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It’s A Boy! Randall and Ellis Welcome Baby Breck

"Overwhelmed with love and happiness to welcome Breck Stuart Randall Ellis into our family last night," Randall tweeted along with the above image of her and Jeff Ellis' son, Breck Stuart Randall Ellis. (Photo: Kikkan Randall Twitter)

“Overwhelmed with love and happiness to welcome Breck Stuart Randall Ellis into our family last night,” Randall tweeted on Friday, April 15. (Photo: Kikkan Randall/Twitter)

Kikkan Randall has broken down a lot of barriers for the U.S. Nordic Ski Team women’s team. Most involved podiums. On Thursday, April 14, she became a first-time parent — another first among her teammates. 

Randall and her husband, Jeff Ellis, celebrated the birth of their baby boy, Breck Stuart Randall Ellis.

“Jeff and I are overwhelmed with love and happiness as we welcomed Breck Stuart Randall Ellis into the world last night,” Randall posted along with a photo of the newborn on Instagram. “8lbs 11oz and 21 [inches]. He’s already a happy, healthy and strong boy!”

When the four-time Olympian announced her pregnancy last October, she also indicated her plan to compete in the 2016/2017 ski season, as well as the 2018 Olympics.

Russian Cross-Country Skier Tests Positive for Meldonium

Russia's Kirill Vitsjuzjanin (11) leading the pack in Val di Fiemme, Italy.  (Photo: FlyingPointRoad.com)

Russia’s Kirill Vitsjuzjanin (11) leading the pack in Val di Fiemme, Italy. (Photo: FlyingPointRoad.com)

A Russian cross-country skier who placed in the top 30 at Russian nationals last weekend, Kirill Vitsjuzjanin, has tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited use of the drug, a metabolic modulator, starting Jan. 1, 2016.

Vitsjuzjanin, 23, apparently took meldonium last September based on a prescription from his doctor, Langrenn reports. His father and trainer Petr Vitsjuzjanin said that his son used the substance last year, before it was banned. Earlier this year, he passed a doping test but a sample taken in March was found positive for the substance.

“I am shocked,” his father said. “The situation is embarrassing for me.”

Vitsjuzjanin has never competed in a World Cup, but placed 22nd and 27th at Russian nationals last weekend in Tyumen.

Several Russian athletes have also tested positive for the banned substance, including tennis star Maria Sharapova and skate printer Pavel Kulizjnikov. Two Ukrainian biathletes have open cases with WADA regarding their use of meldonium: Olga Abramova and Artem Tyshchenko.

On Wednesday, news emerged that Norwegian weightlifter Ruth Kasirye also tested positive for meldonium.

A Week After Junior Worlds, Kern Reaches Alpen Cup Podium

Julia Kern racing to third in the junior women's 15 k freestyle mass start last Sunday at the Alpen Cup in Arber, Germany. (Photo: Justin Beckwith)

Julia Kern racing to third in the junior women’s 15 k freestyle mass start last Sunday at the Alpen Cup in Arber, Germany. (Photo: Justin Beckwith)

There is still racing happening in Europe, and Julia Kern reached the podium last weekend at the Alpen Cup in Germany a very big way.

For starters, she was the third junior woman in the 15-kilometer freestyle mass start — the longest race she had ever done — last Sunday. As U.S. Ski Team Development Coach and trip leader Bryan Fish pointed out, she would have been 15th among the senior women that day in Arber, Germany.

“In the past, long distances have been my weakness and even the thought of a 15km would be daunting, however to my surprise this year I have found most of my best races have been in distance races,” Kern, 18, wrote in an email on Sunday. “I think I had a particularly good race today because I absolutely love mass starts and I was fired up to stick with the leaders for as long as possible.”

Kern is coming off Junior World Championships in Rasnov, Romania, where she posted two individual top 20’s in the freestyle sprint and 5 k classic. A week after her last race in Rasnov, the women’s relay, the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) and U.S. Ski Team (USST) D-team member competed in Arber.

“Coming off of World Juniors I was actually pretty tired. The combination of a lot of running, a compressed race week, and slow snow made more tired than I had expected,” she wrote. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from these races because I wasn’t sure how many people would be there and how I would feel after a few tough last few days in Romania.”

Julia Kern racing to third in the junior women's 15 k freestyle mass start last Sunday at the Alpen Cup in Arber, Germany. (Photo: Bryan Fish)

Julia Kern racing to third in the junior women’s 15 k freestyle mass start last Sunday at the Alpen Cup in Arber, Germany. (Photo: Bryan Fish)

In her first race of the Alpen Cup weekend, the 5 k classic, Kern placed fourth, 12.3 seconds off the podium and 42 seconds behind the winner.

“The field was pretty small, only 16 girls in the U20 race,” she wrote of the 5 k. “Many people were recovering from World Juniors and others didn’t get a start spot. Although the field was small, the girls there were strong skiers. I wouldn’t say I had an outstanding race, but I was still generally satisfied with my race.”

The next day, she described having “one of the fastest skis out there.”

“I think the biggest difference was my energy and mindset,” she added. “I often times have higher energy the second day of racing compared to others. Mentally, I didn’t feel quite in the race yesterday, but today in the mass start I was fully focused and out to win. I learned a lot about racing a 15km, as well as mass start tactics since we have so few lately with the lack of snow.”

The second U.S. woman in the junior races, Leah Lange placed 10th on both days. According to Fish, the U.S. brought 20 athletes to Europe — a mixture of U20 and senior skiers — for the last two OPA Cups of the season. Next weekend, they’ll compete at OPA Cup Finals in Toblach, Italy.

Other U.S. results from last weekend include: Becca Rorabaugh (APU) in 13th in the senior women’s 10 k classic last Saturday, followed by Erika Flowers (SMST2) in 17th, Liz Guiney (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) in 21st, and Heather Mooney in 27th.

Akeo Maifeld-Caucci (Bridger Ski Foundation) leads a German while racing to 26th in the senior men's 30 k freestyle mass start on Sunday. (Photo: Bryan Fish)

Akeo Maifeld-Carucci (Bridger Ski Foundation) leads a German while racing to 26th in the senior men’s 30 k freestyle mass start on Sunday. (Photo: Bryan Fish)

In the senior men’s 15 k classic on Saturday, Ben Saxton (SMST2/USST) placed 25th, Mile Havilick (Sun Valley SEF) in 27th, Logan Hanneman (APU) in 34th, Akeo Maifeld-Carucci (BSF) in 41st, Tyler Kornfield (APU) in 48th, and Lex Treinen (APU) in 56th.

In the junior men’s 15 k classic, Thomas O’Harra (APU) placed 20th, Zak Ketterson (NMU) was 21st, and Leo Hipp (NMU) 31st.

On Day 2, Maifeld-Carucci led the U.S. senior men in the 30 k freestyle mass start in 26th, Treinen was 30th, Havlick 33rd, Kornfield 43rd, Saxton 45th, and Hanneman 48th.

In the junior men’s 20 k freestyle mass start, Ketterson placed 17th, O’Harra was 29th and Hipp 34th.

Next stop: Italy. Fish explained they arrived in Toblach on Tuesday night.

“I am really looking forward to these races because the field will be big and very competitive!” Kern wrote of OPA Cup Finals. “The races [last] weekend has further built my confidence that I am getting faster every race and that I can be just as the fast as the girls here in Europe. I am hoping to carry my momentum from this weekend into OPA finals and I am hoping to put in my best races of the season.”

Results: 

Women: Senior 10 k classic | Junior 5 k classic | Senior 15 k freestyle mass start | Junior 15 k freestyle mass start

Men: Senior 15 k classic | Junior 15 k classic | Senior 30 k freestyle mass start | 20 k freestyle mass start

Appeals Committee Reinstates Four Norwegian Relay Teams from National Championships

After the national championship relay in Tromsø, 15 men’s teams were slapped with three-minute penalties for skating in the classic portion of the race. The race jury published video of the technique infractions and said that they were aiming to be strict in enforcing the rules on classic technique.

Four teams appealed the decision, and the Appeals Committee recently agreed with them, saying that since there was no classic track on the section of the course in question, the skiers were allowed to push off of their skis instead of double-poling. Thus the time penalties were removed for those four teams.

The decision is available (in Norwegian) here.

According to John Aalberg, who was the Technical Delegate for the competitions and had been part of the six-member group who decided to penalize the 15 teams, the decision not to set tracks had been because on a steep uphill, the tracks would have been washed out immediately during warmup as skiers went up the hill using herringbone technique.

The solution that he and other technical experts have come to? Set tracks, even if they get washed out.

“The basic reason is that the current rules (according to the attorneys reviewing the appeals) say that ‘turning technique’ (basically skating with one leg) is allowed where there is no track set – this means also in uphills,” Aalberg wrote in an email to FasterSkier. “Our jury did not have this understanding of the rules and defined the ‘skating’ we observed in the uphill as wrong classical technique (in an uphill). The solution (until the rules are adjusted) is to set a track also in herringbone hills (and make sure it is marked as such).”

The skating by some skiers seemed more blatant than others, and it does not seem that the appeals committee took this into consideration. You can view the video here and check for yourself: the teams which successfully appealed were Heming (bib 12), Kjelsås (bib 5), Rindal (bib 22), and Varden Meråker 2 (bib 32).

Rottefella Files Suit Against Amer Sport, Claims Illegal Copyright of NNN System

The binding wars continue.

As noted in a FasterSkier article on on Dec. 31, Amer Sports, the holding company for Atomic and Salomon, plans to release NNN-compatible boots and bindings using what they are calling the Prolink system.

Ski-lines.com linked to an article on Jan. 6, originally posted on e24.no, explaining that Rottefella is filing suit against Amer Sport. Rottefella is the original patent holder of the NNN system and the more modern NIS system.

In Ski-Lines.com’s translation of the article, which was originally written in Norwegian, they claim Rottefella believes the Prolink system, “is illegally copying Rottefella, who owns the NNN binding system, which includes everything from the tread of boots to the mounting plate on the skis.”

E24 reports that Rottefella’s lawyer, Halvor Haug Mans, says Amer Sports is violating intellectual property rights and a Marketing Act, “against copied products.” According to E24, Rottefella, in its complaint, has given Amer Sports Norway, “until Friday at 14.30 if they will respond to the letter. The short deadline due according Rottefella that Amer has already completed the launch without any prior notice, and that it is now urgent to intervene in the situation that has arisen.”

Biathlon WC to Ruhpolding; European Snow Woes Continue, Tour de Ski Still On

* With more than ten days before the World Cup was set to arrive, organizers in Oberhof, Germany, knew that they wouldn’t have enough snow to hold the biathlon competitions in early January. On December 22 they canceled their World Cup, traditionally the first stop of the new year each season. Ruhpolding, Germany, to the southwest has stepped up and will host the fourth weekend of World Cup racing as well as their originally-scheduled hosting duties for the fifth weekend.

World Cup 4 will run from January 8-10 and World Cup 5 from January 13-17.

The FIS Tour de Ski looks set to go off as planned, beginning in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on January 1-3. There’s enough snow on the race trails and alpine resorts but not much elsewhere down in the valley.

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The Crans-Montana resort a few hours away had no snow on Christmas for just the sixth time since 1966, according to Swiss government meteorologists. And their annual review shows how anomalous the warm winter is: the annual temperature record for 2015 is the warmest ever, breaking the record which had been set in 2014 and before that in 2011. December is where part of that record comes from. By the end of the month it is expected to be the warmest December ever on record in Switzerland, 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than average. The previous record was set in 1968.

Oberstdorf, Germany, will host the second batch of races, on January 5-6. The order of the Oberstdorf races will be reversed, with a sprint on January 5 instead of as previously scheduled the next day, in order to give the organizing committee more time to make snow for the 10 and 15 k skiathlons, now to be held on January 6.

“We are very happy that the FIS Tour de Ski is going to take place in Oberstdorf,” FIS Cross Country race director Pierre Mignerey said in a press release. “The LOC has been working hard and showed great courage and commitment to organize both stages of the Tour de Ski. The whole Cross-Country Skiing community appreciates their efforts.”

Out of some 4,000 cubic meters of snow Oberstdorf organizers produced in November and early December, about 2,500 cubic meters remain. The sprint will be held on a 1.2 k course while a new track for the distance races is prepared. Start times are TBD.

At the moment, Oberstdorf looks quite green, but it’s set to begin hosting the 4 Hills Ski Jumping Tournament on Monday.

Dec. 22 Roundup: Last Day to Win TDS Tix; Biathletes Spread Holiday Cheer

– Today is the last day to enter for a chance to see the Tour de Ski in person. Adidas will award one lucky individual a trip to Lenzerheide, Switzerland, to watch the Tour de Ski races on-site, starting with the men’s 30 k and women’s 15 k classic mass start on Jan 2. To enter, participants must simply enter their contact information here.

– And Adidas isn’t stopping the contests there: Adidas and Rossignol are sponsoring a contest for the chance to win a full ski kit from French skier, Martin Fourcade. The gear includes a long sleeve T-shirt, pants, a pair of Rossignol ski boots, and Rossignol skis.

– US Biathlon’s Lowell Bailey and Clare Egan, accompanied by France’s Jean-Guillaume Béatrix, harmonized for an IBU Christmas video, with Egan leading the vocals for two Christmas songs.

Team United Bakeries spreads some holiday cheer during the holiday season in a unique way. Dressed in Santa and Yeti costumes Team United Bakeries hit the trails to “scare” the competition, and dole out a little holiday fun for their Instagram feed.

– In an award ceremony on Sunday night, sports journalists named Germany’s Nordic Combined relay from the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden (Edelmann, Rießle, Frenzel, Rydzek) the German “team of the year,” partly because it was the first team title in that discipline in over two decades. That award is considered a huge honor every year, at least like an ESPY, similarly presented at a gala dinner and broadcast live on TV, with some 700 athletes from all kinds of sports disciplines in attendance. Moreover, the German women’s biathlon relay (Hildebrand, Preuss, Hinz, Dahlmeier) from 2015 IBU World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland, ranked second, and the German men’s biathlon relay (Lesser, Böhm, Peiffer, Schempp) in third place. After wrapping up their World Cup weekend in Pokljuka, Slovenia, the German biathletes drove to the awards ceremony, dressed up for the black-tie event.

– Bjørn Dæhlie made an appearance the recent World Cup races in Davos, Switzerland, not as an athlete or part of the audience, but as an advocate for his own clothing line. The Norwegian ski legend passed out hats with his signature brand to close to 400 children during the weekend’s competition.

– With a lack of snow in Europe, Norway’s most decorated biathlon star Ole Einar Bjørndalen may resort to training indoors for much of the holiday break. When he says indoors, Bjørndalen refers to his tour bus/indoor-training facility.

– The biathlon star could also look to train at one of the European venues boasting cool enough temperatures to procure trails of manmade snow. The list of sacred snow holders includes: Balderschwang Germany (5 kilometers), Gsiesertal, Italy (15 k), Val di Femme, Italy (5+ k), Toblach, Italy (5 k), Goms, SwitzerlandGstaad, Switzerland (23 k), Davos, Switzerland (7 k), Lenzerheide, Switzerland (12 k), Andermatt, Switzerland (11 k), Engelberg, Switzerland (10 k), Ramsau Austria (2.5 k), Pitzal Glacier, Austria (5 k), Obertilliach, Austria (4.8 k).

– Areas in Sweden are also looking to let it [artificial] snow. Thanks to a recent grant approval from the Cultural and Leisure Department in Sundbyberg, a couple of municipalities in Stockholm County, Sweden, will collaborate to purchase three new artificial snow canons. Along with the Municipality of Täby and the Municipality of Sundbyberg, the Stockholm Sports Federation will contribute toward the 750,000 SEK ($89,000 U.S. dollars) total investment.

– Is there such thing as too many volunteers? The organizers for the Biathlon World Cup in Holmenkollen, Norway, had to actually turn away over 350 individuals who signed up to help out at the championship being held March 3rd-13th of next year. A total 1650 individuals applied for the 1300 available volunteer positions, leaving a few desirous of lending their time to wait until the next all for help.

– After many years serving as the Norwegian Junior National Biathlon Team head coach, Kjell Ove Oftedal plans to resign from the position on Jan. 1, 2016. Though time as head coach will be well remembered by many, Oftedal is ready to head off, according to one translation, “in search of a new challenge.”

– Three years ago, Swedish skier Adam Johansson skied from Falun to Stockholm as a fundraiser event for Musikhjälpen, a collaboration of Swedish radio stations that offer news about global issues. Hoping to prove a point that the lack of snow requires attention and action against climate, Johansson has decided to ski the 20 miles once again, but this year on roller skis. Read more about his and organization Ski Aid on his Facebook page.

– Cross Country Canada (CCC) recently announced its nominations of athletes to compete during Period 2 of racing on the U25 European B-team. The team selections were made based off of athletes’ performances during the 2015 December NorAm selection events and the 2015-2016 selection guidelines set forth by CCC for competition trips. Athletes include, women: Dahria Beatty (Alberta World Cup Academy), Cendrine Browne (CNEPH), Katherine-Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay), Maya Macisaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) and men: Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA) and Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay).

– With just over a month to go until the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, Tom Tvedt, the sports president of Youth Olympics, discussed the importance of not only creating athletic endeavors for kids, but also providing the opportunity for youth to learn and further their future development through sport.

– On Dec. 14, Eduard V. Mikhailov lost his life in a car accident while traveling back from a nordic race event in ChusovoyPerm Krai Russia. Mikhailov was a coach for the Russian national cross-country teams as well as the Republic of Udmurtia.

– In other Russian news, NRK attempted to interview former Russian Biathlon coach Vladimir Korolkevich, who now coaches with the Belarusian biathlon team.. Korolkevich denied any knowledge of doping while he worked for the Russian team.

 

 

Dec. 11 Roundup: Johaug in Hot Water Over Pole Straps; Relays Need More Women

– When almost twice as many men’s relay teams as women’s teams competed on Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Cross Country World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, the International Ski Federation (FIS) feels something needs to change. That change may come in the form of mixed relays, which would not only allow more women to participate in the relay races, but more nations as well.

– In a competition for kilometers, FIS has launched a challenge to see which country can ski the most during the first 10 days of January. Officially called the “FIS Tour de Ski Challenge 2016 Powered by Polar,” cross-country skiers of all levels are invited to track their own and others’ kilometers on skis via http://fistourdeski2016.polar.com while using a Polar Flow account and compatible GPS product.

– According to Skisport.ru, Russian athlete and 2015 winner of the Eastern Europe Continental Cup, Andrew Parfenov was not allowed to enter in the World-Cup opening races in Kuusamo, Finland, due to a recent contract he signed with Finnish brand, Yoko. Parfenov was not allowed entry because Yoko is not an approved sponsor of the Russian Ski Federation and this sponsorship conflicted with an agreement made with Fischer.

– In an interview with Skisport.ru, Russian native Ivan Babikov discussed many trending topics including the financing of the Canadian national team, WADA‘s recent report on Russia, and his celebrity status in Canada. Babikov referenced Cross Country Canada’s loss of sponsorship from oil company, Statoil, and its effect on his team’s budget. On the topic of WADA’s recent doping report on Russia, he said, “I believe that in Sochi, the best man won. All of us there were always tested — Russian, and Canadian and Brazilian.” While skiing is popular in Canada, he also said his celebrity status was nil compared to the country’s favorite sport: hockey. A Canadian since his family moved to Toronto when he was young, he has no plans on returning to Russia.

– Some Norwegian ski experts believe the 2015/2016 overall World Cup crown is Therese Johaug’s to lose and a clean sweep in the distance races is within her grasp. “She is totally superior in distance, simply. She will be through the winter, because she is so far ahead. It allows her to win the race even if she is 90 percent,” said Torgeir Bjørn, NRK’s ​​expert commentator and retired Norwegian nordic skier.

– More on Norway’s female star: Sweski.com reports reports drama over Johaug using Swix straps on her Bjørn Dæhlie poles. It seems the smaller-sized Swix straps fit Johaug better than the stock straps on her new poles. After Johaug taped over the Swix logo at the opening races in Kuusamo, Finland, Swix went to FIS and forced her to remove the tape for future races. Until Bjørn Dæhlie makes straps that fit her hands comfortably, she will continue with the Swix straps, which Swix CEO Ulf Bjerknes finds amusing.

– Johaug is also the new face of the Huawei‘s “Make it Possible Campaign,” according to Ski-Nordique. A Chinese company that specializes in smartphones and tablets, Huawei’s ad featuring Johaug can be found here.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby is in contention to rank amongst legendary skiers Bjørn Dæhlie and Gunde Svan for a nordic “hat-trick”, according to Ski-Nordique. If he is able to win another World Cup title this winter he will complete this feat. The title would be Sundby’s third-consecutive crystal globe.

– Norway’s Emil Iversen skied to seventh place in the Lillehammer World Cup skiathlon last weekend — yet he was the seventh Norwegian. His conundrum: how does he proceed with Norway’s wealth of skiers? Limited to six skiers in the distance events, Iversen will watch most of the season’s World Cups on TV. Ragnhild Haga, who is the sixth-best Norwegian woman on World Cup, feels a similar pressure, according to NRK.

– Norwegian biathlete Kristin Hjelstuen started a food blog where individuals can gain insight and find recipes regarding eating habits of elite athletes.

– The Ski Classics marathon series plans to award 389,000 Euros (roughly $427,000 U.S. dollars) in total prize money in 2016, with 200,000 Euros ($219,000) going to “the best general rankings” (top male and female), and 21,000 Euros ($23,000) to be distributed at each of the 10 stops on the circuit

-With the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games kicking off Feb. 12th in Lillehammer, Norway, televised broadcasting of the event will be available through the Norwegian broadcasting network, NRK. Sporting competitions include staples like cross-country skiing, biathlon and nordic combined, as well as cross-country motocross and ski-cross. More than 1,000 athletes ages 15-18 are currently registered from over 70 different nations.

Noah Hoffman Launches Fantasy League, Trading Closes Nov. 26

Race fans looking for the added incentive of physical prizes have a virtual chance to dominate this winter’s cross-country World Cup season, with the recent relaunch of U.S. Ski Team member Noah Hoffman’s Fantasy Cross Country League.

A project Hoffman debuted last year, “Noah Hoffman Fantasy Cross Country” is aimed at gaining a greater following and support for nordic skiing at the international level. The purpose of the league is to collect the most World Cup points by selecting the best team of athletes for each weekend and tour throughout the season. To join, click this link, create an account and pick your team. The first series of trading closes Nov. 26, 8 p.m. Eastern.

Rules:

– One account per person; no aliases allowed. Each league participant gets a total of 16 skiers for their league team: eight women, eight men. Trades may be made until 8 p.m. Eastern time the night before the opening race of each weekend or tour. See the website calendar for more details on trading.

– Points are awarded for the top-30 finishers from each weekend or tour. At the conclusion of the World Cup season, a grand prize of a pair of Madshus Nanosonic Skate Skis, Madshus 100 UHM Poles, and a Caldwell Sport Fleet Evaluation (plus Stone Grinding, Heatbox, and Race Hardening for one pair of skis) will be awarded to the individual with the best team over the course of the season.

– Prizes will also be awarded every weekend or tour to the individual with the best performing team. See the website prizes for more information.

Last Day of WADA Meetings: Russia, Ukraine Declared Noncompliant (Updating)

Note: We’ll try to update this post as the day progresses.

The Compliance Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has declared RUSADA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, noncompliant with the WADA Code.

WADA Director General David Howman told the assembly that in countries which are deemed noncompliant, WADA itself will work with other relevant bodies to make sure that athletes are tested for doping violations. He confirmed that the country itself would be on the hook for the expenses of such a plan.

Besides RUSADA, the committee deemed Ukraine, Andorra, Israel, and Argentina noncompliant, and put Belgium, Brazil, France, Greece, Mexico, and Spain on a “watch list”. Those on the watch list must come into full compliance by March 18th, 2016.

Ukraine was reportedly deemed noncompliant for using a non accredited laboratory.

Even athletes from those countries already deemed noncompliant will see no effects of the ruling on their ability to compete, as WADA will take over organizing testing, according to sources in the meeting. The exception is Russian track and field, which has been sanctioned by its international federation, the IAAF.

This means that Russian and Ukrainian ski and biathlon stars will be on the trails two weeks from now when the World Cup begins.

Surprisingly, Kenya was not named on either list; in a documentary released by German television station ARD, Kenyan distance running was shown to be riddled with blood doping. The BBC is reporting that Kenya was told it needed to explain its anti-doping process or be added to the list.

Earlier in the day at the WADA Board Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, today, many within the movement called for further investigation and action into all sports in the wake of a report by the Independent Commission which found systematic and state-sponsored doping in track and field.

Because the violations came from both within track and field, but also from the Russian state anti-doping agency (RUSADA) and a Moscow laboratory, it is clear that more sports besides track and field are affected. However, so far WADA has declined to specify how intently it will follow up outside of track and field.

“We must have the courage to take decisive action,” said Edwin Moses, the chair of WADA’s Education Committee, in an address to the floor. “No more waiting. No more excuses. Justice requires that the sanction for this doping scandal be so strong, and the message of this Board so clear, that no country will ever do this again… There must be a period of successful auditing and testing so that we can give the world’s best athletes the guarantee that an effective and robust anti-doping program is operational in Russia and that all of Russia’s elite athletes in all sports have been subjected to at least a six to nine month period of reliable testing and investigation.”

Other former athletes involved in the WADA movement have echoed that call.

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Beckie Scott, the Canadian cross-country skiing great, also spoke.

“They’re saying, ‘Why not all sports?'” the Associated Press quotes Scott as saying. “I feel that there are a lot of athletes watching and waiting right now. We’re at a crossroads. We urge you to please consider these athletes and consider these sports as a whole.”

According to the AP, WADA President Craig Reedie responded: “it’s quite difficult to agree today, around this table, that we would investigate all sports around the world.”

That response was “a gut kick to clean athletes,” the AP said that USADA head Travis Tygart replied: “Unless we want to be relegated to an impotent bureaucracy, we have to fulfill our promise to clean athletes and take action as requested by them.”

Nov. 14 Roundup: EU Fluoro Ban Clarified; Harvey and Newell Named Most Beautiful

– “Take it easy, both Birkebeiners and Northug,” Adressa.no began in an article about the European Union banning fluorinated wax. Earlier this week, several media outlets reported the EU would eventually ban such products, which has been the magic behind the fastest, best-gliding skis on the international race circuit. But Adressa stated such reports were “greatly exaggerated.” Currently, the EU doesn’t have any restrictions on fluorinated compounds in wax, but PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a different story.

Norway already bans the use of PFOA in consumer products such as clothing, and pots and pans, which benefit from the water- and dirt-resistant properties of PFOA. Bottom line: Norway’s leading wax manufacturer, Swix will have to make some tweaks to eliminate PFOA from certain products.

“We have long known that this could come and are well on our way to solving this problem,” Swix Sport CEO Ulf Bjerknes said, adding that the company will work until it develops an equally good glide product.

To ban PFOA’s use in wax, the European Chemicals Agency must make its recommendation to the EU before Dec. 17. The earliest the ban could go into effect would be January 2018 — and that’s when Norway’s head of such matters will be notified.  As a result, the potential PFOA ban won’t affect wax used at the 2017 World Championships or 2018 Olympics.

“It is very much in skiers’ interest to get rid of PFOA under the skis,” the website for the government-run Environment Norway explains. “The substance is dangerous for the environment, degrades slowly in the environment and accumulates in humans and animals. Upon repeated exposure, it may cause fetal damage and it is suspected that it is carcinogenic. Shown is a probable link between PFOA in blood and increased cholesterol, ulcerative colitis and metabolic diseases.”

The head of the Norwegian national team’s waxing staff, Knut Nystad saw no cause for alarm.

“Anything that improves the environment and the [wax technician] I’m for,” he told Aftenposten.

 

– Skating in classic races: With growing controversy over what techniques should and should not be allowed during classic races, the International Ski Federation (FIS) released a revised set of rules for competitors, coaches and race juries alike, and did so before this weekend’s FIS season openers.

 

– Bids for the 2021 Nordic Ski World Championships are becoming more competitive with the addition of two more venues to the list of bidders. Following the FIS fall meeting on Nov. 8, Langrenn reported that Trondheim, Norway, now faces competition from Oberstdorf, Germany, and Planica, Slovenia.

 

Petter Northug is onboard with Bjørn Dæhlie. After some debate, Norway’s favorite bad boy recently signed a three-year contract with the company, which supplies the Norwegian national team’s race uniforms.

 

Alex Harvey and Andy Newell made a list of the top-10 best-looking skiers published by Russia’s sports.ru. Harvey, of Quebec, was No. 7 and likened to the “Sensational Alex Harvey Band” with his “black curly hair and passion for rock music,” according to a very rough translation. And Newell, who hails from Vermont and is pictured with a kitten, was No. 9.

Both beat out Norway’s Petter Northug in 10th, whom the site wrote was, “Not used to being at the end of [any] rating, but here his place — tenth — and he was lucky that he is on this list…” While he’s not known for being particularly handsome, the Russian site added, “Petter Northug has an incredibly strong charisma, which attracts the attention it deserved.”

Who was No. 1? Sweden’s Teodor Peterson.

 

– Time to test! On Sunday, Nov. 15, nordic skiers are invited to demo day in Livigno, Italy, where companies such as Fischer, Madshus, Salomon, Ski Trab, MasterWax, and Swix will allow cross-country skiers to try out equipment.

 

– Gearing up for Gällivare: Many World Cup athletes, including those from the U.S. and Canadian national teams, and Czech Lukáš Bauer, will kick off the racing season next Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21-22 at Sweden’s FIS opening races, according to FIS News.

FS Live in Geneva: Follow WADA’s Announcements on Russia via Twitter

FasterSkier's Chelsea Little (not shown) awaits a press conference with WADA officials on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland.

FasterSkier’s Chelsea Little (not shown) awaits a press conference with WADA officials regarding their investigation on Russia on Monday in Geneva, Switzerland.

GENEVA — Members from all across the sporting world are watching this Swiss city of just under 200,000 closely today, as a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) panel is set to announce its first findings from an investigation into doping in Russia.

The investigation was spurred by documentaries produced by German journalist Hajo Seppelt. In the first, he talked to former Russian track and field athletes and found that not only was doping widespread within their federation, but that it was covered up.

A second investigation found that positive doping tests by not only by Russians, but also possibly by Kenyans and others were suppressed and that many medalists at World Championships and Olympics had highly abnormal blood profiles which suggested doping.

More recently, the outgoing head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack, has been accused of taking bribe money from Russians in order to allow doping athletes to continue competing, including at the 2012 Olympics.

The WADA Independent Commission will not yet report on those allegations, although they are expected to investigate them in the coming months.

Instead, the Commitssion, led by Canadian lawyer and former WADA head Dick Pound, will report on the investigation into Russian track and field.

In reporting on whether their was systematic or state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes, some have speculated that the panel will also touch on whether similar problems exist for other Russian sports, including cross-country skiing and biathlon.

In January 2014, two Russian biathletes, Ekaterina Iourieva and Irina Starykh, had positive tests for recombinant erythropoietin, a blood-doping drug. Another Russian, former Junior World Champion Alexander Loginov, was snagged with a positive test when the International Biathlon Union re-tested old samples using a new and improved method.

In the run-up to the 2014 Olympics – after the two women had tested positive – Starykh’s coach Vladimir Korolkevich was promoted to the head of the Russian women’s team.

To follow FasterSkier’s coverage of the press conference, follow Editor-at-Large Chelsea Little on Twitter at @ChelskiLittle, and check back to our main page in a few hours for a full writeup.

Nov. 7 Roundup: Beito is a Go; Saarinen Preggo; USBA Names Team

– Late this week, organizers of the International Ski Federation (FIS) season-opening races in Beitostølen, Norway, announced that the races would be run as scheduled Nov. 13-15, despite recently warm temperatures. The races will be run as scheduled — with 10/15-kilometer classic races on Nov. 13, 10/15 k freestyle races on Nov. 14, and a classic sprint on Nov. 15 — but the race course was shortened from 5 kilometers to 3.75 k.

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Clare Egan and Sean Doherty were recently named to the US Biathlon team for World Cups 1, 2 and 3, with the International Biathlon Union (IBU) season starting Nov. 29 in Östersund, Sweden. The US Biathlon (USBA) team recently wrapped up a two-week training camp in Utah and made the final selections for its early World Cup team.

“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to compete as part of Team USA on the World Cup again this winter,” Egan, the fourth member of the women’s team, said in a press release. “My coaches and I worked really hard this summer so I am ready to get on snow and see the work pay off.”
The U.S. roster for IBU World Cups 1-3 includes four women and four men, with Annelies Cook, Hannah Dreissigacker, Susan Dunklee, and Egan, along with Lowell Bailey, Tim Burke, Leif Nordgren, and Doherty.
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– Adding to the growing list of expecting cross country skiers, 36-year-old Finnish national star Aino-Kaisa Saarinen announced her pregnancy on Twitter this week. Saarinen is due next spring and hopes to compete in the early part of this season.
“If all goes well, I can compete until Christmas,” she told Langrenn. She is married to 6-foot-7 Finnish basketball player Tom Gustafsson.
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– Ever want to race 220 k at once? On April 10, 2016, you can chase your dreams with the the reinstatement of the Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet, the world’s longest cross-country race. Registration and race info may be found here: www.redbullnordenskioldsloppet.se
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NRK, a Norwegian public broadcasting corporation, secured the rights to televise ski events, including cross country skiing, ski jumping, alpine, nordic combined, freestyle, and telemark skiing, for five more years.
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-Itching to ski on snow? Thanks to snowfarming, you may be closer than you think. Trails in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, or Germany boast a minimum of one kilometer plus.

Oct. 20 Roundup: Visnar Nears Due Date; Gold for Størmer Steira; New Italian Suits

– With Kikkan Randall‘s recent announcement that she is expecting her first child in April 2016, there’s even more talk than ever of motherhood on the World Cup circuit. Marit Bjørgen revealed that she is still training 15 or more hours per week, even though her first child is due in December, and that she hopes to move back to her home district of Trondelag in central Norway to raise her kid. Slovenian sprint star Katja Visnar is also still out and about on roller skis, even though her baby with longtime partner Ola Vigen Hattestad of Norway is due in November!

Rollerskiing goes still fine👌Not fast but good training 😊🍂🍁#pregnantbelly #lovetraining #loveskiing 🎿

A photo posted by Katja Visnar (@katjavisnar) on

Kristin Størmer Steira is making the best of her retirement from cross-country skiing, and recently won the Norwegian national championship in cross-country running. She also won the event in 2008. This time around, she covered the six kilometer course in 23:02.05 over a minute faster than the next finisher. Former national team teammate Martine Ek Hagen also competed, finishing seventh in a time 1:50 slower than Størmer Steira.

– Justyna Kowalczyk is focusing on the “classic World Cup races” and also some marathons this season. “I must admit that I fell in love in these races,” she said of the marathon circuit in an interview with Gazeta Krakowska. “The Vasaloppet it was something wonderful. It is now my love… My main distance at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018 will be 30 kilometers. To best overcome this distance you need to be well prepared. We chose with my coach to do this through the marathons, which for now I will do in small doses… We’ll see how it works and for next season it will all fall into place.”

– The Italian snow sports teams have revealed new suits for the 2015-2016 World Cup season! To check them out, you can watch a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot.

Oct. 7 Roundup: Fourcade Aims to Make French XC Team; Kowalczyk in Mercedes Ad

Martin Fourcade, the Frenchman who has won the last three biathlon World Cup overall titles, will again try his hand at skiing. At the FFS (Fédération française de ski) media summit in Paris this week, the new father said that “it’s the right time for me to invest in this project so dear to my heart.” He is targeting FIS races in Beitostolen, Norway, to try to qualify for the French World Cup ski team.

He has successfully done so before; in 2012 he placed sixth in the opener in Beitostolen, but placed a lackluster 48th in his first World Cup appearance in Gällivare, Sweden, a disappointment that left him wanting to try again: “I’m not satisfied of the result and I think it’s not my real level,” he told FasterSkier at the time.

Justyna Kowalczyk frolics through a forest on a training run, then shows off perfectly matching nail polish and a little red dress in a new Mercedes ad in Poland.

– Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, biathlon star Gabriela Soukalova released her first song and music video… and it’s part of a campaign promoting preventative health for men. Her boyfriend, badminton player Petr Koukal, successfully recovered from testicular cancer in 2010 and is now launching a men’s health initiative. You can watch the music video for Soukalova’s song, which features beatboxing and a guest verse by the rapper Petr “Nasty” Cerhahere. Sorry, it’s in Czech.

– The Ski Classics marathon series, which includes the Marcialonga, the Vasaloppet, and the Birkebeiner, among others, has a new title sponsor. Visma, an IT company based in Oslo, Norway, picked up the tab after Swix left as the title sponsor in May. “Ski Classics is very pleased to start this new cooperation with Visma, a fast growing company present in many of the Ski Classics key markets in Europe,” said Ski Classics CEO David Nilsson in a press release. “Visma Ski Classics has been on a constant rise the last seasons and this new partnership with Visma is an evidence of that we are developing the tour in the right direction.” Visma previously sponsored the Norwegian biathlon team, but ended that sponsorship deal after the 2014 Olympics.

Sept. 25 Roundup: Millions for Johaug; Wurm & Doping Teammate Were Best Friends

– After breaking her second hand of the summer a few weeks ago in Livigno, Italy, Norwegian star Therese Johaug is back to training with two poles, according to Langrenn.com. Meanwhile, it seems she has obligations: a Finnish newspaper reports that she earns a million Euros per year in sponsorship.

Die Tageszeitung, a Berlin-based newspaper, has published more commentary on the Harald Wurm doping scandal in Austria. On their website taz.de, the paper notes that Wurm was “best friends” with disgraced teammate Johannes Duerr, who was kicked out of the 2014 Olympics after testing positive for EPO. The paper also notes that the coach of both, and now the coach of the national team, is Gerald Heigl, who was also the coach of one of Austria’s most famous dopers: Christian Hoffman. Hoffman, an Olympic medalist, was eventually banned for six years for blood doping, but in 2012 there was brief talk of him making a comeback, reportedly with Heigl backing such a move.

– You thought you’d seen it all, but another first in cross-country skiing: Petter Northug is starting his own television channel. The name translates to “The Northug Circus” and is based on the concept of a video blog. “I think it’s incredibly exciting to be involved in creating something new in Norwa,” Anders Sæther of Globus media told Norway’s Adressa. “This takes Petter and the ‘blog’ genre a big step forward… Petter can reach audiences sitting 24 hours a day. The project will be financed with a combination of advertising and subscription revenues. Here he will delve into how he trains, including posting his training diary.”

– Elsewhere in Norway, 2007 sprint World Champion Astrid Jacobsen, who had a stellar 2015 season including a World Cup win, team gold and individual silver at World Championships in Falun, did a training session with the women’s biathlon team. Longtime ski coach Steinar Mundal is working with the women, including World Cup winners Tiril Eckhoff and Fanny (Welle-Strand) Horn Birkeland, and trying to get their ski speeds up by focusing on agility, longer training sessions, and more powerful technique. “For these girls it is important to raise the awareness of their abilities,” Jacobsen told broadcaster NRK after the training session. “There are many of them who are actually quite fast, but they have not known about it, and sometimes they choose not to use it as an advantage either. I think we can look forward to winter.”

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, as well as up-and-coming Germans Marius Cebulla and Victoria Carl, among others. While the two-time world champion is a little skeptical because he is a novice at coaching, he believes he knows what must go into training to succeed on the World Cup. Teichmann also hopes to have open and effective communication with his athletes. As for goals, Teichmann wants Tscharnke and Bing consistently in the top 15 on the World Cup and believes Carl can contend for a medal at U23 championships.

 

  • Emil Jönsson has an entirely new training philosophy this summer, one mainly focused on staying healthy. According to SWESKi, the Swedish sprinter is exercising less than in years past and is instead doing a lot of yoga. In fact, he estimates that about half of his training is now mobility based. The Olympic champion missed last year’s World Championships in Falun, Sweden, because of a leg injury, something he does not want to happen again. Since adapting this new training regimen Jönsson feels able to go at his maximum speed without worrying about injury. This is important in sprinting because Jönsson will no longer fear the consequences of going too fast. For Jönsson, hopefully this will lead to a successful year in 2015/2016.

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 Tom Kelly will showcase plans for the museum and share stories from the race’s past on Aug. 12 at Hayward’s Park Center Theatre in a free presentation.

 

  • According to Adressa, Therese Johaug won the 2015 Storsylen Up, a mountain-running race in Tydal, Norway. Johaug was on pace to break the women’s course record, but the race was cut short by 400 meters because there was too much snow on the summit. The course in Tydal is supposed to climb 1,000 meters over 11 kilometers of racing. Johaug finished with a time of 1:14:14, about eight and a half minutes under the official course record set by Kirsten Melkevik of 1:22:50 in 2014.

 

  • According to the Washington Post, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is ready to take action against any track and field athletes found guilty of doping. Allegations against many athletes have come up after tests from around 5,000 of them were leaked from the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF’s) database. These allegations include claims that one-third of endurance race medals at the Olympics and World Championships from 2001 to 2012 were won by athletes who have had suspicious blood tests. “If there should be cases involving results at Olympic Games, the IOC will react with zero tolerance with our usual policy” IOC President Thomas Bach said in response to the new allegations. The IOC does have a history of stripping medals from athletes who are later found guilty of doping.

 

  • Former Dartmouth cross-country skier Ben True recently qualified for next month’s World Championship 5,000 meter race in Beijing at a track meet in Heusden, Netherlands. According to Running Journal, True’s time of 13:06.15 beat the IAAF’s qualifying standard of 13:23 and was also good enough for third place. Despite having a tough few weeks of training, True accomplished his goal of qualifying for World Championships and will now return to his home in New Hampshire to continue his training.

 

  • Meanwhile, True’s wife Sarah True qualified for the U.S. Olympic triathlon team along with Gwen Jorgensen with a strong result at the test event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The duo finished in fourth and first, respectively. As reported by Triathlete, this will be the second consecutive Olympics that the duo will attend. Another American, Katie Zaferes also met the Olympic Team qualifying standard of a top-eight finish at the event in sixth, but will not attend the games because the team only had two spots available.

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

Friday's male winners at the 2015 Blink festival in Sandnes, Norway: France's Martin Fourcade (l) and Norway's Petter Northug (r) won the biathlon and cross-country mass starts, respectively. (Photo: http://www.blinkfestivalen.no/home/blinkfestivalens-første-suksessdag-over-del-2)

Friday’s male winners at the 2015 Blink festival in Sandnes, Norway: France’s Martin Fourcade (l) and Norway’s Petter Northug (r) won the biathlon and cross-country mass starts, respectively. (Photo: blinkfestivalen.no)

(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 third (+0.5), Ragnhild Haga in fourth (+0.9) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in fifth (+0.9).

In the biathlon races, Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen qualified first in the women’s prologue, 2.6 seconds ahead of Canadian Rosanna Crawford with a top time of 12:26.5. Marine Bolliet of France qualified third (+4.3).

Another French biathlete, Justine Braisaz ended up winning the biathlon mass start in 14:08.5 with a single miss in the four-stage race. She beat Norway’s Fanny Welle-Strand Horn, who missed two, by 5.4 seconds, and Russia’s reigning world champion Ekaterina Yurlova placed third (+8.5) with two penalties. Crawford had four penalties and placed fifth (+15.3). Mäkäräinen was sixth, Boillet seventh, and American Susan Dunklee finished 11th with eight misses.

Norway’s Lars Helge Birkeland won the men’s biathlon qualifier in 10:48.1, a full 7 seconds ahead of Norway’s Tarjei Bø in second. Frenchman Baptiste Jouty moved on in third (+9.9) with clean shooting.

In the men’s biathlon mass start that followed, France’s Martin Fourcade missed one en route to the win in 18:03.7. Bø missed five and finished 1.8 seconds back in second, and Birkeland was third (+3) with five penalties as well. Canada’s Nathan Smith qualified and placed seventh with three penalties.

Nordgren Podiums in ‘Shooting Duel’

Friday’s biathlon events started with head-to-head standing shooting competitions, with racers starting about 5-10 meters back from the shooting points, racing to the mat, shooting until they hit all five targets, leaving their rifle on the mat, and racing back to the line. American Leif Nordgren placed third in the men’s final, 4.9 seconds behind Norwegian winner Kristoffer Skjelvik. Simon Desthieux of France was second, just 0.6 seconds ahead of Nordgren. Also in the 12-man final, Canada’s Brendan Green placed eighth (+7.2).

“I’ve never been in that big of a shooting competition before,” Nordgren wrote in an email. “There was quite a bit of pressure with so many good athletes there, as well as all the fans, but it was still a lot of fun!

“As far as performance, I think it was a little bit random how some people shot,” he added. “Basically everything was moving so fast that if you got lucky and happened to hit all 5 you’d move through no problem, but if something went wrong it also depended on how the other shooters had fared.”

Italy’s Dorothea Wierer won the women’s shooting duel by 0.7 seconds over Norway’s Marte Olsbu. Bolliet finished third (+5.5), Crawford was seventh (+8.9) and Dunklee was ninth (+14.8).

Crawford described the competition as similar to a cross-country sprint race, with quarterfinals, semifinals and a final.

“Then there’s a mega final with the winner of each gender! So the nerves get more and more intense as you go,” she wrote in an email. “I took the approach of shooting smooth would be fast. I knew for sure the first two rounds there would be people missing lots, so going a bit slower and hitting would be worth while. But the nerves I felt in this competition was like nothing I have experienced! My heart was pounding and my legs were shaking it was pretty intense! We practiced this competition on the last day of our training camp, so I was able to come up with a few cue and how I would approach the shooting duel.”

“To be competitive you have to take a little risk and just go for it, and shoot faster than you normally would in a race,” Dunklee explained in an email. “Pushing the pace like this either pays off well, or you have a total melt down and miss a bunch.

“This format is creates a unique psychological challenge,” she added. “Head-to-head, fans and loudspeakers, the pressure of the clock, TV cameras in your face; even though there was no physical exertion involved, most athletes said they had shaky legs while shooting.”

While Dunklee was disappointed with her other races on Friday, she explained she worked on her speed this summer and was confident she could shoot quickly in standing.

“I missed my first couple shoots in the final which took me out of contention, but I feel really proud of winning my semi final,” she wrote. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it possible to make so much progress in my shooting speed in one year to shoot as fast or faster than many of the top ladies on the World Cup.”

“It’s been great to be here at Blink,” Nordgren wrote. “It’s really nice to see where the other top athletes are at in the summer. We never get to see that while in the US during the summer. But it’s nice to mix up our training camp here and get some fun racing in too.”

Results