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No one can speak to the transition from the domestic race circuit to international levels of nordic competition better than cross country athletes themselves. With that in mind, Annie Hart, one of three athlete representatives for a subcommittee of the USSA Congress, recently created a survey regarding the shift from ski racing in the U.S. to competing worldwide.
Hart indicated that though the survey is open to all, it is targeted specifically at nordic athletes. Using the survey, she hopes to gain a broader perspective of the U.S. nordic community’s opinion and promote more discussion on the topic.
“The survey primarily concerns Super Tour racing, and the transition from domestic racing to the international circuit,” Hart wrote in an email. “These are important issues, and as the US is becoming a consistent medal contender on the World Cup, it is increasingly important to keep a pulse on the vaster US nordic community. The USSA congress is a wonderful opportunity for people to discuss important issues in development and racing, but not every single athlete can be present. However it is imperative to include as many people in the discussion as possible, and a survey is the quickest and most effective way to achieve that goal.”
Hart points out that the survey is anonymous and will be open until Saturday, although she hopes to get as many responses as possible prior to the USSA Congress, which begins Thursday. The survey, according to Hart, should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Any responses Hart receives, will be consolidated into single document and shared with all those in attendance at the USSA Congress, as well as the greater nordic community.
“Rosie Brennan, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess and I are all athlete representatives, elected via an online election this past fall,” Hart wrote. “We are taking our roles as the athlete representatives seriously, and are trying our best to ensure active participation from the entire athlete community. Survey takers should know their responses are anonymous, and are only being used to benefit the broader US nordic community in a productive discussion at the USSA congress. Further, the more people who participate, the better the discussion will be. So get those surveys in!”
To give your feedback, click here.
Longtime nordic figure Peter Graves has been named Interim Director of NENSA following this past weekend’s Board of Director’s meeting in Hanover, N.H. A native of Bennington, Vt., Graves, 63, has spent a lifetime in the sport first as an athlete out of Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, later racing for Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., where he was a member of legendary former U.S. Olympic ski team coach Dolph Kuss’ squad at Fort Lewis College.
“One of the reasons I am so passionate about the sport, was that cross-country skiing changed my life in many ways, and I believe in that great transformative power, and its ability to give so many skiers opportunities they never dreamed were possible,” Graves noted.
After graduating in 1975, Graves worked in broadcasting, later moving to the Midwest where he worked at the Telemark Lodge, during the early days of the American Birkebeiner, and at NorTur, Inc. in Minneapolis as public relations and director of racing services, for the importing firm which sold both Epoke and Landsem skis.
He was ABC Sports nordic-skiing color commentator at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. In 1981 he began working as assistant coach and director of development at the U.S. Ski Team working under his long-time friend Mike Gallagher.
Graves then helped open the famed Giants Ridge Ski Area in Biwabik, MN in 1985 and was instrumental in securing a FIS World Cup event that was held there. Following that in 1986 he was named the USSA Eastern Nordic Program Director for the field office in Brattleboro, Vt., and later moved on to be a member of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee in Salt Lake City for two years.
Graves is well known for being a pioneer in broadcasting and PA announcing in skiing and mountain biking and has announced at eight Olympic games over his career. He spent six seasons as the head varsity cross-country ski coach at Harvard University.
He has been the past chairman of the USSA Eastern Cross-Country Committee, the USSA National Cross-Country Committee, and the chair of the Central USSA Cross-Country Committee. Currently he is on the Board of Director of the U.S. Skiing Hall of Fame.
Newly elected board chair, Carol Van Dyke of Stowe, Vt., who as event director for Junior Nationals Stowe and last year’s SuperTour at Trapps/Craftsbury, has worked with Peter and greatly respects his commitment and energizing passion for the sport.
“Peter has the vision to showcase what this small but powerful non-profit organization is doing and can do for the ski world and help solidify support for NENSA’s programming,” she sad.
“I’m thrilled to be helping NENSA during this transitional phase, and really couldn’t be more delighted,” Graves said. “I have never lost my love of this sport and have stayed closely connected through my announcing work. NENSA has a proud past and I hope to play a role in continuing the good work Zach Stegeman has accomplished and build on that energy. It’s a great challenge that I am thrilled by. The Board of Directors represents a group with tremendous skills and deep passion, and I really look forward to a great collaboration in taking the next steps forward,” said Graves.
Graves has two grown children, one-step daughter and is married to Dartmouth Women’s Cross-Country ski coach, Cami Thompson-Graves. The couple resides in East Thetford, Vt..
(Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from any and all of the races at 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals. Please email your best to firstname.lastname@example.org with photo credit and caption info.)
WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Emily Nishikawa and Alex Harvey are the big winners as Canadian Ski Nationals came to a close in Whitehorse on Saturday.
The Olympic veterans proved they are the top women’s and men’s cross-country skiers in the country after smashing the field in the grueling 30- and 50-kilometre classic mass starts to cap off a long 2015/2016 season.
Nishikawa, a 26-year-old senior national development team skier, captured her third gold medal of the week in the women’s marathon. The 2014 Olympian led wire-to-wire in the four laps around the 3.75 k track. The hometown girl thrilled the Whitehorse crowd with a golden time of 1:43.12.17.
“That was a fun way to cap off the season. It has been so great getting the opportunity to race Nationals in Whitehorse,” said Nishikawa. “I had another great race today, and had a lot of fun out there! It has been inspiring watching the up and coming racers compete here. A huge congratulations to all as well as a big thank you to the volunteers for making this event such a success.”
Cendrine Browne, of the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH) and national U23 team, was the next-best finisher more than three minutes off the pace in second (+3:45.55). Katherine Stewart-Jones (Thunder Bay NDC/NST) continued her steady finish to the season with another podium finish in third (+6:26).
Harvey, meanwhile, will leave Whitehorse and the 2015/2016 season with a perfect record at 2016 nationals. Having won his first three starts, Harvey battled through the ultimate test at the national championships – a 50 k classic mass start for the men – where he edged out two of his World Cup teammates at the finish line.
Working well-ahead of the field as a pack of three, Harvey, Graeme Killick (NST) and Ivan Babikov (World Cup Team) jostled up and down the rolling Whitehorse terrain for the final Canadian Championship crown.
When all was said and done, it was the most successful Canuck on the men’s team this year, Harvey, of CNEPH, coming out on top with a time of 2:20:20.1.
“Mission accomplished,” said Harvey. “I’m happy to be done now. I’m pretty tired – exhausted actually both physically and mentally. Four wins though – you can’t ask for much more.”
Killick went head to head with Harvey until the finish, but came a 0.71 seconds short of taking down the leader of the men’s team.
“I was happy to challenge Alex a bit in the final metres but his finish is world class, and something I will try to work towards for next year,” said Killick. “It was nice to finish the season in Whitehorse on one of the most beautiful venues we get to ski at in Canada. They always manage to put together a fun, and well-organized week.”
Babikov finished seven seconds off the pace in third (+7.73). Both Killick and Babikov had solid performances this spring, cranking season and career-best performances during the eight-race Ski Tour Canada.
Marie Corriveau, of the national junior team and CNEPH, won the junior women’s 20 k in 1:07:42.069. Quebec’s Antoine Blais won the junior men’s 30 k race in 1:32:39.716.
WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Dahria Beatty and Alex Harvey are on a golden run in Canada’s north. Beatty captured her second straight victory, while Harvey completed the golden hat trick on Wednesday in the 1.2-kilometre freestyle sprints at Canadian Ski Nationals in Whitehorse.
Mentally and physically exhausted following a long competitive season that culminated with the punishing eight-race Ski Tour Canada (STC), the 22-year-old Beatty has somehow discovered another gear to win back-to-back gold medals at the national cross-country skiing championships. She took down the nation’s best women on Wednesday on the two-lap sprint course she grew up on in her hometown.
“I felt so tired in the qualifier this morning and struggled to put everything forward, but I just kept getting better as the day went on,” said Beatty, who posted her first victory in Tuesday’s 10 k freestyle race, and also had a silver medal on the weekend. “I’m thrilled to have another victory at home. There were so many school kids out today cheering us on, and the support has been great here in Whitehorse.”
Beatty, part of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national U23 development teams, lined up against six of Canada’s top female sprinters in the head-to-head women’s final for two laps around the 600-metre course which features one large climb, tight corners and a downhill into the stadium that leads to the uphill finish.
A notoriously slow starter in skate sprints, Beatty was third in the opening lap behind Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (National Senior Development Team) and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers). The pack of six stuck together on the first climb, but it was the second climb where Beatty and Bouffard-Nesbitt made an attack on the group. Beatty jumped ahead in the final downhill and never looked back, skate sprinting to the finish line.
Bouffard-Nesbitt claimed the silver, while MacIsaac-Jones, who had a top-30 finish of her own at the STC, was third.
With the next generation of Canada’s elite cross-country skiers on full display on home snow over the last three weeks, Beatty and others are starting to make a claim they are ready to make the giant leap to the next level of racing. One of a group of young women cranking out personal-best performances at the STC, Beatty shocked the world to qualify for the World Cup classic sprint heats in Canmore, Alberta, where she went on to finish a career-best 15th.
“I think the whole Tour was amazing and definitely a good confidence booster for me,” said an exhausted Beatty. “It showed me that if I put my mind to finding that extra gear inside me, and putting it all out there, that I can produce good results.
“Emily [Nishikawa] is a very strong skier, but I think we have a group of girls now ready to join her at the World Cup level. At least we are certainly ready to try. I think it is time we have a real women’s team over in Europe which is definitely going to make us stronger together if we continue to push each other.”
Nishikawa, a 2014 Olympian who also hails from Whitehorse, captured the first two victories of the week at the premiere domestic racing festival. A distance racer by trade, Nishikawa was the lone woman representing Canada full time on the World Cup this year. At home in Wednesday’s sprint, she placed 13th.
It was a clash of the Canadian titans in the men’s sprint final with many of the top names in the sport rumbling on the skinny skis in the head-to-head heats around the 1.2-kilometre track.
Toronto’s Lenny Valjas was determined to end Harvey’s golden run in Whitehorse. The World Cup teammate met in the final, but in the end, it was Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., rattling off his third consecutive victory in as many races, winning by 0.19 seconds over Valjas.
“I knew Alex wanted to have good races every day, and was a bit nervous for the sprint, so that gave me motivation to put up the best day I could. I did everything I could to give Alex a run for his money today,” said Valjas. “I just put the pedal down the whole way around and was hoping to get some separation from him. I attacked that first hill, but he did get by me on the last hill. It gave him the lead and I couldn’t get by him again.”
It was Valjas’ second silver medal of the week behind the leader of the men’s national squad. He also finished second behind Harvey in the 15 k classic interval start.
“This has been a very serious week for us and everyone is skiing at a very high level. We are all teammates, but when the gun goes off we are all there fighting hard for the top of the podium,” added Valjas. “Whitehorse, in my opinion, is one of the best places in the country to have Nationals. When the weather is good it is hard to find a better place in Canada, and the volunteers have just put on an amazing event for us.”
Julien Locke, of Nelson, B.C., skied to the bronze medal in men’s sprint action.
Marie Corriveau, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., won the junior women’s sprint. Joey Foster, of Midland, Ont., was the top junior men’s sprinter on the day.
The junior and juvenile boys and girls will hit the start line for their sprint races Thursday. The final elite races are set for Saturday with the 30/50 k classic mass starts.
WHITEHORSE, Yukon — Dahria Beatty and Alex Harvey will etch their names in the history books as champions of the 10- and 15-kilometre freestyle individual starts at the 2016 Canadian Ski Nationals.
Beatty, who finished second to fellow Whitehorse resident Emily Nishikawa in Sunday’s 5 k classic, was determined to take down the veteran in Tuesday’s 10 k skate race. The 22-year-old Beatty hammered the pace in her three trips around the 3.3 k track to clock a winning time of 26:08.1 under ideal race conditions.
“I started second today so I went out hard and fed off the amazing cheering by so many people out here,” said Beatty, a member of the Alberta World Cup Academy and national U23 development team. “Emily was starting her first lap when I was completing my final lap so I was getting splits on her. Today was really about who could suffer the most. I just left everything out there on that last lap and suffered as much as I could and it paid off.”
Nishikawa, a senior national team member who was the lone Canadian woman to race the entire year on the World Cup, laid it all out there but couldn’t muster the fuel to overcome Beatty. Nishikawa, who won the first two women’s races on the weekend, took second, 6.2 seconds back.
“I put out another good fight, but Dahria was really strong so I’m really proud of her. It is really exciting and great to see Whitehorse athletes going one-two again so I couldn’t be happier today,” said Nishikawa, who took advantage of a day off on Monday to make a visit to her elementary school – Selkirk Elementary.
“It was super cool to get back to talk to the kids about skiing. I think it is inspiring for both of us and I thought it was really cool they are all in ski programs at school.”
Katherine Stewart-Jones, of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC), and originally from Gatineau, Quebec, skied to her second-straight bronze medal of the week, 44.1 seconds out of first.
Stewart-Jones held off her fellow U23 development team member Cendrine Browne (Pierre Harvey National Training Centre/NST) for the second-straight race as well, as Browne took fourth, 3.3 seconds behind her on Tuesday.
Alex Harvey, of the Canadian World Cup Team and Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Quebec, has been putting on a show for Canada’s next generation of elite skiers. Taking advantage of being in Canada this spring to compete at Nationals, Harvey skied to his second consecutive national title – this time in the men’s 15 k freestyle.
Harvey, who dominated Sunday’s classic interval start, was in tough company Tuesday while battling it out with two of his World Cup teammates – Ivan Babikov and Graeme Killick.
When the dust finally settled after the top men’s skiers on the country completed four laps around the 3.75 k loop, it was the 27-year-old Harvey finished on top with a winning time of 32:36.5.
“Of course we are all a little tired being at the end of the season, but I think it is really important for us National Team skiers to come to the Nationals when the schedule allows it,” said Harvey, who had two World Cup podium performances this year.
“I think giving the up and coming skiers the opportunity to race against us, shows them the speed and technique they need to be successful internationally. I remember being a junior and juvenile and wanting to compare myself in real life to the top Canadian guys.”
Babikov, of Canmore, Alberta, continued his successful spring with a silver medal, finishing 17.8 seconds behind Harvey. For Babikov, who had two top-10 World Cup stage results at the Ski Tour Canada (STC) earlier this month, it was the second podium of the week. The cagey veteran celebrated a gold medal in the team sprint with Jesse Cockney in the opening event of the national championships.
Killick, a senior development team member who also turned in career-best finishes at the STC, climbed onto the podium for the first time this week at Nationals. Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alberta, earned bronze, 57.6 second behind Harvey.
Freestyle sprints are set for Wednesday, followed by the 30/50 k classic mass starts on Saturday.
Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from Canadian Nationals. Please contact email@example.com to contribute to our coverage.
WHITEHORSE — Emily Nishikawa and Alex Harvey climbed onto the top of the women’s and men’s podiums in the classic interval start races on the second day of the Canadian Ski Nationals on Sunday.
Building on an opening day team sprint title with Kendra Murray, the 26-year-old leader of Canada’s women’s program did not disappoint the hometown crowd that lined the trails at the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club by capturing her second straight national title. A 2014 Olympian, Nishikawa clocked the top time of 14:47.7 in the women’s 5-kilometre race.
“It is so fun to be racing on my home course. It was another great race, and I’m super happy to win my second gold medal in my home town. The volunteers are doing an amazing job, and it is a real pleasure to race here,” said Nishikawa.
Fellow Whitehorse resident, Dahria Beatty is continuing one of the best months of her career. Beatty, who is also on the national development team with Nishikawa, recently had a career-best World Cup finish on the Ski Tour Canada where she put down a stellar 15th-place result in the classic-sprint race in Canmore. Beatty continued to prove she is one of the top women’s skiers in the country again on Sunday with a second place finish, 6.3 seconds behind Nishikawa.
“It was a lot of fun today and I just love this course,” said Beatty. “I love racing 5 k’s so I went out hard. It was awesome to do well, and to be on the podium with Emily.”
Katherine Stewart-Jones, of Chelsea, Que., had a firm grasp on the bronze, 18.8 seconds out of first and nearly a minute ahead of fourth place.
Meanwhile, Harvey smashed the field to win the men’s 10 k classic. Coming off a fifth-place overall finish on the Ski Tour Canada, the 27 year old demonstrated he is still in top shape, winning by nearly 90 seconds. Harvey, of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., skied into the winner’s circle with a time of 24:16.1.
“It was a great day today in Whitehorse. It is always nice to see the next generation in action,” said Harvey. “I raced on skate skis so I only double-poled. I didn’t get a chance to test the course before so it was a bit of a guess but it worked and I’m happy with the result!”
Toronto’s Lenny Valjas skied to the silver medal, 1:26.5 behind Harvey. Knute Johnsgaard grabbed the third medal for Whitehorse athletes on Sunday, taking bronze in the men’s race, 1:43.2 back, in the two-lap race.
Athletes will have a training day on Monday. Racing resumes on Tuesday. For complete details on Haywood Ski Nationals, please visit http://www.skinationals2016.com/race-schedule.
Note: FasterSkier is seeking photos from Canadian Nationals. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to contribute to our coverage.
Two veteran squads captured the first titles of the weeklong Canadian Ski Nationals on Saturday in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Canmore residents skiing out of Foothills Nordic Ski Club, Jesse Cockney and three-time Olympian Ivan Babikov won the men’s classic-ski team sprint. Hometown girls representing Whitehorse, Emily Nishikawa and Kendra Murray, stormed to the top of the women’s podium.
The team sprint races consist of each athlete skiing a 1.4-kilometre loop three times. Athletes tag their teammate between each leg.
Cockney and Babikov, who both posted top-10 finishes in the recent Ski Tour Canada, continued their hot streak to end the season. The Olympians got off to a slow start in the final round, but stormed back to take the gold medal in 18:08.44 minutes.
“It is awesome to win a gold for Foothills Nordic,” said Cockney. “It didn’t look good at the start. We started with grip wax and then switched to double poling. It was all Babs today. He set me up to make it happen.”
“I just wanted to keep fighting to the end,” said Babikov, who posted back-to-back top-10’s and a 14th place finish to end the Ski Tour Canada. “I kept Jesse in the fighting position, and he came through in the end.”
Just 0.7 seconds back, Yannick Lapierre and Patrick Stewart-Jones from Nakkertok claimed silver, while Lappe Nordic athletes from Thunder Bay, Ont., Andy Shields and Evan Palmer-Charrette skied to the bronze (+0.85).
Meanwhile, two hometown girls from Whitehorse – Nishikawa and Murray – teamed up to claim top spot in the women’s team sprint with a dominating win in 21:44.31.
“It was a super fun race and so awesome to race in front of a home crowd with Emily,” said Murray. “I came into today with the focus of using this as a good race prep for tomorrow. There were tons of people cheering, and it was so nice to have the locals celebrating with us at the finish.”
Nakkertok skiers Alex Slobodian and Claire Grall-Johnson finished second (+1:08.4), while Team Hardwood athletes, Madison Fraser and Isabella Howden, rounded out the women’s podium in third place (+1:19.16).
TOBLACH, Italy – A week after placing third in the Alpen Cup freestyle mass start in Arber, Germany, Julia Kern (Stratton Mountain School) led the U.S. team once again, with two podium finishes in the final weekend of racing March 11-13 at OPA Cup Finals in Toblach, Italy.
The races kicked off Friday, March 11, with a 2.5 k freestyle prologue for the senior women, two U.S. women finished in the top 25. Erika Flowers (Stratton Mountain School T2 Team) finished 22nd overall followed by Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in 25th. Becca Rorabaugh (Alaska Pacific University) was the next American, finishing 29th, followed by Heather Mooney in 31st. Switzerland’s Nadine Faehndrich edged Germany’s Elisabeth Schicho for first by just 1.6 seconds, followed by Italy’s Ilaria Debertolis who finished third.
Kern, 18, led the U20 women, finishing fifth in a competitive 2.5 k freestyle, just 9.8 seconds out of first, behind Germany’s Katharina Hennig. France’s Delphine Claudel was second and Italy’s Anna Comarella finished third.
The senior men skied a 3.3 k freestyle on Friday, where Logan Hanneman (APU) grabbed a spot in the top 10, finishing seventh overall. Hanneman was just 0.8 seconds from a top-five finish. Miles Havlick (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) was the next American, finishing 22nd, followed by Lex Treinen (APU) in 23rd, Akeo Maifeld-Carucci (Bridger Ski Foundation) 36th, Tyler Kornfield (APU) 42nd, and Kyle Bratrud (CXC Team) 49th. Switzerland’s Ueli Schnider edged Italy’s Roland Clara for the victory, just 0.3 seconds ahead, followed by France’s Clement Parisse who finished third.
Zak Ketterson (Northern Michigan University) led the U.S. U20 men, finishing 10th overall. Thomas O’Harra (APU Nordic Center) was the next American, finishing 24th, followed by Leo Hipp (NMU) in 37th. Czech Republic’s Michal Novak stole first by 5.5 seconds ahead of Germany’s Janosch Brugger, followed by Italy’s Mikael Abram who finished third.
Competition continued Saturday with a 10 k classic for the women. Rorabaugh finished 17th overall, followed by Guiney in 22nd, Flowers in 26th and Mooney in 32nd. Germany swept the podium as Elisabeth Schicho grabbed another victory, 4.7 seconds ahead of teammates Monique Siegel, and Julia Belger in third.
Kern grabbed a coveted spot on the podium in the U20 women’s 5 k classic. Germany’s Katharina Henning claimed another victory, followed by Italy’s Anna Comarella and Kern who finished just 17.2 seconds behind in third.
In the men’s 15 k classic, Hanneman led the U.S. men in 28th overall. Bratrud was the next American, finishing 38th, followed by Kornfield who finished 41st, Treinen 44th, Havlick 46th, Maifeld 47th and Saxton 48th. Switzerland’s Ueli dominated the 10k to claim another victory 1:41 minutes ahead of Italy’s Roland Clara and Czech Republic’s Ales Razym who finished third.
O’ Harra and Ketterson led the U20 men, grabbing a spot in the top 30 in a 10 k classic race. O’Harra finished 28th overall followed by Ketterson in 30th. Hipp was the next American, finishing 35th. France’s Martin Collet skied to a convincing first place finish 36.2 seconds ahead of Germany’s Janosch Brugger and France’s Jules Lapierre who was third.
The weekend concluded with a 10 k freestyle pursuit for the women on Sunday. Rorabaugh led the U.S. senior women, grabbing a spot in the top 20, finishing 16th overall. Guiney was the next American, finishing 22nd, followed by Flowers in 28th, and Mooney 32nd. Switzerland’s Faehndrich grabbed the victory 8.7 seconds over Italy’s Debertolis and Slovania’s Lea Einfalt.
Kern grabbed another podium in the U20 women’s 10 k pursuit. Kern finished second overall, just 7.7 seconds behind Switzerland’s Lydia Hiernickel. Germany’s Henning finished third.
Treinen led the U.S. men in a 15 k freestyle pursuit, finishing 18th overall. Havlick was the next American, finishing 29th, followed by Maifeld-Carucci in 42nd, Kornfield 43rd, Hanneman 46th, Saxton 50th, and Bratrud 62nd. Germany’s Florian Notz edged Italy’s Enrico Nizzi for first by 2.2 seconds, followed by Austria’s Johannes Kattnig who finished third.
Ketterson grabbed another top 10 in a U20 men’s 15 k freestyle pursuit race, finishing ninth overall. O’Harra finished 23rd, followed by Hipp in 31st. Czech Republic’s Michal Novak grabbed first just 1.2 seconds ahead of France’s Jules Lapierre and Switzerland’s Dajan Danuser who finished third.
By Gerry Furseth
Julien Locke of the Black Jack Ski Team overpowered a tactical freestyle sprint final to win the second NorAm of his career on Friday at the Nakkertok South trails near Ottawa on the opening day of Eastern Canadian Championships.
Despite a remarkably low snow year and freezing rain in the preceding week, the organizing committee and volunteers were able to host what is expected to be the largest International Ski Federation (FIS) points event ever held in North America. With 783 athletes registered, it is likely that this will top the current record holder, last year’s NorAm Easterns.
This is the last weekend for Ski Tour Canada (STC) selections (except for the NorAm overall leaders) and the pressure is on for the top athletes.
“Fast conditions at Nakkertok today,” Locke wrote in an email, “with sugary climbs and icy downhills.”
All six male finalists finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in the 1.5 k sprint. Locke won in 3:12.40 after qualifying fifth in 3:09.87. Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore) placed second, 0.22 seconds back. Jess Cockney, of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and national senior development team, took third in his first non-European race this season, just nine-hundredths of a second behind Boehmler-Dandurand.
According to Locke, Knute Johnsgaard, another AWCA and U23+ development skier also coming off World Cups in Europe, “pushed the pace a bit on the first climb but then it all came back together before the second time up,” Locke wrote.
ILocke moved up in the field over the second half of the course and followed Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) on the final descent, then carried his momentum across the line to take the win.
“There was a lot on the line with Canada Ski Tour selections and a broken pole at the top of the last climb ruined any chance I had of a podium finish,” Stewart-Jones wrote on Facebook on Friday after placing sixth, 1.45 seconds behind Locke.
Johnsgaard finished fourth, 0.99 seconds back from the win. “I feel I was the strongest in the field but was tripped up on the last hill and was sprawled out on my stomach as everyone skied by,” wrote Johnsgaard, the top qualifier in 3:07.43. He went on to win the first quarterfinal then place second to Locke in their semifinal.
Cockney improved as the day progressed after qualifying in 12th, 6.12 seconds off Johnsgaard’s qualifying pace.
“It’s been really frustrating to be this slow [in qualifying] compared to where I have been the last few years,” Cockney wrote in an email. “I found some better speed for the heats and skied the course well.”
He won both his quarterfinal and semifinal, ahead of the second-fastest qualifier Simon Lapointe (Quebec Ski Team) and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay), who placed second respectively in each heat.
In the final, Shields ended up fifth, just 0.23 seconds ahead of Stewart-Jones.
The next stop for Locke is U23 World Championships in Romania at the end of this month.
“Today was my last sprint before departing for Europe (Feb. 12) and was great preparation for U23s,” Locke wrote. “It was great to have Knute, Andy and Jess back racing after their time on the World Cup.”
In the women’s 1.4 k freestyle sprint, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) won the qualifier in 3:19.18 before dominating each one of her heats, including an action-packed final, which she won in 3:17.29.
Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second, 3.36 seconds behind, after repeatedly trading places with Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (AWCA/NDST), who took third, 3.97 seconds back. Jackson took the lead at the start of the second lap.
“Maya and I came into the hill close together and were holding pace until the hill pitched up and we switched to offset and she started to pull ahead,” Jackson wrote in an email. “I was a bit frantic to get on her tail, missing a couple pole plants trying to accelerate, then face planted and completely lost contact and any chance of winning.”
Bouffard-Nesbitt was happy with her podium after qualifying fourth, 7.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.
“I was happy with how I raced tactically,” she wrote. “I was right where I wanted to be off the start and held my position in second until halfway through the course where Jenn Jackson went flying by.
“On the last uphill Jenn tripped herself up and I passed her to take second, but after the last downhill into the finish she flew by me again and she carried more speed than me going into the last 100m,” Bouffard-Nesbitt added. “[Jackson] skied the final well today and she earned that second place.”
Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) and Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay) were out of contention early, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I got tangled up 200m out of the start in the final with Alannah Maclean and we both fell,” Beatty wrote in an email. “By the time we were able to untangle ourselves we were 10+ seconds back from the other ladies.”
The second-fastest qualifier, 1.43 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones, Beatty had won her quarterfinal and placed second to Jackson in their semifinal. In the final, Beatty was able to catch Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/NDST), but Browne edged her by 0.35 seconds for fourth, 7.4 seconds behind MacIsaac-Jones.
In an email, Browne described having low energy after qualifying in sixth, winning her quarterfinal then advancing in fourth as a lucky loser out of her semifinal, behind MacIsaac-Jones, Bouffard-Nesbitt and Maclean, respectively.
“My only tactic was to stay in contact with the group in the A final,” Browne wrote. “I didn’t manage to do that, but I’m still happy with my 4th place, which I wasn’t expecting with the day I was having.”
After the sprints, 434 younger racers born in 1998 or later opened their weekend with a prologue time trial.
After unremitting rain on Wednesday in Stowe, Vt., the U.S. SuperTour races scheduled to take place this weekend, Feb. 6-7, at the Trapp Family Lodge trails have been moved to the 2.5-kilometer race loop at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center.
“The Stowe Nordic organizers, as well as many of the Stowe volunteers will also be there to help run the races. The C’bury courses are in actually really great shape, considering all the rain we got in NE [Wednesday]!” Amie Smith, high-performance director of the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), wrote in an email on Thursday.
Racing kicks off Saturday with a women’s 5 k freestyle individual start and a men’s 10 k freestyle individual start.
Sunday marks the second day of racing with a women’s 10 k classic individual start and a men’s 10 k classic individual start.
Cross Country Canada named its U23/Junior World Championships and Junior B-Tour teams earlier this week, despite the final day of trials being canceled due to extremely low temperatures on Sunday (with a high around -25 degrees Celsius) in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
According to a press release, the following athletes have been selected to this year’s Junior and U23 World Championship Teams competing in Rasnov, Romania, from Feb. 22–28. Francois Pepin of the Pierre Harvey Training Centre (CNEPH) will head up the group as team leader.
Of note, none of the U23-eligible National Senior Development Team members — Cendrine Browne, Dahria Beatty and Katherine Stewart-Jones — are on the list. With the Ski Tour Canada World Cups starting the week after U23 World Championships, they likely opted to focus on those races instead, and are currently on the World Cup circuit (and racing this weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic).
Further below is the list for Canada’s Junior B-Tour Team, which will compete at German National Championships in Oberhof as well as OPA Cup races in Campra, Switzerland, from Jan. 24–Feb. 8, with team leader Chris Manhard, of the Callaghan Valley Training Centre.
U23 World Championships
Junior World Championships
Junior B-Tour Team
By Gerry Furseth
The Lappe NorAm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, continued Friday with classic individual starts, and the resulting podiums had a familiar look.
Kevin Sandau of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) won the 15-kilometre men’s race in 42:10.67, extending his unbeaten streak in NorAm distance races to four wins in as many races this season. Scott Hill of the Thunder Bay National Development Centre (NDC) placed second, 31.64 seconds back, followed by Para Nordic World Cup Team member Brian McKeever (+1:00.59).
The weather was warmer than Thursday: -11 degrees Celsius (12 Fahrenheit) when the men started, and fresh snow overnight made waxing easier.
“[I’m] always a bit apprehensive racing in Lappe as the trails are confusing and a bit hard to memorize,” Sandau wrote in an email. “But after racing here over the past decade I feel like I’m finally starting to familiarize myself with the courses.”
Sandau’s race plan was to start hard. “The course descends pretty much right at the start and the first climbing section is just under 2km in, so that’s a lot of distance I didn’t want to lose time on,” he wrote. “Our support team killed it with the skis today and I could climb up the hills in the track pretty effortlessly.”
Despite having a lead early, Sandau pushed the pace to the end. “Feeling was really good today, and I was seeing stars at the top of climbs,” he wrote.
Hill, 21, achieved his second NorAm podium since placing second in a skiathlon a year ago in Duntroon, Ont. Friday’s second place puts him in contention for a spot on Canada’s U23 World Championships team, which will be racing next month in Romania.
McKeever seems to be on a lighter racing schedule this season. After the race, McKeever, 36, tweeted, “Hoo boy…racing always hurts, but especially when you’re old! Fun day on the trails, though. Servicemen did a great job!”
In the women’s 10 k classic on Friday, the podium was identical to Thursday’s sprint. Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won in 33:06.45, Jenn Jackson (NDC TBay) was second, 15.12 seconds behind, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) completed the podium, 30.8 seconds back in third.
By the time the women raced, 41 men had done three laps and 82 juniors had done two laps, and the course had changed.
“With fresh snow over night the track did not set up at all and all the big climbs were herringbone by the time the women started,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Today was a mental toughness day for the women
“My strategy was to go out hard and try and hold my pace,” she added. “I definitely faded in the second lap, but I had caught Sophie in the first lap, so we were able to work together a bit in the second lap. It’s always nice to have company when you’re hurting.”
Jackson felt her race went well, writing in an email, “It wasn’t a knock-out performance, but I had some good dig in the last 3k.”
Jackson went with a conservative start.
“Similar to Houghton, the course started off with a long double pole descent,” Jackson explained. “In that race I went hard off the line and sort of blew my wheels off, so today the goal was to ski the first third comfortably, get into a race effort for the middle part, then go for broke and empty the tank.
“The track broke up badly on most of the climbs and it was soft beside the tracks for double pole, so I had to adjust my technique from a hard kick-glide and lots of double pole to more shuffling and light feet to herringbone the climbs.”
The skiathlon is scheduled for Sunday, but with a predicted high of -18 degrees Celsius; schedule or format changes may be necessary.
By Gerry Furseth
The NorAm series resumed with the U23/Junior World Championships trials and first domestic races of 2016 at Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with freestyle sprints on Thursday. After a delay to wait for more comfortable temperatures, Andrea Dupont of Rocky Mountain Racers (RMR) won the 1.3-kilometre qualifier in 2:59.79 on her way to winning the A-final in 3:00.69. Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) finished second overall, 0.22 seconds back, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) took third (+0.85).
“I am glad the organizing committee had the forethought to delay the start of the qualifier,” Dupont wrote in an email. “Because of that the day went off without a hitch.”
According to Cross Country Canada, the marked Dupont’s 36th NorAm sprint.
“The highlight of my day was seeing first hand my team mate, Ember [Large], literally crush the climb in the quarter final,” Dupont wrote. “It made me do a double take and made me think about how I was skiing the climb. There are always things to learn:)” Large would go on to finish fourth after qualifying fifth.
Jackson, racing in her first season as a senior, earned her ticket to U23 World Championships in Romania in February with a tactical final.
“Andrea went out fast so I tucked into second through the winding descent then at Pylons (the one big climb) was able to move up alongside [and] then ahead of her by midway up the climb,” she wrote.
Large moved to the front by the top of the climb.
“I moved in behind [Large] as the group bunched back up before we came back into the stadium,” Jackson explained. “I carried good speed into the finishing straight but Andrea is a great glider and took advantage of the fast finish to get ahead of me at the line.”
Dupont viewed the tactics differently, writing “There weren’t a ton of tactics at play as there was little draft on the long winding downhill and then the long climb could fit 3 skiers wide.”
The only woman who qualified in the top seven not in the A-final was Alannah Maclean (NDC Thunder Bay), who won the B final after apparently falling in her semifinal.
The men raced on the same course, although the temperature rose from -17 to -11 degrees Celsius by the time the men reached the final. Julien Locke (Black Jack) collected his first NorAm win in style, separating from the field to finish in 2:25.87, 2.94 seconds ahead of Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA). Angus Foster (NDC TBay) was third, 3.79 seconds behind, for his first senior NorAm podium.
“The goal was to qualify for U23’s and finish at the top of the podium,” Locke wrote. “The shape is good right now, the skis were fast and everything came together quite nicely.”
Locke raced at U.S. nationals in Houghton, Michigan, earlier in the month as preparation, finishing third in the freestyle sprint.
In Thunder Bay, he explained he approached the heats tactically.
“I kept the pace under control in the 1/4 and semi, both times moving up right at the end,” Locke wrote. “The final started off quite slowly so I bided my time and worked my way up through the corners on the descent. I hit the final climb at the front and pushed the pace from about halfway up.”
Locke was one of several athletes who complimented the race organization. “While the course was not very difficult, Lappe did a great job making a fun course with a twisty working downhill before the final climb and finishing straight,” he wrote.
Foster won the qualifier by a whopping 4.93 seconds in 2:27.11. “By the cheers I was getting I knew I was having a good one,” Foster wrote, “and after that I just tried to keep things going through the heats.”
“Evan [Palmer-Charrette] started fast off the line [in the final] and had a little gap going into the downhill, with Julien and I following,” Foster explained. “[Locke] had a good move over the top and Patrick passed me to go with him. I managed to hang on and had a good finish to push it in for 3rd.”
In his first NorAm races since starting the season on the World Cup in Europe, Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) was feeling better than at U.S. nationals, but not entirely happy with his form.
“In retrospect I wish I had skied more tactically and saved more punch for the finish,” he wrote of his decision to race from the front in the quarterfinal and semifinal. Somppi won the B-final with a more tactical approach to place seventh overall.
Kevin Sandau (AWCA) probably had the most unusual day to end up 20th.
“My binding snapped off my ski just as I was entering the finishing lanes in the qualifier,” Sandau explained. He broke a pole as well, so he “had to scooch leg with one pole/one ski like a jackrabbit past the finishing line. Somehow I still managed to qualify so a bit of a silver lining there.”
Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/NJST) and Joey Foster (CNEPH/NJST) won the junior finals to qualify for Junior World Championships in Romania.
By Gerry Furseth
Emily Nishikawa collected the first two OPA Cup podiums of her career last weekend, Jan. 9-10, to lead the Canadians at the Planica OPA Cup in Slovenia. World Cup skiers Nishikawa, Graeme Killick, Jess Cockney and Lenny Valjas joined up with Canada’s B-Tour group at the European equivalent of a NorAm event. The three-race weekend was a major focus of the U25 B-Tour.
Nishikawa, who was fourth in Friday’s sprint, took bronze in both Saturday’s 10-kilometre classic and Sunday’s 10 k freestyle.
“I was happy with my race today,” Nishikawa, of Canada’s senior national development team, wrote after Saturday’s race. “It wasn’t my very best performance, but I fought hard.”
“Overall I think the weekend went really well,” she added on Sunday. “I’m looking forward to racing there again next weekend in the World Cup.”
Killick, also on the NST development team, joined Nishikawa on the podium Saturday, taking third place in the men’s 14 k classic before finishing fifth in Sunday’s 14 km freestyle.
“I felt like my form is coming back after the sickness,” Killick wrote. “I haven’t raced in a while so it was good to get one going today.”
Despite the less-than-ideal weather, Killick was happy with the day. “Our team did a great job with the skis today, I was able to ski smooth through the whole course.”
The OPA Cup, also known as the Alpen Cup, offers a unique Continental Cup (COC) racing experience outside North America. The 28 senior women in Sunday’s race represented 12 countries. At least 10 World Cup regulars of each gender raced. Combining all age groups, 165 men and 79 women raced. In comparison, next week’s NorAm in Thunder Bay has 250 athletes registered, but will likely have about three countries represented and only one athlete who has raced a World Cup this season.
Heidi Widmer, racing for Switzerland this season after starting her career in Canada, described the differences in an email. “The coaches and athletes drift between COC and World Cup much more frequently because it makes sense logistically. It provides much more frequent and higher caliber racing and racing in more competitive fields fuels more competition and improvement.”
More quotes from the weekend after the results summary.
Women’s 10 k classic
1 Victoria Carl, GER, 30:04.9
2 Julia Belger, GER, +6.6 seconds
3 Emily Nishikawa, CAN, +30.9
17 Dahria Beatty, CAN, +2:21.8
19 Maya Macisaac-Jones, CAN, +2:58.7
24 Cendrine Browne, CAN, +3:23.2
28 Katherine Stewart-Jones, CAN, +4:02.3
Men’s 14 k classic
1 Alexis Jeannarod, FRA, 35:52.1
2 Richard Jouve, FRA, +2.1 seconds
3 Graeme Killick, CAN, +6.9
24 Knute Johnsgaard, CAN, +1:36.4
35 Jess Cockney, CAN, +1:54.8
71 Andy Shields, CAN, +3:59.1
Women’s 10 k freestyle
1 Giulia Sturz, ITA, 25:27.2
2 Caterina Ganz, ITA, +25.2
3 Emily Nishikawa, CAN, +26.3
9 Cendrine Browne, CAN, +58.0
16 Dahria Beatty, CAN, +1:29.2
22 Katherine Stewart-Jones, CAN, +2:00.5
25 Maya Macisaac-Jones, CAN, +2:47.0
Men’s 14 k freestyle
1 Clement Parisse, FRA, 31:20.9
2 Valentin Chauvin, FRA, +9.5 seconds
3 Paolo Fanton, ITA, +28.0
5 Graeme Killick, CAN, +50.8
25 Knute Johnsgaard, CAN, +1:37.4
55 Andy Shields, CAN, +2:42.8
On the Planica courses, snow and weather:
“It was raining during our race, but the course held up really well especially given the number of racers on such a short course (2km loops).
“[On the sprint course,] there is a fast downhill with a corner right off the start.”
– Nishikawa, who placed fourth, third and third again
“It’s a brand new [sprint] course in Planica, it’s very tough but fair.”
– Lenny Valjas, Canadian World Cup Team member
“The course held up extremely well today, I was very impressed! I had good kick the entire way through and in exchange sacrificed some glide.
“I am really looking forward to the 10k skate tomorrow on the same course. It is a very hard course and with the success I’ve had in skate races in Canada this season, I am really looking forward to seeing what sort of performance I can put forward here.”
– Dahria Beatty (U23 Development Team)
“The conditions changed during our race because it was raining so … my wax wasn’t working too well.”
– Cendrine Browne (U23 Development Team)
“I think the snow changed a lot from when I tested to the race. The first lap I was able to stride most of it but after that I had a lot of trouble and ended up slipping a lot.
“The course is also a lot of fun. There are a lot of fun twisty downhills and the uphills are great for striding!”
– Katherine Stewart-Jones (U23 Development Team)
“We raced on a <2km loop today so I was able to get a sweet ride off a French guy for the first two laps. It felt really easy to follow him but as soon as I got to the top of one of the hills I was suddenly totally fried.
“We had rain last night and it’s raining now so it’s interesting. We had really good skis, the techs did a superb job with the klister.”
– Andy Shields (Thunder Bay NDC)
“The short 2k loop meant that a lot of terrain was compacted into a little course. A great course nonetheless and really happy with my skis today.”
“I was really looking forward to the skiathlon race this weekend but because of lack of snow it was switched to an individual skate.”
– Knute Johnsgaard (U23+ Development Team)
On racing in Europe:
“Racing here in Europe is way harder than in Canada and I just have to get used to it. I was surprised by how the girls were going so fast in my quarter final.
“Two minute sprints are not my strength…. I guess I’m also not used to them because in Canada they are much longer.”
“It was a great learning experience. Today I got to ski with Emily for a bit. It was fun to try and hold on and to experience the difference in speed.
“The biggest difference is that in a NorAm there are rarely ever 30 women entered in a race so you always have a chance at the heats whether you have a good qualifier or not.
“The highlight of the trip has been being able to watch the Tour De Ski live on TV.”
– Stewart-Jones on enjoying the differences, like Eurosport being part of the cable package at every hotel
“Only missing the semis by 0.5 seconds and sitting in the lucky loser position for a while gave me the confidence that I can fight for those top spots here if I have a really good day.”
“I am having a lot of fun, learning until my brain hurts everyday but missing my family a lot at low points too.”
– Widmer, who moved in Switzerland to join her new team
“Going into the race I knew it was a tough field for an OPA.”
– Shields, on the names on the start list
On the races:
“My race today was definitely not my strongest performance. It was a five lap race. Lap one felt good but I got a bad cramp when I started climbing on the second lap and I was able to refocus well after that. I struggled a lot on the 3 middle laps fading on the top section of each lap but was able to refocus better on the final lap. Overall it was felt like a sub par performance but there were lots of good learning points and I am very happy to have the opportunity to be racing in such a competitive field.
“Even though the result was 1 better today I was happier with how I skied yesterday.
“I fell on the first lap and got tangled with another skier on the second lap and fell again in the same place. Then part way through the race my back seized. I was lucky to have Cendrine to ski with for the last two laps to motivate me to keep moving. It was great to see Emily and Cendrine both have good races.”
– Beatty on the distance races
“I felt good but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough kick. I don’t think I chose the right pair of skis for today’s conditions.
“I am so happy about today’s race. I raced really well technically and was feeling very powerful and full of energy. Being at 25 seconds off the podium really shows me that I am in good shape and that everything is possible.”
– Browne, happier on Sunday after two tough days
“I felt a lot better than yesterday. I was able to ski efficiently and keep my technique together. It was a good hard effort and definitely a step in the right direction.”
“Unfortunately you can’t always be at your best. I’m staying positive and hoping the shape will come together.”
– Stewart-Jones, also happiest on Sunday
“[The] prologue was brutal. My legs were super blown and I was not able to break through the feeling. Really disappointed and will readjust and go forward to improve for the World Cup next week!
“My race was pretty good for the first couple laps then nothing left to offer.”
– Widmer on the sprint and the skate respectively
HOUGHTON, Mich.– Eric Packer of Alaska Pacific University edged teammate Reese Hanneman to take his first national title. Didrick Fjeld Elset of Michigan Tech University finished just ahead of Tyler Kornfield (APU) to break up a near podium sweep by APU. The podium placings were determined down the homestretch of a tight final as the top four skiers finished within 1.05 seconds.
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) took fifth and recent MTU graduate Haakon Hjelstuenm, now skiing for Lyn Ski, rounded out the final in sixth.
HOUGHTON, Mich.–Kaitlynn Miller of Craftsbury Green Racing Project won her first national title in the classic sprints over Anne Hart (SMST2) and Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation). Miller cruised through the heats, winning both her quarterfinal and semifinal before going on to a convincing overall win by 1.24 seconds over Hart. It was the second sprint podium of the week for both Hart and Bender, as Bender took the freestyle sprint title and Hart was second on Monday. Today’s win tops a week of personal best placings at a national championship by Miller.
Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury GRP) just missed her fourth podium of the week, claiming fourth place. Becca Rorabaugh (APU) was fifth followed by Natalia Naryskina (CXC) in sixth.
Emily Nishikawa (AWCA/NDST) led the way for Canada to start the OPA Cup weekend in Planica, Slovenia, finishing fourth in the freestyle sprint on Friday. Slovenian World Cup skier Vesna Fabjan won both the qualifier and the final.
Fabjan, who earned the individual-sprint bronze at the 2014 Olympics was recently 10th in Stage 1 of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Fabjan won in 2:43.37 on Friday, 0.43 seconds ahead of Italy’s Gaia Vuerich and 1.42 seconds ahead of Greta Laurent, another Italian World Cup regular. Nishikawa finished 6.22 seconds back from the win.
“I was happy with my racing today,” Nishikawa wrote in an email. “I wasn’t too sure what to expect as I haven’t done many sprints this year.”
Nishikawa was a lucky loser twice on the new course, which starts with a fast descent.
“I would be off the back in the first part of the course, and make my way up in the climbing sections,” she explained.
Nishikawa is looking forward to Saturday’s classic distance race, the discipline which is where most of her past successes have come.
Canadian-born but racing for Switzerland this season, Heidi Widmer qualified in 16th, 9.93 seconds behind Fabjan’s top qualifying time of 2:45.50, followed by Dahria Beatty (AWCA/NDST) in 17th (+9.97), and Nishikawa in 18th (+10.91). Maya Macisaac-Jones was 28th, Cendrine Browne 30th, and Katherine Stewart-Jones 31st.
In an email, Stewart-Jones wrote that she is looking forward to the classic race after a shortage of classic striding on the NorAm circuit.
“The course is also a lot of fun,” Stewart-Jones wrote. “There are a lot of fun twisty downhills and the uphills are great for striding!”
In the men’s sprint, France’s Baptiste Gros won in 2:22.32, 1.67 seconds ahead of Russia’s Gleb Retivykh. The second of four French skiers in the final, Jay Renaud completed the podium in third.
The main goal for Canadian World Cup skier Lenny Valjas was learning the new course before next weekend’s World Cup at the same venue.
“It’s a brand new course in Planica,” he wrote. “It’s very tough but fair.”
Valjas ended the day in 10th, after finishing fifth in his semifinal, 0.34 seconds away from a lucky loser spot.
“I took a few days off after Oberstdorf [Stage 4 of the Tour de Ski] so I felt a little flat this morning trying to go fast,” he explained. “By the heats I started to feel better but just missed advancing to final by a small margin.”
Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/NDST) qualified 16th, 5.4 seconds behind Gros and 0.58 seconds ahead of Valjas in 19th. Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) was 37th (+8.37) and Jess Cockney (AWCA/NDST) was 45th (+9.53).
Johnsgaard and Shields are on Canada’s B-tour to learn about racing in Europe.
“It was only my second time ever skiing in the heats in Europe and I definitely skied like a rookie,” Johnsgaard wrote. “I don’t have great speed but I can push hard through the whole course.”
Johnsgaard got behind at the start of his quarterfinal, and learned from the experience.
“If I sneak into the heats in the world cup next week, I’ll be more patient and hopefully make one successful move instead of 3 wasted efforts,” he wrote.
Johnsgaard had been looking forward to the skiathlon, but the snow conditions forced a format change to individual start skate.
Shields was also learning by experience. “I had an interesting dilemma with my race ski choice,” he wrote. “I had a pair that were fast but handled very poorly on the icy-ish manmade snow, and I had another that were slightly slower but handled really well. I went with the skis that handled well, but I should have tested some of my teammate’s skis to see if I could get the best of both.”
All the athletes are looking ahead to World Cup races on these courses the following weekend. “It’s an amazing venue,” Valjas wrote, “and should be fun next weekend.”
— Gerry Furseth
HOUGHTON, Mich.–With the completion of the third day of racing at U.S. nationals on the Michigan Tech trails, the World Under-23 rankings are out and provided below.
HOUGHTON, Mich.–The third day of racing at U.S. nationals wrapped up on Thursday with the 5/10/20/30 kilometer freestyle mass start races. Current rankings for the World Junior and Under-18 trips are provided in PDF documents below.
The top male and female athletes on the U18 list are the qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games.
Stay tuned for the Under 23 rankings.