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- Kikkan Randall revealed to the Wall Street Journal that a birthday scavenger hunt may have played a role in her ability to perform at the 2014 Olympics. Randall said that the December hunt, which lasted roughly three-and-a-half hours and was set up by her teammates, caused a strain in her back that set off a “perfect storm.” The three-time World Cup sprint champion also revealed tentative plans to take the 2015/2016 off to focus on a possible maternity break. Read the full story here.

- According to the Australian cross country Instagram, Callum Watson is back to training after suffering a punctured lung roughly two months ago. The Oct. 16 post shows Watson participating in a VO2 treadmill test.

“He’s back! Callum Watson on his way to an 80+ml/kg VO2 test at the AIS today, 2 months after puncturing a lung” the post said. 

He's back! Callum Watson on his way to an 80+ml/kg VO2 test at the AIS today, 2 months after puncturing a lung.

- Friday Oct. 17 marks the start of the ski season at the Canmore Nordic Centre with the opening of Frozen Thunder. According to the Rocky Mountain Outlook, the 2.2 k loop will open after four days of volunteer work that amounted to 387 hours of placing snow that has been saved since last season.

The loop will be open to the public Saturday Oct. 18. On weekdays, the loop is only available to elite athletes from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and will open to the general public in the afternoon.

Frozen Thunder will host a classic sprint on Oct. 24 and a 10 k and 15 k distance race  on Oct. 27. The races will have national teams from the U.S. and Canada in attendance in addition to many elite racers from a variety of nations.

Check out the promo video for Frozen Thunder below:

- After its final inspection by FIS, Falun has been deemed ready for the FIS Nordic World Championships. The event which will be held from Feb. 18 to March 1 is expected to attract 200,000 spectators and roughly 500,000,000 viewers.

“Falun 2015 has been a true partner since being awarded the Championships nearly five years ago,” FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis said in a press release. “The entire journey in preparing for the 2015 World Championships has gone beyond expectations and the Final Inspection was no different as Falun showed that they are more than prepared to welcome the world in February.”

Falun2015 also released the event’s official song in a youtube video Oct. 16, which can be viewed below.

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- Czech skiing star Lukas Bauer will sit out the 2015 Tour de Ski. According to FIS, the 2008 and 2010 winner of the Tour has decided to focus on the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden.

“I have never had a special training just for the Tour. This training plan for the next season has changed a little bit, but you can’t make it without a lot kilometers and pain,” Bauer said.

- Norway is attempting to ban a local anesthetic used by Justyna Kowalczyk in the 2014 Olympic Games. According to NRK Sport, the drug Marcaine was used by Kowalczyk for a fractured foot the day that she won 10 k classic race in Sochi.

“Norway has worked and will continue to work to get local anesthetic into the doping list. Doping Norway has pushed hard in order to get the medication Kowalczyk got in on the doping list,” Inggard Lerheim, a norwegian doctor, said to NRK.

Kowalczyk’s doctor, Stainislaw Szymanik, claimed that the move was “completely absurd.”

“Marcaine is not on the list of banned substances. It contains bupivacaine which is also legal. It is a local anesthetic that has always been used in sport. I cannot imagine why the medication would be banned,” he said.

- The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach recently toured the facilities in Almaty as a part of a visit to Kazakhstan. According to Tengri News, Bach met with several key figures important to Almaty’s 2022 Olympic bid and discussed the city’s ability to host the Games.

Almaty is one of two cities remaining in the bidding process for the 2022 Winter Olympics along with Beijing, China.

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-  According to NRK Sport, Petter Northug received a sentence for his May drunk driving incident today in Norwegian court, but the results are still unclear. The 28-year-old was sentenced to 50 days in jail, a lifetime driving ban, and 185,000 crown fine ($28,800). However, it is unknown when Northug will serve his 50 day sentence or whether he will spend any jail time. Instead, he could have to wear an ankle bracelet. In addition, it is likely that the driving ban will only last for five years. Given the uncertainty of Northug’s jail time, it is unclear how the sentence will affect the 2014/2015 season. This is a developing story…

John Oliver talks the 2022 Olympics backed by a photo of Marit Bjørgen and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg on HBO's Last Week Tonight. (Photo: Youtube)

John Oliver talks the 2022 Olympics backed by a photo of Marit Bjørgen and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. (Photo: Youtube)

- HBO’s This Week Tonight host, John Oliver, has some choice words for Norway and the IOC. After the announcement was made that Oslo had retracted its bid for the 2022 Olympic Games, Oliver took to his comedic talk show to express his dismay in the remaining two choices, Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China. Oliver had some harsh criticism for the IOC and also joked that the winter Olympics were solely for Norway to win cross country ski medals.

“How can you pull out?” he joked as a picture of Marit Bjørgen and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg from the 2014 Olympics flashed behind him. “The only reason we have the winter Olympics is so you freakish snow people can pick up your stupid cross country ski medals.”

Watch the full clip here.

- According to Dagbladet, Charlotte Kalla has her sights set on the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. Falla, who has never won an individual World Championship gold hopes that 2015 will be the year for her to climb atop the podium. According to Dagbladet the 27-year-old believes that she can accomplish the feat with the proper training and season focuses, especially since the Championships are in her home nation.

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- Justyna Kowalczyk is in it for the long haul. The Olympic champion recently told the Polish version of Newsweek that she made the decision to end her career in skiing after the Olympic Games in Russia. However, she soon reversed the decision and decided to at least ski through the 2014/2015 season so that she could compete at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. Now, the polish star says that she has at least three more years under her belt and plans to compete in the 2018 Olympics.

Kowalczyk explained that her decision to continue her skiing career was in part due to her public discourse of her miscarriage and battle with depression.

“I am born again and again set my goals. I am rid of the heavy backpack with grief and relief,” Kowalczyk said in a rough translation. “There was a rescue for me to stand up and talk about my depression. After that I decided to put the past behind me and concentrate on the future.”

In late September Kowalczyk finished a doctoral dissertation at the University of Krakow that explored the ins-and-outs of skate technique.

- Despite several months of negative press, Petter Northug is gaining popularity in Norway. According to Langrenn.com a recent poll conducted by TNS Gallup says that 68.8 percent of respondents have forgiven the 28-year-old. He has also risen in popularity amongst norwegians and is now considered the third most popular Norwegian athlete and being fifth on the same list before his drunk driving accident in May.

- Therese Johaug has a new ride. According to Langrenn.com Johaug has been provided with a snazzy red BMW X4. In a press release by BMW Norway, Johaug can be seen posing with the car and wearing the blinding summer training gear that both the Norwegian and U.S. teams were provided this year.

- Sondre Turvoll Fossli may be the next big thing in Norwegian skiing. The 21-year-old sprinter has been named by Olga Vigen Hattestad as one of the stronger sprinters in the country.

“I have faith that he can get his international breakthrough this year,” Hattestad  told NRK Sport.

Fossli is a two-time silver medalist from the 2011 and 2012 Junior World Championships and recently won the a test rollerksi race in Holmenkollen.

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- Winter athletes in Norway are reacting to the recent decision of their country to withdraw its bid for the 2022 Olympic Games. While the games were unpopular with the Norwegian public and government, many athletes are disappointed that the games will be held in one for the remaining host cities, Beijing, China or Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“It’s a shame, because I love sports, and I love the Olympics,”  Norwegian biathlete Emil Helge Svendsen said to NRK Sport, who supported Norway’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Games.

“It’s really sad and disappointing that so many people are negative to such an event. I thing we missed out on a unique opportunity to show off Norwegian winter sports at its best, and to host a truly outstanding event in Norway,” Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen, the 2013 X Games slopestyle gold medalist said.

Despite his disappointment, Svendsen understands why Norway made the tough decision to withdraw its bid.

“There’s a reason why people have been skeptical, and I understand why people get provoked by the IOC’s long list of demands as they’ve been completely absurd,” he said.

- Despite the controversies that continue to surround his drunk driving incident and his national team status, Petter Northug has made it clear that he has one major focus this season: the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden. According to Langrenn.com, Northug has said that his main goal for the season is to perform well at the February event. Whether that means his focuses for the season will not include the Tour de Ski remains to be seen, but there is a chance that the court proceedings regarding the accident could, at the very least, conflict with the 28-year-olds training and racing schedule.

- The National Nordic Foundation’s fundraiser, Drive for 25, began Oct. 1. Check out the fundraising progress and donate here.

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Norway has withdrawn its bid to host the 2022 Olympics in Oslo.

The country’s major political parties voiced concern about the cost of the Games, after the Sochi edition racked up $51 billion in expenses. Oslo’s bid would have heavily relied on existing infrastructure and cost a fraction of that, but popular support within the country lagged. The organizing committee concluded that they could not submit a bid without the backing of government, politicians, or citizens.

“A big project like this, which is so expensive, requires broad popular support, and there isn’t enough support for it,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg reportedly told Reuters.

The two remaining potential host cities, Beijing, China, and Almaty, Kazakhstan, are widely seen as less-than-ideal candidates.

Stockholm, Lviv, Krakow, Munich, and St. Moritz/Davos have already considered and withdrawn bids.

 

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According to a press release by USSA, Sarah Hendrickson returned to competition this past weekend and claimed two second place finishes in a FIS Continental Cup event in Trondheim behind World Cup champion Sara Takanashi. according to USSA, her finishes were her first international podiums in over a year since finishing second in a FIS Grand Prix event in France just prior to her 2013 injury. Hendrickson was joined by American Nita Englund who continued her strong summer by finishing sixth and ninth in the weekend’s competition.

- The Caldwell family made their mark at the VT 50-mile running race Sept. 28, as their relay team, consisting of Sophie Caldwell and cousins Alexa and Heidi Caldwell, finished with the fastest time of the the ultra running race. Crossing the finish line with a time of 7:04:10 the trio finished the race faster than any individual or team, both male and female.

- Organizers for the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden are preparing for a “mild winter” according to a press release from Falun2015. In order to ensure snow for the most anticipated series of races on the World Cup circuit, organizers have drafted a plan revolving around snowmaking and snow storage at other facilities.

“We feel confident in our strategy to use artificial snow for both the courses and ski jumps,” Falun2015′s director Tommy Hoglund said.

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- The National Nordic Foundation announced that it will kick off its Drive for 25 starting Oct. 1 and ending Nov. 15. The goal of this year’s fundraiser is to raise $150,000 through matching donations, corporate outreach, industry support and fundraising events.

According to a NNF press release, the event will showcase a new sector of the cross country skiing population, ranging from the U16 level to World Cup skiers.

“We’re interested in tying together as many disparate parts of the skiing country as possible through the NNF,” described Dave Knoop, who is the Executive Director of NNF. “Last year we began highlighting donations by state in a way to measure still more competition on the way to connecting the skiing nation. We all have to give to get the skiing community we want.”

- Finish skier Aino-Kaisa Saarenin was injured after falling while traveling between training and her hotel in Ramsau, Austria. X-rays relieved that the 2014 Olympic medalist broke a bone in her foot, according to a press release from FIS. Doctors estimated that her recovery time would take roughly six weeks.

- Marcus Johansson and Ksenia Konohova have won the 2014 overall titles in the FIS Rollerski World Cup after competing in the series final event in Val di Fiemme, Italy. According to FIS, the Swede and the Russian were able to best the rest of the rollersking field after competing in Sweden, Croatia, and Italy.

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U.S. Ski Team member Liz Stephen, a two-time Olympian and queen of uphill ski and rollerski races, won her first XTERRA Trail Run National Championship this weekend at Snowbasin, outside of Park City, Utah.

Stephen is based in Park City in the offseason, and had competed in the trail run twice previously. This was her first win.

“It was a really fun race, and there was some fast women out here,” Stephen said in an XTERRA press release. “I wasn’t really sure how far up I was because it’s hard to see anyone else when you’re grinding through the single track on the uphills and the downhill is so long you really can’t see anybody else unless they’re within seconds.”

Her time of 1:27:55 over the 21k course put her more than two minutes ahead of runner-up Kimber Mattox of Eugene, Oregon – and all but four of the men racing.

Former Michigan Tech standout skier Kristina Owen, now based in Ogden, Utah, finished 10th with a time of 1:47:15.

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- Petter Northug can’t stay out of the headlines and recent developments for the Norwegian skiing star aren’t looking promising. According to NRK Sport, the Olympic champion may face a lifetime driving ban stemming from charges of driving while intoxicated, speeding, negligence regarding his passenger, leaving the crime scene without informing police, and lying to officers.

The indictment, which was issued Sept. 16, claimed that Northug lied to authorities on three separate occasions. The first occurring upon his arrest, the second just under an hour later, and the third during his interrogation. On all three occasions Northug claimed that his companion, who sustained multiple injuries, had been driving. These claims were later revealed to be false.

“I’m sorry for my foolish actions and am prepared to take the punishment for them. I apologize again that I messed with explanations during the first hours on May 4, when I was still affected by alcohol,” the skier was quoted as saying in local media according to a Yahoo news report.

“The indictment is another reminder of the serious actions I have been guilty of. I apologize again to all those I have failed, and am prepared to take the punishment I will be sentenced to,” he said.

- On the other end of the Norwegian decency spectrum, Marit Bjørgen and Brede Hangeland (a Norwegian professional soccer player who plays for Crystal Palace of the Premier League and the Norwegian national team) are advocating against privatization of Norwegian sports saying that it can lead to a selfish and anti-community behavior. In the nordic community, Bjørgen points to the shift to private teams that many are making, exemplified by Peter Northug’s contract with European grocery store chain Coop. 

“I could have never gone to private teams and stood alone and outside the community. The importance it had for me to have a team around me, both as a youth and as an adult, has meant so much to me and my results, that I would not be without. When I was young, I had my role models who paved the way and helped that we came up could bet. Now it’s my turn to do the same,” said Bjoergen to Norwegian news outlet Aftenposten.

- Kris Freeman can do more than just ski; he can bike, paddle, and run. The former U.S. Ski Team member proved this as he won the Ironman category of the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Great Barrington, Mass. According to the Berkshire Eagle, Freeman, who finished ninth overall, was able to hold on to his Ironman win even after he flipped his boat.

-According to FIS, the second edition of the FIS Development Program Nordic Summer Training Camp in Val di Fiemme, Italy recently concluded Sept.13. The camp was attended by athletes from 16 different nations that traditionally do not have strong nordic traditions, facilities, or training programs. The countries included Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

- The Swedish nordic ski community is hoping that the 2015 World Championships in Falun will help boost the popularity of the sport in the country to unseen levels. Cross country skiing is already one of Sweden’s most popular sports and organizers hope that Falun2015 will bring record attendance and interest, according Langrenn.com.

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