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Aug. 16 Roundup: Japan Wins First Mixed Jumping Event, Americans Fifth

Japan made history Tuesday night at the FIS Ski Jumping Grand Prix, winning the first mixed-team competition to be held on the international circuit. With Yuki Ito, Sara Takanashi, Noriaki Kasai and Yuta Watase, the Japanese squad racked up 930.8 points on the normal hill (HS 96M) in Courchevel, France. The win transcended generations as well as genders: Takanashi is 15 years old, and Kasai is 40.

The top three teams were separated by 2.4 points, with Germany placing second (928.9) and Austria finishing 0.5 points father back in third. Norway was fourth (889.4) with their No. 2- and 3-ranked athletes. The Americans took fifth with USA Ski Jumping and USA Women’s Ski Jumping members, Anders Johnson, Pete Frenette, Alissa Johnson, and Jessica Jerome, tallying 872.3 points.

Jerome led the charge with jumps of 90.5 and 94.0 meters. Alissa Johnson jumped 83.0 and 85.0, Frenette went 79.5 and 83.5, and Anders Johnson recorded 87.5 and 87.0.

“This was a great experience for the USA”, USA Ski Jumping Head Coach Clint Jones said in a press release. “Our guys performed OK, and while there is still room for improvement, we had some strong results. This was a test event to see how things would stack up, and with only average results from our guys, our USA squad was right in the mix. Both the men and the women had great fun and everyone seems happy with the new team event.”

On Wednesday, Canada’s Alexandra Pretorius won the individual women’s competition on the normal hill, and Reruhi Shimizu of Japan won the men’s event. Austrian women Daniela Iraschko and Jacqueline Seifriedsberger were second and third, respectively, and Jerome finished fourth.

On the men’s side, Germany’s Andreas Wank was second, and Tom Hilde of Norway was third. The American men did not compete. The summer Grand Prix continues Aug. 17-19 in Hinterzarten, Germany.

Courchevel Grand Prix results 

 

— Speaking of Japan, Masako Ishida wants the podium next season. And while she had a good run last year, with two fifth-place finishes at World Cups in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic (15 k classic), and Oslo, Norway (30 k classic), the 31-year-old Olympian wants more.

“My performance last year was good but I want to make another step up,” she told FIS News. “For sure World Championships will be the highlight and I will do my best to get on the podium in 30km Classic. Actually, there will be my second World Championships in Val di Fiemme. In 2003, when I was 22, I competed in 15 km classic and finished in 36th place. Ten years later, I think I have a chance for a better result. I also hope I will be in good shape at FIS Tour de Ski.”

 

— Wednesday marked the 100-day countdown to the 2012/2013 FIS Cross-Country World Cup season. On Nov. 24, races kick off with the women’s 10 k and men’s 15 k skate in Gällivare, Sweden. A couple of title events mark the upcoming season, including the FIS World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, and the first World Cup races in Canada in two years (in Quebec and Canmore). With seven races in nine days, the Canada World Cups will be an early season highlight in December before the FIS Tour de Ski starts at the end of the month.

 

Team Exspirit announced Wednesday it added yet another team member, 31-year-old Norwegian skier Roger Aa Djupvik. Last season, Djupvik finished second at the Birkebeinerrennet and was fifth at the Ski Classics Final.

“Roger has been chased by several teams and I am very happy that we could sign him for Team Exspirit,” team director David Nilsson said in a press release. “We will have very strong team with the three new Norwegian skiers Roger, Espen Harald and Morten who complements the rest of our skiers in a very good way. Now we can barely wait for the season to start, even if we probably will see some more news around the team before the first race in Jizerska.”

Djupvik currently lives in Lillehammer with his wife, May-Britt, and their son, Markus. He previously trained with the Lillehammer Ski Club and Team Birken.

“I am very happy with the opportunity to join and be a part of Team Exspirit,” he said. “This will be my first season only focusing on long distance skiing and I get great opportunities to perform at the highest level with Team Exspirit. It is a professional team who contains a lot of experience in long distance racing together with strong athletes. All athletes have their own speciality and I am sure we will race for the victories in Ski Classics.”

 

— Wondering what the distance skiers on the Austrian-based team Skinfit Racing are up to? According to a press release, they’re getting ready for their first races and another training camp in the eastern Tyrolean mountains.

The entire team — which includes one Austrian, Lukas Weitgasser, Czechs Stanislav Rezac and Martin Koukal, Martin Bajcicak (SVK), Stephanie Santer (ITA), Lars Suther (SWE), Markus Ottosson (SWE), Andy Gerstenberger (GER), Toni Escher (GER), and Marco Mühlematter (SUI) — will compete in a 9 k uphill classic race at the Austrian rollerskiing championships, also part of the Austrian cross country cup, on Saturday in Salzburg. On Sunday, they’ve got a 50 k skate pursuit on “a challenging motor sports circuit.”

The Skinfit guys will then head to Obertilliach for eight days of intensive team training. It will be their fifth camp of the season and bring their number of training days to a grand total of 108.

“At every camp the athletes get high class support from 4 coaches and a physical therapist, which allows high training intensity” athletic director Manfred Hierschläger said.

 

 

Aug. 14 Roundup: Kowalczyk Sweeps NZ Races; Bjerke Signed for VO2 Max

— Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk dominated all three Australia/New Zealand Cup races last weekend at the Snow Farm near Wanaka, New Zealand, winning the 10-kilometer classic, skate sprint and 5 k skate race, respectively. A two-time champion there last year, Kowalczyk isn’t ready to leave the NZ Winter Games just yet. According to her coach, Aleksander Wierietielny, Kowalczyk will compete in the 42 k Merino Muster ski marathon on Aug. 18 as well as the Winter Triathlon, which involves running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, on Aug. 27. “The conditions are so perfect,”  Wierietielny said in a translated version of Kowalcyzk’s blog. “Snow is maybe a little less than a year ago, but all the routes are well prepared. Besides, [they] have excellent weather conditions. At night it’s minus five, six degrees Celsius, so the snow is frozen, and the beautiful sun shining days. We call it the Italian weather.” Last Thursday, Kowalczyk beat a small…

Diggins Reports from Sweden; Randall in a Walking Boot

How do you know you’re working hard at a cross-country skiing training camp? Go bowling. The youngest woman on the U.S. Ski Team, 20-year-old Jessie Diggins felt the post-workout burn last night during a laid-back bowling session with the Swedish national women’s team. Diggins, four of her teammates and Canadian Chandra Crawford kicked off their joint camp with the Swedes four days ago in Sälen, Sweden. On Friday, they’ll head south on a rest day to the Torsby ski tunnel, then go hard again with the team for four more days. According to Diggins, it’s definitely been challenging so far. “Last night we went bowling as a team, and it was very funny because our arms were so tired from strength that we could barely lift the bowling balls!” she wrote on her blog. That was after a 2 1/2-hour run Wednesday morning and a 1 1/2-hour skate session that afternoon….

Aug. 8 Roundup: FIS Hires Randall’s Husband; Royal Gorge Sold

— The International Ski Federation (FIS) recently hired Kikkan Randall’s husband, Jeff Ellis, a former Canadian skier, to assist with media relations. In an email, FIS Communications Manager Riikka Rakic confirmed that Ellis, a former track and nordic-skiing standout, would be involved with their organization during the 2012/2013 season, but declined to elaborate until closer to the start of the World Cup season. Ellis held off on commenting as well until he knew more about his role. — Speaking of Kikkan Randall, FIS News recently interviewed the reigning World Cup sprint champion from Anchorage and asked her some random questions, such as where in the world she’d love to go swimming and what musician she’d want to jump out of her headphones and into her workout. Her answer to the first, Australia — when it’s warm — or her husband’s family cottage in Ontario. “The water is deliciously warm there and life…

Hoffman Runs Away With Oberhof Time Trial

The U.S. Ski Team held an 11-kilometer skate time trial in the ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany, on Monday, and Colorado’s Noah Hoffman let it rip by posting an huge win – almost a full minute over Tad Elliott, his teammate on both the national team and Team Homegrown. “I was happy with how I felt, especially considering the snow was fast and a little icy, which is a surface I’ve struggled on in the past,” Hoffman wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. The race was six laps of the entire tunnel loop, about 1.75 k. Stratton Mountain School T2 racer Eric Packer, who is on the trip as a special guest, finished third, 49 seconds behind Elliott. USST sprinter Simi Hamilton was 24 seconds behind him in fourth, while Andy Newell did not race due to stomach troubles. USST Head Coach Chris Grover cautioned against analyzing the results, which…

Jerome Repeats as U.S. Ski Jumping Champ; Frenette & Johnson Tie

At the 2013 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships last weekend in Park City, Utah, national-team member Jessica Jerome defended her large-hill title for her ninth career win at nationals. She was second overall on Saturday after Canadian Alexandra Pretorius, who nailed two jumps of 125.5 meters each for the outright victory. Jerome was the top American with a first jump of 119.5 meters and second jump of 117.5 meters. She was followed by Canada’s Atsuko Tanaka in third. In a USSA press release, Jerome acknowledged that her jumping this summer hasn’t been as technically good compared to years past. “I knew that I had to work a little harder and I’m definitely satisfied,” she said. “The Canadian girls are giving me a run for my money, but it’s really good to see because it means the sport is growing as a whole. It’s nice to have competition out there. Conditions were great today…

Lodwick Locks Up 20th National Title

U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team veteran Todd Lodwick racked up his 20th career national title on Saturday, coming from behind to win at the 2013 U.S. Nordic Combined Championships in Park City, Utah. According to a USSA press release, Lodwick made up 1 minute and 7 seconds on the field, beating out teammates Johnny Spillane (2nd) and Taylor Fletcher (3rd) after ranking eighth in the jump. Bryan Fletcher finished fourth, and Ales Vodsedalek of the Czech Republic placed fifth after notching the best jump. Defending champion Billy Demong was in third position after the jump, but collided with Lodwick on a corner, fell and finished sixth. “This win is huge,” the 35-year-old Lodwick told USSA. “For me it’s a benchmark. I won my first U.S. Championship in 1994 and to be U.S. Champ 18 years later is humbling. “I’m very fortunate to be doing what I’m doing and have the support…

U.S. Ski Team Wraps Up in Ramsau

The U.S. Ski Team men’s August training camp is in full swing. The group wrapped up the Dachstein Glacier segment in Ramsau, Austria, on Friday to take off for the ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany. By all accounts, the skiing on Dachstein was beautiful. After taking a tram up to 8,500 feet to get on snow every morning, the team got busy logging easy distance hours in the spring-like conditions. Joining the team in EUrope is Stratton Mountain School T2 rookie Eric Packer, a recent Dartmouth graduate and part of the USST National Training Group (NTG). As one of the top senior skiers in the U.S., Packer is at Dachstein on special invitation from the USST coaches. “Having Eric here has been an excellent addition to the group; he is training well and skiing technically well,” head coach Chris Grover wrote in an email. We asked Packer a bit about…

North American Women Off to Sweden

Twitter is lighting up like that neighbor’s house who should take the Christmas lights down already, as several North American women and their friends on the Swedish national team anxiously awaiting their first joint camp in Sweden. Five U.S. Ski Team members and one from the Canadian national team are gearing up for the two-week camp, which will be held in Torsby and Sälen. Ida Sargent, Jessie Diggins and Holly Brooks all planned to leave the U.S. on Thursday to meet two of their teammates, Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen, in Orsa, Sweden. Anna Haag and other Swedish skiers would likely be there as well, and hardly anyone could contain their excitement. On Tuesday, Haag tweeted: “On my way to Orsa to meet my American Sisters ‪@lizstephen & ‪@kikkanimal, have been longing for them so long now!! Will be amazing as always!” Stephen responded: “Cannot wait Swedish sis! We are already…

July 31 Roundup: Australian Championships Begin; Pierre Harvey Talks Olympism

— Winter is in full swing in the Southern Hemisphere, and the 2012 FIS Australia/New Zealand Cup began last weekend with the start of the Australian Championship at Perisher Valley. Esther Bottomley (AUS) won both the freestyle sprint and 5 k classic for a strong start in defending her 2011 championship title. Lucy Glanville (AUS) was the runner-up to Bottomley on both days. There was more variety on the men’s podiums; after two races there is currently a three-way tie in the series between Callum Watson, Alex Almoukov and Phillip Bellingham, all Australian. Almoukov won the sprint on the first day, and Watson took the 10 k classic a day later. The overall championship is scored by points, and all three currently have 160. The series resumes August 9 – 12 at the Snow Farm in New Zealand, where skiers from Russia and Japan are also expected to compete. The…