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- Marit Bjørgen has won the Fair Play Mecenate award for 2014. On July 23 she received the award in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy. According to the International Ski Federation, the Fair Play Mecenate award recognizes the sportsmanship that Bjørgen has demonstrated throughout her successful career. A jury of international representatives from various sports organizations chose Bjørgen as the 2014 award recipient. 

“It is a great honour to be honoured with such a prestigious award. I am proud and humbled by the honour. To be recognised for such a fair play award is something I highly appreciate. Although Cross-Country Skiing is an individual sport, I would not be where I am today without other girls on the team. I am proud to be part of a strong team with a good team spirit, where we celebrate our team mates’ success and support each other,” Bjørgen said in the FIS press release.

- In Whitehorse, Yukon skiers and coaches are ready to take their summer training from the roads to paved trails according to CBC News. The ski club in northern Canada wishes to create a 5 k loop for it’s skiers to rollerski on in the summer. The plan doesn’t come without challenges though, as the projected cost for a roller ski track is roughly $600,000.

- It’s became a lot more difficult to be on the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team when USSA announced this year that it would cut funding for athletes in the program. However, the ski community of Aspen is rallying around the country’s nordic combined athletes to ensure the sport has a future. According to the Aspen Times, the Aspen Valley Ski Club is holding a fundraising effort in Aspen during the USA Pro Challenge August 18. The funds the club raises at the cocktail event will benefit the entire U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, which will be in attendance for a five-day endurance camp in Aspen.

- Astrid Jacobsen is less concerned with making it on the podium for the upcoming season according to NRK Sport. The Norwegian who finished second in the 2014 Tour de Ski was roughly translated saying that she “never had less desire to win.” However, that doesn’t mean that Jacobsen has lost her drive. In fact she is more motivated than ever to improve her skiing.

“The motivation is great, but has different shape than before.” Jacobsen said to NRK. “Therefore, it is less important to win. The big day, championship, key ski or other major events … They are becoming less important. It is important to know that I’m getting better and stronger, and it has become more important that I do well in life.”

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- Team Coop has the first gender equal team in the club’s history. According to a press release the long-distance team will have four men and four women. The team consists of Oskar Svärd (SWE), Seraina Boner (Switzerland), Morten Eide Pedersen (NOR), Emilie Kristoffersen (NOR), Jimmie Johnsson (SWE), Hilde Losgård Landheim (NOR), Bill Impola (SWE), Annika Löfström (SWE). While the team currently has eight athletes, there are two additional spots that may be filled at a later date.

- According to an FIS press release Charlotte Kalla has switched to Alpina boots and Rottefella bindings. “I was testing as long as there was snow in Sundsvall. Then I went to Riksgränsen and Sognfjell in Norway. I decided to try the boots with an open mind. I spent a lot of time in the boots and after having evaluated everything, I think I made a good decision,” Sweden’s top female cross country skier said.

- Preparations for the 2014 Blink Festival are almost complete as the event is scheduled to get underway July 31. The series of cross country and biathlon rollerski races, which take place in Sandnes and Lysebotn, Norway and last for three days, attracts many of skiing’s top stars. According to FIS, this year’s list of participants include 27 Olympic medalists. The most notable include Norwegians Marit Bjørgen, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, Petter Northug, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Ola Vigen Hattestad. In addition, other big names like Emil Joensson, the Fourcade brothers, Aino Kaisa Saarinen and Kerttu Niskanen will also be participating.

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The ski jumps of Erzurum, Turkey are non-existent after heavy rain and landslides caused the structures collapse July 15. According to a press release from ski-nordique.net there is little remaining of the jumps that were used in the 2012 Junior/U23 World Championships.

The Turkish Federation estimated the damage to cost a lest 1 million euros. Due to the expense, it is uncertain whether the jumps will be rebuilt.

The collapse occurred after the Turkish Federation hired a former French and Finnish jumping coach, with the hopes of sending at least one jumper to the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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- The International Olympic Committee announced that the three remaining bids for the 2022 Olympic Games have become official finalists to host the international event. The announcement that Oslo, Almaty, and Beijing were finalists was expected due to the number of host bids that dropped out before the IOC selected candidates. According to the Washington Post the three cities must submit their final bids to the IOC by January 2015. The final pick will be announced in July 2015.

- It may become easier to download your favorite ski-related apps or stream your favorite events from your smart phone if you attend the 2018 Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea. Around the Rings reported that mobile communications operator SK Telecom and mobile technology firm Ericsson expressed their intent to develop a 5G network by the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

- The Swiss Cross Country coaching staff is now complete with the hire of Torstein Drivenes. According to FIS the 29-year-old was previously a coach with Ski Club Lillehammer and will head the second training group of Swiss Cross Country.

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* Fans of Italian skier Valerio Checchi, who won a World Cup in 2008, there’s bad news: this winter Checchi missed his third whereabouts in 18 months (that means that doping chaperones came to administer a test, but he wasn’t where he said he’d be). That usually means a ban from anti-doping agencies, and in April Checchi received a 1-year suspension from his country’s National Anti-Doping Court (and ordered to pay the 325 Euros that the proceedings had cost). Checchi had last competed in the Toblach, Italy, 15 k classic World Cup competition, where he finished 27th. Checchi is 34, but despite not being picked for the Olympic team, he said in a video just before the missed whereabouts that he was convinced he could compete strongly going forward and had no plans to retire. He had hoped to compete in the later-season World Cups.

* Meanwhile in Russia, biathlete Valentin Pekhterev failed a doping test at junior national championships. Never a particularly strong competitor before, Pekhterev won the sprint, a two-stage shooting competition, by 18 seconds despite four penalties. He went on to win the pursuit by even more. He also had a heroic leg of the relay, anchoring his team from eighth to third despite using all six spare rounds and skiing a penalty lap. He tested positive for two banned substances. The first was GW501516, also called Endurobol, a weight-loss drug developed by GlaxoSmithKline which was later scrapped because it was shown to cause cancer – a lot of it, in multiple organs – in rats. The drug was never approved for clinical use. It was placed on WADA’s banned list in 2009 and, despite costing $1000 for 10 g, two fairly high-profile cyclists were already busted for it in 2013. That year, WADA took the highly unusual step of warning competitors that the substance was dangerous. The second substance was Ostarine, also called Enobosarm, a selective androgen receptor modulator which may increase strength in a similar fashion to anabolic steroids. It is still deemed an investigational drug, but was banned by WADA in 2008. Also in 2013, a Russian cyclist tested positive for the substance and was suspended. Skisport.ru reported that Pekhterev comes from the Tyumen region and is coached by the same head coach as World Cup winners Andrei Makoveev and Evgeniy Garanichev, the latter of whom won bronze in the 20 k individual at the 2014 Olympics.

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- The Worldloppet Ski Federation announced the addition of four new races as associate members of of the international organization. The new races include the Marchablanca / Ushuaialoppet in Argentina, Vasaloppet China, the Fossavatn Ski Marathon in Iceland, and Merino Muster of New Zealand. Their inclusion as associate members make the races eligible for Worldloppet passport stamps.

According to the International Ski Federation (FIS), this is the first time smaller marathon races that don’t meet the minimum requirements have been added to the Worldloppet series. A full calendar for the 2014/2015 season can be found here.

- According to Aljezeera, Ukraine has withdrawn its bid for the 2022 Olympics. After discussions between Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, the decision to withdraw the bid to host the Olympic Games in the city of Lviv was reached due to the current turmoil in the country.

“Due to the current circumstances in Ukraine, we… felt that a bid for 2026 would make more sense. We remain convinced of the positive impact that hosting Olympic Games would have for the city of Lviv and the whole country,” Sergei Goncharov, the Lviv bid’s CEO, told The Associated Press.

- Martin Sundby recently signed a four-year contract with the Norwegian Ski Federation. According to FIS, the 2014 Overall World Cup champion will continue to race for the Norwegian Ski Federation until 2018 and will have a financial arrangement that supports his skiing career in addition to his family.

“Norwegian Ski Federation has created a secure financial situation both for me and my family. The national team and the system around has been very good for my development. Another solution would not be good for me. The team model is the best for getting on top in Cross-Country Skiing. I am grateful that the federation wanted to sign such a long term deal with me,” Sundby said in a press release.

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- Katerina Numannova may be returning to her position as the assistant to the Czech Republic’s Defense Minister, Martin Stropnicky, in the sphere of military sports in the coming weeks. The six-time olympic medalist worked at the position in the early 2010s, according to the Prague Post, and should be returning sometime in August. Numannova is a somewhat controversial figure in the Czech Republic, as many in the country blame the former ski racer for the financial mismanagement of the 2009 World Championships held in Liberic. Numannova served as the vice president of the organizing committee for the event.

- Aino-Kaisa Saarenin isn’t just a champion in the winter, she also dominates in the summer. On June 25, the Finnish Olympian won the Vuokatti Ateli Race for the seventh time according to a FIS press release. The race began with a 3 k running prologue. The next day racers pushed through 10 k rollerski which ended at the top of Vuokatti, a popular ski mountain in Finland. Finishing roughly 26 seconds behind Saarenin was fellow national team member Kerttu Niskanen.

- On June 29, USSA will host the third annual Sufferfest for it’s athletes and staff. Open to all USSA athletes, the bike race will take place near Sundance Resort, Utah and climb over eight miles and 3,000 ft. up Provo Canyon. According to an USSA press release, there are over 30 registered participants including Sarah Hendrickson and Liz Stephen.

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- Almaty, Kazakhstan is taking advantage of the European ambiguity towards the 2022 Olympics. The eurasian city, which is one of four cities with remaining bids, is using a bike race to promote the international event and to show that Kazakhstan is enthusiastic and ready for the Olympic Games. The 12 k race, which boasted over 2,000 participants, started at Almaty’s ski jumping complex and finished at Central Stadium, which is planned to be the site of the opening and closing ceremony should the city win the 2022 bid.

“We already improved a lot in the past years what our residents positively recognize. Our goal is to become an even more modern city, with the latest technologies to have the best environmental conditions, with an education and sport system as a means to create a healthy lifestyle for future generations and creating a city residents are proud of,” the city’s Vice Mayor, Zauresh Amanzholova, of the event in a press release.

- Kris Freeman recently visited Camp Carson in Princeton, N.J. to talk to the attendees of the INdependence Diabetes Camp about the challenges and rewards of being a professional athlete with the disease. According to the Princeton Daily Clarion, the four-time Olympian aimed to demonstrate to the children at the event that having diabetes doesn’t have to stop them from participating in sports.

“I see more and more people with diabetes competing in sports,” Freeman told the participants. “I’m just adjusting and I’m still learning about the disease every day. … It doesn’t go away, it’s still a pain, but it gets easier as you learn to manage it.”

- Ola Vigen Hattestad has a goal for the 2018 Olympics and it’s not results based. The 32-year-old Norwegian recently talked with the Norwegian news site, NRK Sport, about his prospects in skiing for the coming years. According to NRK, Hattestad plans to be the oldest nordic skier at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
(Note: A previous version of this post erroneously stated that Hattestad was bested by a 15-year-old in a 5 k uphill rollerski time trial, when in fact, he won the event. The 15-year-old crossed the finish line before Hattestad, but the 32-year-old started the time trial roughly two minutes behind his younger competitor.)
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Norwegian ski star Petter Northug posted a photo to his Instagram account promising to win gold at the World Championships in Falun later this year. The screenshot of the now-deleted post is pictured here and depicts Northug out-sprinting Marcus Helner in the 4 x 10 k relay at the 2013 World Championships in Italy. (Source www.dagbladet.no)

Norwegian skiing star Petter Northug posted a photo to his Instagram account on June 20 promising to win gold at the World Championships in Falun, Sweden in 2015. The screenshot of the now-deleted post is pictured here and depicts Northug out-sprinting Marcus Hellner in the 4 x 10 k relay at the 2013 World Championships in Italy. (Source www.dagbladet.no)

Petter Northug can’t seem to avoid controversy. After a drunk driving incident in May that continues to haunt his sponsorship deals for the upcoming season, the 28-year-old Norwegian skiing star has jumped back into the spotlight. This time, however, it’s his social media that’s catching some attention from the Norwegian media.

Friday June 20, a photo was posted to Northug’s Instagram account from the 2013 World Championships in which he out-sprinted one of his Swedish rivals, Marcus Hellner, in the 4 x 10 k relay. The caption read:

“YOLO #hello everybody #now #Petters #back #im #training #like #a #monster #and #thats #a #FACT #VM #in #Falun #is my #GOAL #I #Promise #everyone #to #win #some #GOLD #iLoveSweden”

Soon after the photo started to gain attention it was deleted, but there was still time for the Norwegian news site, Dagbladet.no, to take a screenshot (pictured above). In a text to TV 2 Sport Northug’s manager, Are Sørm Langås, claims the image and its caption were posted by another person. When asked whether the account was hacked, Langås said he did not know.

The post follows Northug’s 2013/2014 season, which was riddled with disappointment after  he failed to win an Olympic medal and finished seventh overall in the World Cup standings. Even for a two-time Overall World Cup Champion like Northug, a promise of a win roughly eight months in the future is a rare occurrence in the cross country ski community.

The news also brings to light the relationship between Northug and his manager. Langås’ future with Northug is still uncertain, as the manager may fall victim to sponsor conditions after Northug’s drunk driving incident in May. According to TV 2 Sport, if Northug wishes to continue to be sponsored by the European grocery chain, Coop, he must cut ties with all management.

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The FIS Rollerski World Cup is underway in Croatia after the first race took place Friday June 20. Russia dominated the first day of the World Cup, according to a press release by FIS, with a 1-2 finish by Russians Ksenia Konokhova and Anna Grushina in the women’s race. Nina Broznić of Croatia took third. In the men’s race Marcus Johansson of Sweden won the 7 k competition followed by Italy’s Simone Paredi. Third place went to Ivan Solodov of Russia.

The opening races continue this weekend with roughly 70 competitors from 10 countries who will compete in a series of uphill, individual, and sprint competitions.

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