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Sept. 11 Roundup: Vasaloppet & Norwegian Birkie Team Up; Södergren Seeks Medal

—  The Swedish Vasaloppet and Norwegian Birkebeiner recently joined forces to form a joint-stock company, Ski Classics AB. According to a press release, the two ski-marathon entities teamed up with IEC in Sports, a media firm, to combine six long-distance ski championships across the world: Jizerská Padesatká in Czech Republic, Marcialonga in Italy, König Ludwig Lauf in Germany, Vasaloppet in Sweden, Birkebeinerrennet in Norway and the Ski Classics Final in Sweden. The venue of the finals will be announced in the near future, and all of the races are 50 kilometers or longer and open to professional and amateur skiers.

The Vasaloppet and the Birkebeinerrennet together own 51 percent of the company’s stocks, and IEC in Sports, an international sports marketing company, owns the rest. Former Vasaloppet CEO Jonas Bauer is now the Ski Classics AB board chairman, and David Nilsson will become CEO after helping to launch Ski Classics in January 2011.

“The establishment of Ski Classics AB is an important step in continuing the great work that has been done through Ski Classics,” Bauer said. “This a way to secure the development of the concept Ski Classics, in a way that will do good for ‘the whole world’ of long distance skiing: elite competitors, amateur skiers, race organizers, the ski industry, the ski federations and many more. By forming the company we can continue the important cooperation with IEC over time and create a stability that will be beneficial to the overall development.”

 

—  Ten years after he won silver in the 50 k skate at the FIS Nordic World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Anders Södergren of Sweden wants to medal there again at the 2013 World Championships. The 35-year-old national-team veteran recently shared his goals with FIS News at a training camp in Bruksvallarna, Sweden.

“The summer training has gone very well and I feel very motivated,” Södergren said. “I still have great fun in trainings and I’m eager to compete for medals in Val di Fiemme. I feel better comparing this time last year. I’m simply stronger.”

After winning gold in the 2010 Olympics relay (and nabbing several silver and bronze medals between 2003 and 2011 World Championships), Södergren’s best result last season was 13th in the 30 k classic at the World Cup in Otepää, Estonia.

“I believe that we are well on the way to lift back the capacity level Anders had couple of years ago,” Swedish men’s coach Arild Monsens said. “If he succeeds and he stays healthy, then he may fight for medals in Val di Fiemme again. He has skills to do that!”

 

— Thinking about watching the FIS Tour de Ski in person this year? Tickets for the Dec. 29-30 opener in Oberhof, Germany, go on sale next week, Sept. 22 at 22:09 CET (4:09 p.m. EDT). They range in price from 5 to 20 Euros per day for the men’s and women’s prologue on Dec. 29 and pursuit races on the 30th. Combo tickets for the Tour de Ski and IBU Biathlon World Cup, which takes place a few days later, are also available.

Holly Brooks in a celebrity golf match? Not quite, but the U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University member was excited about being invited to the Special Olympics Alaska tournament last weekend. On Tuesday, she tweeted: “Thanx 2 Special Olympics Alaska 4 inviting me 2 golf tourny this past weekend…. luckily it was to help & not to play! (I’m horrible!)”

 

— In other golfing news, six-time PGA Tour winner Rocco Mediate posed for a photo with Canadian National Ski Team members Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones at the Haywood Securities Annual Charity Golf Tournament Sept. 6 at the Carnmoney Golf Club in Calgary, Alberta. Haywood is the title sponsor of Cross Country Canada.

 

— In nearby Canmore, Alberta, a press conference on Wednesday will announce an initiative headed by Own the Podium and Canada’s World Cup nordic skiers and biathletes regarding their preparations for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. According to a CCC press release, Canada wants to win the overall medal count at the Sochi Games.

“The new initiative is designed to help Canada win the nearly 30 per cent of Olympic medals that are awarded at the cross-country skiing and biathlon venues,” the release stated. “Canada has also set a goal of finishing in the top-three of the gold medal count at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. More than 50 per cent of the 186 medals at the Winter Paralympics are available in the sports of biathlon and cross-country skiing.”

Also on the agenda: the official unveiling of “two world-leading pieces of training equipment, that will help drive more medals at Olympic, Paralympic and international competitions,” according to the release.

The media conference will be held at WinSport Canada’s Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre, September 12 at 11 a.m. MTN.

Crawford, Perras Double Up for North American Championships Biathlon Victories

This weekend in Canmore, Canadian biathletes contested the North American Summer Championships with sprint and pursuit races both on rollerskis and on foot. The elite field rollerskied, with national team members Rosanna Crawford and Scott Perras sweeping in in the women’s and men’s divisions. In Saturday’s sprint, Crawford bested teammate Melanie Schultz by 41 seconds despite missing a shot in standing while Schultz cleaned. Junior racer Julia Ransom also cleaned to place third, just over a minute behind Crawford. On Sunday, the podium remained the same, with Crawford collecting only three penalties to Schultz’s five and extending her lead to a minute and 24 seconds. Ransom again took bronze, this time with five penalties. In the men’s field, Perras opened with a commanding 57-second win over fellow national team member Scott Gow in the sprint; American Bill Bowler was third, 1:48 back. All three men had a single missed shot….

Sept. 6 Roundup: Bjørgen Steps It Up; World-Record Holder Goes to NZ

— It’s not enough that she defended her World Cup title last year; Marit Bjørgen is training harder than ever to stay on top. The Norwegian World Champion credits her teammates, including Therese Johaug and Heidi Weng, and some other top female skiers for pushing her along. “This is probably the year I have trained most, at least until November, when the season starts,”  Bjørgen told NRK in a translated interview. “There are many who train hard and get better and better. I can tell you that.” Thinking it’ll be harder to be victorious this year, the 32-year-old bumped up her training by 30 additional hours over six months. “Not very much, but it makes a difference,” she said. At the start of the training season this spring, Bjørgen said she took it easy, but still managed to ski a lot. She stayed healthy and built up hours gradually over time. Then she started working…

Sept. 4 Roundup: Arritola 3rd, Glenn Randall 9th at World Mountain Running Champs

— The World Mountain Running Championships took place over the weekend in Ponte di Legno, Italy, and featured several former and current U.S. cross-country skiers. In her second mountain-running race, former U.S. Ski Team member Morgan Arritola led the American women with a bronze medal, finishing 51 seconds behind winner Andrea Mayr of Austria and 29 seconds after Valentina Belotti of Italy in second place. “It was really hard; this is my second mountain running race ever,” Arritola said to Alberto Stretti after the race (video here). “[The course] was tough, but it was beautiful.” Asked if she was pleased with her result, Arritola said, “You always want to win; you have to go into every race wanting to win, but I’m happy. I did all I could and today that was bronze.” Antonella Confortola, Italian World Cup-skier-turned-marathon specialist, was 17th. Former Bridger Ski Foundation skier Glenn Randall was the top American in…

Aug. 31 Roundup: Missing Maple Syrup in Canada; Apps for Skiers

— Where might someone hide 10 million pounds of maple syrup? Canadian authorities are wondering the same thing. The theft of an estimated $30 million dollars worth of the sweet stuff from a Quebec warehouse has provincial police on the lookout, and members of the Canadian ski team fascinated. “Anybody following the ‘Quebec heist of the century?’ “ Devon Kershaw tweeted. “10,000,000 pounds of 100% pure maple syrup had disappeared. How do you hide that?” He later paraphrased a quote from a news story: “It’s the Saudi Arabia of maple syrup that has been stolen.”   — At long last, apps for nordic skiers. SkinnySkis.com recently published a list of smartphone applications for recreational and competitive cross-country skiers alike. “The point of going outside is to unplug and escape, right? We think so,” the website stated. “But, as folks going outside with a mission, whether it be training for a…

Cichero Wins Ushuaia Loppet in Argentina

Federico Cichero won the 42 k freestyle Ushuaia Loppet on August 25, coming across the line in 1:58:43, one second ahead of fellow Argentine, Carlos Lannes. The race took place in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina. The start-finish was at Centro Invernal Tierra Mayor and the course covered two counter-clockwise laps of the traditional 21 KM Marcha Blanca course. Conditions this austral winter in Tierra del Fuego have been excellent thanks to big storms in June that hit the region. Race day snow was fast and Cichero and Lannes gapped the entire field right from the start. The two alternated in the lead for 42 KM and only at the end was Cichero able to get a slight advantage. Both skiers ski for Argentina in the FIS Developing Nations Group. The Ushuaia Loppet was the last competitive event in a month of cross-country events which will end in early September with the Mini-Marcha for skiers…

Aug. 28 Roundup: Randall’s Cousin Shines in MLB Debut; Legkov Lunges for Hoppet Win

— Athleticism must run in the extended family. Kikkan Randall‘s cousin, Casey Kelly, made his Major League Baseball debut Monday night, and it went really well. He started for San Diego and pitched six scoreless to lead the Padres over the Atlanta Braves, 3-0. According to MLB.com, the 22-year-old is the team’s top-rated prospect. “Just showing up to the park and seeing my jersey in my locker and knowing that I was pitching tonight — it’s just an unbelievable feeling and a dream come true,” Kelly told MLB. He also nabbed his first career hit — a ground-ball single — in his second at-bat. “I think I was more excited about the hit than anything else,” Kelly said. “I just closed my eyes and swung.” Randall tweeted on Tuesday: “Congrats on an incredible 1st major league game to my cuz @IamCaseyKelly !”   — There’s almost too much snow down…

Ruhpolding in Summer and Winter

FasterSkier is on site in Ruhpolding, Germany, home of the Chiemgau Arena, one of the most popular venues in all of biathlon. Here’s what it looked like during World Championships just five and a half months ago: In the summer, the arena is still impressive, but heading down to the range is a completely different experience. Can you recognize the stadium? Stay tuned for lots more photos and reports from the U.S. team training camp in the next few days.

Jones, Sandau Win Whitefish Races

The joint training camp between the Canadian Women’s National Ski Team (CNST) and Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) came to a close Saturday in Whitefish, Mont., but not without some racing. Fourteen women competed in a a 10-kilometer skiathlon (5.5 k classic/4.5 k skate), which Perianne Jones (CNST) won by nearly a minute in 25:35.7. Teammate Chandra Crawford was second (+58.9) and Heidi Widmer (AWCA) was third (+1:08.7). Women’s 10 k rollerski race results In an email, national-team coach Eric de Nys explained the majority of the classic portion was double pole, and the following skate leg had varied terrain and an overall elevation gain. Jones and Academy skiers Emily Nishikawa and Kate Brennan led by the end of the classic leg, building about a 30-second gap on independent skier Amanda Ammar of Canmore. Ammar had about 10 seconds on Crawford, Widmer, Marlis Kromm, Alysson Marshall, Suzanne Stevenson and Janelle Greer….

Aug. 23 Roundup: McKeever Ends NZ Trip; Freeman Talks About 2015

— Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov and Lenny Valjas aren’t the only Canadian skiers in New Zealand. Paralympian Brian McKeever has been there for the last two weeks, and on Saturday, he finished third in the 42 k Merino Muster ski marathon at the Snow Farm. Poland’s Maciej Kreczmer won it in 1:38.41, Andzey Smolyani of Russia was second (+12.0) and McKeever finished one second later. (Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland won the women’s race by nearly seven minutes. Results here) After the race, McKeever tweeted: “Race day – 42 km in the hurt box today. Didn’t have the legs, but still gave ‘er and called it training. It was pretty fun, though.” He spent the rest of his time there training and checking out the cyclocross terrain when he wasn’t skiing. Thursday marked his last day, which he spent with the four World Cup team members. “Sweet last day in NZ!” McKeever tweeted….