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Russia dominated the final day of cross country skiing competitions at World University Games in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia, sweeping the top five spots in the men’s 30 k race. Andrey Larkov came away with the win over Raul Sharkirzianov and Artem Nikolaev on Sunday.

The day before the women contested a 15 k skate mass start, with Anastassiya Slonova of Kazakhstan earning her second win of the week after also besting the field in the skate sprint. Slonova finished 8.8 seconds ahead of Svetlana Nikolaeva of Russia, with Ewelina Marcisz of Poland placing third.

Full Results from all competitions can be found at the event website.

The U.S. was represented by the University of Wyoming team, whose best finishes were:

Elise Sulser placed 23rd (+1:19.7 from winner Oxana Usatova of Russia, who most recently competed in the Tour de Ski) in the 5 k classic.

Sierra Jech placed 41st in the skate sprint.

Catherine Schmidt placed 42nd in the 15 k skate.

Yara Thomas placed 50th in the skate sprint.

Britta Schroeter placed 52nd in the skate sprint.

Samuel Wiswell placed 53rd in the 30 k skate.

William Timmons placed 54th in the 30 k skate

Kyle Bochanski placed 71st in the skate sprint.

Benjamin Noren placed 74th in the skate sprint.

Taylor Vignaroli placed 79th in the skate sprint.

Nathaniel Hough placed 79th in the 10 k classic.

Sindre Solvang placed 83rd in the skate sprint.

Patrick Rogers placed 86th in the 10 k classic.

Thomas, Schmidt, and Schroeter teamed up to place 12th in the 3 x 5 k relay (+13:04), which Russia won. Russia also won the men’s 4 x 5 k relay, where the U.S. team was lapped.

Canada did not send a cross country ski team, but biathlete Evan Girard hopped in the 30 k freestyle mass start after the biathlon competitions were over and placed 59th.

Jessica Yeaton (Alaska Pacific University) is competing for Australia and had a best finish of eighth in the freestyle sprint. Her finish was matched by teammate Phil Bellingham in the sprint – and was the highest ranking ever achieved by Australians at the World University Games.

Yeaton also teamed up with Bellingham to place 13th in the team sprint. She finished 24th in the 15 k skate and 36th in the 5 k classic.

University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Max Olex, skiing for his native Germany placed 15th in the skate sprint and 40th in the 10 k classic.

The University of Vermont’s Joergen Grav finished 17th in the 10 k classic and 18th in the skate sprint for Norway

Former University of New Mexico standout Aku Nikander, back in his native Finland, placed 19th in the 10 k classic.

University of Colorado’s Arnaud du Pasquier placed 17th in the 30 k freestyle mass start. He also placed 37th in the 10 k classic and was part of Switzerland’s relay team.

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By Evan Girard

OSRBLIE, Slovakia — Sunny skies for the first time at the 2015 World University Games in Osrblie, Slovakia, made for an ideal day for biathlon on Wednesday, with pursuit races that had racers start in the position they finished at Tuesday’s sprint in the hopes of catching the sprint winner.

After the Russian men swept the sprint podium, it was no surprise the 12.5-kilometer pursuit was yet again all about the Russians.

Shuffling up the order in which they finished, Russia’s Yuri Shopin, a two-time bronze medalist at the these Games, wouldn’t settle for anything less than gold for his third individual medal of the week. He started third and 15 seconds behind, then shot clean through all four stages, but didn’t take the lead until the final lap where he outsprinted his teammate Jaroslav Ivanov for the victory.

The sprint winner, Ivanov started first and pulled away from his competitors with each passing lap in the pursuit. His single shooting mistake came on his final trip to the range, but even after a penalty loop, Ivanov had a 12-second lead over Shopin. However, he couldn’t hold it on the final lap, and as he crossed the finish 1.5 seconds behind Shopin, Ivanov shook his head in disappointment.

Completing the Russian medal sweep for the second-consecutive day was Maksim Burtasov with three misses. He finished 42.6 seconds behind and was out of touch from first and second place, but had room to breathe over France’s Vincent Mathieu in fourth (+1:29.6).

Mathieu moved up from 11th to fourth and 1:29.6 with a single shooting error. Similarly Russia’s Oleg Kolodiichuk hit all but one of his targets and made the biggest improvement of the men’s pursuit, starting 18th and finishing fifth (+1:52.1) in a photo finish with another Russian, Stanislav Pershikov.

Pershikov ended up 0.1 second behind in sixth, giving Russia five out of the top six.

The Slovakian crowd was excited to see hometown hero Paulina Fialkova start the women’s 10 k pursuit first. Following her decisive win in Tuesday’s sprint race, Fialkova had nearly a 30-second margin on the second starter. Ultimately, three mistakes shooting would prove too much for Fialkova and she dropped to second behind Russia’s Evgeniia Pavlova, who only made two errors and started second to give Russia its first women’s gold.

Pavlova shot quickly and despite two misses, she held the edge over her competitors, finishing 38.2 seconds ahead of Fialkova. Russia put two on the podium with Kristina Smirnova placing third (+1:45.8) with two misses.

Anna Kistanova of Kazakhstan took fourth (+2:49.0), and Ukraine’s Iana Bondar finished fifth (+3:01.8). Finally, Russia’s Kristina Ilchenko had a fast final lap to move from 12th to sixth in less than 2 k, 3:16.7 behind Pavlova.

No North Americans completed the pursuit Wednesday.

Results: Men | Women

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By Evan Girard

OSRBLIE, Slovakia — Team Russia continued to dominate the biathlon events on Tuesday at the Winter University Games in Osrblie, Slovakia, sweeping the men’s podium in the 10-kilometer sprint. However, in the women’s race, Slovakia’s own Paulina Fialkova had the edge, taking gold in the 7.5 k sprint ahead of Russia’s Evgeniia Pavlova.

Not racing the men’s individual two days earlier proved to be the winning strategy for Russia’s Iaroslav Ivanov, who powered to the winning time of 23:17 with one penalty in the men’s sprint. Just 13.4 seconds behind, his teammates, Maksim Burtasov claimed second with one miss as well and Yuri Shopin took third (+14.9) with two penalties for his second bronze medal of the week.

Czech Republic national-team member Michal Krcmar missed Sunday’s individual to race the World Cup in Antholz, Italy. Krcmar ended up 24.5 seconds off Ivanov’s pace in fourth with two misses.

Clean shooting helped Ukraine’s Vasyl Potapenko finish less than half a second out of fourth in fifth, 24.9 seconds back from the winner. Fellow Ukrainian, Rusian Tkalenko followed in sixth position (+45.8).

Reagan Mills came in as the top Canadian man in 48th, 6:10.9 behind with two penalties. Evan Girard finished 51st (+7:09.8) with three misses, Sasha Eccleston came in 54th (+7:23.2) with four penalties, and Samuel West was 56th (+10:15.0) with four penalties.

The sprint race for the women was a day of incredible shooting with only three misses between the top seven women; all three came from Czech racers.

Fialkova gave the home crowd exactly what they wanted, with clean shooting and the second-fastest course time on route to Slovakia’s first gold medal at the Games.

Her winning time of 20:20.8 was just part of her perfect day, after holding the lead at every checkpoint and shooting without mistakes.

Not to be outdone by the Russian men, Pavlova also hit all 10 of her targets, though was no match for the Slovakian’s speed on course, finishing 29.5 seconds behind.

The Czech World Cup racers proved to be a significant threat for the women as well. Jitka Landova and Eva Puskarcikova took third and fourth, respectively. Landova finished 34.9 seconds out of the top position with one miss, and Puskarcikova was 51.4 seconds off the pace but had the second-fastest ski time to Fialkova with two penalties.

Two Kazakhstan athletes, Galina Vishnevskaya and Anna Kistanova, took fifth and sixth after having nearly identical races, skiing similar speeds and both hitting all of their targets.

Keely Macculloch was the top Canadian in 40th, 4:43.9 behind the winner with one shooting error in each of her two trips to the range. Jessica Paterson finished 43rd, 5:43.2 back after three penalty loops.

Results: Men | Women

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By Evan Girard

Paulina Fialkova, skied and shot to third in the World University games in front of a home crowd.

Paulina Fialkova, skied and shot to third place at the World University Games’ biathlon 15 k in front of a home crowd.

OSRBLIE, Slovakia — The 27th Winter University Games officially began on Saturday, welcoming the top university athletes from around the world to compete in five biathlon events; individual, sprint, pusuit, mixed relay, and mass start. Osrblie, Slovakia will be home for the biathletes for the 10 days of the games. Sunday began the competition with the individual race format, men racing 20k and women racing 15k.

Despite having no natural snow, staff at Osrblie made enough snow to cover the 4 k men’s loop, though above zero temperatures made skiing on the artificial snow very difficult.

The men were the first to race in front of the ecstatic crowd, skiing the 4 k course five times and entering the range four times to shoot between each loop. Racers alternated shooting in the prone and standing positions, and incurred a minute penalty to their time for each missed shot – a format unique to the individual race.

Dmytro Rusinov of Ukraine proved to be the best man of the day. Rusinov was only second racer of the day to complete his race and he would remain in the top position, as the remaining 52 racers came in behind him. Collecting only one miss during the day and completing his race in 49:52.8, he collected Ukraine’s first medal of the games.

Russia proved to have a strong team, claiming the next three finishing positions and the top three isolated ski times. Vadim Filimonov claimed the silver medal with two shooting errors, 22.6 seconds back. Bronze went to Yuri Shopin, who finished 1:25.2 behind with three misses. Oleg Kolodiichuk skied to fourth place, only making one mistake finishing 1:29.5 behind Rusinov.

Vincent Mathieu of France took fifth position, 1:32.9 behind and Maksim Ramanouski of Belarus, who shot a perfect twenty-for-twenty to claim the sixth position.

Among 54 men in the field, two Canadians Evan Girard of the University of Saskatchewan and Sasha Eccleston of the University of Alberta Augustana Campus completed the 20k individual.

Girard, top Canadian of the day, made six errors, shooting to finish 14:58.0 off the pace in 46th position. Eccleston took 52nd after missing 10 shots and finishing 20:58.8 back.

The 47 women saw even more challenging ski conditions in their 15 k individual, having followed the men’s race.

Kazakhstan claimed their first gold of the games on the opening day of competition with Alina Raikova only making one shooting mistake and narrowly claiming the winning time of 47:29.4 over Russia’s Ekaterina Avvakumova.

Avvakumova shot perfectly, hitting each of her twenty targets, but missed the top step of the podium by just 9.0 seconds.

“I’m satisfied with the results of a race. I haven’t hoped of so good results before start of the competition. At first race I obtained golden medal, and that’s why I hope that I will succeed in another races.” Raikova said to the Slovak press following her race.

Racing in her home country, Paulina Fialkova gave the fans what they came for, claiming the bronze medal for Slovakia. Fialkova dominated on the skis, setting the fastest course time by over a minute. Despite four minutes of added time due to missed shooting, she finished 41.7 seconds off the winning time.

56.9 second back, Galina Vishnevskaya of Kazakhstan clawed back into the race with a jump from 17th to fourth. Evgenila Pavlova and Kristina Smirnova, both of Russia finished fifth and sixth, 1:30.5 and 2:47.8 behind respectively.

Keely Macculloch from the University of Alberta Augustana Campus and Jessica Paterson of the University of Alberta represented Canada in the women’s race. Macculloch and Paterson skied nearly identical lap times but Macculloch only made four shooting mistakes to finish 37th, 10:56.8 back. Paterson, who missed five, was 12:25.1 behind in 39th.

Paterson told FasterSkier after her race, “Things went okay for me. It was really tough out there, the corners were so soft and the climbs weren’t much better.”

Men’s Results

Women’s Results

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Jessica Yeaton racing in the 2013 NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vermont.

Jessica Yeaton racing in the 2013 NCAA Championships in Middlebury, Vermont.

Jessica Yeaton (Alaska Pacific University) finished eighth in the freestyle sprint at World University Games. Held Sunday, it was the opening competition of the weeklong event, which is being held in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia. An Australian native, Yeaton graduated from Montana State University and is training with APU while shooting for the 2018 Olympics.

The sprint was won by Anastassiya Slonova of Kazakhstan, a 2014 Olympian who bested Poland’s Ewelina Marcisz by 0.18 seconds in the final. Svetlana Nikolaeva of Russia placed third.

Representing the United States, Sierra Jech and Elise Sulser placed 41st and 43rd. Catherine Schmidt and Yara Thomas followed in 49th and 50th.

In the men’s sprint Russia swept the podium with Andrey Larkov, Anton Gafarov, and Raul Shkirzianov. Larkov recently had two top-10’s in Tour de Ski stages; Gafarov was 12th in the sprint at the 2014 Olympics and has two World Cup sprint podiums. They were rivaled by Poland’s Maciej Starega, the only Pole to score World Cup points so far this season and a top-ten sprinter himself.

University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Max Olex, skiing for his native Germany, placed 15th after just missing the semifinals. The University of Vermont’s Joergen Grav finished 18th for Norway. University of Colorado’s Arnaud du Pasquier, who made his World Cup debut for Switzerland in Davos earlier this season, placed 43rd and is no doubt looking forward to distance racing. Former University of New Mexico standout Aku Nikander, back in his native Finland, placed 61st.

Kyle Bochanski led the U.S. contingent, placing 71st. His teammates Benjamin Noren, Taylor Vignaroli, Samuel Wiswell, and Sindre Solvang placed 74th, 79th, 80th, and 84th, respectively. All attend the University of Wyoming.

Results: women / men

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Former U.S. Biathlon national-team member Sara Studebaker competed at two Olympics, Vancouver  (shown here) in 2010 and Sochi in 2014. She retired this spring and recently accepted a position as assistant nordic coach at University of Alaska Anchorage. (Photo: UAA/Nordic Focus)

Former U.S. Biathlon national-team member Sara Studebaker competed at two Olympics, Vancouver (shown here) in 2010 and Sochi in 2014. She retired this spring and recently accepted a position as assistant nordic coach at University of Alaska Anchorage. (Photo: UAA/Nordic Focus)

(University of Alaska Anchorage press release)

ANCHORAGE – Alaska Anchorage (UAA) head ski coach Sparky Anderson announced Thursday the addition of two-time Olympian Sara Studebaker to the 2014-15 Seawolf staff. Studebaker will serve as the assistant Nordic coach.

Studebaker, a biathlete from Boise, Idaho, comes to UAA after wrapping up her professional career in the World Cup circuit last spring and at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, with Team USA. She was also a three-year member of the U.S. World Championships Team and competed collegiately for Dartmouth College.

“We’re extremely excited about adding Sara to our coaching staff,” said Anderson. “As a two-time Olympian and a key component of the 2007 Dartmouth ski team that won an NCAA Championship, Sara understands what it takes to compete and succeed on the biggest stage.”

“I’m honored to join the UAA staff and I look forward to working with such talented athletes,” said Studebaker. “Having spent the last few years training in and out of Anchorage, I am very excited to have this opportunity to give back to the Alaska ski community. UAA has so much to offer student-athletes, especially skiers, and I am eager to help them succeed, both on and off the trails.”

At Sochi, Studebaker competed in three individual races, including a 44th-place showing in the 7.5km sprint, while helping Team USA to a seventh-place result in the 4x6km relay. Most recently, she competed in Oslo, Norway, in her final World Cup competition. Overall, Studebaker concluded the 2013-14 with a No. 93 ranking.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2007, Studebaker moved to the Lake Placid, N.Y., to begin training as a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team. She made her first Olympic Team in 2010 and headed to Vancouver, B.C., where she furnished four top-50 results – including a season-best 34th in the 15km race.

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Montana State University announced July 11 that Kristina Trygstad-Saari will be taking over as head nordic ski coach at the university for the 2014/2015 season. The position opened in May when MSU announced that former head coach, Grethe-Lise Hagensen’s contract would not be renewed for the coming season. Trygstad-Saari was one of four finalists for the position including two former MSU assistant coaches, Chad Anderson and Dan Campbell, in addition to the University of New Hampshire’s assistant coach Stephen Monsulick.

In May, Trygstad-Saari officially accepted a position as elite/post-graduate team coach for the Bridger Ski Foundation in Bozeman, but has left the position to become head coach at MSU.

(Press Release)

Montana State Sticks Close to Home in Nordic Ski Coach Hire

July 11, 2014 – BOZEMAN, Montana – Montana State didn’t have to look far for its next Nordic ski coach. Kristina Trygstad-Saari, a 2002 Bozeman High graduate, Bridger Ski Foundation standout and Dartmouth coach, will take over the Bobcat program, announced MSU Director of Athletics Peter Fields, Friday morning.

Trygstad-Saari, who is presently serving as Elite/Post-Graduate Team Coach and Head Masters Ski Coach for BSF, honed her skills on the trails of Bohart Ranch in her youth. As a nationally ranked junior and senior cross country skier from 1999-2010, she was a nine-time Junior National Champion. Trygstad-Saari also finished sixth in the World Juniors; had 2001 World Cup starts; and was the 2002 National Junior Skier of the Year.

In addition, she was a member of the United States Development Ski Team from 2002-03 and was part of the World Championship qualifying squad.

“We’re fortunate to live in one of the best ski towns in the United States,” Fields said. “And, to be able to tap into our local community for our Nordic ski coach is exciting. Coach Trygstad-Saari has competed at the highest levels; raced and coached collegiately at Dartmouth; and knows the challenges of being a student-athlete. We feel she is a great fit for our program and look forward to her taking over the reins of the Bobcat Nordic program.”

Trygstad-Saari served as interim men’s Nordic coach at Dartmouth from Oct. 2012 – April 2013. She helped guide the Big Green to a No. 1 and 2 ranking throughout the season and saw two racers earn All-America status. As a member of the Dartmouth ski team from 2003-07, she was a 2006 NCAA team member and a first-team All-East performer.

“I’m really excited to be stepping up as the Head Nordic Coach and joining the Bobcat Athletics staff,” Trygstad-Saari said. “I’ve followed this team for years, and I see tremendous potential. We have such a talented group of student-athletes, and I couldn’t be more excited to help bring the team to the next level.”

Trygstad-Saari earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Dartmouth in 2007 and is on course to complete a Master of Arts degree in English from Middlebury College in 2015.

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University of Northern Michigan head coach Sten Fjeldheim received the 2014 National Coach of the Year award from United States Collegiate Ski Coaches Association as a result of the receiving the highest number of votes from his coaching colleagues.

“It was truly an honor,” Fjeldheim said in a press release. “I’ve won awards in the past but never anything quite like national coach of the year, and when the award is voted on by other coaches across the country, it’s something special that you won’t ever forget.”

NMU finished seventh overall and second place in nordic skiing at the 2014 NCAA Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah, led by senior Rosie Frankowski and junior Kyle Bratud. The result was one of the program’s top finishes at the championships.

The coaching award was celebrated by NMU skiers, who respect the knowledge that Fjeldheim has shared with them over the years.

“It wasn’t that big of a surprise to me that he won the award,” junior Felicia Gesior said in a press release. “He has a great amount of knowledge for the sport, and everyone knows about his dedication for it and his team, and his success over the years has shown that.”

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Gustavus Adolphus College announced in late March that the Minnesota school would no longer fund the its varsity nordic ski team. The move by the administration, which came as a shock to both participants in the program as well as onlookers, ended a program that had produced several NCAA competitors as well as many accomplished student-athletes.

While the varsity program lost its funding, the ski team will still be able to exist as a club program and possibly continue to compete in Central Collegiate Ski Association. To compete in NCAA races, members of the team would need to fundraise for travel and race entry. Another key factor in the allowance of Gustavus Adolphus to participate at the collegiate level will be its NCAA eligibility, which the school’s administration is currently debating.

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Northern Michigan’s Rosie Frankowski and Fredrik Schwencke have been voted the Central Region’s Women’s and Men’s Athlete of the Year, respectively, by the CCSA coaches, the conference announced Monday. In addition, St. Olaf coach Tom Jorgenson collected the Women’s Central Region Coach of the Year recognition, while NMU head coach Sten Fjeldheim earned the same honor on the men’s side.

Frankowski earned the region’s top honor after writing a magnificent final chapter to her Northern Michigan career. The one-time walk-on was the national runner-up in the 15K skate race at the NCAA Championships, earning first-team All-American status. Frankowski also took sixth in the 5K classic race at nationals (good for a second-team All-American trophy), and also landed the top spot in both the regional and CCSA Championship skate events.

Schwencke, meanwhile, exceeded all expectations with his stellar first season with the Green and Gold. Like Frankowski, the freshman also collected a pair of All-American spots at the NCAA Championships, taking 10th in the 10K classic before finishing sixth as part of a massive lead pack in the 20K freestyle race. Schwencke found his best form at the right time of the season, helping the Wildcats to both CCSA and regional team championships by landing podium places at both events at the CCSA Championships.

The region’s Women’s Coach of the Year, Jorgenson has overseen a steady growth in St. Olaf’s skiing programs over his two-year tenure at the helm, culminating in an NCAA berth (and subsequent All-American finish) for Paige Schember this season. Schember took seventh place in the 15K freestyle at the NCAA Championships, and finished the season as the region’s fourth-ranked skier on the CCSA points list.

“I’m surprised, honestly, to win this award,” Jorgenson said. “I’m very honored, and I’m grateful to the other coaches for recognizing the improvements our program has made, as well as grateful for the high standards they have set that I can follow and work towards as a coach.”

Not far removed from CCSA competition himself – he skied for the Oles before graduating in 2011 – Jorgenson believes that experience has helped shape and inform his coaching. “It helps me to connect with my skiers a little bit more, and understand what they are going through as students and athletes,” he said. “For example, I know Paige so well at this point that the NCAA Championships was almost easy; we both knew what we needed from each other.”

Fjeldheim, meanwhile, continues to add to his impressive trophy cabinet, guiding his men’s team to team titles at both the CCSA and NCAA Central Region championships this season. Fjeldheim sent a full compliment of three men to the NCAA Championships earlier this month, where he helped the team ring up a total of three All-American places.

In addition, Fjeldheim, who earned the region’s men’s and women’s Coach of the Year honors a year ago, was also named the CCSA’s Coach of the Year following the regional championships in February.

 

Source: CCSA

 

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