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U.S. Women Make History, Second in Nove Mesto Relay

The U.S. women's relay, with Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen, hugs anchor Jessie Diggins at the finish after she secured second for the best-ever U.S. women's relay result in a cross-country World Cup on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

The U.S. women’s relay, with Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen (r), hugs anchor Jessie Diggins (second from l) at the finish after she secured second for the best-ever U.S. women’s relay result in a cross-country World Cup on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

The U.S. women’s 4 x 5-kilometer relay team made history on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, placing second overall for its strongest podium finish ever.

The relay team was led by Sophie Caldwell in the opening classic leg. Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østeberg took it out hard, leading all teams from the start. Caldwell kept the chase pack going and tagged off to Sadie Bjornsen for the second classic leg of the day.

In lap two, Bjornsen and Finland’s Krista Parmakoski began to gap the rest of the field, battling it out for second and third place. Coming into the exchange zone, Bjornsen was third and tagged Liz Stephen for the first freestyle leg, 25.7 seconds behind Norway in first and 1.2 seconds behind Parmakoski.

Stephen charged past Finland’s Riitta-Liisa Roponen with 2 k to go, moving the U.S. into second place behind Norway’s Therese Johaug. Stephen trailed Johaug all the way until the exchange zone, where the hand off for the final freestyle leg went to the team anchor, Jessie Diggins, 32.5 seconds back .

Chasing down Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen of Norway, Diggins expanded Stephen’s lead over third place. Diggins crossed the line in second overall for the U.S., 42.1 seconds behind Norway’s winning time of 50:17.2 and 13.8 seconds ahead of Finland in third.

The U.S. women have been on the podium three times before (in third place), most recently at the last relay in Lillehammer, Norway, where they placed third behind Norway and Finland. 

The Canadian women, in their first-ever relay for all four (Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty, Cendrine Browne, and Maya MacIsaac-Jones) placed 12th (+5:02.4).

Results

Diggins Takes Third in Nove Mesto; Three More American Women Crack Top 30

Another World Cup podium for American Jessie Diggins today in Nove Mesto, CZE. The 24-year-old Minnesota native raced to a third place finish in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle event, only 9.3 seconds behind the race winner Therese Johaug of Norway, who complete the course in a time of 25:09.1. This marks the second time Diggins reaches the World Cup podium in the past two weeks, after she won the women’s 5 k freestyle individual start on Jan. 8 at the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. Three other American women cracked the top thirty, with Sadie Bjornsen in 14th (+1:11.3), Liz Stephen in 17th (1:18.4), and Rosie Brennan scoring World Cup points in 28th (1:40.1).  For complete race results, click here.

Who’s in Nove Mesto? Not Newell, Hanneman, Northug…

– Newell and Hanneman in the Dolomitenlauf? If you’re looking for American sprint specialists Andy Newell and Reese Hanneman at this weekend’s World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, you won’t find them there; they’re signed up for Saturday’s Dolomitenlauf 42-kilometer classic marathon in Lienz, Austria. While the main event happens on Sunday — the 60 k freestyle Dolomitenlauf (part of the Worldloppet series) — Newell and Hanneman already raced the Dolomitenlauf sprint on Friday night, where Newell reached the final and placed fourth overall while Hanneman missed advancing past the quarterfinals. The sprint was one of the main reasons they were there, U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover explained in an email. A shredded suit, two broken poles, and some euros in my pocket. The usual city sprint antics! Fun night at the Dolomiten sprint! — ❄️Andy⚡️Newell❄️ (@AndyNewellskier) January 22, 2016 “Andy will also race the 42 km C…

Jacobsen Out of Tour, Recovering at Home After Post-Race Collapse

Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen has left the Tour de Ski to recover at home, according to the Norwegian national team doctor, after she pushed herself past the brink of exhaustion in Stage 2, the women’s 15-kilometer classic last Saturday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. She finished 11th in that race, and did not start the third stage of the Tour, the 5 k pursuit, on Sunday. “We have assessed the situation together with Astrid this morning,” team doctor Fredrik S. Bendiksen told reporters Sunday morning. “She’s still tired and not fully recovered…” According to NRK, Jacobsen, 28, struggled with both breathing and nausea during the 15 k. She collapsed at the finish line and lay in the snow for more than five minutes before medical staff was summoned to help her to her feet. She underwent an hour of medical supervision afterward and left the stadium to recover in her hotel room. While she…

Martin Johansson Drops Out of Tour de Ski; Bellingham & Others Lapped In 30k

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland—The slow conditions, sloppy waxing, and otherwise grueling nature of Saturday’s men’s 30 k classic mass start, the second stage of the Tour de Ski, had big consequences for a few racers: they were lapped on the 3.75 k course and are now out of the eight-stage competition. Those who were lapped include Phil Bellingham of Australia, Callum Smith of Great Britain, Andrey Gridin of Bulgaria, and Pawel Klisz and Jan Antolec of Poland. Finishing any stage of the Tour de Ski too far from the leaders means being excluded from the rest of the competition. From the FIS Rules: –  Overlapping (ICR 343.13) in Mass Starts and Pursuits will lead to exclusion from rest of the Tour de Ski. –  In interval starts, prologue and sprint qualifications, an athlete will be excluded from the rest of the Tour de Ski if he loses:   Interval start ( 5…

Falla Drops Tour After Winning Opening Stage; 14 Others Out As Well

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland—After just one stage of the Tour de Ski, a few names are already off the start list. Perhaps the biggest? Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway, who won the women’s sprint in the opening stage. Falla’s goal this year is the World Cup sprint title, and she doesn’t see the point in going through a grueling 15 k classic on Saturday or a 5 k skate pursuit on Sunday before getting to the next sprint. Sprints which are part of tours and mini-tours are only worth half the normal amount of points – 50 instead of 100 – compared to a regular-season sprint anyway. After Friday’s win, Falla has a 40-point lead in the Sprint Cup standings over Stina Nilsson of Sweden. Even if Nilsson wins the second of two Tour de Ski sprints, she would only be ahead of Falla by ten points. “Skipping it was planned,” Falla…

World Cup Holiday Roundup: Bjørgen’s Baby Boy; World Cup & Tour de Ski Stats and Standings

– It’s a boy! While the day after Christmas meant leftovers for some, it was labor for Marit. On Dec. 26, Norwegian skiing superstar Marit Bjørgen and her partner Fred Børre Lundberg welcomed the birth of their baby boy, according to Langrenn. Bjørgen hopes to be back in competition in time for the World Cup races in March. – A few facts about the Tour de Ski: Charlotte Kalla of Sweden and Dario Cologna of Swizerland are the two youngest athletes to win the overall Tour de Ski. Kalla won in 2008 when she was just 20 years old and Cologna won at age 22 in 2008. Only two skiers have competed in all 10 editions of the Tour de Ski, Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. and Italy’s Giorgio Di Centa. With four overall Tour de Ski titles under her belt, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland has won the most overall Tour de Ski competitions. – With a brief break before the next stage of nordic racing begins on Jan. 1 with the Tour…

Golberg Wins Kuusamo Qualifying, Newell and Valjas Make Quarterfinals

Pål Golberg of Norway took the top qualifying time in the men’s 1.4 k classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland, this morning, covering the course in 2:32.62. Teammate Sondre Turvoll Fossli was less than half a second behind to take the second-best qualifying time, with distance king Martin Johnsrud Sundby surprising in third (+2.21). The Finns and Norwegians dominated qualifying, with Anssi Pentsinen qualifying in fourth. Emil Jönsson qualified for Sweden in 11th, +6.18. Andy Newell of the U.S. Ski Team led the North American qualifiers in 12th (+6.44). He will be joined in the heats by Lenny Valjas of Canada (22nd, +8.32). Results

Falla Wins Kuusamo Qualifier, 4 American Women into Heats

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway edged her teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg by 0.62 seconds to take the fastest qualifying time in the classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland, this morning. Falla covered the 1.4 k course in 2:59.42. Norway dominated the women’s qualifying, with Heidi Weng and Astrid Jacobsen took spots three and four. Stina Nilsson of Sweden was the fifth-fastest qualifier (+4.51). Four Americans qualified for the quarterfinals, led by Sadie Bjornsen in 18th (+8.62). Sophie Caldwell, Jessie Diggins, and Ida Sargent qualified in 27th, 29th, and 30th. Five other North Americans were left out of the heats: Rosie Brennan (USA, 42nd), Emily Nishikawa (CAN, 58th), Caitlin Gregg (USA, 81st), and Liz Stephen (USA, 84th). The sprint is the first stage of the Ruka Triple 3-day mini tour. Some favorites kept their overall hopes for a win alive by making the heats, where they will collect more time bonuses: Charlotte…

Tour de Force for Bjørgen in Holmenkollen 30 k, Norway Sweeps Podium

Marit Bjørgen shadowed Norwegian teammate Therese Johaug for almost the entire 30-kilometer race at Holmenkollen on Sunday, before sprinting away from her up the last major climb and winning the famed mass start by 10 seconds in Oslo, Norway. Around 17 k into the race, Johaug pushed hard to win sprint bonus seconds. Bjørgen went with her, but Charlotte Kalla of Sweden, who had been skiing with the pair, was popped off the back. For the next 12 kilometers, Johaug and Bjørgen traded the lead back and forth. A move or increase in the pace by one of the women was always countered by the other. With 800 meters to go, the pair hit the Hellnerbacken hill, a punishingly steep climb which brings the race course back into the Holmenkollen stadium. Both women upped their tempo and their pace, sprinting as fast as they could up the climb — but…