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- Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland hasn’t started the season the way she hoped. After Sunday’s sprint in Davos Switzerland where she finished 53rd, Kowalczyk decided to sit out the next set of World Cup races, also and Davos.

“Today is my last start in the World Cup this year,” Kowalczyk wrote on her Facebook page after the race. “It has been a tough year.”

She plans to return to racing after the December break for the 2015 Tour de Ski.

– According to NBC, Dario Cologna was recently named Switzerland’s runner-up to the 2014 Athlete of the Year award. The winner of the honor, tennis player Roger Federer, won for a sixth time.

– According to USA Today, European football clubs and leagues are proposing a alternative start to the 2022 FIFA World Cup so that it lasts from May to June. Originally, organizers suggested that the World Cup take place in January and February in order to beat the heat of Qatar’s summer’s. However, the event would likely conflict with the 2022 winter Olympics, which would possibly prove troublesome for both events. The new dates would be beneficial for both the Olympics and and the European clubs, who’s seasons are in the winter months.

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Team Coop celebrates their Pro Team Tempo Prologue win on Saturday, the opening day of the Swix Ski Classics in Livigno, Italy. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics/Team Coop)

Team Coop celebrates their Pro Team Tempo Prologue win on Saturday, the opening day of the Swix Ski Classics in Livigno, Italy. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

By Inge Scheve

Team Coop won the Swix Ski Classics Team Tempo Prologue on Saturday in Livigno, Italy, with the combined-top score from the women’s 15-kilometer mass start and the men’s 15 k team “tempo” time trial.

“The guys were great today and to win together with them was a perfect start of the season,” Team Coop’s Seraina Boner, of Switzerland, said to the Swix Ski Classics media after the race.

Teammate Morten Eide Pedersen, of Norway, was also content with the kickoff to the Ski Classics season.

“It’s great to get a good start, and this event gives us a good starting point for the main race [the 35-kilometer classic] tomorrow,” Pedersen said to Norwegian TV station TV2 after the race.

Team Santander, which included Anders Aukland, Jerry Ahrlin and Andreas Nygaard, finished second overall and the Russian Marathon Team took third.

The Pro Team Prologue/team-time trial is a brand-new format based on cycling, and the Ski Classics use it as a way of introducing its pro teams. The competition consists of a women’s 15 k classic mass start and a 15 k team-time trial for the men. The combined results are based on the top female from each team and the team’s second male in the time trial.

Holly Brooks with Santander's Andreas Nygaard and Anders Auckland on Saturday. "I missed the podium with my new team but we were second today in the team prologue competition!" (Photo: Holly Brooks/Facebook)

Holly Brooks with Santander’s Andreas Nygaard and Anders Auckland on Saturday. “I missed the podium with my new team but we were second today in the team prologue competition!” Brooks wrote on Facebook. She missed the podium because she went home to shower and her team couldn’t get ahold of her. (Photo: Holly Brooks/Facebook)

Switzerland’s Boner (Team Coop) skied into a strong third place in the women’s race behind Katerina Smutna (Silvana Madshus) in first and Julia Thikonova (Russian Marathon Team) in second. Smutna, of the Czech Republic, won in 40:16.59, edging Thikonova by 0.73 seconds. Boner was just one-hundredth of a second back in third. Holly Brooks, who joined Team Santander on Thursday night, finished sixth, 13.12 seconds behind Smutna.

“I am not a double-pole specialist, so I was really happy to be able to ski with the group I skied with today,” Brooks wrote in an email after the race. “They destroyed me the last 500 meters, but I was satisfied with my performance and did well enough to keep my team in the competition.”

She joined the Norwegian Team Santander on a whim. Her original plan was to race Friday’s 42 k freestyle La Sgambeda FIS Marathon Cup, followed by the 35 k classic La Sgambeda Swix Ski Classics race on Sunday.

But when the Aukland brothers and their team manager Nils Marius Otterstad more or less headhunted Brooks the night before the 42 k, she wasn’t exactly opposed to racing for them on Saturday.

“Team Santander happened really fast. I’m here in Livigno with Max Olex, a German Salomon skier who skied for University of Alaska Fairbanks,” Brooks explained. “He knows a lot of these guys and he provided the connection. The team leader, Nils Marius came to our hotel at 9:30pm Thursday night, the day before the skate race, and really twisted my arm – in a good way, of course. Emails were shooting back and forth all the way until I left the hotel for the skate marathon Friday morning. Needless to say, it was really stressful and last-minute.”

Team Santander placed second overall in the Swix Ski Classics Pro Team Tempo Prologue on Saturday, with Anders Aukland, Jerry Ahrlin and Andreas Nygaard. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics/Team Santander)

Team Santander placed second overall in the Swix Ski Classics Pro Team Tempo Prologue on Saturday, with Anders Aukland, Jerry Ahrlin and Andreas Nygaard. Not shown: Holly Brooks. (Photo: Swix Ski Classics)

She didn’t know that Laila Kveli, their female racer who won the Vasaloppet last winter, went home sick, and they were without a woman.

“Each team needs a girl in order to participate in the team prologue and they had no one, and then I became that person,” Brooks wrote.

In the men’s team-time trial on Saturday, Team United Bakeries’ Tore Bjørseth Berdal and John Kristian Dahl (both from Norway) delivered the fastest times of 33:41:03 and 33:41:69, respectively. Pedersen (Team Coop) and Sweden’s Bill Impola finished 21 seconds back, and with Boner’s third place in the women’s race, Team Coop won the combined competition.

Team Santander was about one second behind in second overall.

“Our main focus was to secure the second place in the combined competition in order to get as many points as we could for today, but Coop skied a little faster than us,” Aukland told TV2. “This format of racing is really fun. It’s important to keep evolving long-distance cross-country skiing, so this means a lot to all the teams.”

Team Tempo Details

In the Pro Team Tempo, teams start with a 2-minute time gap in the opposite start order from the Pro Team Ranking. The result is calculated by multiplying the teams’ second-best male’s time by two, and then adding the teams’ best female time. The team with the lowest total time wins the Pro Team Prologue.

Based on results, the Ski Classics award points to the teams, according to the points schedule outlined in its rules, as well as 20 individual bonus points for all skiers finishing within 20 percent of the winning time in each gender.

Pro Team Prologue/Team Time Trial Results

  1. Team Coop – 1.48.22
  2. Team Santander – 1.49.28
  3. Russian Marathon Team – 1.50.41
  4. Team United Bakeries – 1.52.19
  5. Team Futura – 1.53.24
  6. Team Xcalibur Lillsport – 1.53.53
  7. Silvini Madshus Team – 1.53.58
  8. Team Pioneer Investments – 1.54.47
  9. Team Leaseplan Go – 1.54.48
  10. Skistart.com-Bergslagen – 1.54.49
  11. Atlas – 1.58.38
  12. Lyn Ski – 1.58.47
  13. Lager 157 Ski Team – 1.58.47
  14. Scame Ski Trab Marathon Team Livigno – 2.01.27
  15. Team Ski & Run – 2.01.56
  16. Zizkovsky Tygri – 2.14.53 

Complete results and details 

Significant expansion

This season, the Ski Classics added three races: the Team Tempo Prologue and La Sgambeda in Italy this weekend, and the La Diagonela in Switzerland in January.

“Expanding the calendar from six to nine events is a great improvement for the Swix Ski Classic. Athletes, broadcasters and fans have requested a longer season,” Swix Ski Classics CEO David Nilsson said prior to the race-series opener on Saturday. “We have worked hard to be able to start the season already in December. It will also be interesting to see how the ‘January-madness’ of for events on four consecutive weekends will turn out.”

He explained that by introducing the new Team Tempo format, it would make the season-long competition between Ski Classics pro teams more interesting. The format was developed through discussions with athletes and teams, he said.

After this weekend’s double-header in Italy, the Ski Classics take a break until the Jizerská Padesatka 50 k classic in the Czech Republic on Jan. 11.

More information about the Swix Ski Classics: www.swixskiclassics.com

2014/2015 Swix Ski Classics Calendar 

  • Dec. 13: Prologue, 15km, Livigno (Italy)
  • Dec. 14: La Sgambeda, 35 k, Livigno (Italy)
  • Jan. 11: Jizerska Padesatka, 50 k, Bedrichov (Czech Republic)
  • Jan. 17: La Diagonela, 65 k, St Mortitz (Switzerland)
  • Jan. 25: Marcialonga, 70 k, Val di Fiemme (Italy)
  • Feb. 1: König Ludwig Lauf, 50 k, Bavaria (Germany)
  • March 8: Vasaloppet, 90 k, Mora (Sweden)
  • March 20: Birkebeinerrennet, 54 k, Lillehammer (Norway)
  • March 28: Årefjällsloppet, 75 k, Åre (Sweden)
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- According to NRK Sport, there’s quite the controversy in Sweden surrounding the colors of a hat being sold by the organizers of the 2015 World Championships in Falun. Many say the hat, which features red, white, and blue, looks much like the Norwegian flag and is an insult to Sweden, who’s flag is blue and yellow. However, race organizers said the hat was conceived with the region of the event, Darlarna, in mind, not Norway.

– FIS has begun a new video series called Inside the Fence, that features a behind-the-scenes look at all your favorite World Cup skiers. The series features Kikkan Randall’s husband, Jeff Ellis, interview athletes about their pre-race routines, thoughts, and more.

– After the embarrassment surrounding the 2022 Olympic host city selection, the IOC announced that the organization would allow for Olympic host countries to feature events in more than one city and possibly more than one country. The move comes with the development of a sustainability plan that focuses on creating efficiency and ease for potential host countries. In addition the IOC also added language that forbid discrimination regarding sexual orientation. Host cities will also have to agree to the new addition to the charter.

 

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Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (Photo: Fast and Female)

Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (Photo: Fast and Female)

By Inge Scheve

Norwegian national women’s team member Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, 27, was recently nominated for Oslo Citizen of the Year for her involvement in bringing skiing to kids. Among the efforts that were mentioned was her hosting a Fast & Female girls night last spring, along with Kikkan Randall and several other World Cup racers. More than 190 girls attended.

“Winning isn’t the most important for me,” Jacobsen told the Aftenposten.

Yet the two-time Olympian has a World Championship gold and three bronze medals, plus three individual World Cup victories and 11 Norwegian national titles.

Last winter, Jacobsen’s brother passed away on the day of the Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Despite the tragedy, she went on to fourth place in the Olympic skate sprint. How Jacobsen has navigated rough times and challenges remains an inspiration to many.

“I spend a lot of time on training to become a better skier, but my focus is just as much on the process and performance rather than results,” she said. “I see victory as a consequence of a good performance, so indirectly I want to win. But winning isn’t as important as performing.”

That is what Jacobsen, born in Trondheim and a resident of Oslo, aims to share with her community and the members of her ski club, IL Heming. And she is passionate about kids. When she hosted the Fast and Female event this spring, she wanted to show girls age 9 to 19 that physical activity can be an arena for personal growth and learning, in an inspiring and fun environment. Jacobsen believes that results-oriented performance pressure cause a lot of pain for young girls.

“Girls are so eager to go with the flow, so as a role model I want to help girls trust their own instincts and pay attention to what they really want to do,” Jacobsen said. “Everyone is a unique resource and valuable. You just need to identify their talents. Unfortunately, our society over-focuses on some specific traits that are rewarded.”

Jacobsen is in enrolled medical school in addition to her skiing career, although she is currently on academic leave from classes to focus on racing. But she wants to become a doctor, just like both of her parents.

“I get so frustrated with all the media focus on diets and dieting methods. They are commercial, and can be detrimental to people’s self esteem and body image, and make them feel frustrated. Health is so much more than just your body: How you feel is just as important,” she said.

She pointed out the importance of having role models who help show the way and help create a path, and she is grateful to have met some. Her mother is one of them.

“She showed me that there are no limits,” she said. “That is the key to everything, and that’s what I want to share with young people.”

Jacobsen is one of three women nominated for the 2014 Oslo Citizen of the Year, among seven total candidates.

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Sami Jauhojärvi signed with  Team Coop in late October. (Photo: Team Coop)

Finland’s Sami Jauhojärvi signed with Team Coop in late October. He recently decided to race for the distance team in the Swix Ski Classics opener in two weeks. (Photo: Team Coop)

Sami Jauhojärvi considers his World Cup podium on home turf this weekend as great preparation for his debut in the Swix Ski Classics long-distance cup in two weeks.

The 33-year-old, three-time Finnish Olympian, who joined the Team Coop distance squad in October recently decided he wants to have the best possible start in the 2014/2015 Ski Classics this season, and will therefor compete in the opener in Italy. Jauhojärvi finished third on Sunday in the first World Cup distance race of the season in Kuusamo, Finland.

“It was a good result since it was the first race of the season in the traditional distance World Cup. I had fantastic skis,” Jauhojärvi said in a Team Coop press release following his podium in the 15-kilometer classic.

“This gives me confidence and is proof that I have done preseason training in a good way,” he said. “But I still feel I have a bit left to maximize the shape.”

Next weekend, he plans to attend a reception with the Finnish president to celebrate his 2014 Olympic gold in the team sprint (with Iivo Niskanen), and the following weekend, he is slated to competed in the opening race of the Ski Classics: La Sgambeda.

“I really look forward competing in Livigno,” Jauhojärvi said.

While the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden, remain Jauhojärvi’s main goal this season, he will also race several of the Ski Classics marathons. However, Jauhojärvi is planning to do all the Ski Classics in the 2015/2016 season, which has no major championships.

“Competing with Team Coop and in Swix Ski Classics will for sure help me in my preparation in front of the World Championship at home in Lahti in 2017,” he said.

Team director Oskar Svärd welcomed Jauhojärvi to the team, and explained that the sprint skier will add valuable depth to the Swedish-based distance team.

“Sami is a very interesting skier. We have been looking at possibilities to get a skier with sprint qualities like [him],” Svärd said. “The long-distance ski races are developing fast, and more skiers are focusing on long-distance races. This makes the leading group bigger, and good sprint qualities are decisive to win a race. We are looking forward to have Sami on our team this year, and especially from next season when he will take part at our training camps as well.”

Team Coop consists of the following skiers: Seraina Boner (Switzerland), Annika Löfström (Sweden), Emilie Kristoffersen (Norway), Hilde Losgård Landheim (Norway), Morten Eide Pedersen (Norway), Bill Impola (Sweden), Jimmie Johnsson (Sweden), Oskar Svärd (Sweden) and Sami Jauhojärvi (Finland).

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- It appears that Therese Johaug is in the business of sponsoring her competitors. According to Expressen, Johaug’s glove line will be worn by many of her competitors in the coming season, including several of her fellow Norwegian teammates. Expressen also suggested that there were several unnamed international skiers from the U.S. and Finland who would be wearing the gloves this season.

It seems as if Sophie Caldwell might be one of the sponsored athletes:

Look Ma, two hands! #gonnf #tjohaug #swix #fischer #rudyproject #bjorndaehlie

– Simi Hamilton was recently featured in Outside Magazine, where he was deemed “the pride and joy of USA skiing.” Apparently he often eats 10,000 calories a day and has a post-race routine of gummy bears and coke.

– According to NRK Sport, Justyna Kowalczyk believes that she’s had a more difficult road to success than the majority of her competitors.

“I came as a freak of an exotic country where cross-country did not exist. When I started it was equally likely that a Polish woman to win the World Cup that a European today beats Usain Bolt in 100 meters,” she said.

Kowlaczyk pointed to the fact that it took her seven years to land a spot on a competitive team, while her competitors from Norway, Sweden, and Finland had a wealth of opportunity.

– The USST officially named its 2014/2015 team. While the team nominations were announced this past spring, check out the official naming of the team on USSA.

 

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Trond Nystad on Saturday at the FIS races in Beitostølen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Trond Nystad on Saturday at the FIS races in Beitostølen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

While the U.S. Ski Team isn’t racing official FIS events in places like Beitostølen, Bruksvallarna or Gallivare this weekend (they’re about a week into their on-snow camp in Muonio, Finland, where they held a time trial on Saturday), Norwegian National Team Head Coach Trond Nystad told FasterSkier that he’s excited to see them next weekend at the World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland.

“We know the Americans are very good. They train well, and there are a lot of exciting racers coming up through the ranks,” Nystad said Saturday in Beitostølen, Norway.

A U.S. Ski Team coach from 2002 to 2006, Nystad likes to keep track off his old team.

“It’s great to see the Americans do so well, especially for [Norwegian national-team director] Vidar [Løfshus] and myself, but its great for the sport in general. We need skiing to be strong in North America,” he said.

While Nystad would have loved to see the U.S. skiers race on his home turf this weekend, he is looking forward to the first World Cup, which takes place in Ruka next weekend.

“We definitely expect the American skiers to race strong at the World Cup,” Nystad said. “They are always a force to be taken seriously.”

– Inge Scheve

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- Everyone loves a good breakaway, so as you’re anxiously awaiting the beginning of the season check out this compilation of some of the most exciting moves on the World Cup.

– On the eve of the Norwegian season opener in Beitostølen, speculations are flying regarding the Norwegian National Team members: Will Marit Bjørgen or Therese Johaug be Norway’s top female this year? Will Petter Northug live up to his rhetoric? Will he be in jail?

Here’s what we can tell you:

  • According to the writers at Langrenn.com, Bjørgen and Johaug will be at the top of women’s field both this weekend and throughout the season. Whether that holds true remains to be seen, as several up-and-coming stars on the Norwegian team may give the stars a run for their money.
  • Astrid Jacobsen is exhausted and she doesn’t know why. According to NRK Sport, Jacobsen has dealt with high fatigue throughout the summer and fall. Her racing status this weekend is unknown.
  • Petter Northug will win both the sprint and distance races this weekend in Beitostølen. Or at least that is what our friends at Langrenn are predicting, saying that Northug is looking stronger than ever. Despite his strength, he’s going to have to best Overall World Cup winner Martin Sundby and the rest of his Norwegian teammates to do so –  which will be a difficult task to say the least.
  • Recent good news may give Northug an extra boost this weekend. According to NRK Sport, the famed skier will be expected in court for mediation just three days after the last World Cup race in Holmenkollen. Previously there was speculation that Northug would face jail time during the ski season.

– Reese Hanneman (APU) recently said in an interview that if he could ski like any World Cup skier it would be former Swedish star Thomas Wassberg. Don’t remember Wassberg? We’ve got you covered. Fischer recently posted an interview with Wassberg as part of their 90th year campaign that detailed his start in skiing, why he likes Fischer skis and the changes in competitive skiing. Check it out here.

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- Finnish biathlete Kaisa Makarainen and Russian Alexey Chervotkin won the 10 k and 15 k freestyle races in Olos, Finland Sunday.

Makarainen, who was last season’s biathlon Overall World Cup winner, crossed the line with a time of 25:03.2. Fellow Finnish skier Mari Laukkanen placed second, +14.8 behind.  Russia’s Daria Storozhilova ended the Finnish hopes of a podium sweep, after se placed third with a time of +29.5.  According to FIS, several members of the Finnish National Team, as well as Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk did not start the race.

Russia’s Alexey Chervotkin topped the men’s 15 k by +5.2 seconds over Matti Heikkinen of Finland.  Snorri Einarsson of Norway, who raced for the University of Utah placed third, +23.7.

Full results

- According to NRK Sport, Martine Ek Hagen is the jokester of the Norwegian National Team. In a recent interview with the up-and-coming skier, Hagen reviled that she is often the butt of many Norwegian team jokes. According to Hagen, she’s had several embarrassing occurrences over her time with the team, including an unexpected ride in a outhouse. At the World Cup in Lillehammer last season, Hagen used the outhouse without much thought. Soon, however, she and the outhouse were hoisted into the air by one of the removal trucks. She eventually escaped without harm, but said that she and her teammates continue to laugh about the incident to this day.

- Frozen Thunder is still going on at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Check out Frozen Thunder Part 2 below:

– As you are waiting for the season to start, check out what your favorite athletes were up to this summer. From cross country skiers to snowboarders, FIS compiled the highlights from the summer. Read more here.

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Popular snow: Miriam Gössner is a part of a heavy German contingent in Sjusjøen, Norway, one of few places in Europe with good snow conditions this time of year. (Photo: Mette Sandbakken)

Popular snow: Miriam Gössner is a part of a heavy German contingent in Sjusjøen, Norway, one of few places in Europe with snow this time of year.  She was recently in Seefeld, Austria, training on snow as well. (Photo: Mette Sandbakken)

By Inge Scheve

Sjusjøen wasn’t the only venue for the Norwegian national biathlon opener this weekend. Even in Scandinavia, few places have consistent and reliable snow this early, causing plenty of national teams, clubs, racers, and hard-core recreational skiers from all over the world to flock to Sjusjøen in November — biathletes, Nordic combined and cross-country skiers alike.

Some come for weeks on end, like the British biathlon team that routinely spends a couple of months in Sjusjøen in late fall and early winter.

The ski trails opened the first week in November, and by the end of the month, 22 national teams and several more elite teams from more than 15 countries visited, according to Mette Sandbakken, the booking director at Sjusjøen Hytteutleie, who manages both snow time, cabins, condos, and cafeteria schedules at the venue.

Currently, the following teams staying and training at Sjusjøen include: Latvia, Austrian biathlon and cross-country,  Romanian biathlon, Norwegian biathlon, Lithuanian biathlon, Czech Republic cross-country, Italian biathlon, French men’s biathlon World Cup team, Holland biathlon, Slovenian cross-country, Bulgarian biathlon, German biathlon (juniors and seniors) and cross-country (juniors), German Police Academy Athletic Squad, and German Border Control.

According to NRK, that amounted to nearly 500 skiers on the trails last week.

This week, the US Biathlon World Cup team will join the party to train from Nov. 16 to 27, along with Belarus, two additional German teams, and a Czech ski-orienteering team.

“I also have roughly 300 British soldiers who hang out here from the late fall until Christmas,” Sandbakken said, adding that they have been regulars with her for years.

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