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WADA Publishes 2017 Prohibited List; Changes to Asthma Rules

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published its 2017 Prohibited List, to go into effect on January 1.

Among the changes from the 2016 Prohibited List is a shift in the language governing the use of salbutamol, an inhaled medication used to treat asthma, and other drugs of its class (called beta-2 agonists).

“Dosing parameters of salbutamol were refined to make it clear that the full 24 hour dose should not be administered at one time,” WADA wrote in a guide listing the changes from the 2016 Prohibited List.

The new rule keeps the maximum allowable does at 1,600 micrograms over 24 hours, but additionally specifies that only 800 micrograms can be taken in any 12-hour period.

Salbutamol is the medication which led to a suspension of Norwegian skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby. Sundby nebulized 15 milligrams — or 15,000 micrograms — of the medication in a five-hour period in Davos, Switzerland, in 2014 and Toblach, Italy, in 2015.

As a result, Sundby’s urine samples from the two races in question both had over 1,300 ng/mL of salbutamol, well over the WADA limit of 1,000 ng/mL. That limit, which WADA considers “not to be an intended therapeutic use of the substance”, is unchanged in the 2017 Prohibited List.

The Norwegian national team apparently also prescribed asthma medication to healthy athletes. The medications are allowable up to a certain dose, but high doses are prohibited.

WADA’s Senior Manager of Media Relations, Ben Nichols, told Norway’s NRK broadcaster that while taking such drugs without a diagnosis of asthma was not against anti-doping rules, WADA considered it “inappropriate”.

So perhaps not surprisingly, asthma medications are under scrutiny. The use of multiple beta-2 agonists at the same time was added to the “Monitoring List”, meaning that WADA wishes to track the practice and may add it to a future Prohibited List. The metabolic modulator meldonium, for example, was included on the Monitoring List before being moved to the 2016 Prohibited List. Over 100 athletes subsequently had positive tests.

All the beta-2 agonists can still be used with an approved Therapeutic Use Exemption.

The 2017 Prohibited List also includes changes to the listings of some anabolic steroids, growth factors, and metabolic modulators, stimulants, and narcotics.

“It is vital that all athletes take the necessary time to consult the List; and that, they contact their respective anti-doping organizations (ADOs) if they have any doubts as to the status of a substance or method,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said in a press release.

The WADA code now explicitly allows the use of inhaled oxygen, something which has been discussed in the cross-country ski world as it has been used extensively by teams such as Finland.

“Supplemental oxygen administered by inhalation, but not intravenously, is permitted. To clarify this, M1.2 now reads ‘excluding supplemental oxygen by inhalation’,” WADA wrote in their guideline document.

Sundby Decides Against Doping Appeal

An elated Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway crosses the finish line at the top of Alpe Cermis to wrap up his second consecutive Tour de Ski title in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in 2015. He lost that title for a doping violation. (Photo: (Photo: Val di Fiemme/

An elated Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway crosses the finish line at the top of Alpe Cermis to wrap up his second consecutive Tour de Ski title in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in 2015. He lost that title for a doping violation. (Photo: (Photo: Val di Fiemme/

Norwegian cross-country skier Martin Johnsrud Sundby has decided not to appeal a two-month suspension he received for using a high dose of asthma medicine.

Sundby’s suspension came from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and he was considering an appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court. It is unusual for sports-related cases which reach the CAS level to be brought into federal courts afterwards.

“The important thing for me was to find out if the possibility existed, because I’m not a lawyer and I had no clue,” he told Norway’s NRK broadcaster.

He revealed that after consulting with Swiss lawyers, it did not seem like he had a good chance of winning an appeal. Any case he brought to the Swiss Supreme Court would have been based on procedure, not on the facts of the case. Sundby said that he decided against an appeal because he did not wish to drag the process out longer.

It is unclear whether he also faced pressure from his own country. The Norwegian Ski Federation publicly backed him, as their team doctor had prescribed the asthma medication and the federation believed that in doing so, no rules were broken.

But 2014 Olympic slalom medalist Henrik Kristofferson recently told NRK that he found the rampant use of asthma medication by his country’s cross-country skiers “comical” and that Norway should clean up their own house before pointing fingers at Russia or Finland over doping allegations.

Then, Norwegian Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland, in supporting the work of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said that Sundby’s case was proof that the system worked.

“If someone is in a gray area, then it has to be taken seriously,” she told VG. “It cannot be trivialized.”

Sundby’s sentence was clear, she said, and “then we have to deal with it.”

Sundby has now finished his suspension, but the lasting mark on his resumé will be nullified results from two competitions, which ultimately cost him the 2015 Tour de Ski and overall World Cup titles.

U.S. Takes First in Every Race at New Zealand Nationals

Left to right: Americans Ben Saxton, Andrew Newell and Simi Hamilton along with Korea's Hwang Jun Ho on the start line for the FIS ANC men's sprint classic final on Friday at the Snow Farm ski resort in New Zealand. (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

(Front row, left to right): Americans and SMST2 skiers Ben Saxton, Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton along with South Korea’s Hwang Jun-Ho on the start line for the FIS ANC men’s sprint classic final on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Snow Farm ski resort in New Zealand. (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

Three days of elite cross-country ski racing took place this past weekend at the Snow Farm ski resort near Wananka, New Zealand, during New Zealand National Cross-Country Ski Championships, with the U.S. Ski Team (USST) taking first in every race and taking up most of the remaining spots on the podium.

Friday, Sept. 9, saw 22 athletes from Australia, Korea and the U.S. compete in the race series’ first competition, a classic sprint.

Dominating the men’s classic sprint was USST veteran Andy Newell, who qualified first with a time of 3:37.69 and continued to dominate through the rounds for the win. Finishing in second behind Newell was South Korea’s Hwang Jun-Ho, and taking the final podium spot in third was Ben Saxton, Newell’s teammate on the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team.

On the women’s side, all three top spots went to the U.S., with Ida Sargent (USST) edging teammate Jessie Diggins for first and Sophie Caldwell rounding out the podium in third. Caldwell won the qualifier in 3:07.55.

“We love coming down here and getting to race at Snow Farm,” USST Head Coach Chris Grover said, according to a press release. “The timing worked out really well this year because normally we’d be running our own time trials so when a race gets organised and we get to participate in it that’s great.

“It was really nice to have the Korean team here so we had some solid competition,” he added. “It was beautiful weather, beautiful tracks and everyone went out there and had a hard effort so we’re really satisfied.”

International Ski Federation (FIS) points were awarded to the top contenders.

Results: Women’s Qualifier | Men’s Qualifier | Women’s Final | Men’s Final


On Saturday, Sept. 10, athletes returned to the Snow Farm for the 10 and 15 k classic mass starts.

Snow Farm founder and trustee Mary Lee greets winner American Jessie Diggins (center) after she won the women's 10 k classic mass start ahead of teammates Ida Sargent (l) and Sophie Caldwell (r). (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

Snow Farm founder and trustee Mary Lee (r) greets Saturday’s 10 k classic mass start winner Jessie Diggins (second from l) after she held off teammates Ida Sargent (l) in second and Sophie Caldwell (r) in third. (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

In the women’s 10 k, Diggins crossed the line first in 30:58.4, beating Sargent by 7.4 seconds, while Caldwell took third for the second-straight day, 13.8 seconds after Diggins.

“Normally striding on a really steep hill isn’t a particular strength of mine so it was nice to embrace the climb and say, ‘OK this is where I’m going to try to make a move’ and try to make it stick,’ ” Diggins told race organizers, according to a press release. “It was fun to just try something a little out of my normal range!”

Newell took his second win of the weekend, topping the men’s 15 k in 38:12.2. Saxton followed 11.4 seconds later for second place, just ahead of Noah Hoffman (USST) in third (+13.7).

“With the mass start, everyone got to ski together for most of the race,” Grover told USSA. “It was a great opportunity for athletes to try to make breaks and for others to reel them in. It was also an opportunity for each athlete to measure their relative technique strengths and weaknesses against the bigger group through different technique features — for example, who is skiing the downhills more aggressively, who is stronger in the double pole, who is stronger in the striding.”  

Results: Women | Men


Simi Hamilton racing to first in the men's 10 k freestyle at New Zealand nationals on Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Snow Farm in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

Simi Hamilton racing to first in the men’s 10 k freestyle at New Zealand nationals on Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Snow Farm in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo: Snow Farm NZ)

The final day of competition for the three-day race series at the Snow Farm included the 5/10 k freestyle interval starts.

In the men’s 10 k, Hamilton took first, completing the course in 26:08. Rounding out the rest of the podium were two South Korean skiers, Yong-Jin Cho, who finished 17 seconds off Hamilton’s time in second, and Hwang Jun-Ho, 38 seconds back in third.

“This time of year it’s important to remind yourself how to prepare for a race mentally and how to attack during it,” Hamilton told race organizers. “So it was great to be out there and think about pacing and hurting really bad. It’s good to revisit that at this time of year so we can be ready for the [Northern Hemisphere] winter.”

The women’s 5 k went to Liz Stephen (USST) who beat her competition by nearly 50 seconds in 13:28. Lee Chae-won of South Korea finished 49 seconds back in second place, and Australian Aimee Watson placed third (+1:18). 

Stephen told organizers that getting back on snow was one of the most positive aspects of their visit.

“We can get as fit as we want in the summer on roller skis, but it doesn’t transfer exactly and the technique work here for me has been really important,” she said.

Results: Men | Women

Aug. 22 Roundup: Toppidrettsveka Recap; Denmark’s Vasaloppet Qualifier

— While Norway’s nordic superstar Therese Johaug was out sick, her Norwegian teammate Heidi Weng walked away with two victories on the first day of the Toppidrettsveka, a rollerski competition held in Aure and Trondheim, Norway. Weng won the women’s 24-kilometer classic mass start by 3 minutes and 51 seconds over runner-up and fellow Norwegian, Emilie Kristoffersen, and Silje Øyre Slind in third. Weng also won the second race of the day, a classic sprint, out-lunging the prologue winner, Kathrine Harsem of Norway and Polina Kovaleva of Russia in third. Weng’s third and final victory came in the 5 k classic. See complete Toppidrettsveka results here.

— On the men’s side, it was Norway’s Gaute Kvåle who won the men’s 24 k classic mass start on the first day of the Toppidrettsveka. He won by 4.5 seconds over France’s Jean-Marc Gaillard, while Andrey Melnichenko of Russia finished in third, 6.7 seconds back. Kvåle told Langrenn that he took it too easy at the beginning of the race on the steepest part of the course. He found himself around 25th place, but worked his way to the front of the field. The second victory of the day went to Norwegian Pål Trøan Aune, while his Norwegian teammates Emil Iversen and Petter Northug placed second and third, respectively.

— Day 2 of racing saw the men’s freestyle sprint, which went to Norway’s Kasper Stadås. Northug finished in second, while his Norwegian teammate and younger brother Even Northug also finished on the podium in third. The women’s freestyle sprint winner was Barbro Kvåle, also from Norway. Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampic and Vesna Fabjan took second and third, respectively.

— On the final day of the Toppidrettsveka, Northug topped the men’s 15 k pursuit, finishing three seconds ahead of fellow Norwegian Mattis Stenshagen.  Northug told Adressa that he felt like he was in complete control, and his goal is to be “in shape and compete for medals at Lahti World Championships.” Norway’s Mikael Gunnulfsen took third.

— On Sept. 18, Denmark will host a 45 k roller ski competition in Holte, which will also serve as a seeding race for Swede’s Vasaloppet for the first time. Holte Ski Club Organizer Poul Erik Holm told Langd that the course will be completely closed to traffic and is slightly hilly “with nice asphalt.” 

— The Foothills Nordic Ski Club is looking to raise $65,000 dollars by Oct. 15 in hopes of funding a full snowmaking setup. Foothills Nordic is based out of Calgary and it has estimated that the snowmaking equipment would support over 210,000 Calgary cross-country skiers. Donations can be made via or by letter.

Blink Festival Concludes; Nordgren Reaches Biathlon Shootout Final

U.S. Biathlon’s Leif Nordgren competes in the final of the “shooting duels” competition during the 2016 Blink Skifestivalen, where he placed 11th. Photo: NRK broadcast

US Biathlon’s Leif Nordgren competes in the final of the “shooting duels” competition during the 2016 Blink Skifestivalen, where he placed 11th on Friday, June 29.

(Note: This article has been updated to include comments from American Leif Nordgren.)

Friday’s mass starts

For the third day of the 2016 Blink Skifestivalen on Friday, the small road show of elite Norwegian and international cross-country skiers and biathletes moved to the coastal town of Sandnes in the southwest of Norway with a population of 75,000 to compete in a series of rollerski mass start races.

On a one-kilometer loop through the city that included two short climbs over ramps and bridges, the women’s 10 k freestyle mass start race was won by Norway’s Kathrine Harsem in a time of 22:14.1 after creating a small gap to a group of 10 athletes on the final lap. Just 2.7 seconds behind, her teammate Barbro Kvåle beat Germany’s Sandra Ringwald, who was able to secure the third place on the podium (+2.8) in a close sprint.

In rainy conditions, Norway’s Martine Ek Hagen had a pretty nasty fall on the wet asphalt over a small bridge and received attention from medical personnel, but later could be seen walking on her own.

Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. (far right) celebrates as he crosses the line first in the men’s mass start on Friday during the 2016 Blink Skifestivalen in Sandnes, Norway. Photo: NRK broadcast

Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. (far right) celebrates as he crosses the line first in the men’s mass start on Friday during the 2016 Blink Skifestivalen in Sandnes, Norway.

In the men’s 15 k freestyle mass start, local favorite Petter Northug Jr. was victorious in a close finishing sprint in a time of 31:10.3, after already winning the long-distance 60 k “Blink Classics” race earlier in the week. Behind him, Italy’s Francesco de Fabiani placed second (+0.8), and Northug’s teammate Pål Golberg came in third (+0.9).

Northug remained near the top of the field and tried to break away with 5 laps to go, but could not create a significant gap with no other athlete willing or able to help him in the lead.

A field of about 30 athletes stayed close together until the final lap, despite a number of broken poles. On the last pass over a bridge there was a tangle between a few athletes including Switzerland’s former overall World Cup champion Dario Cologna and Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, the winner of the Lysebotn Opp uphill race on Thursday. The rest of the field approached the finish in a mass sprint, with Northug defending his position at the front to the line.

Still, Northug was not completely satisfied with his performance. “I feel like I can be better,” he told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, according to a translation. “I am angered by my own technique, and I know I can go much faster.”

Also on Friday, the spectators attending the Blink festival saw a number of biathlon competitions, both for various junior age groups and the “elite” senior fields.

In a fun pre-race “shooting duels” competition with target practice still in sneakers, Sweden’s Mona Brorsson took the win for the women, while Norway’s Markus Haugum placed first for the men.

American Leif Nordgren reached the men’s final, where he placed 11th after cleaning his targets 16 seconds slower than the winner. His US Biathlon teammate Sean Doherty made it to the quarterfinals.

In the men’s biathlon mass start that followed, both Nordgren and Doherty missed the final, with Nordgren placing 28th (+1:23.6, with one miss) and Doherty 30th  (+1:29.0, with three misses) in the qualifier.

In a mix up, the Blink organizers and NRK labeled Nordgren as starting for Sweden in on-screen graphics and results lists during the events on Friday.

“I feel that I let my new country down today, I will have to try harder tomorrow!!” Nordgren joked on Twitter after the race.

“For both the shooting duel and the supersprint competitions on Friday the organizers made a mistake and labeled me as a Swedish athlete,” Nordgren explained in an email to FasterSkier. “No harm in it and I had a good laugh with the Swedes about it!  Because my name is Swedish anyway there was talk of free agency and signing fees!”

The final with 12 athletes was won by Norway’s Tarjei Bø in a time of 18:02.6 (with two misses), who beat out France’s Simon Desthieux by 1.4 seconds (one miss) and Norway’s Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen in third (+11.2, four misses).

In the women’s biathlon mass start, with a time of 18:17.0 and three missed shots, France’s Anais Chevalier bested her world-famous teammate Marie Dorin-Habert (+3.6, four misses) and Italy’s Dorothea Wierer (+7.6, two misses), who placed second and third, respectively.

The locals missed a few too many targets, especially fan-favorite and star of the last world championships Tiril Eckhoff with nine (11th place, +1:26.8).

“It’s good to win here,” Chevalier told broadcaster NRK in an interview after the race. “It’s a nice race. It was hard, but it’s sunny so that’s good. I am glad to win today. I felt good on skis, pretty much good in shooting, so it’s OK.”

Saturday’s sprints

On the last day of Blink, the athletes stayed in Sandnes to compete in a series of sprints, with some well-known athletes who had already started in multiple events during the week skipping that final challenge.

Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, the reigning Sprint World Cup champion, made up for missing the podium in Friday’s mass start by taking the top spot in the women’s sprint final with a time of 3:51.3, narrowly beating out Ringwald, of Germany, in the finish by 0.3 seconds. Just behind them, another German Denise Herrmann secured third place (+1.5) in an even closer three-way sprint against Norway’s Tiril Udnes Weng (also +1.5) and Slovenia’s Katja Visnar (+1.6). Herrmann announced in April that she was making the switch from cross-country to biathlon, but demonstrated that she still possesses strong sprinting skills.

France’s Richard Jouve was the lone non-Norwegians to reach the men’s sprint final, then managed to make the most of it by beating out his five opponents in a time of 3:27.2. Just as surprising, Kasper Stadaas beat out his more well-known teammates to secure the second place 0.1 seconds behind, with Eirik Brandsdal coming in third place (+0.8), edging Golberg in fourth (+1.0).

In the final biathlon race of the weekend, the sprint final, France went 1-2 with Dorin-Habert taking the win in 7:44.2 (after coming in second a day before). She beat her teammate Anais Bescond by 2 seconds, and Norway’s Marthe Olsbu placed third (+3.6).

Asked if she loves competing in Norway in her winner’s interview, Dorin-Habert nodded. “It was very exciting. There was a lot of people. I think it’s a game.”

Norway’s Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen won the biathlon men’s sprint final in a time of 12:08.3 after placing third on Friday, ahead of his teammate Tore Leren (+2.9) and Sweden’s Frederik Lindström (+3.1).

The Blink festival was a nice comeback for Christiansen, who could not compete with the 2015/2016 Norwegian World Cup team due to a lingering infection. A fourth place in the pursuit at the 2016 European Championships in Tyumen, Russia, stood as his best result.

Doherty placed 12th in his quarterfinal (+2:28.6) and did not advance, while Nordgren narrowly missed the cut placing sixth in his quarterfinal (+42.4) behind the eventual runner-up Leren (who was fifth in that heat).

“It’s been a tough week in the rain at Blink. I think both Sean and I are quite disappointed in the results that we’ve had here,” Nordgren wrote. “The plan all along was just to use these races as training, but even with that as the purpose it’s pretty disheartening to perform how we did.  It’s only July though so there is still so much training to be done this year.

“For myself, the racing scenarios here are totally different from the type of training that I’ve done up to this point,” he continued. “I’ve done a lot of long slow distance training so far, its always been the plan for me to switch to a more high intensity type training starting with these races.  The atmosphere here in Blink is crazy, Norwegians love their biathlon and nordic racing!  Even heavy rain every day of racing didn’t stop them from coming out in droves to cheer.  Part of the benefit of these races is also the quality of competition.  Every quality Norwegian as well as members of the national teams from Italy, Germany, France, Sweden and others makes for stiff competition.”

— Harald Zimmer 



Women cross-country mass start

Men cross-country mass start

Women biathlon shootout

Men biathlon shootout

Women biathlon mass start

Men biathlon mass start


Women cross-country sprint

Men cross-country sprint

Women biathlon sprint

Men biathlon sprint

Johaug, Heikkinen Win Blink ‘Lysebotn Opp'; Kershaw 44th, Doherty 70th

2016 Blink Festival in Norway. Norway's Therese Johaug on the 7.5 k climb. Johaug was chased by young fans and won the day. (Photo: Screenshot NRK live feed)

Young fans run along Norway’s Therese Johaug (1) at the 2016 Blink Festival on Thursday in Norway. Johaug won the 7.5 k climb, known as the “Lysebotn opp”.

Mining the internet for international rollerskiing news? Look no further — it’s that time of year: the Blink Ski Festival in Lysebotn and Sandnes, Norway, is underway. What makes this event a blip on the nordic-sport radar are the scores of top-notch Norwegian talent and World Cup biathletes and cross-country skiers racing. Two days into the four-day festival, from July 27-30, some big names are showing good form.

Day 1 featured a 62-kilometer classic rollerski for senior men and women.

Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. placed first in 2:28.13. It was a tight finish for Northug — the top 14 skiers were bunched within nine seconds of one another. Andreas Nygaard (+1.2) and Petter Eliassen (+1.8), also from Norway, placed second and third, respectively.

In the women’s classic rollerski race, also 62 k, only four women contested the elite women’s race. Sweden’s Britta Johansson Norgren won in a time of 2:56.21. Astrid Øyre Slinde, of Norway, was second (+3:45.2), and Japanese skiers Masako Ishida and Yuki Kobayashi placed third (+19:17.5) and fourth (+25:15), respectively.

Day 2 of the festival, featured an event with a bit more pizazz and World Cup depth: a mass start, 7.5 k uphill skate rollerski. For the women, Norwegian dynamo Therese Johaug set the standard, winning in 33:03. Her teammate Heidi Weng (the hill climb’s 2015 champion) placed second, finishing 1:55 back. Germany’s Nicole Fessel was third (+3:41). The race included 66 competitors. No North American women started.

The men raced the same 7.5 k hill-climb course. Finnish cross-country skier Matti Heikkinen defended his 2015 title in 28:02 — 9.5 seconds slower than his winning time last year. Norwegian biathlete Tarjei Bø skied to second, 53 seconds behind Heikkinen. Norway’s Simen Andreas Sveen rounded out the podium in third (+1:02). Russia’s Alexander Legkov was fourth (+1:14), followed in fifth by Swiss star Dario Cologna (+1:21).

Two North Americans contested the uphill race. Canada’s Devon Kershaw placed 44th (+3:55) and US Biathlon’s Sean Doherty placed 70th (+5:14). Day 1 winner, Northug finished 77th (+5:52) of 90 men.


Day 1 (Blink classic): Men | Women

Day 2 (Lysebotn opp): Men | Women

2016 Blink Festival in Norway. Matti Heikkinen on the 7.5 k climb and on his way to the win. (Photo: Screenshot NRK live feed)

Finland’s Matti Heikkinen racing to the win in Thursday’s 7.5 k climb at the 2016 Blink Festival in Norway.

— Harald  Zimmer contributed reporting

Hall, Wood Spearhead ‘Survey for Ethical Sport’ to Present to IOC, FIS

On Monday, a three-question survey called the “Survey for Ethical Sport“, created by Marty Hall and Dave Wood, former head coaches of the Canadian cross-country ski team, went live online with the technical support of national-team skier Julien Locke.

The idea behind it, is to “spread the word” and send the results to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Ski Federation (FIS), according to Hall, also a former U.S. national team coach.

“We are a group of coaches/athletes that have been directly impacted by cheaters,” the survey states. “We have put together this survey as we believe that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Sport is in a critical time right now and we are motivated to use our survey findings to make a difference.”

“In this whole process if you think about it, do we ever have anything to say, and who’s this all about?” Hall said. “Whether it’s support personnel or people like myself who have been there and done it and still have a love for the sport, to see how it’s being mistreated, we’re trying to speak out.

“There’s a lot of stuff to clean up in regards to where the medals are, where the money is and how are they [the IOC and FIS] going to get this taken care of with the clean athletes?” he continued.

The survey is three yes-or-no questions with the opportunity to write in comments. Upon submission, it requests a name with the option to include email, location and sport/club as well.


Former U.S. Cross-Country Coach, Sven Wiik Dies at 95

Sven Wiik was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1981. (Photo: U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame)

Sven Wiik was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1981. (Photo: U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame)

A coach of the 1960 U.S. Olympic cross-country team in Squaw Valley, Calif., and 1958 World Championships team, Sven Wiik died of natural causes on Tuesday at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Today reported. He was 95.

Among Wiik’s claims to fame — he was a member of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame as well as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame — he and coach Marty Hall designed the course for the American Birkebeiner, the largest ski marathon in North America.

Wiik was born in Solleftea, Sweden, on Feb. 27, 1921, and competed at the 1948 London Olympics as a gymnast (a demonstration sport at the time). In 1949, he immigrated to the U.S., initially to Chicago, and was offered a coaching position in Lake Placid, N.Y.

According to Steamboat Today, Gerry Groswold (who would later become the president of Winter Park Ski Area) urged the 28-year-old Wiik to contact Western State College in Gunnison, Colo.

He did and spent the next 19 years as Western State’s ski coach and an assistant professor of health and physical education. Wiik and his wife Birthe (Bitte) moved from Gunnison to Steamboat following the 1960 Winter Olympics. They built the Scandinavian Lodge, and their daughter Birgitta Lindgren and granddaughter Kajsa Lindgren run the touring center today.

In addition to coaching the U.S. championship teams in 1958 and 1960, Wiik also served on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) committees and received the 1974 Julius Blegen Award — USSA’s highest honor. He was a chief steward for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

“Our country was blessed to have him bring his passion for skiing to America and to give so much back to the sport he loved,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw wrote in an email to Steamboat Today. “I was proud to ski on some of the trails he developed for the Slumberland American Birkebeiner this past season.”

According to the article, at the age of 87, Wiik returned from the 2008 Masters World Cup cross-country ski championships in Idaho “barely hiding his disappointment” with two silver medals rather than gold in the men’s 85-99 age group. “Never mind that he had been competing in the championships for 28 years and had a chest full of medals, many of them gold.”

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WADA Revises Meldonium Guidelines, Increasing Leniency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revised its guidelines for athletes whose urine samples tested positive for the prohibited metabolic modulator meldonium, according to a document posted to the organization’s website on Thursday. The update allows much more leniency for athletes with traces of the drug found in their urine samples until September 30, 2016. It also places the onus on sports federations to determine whether the athletes used the drug before or after it was added to the Prohibited List on January 1.

Since then, at least 172 athletes have tested positive for the substance. At that time some, like tennis star Maria Sharapova, did not notice the that the drug was newly classified as banned and continued to use the it. Others claim to have stopped using the drug before January 1, but the substance still showed up in their urine samples.

Before this year, little research had been done into how long the drug stays in the human body. WADA has been undertaking a more complete research effort to determine whether those athletes’ claims are valid.

WADA has not released results of their studies, but the organization says that based on initial findings it has revised its estimates upwards. In April, a directive suggested that athletes with concentrations lower than 1 μg /mL up through the end of February could receive a “no fault” judgement. This released several athletes, including two biathletes and a cross-country skier, from their provisional suspensions.

In Thursday’s posting, WADA revised that limit up to 5 μg /mL, and applied the 1 μg /mL limit all the way through September 30. In both cases, WADA wrote that a no-fault finding could be made “In the absence of other evidence of use on or after 1 January 2016,” seemingly leaving it up to the individual sports federations adjudicating the cases to either take the athletes at their words, or else to find a way to investigate the timing of their drug use.

The previous pilot studies had shown that meldonium excretion after a manufacturer-recommended dose of meldonium quickly dropped below 1 5 μg /mL.

WADA also wrote that if there was no other evidence of using the drug after September 29, 2016, when it was announced that meldonium would be added to the Prohibited List, an athlete’s results should not be disqualified – and if they had been already, then those results could be reinstated.

Likely dozens more athletes may now hope for a return to competition, among them professional boxer Alexander Povetkin, whose team already celebrated the new guidelines as vindication even though he was never mentioned by name.

WADA released the update with little fanfare. There have been no comments from media personnel or leadership; the document was not posted on the organization’s social media; nor is it posted to the landing page of their website.

June 26 Roundup: Russian Paralympic Skier Polukhin DQed for Meldonium; Bjørgen Misses Camp

— Russian visually impaired biathlete Nikolay Polukhin was to found to have committed an Anti-Doping Violation this past February, but will receive no period of ineligibility. According to a press release from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Polukhin was found to have trace amounts of meldonium in a urine sample he provided after winning the IPC World Cup men’s visually impaired 15-kilometer biathlon event on Feb. 26, 2016, in Finsterau, Germany. The 33 year old’s result was disqualified, making Ukraine’s Anatolii Kovalevskyi the new winner, Russian Iurii Utkin the silver medalist and Russia’s Stanislav Chokhlaev the bronze medalist. Though meldonium is a substance included on the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) 2016 Prohibited List and is not permitted at any time — in or out of competition — the IPC Anti-Doping Hearing Body found “no fault or negligence” on the part of Polukhin and decided there would be no period of ineligibility.

— Norwegian superstar Marit Bjørgen will sit out a national-team training camp (she missed the Olso Ski Show, which took place this year on June 10 due to a stress injury) and will once again not join her teammates as they head to Svarstad, Norway, this week. “The best thing for me now is to stay home and train alternatively when I can not participate in all training activities we carry on gathering,” Bjørgen said to, according to a translation. American Jessie Diggins will, however, be making a guest appearance as she continues to train with the Norwegian women’s national team at their camp.

Sjur Ole Svarstad is Norway’s newest coaching addition as women’s national team assistant for the upcoming 2016/2017 ski season. Svarstad, 34, has spent five seasons coaching national-team recruits and now looks forward to working with full-time national team members. “It has been five unforgettable years in rookie team. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with highly motivated cross-country youth. The off-season they have shown in training and in competitions is a setting I have learned a lot and that I take with me. As part of the coaching staff at the women’s national team, I will meet new challenges, and will have new athletes to challenge. It is with great humility that I will now be part of such a strong performance group. I’m looking forward to taking on this task,” Svarstad told, according to a translation.

Turnagain Arm as seen from partway up Bird Ridge, outside Anchorage, Alaska, in April. (Photo: Gavin Kentch)

Turnagain Arm as seen from partway up Bird Ridge, outside Anchorage, Alaska, in April. Bird Ridge in Chugach State Park was the site of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on June 19. (Photo: Gavin Kentch)

— A bevy of elite skiers from Alaska Pacific University (APU) showcased their uphill running at the Robert Spurr Memorial (Bird Ridge) Hill Climb on Sunday, June 19, at Chugach State Park, outside Anchorage, Alaska. The grueling hill climb ascends from sea level, on the shores of Turnagain Arm, to 3,500 feet above sea level in less than three miles. As originally reported by the Alaska Dispatch News, APU skiers David NorrisScott Patterson and Lex Treinen took the top three spots in this year’s race.  Norris broke the course record, and took precisely one minute off his time from last year. Patterson, who finished less than a second behind Norris, improved by a remarkable 2:16 from last year’s race. Jessica Yeaton, who trains with APU but is a member of the Australian National Team, was second among the women, 1:40 faster than last year. APU skier Becca Rorabaugh was fourth.

— Like watching nordic freestyle videos? Check out the latest from Team Valoche with Part II of their series One of Those Nordic Days,” created by French biathlete Baptiste Jouty and his friend Alexis Boeuf.

IOC Backtracks on Part of IAAF Decision; No Russian ‘Neutral’ Athletes in Rio

“We have come to a unanimous declaration,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday after an Olympic Summit which convened heads of international federations in the Olympic movement. “All the stakeholders have come to the unanimous declaration … the Summit confirmed their respect and approval and support for the decision having been taken by IAAF last Friday.”

That decision, by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), would have nearly completely barred Russian track and field athletes from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Russian athletics have been embroiled in a doping scandal. The international federation decided that only those athletes which could individually prove — “clearly and convincingly” — that they had not doped, for instance because they were living outside of Russia and had been repeatedly tested by an accredited and respected antidoping agency, could compete.

And notably, the IAAF said that if any athletes met their stringent criteria, they would not be competing for Russia but instead as neutral athletes. That meant that even if they had success, there would never be a Russian gold medal in track and field from Rio.

While reiterating time and time again that the IOC had supported the IAAF’s decision, President Bach backtracked on that last decision, saying that if any Russian athletes went to Rio for track and field, that they would have to compete under the Russian flag.

His assertion was that there is no such thing as a neutral athlete. However, in the past athletes have competed under the Olympic flag. In London 2012, for instance, Guar Marial, a Sudanese runner who fled to Concord, N.H., as a child but never achieved citizenship and did not wish to compete for Sudan, competed under the Olympic flag.

So did three athletes from the Netherlands Antilles, a group of islands which formerly had their own Olympic Committee but lost it when the country dissolved in 2010. In 2014, an Indian luger competed under the Olympic flag in Sochi after the Indian Olympic Committee was suspended by the IOC. Back in 2000, athletes from East Timor did the same thing when their country gained independence from Indonesia and did not yet have the infrastructure to support an Olympic Committee.

Such political issues were the only reasons an athlete should compete under the Olympic flag, Bach suggested, stating that since the Russian Olympic Committee was in good standing, all Russian athletes at the Games should compete for that organization.

“The Summit also recognized, after having studied and being informed of the [IAAF] Task Force report, that the Russian Olympic Committee is mentioned in a very positive way for their work,” he said.

However, the summit also called for greater scrutiny of Russian athletes outside of track and field, as well as of athletes from Kenya, a country which has been declared noncompliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

While the IAAF had announced its own intentions to carefully vet each potential Russian participant, the IOC Summit called on other international federations to essentially develop similar procedures.

“Because of the WADA non-compliance declaration of Kenya and Russia and the related substantial allegations, the Olympic Summit considers the ‘presumption of innocence’ of athletes from these countries being put seriously into question,” the declaration stated. “As a result, every IF [international federation] should take a decision on the eligibility of such athletes on an individual basis to ensure a level playing field in their sport. In this decision-making process, the absence of a positive national anti-doping test should not be considered sufficient by the IFs. This means that the respective IF should take into account other reliable adequate testing systems in addition to national anti-doping testing. This decision about the ‘level playing field’ in each of their very different Olympic sports, and eligibility, including of their member National Federations, should be taken by each IF taking into account all the specific circumstances in the relevant National Federations, any available evidence, the World Anti-Doping Code and the specific rules of their sport.”

June 12 Roundup: Norway’s Quota Decreased; 2021 World Champs in Oberstdorf

With reduced quotas, Norway may never again see an all Norwegian relay podium sweep, as shown above,  during the men's 4 x 10 k relays in  Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

With reduced quotas, Norway won’t be able to pull off an all-Norwegian relay podium sweep, as seen above during the men’s 4 x 10 k relay in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

–The International Ski Federation (FIS) released the competition calendar for the 2016/2017 ski season. Nordic will open in Ruka, Finland, followed by three events in Lillehammer, Norway and one competition in Davos, Switzerland prior to the new year. World Championships will be held in Lahti, Finland. For the complete schedule, click here.

— Norwegians cut down the number of World Cup skiers they field? Although not by choice, Norway and other nordic powerhouse countries must decrease the quota of athletes they are permitted to enter in an individual competition during the upcoming race season. To level the playing field, the International Ski Federation (FIS) decided to limit the number of athletes each nation can field per race to six, according to a decision made last Wednesday at the FIS Congress in Cancun, Mexico. Previously, nations such as Norway were allowed to enter up to eight athletes for individual competitions (and more for relays). With the Norwegian men’s podium sweep at the Lillehammer, Norway relays, each country will also only be allowed to enter a maximum of two relay teams. The purpose of making these changes, according to a press release by, is to level the playing field for countries still developing their cross-country ski programs and to promote more international participation in the sport.

— With the wrap up of the 50th International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress on Saturday, June 11, the location for 2021 Nordic World Championships has been announced. Oberstdorf, Germany was unveiled as the winner; the last time the town hosted the event was in 2005. Oberstdorf won by an 11-count vote over Trondheim, Norway, and Planica, Slovenia. “Oberstdorf has put its heart into securing the 2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. We have an Organizer with massive experience hosting both annual World Cup events and previous editions of the World Championships and there is not a doubt in my mind that they will do an excellent job in 2021,” FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said according to an FIS press release.

— Even with summer well under way, ticket sales for the 2017 Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, have already reached 40,000 sold. The 2015 World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden sold 50,000 tickets, which is the current benchmark for this season’s upcoming event. “It seems that the grandstand will be sold by the end of the race several days in each case already during the autumn. So, if you want to see the ski end solutions in prime locations, you may want to act speedily,” the 2017 Lahti Director of Sales, Mikko Saarinen told, according to a translation.

— A little help goes a long way. Small nations competing at Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, can expect help with waxing, as FIS will provide free wax service to nations who need it. “It is difficult for developing nations to compete with countries with large budgets for their technical teams, but this service can reduce the gap to participants without expertise waxing,” Chair of the FIS Cross Country Committee, Finn Marsland, high-performance manager of the Australian national team, told “This service will be offered again in Lahti in 2017,” Marsland added, referring to the free wax service that was also provided at the 2015 Nordic World Championships in Falun, Sweden. 

— You’ve heard of the world-famous Holmenkollen ski race. But what about the Holmenkollen Stair Race? Last Monday, June 8, a few Norwegian skiers got their stair-climbing competition on in an event formerly known as “Stairway Oslo”, by ascending the 600-steps as quickly as they could. The fastest woman was Synnøve Haaland clocking in at around 3:00 minutes and Ferdinand Bohne won the men’s side in a time of 2:36. University of Colorado Boulder skier Petter Reistad competed in the event and finished fifth in a time of 2:44.6.

— Though debates over “no double-pole zones” — sections on course where skiers wouldn’t be permitted to double pole — will continue, the FIS decided that they will not be implemented into this year’s World Cup season. National level competitions may implement the change if they so choose, while international levels of racing will remain the same.

— A debut race series will begin this year for youth involved in Nordic Combined skiing. FIS recently approved a proposal to implement Nordic Combined Youth Cups for the 2016/2017 season. Racing will kick-off in Vuokatti, Finland, in August. For the first time, women of all ages will also be permitted to compete in Nordic Combined Youth Cup weekends. Nordic combined is still the only sport in the Olympic Games that is male only.

New Documentary Alleges Russian Interference with FIS, IBU Anti-Doping Efforts (Updated)

A new documentary by German journalist Hajo Seppelt aired on ARD last night, alleging further involvement of Russian officials in hampering anti-doping efforts.

While one of the biggest news items was that Russian Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko was personally implicated in hiding a positive doping test by a soccer player, nordic sports were directly mentioned for one of the first times in Seppelt’s work.

Specifically, RUSADA allegedly warned head coaches and athletes ahead of doping controls ordered by the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU).

IBU and FIS shot in ARD documentary

FasterSkier has reached out to the federations for comment.

The documentary is available here in German and here in English.

June 5 Roundup: Norwegians Weigh In on No-DP Zones; No Poker for Northug

Norwegian women’s sprint coach Roar Hjelmeset (l) calls out to Therese Johaug as she races to bronze in the 10 k classic at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Norwegian women’s sprint coach Roar Hjelmeset (l) calls out to Therese Johaug as she races to bronze in the 10 k classic at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

— With the resignation of Egil Kristiansen from the head coaching position for the women’s Norwegian National Team in late April, Roar Hjelmeset has signed on as the new women’s head coach as of Tuesday, May 31. Hjelmeset previously served as the Norwegian women’s sprint coach since 2011, working with athletes such as Marit Bjørgen, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Maiken Caspersen Falla, among others. “He burns for his job and is a born coach,” Bjørgen said to, according to a translation. The 38-year-old Hjelmeset has signed on for next season, as well as the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea.

— Snorkeling and beach lounging is not the only thing going on in Cancun, Mexico, this year. The 50th International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress is set to take place in the heart of the Yucatán Peninsula, starting this Sunday, June 5, and running until Saturday, June 11. It is estimated that over 900 representatives from 82 different member ski associations will be present. Topics discussed regarding nordic skiing include various proposals aimed at developing the sport of cross country skiing and finalizing the 2016/2017 season schedule.

— One of the proposals discussed at the 50th FIS Congress regards the idea of having ‘no double poling’ zones in certain classic World Cup races. The purpose would be to preserve the classical style and maintain the use of the diagonal stride. While some are supportive of the idea, including Norwegians Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug, their male teammates Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Petter Northug are not.

“The motive of the FIS rules committee is obviously slowing the huge development in making,” Northug said to Dagbladet, according to a translation. “More and more of today’s cross-country skiers have put an enormous amount of training to be better at stake. More and more of them are able to stake through classic trails on shiny ski.”

Norwegian Olympic legend Thomas Alsgaard is also critical of the no-double-pole zones proposal. “It’s like we’re back in the ’80s here,” Alsgaard told Dagbladet, according to a translation. “Unfortunately it is not surprising that the proposal came, but it is yet another example that it is high time that cross country open for people who are thinking innovatively.” Meanwhile, Johaug saw the opposite side of the argument. “I think it is positive that the FIS puts that kind of rules,” Johaug told NRK, according to a translation. We must take care of classic in the future and it gives a signal to young people; it’s good they take hold.” 

— While nordic skiing may not be seen by many as the most lucrative professional sport, the racers at the top at least, are bringing home the bacon. According to calculations released by FIS, both Sundby and Johaug took home a six-figure salary in overall winnings from the 2015/2016 ski season. However, their financial gains represent only one-fourth of the total winnings taken home by World Cup athletes. The real races to win are the Tour events. Athletes who emerge victorious during those competitions can earn upwards of 100,000 Swiss francs (about $102,500 dollars). Check out men’s and women’s prize money listings provided by FIS.

— Despite her original intention to compete in the Oslo Ski Show rollerski race on Saturday, a nagging hip strain has left Norwegian Marit Bjørgen standing on the sidelines, while watching her teammates compete. “I had been looking forward to competing with the girls in Holmenkollen Oslo ski show,” Bjørgen told Langrenn, according to a translation. “It’s a bit boring when I do not get done what I should, but I have to relate to reality.”

 Northug’s poker playing days are over — for now — after one of his sponsors Coop, told him to quit. “I don’t play poker any longer,” Northug told Adresseavisen, according to a translation.“That will have to wait until after my (skiing) career.” Coop, a grocery store chain, saw his poker playing habits as bad for his image, especially in relation to his drunk-driving incident two years ago.

May 29 Roundup: Kershaw with Team Telemark, Østberg in Ethopia, and Ski Classics Calendar

— Canadian World Cup A-Team member Devon Kershaw has a few training transitions in line this season, one of them being his decision to work with Team Telemark. A newly founded Norwegian cross-country training group, Team Telemark lists 10 other members beyond Kershaw, including the U23 bronze medalist, Mikael Gunnulfsen. “I’ve trained a lot with Norwegian runners, but never been on such a team. It’s going to be exciting,” Kershaw told Telemarksavisa, according to a translation.

— Team Telemark’s claim to fame doesn’t end there. Former Norwegian skiing superstar, Kristin Størmer Steira plans to coach the women’s team, while her husband, Kershaw, races for the men. She plans to work with several Norwegian up-and-comers, including Mari Eide, Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, and Silje Øyre Slinde. She will work alongside former Norwegian national athlete, Ella Gjømle Berg. “There are girls here who can compete in the world. I want to help them to get out their maximum potential,” Berg told NRK, according to a translation.

— The Visma Ski Classics 2016/2017 calendar was released last Thursday. These races include the infamous Vasaloppet and Marcialonga. Five new destination races have been added to this season’s schedule in Switzerland, Austria, Norway, and China. For more information, check out the video presented by Visma Ski Classics in Stockholm, Sweden.

— There’s more to life than just cross-country skiing and racing. Even Norwegian nordic standout, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg understands that. The 25-year-old Tour de Ski runner-up recently returned from a trip to Ethopia, as part of an athlete-driven organization, Right to Play, which was established in 2000. The organization’s mission is to ensure that every child, worldwide, understands their right to healthy, active play. In Ethiopia, we met many people who had hardly anything at all,” Østberg told Dagbladet of her trip, according to a translation. “But we saw what  a football, and a playground can mean. The joy of getting run and play unfold physical might what I will remember most.”

— Former University of Utah cross-country skier and Norwegian nordic World Cup racer, Snorri Einarsson, has decided he’s going to the Olympics, but not in the red-and-blue suits of Norway. Instead, Einarsson has decided to change citizenship and compete for Iceland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The 30 year old plans to train with Norway this year, before making the official jump to “island” training. “There are many deadlines and much paperwork that must be observed and done before I can be Icelandic. Therefore I’m going to go to Norway this year, but next year and up to and including the Olympic Games in 2018,” Einarsson told Langrenn, according to a translation.

— Many only dream of competing at the Olympics. Brazilian athlete, Jaqueline Mourão, has competed five times in three different sports: mountain biking at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, and Beijing, China, respectively; cross-country skiing at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the Vancouver, Canada; and biathlon at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The 40 year old’s most recent Olympic moment was the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay, which Mourão completed on rollerskis.

— After working two years coaching just one athlete, Russian cross country skier, Ilia Chernousov, Norwegian Vegard Bitnes will take on a new responsibility as the head coach for the Austrian women’s biathlon team. “I’ve gone from being the coach of one top athlete, to suddenly be responsible for an entire national team. It is fun to work with such a large group, and I motivated to take the challenges we face,” Bitnes told Langrenn, according to a translation.

— No surprise, Tour de Ski locations depend greatly on the numbers. Numbers of viewers tuning into the broadcasting stations that is. Jürg Capol, the current International Ski Federation (FIS) race director and FIS Marketing AG, indicated that it’s important for cross country skiing to communicate and reach numerous audiences. “It is important that we make the cross-country skiing more — communicate the sport better and: it needs to transfer stories around the sport,” Capol said to nordic-online, according to a translation.

— If the interest was high enough, who’s to say a FIS Cross-Country World Cup wouldn’t show up in New York or even London? “Decisive for the discharge of such a World Cup event is the National Federation, and here the American Association,” Capol told nordic-online, according to a translation. “Currently running the evaluation phase; there is a concept — I expect a decision before the FIS Congress in Cancun in June 2016. But: If New York is not, why not London?”

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:

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

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.”


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. linked to an article on Jan. 6, originally posted on, 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’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.”