Tag Archive | "world cup"

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.

Talkin’ with the Gravy Train – Interview w/Chandra Crawford Part 2

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June 22, 2013 (Canmore, AB) – Talkin’ with the Gravy Train is pleased to present Part 2 of our interview with Canadian cross-country skiing star Chandra Crawford from Canmore, AB, of Olympic fame who is training on her own for the Sochi 2014 Games… listen to Part 1 HERE.

We caught up with Crawford in Canmore, AB… she was enthusiastic and happy and addressed such topics as her decision to take a step back from competition last February, how well her training is going, and her preparations for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games next February.

Chandra also talks with eloquence about what it’s like to recharge the batteries after what she called a “solid burnout”, and how she has found the joy in skiing and training again. The Canmore, Alberta native also speaks about health and happiness in this inspired interview. At the end, one thing is certain…Crawford will be a force to be reckoned with this coming season.

Interview with Chandra Crawford – Part 2

 

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women’s 2.5km Free results HERE.

Canada’s Arendz Wins Overall IPC World Cup Biathlon Title with Bronze in Sochi

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March 21, 2013 (Sochi, Russia) – Mark Arendz put the finishing touches to a memorable season by locking up the overall IPC World Cup biathlon title after winning the bronze medal in the men’s 15 kilometre biathlon race in Sochi, Russia on Thursday.

Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., took advantage of a stellar day on the range where the 21 year old missed just one target in four rounds of shooting to clock a time of 48:48.3 for third spot.

“It was a great race for me. It was so slow that I really had to focus on my technique and shooting. I felt I was more comfortable on the range today then yesterday

Norway’s Nils Erik Ulset fired his way to the gold medal with one miss and a time of 45:53.0. Grygorii Vovchynskyi, of the Ukraine, had one miss of his own, but celebrated the silver with a time of 48:09.3.

The bronze-medal finish caps off a strong season for Arendz where he captured his first career IPC Biathlon World Cup Crystal Globe. The 2010 Paralympian skied his way to the podium four times on the IPC World Cup, in addition to racking up three World Championship medals including his first victory at the worlds.

“It has been a great season. I had some tough races and results, but I’m very satisfied that I was able to stay consistent all year,” said Arendz. “That consistency paid off. After finishing second overall the last two years, I get to go home with the overall title and the Crystal Globe. This is a huge boost of confidence for me.”

Daily reports of all the action at the IPC World Cup Finals from Sochi are published at www.ipc-nordicskiing.org

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games will take place between March 7-16, and are set to feature 700 athletes from 45 countries. Athletes will compete in five sports – alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. Para- snowboard will make its Games debut as part of the alpine skiing programme.

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.

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.

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.

Interviews w/Canada’s Gaiazova and Jones on Their Podium at Women’s CL Team Sprint in Sochi + Video

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February 04, 2013 (Sochi, Russia) – SkiTrax caught up with Canadian Ski Team members Dasha Gaiazova and Perianne Jones after their bronze medal women’s team sprint effort in Sochi. It was a thrilling finish to the women’s 6×1.25km Classic Team Sprint as Gaiazova started the final leg in fourth, then stormed on to pass the USA’s Sadie Bjornsen in third, and then chased down Russia’s Natalia Matveeva to barely miss out on silver in a photo finish. Check out what the ladies had to say about their race.

Perianne Jones

 

Dasha Gaiazova

 

FIS video HERE.

USA’s Hendrickson Third in Sapporo as Austria’s Seifriedsberger Wins First Ski Jumping WCup

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February 04, 2013 (Sapporo, Japan) – Park City’s Sarah Hendrickson was 3rd and 7th in a pair of tough and windy competitions in Sapporo this weekend, boosting her to second place overall on the World Cup.

Hours before Sunday’s event, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake rattled the northern Japanese island of Hakkaido, the epicenter of which was about 120 miles east of Sapporo. There were no reports of damage, though it made for an interesting start to Sunday’s competition.

Hendrickson endured multiple gate change delays to finish on the podium in 3rd place with jumps of 93.5 and 87.5 meters. U.S. teammates Lindsey Van clinched 8th with jumps of 91 and 87 meters, Jessica Jerome was a strong 15th with jumps of 87 and 90.5 meters, and Abby Hughes was 29th with jumps of 80 and 78 meters. Austria’s Jacqueline Seifriedsberger claimed her first World Cup victory and Norway’s Anette Sagen had a huge leap of 99 meters in her second round to take 2nd.

“It was typical weather for this area and made the comp very difficult,” said Van. “You never know what kind of wind you are going to get, so it is like a lotto game. I enjoy the randomness most of the time, though. It is an outdoor sport and is always fun.”

Saturday’s event ended after the first round of jumping due to high and irregular winds, leaving Hendrickson in 7th, Jerome in 10th, Van 28th and Hughes 34th. France’s Coline Mattel was 1st over Seifriedsberger and Sagen.

Home country favorite and current World Cup leader Sara Takanashi, 16, finished 12th on Saturday and 5th on Sunday.

World Cup competition continues Feb. 9-10 in Zao, Japan.

Results at www.fisskijumping.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Qualifications HERE.
Final results HERE.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2012/13 Contest Standings after La Clusaz

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January 30, 2013 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to announce the 2012/13 SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest standings after the events in La Clusaz, France, host of the latest round of the 2012/13 Viessmann XC FIS World Cup tour Jan. 19-20.

The contest saw team Little Matt take hold onto the lead for another round with 719 points, still only one point ahead of second place team Summerstars with 718. Team maksimy has moved into third with 699 points.

USA’s women’s relay team placed ninth in the 4x5km relay, which was won by the Norwegian squad – read more here.

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, SkiGo, Alpina, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, 2XU, Bliz, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

For the Contest standings after La Clusaz, click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2012/13 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 12/13 Carbonlite Skating Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize – Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
– SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis (value $420)
* 4th Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 5th PrizeOne Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)
* 6th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 7th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 8th PrizeBliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 9th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 10th Prize Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup Breaks Buff Headware to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski (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).

Diggins Report – Checking Out Sochi

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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!

Canada’s Mark Arendz Grabs Third Straight Silver at IPC World Cup in Wisconsin

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January 18, 2013 (Cable, WI) – Canada’s Mark Arendz followed up three of the best cross-country ski races of his career with his third silver medal of the week – this time in a individual biathlon race at the IPC World Cup in Cable, Wisconsin.

The 22-year-old Arendz, who finished second overall in the IPC biathlon World Cup biathlon standings the last two years, grabbed the 18th medal of his career after clocking a time of 40:02.6 in the individual event. Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., was on pace to his first gold medal of the season, but missed one shot in four rounds of shooting in the tight race to the finish.

“That was close, and I mean close by 3.8 seconds,” said Arendz. “It was a bummer to not shoot clean and win, but that close out in second is a good result. I skied pretty well, and we have a plan in place for tomorrow.”

Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset won the men’s individual start with a time of 39:58.8 (0+0+1+1). Russia’s Oleg Balukhto shot clean to grab the bronze medal with a time of 40:58.7.

The IPC Biathlon World Cup continues on Friday in Cable, Wisconsin.

Full results HERE.

Canadian Para-Nordic Athletes Rack Up Five Medals at IPC World Cup in Wisconsin

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January 14, 2013 (Cable, WI) – Canada’s Para-Nordic squad teamed up to win five medals – one gold, three silver and one bronze – in middle distance cross-country ski races at the IPC World Cup in Cable, Wisconsin on Sunday.

Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., skied to his second-ever cross-country ski medal, winning the silver in the 10-kilometre skate-ski race in the men’s standing division. The 22-year-old Arendz, who has finished second overall in biathlon on the IPC World Cup standings the last two years clocked a time of 25:08.9.

“I’m very happy with the race. A lot of things were right where I want them, with my speed and fitness,” said Arendz, who now has 17 IPC World Cup medals in his career. “I was having a great race and knew I was on the podium, but it never sunk in until after the race that I was on track for a best-ever cross-country race. It shows that I’m in solid shape for the biathlon races later in the week.

Norway’s Nils-Erik Ulset won the division with a time of 24:07.9.

Brian McKeever and guide Erik Carleton, both of Canmore, Alta., teamed up to win the lone gold medal of the day. A winner of 10 Paralympic medals, the 33-year-old McKeever set the time to beat at 24:03.0 in the men’s 10-kilometre skate-ski visually impaired race.

The path to the podium continued to roll in the women’s races as Canada’s legendary Colette Bourgonje powered her way to the silver medal in the women’s five-kilometre sit-ski division. The six-time Paralympian from Saskatoon, who has skied on the national team for the last 20 years, clocked a time of 14:29.0.

Germany’s Anja Wicker won the women’s sit-ski race with a time of 14:17.0.

Canada also grabbed the silver and bronze medal positions on the women’s visually impaired podium. Robbi Weldon, of Thunder Bay, Ont. clocked a second-place time of 15:38.0 in the five-kilometre skate-ski race. Ontario’s Margarita Gorbounova and her guide, Andrea Bundon, celebrated the bronze with a time of 16:17.0.

The Canadian Para-Nordic Ski Team is using the Wisconsin event to start qualifying athletes, in particular development athletes, for the 2014 Paralympics. Five of the eight development-level athletes to hit the start line on Sunday met the IPC Paralympic qualifying standard.

The IPC World Cup continues on Monday in Cable, Wisconsin.

Results HERE.

Seventh for USA’s Fletcher Duo in Nordic Combined Chaux-Neuve WCup

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January 14, 2013 (Chaux-Neuve, France) – Brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) paired up to finish seventh in a FIS Nordic Combined World Cup team sprint in Chaux-Neuve. The brothers jumped to 13th and slowly moved up through the pack for the top 10 finish. The World Cup now heads to Seefeld, Austria for a pair of events next weekend.

Germany’s Eric Frenzel and Tino Edelmann won the contest by 1.4 seconds over their closest rivals, Team Norway. The hometown favorite French team was third.

Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) and Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) were 13th.

QUOTES
Bryan Fletcher
Today was a fun day. Personally I was a little disappointed with my jumping today, however I was pumped with Taylor’s performance both on the jump hill and in the cross country. I have not felt that great in cross country throughout the weekend however today I was able to hang tough and keep us moving up throughout the second half of the race. I am really proud of Taylor and his performance lately. He is really starting to step it up and he is without a doubt one of the strongest guys on the cross country course day in and day out.

Personally it’s very fun to race with my brother and I hope to do it more often. This is the second time this season we have been a team together and both times I think we have surprised ourselves with what we are capable of even if we don’t have a perfect day.

Taylor Fletcher
It was a pretty decent day for both of us. I had a pretty solid jump and a pretty good race as well. Bryan had a great race and hung though when the speed was turned up. We moved up about as far as we really could! The top jumpers really showed themselves today which put some time between packs. Racing with Bryan is a lot of fun. We keep improving with each race and hope to get a podium before the end of the year.

Full results HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

Results HERE.
Overall standings after Stage 4 HERE.

Quebec City WCup Sprints Highlight Video

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December 27, 2012 – Check out this great video featuring highlights from the inaugural FIS Quebec City World Cup sprints held earlier this month in the old city right by the Parliament buildings. The video was compiled by Zacharie Turgeon – it’s a must-watch!

Heidi Widmer Blog – Party in the Backyard

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December 24, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The weekend I had been dreaming about all summer and fall has come and passed. Not an ounce of adrenaline was left unused in Canmore as we played host to the World Cup at the Nordic Centre as well as downtown. I put on a bib for the 10km mass start classic, skate sprint and 15km pursuit – meaning I’ve raced more World Cups this season than domestic!?

I can walk away from this weekend knowing I did everything in my power to lay down a good race, but yes, I am disappointed with the outcome. Outcomes or results are always hard to be completely satisfied with. As much as I focus on the process and journey of training and racing, there will always be a result at the end of the day and being able to take something positive from the experience is what I believe the result is there for. How will this result make me better? I can tell you one thing, dwelling on a number on a results page is not how to move forward but learning from the movement, actions and mindset that gave you that result will.

The 10km classic race was my first distance World Cup and being seeded at the back, I felt I had a great opportunity to make my way through the pack. First things first, I needed to be in the pack. Unfortunately, I was way too focused on staying with the pack than I was with skiing the way I needed to. My legs were blown, my lungs fried and mental mindset was just awful. The biggest blow ups seem to happen on the biggest stages and it took every fighting inch of me to finish this race. The fan support on the side of the trail didn’t seem to notice that I was taking up the rear – so I decided not to dwell on that either! Having an extremely hard race like this, however hard to swallow in the moment, was necessary preparation for me for the weekend.

Saturday was sprint day and the buzz of energy that had been brewing in me throughout the summer was about to be let loose! I felt confident, nervous (definitely nervous) and prepared. I raced that course the way I wanted to, the way I had practiced and channeled all the energy of the crowd into propelling me forward. I crossed the line in 31st position, needing a top 30 result to qualify for the sprint heats. It is so bizarre to think about a small fraction of time separating me from the top 30 having such an amplified effect. Taking a tighter line here, pushing harder there and being stronger would all have helped me get to the line a little faster which is what will keep me motivated for the future World Cups. I am getting closer. Slowly but surely. Patience is something I have never been good at but I feel like I have a good thing coming and know it will be worth the wait!

My final result of the day was 34th position but I live vicariously through my teammates today. My bro, Phil, in particular posted his personal best 15th overall on the World Cup. Jess Cockney can’t be left unmentioned either, qualifying 2nd?! So inspiring having fast people around – talent and fitness are contagious right? Or maybe it’s through osmosis that I’ll get my boost.

The last bib of 2012 for me was in the 15km Pursuit. Nervous? Yup. Tired? Definitely. I was adamant that I wouldn’t go out without a fight and was so thankful that I had that within me today. I finished today as the 50th woman across the line and over 6 minutes back from the leader but as far as a distance World Cup goes – it was amazing. I had a fight, put it to good use and gradually picked off racers in the pack. I am really happy with the end to the weekend and will be using this momentum to propel me forward in the next couple weeks of training.

An incredibly HUGE thank you to the support of the volunteers, sponsors, families, friends, community and event organizers for putting on such an amazing show. Canmore has truly made a name for itself on the world stage.

I have some time in the Bow Valley to get in some quality training as we have a break from the racing circuit until the New Year. Our next big races are in Thunder Bay, Ontario for the U23 and World Championship qualification. My performance there will determine the shape of the rest of my season and I couldn’t be more excited about dat.

In the meantime, I have some Christmas crafting to do and training to tackle.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Gravey’s Grapevine – Thank You Canada

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December 21, 2012 – I arrived back at my Vermont home yesterday from Canmore and the World Cup tour with my mind racing from all manner of things – to be sure, there was some measure of fatigue from the last several weeks of working on the road – but inside it all, my heart was smiling.

I’ve been trying to get my hands around all that I – and we – had witnessed at the Canadian FIS World Cups in Quebec City and Canmore. It was now a time of reflection, for looking back – and for looking forward.

One of the things that struck me about both of the events was the extraordinary enthusiasm of the fans, from both sides of the border. I saw old friends in Quebec City, that I hadn’t seen for years – keen, knowledgeable racing fans that turned the weekend around the old fortress in Quebec into a wonderful, utterly enjoyable cross-country skiing nirvana.

Cheering fans, ski hats, backpacks and flags – and cheering voices – were all that was needed for the price of admission.

In Canmore, I felt blessed to see dear friends I had worked with during the 1988 Olympic Winter Games of Calgary. I hadn’t stepped in the announce booth at Canmore since the last day of the 1988 Games. Some of my buddies looked older, some heavier, including me, and some looked almost the same. It reflected a powerful, shared experience, and our strong sense of camaraderie.

The experiences of both week’s Canadian World Cups, was so wonderful as to be delicious, so joyful to our sense of belonging, that it reminded me how lucky we are that the Canadians have found a way to host these brilliant events, and for those of us Yanks that live near by, are only too happy to come up and cheer. It’s time for us in the USA to host an event sooner rather than later, and pony up for the fine work the Canadians have been doing hosting high level events, like World Cups.

From a sport perspective the events all ran like clockwork, we were entertained and inspired by watching our USA and Canadian athletes successfully challenge and in some cases beat some of the world’s elite. Many others were so close that they are knocking on the door of greatness. Yet, it wasn’t so much about nationalism, but more – in my view – to share an experience that united North Americans in an overwhelming way. Many of us are lucky enough to have treasured skiing friends on both sides of the border. Our respective national teams train together and share a close bond.

Thank you Canada for playing host to these most amazing events that celebrated the best our sport has to offer and the best in the human spirit. I will remember these last two weeks in my heart forevermore.

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2012/13 Contest Standings after Quebec City

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December 18, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – We are excited to present the 2012/13 SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup Contest standings after round three of the 2012/13 Viessmann XC FIS World Cup in Quebec City, Canada – the first of two World Cups in Canada this season!

The contest saw a new leader take control as things heated up on the FIS circuit. Suusakollid charged ahead with 389 points, while Double Polers and previous leader lafrasse are now tied for second place with 387 points. Luca D. and asterion are tied for third with 385 points.

The Canadian squad had a tough time on home turf, but USA’s women continued their stellar season led by Kikkan Randall, who won the individual sprint, then went on to win the team sprint with partner Jessie Diggins. Read about it HERE.

Soon it’ll be time for the popular Tour de Ski and our Fantasy TdS Contest, and finally fans can enjoy our Fiemme 2013 Nordic World Championships contest in the new year.

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, SkiGo, Alpina, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, 2XU, Bliz, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

For the Contest standings after Quebec City, click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2012/13 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 12/13 Carbonlite Skating Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize – Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
– SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis (value $420)
* 4th Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 5th PrizeOne Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)
* 6th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 7th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 8th PrizeBliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 9th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 10th Prize Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup Breaks Buff Headware to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski (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).

Tour de Ski Countdown – 11 Days To Go

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December 18, 2012 – Justyna Kowalczyk who is a top favorite for the Tour de Ski overall victory has confirmed her participation in the tour-opener on December 29, 2012 in Oberhof. The Polish skier won last year’s Tour de Ski and finished second in the overall World Cup. Kowalczyk won the prologue in Oberhof 2011 before Marit Bjoergen of Norway.

In addition to the Polish national team, teams from Italy, Belarus, Russia and Romania have reported the names of their skiers. The Italian men should have some opportunities to get one of their starters to the top ten in the overall standings. The best Italian in the Tour de Ski last year was Giorgio di Centa 15th position.

Also, expected to be on or near the podium will be one of the strong Russian men with Alexander Legkov (5th), Maxim Vylegzhanin (8th place) and Ilia Chernousov (10th), three men in the top ten in the 2011/2012 Tour . The Russian women are also likely to have in their best skier Julia Ivanova. They finished second in the final statement of the Tour de Ski 2011/2012 13 team rank.

After the heavy snowfalls, a recent thaw took away some of the snow base. According to course Chief Christopher Gellert, there is enough snow remaining for the event to be held without concern. The race track currently has 40 centimeters of snow as a base. The Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski will be in Oberhof: 29.12.-30.12.2012.

US Biathlon Announces World Cup 4 and IBU Cup 4 Rosters

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December 18, 2012 (New Gloucester, ME) – The International Competition Committee of US Biathlon met today and would like to announce the women’s and men’s teams for World Cup 4 in Oberhof, GER, Jan. 1-6, and IBU Cup 4 in Otepää, EST, Jan. 4-6, 2013.

World Cup 4
Women:
– Susan Dunklee (Barton, VT)
– Sara Studebaker (Boise, ID)
– Annelies Cook (Saranac Lake, NY) – discretionary selection based on ranking as the 3rd women in WC points and second fastest ski times.

Men:
– Tim Burke (Paul Smiths, NY)
– Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, NY)
– Russell Currier (Stockholm, ME)
– Leif Nordgren (Marine, MN) – discretionary selection based on two top 60 WC finishes and fourth best skiing among the World Cup team members

IBU Cup 4
Women:
– Lanny Barnes (Durango, CO) – from World Cup qualification
– Tracy Barnes (Durango, CO) – from Nov/Dec IBU Cup qualification
– Hannah Dreissigacker (Craftsbury, Vermont) – IBU Cup trials winner
– Katrina Howe (Gilford, New Hampshire) – discretionary selection from IBU Cup trials*

Men:
– Jay Hakkinen (Kasilof, AK) – from World Cup qualification
– Jeremy Teela (Heber City, UT)- from Nov/Dec IBU Cup qualification
– Bill Bowler (Wausau, Wisconsin) – IBU Cup trials winner
– Wynn Roberts (Battle Lake, MN) – discretionary selection from IBU Cup trials*

* Due to US Biathlon financial constraints participation by the additional athletes selected by discretion from the IBU Cup trials will be on a self-pay basis.

The Way I See It! Canmore World Cups, Breaking Down the Barrier, Canadian Team, FIS Live Timing…

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December 17, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Canmore World Cups – Can there be any better place in the world for cross-country racing, blow-away scenery, dynamic courses, skilled and knowledgeable race and organizing committee, and a town that knows what racing and training are all about (they get to see it every day)? This was one exciting weekend of World Cup races. Sponsors and Alberta government got worldwide exposure and helped to spread the word about skiing in Canada.

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

There were a lot of NA skiers who made the move this weekend here in Canmore actually there were some huge breakthroughs and it was exciting and fun to watch them take place.

I almost dropped out of my chair when I came back to my computer from letting the dog in and saw that Jesse Cockney had qualified 2nd in the sprint – this was a very, very good sprint field. No fluke here as he progressed to the semi-finals. A big barrier now broken down for him and many others.

Noah Hoffman, not a rookie and has been scoring WC points but skiing in the top 3-4 skiers for most of that 30km race in both techniques – he’s a “big baller” now.

How about Graham Nishikawa – getting on in years has had WC experience, but not like Sunday. I wonder if he scared himself when he saw what he had done…put himself in the lead pack from start to finish and mowed down a few “big baller” guys at the end.

Sadie Bjornson, had an injury-plagued summer and fall and was invisible until late fall (I wrote about this in an earlier column, MIA) both sprinting and distant races she was hunting down WC points. Her teammate Sophie Caldwell was scoring in the sprints and then we may have another star arriving on the scene in Eda (Euro’s say it this way) Ida Sargent as she is smoking the trails both in the long and short races. The US girls team is getting deeper.

Message to Bill Marolt, CEO USST, these guys need more $$$s, they can win medals in Sochii!

Skyler Davis – always wondered how he made it on the US Team – he showed me this weekend. Tad Elliott had to be scratching his head as I’m sure there were times he wished he had stayed on his mountain bike but WC points on Sunday and half of his effort was in classic – his weak technique.

OK you guys, the barrier is down – this was a stronger field then I thought it would be – now you are learning how the game is played. Each time you go out there you have to take chances and make sure you get yourself in position early in those races. Holly Brooks was a perfect example of this in both distance races here in Canmore – she is on the low octane right now, but in the lead group out of the gate – always scoring WC points, but getting them from the front end not coming from the back.

As one of my old coaches use to say, “Go get ’em tiger” – only here it is tigers.

Live Timing (message to FIS) – is the pits, as way more information could be listed on this system, but FIS has always been a conservative organization. The streaming banner that runs across the top of the page could do updates, DNSs, DNFs, snow conditions, track conditions, sponsor advertising, DSQs, promote the next broadcast and times and I’m not even trying to come up with ideas. Talk to us out here in ski racing land, please.

Canadian Team – is in disarray – in these situations it’s always interesting to hear the excuses. Yes, it is a tough schedule but somehow the other 120-130 skiers are scrapping through it. This is a pretty big load for Ivan to be carrying by himself – also, he is a top tenner, but not a podium guy. He has one win to his credit on the WC in Val Di Fiemme in the hill climb in 2009.

Last year the two “big boys” Kershaw and Harvey were slow out of the gate, especially Kershaw, and they’ve done a good job of following that plan again.

The women’s team is doing the same thing it did last year – ducking every distance race they can (coaches direction). Emil Joensson, the Swedish sprinter, is stronger than ever as the last two years he has added way more distance races to his schedule and is leading the overall WC right now.

Four years ago, Kikkan Randlall, was just a sprinter, and dabbled in a few distance races and was nowhere on the overall or sprint cup standing. Simple solution – add more distance races each year – and now she is #2 on the overall WC list and #1 in the sprint cup.

This is so obvious, but the Canadian coaches know better as how to get these ladies in shape and keep them there – no distance races. This will soon lead to not qualifying in the sprints and they will get out of racing shape. There is talent being undeveloped.

It didn’t work last year, why should it work this year?

Talk to You Soon!

Interview w/Patrice Drouin Organizer of FIS Quebec City Sprint World Cup

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December 14, 2012 (Quebec City, QC) – Check out this SkitTrax interview with Gestev President Patrice Drouin, organizer of the 2012 FIS Quebec City XC Sprint World Cup held last weekend in the old city. Drouin speaks about the history of his company and how he first conceived of the idea for an inner-city sprint, their snowmaking challenges, the involvement of Pierre and Alex Harvey and  the logistics of hosting the sprints in the old city of Quebec.

Canada’s Crawford 12th and USA’s Dunklee 14th in Women’s 7.5km Sprint at IBU WCup in Pokljuka

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December 14, 2012 (Pokljuka, Slovenia) – Canada’s Rosanna Crawford leaped up the field in the women’s 7.5k Sprint at the IBU World Cup in Slovenia today, cutting her PB result earned last weekend in half finishing a stellar 12th with a perfect shooting record to trail winner Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) by only 52.1s.

“Yep new PB!! I am really excited about todays results. It’s always nice to shoot clean, but to also place a personal best in the top 12 is fantastic! Shooting has always been my strong point. I am also pretty fast in the range, shooting time and getting in and out. I feel like this makes up a little bit for not being as fast on the skis,” Crawford told Trax.

“I didn’t feel very good in my warm up this morning so I didn’t go as hard as I normally would in my warm up. My first loop was pretty slow and I got faster as the race went on and had my best loop my last loop. The opposite to last weekend where it was really hard to get to the finish line!

“The snow was tricky, the track was much slower than it had been in training days, but it was pretty even for the whole field. The range was also pretty calm which was nice. Defiantly the shooting made my race for me. It’s hard to be in the mix for top 15 with missed targets,” she added.

Soukalova also earned a big PB – her career-first World Cup victory. She out-gunned second place, Miriam Goessner (GER), who faced two penalties in the second round of shooting, to win by 2.1s. Nadezhda Skardino (BLR) scored the bronze, accumulating zero penalties and trailing by 30.1s.

Susan Dunklee (USA) was the top U.S. finisher, placing 14th and 53.2s back. Teammate Annelies Cook was 40th. Canadians Megan Heinike and Megan Imrie finished 45th and 90th, respectively.

“Today was a great day for me and for the team.  We had three women not only qualify for tomorrow’s pursuit but also score World Cup points. After years training together and putting in lots of hard work, it is nice to see that pay off. There was heavy snow falling during the race making the skiing a little tough.  I didn’t quite have my highest gear, but I don’t think
most of the field did,” Dunklee told us.

“Hitting 90% of my targets was awesome.  I been struggling a lot on the range the last couple weeks but had a few really good training days earlier this week that helped me regain confidence.  Tomorrow is another day to practice what we do everyday- skiing and shooting.  I’m looking forward to it and we’ll see what happens,” she concluded.

For tomorrow’s Pursuit Crawford is optimistic but realistic… “For the pursuit tomorrow I am just going to take it one shot at a time! It’s supposed to snow 40cm over night which could make things even tougher tomorrow,” offered Crawford.

Results
1. Gabriela Soukalova (CZE) 22:09.8
2. Miriam Goessner (GER) 2.1
3. Nadezhda Skardino (BLR) 30.1

12. Rosanna Crawford (CAN) 52.1
14. Susan Dunklee (USA) 53.2
40. Annelies Cook (USA) 1:45.2
45. Megan Heinike (CAN) 1:57.9
90. Megan Imrie (CAN) 4:17.9

Full results HERE.

FIS Fantasy Marathon Cup 2012/13 Contest – Final Deadline Dec. 15

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December 13, 2012 – Time is running out to register your team for the 2012/13 edition of the SkiTrax Fantasy FIS Marathon Cup International Contest in co-operation with FIS and the WorldLoppet Ski Federation! The deadline is 10pm EST, Dec. 15 – the day before the series kicks off with the FIS Marathon Cup season opener in Italy – La Sgambeda on Dec. 16. The Marathon Contest is similar to our other fantasy contests with some twists – here’s how it works.

Register your team of four (4) men and four (4) women plus one “Outlaw” male skier not in the top 15 and one “Outlaw” female skier not in the top 10 of the FIS Marathon Cup overall rankings – all lists are at registration.

*Note that we have updated the Outlaw Skier lists based on the Start List for La Sgambeda – please review and update your team if you wish.

Here’s the twist… following the Koenig Ludwig Lauf event (Feb. 2/13) we’ll allow contestants to swap one male and one female skier from their team for added excitement leading into the final four (4) races.

Points will be awarded following each Marathon Cup World Loppet based on each skier’s performance and published regularly at skitrax.com so you can see how your score compares with other international players and the actual FIS Marathon standings. Earn bonus Am Birkie or Gatineau Loppet Points plus other bonus points – all information and contest rules are available when you register your team – and read more about the FIS Marathon Cup HERE.

These are the only FIS Fantasy Nordic contests of their kind worldwide so don’t miss your chance to enjoy fabulous top level xc ski racing and win fabulous prizes –  good luck to all contestants.

The deadline to register or revise your team is Saturday, Dec. 15, at 10pm EST, the day before FIS Marathon Cup season kicks off in Italy with La Sgambeda on Dec. 16 – and stay tuned for our Tour de Ski Contest launching very soon.

To register 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)

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).

USA’s Burke 4th at IBU World Cup in Pokljuka – Fak Wins

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December 13, 2012 (Pokljuka, Slovenia) – US Biathlon’s Tim Burke (USA) placed just outside the medals in fourth spot for a superb performance shooting clean in the men’s 10km sprint at round 3 of the IBU World Cup in Pokljukain, SLO today. Local star Jakov Fak (SLO) took the win on home turf, besting rivals Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) and Martin Fourcade (FRA) to the delight of Slovenian fans.

“I am really happy with today’s result,” said Burke in a team release. “Of course it would have been nice to find a few more seconds to get onto the podium, but I really did everything I could out there today so I am very happy with that. I felt very solid on the shooting range today.

“I was able to execute the techniques that I have been working on in practice. I am still missing my top gear on the skis, but hopefully that will show up at World Championships in February. Now I am looking forward to Saturdays Pursuit. I will be starting only 15 seconds behind first place so everything is still possible!”

Fak posted a time of 24:41.7 and a spotless shooting record to nab the victory by a mere 0.8s over Svendsen, who suffered a penalty on the second round of shooting. Fourcade finished 6.1s behind after shooting clean in both rounds. Burke who also shot clean finished 15.2s back.

Scott Perras was the fastest Canuck on the day, sprinting into 34th place, with Lowell Bailey (USA) close behind in 36th. Other North American results include Scott Gow (CAN) in a tie for 50th, Jean Philippe LeGuellec (CAN) in 83rd, Russell Currier (USA) in 89th, and Jay Hakkinen (USA) in 92nd.

Results
1. Jakov Fak (SLO) 24:41.7
2. Emil Hegle Svendsen (NOR) 0.8
3. Martin Fourcade (FRA) 6.1

4. Tim Burke (USA) 15.2

Full results HERE.

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

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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.

Alberta FIS World Cups – Canmore SET to Welcome the World from Dec. 13-16

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – In only a matter of hours the FIS World Cup will roll into a town, into a place steeped in Nordic history. Canmore, the host of the cross-country skiing and biathlon competitions of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games will play host to three exciting days of cross-country skiing competition.

We talked with OC President Ken Hewitt to get an idea about what’s ahead. “At the earlier World Cup’s (2005, 2008) our focus was the “on-snow” aspects of a World Cup such as good tracks, proper stadium, good snow, team accommodations, transportation and communications etc. As we have learned to get those aspects to a reliable state, we have worked to enhance the “off-snow” aspects – the World Cup Festival, spectator experiences, and marketing.

“World Cup 2012 will have a significantly enhanced spectator experience with a new “Spectator Zone” at the end of the stadium, more and larger video displays, in-field entertainment, and improved signage. Also… the Town of Canmore has laid on an impressive “Nordic Festival” to accompany the World Cup — the downtown area will be literally ablaze with activities, and with many specials specifically for World Cup athletes,” Hewitt said in a recent interview.

We asked him about the Quebec World Cups and its impact and he said, “We are seeing that a majority of racers coming to Canmore are sprinters – probably because both of the first two races in Canmore (in Québec) are sprints.

Logistically, there are challenges getting athletes, equipment, timing gear and marketing materials from Québec to Canmore in three days – it’s over 3,300 km,” he said.

As always is the case many volunteers play a major role in making it all happen, “The Competition Committee and Organizing Committee consists of about 45 people. These are the ones who have been working on this event for the past year. We have a dozen contractors in specific roles, and 2 staff. Most important however, are the 470 volunteers who will be working both the race events and the downtown activities,” Hewiit concluded.

Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth told SkiTrax what it’s like competing on-home snows saying “It’s always tough to balance these home World Cups with all the extraneous stuff that goes down, but I believe the athletes will come with better bodies this week, and will fight for some podiums. It’s a new sprint course, so that should be interesting, and one that should suit our team well. Other than that we’re bloody but unbowed,” said Wadsworth.

Checking in with USA Coach Chris Grover he offered his hopes for the Canmore events. “In Canmore, we are expecting the women’s team to continue to carry the momentum that they created all fall,” the Alaska native said, “and we are looking for the men’s squad to make a step forward and realize the kind of results that these guys are capable of.”

Andy Newell said, “… I was happy to be back in the finals in Quebec so I’ll definitely be carrying a little more confidence into the next few races in Canmore. Both my sprint fitness and speed are feeling really good right now so I’m looking forward to getting more chances at racing through the heats. I will also be doing the mass start classic race on Thursday. My distance fitness has improved a lot this year but I haven’t really had a chance to perform at my best in any distance races yet this season so it’s a bit of an unknown. But I’ll give it my best shot on these tough Canmore courses and hopefully come out with a good points race.”

Canmore will be utilizing a new sprint course, 1.3 km in length, and it will be challenging, according to many. The World Cup events are non-ticketed, and shuttle buses will be used to transport fans to the venue as there is no public parking on site.

Hewitt indeed was optimistic about the Canadian squad at Canmore, offering, ” We know already that the majority of racers will be “top 30″ in the world, so the competition will be tough. That said, we also clearly anticipate Canadians on the podium.”

It looks like a series of races that will be too good to miss.

Alberta FIS World Cup 2012 Schedule
– Dec. 13, 2012     10 km C Mst     L
– Dec. 13, 2012     15 km C Mst     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     L
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Qual     M
– Dec. 15, 2012     SP F Final     M
– Dec. 16, 2012            Skiathlon 7.5/7.5 km C/F     L
– Dec. 16, 2012     Skiathlon 15/15 km C/F     M

FIS Interview w/Kershaw – All About Canmore

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December 12, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – Two-time Olympian and World Champion, Devon Kershaw of Canmore, gives us a heads up on what to see, eat, and do while in Canmore, AB, this week during the FIS World Cup stop.

Kershaw continued his historic run in 2012 when he became the first Canadian male to finish second overall on the World Cup circuit. Kershaw’s incredible season included winning two World Cup races in addition to adding another silver and three bronze medals to his career total. Devon also finished fourth overall on the 2012 Tour de Ski. Devon first skied his name into the history books in 2011 with teammate, Alex Harvey, as the Canadian duo joined forces to become the first Canadian males to win a medal at the World Championships when they won gold in the team sprint race in Oslo, Norway.

You were born in Sudbury, Ontario and moved to Canmore, Alberta when you were selected to the National Ski Team. For how many years now have your called Canmore home?
Devon Kershaw: I’ve called Canmore home (full time) for ten years.

Outside of Canmore being the centre for Cross Country Canada, what else draws you to the area?
DK: The Bow Valley is a just such an inspiring area. Great little community, amazing trails that snake through the region offering so many great running/hiking/mountain biking options, excellent rollerskiing and the mountains never cease to amaze me. The Rockies are insanely beautiful – I could just sit there and stare for hours and hours.

If I am a visitor to Canmore during the World Cups, besides the racing what is one thing that is a must see?
DK: That’s such a hard question – I think everything is so fantastic. Just walking along the Bow River and looking around at all those fantastic peaks is enough! Nature is definitely the big draw in the area. As far as a “must see” for Canmore… Hummm… I actually cannot narrow it down to just one. My advice is get out there and get active. Go for a hike, a ski, or even just a walk!

Best place for breakfast?
DK: Summit Cafe – the Huevos Rancheros won’t disappoint. I promise you that. And if you are feeling extra hungry and/or are planning a massive day of activity and want to treat yourself – walk next door (to Fergie’s bakery/convenience store) and grab a “Fergie’s Apple Fritter” – it’s madness.

Best place for lunch?
DK: This is going to be funny – but I’d say Crazyweed Kitchen (that’s going to be my pick for dinner too though, haha). So if you want to change it up, hit up Mara’s Way Sushi, JK Bakery, or Le Fournil Bakery (the croissants and pain au chocolat are fantastic).

Best place for dinner?
DK: Crazyweed. Hands down.

Best place for a burger and beer?
DK: I guess most people would say the Grizzly Paw. It’s the local brew pub in town. I’m not a big burger/beer dude, but any of the pubs offer similar “pub fare” burger/beer options. The Drake, The Wood, type thing.

Best souvenir shop?
DK: Haha. No idea. Not much of a knick knack dude. There are some great art galleries downtown (like the Aven’s gallery) – so your best bet is to just walk down Main Street and poke your head into whatever shop looks interesting.

What other activities are possible besides cross country skiing?
DK: There are plenty of things to do in Canmore – we have a lot of stellar restaurants and cafes around. A couple outdoor hockey rinks to play some shinny (pick up hockey) if you’re so inclined. A short drive away there are a number of great Alpine Ski areas (Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Nakiska, Mt. Norquay) at your disposal as well. If you want to check out another beautiful and historic town in the Bow Valley – Banff is just 18km away (West on Highway 1) – and offers a whole different experience. Just walking and exploring both towns (Banff/Canmore) and taking in the amazing views – it’s hard to beat. The best adventures are the ones not planned – so my advice is just let your curious nature take over!

Best place for sushi in town?
DK: Chef Studio Japan.

Thanks Devon and good luck racing at home!
DK: Thanks

Interview w/Kikkan Randall after FIS Quebec City Sprint WCup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk To You Next Time.
misterxc@aol.com

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2012/13 Contest Standings after Kuusamo

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December 06, 2012 (Toronto, ON) – We are pleased to present the 2012/13 SkiTraxFIS Fantasy World Cup Contest standings after round two of the 2012/13 Viessmann XC FIS World Cup at Kuusamo, Finland.

The top contest spots continue to be separated by single points with no change in the top three after Kuusamo. Lafrasse maintains the lead with 126 points, followed in second place by Luca D. with 125 points. Bosans hangs on to third spot with 124 points.

Meanwhile the thrilling competition continued on the circuit, with USA’s Kikkan Randall scoring the second consecutive distance event podium of her career. Read about it HERE.

Our FIS Marathon Cup contest is launching on Dec. 7 so be sure to register to be eligible to win more prizes and catch some great racing. Soon after it’ll be time for the popular Tour de Ski and our Fantasy TdS Contest, and finally fans can enjoy our Fiemme 2013 Nordic World Championships contest in the new year.

Good luck to all contestants and thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, SkiGo, Alpina, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, 2XU, Bliz, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

For the Contest standings after Kuusamo click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2012/13 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 12/13 Carbonlite Skating Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize – Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
– SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis (value $420)
* 4th Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 5th PrizeOne Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)
* 6th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 7th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 8th PrizeBliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 9th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 10th Prize Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup Breaks Buff Headware to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski (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).

Kershaw Report: November Scando Racing Madness

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December 06, 2012 (St. Ferreol les Neiges, QC) – It’s December. I almost had to tell myself out loud of that fact this morning when I rollerskied through the ice and grime that covered the streets of St. Ferreol les Neiges hugging the tarmac like the hair on my upper lip this past November. I guess I also had to remind myself of the month – because it’s a rarity these days that I’m back in Canada during the winter months.

November is always a busy month – lots of racing, lots of travel all coupled with very little sunlight and culinary disaster. I’ve already raced three weeks this season, two of which were the first two World Cup stops of the 2012/13 year. I’ll take a moment to fill you in on the happenings of Northern Scandinavia – with some brief race reports from the opening weekends of racing this November.

Also – big thanks to all that donated to “Movember” and “the Snow Mos” this year – together we can make a difference in men’s health. In that spirit get a load of these two beauty shots of Lenny – bringing his Mo to the next level.
Ostersund/Bruksvallarna, SWE

It may sound like I’ve written this report before – and that’s probably because I have last year. The past few years our team begins our winter campaign smack in the middle of Sweden. In a slight plot twist, I traveled to Oslo November 2nd for a fabulous week in the Norwegian capital before meeting the team in the Jämtland capital of Ostersund for our annual pre-season on snow Euro camp.

Like last year, there was no natural snow, and my first ski in Sweden was an uninspiring burn around a 2.5min loop. The dizziness subsided every couple days as the loop gradually improved thanks to a wonderful group of passionate volunteers and staff of the Ostersund Ski Club – as they spread out the saved snow from last winter (like what Canmore does now with their “Frozen Thunder” project) to prepare the trails for the World Cup of biathlon season openers that take place there. By the time we left Ostersund they had 4km of great skiing available.

On the training side of things, November is a busy month – not only with racing but also with hours. To be ready and keep consistent in the meat of the season (January, February, March) we’ve realized that I need to log a decent amount of miles – short loops or not – so I trained quite hard both in Ostersund, and afterwards.

The “actual” racing season started over in Bruksvallarna (the site of the Swedish FIS openers – a 3hr drive West of Ostersund) and conditions there were fairly decent with thin natural snow cover, longer skiing options (for training), and great snow cover on the race courses – which are twisty with no real huge climbs or working sections. Think – ghetto amusement park rollercoaster.

After some discussion, Justin and I decided to compete only in the 15km skate (what I did last year) and like last year I was brutal finishing a disappointing 10th – blowing up fiercely in the last 3km of the course, where I gave up a whopping 50 seconds. Racing is hard – super hard – but at this time of year, it appears I struggle to digest the heavy load of training I’m under, leaving me feeling flat for some weeks. I guess it was a better outing than last November – when I finished outside the top 30 – but I was both exhausted physically at the end (the last tuck down the last hill made a bit of a buzz on Swedish blogs for my unorthodox tucking technique (think: hands on knees with straight legs trying as hard as I can to not just fall over) and obviously disappointed with the result.

Gallivare, SWE – World Cup Opener
While Ostersund can be grey and windy – the town itself is great and the giant/beautiful lake (5th largest in Sweden apparently) is stunning. It’s actually a beautiful little city all around with great little cafés, nice walking streets – a cool place to hang out. Gallivare by contrast is…well… different. For starters it’s dark. I mean, hella’ dark this time of year – the sky brightens for some hours between the hours of 10:30 – 13:30, but aside from that it’s like what I’d imagine living in a freezer would feel like. Sometimes there’s some light (when someone opens the freezer drawer), but for the most part in the late autumn it’s black and cold. The town itself is of course smaller, doesn’t have a lot going on – but that’s fine seeing how we are there for the specific purpose of ski racing – and it does have a great little café downtown with stellar espresso.

One thing Gallivare does have this time of year is natural snow, great skiing, and very enthusiastic volunteers and fans that love to cheer on their local hero, World and Olympic Champ – Marcus Hellner – who has lived there for roughly 10 years.

The weekend of racing got of to a bit of a rough start. The 15km skate on the Saturday wasn’t great. While I didn’t blow up – I was never able to get going – stuck in that threshold type speed. I started controlled, but I wasn’t able to convert later in the race (when I needed to change gears and start charging for the last 5km) finishing a distant 44th. Of course, I was pretty disappointed – but the beginning of each season seems to be a lesson in patience for me. Last season I was 37th in the same race (in Sjusoen, NOR), and the season before (in Gallivare), I ended up in the 50s – 58th I think. A far cry from the podiums I expect later in the year.

The bright spots of the weekend was Babs’ 16th place finish Saturday, and Sunday’s 4×7.5km relay. I skied the 2nd (a classic leg) leg and the feelings were much better. I still felt I lacked that punch/snappy feeling but better I moved well and made up some ground for our team. When it was all said and done, our team made some history with a Canadian World Cup best finish – 5th! We were only seconds from the podium and it gave us all a lot of confidence for the World Championships later this year. If we are all in good form, I really believe that we are capable of something really special.

The Ruka-Triple (mini-tour) – Kuusamo, FIN (2nd stop on the World Cup)
After Gallivare we all crammed into vans and rolled East into Finland – driving the 6 odd hours south(kind of)east through grey skies and hordes of reindeer that seem completely indifferent to traffic – like they are props in a Santa Claus parade instead of wild animals and have been told not to move for anything or anybody.

The Ruka triple consists of 3 races in 3 days – a classic sprint first (1.4km – on the Friday), followed by a 10km skate (Saturday) and finishing it off with a pursuit start 15km classic (Sunday) – the best cumulative time takes the win (like the Tour de Ski type format).

Day 1 was awful for the Canadian men. Ooohhhhh lordy, was it rough – I liken the speed to attempting to swimming through a pool of full-fat eggnog. No Canadian men qualified for the top 30, and I ended up a dismal 62nd place. Not where I wanted to be. I felt like there was just no power whatsoever in the body – especially in double pole. The bright spot was that Peri matched her best-ever result on the World Cup with a 12th place finish and Dasha with a solid 14th in the women’s race.

The following day – the 10km skate – was very similar to Gallivare’s 15km. I felt like I was stuck in zone 3. I started conservatively and when I willed my body to turn it over – again, there was no gears to switch into. I ended up 35th – again, not where I wanted to be. I was actually really, really disappointed with that one. I didn’t even check results when I finished and finished my cool down – instead I just ate lunch quickly and crawled into bed for a nap. It was a huge effort (the race), and I knew the velocity was too slow. I was so bummed out – and broke my “no being bummed out when you get back to the hotel from the race site” rule.

After an hour of sulking at a pretty extreme level, I re-focused on getting ready for the last day – Sunday’s 15km classic. After two not-so-great races I started further back in the order – 36th – compared to what I’m used to (in Falun last year by contrast in a similar style mini-tour I started the last day sitting 3rd…) and in the race itself worked through the field slowly but surely – finishing in 22nd overall. I moved up 14 places and had the 16th fastest time on the day – which was a solid step in the right direction. Again, the body felt heavy and again I lacked the power/snap and on the climbs (Kuusamo’s courses are notoriously steep and long) I felt terrible, but I stayed present as best I could and willed everything out of my body I could muster. Finally all our men were in the points (the top 30) with me finishing 22nd, Alex 23rd and Babs’ 25th in the overall standings. It’s coming.

The feelings I had for the first three weekends of racing are almost identical to how I felt last year – as are the results in those races. It seems the pre-Christmas races are a true lesson in patience and perspective. I know I’ve done a plethora of high quality work this year and I believe in our plan to be 100% ready to rock and roll come late February/March – but as a competitor it’s hard to unplug, be patient, stay positive and be good to yourself (ie. not beat yourself up too badly) when the results aren’t where you want them to be. Like a hockey player that grips his stick too hard – his once loose hands turning instead to concrete – it’s hard not to press and do what you know you need to do – mainly to “let go” knowing that as long as you give your full and absolute best effort race in, race out – the outcome will most definitely only get better.

I didn’t have a ton of time to dwell on November, as after the race on Sunday we flew to Helsinki to spend a (very) short night there in an airport hotel before we began the long journey back to Quebec on Monday – which is where I am right now.

It feels great to be back in Canada and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to race at home. I’m hanging out at Alex’s house (with Lenny staying here as well) in MSA, and while there is no snow on the ground, the vibe is awesome. We had such a great dinner last night when we arrived (thanks Alex’s awesome GF – Sophie!), and to be in a comfortable home instead of a hotel is a really nice change. Watching Monday Night Football last night was a pretty nice perk too I must say.

We don’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy “normal” life as this Friday the Quebec World Cups begin in the province’s capital. First up is the team sprint, which Alex and I are really looking forward to – followed by Saturday’s 1.7km individual sprint competition. While my body has been feeling sluggish and lacking power/snap which are both so necessary for sprint racing, I know that things can change fast. Regardless how the results end up – I’m so excited to race in Quebec and it’s hard to believe it’s the first time the province has held a World Cup competition. It’s going to be an amazing show and the support and passion in the province for cross country skiing is far and away the best in the country – so to race in front of so many fired up fans will be exhilarating.

That’s the long-winded news from me. As for now, I think I’ll retire to the couch with a glass of egg nog, watch a ski movie and then prepare an amazingly boss dinner of fresh halibut & scallops (Len will stick to steak) before hitting up a (hopefully) long, restful sleep.

On a completely non-ski related topic…

November I crushed three decent books – here’s what went down this month:

–       “1982” by Jian Ghomeshi. I thought the family history sections were great and entertaining. The word “David Bowie” was perhaps printed a thousand or so too many times, but enjoyable none-the-less. If you aren’t familiar with Jian’s CBC radio program “Q” – it’s worth checking out. Plus – 1982 was the best year ever. Just saying (thanks mom and dad).

–       “Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet” by Jamie Ford. A story dealing with relationships during the Japanese internment of World War Two in Seattle. Pretty moving story, ok-written. A bit far fetched, and kind of a Romeo/Juliet thing going on (if you’ve read it you’ll understand that loose link) but it’s a novel after all.

–       “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay. Another WW2 story – dealing with the Holocaust and the Vel’ D’hiv round-up in Paris in 1942. Again – I enjoyed it, I found it powerful, sad at times and again – decently written.

–       In addition to the books, I’m still on a diet of a New Yorker a week. Standard awesomely written articles – great for traveling.

Spinning in the headphones is the same tunes as normal. Back to listening to a lot of Wilco, Rural Alberta Advantage, Band of Horses, Shins, Radical Face, etc… I don’t know what it is about N. Scando – but I crush depressing music up there. As well, “This American Life” and “Planet Money” – both NPR podcasts that are always both entertaining and well done.

On the movie front – while I don’t watch many movies, shows, etc… very often on the road – preferring to scratch away very poorly on my guitar I lug around, read and listen to music – we have watched some of the latest ski movies released this autumn. We’ve gone through “Superheroes of Stoke, The Dream Factory and a Norwegian film “Being There (which I thought was really well done!)” and re-watching last year’s “All.I.Can” so far. Perhaps a little dangerous so early in the racing season – as I’m getting fired up for spring ski touring already – which probably isn’t the best seeing how December just begun, but what can you do. The powder will be there come April (at least that’s what I tell myself to fall asleep at night).

Rock and roll – if you’re in the Quebec City area come on out and watch the action Friday and Saturday (check HERE for all the info) and if you are in Canmore from December 13th – 16th (assuming the world won’t end of course the day before…) come on up to the Nordic Centre and watch. I mean, you won’t find a better World Cup venue on earth – their website for all the deets’ is HERE.

The Sasseville Report – Things I Think I Know after Ruka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The American Revolution…

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

FIS XC WCup Men’s 1.4k CL in Kuusamo – Kriukov Scores, USA’s Hamilton 26th

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November 30, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Vancouver 2010 Olympic CL sprint gold medalist Nikita Kriukov (RUS) won the 1.4km CL sprint in Kuusamo today, scooping favourite Petter Northug (NOR) at the finish by a mere double pole. Northug had been in the lead after throwing down a strong attack on the climb with only Kriukov able to maintain contact. Kriukov used a last-second surge to take the victory – see pics below.

Emil Joensson (NOR) was the fastest qualifier, but suffered an unfortunate crash in the semifinals and was out. The USA’s Simeon Hamilton was the top North American finisher in 26th, qualifying 29th.

He appeared strong in the first half of his semifinal, but faded at the end. Things went similarly for Andy Newell (USA), who wound up 29th. No Canadians made it past the qualifiers including World Cup #1 Dario Cologna (Sui).

Alex Harvey (CAN) finished the day in 46th, with Len Valjas (CAN) 53rd, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 62nd, Kris Freeman (USA) 63rd, Sylvan Ellefson (USA) 74th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 85th, Noah Hoffman 86th, and Kevin Sandau (CAN) 98th.

Results

Men’s Qualifying HERE.
Men’s Final HERE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside the Fence – Interviews w/Norway’s Pettersen, Brandsdal, Golberg in Kuusamo

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November 29, 2012 (Kuusamo, Finland) – Check out the second episode of the new FIS series, Inside the Fence, hosted by Jeff Ellis. This edition features pre-race interviews with Norwegian sprinters Oystein Pettersen, Erik Brandsdal, and Paal Golberg. Find out what they have to say leading up to their big race in Kuusamo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SkiTrax FIS Fantasy World Cup 2012/13 Contest Standings after Gällivare

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November 28, 2012 (Gällivare, Sweden) – With over 500 registered teams from contestants in 30 countries around the globe – both new fantasy contest records – the 2012/13 SkiTraxFIS Fantasy World Cup Contest kicked off on Saturday with the season opener of the 2012/13 Viessmann XC FIS World Cup in Gällivare, Sweden.

The contest frontrunner after round one is lafrasse with 99 points, followed closely in second by Luca D. with 98 points. Bosans is third at just one more point back with 97.

The racing was exciting on the weekend, with USA’s Kikkan Randall opening her season with the first distance event podium of her career. Read about it HERE. Randall and her teammates then went on to make history, scoring another podium in the 4x5km relay. Read about it HERE.

Keep in mind this is the first of four Fantasy Contests this season… up next is the FIS Marathon Cup contest, followed by the popular Tour de Ski contest, and finally fans can enjoy our Fiemme 2013 Nordic World Championships contest.

These are the only FIS Fantasy Nordic contests of their kind worldwide so don’t miss your chance to enjoy fabulous top level xc ski racing and the chance to win fabulous prizes –  good luck to all contestants.

Thanks to all of our great sponsors, including Fischer, Trapp Family Lodge, SkiGo, Alpina, One Way, Bjorn Daehlie, 2XU, Bliz, Fresh Air Experience, High Peaks Cyclery, Auclair, and Buff.

For the Contest standings after Gällivare click HERE.

SkiTrax Fantasy FIS World Cup 2012/13 Contest Prizes
* 1st Prize Fischer 12/13 Carbonlite Skating Hole Skis, Xcelerator Bindings, Carbonlite Poles (value $1,100)
* 2nd Prize – Trapp Family Lodge – 2 nights lodging in a Deluxe Room w/breakfast (value $600)
* 3rd Prize
– SkiGo Carbon 335 Skate Roller Skis (value $420)
* 4th Prize
Alpina ESK Ski Boots (value $419)
* 5th PrizeOne Way Premio Ski Poles (value $400)
* 6th Prize – Bjorn Daehlie Exclusive US XC Ski Suit (value $300)
* 7th Prize 2XU Long Sleeve Thermal Compression Top and Elite Socks (value $195)
* 8th PrizeBliz Proflip Visor (value $129)
* 9th PrizeFresh Air Experience or High Peaks Cyclery Gift Certificate (value $100)
* 10th Prize Auclair Micro Mountain Olympic Gloves + Earbags (value $65)
* WCup Breaks Buff Headware to top 3 contest leaders before the Tour de Ski (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).

Inside the Fence – Kuusamo Course Preview w/Kikkan Randall

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

Diggins Report – The Most Exciting Race Ever!

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

http://youtu.be/aG8V001cMR4

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

Here’s the race story from the day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview w/Chantal Lachance – Inside Look at Inaugural FIS World Cup Sprints in Quebec

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November 28, 2012 – SkiTrax recently caught up with Chantal Lachance, Vice President of Gestev Inc., organizer of the inaugural FIS Sprint Cup in Quebec, City. LaChance and Gestev President, Patrice Drouin, have been staging events at Mont Ste-Anne, QC, for over 20 years including two UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and countless UCI MTB World Cups. Gestev and their outstanding team are renowned for always putting on amazing events feature plenty of good fun and entertainment as well. This will be another world-class show, that promises to be too good to miss.

Everyone is thrilled and excited to come and watch this historic World Cup weekend in Quebec. How did you first go about getting the World Cup with FIS?
Chantal Lachance: At the annual FIS Congress in Sprint 2010, we had discussions with FIS and Cross-Country Canada in order to position Québec as a world cup stop. It’s important to mention that the success of this bid is a combination of many factors for Québec to host such an event – the track record of the city and the event producer Gestev, Alex Harvey performing on the international scene, the presence of legendary Pierre Harvey, and Gestev has been being staging events with FIS since 1997, etc. All of these factors had a positive influence on the decision by FIS.

You must be very proud to have secured the World Cup, but know that it represents a lot of work.
CL: Yes, one of the biggest challenges of this event is to be able to make enough snow in downtown Quebec City at the beginning of December. The clock is ticking as the snow making experts have been dealing with mild weather in order to achieve the 10,000m of snow needed to build the 850m long course. This past weekend however, we were able to meet our objective of snow making, which is great news. In case of milder weather, we have other options up our sleeve… but let’s see how fast winter will show up!

The venue seems incredible, a perfect place for racing – what do you think about it?
CL: It was designed with television very much in mind. Sprint Québec will wow crowds gathered in front of the National Assembly by the thousands, eager to see the 150 athletes from close to 20 countries in action. The pictures will really be something special with the National Assembly in the background. We also developed a step down of 30cm and we think that it will be a challenging feature on the course.

You must be expecting very big crowds, any idea how many might come for the weekend on racing?
CL: Yes, we are expecting more than 50,000 visitors on the Sprint Québec site from December 7 to 9. Fans will feel the action and speed that urban sprints deliver while enjoying the beauty of this unique patrimonial and UNESCO environment such as the Parliament hill along the famous Quebec fortification.

Chantal, with such a crowd, where will people park or access the venue each day?
CL: The visitors will park in the public parking lot as usual during the events in Quebec City. Of course we planned the track with the idea of allowing the crowd to see their champions close to the course and accessibility has been on our mind while thinking about the whole project.

Will there be ticket sales?
CL: All the events are free. People can come on site and watch the race and they can visit our Sprint Quebec Village for free and learn more about the cross-country skiing industry. But if someone wants to encourage local ski teams, there is the possibility to buy a ticket in the corporation lodge – all the info to come this week on our website).

What things might we expect at the venue such as amenities, entertainment, etc.?
CL: At 10 a.m. on Friday, December 7, the Sprint Québec Village at Place George V will open its doors to the public. Young and old will be able to meet industry specialists and winter sports fans and take part in a host of activities at the hydraSense Family Zone. Children age 9 to 12 can take part in free Iniski to learn the skating technique with Rossignol professionals. And local microbrewery Archibald will be there for adults in search of a refreshing beer. Then the weekend will end on a high note on Sunday, December 9 with the amateur event Sprint Québec Open fuelled by Chocolate Milk, the final event of the weekend with cross-country skiers of all stripes invited to tackle the World Cup course in a race against the clock. Divided into categories according to age and ability, the participants will get a chance to see how they do compare to their favourite athlete from the Canadian national team in the race of their lives!

Will you be having live TV or sending a broadcast overseas?
CL: Yes, TVA Sport will be live from 14h-16h on December 7 and from 13h-15h on the 8th. CBC and CBC Sports will also be live on site.  We will have more hours to come from CBC after the event. International TV is showing interest, but for now we don’t have confirmation of any crews attending. We will also provide the live feed to Infront, our distribution partner that will deliver the feed to broadcasters throughout Scandinavia and Europe – the world feed live for live or non-live broadcasts.

With the Canadian team doing so well the last years, and especially to have the great local skier Alex Harvey racing, it looks like it will be a great experience and one not to be missed.
CL: Exactly Peter.  Alex will have an incredible reception from his fans that’s for sure. Here is a what Alex said about the event. “It’s going to be a fun event, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to compete in front of my home crowd.”

I hear that given the closeness to Canada, many people from the USA are planning to attend.
CL: Yes for now we have a few media from USA that confirmed their presence during the event to follow the US Team.

Finally, how should we direct people who want more information about the big event?
CL: The public can visit our website www.sprintquebec.com and follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/sprintquebec) and Twitter (twitter.com/sprintquebec)

Thanks so much Chantal and best wishes to you and the entire team on a great week of racing
CL: Thank you.

Alberta World Cup Academy Men’s Time Trial Results from 17km Skiathlon

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November 28, 2012 (Canmore, AB) – The men from the Alberta World Cup Academy along with the Thunder Bay NDC and a couple other teams raced a 17km Skiathlon on the weekend in preparation for the first set of NorAm competitions coming up. Plenty of snow allowed for the group to race on the same trails being used for the World Cups, coming to Canmore December 13 – 16.

Graham Nishikawa finished first, after McMurtry, Killick, and himself broke away from the pack early on in the classic leg. Nishikawa grabbed a small lead after the transition, and maintained it over Killick who finished second. Brian McKeever who skis with the Para-Nordic National Team was able to catch back up to McMurtry and outsprint him to the finish.

Results
1. Graham Nishikawa (AWCA) 43:21:00
2. Graeme Killick (AWCA)43:44:00
3. Brian McKeever (PNST) 44:01:00
4. Brent McMurtry (AWCA) 44:02:00
5. Pate Neumann (CNSC) 44:13:00
6. Chris Hamilton (AWCA) 44:13:00
7. Partrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) 44:26:00
8. Jess Cockney (AWCA) 44:40:00
9. Russell Kennedy (AWCA) 44:55:00
10. Gerard Garnier (CNSC) 44:57:00
11. Michael Somppi (AWCA) 45:09:00
12. Erik Carleton (PNST) 45:19:00
13. Phil Widmer (AWCA) 45:37:00
14. Andy Shields (NDC TB) 45:41:00
15. Matt Wylie (AWCA) 46:58:00
16. Jordan Cascagnette (NDC TB) 46:58:00
17. Dudley Coulter (NDC TB) 47:20:00
18. Bob Thompson (NDC TB) 47:27:00
19. Scott Hill (NDC TB) 50:15:00

This weekend’s NorAms in Canmore are also selection races for the Quebec and Canmore World Cups. So far Kevin Sandau, Alysson Marshall, who are currently in Europe racing the first set of World Cups, along with Emily Nishikawa and Brent McMurtry, are already pre-selected for these races.

Spectators to be in the Heart of the Action at Sprint Quebec on Dec. 7-9

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November 27, 2012 (Quebec City, QC) – The public will have the chance to see elite athletes up close at the FIS Cross Country Sprint World Cup Quebec, Monday November 26, 2012. “Just a few days from now, all eyes will be on Parliament Hill in Quebec City, where the course for Sprint Quebec, presented by Quebecor, is ready and waiting for the arrival of 150 or so athletes from all over the world for the FIS Cross Country Ski World Cup, as well as the thousands of spectators expected for this major, not-to-be-missed event in Quebec. From December 7 to 9, ski fans will have a rare opportunity to see the elite of the cross-country ski world, and even to be front row centre for the competitions. Better still, they can put their skis on and compete on the very same World Cup course as the athletes!

Get into the Heart of the Action in the VIP Zone
Above and beyond watching the individual and team sprint races from trackside, 450 people per competition day will have access to a platform set up right in the middle of the course, around the Tourny Fountain, in front of the Provincial Legislature. Tickets for this are still on sale, and can be purchased for a single race or for both. For more information on the VIP Zone, click HERE.

Quebec Open Sprint: World Cup Course Opens to Amateurs
And that’s not all: a maximum of 1,000 participants will have the chance to try out the World Cup course, in the Quebec Open Sprint, presented by Chocolate milk. On Sunday, December 9, all levels of amateur skiers can see how they measure up to their favourite National Team stars, such as Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw and Chandra Crawford. This will be the final competition of the event, and the participants will be able to ski the 850-metre long World Cup course in a Time Trial format. Registration is still open HERE.

Meet the Athletes
To cap off the weekend in a great way, in the grand style of the Quebec Open Sprint, there will be an autograph session with the National Team athletes on the 9th of December, in the hydraSense Family Zone, from 10:30 to 11:00. This activity, which is open to the public, will be a chance for cross country skiing fans to get up close and personal with the stars of the show before they head off to Alberta to participate in the next World Cup on the FIS calendar, in Canmore.

To encourage the development of future athletes in the region, all profits from Corporate Zone ticket sales and from registration fees for the amateur races will go to three Quebec cross country ski clubs: Club Nordique Mont-Sainte-Anne, Skibec Nordique and the Pierre Harvey National Training Centre.