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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 is laid back,” Randall told FISNewsflash in its “Summer Time for Winter Athletes” series.

As for the music question, Randall said she’d like to see Lady Gaga in person. “Her music is the perfect pump-up anthem for my training and she seems like a really unique and interesting individual,” Randall said. “Maybe someday we’ll cross paths.”

— If you think that’s funny, try imagining Andy Newell and the U.S. men’s team imitating Justin Bieber. Currently training at a ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany, Newell tweeted on Wednesday: “We’ve been spending time working on Justin Bieber skits when we’re not in the tunnel and doing team yoga.” Granted, that message was directed to U.S. women’s team member Jessie Diggins, but still.

Devon Kershaw a scientist? Not exactly, but Wednesday night, he’s scheduled to give a presentation at Science North museum in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. According to NorthernLife.ca, the Sudbury native and two-time Olympian planned to talk about his intention to race at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. From 7-9 p.m., residents can meet him free of charge.

— Now for some serious news: It looks like Royal Gorge and 3,000 acres of land atop Donner Summit in Truckee, Calif., are going to be preserved by a coalition of environmental groups. The announcement came Monday that such groups had reached an agreement to buy Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort — the largest nordic center in North America — and protect additional land from development, according to The Modesto Bee.

“I think it’s the most significant conservation effort in the recent history of the Sierra Nevada,” Perry Norris, head of the Truckee Donner Land Trust, told the Bee about the $11.25 million-dollar deal.

San Francisco-based developers originally purchased Royal Gorge for a reported $35 million dollars in 2005. After they repeatedly defaulted on their loans, a judge placed the property under receivership and its receiver, Douglas Wilson Cos. of San Diego, recently agreed to sell the 3,000 privately held acres to the Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land and the Northern Sierra Partnership.

The conservation groups are aiming to raise an additional $13.5 million dollars for upgrades at Royal Gorge, including trail improvements and forest maintenance. According to the Bee, they plan to keep the area open under the management of Sugar Bowl resort.

For more on the background of this story, read FasterSkier’s story from last year: An Uncertain Future for Royal Gorge

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…