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Youngman Leads U.S. at 2017 Masters World Cup; Gray Finally Gets Gold

Multiple medalist Louise Wholey and U.S. team director John Downing on relay day at the 2017 Masters World Cup on March 10 in Klosters, Switzerland. (Photo: Masters World Cup 2017 Klosters)

By Inge Scheve

“I waited 55 years for this medal,” said Bob Gray.

Bob Gray receiving a bronze medal at the 2015 Masters World Cup in Syktyvkar, Russia. (Photo: Kent Murdoch)

The 77-year-old Vermonter won the 15-kilometer freestyle race in the M10 category (men age 75-80) at the 2017 Masters World Cup in Klosters, Switzerland, earlier this month.

Gray raced for the U.S. Ski Team from 1962 until 1974, but never earned a World Championships medal during that period.

“When I first came on the U.S. Ski Team in 1962, we were ten minutes behind the Europeans in the 15 k event,” he said. “When I left the U.S. Ski Team in 1974, we were three minutes behind in the 15 k.”

“It’s a lifelong dream for me to win a World Championship medal,” he continued. “I’m a frustrated athlete, you know.” Over the last two decades, Gray has participated in more than a dozen Masters World Cup events.

“The competitors get older and there are fewer of them, but in my mind, this was really satisfying,” he said.

The annual Masters World Cup represents an opportunity for skiers 30 and older to ski up to four races of regular World Cup distances in a week.

During the 2017 Masters World Cup in Klosters, U.S. skiers collected a total of 47 individual medals and four relay podium finishes. The Canadian team took home 12 individual medals and one relay podium finish.

A freestyle race at the 2017 Masters World Cup in early March in Klosters, Switzerland. (Photo: Masters World Cup 2017 Klosters)

Among the U.S. individual winners were Gray, Barry Makarewicz, who won two races, and Eric Martin, and for the women, Elizabeth Youngman, who notched three individual titles, Lindsey Bengtson (2), Laura McCabe (2), Trina Hosmer (2), Louise Wholey, and Carolyn Tiernan. For Canada, Silvia Stettler and Nancy Burden won two races apiece, and individual titles went to Pat Pearce, Barbara Turner and Robert Burden.

With two individual classic titles and a skate win as well, Youngman was part of the U.S. women’s gold-medal relay (with Magdalena Bowen, Muffy Ritz and McCabe) in the 4 x 5 k mixed technique race to end the seven-day championships.

The U.S. national director for the World Masters Cross-Country Ski Association (WMA), John Downing, who is also the president of the FIS Masters World Cup Association, said this year’s championships were a great showing for his team.

“When we bring large numbers to Europe, we always see results, that’s simple math,” he said. “When we have more skiers, we also have more upper-level skiers.”

Downing added that medals are not the most important aspect of the Masters World Cup event.

“We want every skier to feel welcome, regardless of level, and we want every ability skier to feel welcome to these events and walk away with good experiences,” he said.

Next year, the Masters World Cup moves to Minneapolis, and Downing is confident the Twin Cities will pull off a great championship week.

“The Loppet Foundation, which is the organizing committee for the 2018 Masters World Cup, has been awesome. They have a lot of resources and talented organizers,” he said.

“They have doubled their snow-making capacity in the last year, and they are ready to increase that even further,” he explained. “So you can easily fly into the Twin Cities and not see a flake of snow anywhere and still know that the organizers will have loop that wont drive people crazy to ski.”

The 2018 Masters World Cup is scheduled for Jan. 19-26, 2018.

2017 Masters World Cup: North American Medal Count

Race 1: Mid-distance skate

U.S. (11 total: 6 gold, 1 silver, 4 bronze)

  • Gold: Lindsey Bengtson (F1), Laura McCabe (F5), Elizabeth Youngman (F6), Louise Wholey (F10), Barry Makarawicz (M6), Bob Gray (M10)
  • Silver: Trina Hosmer (F9)
  • Bronze: Katie Meyer (F7), Carolyn Tiernan (F8), Shauna Thoreson (F11), Eric Martin (M5)

Canada (3 total: 1 gold, 2 silver)

  • Gold: Silvia Stettler (F8)
  • Silver: Nikki Kassel (F3), Barbara Turner (F5)

Race 2: Mid-distance classic

U.S. (4 total: 2 silver, 2 bronze)

  • Silver: Magdalena Bowen (F6), Barbara Lewis (F11)
  • Bronze: James Rucker (M2), Charles French (M12)

Race 3: Short-distance classic

U.S. (10 total: 2 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze)

  • Gold: Elizabeth Youngman (F6), Trina Hosmer (F9)
  • Silver: Carolyn Tiernan (F8), Shauna Thoresen (F11), Del Pletcher (M9), Charles French (M12)
  • Bronze: Eric Martin (M3), Barry Makarawicz (M6), Barbara Lewis (F11), George Hall (M11)

Canada (1 total: 1 gold)

  • Gold: Pat Pierce (F7)

Race 4: Short-distance skate

U.S (7 total: 1 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze)

  • Gold: Lindsey Bengston (F1)
  • Silver: Katie Meyer (F7), Shauna Thoresen (F11), Joanne Davis (F11)
  • Bronze: Kent Murdoch (M6), Abbie Spencer (F1), Louise Wholey (F10), Inge Scheve (F3)

Canada: (3 total: 3 gold)

  • Gold: Barbara Turner (F5), Nancy Burden (F6), Silvia Stettler (F8)

Race 5: Marathon skate

U.S. (10 total: 5 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze)

  • Gold: Laura McCabe (F5), Carolyn Tiernan (F8), Trina Hosmer (F9), Eric Martin (M3), Barry Makarawicz (M6)
  • Silver: Lindsey Bengston (F1), Shauna Thoresen (F11), Bob Gray (M10)
  • Bronze: Louise Wholey (F10), Joanne Davis (F11)

Canada (3 total: 1 gold, 2 silver)

  • Gold: Nancy Burden (F6)
  • Silver: Nikki Kassel (F3), Barbara Turner (F5)

Race 6: Marathon classic

(Note: Race course was shortened due to avalanche in the upper end of the valley)

U.S. (5 total: 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze)

  • Gold: Elizabeth Youngman (F6)
  • Silver: Barbara Lewis (F11), George Hall (M11), Charles French (M12)
  • Bronze: James Rucker (M2)

Canada (2 total: 2 silver)

  • Silver: Pat Pierce (F7), Silvia Stettler (F8)

Relays

U.S. (4 total: 1 gold, 3 silver)

  • Gold: Elizabeth Youngman, Magdalena Bowen, Muffy Ritz, Laura McCabe (F3)
  • Silver: Chris Clark, Wilhelm Northrop, Seth Downs, Eric Martin (M4); Odd Bersvendsen, Richard Powell, Barry Makarawicz, Kent Murdoch (M6); Trina Hosmer, Connie Meek, Louise Wholey, Carol Monteverde (F5)

Canada (1 total: 1 silver)

  • Silver: Pat Pierce, Lois Johnston, Silvia Stettler, Maureen Clement (F4)

Complete results

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

– 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. – 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…

March 5 Roundup: Ski Classics Launches Nordic Trophy; NCAA Champs Coming Up in N.H.

– The Visma Ski Classics series is launching a new competition within the tour called the Visma Nordic Trophy, which will take place in Nordic countries. The competition started Sunday with the Vasaloppet in Sweden, the ninth event of the Ski Classics series. According to a Ski Classics press release, there will be prize money for the top three in both the men and women’s race. The next race will be the Birkebeinerrennet on March 18 in Norway.   – During 2017 Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, the International Ski Federation (FIS) and Finnish Anti-Doping Agency spread the anti-doping message to athletes and coaches. At the athletes’ village in Vierumäki, Finland, competitors were given the opportunity to show their commitment to clean sport by signing a giant snowball as well as having their photo taken, according to a FIS press release. More than 400 athletes, coaches and support personnel joined the movement during the championships, held Feb. 22-March 5.   –  NCAA…

Feb. 24 Roundup: Venezuelan Skier’s World-Famous Story; Northug Gives Up Starts

– Venezuela’s Adrian Solano had a long road to World Championships. While trying to get to Sweden to train last month, he was stopped by French border agents on Jan. 19 while trying to make a connecting flight in Paris. The 22-year-old, who took up rollerskiing about a year ago, told the officials that he was competing in World Championships, which they didn’t believe. He was detained and questioned for five days, and with just 28 euros in cash on hand, he eventually decided to return to Venezuela. “I told them that we train on wheels. I only had €28 with me and the police accused me of trying to immigrate because things were going badly in my country,” Solano told the BBC. “My expectations were to train and finish in a good place at the competition,” Solano later told The New York Times. “But that got broken the minute I didn’t get to Sweden.” Thanks to…

Feb. 11 Roundup: IPC World Champs This Week in Finsterau; Otepää World Cup Next Weekend

— The 2017 World Para Nordic Skiing Championships are happening from Feb. 10-19 in Finsterau, Germany. Over the next week, there will be a total of 38 competitions taking place between biathlon and cross-county skiing, according to World Para Nordic Skiing. More than 120 athletes from 19 countries are competing, including three-time world champion sit-skier and Paralympic gold medalist Andrea Eskau. Eskau is hoping that the home crowd will help her return to the top of the podium. “If I win a medal, I can celebrate this with my family. This is a nice thought!” Eskau said. “I hope to be able to compete in Finsterau in very good shape.” Other notable skiers include overall World Cup leader Lidziya Hrafeyeva of Belarus, two-time Paralympic medalist Oksana Masters of the U.S., and Germany’s Martin Fleig. Live timing at Finsterau2017.com.   – The Otepää World Cup will take place as planned next weekend, Feb. 18-19, according to its local organizing committee. This will be the 14th…

Feb. 3 Roundup: Caldwell to be Inducted into VT Hall; 800 Skiers Expected for Boulder Mountain Tour

– John Caldwell of Putney, Vt., will be inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame on April 22 in South Burlington, Vt., at the Hilton Hotel Burlington, according to the Brattleboro Reformer. Caldwell represented the U.S. at the 1952 Olympics, both in cross-country skiing and nordic combined. After retiring, he returned to where it all started, The Putney School, to teach and coach. He was the U.S. coach for the 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1984 Olympics, and is known as the grandfather of nordic skiing, having coached some of the best U.S. skiers, such as his own son Tim Caldwell, Bill Koch, Mary Heller, Jim Galanes, and Martha Rockwell. A member of the first U.S. women’s nordic team at the 1972 Olympics, Rockwell will also be inducted into the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame. Caldwell is the author of “The Cross Country Ski Book,” which is known as the bible for cross-country skiing. – Eight hundred skiers are expected at…

Jan. 26 Roundup: Calgary Considers Bid for 2026 Winter Olympics; Northug in Falun

— Calgary is considering a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Both the provincial and federal governments are interested in moving forward. Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said that there is a lot to do, but knows there is plenty of time to prepare, according to GamesBids. They want to make sure that the public, federal government and province supports it, as well as determine what the revenue and profit potential would be to host. The city council has set at June 30 date to decide whether or not it will bid. Other cities considering bids for the 2026 Olympics are Sapporo, Japan, Stockholm, Sweden, and Almaty, Kazakhstan.  The IOC will select the host for those Games in 2019.   — Petter Northug plans to start Sunday’s 30 k classic mass start at this weekend’s World Cup in Falun, Sweden. He will replacing Didrik Tønseth, who has been struggling with food poising all week and has not been able to recover, according to Langrenn. Northug was training in Meråker, Norway when he got…

Jan. 16 Roundup: Eliassen Out; Weng’s Biggest Cheerleader; Herrmann Returns to XC

— There was a familiar face missing from the start line this past weekend at the Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, part of the Ski Classics series, in Seefeld, Austria. According to Langrenn, Petter Eliassen of Team Leaseplan did not race to a persistent illness that he’s had since Christmas. He won the Kaiser Maximilian last year, which helped him win the overall 2016 Ski Classics title. Eliassen told Langrenn that he has been sick for a few weeks and didn’t feel ready to race. In his absence, Team Santander’s Andreas Nygaard rolled to his second-straight Ski Classics victory on Saturday, after winning the Vasaloppet China. Nygaard leads the overall Ski Classics standings by 34 points over his teammate Tord Asle Gjerdalen, while Eliassen dropped from fifth to eighth overall.   — Heidi Weng has a lot of fans, especially in Norway, but perhaps none bigger and more energetic/ enthusiastic than her mom Mary Bente Weng. As Weng raced to her first overall Tour de Ski victory in…

Hendrickson Again Top American as China TDS Comes to a Close

It’s a long ways from Norway to China, but that wasn’t slowing down Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen (formerly of Michigan Tech) who will be taking home an additional 20,000 yuan for first place overall in the men’s division as the 10th annual China Tour de Ski wrapped up at Shijinglong Ski Resort, in Yanqing, outside Beijing, earlier Monday. Meng Hongliang of China took the women’s overall title. (The references are to something or someone who loves snow, particularly plants that have grown through a snow cover, and someone fond of Chinese people and customs, respectively. And 20,000 yuan is slightly under $3,000.) The six-stage tour was heavy on the freestyle sprints, with four of the stages featuring short skate sprints. Monday’s Stage 6 was no exception, as racers once more competed in a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint. This one was not easy, as racers faced a climb of at least 40 meters before…

Fritz, Hendrickson 14th in Stage 5 of China TDS

Lauren Fritz (APU) and Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) each reached the quarterfinals to finish 14th overall in Stage 5 of the China Tour de Ski, a 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint held in Xiwuqi, in the Inner Mongolia region of China, earlier Saturday. The two-lap race was held beneath sunny skies and cold temperatures, with race-time temps a barely FIS-legal –17 C, or 1.4° F. It was the third skate sprint in five stages, following 1.5 k skate sprints in Stages 1 and 2 in Changbaishan and Changchun. First place in the women’s race went to Li Xin of China, who also won the sprint in Stage 1 and the prologue-distance mass start in Stage 4. Chinese and Swedish skiers made up the rest of the four-person final. Fritz made it as far as the quarterfinals on the day after qualifying in 13th. In the men’s…