to make the skis work.”

“When it started snowing harder during the women’s race, the conditions started to transition,” said Canadian coach Eric de Nys. “We went with a bit more binder under the wax for the guys, mixed with a few drops of klister, and it seemed to work really well.”

The men’s results certainly reflected the Canadian team’s wax choice. Canada’s Stefan Kuhn put the perfect cap on his weekend, winning the men’s 15km pursuit after battling back from a difficult starting position and sprinting to the line with fellow Canuck, 2nd place finisher George Grey. Team mate Drew Goldsack (CAN) nipped Lars Flora (USA) for 3rd.

The race started with Goldsack, Flora and Grey forming the lead group and Kuhn, Jess Cockney (CAN) and Mike Sinnott (USA) chasing them down.

“I had to make up 19 seconds,” said Kuhn. “so I hammered from the start. Cockney and Sinnott went with me, and we caught the lead group pretty quickly, but I was pretty taxed when we did. I spent the middle part of the race yo-yoing off the back. The conditions dictated that the leaders would be working probably 20 per cent harder, so I used that. Coming into the finish I followed George. He plowed 80 meters of fresh snow; I only had to plow 20, so I was able to take him at the line.”

“It was an interesting race,” said 4th place finisher Flora (USA). “I was surprised how fast the three chasers caught us. I need to work on my classic skis a bit; I think I chose the wrong pair today.”

Women’s results  HERE.
Men’s results  HERE.
Overall Mini-Tour results HERE.

Ballin’ in Beitostølen

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

February 04, 2010 (Beitostølen, Norway) – Tomorrow will be the third day of the Scandinavian Cup races here in Beitostølen. And I couldn’t be more excited! Originally, we had thought the skate sprint, classic 5/10km and skate 15/30km (which has since been shortened to 10/15km) was a mini-tour, but it turns out they’re separate races.

No matter. The US decided we’d MAKE it a mini-tour! So going into my third day of racing in a row, I’m a little tired but pretty stoked on life since it’s been beautiful out – bluebird skies and sun – and I’m making friends with the Norwegian ladies along the way.

Speaking of Norwegian ladies, there ares some seriously talented, fast skiers out here. It was great to be able to race alongside them and gain experience. You have to get your butt kicked a few times before you get better!

For me, the skate sprint was fun, although this was the second sprint course I’ve recently done where placement was crucial. The course was such that, once you left the stadium and rounded the first corner, it was extremely difficult to pass, so getting off to a fast start was ultra-important. This is something I’ve been working on, and I still need to tune up my fast twitch!

I was slightly disappointed with my semifinal; although I had the start I wanted, the girl to my right skied over my skis and I tripped, and ended up leaving the stadium in 6th place. While I made more than one attempt to pass, I was unprepared for the level of aggressiveness out there and wasn’t able to make it to the final. But that’s what I’m here for – to figure out how to race in all sorts of conditions and courses!

The classic race today was, for me, one of those days where it’s beautiful and sunny outside with perfect tracks, and you can be racing but having fun and enjoying the day as well! The US put in a good day’s work; Sadie led the day in 8th, Morgan got 12th, I finished in 15th, Liz finished 28th and Ida came in 35th. Simi led the men in 19th and Tad finished in 74th. I was pumped on the race because I’ve been working on my classic for a long time, and it’s great to have a race where I feel confident in my technique and striding up longer, steeper hills.

Looking forward to racing tomorrow!