— 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.
— 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.