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

U.S. women’s team members training at World Cup Finals on Thursday in Quebec City. (Photo: USSA/Reese Brown)

– 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.

The World Cup track on the Plains of Abraham as seen on Friday morning before the freestyle sprint kicks off the World Cup Finals weekend in Quebec City, Quebec.

– 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 he didn’t come to Quebec, FIS Race Director Pierre Mignerey explained they retracted that by Monday.

“We have decided not to reduce the prize money, no matter what he or others will do,” Mignerey told NRK, according to a loose translation. “I do not quite understand why he did not come, but it’s his decision.”

The Norwegian Ski Federation’s media officer Gro Eide explained that Sundby wanted to spend the time with his family.

So while Sundby will miss the awards ceremony for his third Crystal Globe, Mignerey added that FIS will not likely change its rules to require top athletes to compete at every World Cup.

“My point is that we should not force any athletes or teams to participate, but that we should focus on setting up a World Cup calendar that is attractive to athletes, instead of trying to force anyone,” he said.

On the flip side, the Ski Classics is happy to have him.

“With Martin Johnsrud Sunday on the start line in Birken that, due to its topography, fits World Cup quality athletes quite well, we can look forward to another epic battle,” Ski Classics CEO David Nilsson said according to a press release. “I am sure Martin wants to show his strength against the tough long distance skiers, and they want to show him that long distance skiing is a sport for tough gentlemen …. now we can’t wait until Sunday!”

American Birkebeiner Executive Director Ben Popp caught up with Sundby earlier this week and posted the live video on the American Birkebeiner’s Facebook page. Sundby spoke about the possibility of doing the American Birkie in the future.

 

— Speaking of the Birkie, while this year’s annual ski marathon from Cable to Hayward, Wis., was canceled, the “world’s largest” fat-bike race took place on March 11 in Hayward, with the fifth annual Fat Bike Birkie. More than 1,200 riders participated in either the Big Fat, a 49 k race, or the Chico, a 20 k race, according to a Birkie press release. Bikers from more than 18 states and two nations competed on a brisk morning at the American Birkebeiner Trailhead. Due to unseasonably warm weather leading up to the event, the course was moved to an alternate looped course adjoining the Birkie Trail and included five laps for the Big Fat and two laps for the Chico.

Results: Big FatChico

 

– Mark Arendz of Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team was recently elected as the athlete representative for nordic skiing on the World Para Nordic Skiing’s Sport Technical Committee. According to World Para Nordic Skiing, Arendz, a 27-year-old skier who competes in the standing division of International Paralympic Committee (IPC) World Cups, received the most votes at the recent PyeongChang test event and World Cup. Arendz, a multiple World Cup and Paralympic medalist, gave a speech among his athletic peers about his goals of increasing participation in both biathlon and cross-country skiing. This will be a two-year term and Arendz is the third winter sport athlete to be voted on the Sport Technical Committee.

 

FIS Cross-Country is looking for feedback on competition formats, and which are of most interest to the public. Here is the link to its short survey.

 

– Darya Dómracheva, a Belarusian World Cup biathlete and multiple-time Olympic and World Championships gold medalist, has gone into retail and is selling a variety of merchandise, including buffs, coffee mugs, baby clothes, and smartphone cases, online at shop.daryadomracheva.by.

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 Finsterau2017.com.   – 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…

Feb. 3 Roundup: Caldwell to be Inducted into VT Hall; 800 Skiers Expected for Boulder Mountain Tour

– John Caldwell of Putney, Vt., will be inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame on April 22 in South Burlington, Vt., at the Hilton Hotel Burlington, according to the Brattleboro Reformer. Caldwell represented the U.S. at the 1952 Olympics, both in cross-country skiing and nordic combined. After retiring, he returned to where it all started, The Putney School, to teach and coach. He was the U.S. coach for the 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 Olympics, and is known as the grandfather of nordic skiing, having coached some of the best U.S. skiers, such as his own son Tim Caldwell, Bill Koch, Mary Heller, Jim Galanes, and Martha Rockwell. A member of the first U.S. women’s nordic team at the 1972 Olympics, Rockwell will also be inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. Caldwell is the author of “The Cross Country Ski Book,” which is known as the bible for cross-country skiing. – Eight hundred skiers are expected at…

Jan. 26 Roundup: Calgary Considers Bid for 2026 Winter Olympics; Northug in Falun

— Calgary is considering a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Both the provincial and federal governments are interested in moving forward. Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said that there is a lot to do, but knows there is plenty of time to prepare, according to GamesBids. They want to make sure that the public, federal government and province supports it, as well as determine what the revenue and profit potential would be to host. The city council has set at June 30 date to decide whether or not it will bid. Other cities considering bids for the 2026 Olympics are Sapporo, Japan, Stockholm, Sweden, and Almaty, Kazakhstan.  The IOC will select the host for those Games in 2019.   — Petter Northug plans to start Sunday’s 30 k classic mass start at this weekend’s World Cup in Falun, Sweden. He will replacing Didrik Tønseth, who has been struggling with food poising all week and has not been able to recover, according to Langrenn. Northug was training in Meråker, Norway when he got…

Jan. 16 Roundup: Eliassen Out; Weng’s Biggest Cheerleader; Herrmann Returns to XC

— There was a familiar face missing from the start line this past weekend at the Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, part of the Ski Classics series, in Seefeld, Austria. According to Langrenn, Petter Eliassen of Team Leaseplan did not race to a persistent illness that he’s had since Christmas. He won the Kaiser Maximilian last year, which helped him win the overall 2016 Ski Classics title. Eliassen told Langrenn that he has been sick for a few weeks and didn’t feel ready to race. In his absence, Team Santander’s Andreas Nygaard rolled to his second-straight Ski Classics victory on Saturday, after winning the Vasaloppet China. Nygaard leads the overall Ski Classics standings by 34 points over his teammate Tord Asle Gjerdalen, while Eliassen dropped from fifth to eighth overall.   — Heidi Weng has a lot of fans, especially in Norway, but perhaps none bigger and more energetic/ enthusiastic than her mom Mary Bente Weng. As Weng raced to her first overall Tour de Ski victory in…

Hendrickson Again Top American as China TDS Comes to a Close

It’s a long ways from Norway to China, but that wasn’t slowing down Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen (formerly of Michigan Tech) who will be taking home an additional 20,000 yuan for first place overall in the men’s division as the 10th annual China Tour de Ski wrapped up at Shijinglong Ski Resort, in Yanqing, outside Beijing, earlier Monday. Meng Hongliang of China took the women’s overall title. (The references are to something or someone who loves snow, particularly plants that have grown through a snow cover, and someone fond of Chinese people and customs, respectively. And 20,000 yuan is slightly under $3,000.) The six-stage tour was heavy on the freestyle sprints, with four of the stages featuring short skate sprints. Monday’s Stage 6 was no exception, as racers once more competed in a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint. This one was not easy, as racers faced a climb of at least 40 meters before…

Fritz, Hendrickson 14th in Stage 5 of China TDS

Lauren Fritz (APU) and Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) each reached the quarterfinals to finish 14th overall in Stage 5 of the China Tour de Ski, a 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint held in Xiwuqi, in the Inner Mongolia region of China, earlier Saturday. The two-lap race was held beneath sunny skies and cold temperatures, with race-time temps a barely FIS-legal –17 C, or 1.4° F. It was the third skate sprint in five stages, following 1.5 k skate sprints in Stages 1 and 2 in Changbaishan and Changchun. First place in the women’s race went to Li Xin of China, who also won the sprint in Stage 1 and the prologue-distance mass start in Stage 4. Chinese and Swedish skiers made up the rest of the four-person final. Fritz made it as far as the quarterfinals on the day after qualifying in 13th. In the men’s…

Caldwell, Hamilton Win OPA Cup Sprints in Planica

Fun day to stand on the podium at the beautiful Planica OPA sprint. Really fun day to watch my teammates @jessiediggins and @sbjornsen get a double podium in the #tourdeski #proudfriend #burnthosebuns A photo posted by Sophie Caldwell (@sophiecaldwell) on Jan 6, 2017 at 12:09pm PST U.S. Ski Team (USST) skiers raced well throughout the weekend in a three-race series of OPA Cup races in Planica, Slovenia, including an American podium sweep in the opening sprint races. On Friday the first couple of American sprinting, Sophie Caldwell (USST and SMST2) and Simi Hamilton (USST and SMST2), ruled the day, with each skier winning their final in a 1.25-kilometer freestyle sprint. On the women’s side, Caldwell was eighth in qualifying in the 44-racer field, 4.45 back from the leading qualifying time set by Italian Greta Laurent. Fellow USST sprinter Ida Sargent (USST and Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was roughly a second…