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Wild Rumpus Sports

June 9 Roundup: Ward Tapped as Biathlon Canada HP Director; John Bower Passes

Biathlon Canada has a new high-performance director: women’s national-team coach Roddy Ward. The announcement was made on Biathlon Canada’s website, following the departure of Eric de Nys earlier this spring.

“We are delighted to have Roddy in the role of High-Performance Director,” Biathlon Canada General Manager Andy Holmwood said, according to the press release. “He brings a strong understanding of biathlon at the international level combined with unique insight to the sport. We are confident both our development and high-performance programs will progress under his leadership.”

A Canmore native, Ward previously competed in biathlon and earned a master’s in education with an emphasis on coaching from the University of Victoria. He has spent “the past several seasons” as a Biathlon Canada national-team coach and will continue to coach the women’s team “in a dual role through the 2018 Olympics”, according to the press release.


John Bower, an Olympic nordic-combined skier and U.S. Ski Team nordic director, passed away earlier this week. (Photo: USSA)

– On Tuesday, June 6, former nordic-combined athlete and U.S. Ski Team nordic director John Bower passed away at the age of 76 in Park City, Utah. Bower was an Olympian and the first American to win the prestigious nordic-combined King’s Cup. According to a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) press release, Bower was instrumental in the development of the Utah Olympic Park and its Olympic legacy facilities in Park City.

Growing up in Auburn, Maine, he became the first skier to win four interscholastic state titles in 1959 at Edward Little High School. In 1961, Bower became the first Middlebury College skier to win an NCAA nordic-combined title and totaled four national titles in his career. He competed at two Olympics in 1964 and 1968, placing 13th and 15th for the best finishes by an American nordic combined skier at the time.

“His milestone accomplishment came at Norway’s Holmenkollen Ski Festival in 1968 where he became the first American to win the prestigious King’s Cup,” the press release explained. “His win at Holmenkollen set the standard for other Americans who followed him including Kerry Lynch (1983), Todd Lodwick (1998), Bill Demong (2009) and Bryan Fletcher (2012). The victory earned him an audience with the king of Norway in Oslo, as well as an invitation to a White House dinner in the king’s honor later that year.”

Bower later coached at Middlebury from 1968 to 1975 and was the U.S. Ski Team (USST) nordic director from 1975 to 1980 — “a highly successful period for the American team” — before serving as athletic director at Principia College in western Illinois. He returned to his post as USST nordic director from 1988-1990.

“John Bower is a great example of a highly accomplished skier who dedicated his entire life to helping other athletes,” USSA President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in the press release. “In particular, his work in developing the Utah Olympic Park leading up to the 2002 Olympics was a key part of the legacy that is still positively impacting athletes today.”

Bower was the first director of Utah Winter Sports Park (now the Utah Olympic Park), who oversaw the development of venues and programs from 1990 to 1999 in the leadup to the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. He was named to the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame in 1969 and is one of Maine’s most recognized sport stars and a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame and Lewiston Auburn Sports Hall of Fame. Middlebury selected Bower to its Hall of Fame in 2014, and he is an honorary member of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation board.


– Also on Tuesday, Norway’s Therese Johaug attended a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing regarding an appeal by the International Ski Federation (FIS) opposing her 13-month ban. The CAS ruling, which could still be several months away, will determine whether Johaug will be able to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics. FIS is aiming to extend her ban as it claims the 13-month suspension, handed down by the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports’ (NIF) Adjudication Committee, was too lenient, InsidetheGames reported.

FIS appears to be aiming for a 16-20 month suspension, which would cause her to miss the upcoming Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Meanwhile, Johaug is still training as usual, with a month-long, extremely high (3,000 meters, nearly 10,000 feet) altitude camp planned in Aspen, Colo., sometime before October, according to NRK.

Her coach Pål Gunnar Mikkelsplass claimed her spring and summer tests show she’s in better shape than ever.

“I have had good test results,” Johaug told NRK after Tuesday’s hearing, according to a loose translation. “I have had continuity in training and can focus on just myself. It’s not that I’m necessarily skiing faster, but at least it’s good for me to see that after all I’ve been through, it hasn’t made me a worse skier.”



– The British Nordic team recently named four skiers to its elite cross-country team for the 2017/2018 World Cup season. The four athletes, Andrew Musgrave, Andrew Young, Callum Smith, and Annika Taylor, all met team criteria for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Last season, Musgrave placed fourth in the World Championships 50-kilometer freestyle mass start and had the second-fastest time of day in the season-ending 15 k freestyle pursuit at World Cup Finals. In 2015/2016, Young placed third in a World Cup sprint in Toblach, Italy. The lone woman on the team, Taylor is originally from California.

Great Britain sent four athletes to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where it posted results outside the top 10. But with Norwegians Hans Kristian Stadheim and Jostein Vinjerui onboard as specialist coaches, the team is optimistic about its future.

“We are coming into a very exciting time for British Nordic,” Britain’s head coach Roy Young told InsidetheGames. “We have athletes who are capable of podium finishes at world-class level, and it is looking like we will take at least four athletes to Pyeongchang 2018 to represent Team GB.”


– FIS approved a Women’s Nordic Combined Continental Cup during its annual meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia. The first race will be hosted by Otepää, Estonia, in January 2018. There will be three races total, with the last race being shared with the men in Nizhny Tagil, Russia. There is currently no senior Nordic Combined World Cup for women, nor is it an Olympic discipline. There will be a test for a Junior World Championships this season, while a Youth Cup took place last year. USSA also announced it will host an inaugural Women’s Nordic Combined National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Oct. 7. USA Nordic Executive Director Billy Demong explained that the addition of women’s events both nationally and internationally has been one of USA Nordic’s goals.

“We are committed to keeping up and, to the best of our resources, staying ahead of the world as this event makes its debut at the senior level,” he told InsidetheGames. “This is an opportunity that we are fully behind.”


Visma Ski Classics Climb leader “lumberjack” bib

– For its eighth season, the Visma Ski Classics is introducing a new climbing competition for pro competitors and will reward its leaders with a red-and-black checkered lumberjack bib. Pro Team racers can collect points at eight different checkpoints (at the top of hills), according to a Ski Classics press release, and the highest-scoring male and female athlete at the end of the season will be crowned “Climb champion” and collect prize money at the final gala in Levi, Finland. The leaders of the legends standings, Anders Auckland and Seraina Boner will start the season wearing these brand-new bibs.

— Alex Kochon and Ian Tovell

May 26 Roundup: CAS Date for Johaug, Chevalier Hit by Car, Russian Athletes May Miss Paralympics

– Therese Johaug has a date for her hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A schedule published by CAS shows that Johaug is on the docket for June 6th. The Norwegian Olympic Committee suspended the Norwegian cross-country ski star for 13 months for testing positive for the steroid clostebol; the International Ski Federation (FIS) is appealing that decision, seeking a longer ban. – French biathlete Anais Chevalier, the bronze medalist in the World Championships sprint this past season, was hit by a car while training and has broken her collarbone. The 24-year-old will take about a month away from regular training to recover. “I’m angry, motorists, we are naked when we are cycling!!” she wrote on her Facebook page, according to a translation. “Thanks for not playing with our lives.” – The Visma Ski Classics long-distance race series has released its 2017-2018 competition schedule. Two of last year’s events have been…

May 18 Roundup: Britain Hires Norwegians, Northug News, Weng Runs for a Cause

-The British Nordic Team has announced the appointment of two Norwegian coaches, Hans Kristian Stadheim and Jostein Vinjerui. Stadheim joins the team as the distance coach. He was previously with marathon specialist Team Leaseplan in Norway, and before that coached the two-time Norwegian relay champions, Lyn Ski. “I want to help Great Britain to become a nation to be reckoned with in Cross Country – not only in the build up to Pyeongchang 2018, but also as we work towards Beijing 2022,” Stadheim said, according to Inside The Games. Vinjerui will be the sprint performance coach. He previously coached the Norwegian Ski Federation’s regional team, and already was working with a British athlete, Andrew Young. Vinjerui was the coach for the Icelandic national team for two seasons as well. “I am delighted to work with Hans Kristian to help develop the team towards PyeongChang and beyond, and also look to help them win…

May 4 Roundup: South Korean Team Shakeup; Lamy Chappuis Returns

— Four male cross-country skiers from South Korea were recently suspended from the national team after being caught drinking during the Asian Winter Games in February in Sapporo, Japan. The four athletes were banned for six months after being caught drinking at the Games and reportedly saying they drank two cans of beer, according to the Korea Herald. Wanting to send a message, the Korea Ski Association handed the four men six-month suspensions to discourage a similar incident from happening again at international competitions. The South Korean men’s national team is now down to two skiers, Kim Magnus and Cho Yong-jin, who did not take part in the drinking.The KSA decided not to renew three coaching contracts and will hire a new staff for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.   — Jason Lamy Chappuis is making a comeback after a year away from competing in nordic combined at the highest level, according to…

April 7 Roundup: Ski Tour Canada Wins; Weng Top Earner; Østberg Potentially Done?

-The 11th annual Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Prestige awards happened own March 21st in Ottawa, Canada according to a press release from Cross Country Canada. These awards recognize events from local to international championships and tournaments as well as honoring outstanding volunteers and organizations. Ski Tour Canada 2016 won the Canada Sport Event of the Year award. The tour consists of 12 days with the world’s best skiers coming from over 25 nations. It was part of the first World Cup Finals ever staged outside of Europe. By live streaming, the event it was able to reach an international audience of over 52 million viewers. The events were held in Gatineau, Montreal, and Quebec City, Quebec, and Canmore, Alberta. –Heidi Weng of Norway was the World Cup’s top earner with winnings of about $274,000 U.S. dollars according to News in English. Though Marit Bjørgen dominated the World Cup races she…

Youngman Leads U.S. at 2017 Masters World Cup; Gray Finally Gets Gold

By Inge Scheve “I waited 55 years for this medal,” said Bob Gray. The 77-year-old Vermonter won the 15-kilometer freestyle race in the M10 category (men age 75-80) at the 2017 Masters World Cup in Klosters, Switzerland, earlier this month. Gray raced for the U.S. Ski Team from 1962 until 1974, but never earned a World Championships medal during that period. “When I first came on the U.S. Ski Team in 1962, we were ten minutes behind the Europeans in the 15 k event,” he said. “When I left the U.S. Ski Team in 1974, we were three minutes behind in the 15 k.” “It’s a lifelong dream for me to win a World Championship medal,” he continued. “I’m a frustrated athlete, you know.” Over the last two decades, Gray has participated in more than a dozen Masters World Cup events. “The competitors get older and there are fewer of them, but in my mind, this…

March 17 Roundup: Randall Not Racing; Sundby Stays in Norway; Arendz Elected Athlete Rep

– Despite training on Thursday, American Kikkan Randall will not be competing in the season-ending World Cup Finals in Québec City this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to a U.S. Ski Team press release, Randall was not feeling 100 percent during warmup training on Thursday and decided to sit out the races. Fourteen other women are slated to represent the U.S. in Friday’s freestyle sprint, 12 U.S. men, 15 Canadian women, and 15 Canadian men. – This season’s overall and distance World Cup winner Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway will not be racing at World Cup Finals in Quebec this Friday through Sunday, March 17-19. Instead, he’ll be racing for Team United Bakeries in Saturday’s 54-kilometer Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, the 10th event of the Ski Classics series. Another Norwegian national-team member, Eirik Brandsdal will also be racing the Birkebeinerrennet from Rena to Lillehammer. While the International Ski Federation (FIS) initially threatened to reduce Sundby’s prize money and bonuses if…

March 5 Roundup: Ski Classics Launches Nordic Trophy; NCAA Champs Coming Up in N.H.

– The Visma Ski Classics series is launching a new competition within the tour called the Visma Nordic Trophy, which will take place in Nordic countries. The competition started Sunday with the Vasaloppet in Sweden, the ninth event of the Ski Classics series. According to a Ski Classics press release, there will be prize money for the top three in both the men and women’s race. The next race will be the Birkebeinerrennet on March 18 in Norway.   – During 2017 Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, the International Ski Federation (FIS) and Finnish Anti-Doping Agency spread the anti-doping message to athletes and coaches. At the athletes’ village in Vierumäki, Finland, competitors were given the opportunity to show their commitment to clean sport by signing a giant snowball as well as having their photo taken, according to a FIS press release. More than 400 athletes, coaches and support personnel joined the movement during the championships, held Feb. 22-March 5.   –  NCAA…

Feb. 24 Roundup: Venezuelan Skier’s World-Famous Story; Northug Gives Up Starts

– Venezuela’s Adrian Solano had a long road to World Championships. While trying to get to Sweden to train last month, he was stopped by French border agents on Jan. 19 while trying to make a connecting flight in Paris. The 22-year-old, who took up rollerskiing about a year ago, told the officials that he was competing in World Championships, which they didn’t believe. He was detained and questioned for five days, and with just 28 euros in cash on hand, he eventually decided to return to Venezuela. “I told them that we train on wheels. I only had €28 with me and the police accused me of trying to immigrate because things were going badly in my country,” Solano told the BBC. “My expectations were to train and finish in a good place at the competition,” Solano later told The New York Times. “But that got broken the minute I didn’t get to Sweden.” Thanks to…

Feb. 11 Roundup: IPC World Champs This Week in Finsterau; Otepää World Cup Next Weekend

— The 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are happening from Feb. 10-19 in Finsterau, Germany. Over the next week, there will be a total of 38 competitions taking place between biathlon and cross-county skiing, according to World Para Nordic Skiing. More than 120 athletes from 19 countries are competing, including three-time world champion sit-skier and Paralympic gold medalist Andrea Eskau. Eskau is hoping that the home crowd will help her return to the top of the podium. “If I win a medal, I can celebrate this with my family. This is a nice thought!” Eskau said. “I hope to be able to compete in Finsterau in very good shape.” Other notable skiers include overall World Cup leader Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus, two-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters of the U.S., and Germany’s Martin Fleig. Live timing at   – The Otepää World Cup will take place as planned next weekend, Feb. 18-19, according to its local organizing committee. This will be the 14th…