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Stephen, Hoffman Third in Toppidrettsveka ‘Fonna Upp’

U.S. Ski Team members Liz Stephen and Noah Hoffman both raced to third in the Fonna Upp uphill run, the first race of four at the Toppidrettsveka festival on Thursday in Aure, Norway.

Men and women started together in the hill climb, and Norway’s Didrik Tønseth was first to the top in 28:53.5. Sweden’s Martin Johansson placed second, 13 seconds back, and Hoffman was 1:02.5 back in third (video by U.S. coach Jason Cork).

Norway’s Therese Johaug was the fastest woman and 10th overall (another video), winning in 31:18.8, more than 1 1/2 minutes faster than teammate Heidi Weng in second. Stephen reached the summit as the third woman, 2:42.3 behind Johaug.

Also for the U.S., Caitlin Gregg placed ninth, 5:40 back from Johaug, and Simi Hamilton was 13th in the men’s race, 2:40 behind Tønseth. Canada’s Devon Kershaw placed 16th (+2:59.9), as did U.S. sprinter Kikkan Randall. Her teammates Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins placed 20th and 23rd, respectively, and Andy Newell (U.S.) was 40th.

Racing continued Thursday afternoon with a classic rollerski sprint — complete with a prologue and heats.

Caldwell qualified 21st and went on to make the final, where she finished fifth overall.

Norway swept the top three in the women’s final, which Weng won, Kathrine Harsem placed second, and Barbro Kvaale was third.  Germany’s Sandra Ringwald was fourth, Caldwell fifth and Italy’s Greta Laurent sixth.

In the all-Norwegian men’s final, national-team member Petter Northug redeemed himself from finishing 81st of 86 in the hill climb, besting teammate Eirik Brandsdal for the win. Simen Lanes of Team Jobzone was third, his teammate Timo Andre Bakken was fourth, Ola Vigen Hattestad came back from last in the hill climb to place fifth, and Simen Østensen of Team United Bakeries was sixth.

Results: Hill climb | Sprint

Aug. 12 Roundup: Kowalczyk Wins Ushuaia Loppet; Teichmann New Oberhof Coach

Last weekend, Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk won the fifth annual Ushuaia Loppet, a 42-kilometer freestyle marathon in the Valley of Tierra Mayor, northeast of Ushuaia, Argentina. The Olympic and world champion finished in 1:51:56, over 10 minutes ahead of the next woman and just one second behind the race winner, Carlos Lannes of Argentina. This year marked the first time the Ushuaia Loppet was a Worldloppet race, a title which helped triple the number of racers attending the marathon. There were 126 competitors from 19 different countries, and they enjoyed the best conditions in the area in 15 years.   According to xcski.de, Axel Teichmann is the new head coach at the training base in Oberhof, Germany. Teichmann is replacing former coach Cuno Schreyl, who had some issues with Oberhof athletes Tim Tscharnke and Thomas Bing that led to the athletes training independently. Teichmann is the new coach for Tscharnke and Bing,…

Aug. 6 Roundup: Greggs Race Squaw Mountain Run; Birkie Museum Announced

2014 Olympian Brian Gregg won the 35th annual Squaw Mountain Run with a time of 29:04.1, according to the Sierra Sun. His time was only 14 seconds shy of the course record and beat his personal best time by 1:32. His wife, Caitlin Gregg, also competed, finishing as the second woman with a time of 36:09.9. Caitlin also set a personal record, beating her previous best time by 51 seconds.   Plans to commemorate one of North America’s most historic ski races are in motion. According to USSA, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation intends to open the Museum of the American Birkebeiner in 2016. The museum will celebrate the history of the race and the lasting legacy of Tony Wise, the man who founded the American Birkebeiner. It will also hope to educate and inspire visitors, which will help to keep the skiing culture in Wisconsin strong. Birkie public relations leader…

July 31 Blink Roundup: Northug Wins XC Mass Start; Nordgren 3rd in Biathlon Shooting Comp (Updated)

(Note: This post has been updated to include comments from U.S. biathlete Leif Nordgren.) After placing 72nd in Thursday’s hill climb on the first day of the Blink rollerski festival, Petter Northug found himself in familiar territory on Friday, winning the 15-kilometer mass start in Sandnes, Norway. He did so after sitting back in his usual fashion and letting others lead until the race came down to a final sprint, where he edged fellow Norwegian Sindre Sætre Hammerlund by 0.7 seconds in 28:41.7. Finland’s Martti Jylhä placed third, 1 second behind Northug. The men’s cross-country races started off Friday with a prologue, which Norway’s Håvard Solås Taugbøl won in 3:21.37, 0.27 seconds ahead of Renaud Jay of France. Jylhä qualified third (+1.27). Norway’s Barbro Kvåle won the women’s 10 k mass start by 0.2 seconds over Lotta Udnes Weng in 19:44, and Norway swept the top five with Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in…

July 29 Roundup: Blink Festival Begins Thursday; Northug Says He’s Out of Shape

  The 2015 Blink Ski Festival begins Thursday with the Lysebotn Up, a 7.5 kilometer uphill rollerski race in Lysebotn, Norway. According to ski-nordique, the event has become the big summer event for cross-country skiers and biathletes, likely because many of the world’s best skiers attend the festival. Some examples are Petter Northug, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Finn Haagen Krogh, Calle Halfvarsson, and Alexander Legkov on the men’s side and Astrid Jacobsen, Heidi Weng, Kerttu Niskanen, Maiken Caspersen Falla, and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen on the women’s side. The Blink Festival serves as an interesting test of mid-summer fitness for many of the World Cup regulars. After the uphill race tomorrow, the festival moves to Sandnes, Norway, where it continues with 10 and 15 k mass starts before wrapping up with a sprint competition on Saturday.   Petter Northug briefly spoke with the press after a charity soccer match in Oslo, Norway. Coming off an altitude camp, during…

July 25 Roundup: Johaug Surgery Successful; Kaspiarovich to Head Russian Biathlon Team

  As reported earlier this week, Norwegian cross-country ski standout Therese Johaug broke her left hand while training in Seiser Alm, Italy. On Tuesday, VG reported that Johaug’s surgery to insert three screws into her left hand was successful. Because of this, she will only have to take 10 days of altered training to rest her hand before returning to her normal training regimen. The two-time 2015 World Champion did not let her injured hand affect her training much before the surgery, as fellow Norwegian cross-country skier Petter Soleng Skinstad stated “she went like crazy at training sessions … after the fall.” Johaug plans to maintain this same attitude as she continues to deal with the injury.   According to skisport, the Russian Federation Ministry of Sports recently approved Alexander Kaspiarovich as the head coach of the Russian National Biathlon team. Kaspiarovich had previously been recommended for the position by the Russian…

July 21 Roundup: Dürr Avoids Criminal Charges; Fourcade Training in Norway

  According to the Washington Times, the criminal investigation into Johannes Dürr, 28, has been dropped. The former Austrian cross-country skier was kicked out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics for using the banned substance EPO. An important factor in the decision was that Dürr did not provide other athletes with the substance, which would have been illegal under Austria’s anti-fraud laws. Other factors were that it was Dürr’s first offense, that he confessed to the doping charges after the positive test, and that the damages were paid because Dürr reportedly returned money from sponsors. Dürr’s lifetime ban from the Austrian Ski Federation remains, though he has only a two-year ban from the International Ski Federation (FIS).   French biathlete Martin Fourcade has been training at the Norwegian Olympic Sports Center in Oslo, Norway, according to NRK. Although he is one of the Norwegian biathlete’s toughest competitors, Fourcade was able to stay and train at the center for…

July 17 Roundup: Potential 2022 Winter Olympic Hosts; Northug Heads to Altitude Camp

  According to FIS, the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is down to two cities, Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Beijing, China. Each city is bringing a unique vision for the Games; Almaty envisions an Olympics centered around sports and physical activity, infrastructure, and economic growth while Beijing proposes to use the games to more heavily integrate winter sports into peoples lives. This would ultimately aid in developing a market for winter sports in Northern China where 300 million reside. A decision between the two potential host cities will be made on July 31.   Norway’s Petter Northug will attend an altitude camp in Central Europe this July despite experiencing fatigue during the early stages of his summer training, reports Adressa. Northug initially planned to skip the camp, but now that he is feeling healthier, he has decided to attend. According to his coach, Stig Rune Kveen, Northug is fully focused on…

July 14 Roundup: Cologna and Powell Face Off; Tour de Ski Under the Lights

  The FIS Rollerski World Cup kicked off in Oroslavje, Croatia, this past weekend with three races from July 10–July 12. In the women’s 10-kilometer skate mass start on July 10, Sweden’s Marika Sudin won, Ksenia Konohova of Russia took second and another Swede, Linn Somskaer came in third in a closely contested finish. In the men’s 12.5 k skate, seven athletes came into the finish together where Norwegian Ragnar Bragvin Andresen outsprinted the pack for the win. Italy’s Emanuele Sbabo and Sergio Bonaldi rouded out the podium in second and third, respectively. Saturday brought a freestyle sprint competition where Kiara Claudi of Germany won the women’s division. She was followed by Friday’s winner, Sudin, in second and Valiantsina Kamiskaya of Belarus in third. On the men’s side, Italian Emanuele Becchis bested second- and third-place finishers Dmitriy Voronin of Russia and Norwegian Ludvig Søgnen Jensen. The competition wrapped up on Sunday with a 7 k uphill classic race. Friday’s…

July 10 Roundup: Svendsen on Track; Search for Norwegian Director Continues

The Norwegian Ski Federation has yet to find a replacement for its former nordic director, Åge Skinstad, according to Langrenn. Skinstads had been the director since 2006, but stepped down after the season so he could become the director of NHO Inland on Aug. 1. There is a final round of potential replacements for Skinstad that still need to be evaluated, including Guri Hetland, Trond Nystad and Knut Nystad. Norwegian biathlete Emil Hegle Svendsen trained for 103 hours in June as part of his mission to be in the best shape of his life for the upcoming season, according to Madshus. He is especially focused on performing well at Biathlon World Championships on his home turf in Oslo from March 3–13th. Langrenn recently reported that, according to a report from TV-and-marketing company Infront, interest in nordic disciplines (skiing, biathlon, nordic combined, and ski jumping) were at an all-time high in Norway last year….