March 27th, 2014
Both Chandra Crawford, a three-time Olympian who won Canada’s first sprint gold in the 2006 Winter Games, and Phil Widmer, a 2006 Olympian and member of the Canadian Senior Development Team, recently announced their retirements. Crawford’s news came at a press conference on Thursday, which Cross Country Canada (CCC) covered extensively.
“Since graduating from high school in 2000, I have completely dedicated my life to achieving excellence in cross-country skiing,” Crawford said, according to the press release. “Today marks the end of an incredible chapter in my life, but also opens the door for me to focus the next stage of my career on running Fast and Female and encouraging the positive culture around girls and sport. We can all work together to move females social values from a narrow view of approved physical appearance to a meaningful view as creative contributors to the world.”
“Chandra has been an inspiration to countless athletes and thousands of children in every corner of this country,” said CCC Executive Director Davin MacIntosh said in the release. “She is proof anything is possible with big goals, determination, and a relentless work ethic. She has been a class act, and I know she will be extremely successful in the next stage of her career.”
Crawford, 30, will now work at Fast and Female full time.
Also 30, Widmer is a 2006 Olympian with six national titles to his name.
“I feel I’ve seen it through,” he told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “I’ve pursued the opportunities I’ve been given and have to be happy with the way it’s been. … Sport is very consuming, but my family provides perspective. When I didn’t make the 2014 Olympics, I was crushed, but didn’t stop living. Keep going.”
Widmer’s younger sister, Heidi, made her first Olympics this season.
“In my career, I probably won less than 20 races. That’s not many factored over a career of 12 years, so I lost more than I won, but I had my share of success along the way,” Widmer said. “I’m a resilient individual. The approach is always the same. It’s the ability to cope with the potential if it doesn’t work out.”
When Widmer didn’t make the Olympics in 2010 and was cut from the national team the season after, his coach at the Alberta World Cup Academy, Mike Cavaliere, reportedly talked him out of it.
“It’s sort of sad losing a great person and great athlete,” Cavaliere told the Outlook. “Phil did everything in his power to be as good as he could be. What he really brought to the academy was leadership. He was calm, cool and collected and always put the team in front of himself. I know I’ll always have him as a friend.”
Widmer plans to work at his family’s restaurant in Banff, Ticino’s, and is considering going into commerce while dabbling in carpentry and eventually building his own house.
March 23rd, 2014
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Two U.S. Ski Team (USST) members bested the field by at least 2.6 seconds in Sunday’s 1.4-kilometer classic-sprint qualifier at SuperTour Finals. Andy Newell, also of the Stratton Mountain School T2 Team (SMST2), won the men’s prelim by 2.6 seconds and Sadie Bjornsen, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), topped the women’s by 2.67 seconds.
SuperTour leader Reese Hanneman (APU) qualified second in the men’s race, and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) was 4.09 seconds behind Newell in third.
Bjornsen’s USST teammate Sophie Caldwell (SMST2) was the second-fastest woman, and another Olympian Ida Sargent (Craftsbury Green Racing Project/USST) advanced in third (+3.65).
Also, Ben Saxton (SMST2) qualified fourth in the men’s race, 7.4 seconds behind Newell. Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) was fifth, Simi Hamilton (SMST2/USST) sixth, Tyler Kornfield (APU) seventh, Pat O’Brien (CGRP) eighth, and Eric Packer (SMST2) advanced in ninth as the lone double-poler in the qualifier. Alex Schulz (CGRP) also made the top 30 in 10th, as did Noah Hoffman (SSCV/Team HomeGrown/USST) in his first time qualifying for the heats this season after being on the World Cup for the past four months.
In the women’s field of 47, Jessie Diggins (SMST2/USST) qualified fourth (+4.18), Kikkan Randall (APU/USST) moved on in fifth (+5.17), Jennie Bender (BSF) was sixth, Holly Brooks (APU/USST) seventh, Rosie Brennan (APU) eighth, Anja Gruber (UVM) ninth, and Anna Svendsen (Utah) 10th. Saturday’s 10 k runner-up to Randall, Liz Stephen soundly made the heats in 11th (+17.34) as did Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) in 29th (+31.05), who placed third in the 10 k.
The heats start at 1 p.m. Alaska time with the senior women’s quarterfinals, followed by the senior men.
March 23rd, 2014
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — It’s another nice one outside with no wind and temperatures in the 20s the morning of the 1.4-kilometer classic sprints on Sunday, the second day of SuperTour Finals at Kincaid Park.
Like the last few days, temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-30s under sunny skis by the afternoon. Qualifier starts with the women at 11 a.m. Alaska time, and the heats kick off at 1 p.m.
March 22nd, 2014
Amanda Ammar of Team Ninja and Ivan Babikov of the Alberta World Cup Academy and National Team (AWCA-NST) skied to resounding wins Saturday in the final race of Canadian Nationals on the Blow Me Down trails in Newfoundland.
In the 30 k mass start classic race, Ammar dueled it out with Emily Nishikawa (AWCA-NST) for much of the race before throwing the hammer down in the final lap to win by 55 seconds. The two racers created a huge gap on the rest of the field. Chisa Obayashi of Japan was the third place finisher, 4:51 back.
On the men’s side, Ivan Babikov (NST) took home top honors in the 50 k race. After skiing in the pack for much of the race, Babikov surged ahead of the rest of the field in the sixth of seven laps. He held onto that lead and finished with a 42 second lead on the other racers. Kevin Sandau (AWCA-NST) snagged second place, while Graham Nishikawa (AWCA-NST), recently returned from guiding at the Paralympics, placed third, 53 seconds back.
Aggregate results (the overall standings for Canadian Nationals) have yet to be announced.
March 21st, 2014
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Beneath the impressive mountain landscape, the flights that float in and out of Anchorage International Airport, there are plenty of open and thoroughly-groomed trails within the 1,500-acre Kincaid Park — a feat in itself considering the surrounding area looked pretty brown a week ago.
But a weekend storm changed all that, dumping more than two feet of fresh snow at higher elevations on the other side of town and several inches in Kincaid Park. It wasn’t a lot for the original site of SuperTour Finals and U.S. Distance Nationals, but it was enough.
On Monday, four days after race organizers announced that they were moving the races to Hillside and the Alaska Pacific University ski trails, their website stated they might be back at Kincaid. On Thursday, it was confirmed: “Races will be held at Kincaid.”
On Friday morning, skiing was great: firm, tilled and fast in temperatures around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The day warmed up to about 36 degrees — right on par with the forecast that’s expected to repeat for the duration of the series March 22-28.
Here are some photos of “first tracks” on the trails around 10 a.m. Friday morning (it’s Spring Series, racers want to sleep!) Click to enlarge.
Also check out the Anchorage Daily News preview of the weeklong event.
March 16th, 2014
Emily Nishikawa and Jesse Cockney snagged the top spots in today’s 5/10 k interval start classic races at Canadian Nationals at Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Nishikawa, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and National Senior Development Team (NST), just narrowly pulled off the win over fellow 2014 Olympian and World Cup Team member Dasha Gaiazova, winning by 1.6 seconds. Amanda Ammar of Team Ninja, who also competed in Sochi, was third, 27 seconds back. Today’s race saw five out of the seven members of the women’s Olympic team race. All five finished in the top six.
On the men’s side, Olympian Cockney (AWCA-NST) squeezed out the win by 1.1 seconds over Kevin Sandau (AWCA-NST). Knute Johnsgaard of Yukon Elite finished third, 10 seconds back.
Racing will continue Tuesday with a 10/15 k freestyle interval start race.
March 15th, 2014
The 2014 Canadian Nationals are officially underway with the kick-off classic-team sprints, which took place Saturday morning.
Racing on the Blow Me Down Trails in Corner Brook Newfoundland, Kevin Sandau and Olympian Jesse Cockney, both of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and National Senior Development Team (NST) edged out Russell Kennedy (AWCA) and Phil Widmer (AWCA-NST) by 0.8 seconds for the win. The Whitehorse duo of Colin Abbott and Knute Johnsgaard were also close, just 1.3 seconds back.
On the women’s side, Dahria Beatty (AWCA) and Olympian Emily Nishikawa (AWCA-NST) blew open the race with a stunning 20 second gap on the rest of the field. Marlis Kromm (AWCA) and Olympian Heidi Widmer (AWCA-NST) finished in second, while Whitehorse skiers Annah Hanthorn and Kendra Murray had a strong race to snag the third spot on the podium.
Racing will continue Sunday with a 5/10 k classic interval start race.
For more info, visit www.skinationals2014.com.1 comment
February 20th, 2014
HAYWARD, WI—Natalja Naryshkina of CXC (and Russia) and Mathias Inniger of Switzerland were the big winners today in the Birkiebeiner’s freestyle sprint races. Racing down Hayward’s Main Street, skiers were greeted by warm temperatures with a light snow/rain mix.
In the women’s race, Naryshkina took home top honors and $500. Rosie Brennan of Alaska Pacific University (APU) and Lauren Fritz (APU) rounded out the podium, winning $250 and $125, respectively.
On the men’s side, Inniger was followed by Sylvan Ellefson of Team HomeGrown, who sported a stunning lumberjack-themed race suit. Alex Schulz of Craftsbury placed third.
Racing continues Saturday with the freestyle 50 k and classic 54 k races.
February 16th, 2014
Russell Kennedy of the Rocky Mountain Racers won the the men’s 20 k freestyle mass start in the final day of the fourth day of the Haywood NorAm Westerns in Prince George, B.C. Kennedy won with at time of 53:23.47, barely edging out second place finisher Ezekiel Williams of Nakkertok Nordique by 0.67 seconds. David Palmer of Black Jack Nordic was third, 4.16 behind Kennedy.
In the women’s 15 k, Maya Macisaac-Jones of the Rocky Mountain Racers ended her week on a high note after winning with at time of 50:12.95. Unlike the tight men’s race, the top spot was handily won by Mascisaac-Jones with over 1:21.74 separating her and her next competitor, Jacqui Benson of Caledonia Nordic. Ember Large of Edmonton Nordic was third, 3:08.55 back from Macisaac-Jones.
February 16th, 2014
Caitlin Gregg of Team Gregg/Madshus continued her domestic dominance as she skied to an 11 second win in the freestyle 5 k at the Battle Creek SuperTour in St. Paul, Minnesota.
After sitting out yesterday’s classic race due to a “terrible cold” she contracted earlier in the week, Gregg skied to a time of 15 minutes flat. She was followed by Rosie Brennan (APU) who finished 11 seconds behind. Brennan edged out Chelsea Holmes for second by just four-tenths of a second.
Sylvan Ellefson of Team Homegrown and the Ski and Snowboard Club of Vail claimed the top spot for the men with a time of 26:19.8. It was a turn-around for the Vail native, who in Saturday’s classic race finished 14th. To prepare for Sunday’s race, Ellefson went home, slept on the couch, and ate a “great Mexican dinner.”
Apparently that was all he needed, as he woke up refreshed and ready to go Sunday morning.
“I started the first lap out hard to see if if I could manage the pace and while I had a little low point in the middle of the race, I felt good throughout,” wrote Ellefson in an email. “I was getting great splits and had even better skis from Loppet Nordic Racing out of the Twin Cities! Lucky to have then out there working on my skis!”
“It was really a great course. Tough, long climbs, and screaming downhills,” he wrote.
Ellefson was followed by Saturday’s winner, Matt Gelso (+10.1) and Mikey Sinnot (+35.9) both of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.