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

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

– Despite training on Thursday, American Kikkan Randall will not be competing in the season-ending World Cup Finals in Québec City this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to a U.S. Ski Team press release, Randall was not feeling 100 percent during warmup training on Thursday and decided to sit out the races. Fourteen other women are slated to represent the U.S. in Friday’s freestyle sprint, 12 U.S. men, 15 Canadian women, and 15 Canadian men.

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

– This season’s overall and distance World Cup winner Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway will not be racing at World Cup Finals in Quebec this Friday through Sunday, March 17-19.

Instead, he’ll be racing for Team United Bakeries in Saturday’s 54-kilometer Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, the 10th event of the Ski Classics series. Another Norwegian national-team member, Eirik Brandsdal will also be racing the Birkebeinerrennet from Rena to Lillehammer.

While the International Ski Federation (FIS) initially threatened to reduce Sundby’s prize money and bonuses if he didn’t come to Quebec, FIS Race Director Pierre Mignerey explained they retracted that by Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Results: Big FatChico

 

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

 

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

 

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

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