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Tscharnke Wins Tight 15 k Classic; Northug Loses Time in Overall Tour Standings

Germany’s Tim Tscharnke narrowly won the dramatic sixth stage of the 2015 Tour de Ski, a 15 k classic mass start in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Saturday.

Tscharnke, who began the race 30th in the Tour standings, outlunged Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan (+0.0) to finish in 46:48.8. Dario Cologna of Switzerland was in the final sprint and took third (+0.4) despite crashing 29 minutes into the race, while Stanislav Volzhentsev beat fellow Russian Alexander Bessmertnykh in a photo finish to take fourth (+0.7),

Tour leader Petter Northug of Norway took 21st (+17.2). This was just barely good enough to hold the overall Tour lead over teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who finished in eighth (+4.1) after falling alongside Niklas Dyrhaug five minutes into the race.

Northug is just 3.1 seconds ahead of Sundby in the overall standings going into Sunday’s final stage in Val di Fiemme, a 9 k freestyle pursuit. Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson, who was 27th on Saturday (+30.0), is 26.8 seconds behind Northug in third.

Russia’s Evgeniy Belov fell along with Cologna — their skis became tied up as they descended a hill — and is now fourth in the standings (+35.3) after crossing the line in 17th (+14.1).

Canada’s Alex Harvey took 34th (+2:12.5) and will not race on Sunday. He dropped from sixth to 16th in the overall standings. Meanwhile, teammates Ivan Babikov and Devon Kershaw finished 40th (3:28.6) and 41st (3:39.5), respectively.

Bjørgen Wins Toblach 15 k Pursuit, Extends Tour Lead Over Weng

Marit Bjørgen is well on her way to winning her first Tour de Ski title after cruising to victory on Thursday in the Tour’s fifth stage, a 15 k freestyle pursuit on in Toblach, Italy, completing three 5 k laps on the difficult course in 36:37.9.

Bjørgen posted the fastest time of the day, which allowed her to extend her overall Tour lead over fellow Norwegian Heidi Weng. Weng finished 1:58.8 seconds behind Bjørgen while completing the course in 37:02.4, the second fastest time of the day. She now trails Bjørgen by 2:03.8 in the Tour standings.

Therese Johaug of Norway was third (+2:51.4) and posted the fourth fastest time of the day (37:12.8), while Sweden’s Emma Wiken finished fourth (+4:20.4) but lost time on the top three Norwegians after posting the 10th fastest time (37:28.1). However, she still overtook Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk – who won the 2010-2013 Tours – to move into fourth overall, 4:35.4 seconds behind Bjørgen.

Kowalczyk was also overtaken by Norway’s Ragnhild Haga (+4:23.7) and ended the day in sixth (+4:46.7) after posting the 19th fastest time (37.59.8).

Meanwhile, Finland’s Laura Mononen had the day’s most impressive jump, starting the race in 17th but finishing 10th (+5:26.9) after completing the course with the third fastest time (37:11.8).

“No victory is easy but I felt amazingly strong and I could focus only on my performance,” Bjørgen said to the press. “I am happy I could increase the gap little bit … It looks good for me but there are still two competitions until the end.”

Meanwhile, Johaug struggled to find the right pace on Thursday, but is looking forward to the final two stages in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

“I am still motivated to fight for the second place on the top of Alpe Cermis. Nothing is decided yet. There are still two competitions remaining,” she said to the press.

Only two Americans raced on Thursday. Liz Stephen posted the eighth fastest time of the day (37:25.6), but still finished 5:31.9 seconds behind Bjørgen and remains in 14th overall. Kikkan Randall – who decided that this would be her last race of the Tour – finished 25th (7:21.7) and posted the seventeenth fastest time of the day in 37:53.6.

Jessie Diggins, who was 40th on the Tour, did not start on Thursday.


Tour de Ski overall standings

Northug Outlasts Halfvarsson, Sundby and Belov to Take Toblach Pursuit; Harvey 6th

With a 1.5-second head start in the men’s Tour de Ski 25-kilometer freestyle pursuit on Thursday, Petter Northug used both brains and brawn to edge the four men behind him: Calle Halfvarrson of Sweden, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov, respectively.

The Norwegian Tour leader heading into Thursday’s race, Northug hung around fourth through every checkpoint on the five-lap race. At 20.7 k, he trailed Belov in first by 2.3 seconds. Sundby sat in second, less than a second back, and Halfvarsson positioned himself in third.

The fifth stage and the Tour’s longest-distance race came down to a sprint between the four, with Northug pulling out a two-second win in 53:56.9, ahead of Halfvarsson in second, then Sundby, who was third for the third-straight day (+2.2), and Belov in fourth (+2.4).

“I was tired in the third and fourth lap,” Northug told FIS. “I tried to save some energy for the last lap. It is a close Tour de Ski and we will see what happens in the mass start in Val di Fiemme.”

A minute and 43.5 seconds later (and 1:45.9 behind Northug), Norway’s third man, Niklas Dyrhaug nipped Alex Harvey by one-tenth of a second for fifth. Harvey improved one spot in the standings to sixth, finishing 0.4 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Dario Cologna in seventh.

Wednesday’s 10 k classic winner, Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan took eighth (+1:49.1), Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson finished ninth (+1:51) and Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin was 10th (+2:08.3).

Three Canadian men competed in the pursuit, with Devon Kershaw improving to 25th (+4:11) after starting 29th, and Ivan Babikov holding his starting position in 31st at the finish (+4:13.9).

Harvey is currently sixth in the Tour with two stages to go in Val di Fiemme, Italy (although he plans to skip the final climb on Sunday), 2:01 behind Northug. Kershaw is 25th (+4:26) and Babikov is 31st (+4:28.9). Northug in first overall is currently 7 seconds ahead of Halfvarsson in second, and 12.2 ahead of Sundby in third.

The three American men withdrew from the Tour after Wednesday’s 10 k.


Bjørgen 4-for-4 in Tour de Ski with Toblach 5 k Classic Stage Win

Marit Bjørgen rolled to her fourth Tour de Ski victory in as many stages and fifth-straight win on Wednesday, besting the women’s 5-kilometer classic individual start by more than 10 seconds over Norwegian teammate Therese Johaug in Toblach, Italy.

Before the race, Bjørgen said she considered double poling the whole thing.

“I was thinking about it then I heard the Norwegian guys say it’s not so big difference,” she said in a post-race interview with FIS. “I feel I’m in perfect shape and incredible, actually.”

Bjørgen started last of 52 women remaining through four stages in the Tour and posted the third-fastest 1.7 k time, 1.6 seconds behind Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk, who led through that point, and 0.9 seconds back from Johaug. Bjørgen topped Kowalczyk’s time at the 2.1 k mark by 0.5 seconds then continued to hammer over the final three kilometers to pull out the win in 12:48.5.

Johaug was third-fastest at 2.1 k and 10.8 seconds off Bjørgen’s mark at the finish. Heidi Weng completed another Norwegian podium sweep in third (+13.1), just ahead of Sweden’s Emma Wiken, an early leader who eventually ended up fourth (+13.8).

Kowalczyk faded over the final few kilometers to place fifth (+17.6), another early leader Anne Kyllönen of Finland took sixth (+19.8), and Russia’s Evgenia Shapovalova was seventh (+21.1). American Sadie Bjornsen started 40th and initially finished fourth before ending up eighth (+22.7), for her second-best World Cup stage result after placing seventh in this year’s opening prologue of the Tour.

Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg took ninth (+26.1), and Sweden’s Anna Haag was 10th (+31.6).

Also for the U.S., Jessie Diggins made it into the top 20 in 19th (+52.1), and Liz Stephen placed 29th (+1:01.6) to move into 16th in the overall Tour standings.

Kikkan Randall was 42nd, Sophie Caldwell 45th, and Ida Sargent 46th after posting the 20th- and 22nd-fastest times though the 1.7 and 2.1 k checkpoints.


Tour standings through 4 stages

Poltoranin Edges Out Belov for 10 k Classic Tour Victory in Toblach

Russia’s Evgeniy Belov created some drama in his final push to take the first-place position from Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan, but came up just short, finishing 0.05 seconds behind Poltoranin in Wednesday’s Tour de Ski men’s 10 k classic individual start in Toblach, Italy.

Poltoranin finished the hilly course in 22:51.8 to earn his first Tour victory and podium.

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby took third (+4.2) for his second straight Tour podium and fourth straight top-10 finish, while Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson was fourth (+14.3). Dario Cologna of Switzerland, winner of Saturday’s 4 k freestyle prologue in Oberstdorf, took fifth (+14.3).

The Tour leader coming into Wednesday, Norway’s Petter Northug, failed to reach the podium for the first time on the Tour, finishing in seventh (+22.8).

On the Canadian side, Alex Harvey – fifth overall after Tuesday’s freestyle sprint, when he was knocked out in the quarterfinals – lost time on the long final descent into the stadium and took 14th (+36.4) to move into 13th overall in the tour. Devon Kershaw came through in 21st (+48.4), while Ivan Babikov was 32nd (24:02.9).

Meanwhile, Erik Bjornsen was the top American in 58th (+1:42.0), and Simi Hamilton took 60th (+1:48.0) after an eighth-place finish in Tuesday’s sprint. Andy Newell, who crashed during the qualifying round on Tuesday, took 67th out of 70 finishers (+2:27.2).


Tour standings through Stage 4

Bjørgen Takes Another Tour Stage; Pellegrino Outsprints Norwegians for Win

Marit Bjørgen continues to dominate the Tour de Ski after leading an all-Norwegian podium in Tuesday’s 1.4 k women’s freestyle sprint in Val Müstair, Switzerland. Bjørgen has won the Tour’s first three stages.

Bjørgen, who was first after qualifying, cruised to victory in the final in 3:37.73 after easily winning her quarterfinal and semifinal heats. Heidi Weng took second (+1.97), outsprinting fellow Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (+2.41), while Sweden’s Stina Nilsson was well back in fourth (+6.40). Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway was fifth (+7.74), and Switzerland’s Laurien Van der Graaff took sixth (+27.71) after stumbling early.

American Sophie Caldwell qualified in seventh and won her quarterfinal heat (3:42.25) by lunging ahead of Italy’s Gaia Veurich (+0.05), but could not snag a lucky loser spot after finishing third in her semifinal, 1.24 seconds behind Bjørgen (3:39.04). Caldwell ended up seventh overall.

Kikkan Randall, also of the U.S., made it through to the semifinals as a lucky loser (+1.95 behind Weng), but struggled to make a deciding move during the fast second semifinal heat. She finished the heat in fifth, 3.20 behind Østberg (3:35.84), and ended up tenth overall. Meanwhile, American Jessica Diggins qualified in 26th and ended up 23rd overall after finishing fifth in her quarterfinal heat (+4.66) behind Nilsson.

On the men’s side, Italy’s Federico Pellegrino – winner of the Dec. 21 World Cup freestyle sprint in Davos, Switzerland – outsprinted and outlunged two Norwegians to win the final heat in a time of 3:13.65. Tour de Ski leader and Sunday’s Oberstdorf pursuit winner Petter Northug was second (+0.18), beating teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby by 0.01 in a photo finish.

Evgeniy Belov of Russia could not maintain the pace down the stretch, taking fourth (+2.33), while fellow Russian Ilia Chernousov was well back in fifth (+6.07). Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson – third in Sunday’s pursuit – was sixth (+15.05).

American Simi Hamilton – who won last year’s Tour de Ski freestyle sprint in Lezerheide, Switzerland – finished eighth overall after qualifying in 30th. He snuck into the semifinals as a lucky loser after being outlunged in the quarterfinals for second by Dusan Kozisez of the Czech Republic, then finished fourth in his semifinal heat, 1.69 seconds behind Belov (3:16.20).

All three Canadians, including early favorite Alex Harvey, did get past the quarterfinals. After qualifying in 18th, Harvey lost a sprint to the finish (0.23 behind Halfvarsson) to take third in his quarterfinal heat and 16th overall, while Devon Kershaw finished 3.19 seconds behind Poland’s Maciej Starega (3:16.24) to take fifth in his heat and 22nd overall. Len Valjas finished 28th overall after a sixth place finish in his heat.

The Tour de Ski continues tomorrow in Toblach, Italy, with a men’s 10 k and women’s 5 k classic distance race.

Northug Hangs Back, Powers Hard to Win Tour Classic Pursuit, 0.6 Seconds Over Harvey

Petter Northug didn’t want to be the guy up front carrying the weight of dozens of men behind him and at least 15 men with two kilometers to go. He didn’t need to.

The Norwegian carefully timed his finishing push in the men’s 15-kilometer classic pursuit on Sunday, the second stage of the Tour de Ski in Obertsdorf, Germany, to surge from seventh to first on the double-pole straightaway to the finish.

With teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Switzerland’s Dario Cologna dictating the pace for most of the race, Northug sat tight in seventh at 14.4 k while hungry, perhaps over-eagar contenders, like Italy’s Francesco De Fabiani, pushed hard over the final climb. Sundby was up front until that point, almost even with Cologna, before stumbling when Sweden’s Calle Halfvarrson appeared to step on the back of his ski up the herringbone part of the hill. De Fabiani took the lead over the top, and Halfvarsson — at the front for much of the race — followed in second.

Norway’s Niklas Dyrhaug, who had also been hanging in the top five for much of the race up to that point, crested the hill in third.

Down toward the stadium and up and over a small bridge, De Fabiani lost his balance slightly, and with it, his momentum and the lead. Halfvarsson sped past him, then Dyrhaug, Canada’s Alex Harvey, Cologna, and Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin. Northug put on an impressive finishing kick, taking advantage of the draft and sweeping around the outside of the final downhill corner, outlasting Harvey and everyone else for the win in 42:01.2.

Harvey out-double poled Halfvarsson for second by two-tenths of a second, finishing 0.6 seconds after Northug. Dyrhaug missed the podium by 1.2 seconds in fourth, Poltoranin was another 0.1 seconds back in fifth, and Cologna just another two-tenths of a second back in sixth, 2.3 seconds behind the winner. De Fabiani took seventh (+3.4), just ahead of Sundby in eighth (+3.8).

While Harvey led the North Americans with his second-place showing, his Canadian teammates placed 30th and 36th, with Ivan Babikov (+1:16.6) and Devon Kershaw (+1:37.5), respectively. American Erik Bjornsen finished 60th (+3:07.3), one place ahead of teammate Simi Hamilton (+3:14.6) in 61st. Canada’s Lenny Valjas was 83rd (+5:22), and American Andy Newell 88th (+8:05.8) of 88 finishers.


Cologna Back on Top in Tour Prologue; Harvey in 13th

Dario Cologna started his campaign for a fourth Tour de Ski win Saturday, with a victory in the 4.4 k freestyle prologue in Oberstdorf, Germany. The Swiss skier was only male in 93 starters to break the 10-minute barrier, with a time of 10:54.2. Calle Halfvarsson of Sweden finished second, five seconds back from Cologna. Petter Northug of Norway rounded out the podium just 5.5 seconds off the winning pace.

Ilia Chernousov of Russia and Marcus Hellner placed fourth and fifth.

Overall World Cup leader and 2014 Tour de Ski winner Martin Sundby placed 10th after skiing on the wrong part of the course. At the time of publication there was no official word on whether the deviance from the course would result in disqualification.

Alex Harvey was the top North American in 13th place. The Canadian won the same event last year, with teammate Devon Kershaw close behind in second. Today, Kershaw placed 45th. The USST’s Simi Hamilton was the only other North American to make the top-30 with a 26th place finish.


Bjørgen Crushes Tour Prologue, Norway Sweeps; Bjornsen & Stephen 7-8

Marit Bjørgen said that she wanted to win the Tour de Ski, and she has certainly gotten off on the right foot. The Norwegian superstar, the best female skier in history, has never won the Tour but she decimated today’s 3.2 k prologue in Oberstdorf, Germany, winning by 10.7 seconds over teammate Heidi Weng. Factoring in the bonus seconds awarded to the podium finishers at each stage of the seven-stage competition, Bjørgen has a 15-second lead in the standings going into tomorrow’s 10 k classic pursuit.

I probably could not have had a better start,” Bjørgen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.I tried to hold back a bit for the second lap and had good with power towards the end. It was a perfect day.”

Ragnhild Haga, a 23-year-old Norwegian who is a former U23 World Champion, snagged her first World Cup or stage World Cup podium by finishing third. Teammate Therese Johaug placed fourth and Nicole Fessel of Germany fifth.

It was also a good day for the U.S. team, with Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen sitting 1-2 until late in the morning. The pair ended up seventh and eighth, 19.0 and 19.9 seconds behind Bjørgen and just seven seconds off the podium. Jessie Diggins placed 14th, 22 seconds behind Bjørgen.

No Canadian women are competing in the Tour.

Stay tuned for in-depth reports.


Norway’s Sveen Steps In for Tønseth for Tour de Ski 

Norway's Simen Andreas Sveen racing to 55th in the 15 k freestyle FIS race on Nov. 22 in Beitostølen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Norway’s Simen Andreas Sveen racing to 55th in the 15 k freestyle FIS race on Nov. 22 in Beitostølen, Norway. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Norway’s Tour de Ski team will feature many of its regular faces — Marit Bjørgen, Therese Johaug, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Petter Northug, etc. — with the exception of 23-year-old Didrik Tønseth, who’s had a breakout season so far.

Simen Sveen, 26, will replace Didrik Tønseth, who underwent appendicitis surgery right before Christmas. Tønseth is recovering well after suffering acute appendicitis during the last World Cup in Davos, Switzerland, and is now back to normal training, according to the Norwegian Ski Association.

“Didrik is showing great progress after the surgery and is back on snow,” national-team director Vidar Løfshus said in a press release on Monday. “However, considering the season as a whole, he will prioritize training over racing and therefore will not compete in the Tour de Ski.”

Norway sends 15 athletes to Tour de Ski: seven women (Bjørgen, Johaug, Heidi Weng, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, Ragnhild Haga, Ragnhild Haga, and Martine Ek Hagen) and eight men (Sveen, Sundby, Northug, Sjur Røthe, Chris Jespersen, Simen Håkon Østensen, Eldar Rønning, and Niklas Dyrhaug).

However, Pål Golberg and Finn Hågen Krogh, who both delivered strong performances during the Lillehammer mini-tour early in December, are sitting out Tour de Ski to focus on the World Championships. Other than the FIS World Championships in Falun, Sweden, the Tour is one of the main events for the Norwegian team this season.

Last season, Sundby and Johaug won the overall Tour de Ski. That was the first time Norway won the overall titles in either men or women. This season, the Norwegian skiers have been dominating the World Cup since the first race in Finland in late November and are certainly expected to be fighting for the top spots in the 2015 Tour as well.

“We promise to do our best to fight for the overall Tour de Ski trophies this year as well, but we are well aware that our competitors are coming to the prestigious events honed and hungry,” Løfshus said. “This will be a fight every day, all the way to the top of Alpe Cermis.”

Ninth Tour de Ski a ‘Go’, Completely Reliant on Manmade Snow

The ninth edition of the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Tour de Ski will go ahead as planned from Jan. 3-11, according to a FIS press release on Thursday. The decision was based on the latest weather forecasts and “thorough discussions” with local organizing committees, namely the German Ski Association, Swiss Ski and Italian Winter Sport Federation.

“Until today [Thursday], mild weather has allowed only limited snow production in Obertsdorf,” the release stated of the first Tour stop in Germany. “However, the temperatures are expected to drop below zero already during the upcoming weekend.”

The Oberstdorf organizing committee planned to utilize “all available snow production resources” in order to prepare its courses for next week.

In Switzerland, the organizing committee in Val Müstair is “almost finished with the sprint course,” FIS stated.

The third venue in Toblach, Italy, currently has snow for a 2.5-kilometer loop, and more will be produced for a 5 k course.

Finally, the local OC in Val di Fiemme, Italy, has been producing snow over the last several days to prepare a 2.5 k course in advance of Jan. 10-11, and is working on connecting its cross-country stadium to the Alpe Cermis, site of the final climb. “Alpe Cermis, course of the Final Climb is covered with snow,” FIS wrote.

According to the Val di Fiemme OC, the final climb will be ready by the end of December.

“Long-awaited snowfalls due in the next hours,” it stated in a press release on Thursday. “The [2.5 k]-long track in the XC Stadium almost ready.”

“FIS Tour de Ski, what a challenge, for organisers as for world’s best cross country skiers,” the  release continued. “Not much snow has fallen so far across the Alps and the four ski resorts where the World Cup series is about to take place are all strongly engaged in the production of snow.”

It explained that the Italian OC, led by Bruno Felicetti, “has been working extremely hard and struggled against the warm weather in the past weeks.” With cold-enough temperatures, the cross-country stadium can produce 30,000 cubic meters (24.3 acres) of manmade snow with 18 snowmaking machines, while the 9 k climb up Alpe Cermis can be covered with 29 snow cannons.

“The Mass Start event will not let anyone down including the skiers, assured the Fiemme team,” the release continued. “Male athletes will face 6 laps while women will run 4 of [2.5 k] each. The production of snow won’t stop from now onwards despite the fact that some good snowfalls are due in northern Italy in the next couple of days.

“In the meantime, the 9k-long Final Climb track on the Alpe Cermis is also being whitened … Part of the Marcialonga track – from the XC Stadium to the beginning of the climb – is also under the…snow bombs, and both the Tour de Ski final days, 10 and 11 January, are definitely not in danger.”

The OC also learned it has been granted rights to host the Tour’s final stages until 2019.

2015 Tour de Ski schedule

Jan. 3 (Saturday) in Obertsdorf: 3/4 k freestyle prologue prologue

Jan. 4 (Sunday) in Obertsdorf: 10/15 k classic pursuit

Jan. 6 (Tuesday) in Val Müstair: freestyle sprint

Jan. 7 (Wednesday) in Toblach: 5/10 k classic

Jan. 8 (Thursday) in Toblach: 15/35 k freestyle pursuit

Jan. 10 (Saturday) in Val di Fiemme: 10/15 k classic

Jan. 11 (Sunday) in Val di Fiemme: 9 k freestyle pursuit (final climb)

Bjørgen Wins Again, Pellegrino Gains Redemption in Davos Sprint

Marit Bjørgen of Norway continued her World Cup dominance by cruising to her second victory of the weekend in Sunday’s World Cup freestyle sprint in Davos, Switzerland.

Bjørgen, who earned her 84th career World Cup win, was the first qualifier and comfortably made it through her quarterfinal and semifinal heats before taking the women’s final in a time of 2:35.86, 0.55 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Stina Nilsson.

Norwegian Ingvild Øestberg finished in third (+1.12) after winning last week’s freestyle sprint, which was also in Davos. Charlotte Kalla (+2.31) and Hanna Falk (+5.30), both of Sweden, were fourth and fifth, while sixth place went to Switzerland’s Laurien Van der Graaff (+12.09).

Americans Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell took ninth and 11th overall. Randall was ninth and Caldwell eighth after qualifying, but both finished well back in their semifinal heat, with Randall 11.78 seconds behind Øestberg after a fall and Caldwell 13.17 seconds behind. Fellow American Ida Sargent qualified in and finished 29th.

On the men’s side, Italy’s Federico Pellegrino had his first-ever World Cup victory, taking the final in 2:19.36 after finishing fourth in his semifinal heat. Alexey Petukhov (+0.24) of Russia took second, edging out Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh (+0.26) in a photo finish.

Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson was fourth (+1.01), Sondre Turvoll Fossli of Norway was fifth (+1.43), and Emil Jönsson of Sweden was sixth (+11.02).

Lenny Valjas of Canada finished in 18th after qualifying in 12th to earn the top North American finish, while fellow Canadian Jesse Cockney placed 29th to garner his best individual World Cup result since 2012. The only American to qualify was Simeon Hamilton, who finished in 23rd after qualifying 14th.

Women’s Results | Men’s Results

Bjørgen, Gløersen Win World Cup Distance Races in Davos

In the second week of World Cup racing in Davos, Switzerland, Marit Bjørgen won the 10 k freestyle with relative ease. Cruising to a time of 24:57.4 the Norwegian earned yet another victory this season to extend her lead in the World Cup standings. Following Bjørgen to the podium was Nicole Fessel (+19.9) of Germany. The second place finish was her third World Cup podium. In third was Norwegian Heidi Weng (+26.7).

The women’s top ten had more international representation than in previous weeks, with four nations (Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Finland) having at least two members from each country.

Liz Stephen (+1:00.8) finished her day with a season-best 12th, while teammates Jessie Diggins (+1:30.2) and Sadie Bjornsen (+1:35.5) also placed in the points in 27th and 29th positions. Canada’s Emily Nishikawa finished 49th and American Caitlin Gregg finished 54th (of 55 skiers.)

In the men’s race, Anders Gløersen of Norway skied a dominant race to win the 15 k freestyle with a time of 34:27.9. It was the Norwegian’s first distance victory on the Wolrd Cup. Teammates Petter Northug (+4.8) and Chris Andre Jespersen (+10.4) completed the podium for another Norwegian sweep.

Canadian Ivan Babikow was the first North American, finishing 34th and +1:18.4 back from Gløersen. Following Babikov were Alex Harvey in 38th, Devon Kershaw in 52nd, Graeme Killick in 54th, Erik Bjornsen in 56th, and Kevin Sandau in 70th.

Results: Women | Men

Østberg, Krogh Lead Norwegian Sweep in Davos Sprint

Ingvild Østberg dominated Sunday’s World Cup freestyle sprint in Davos, Switzerland to lead Norway in a podium sweep. In her first win of the season, Østberg placed first in the qualifier and often led her heats by large margins. Ultimately she crossed the finish line of the women’s final with a time of 2:33.72. In second was Maiken Falla, who was the only finisher close to Østberg, finishing 0.57 seconds back. Celine Brun-Lie claimed third after losing a pole in the semifinal round. She finished 2.37 seconds behind Østberg.

Norwegians Marit Bjørgen (+3.16) and Heidi Weng (+3.79) placed fifth and sixth, while Stina Nilsson (+11.0) of Sweden finished sixth after losing her pole.

Three American’s raced in the quarterfinals, with Ida Sargent eventually finishing in 16th, Kikkan Randall in 20th, and Sophie Caldwell in 22nd.

Much like Østberg, Finn Krogh seemed untouchable in the men’s freestyle sprint. Throughout the day, the Norwegian’s only competition came from Federico Pellegrino, but after the Italian stumbled in the semifinals Krogh had a clear path to the win. In the final, the sprint leader crossed the line with a time of 2:18.16. Completing the Norwegian sweep were Anders Gløersen (+0.62) and Eirik Brandsdal (+1.07).

Alexey Petukhov of Russia was fourth (+1.35), Calle Halfvarsson of Sweden was fifth (+2.06), and Tomas Northug was sixth (+2.29).

The top North American finish of the day come from the Canada’s Lenny Valjas who finished 13th after qualifying 10th. USST’s Andy Newell was the only other North American to make the heats and ended his day in 15th.

Women’s results | Men’s results

Sundby Bumps Tønseth by 6.6 Seconds for Davos 15 k Classic Win

Didrik Tønseth probably felt pretty good about himself after bumping Switzerland’s Dario Cologna from the leader’s chair on Saturday in the 15-kilometer classic individual start at the Davos World Cup. He might not have been the Swiss fans’ favorite at the time, but it was quite a feat to top Cologna by 0.7 seconds.

At the same time, Tønseth probably knew what was coming — his Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who ended up topping him by 6.6 seconds for his sixth individual World Cup win in 39:39.7.

My plan was to ski 3 even laps. I tried to keep the same pace,” Tønseth told FIS after the race. “I thought that the course here would not fit me because I like steeper uphills. Last year I also started last season strong, but after the Christmas it was not good. I hope I can keep the good shape until the World Championships in Falun.”

Sundby said he wasn’t sure whether to race on classic or double pole on skate skis, like Cologna did. Cologna was the only one in the field to do so, and ended up on the podium, 7.3 seconds behind Sundby.

I expected that last 5 km to be really hard if I went double poling,” Sundby told FIS. “After 10 km when I heard that Dario had a big lead I thought I made a wrong choice.”

But he hadn’t. Not only did Sundby beat Tønseth and Cologna, he completed the three-lap course faster than his teammate Sjur Røthe, who ended up fourth (+16.4) and Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson in fifth (+22.9).

I am very happy to finish on the podium,” Cologna told FIS. “My first races at the beginning of the season were not good. I decided to go double poling. It was a right choice for me. I had a good speed until the end.”

An early leader, Norway’s Petter Northug finished 10th (+54.9).

Alex Harvey led the Canadians in 17th (+1:05.8), Devon Kershaw was 32nd (+1:45.5), Graeme Killick placed 41st (+2:08), and Kevin Sandau was 70th (+4:07.4) in his first World Cup of the season.

Erik Bjornsen placed 48th (+2:31) for the U.S., and Reese Hanneman was 79th (+5:36.4) of 83 men.


Johaug Destroys Field in Davos 10 k Classic, Bjørgen 42 Seconds Back

Therese Johaug did it again, beating Norwegian teammate Marit Bjørgen by more than 42 seconds — 42.5 to be exact — in the women’s World Cup 10-kilometer classic individual start on Saturday in Davos, Switzerland.

Johaug started a minute ahead of Bjørgen and consistently posted the fastest times through each passing checkpoint on the two-lap course. At 2 k, Bjørgen was just over a second back in second, and by 5 k, she was 11 seconds down to Johaug. That gap grew to 20 seconds by 7.8 k, and over the last two kilometers, Johaug hammered for the win in 28:30.8.

Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen placed third, 58.5 seconds behind Johaug, and Sweden’s Anna Haag was 8.6 seconds off the podium in fourth. Sweden took fifth as well with Sofia Bleckur (+1:16.4), Norway’s Heidi Weng was sixth (+1:21), and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk finished 0.7 seconds after Weng in seventh. Finland’s Anne Kyllönen was eighth, Sweden’s Sofia Henriksson ninth, and Finland’s Laura Mononen 10th.

Liz Stephen led the U.S. in 20th for her best result of the season so far, finishing 2:04 behind Johaug.

The Americans took 20th, 21st and 22nd, all within 5.5 seconds of one another, with Jessie Diggins in 21st (+2:08.8) and Sadie Bjornsen in 22nd (+2:09.5).

Canada’s Emily Nishikawa landed in the points for the first time in her World Cup career with a personal-best 29th (+2:31.9).

Ida Sargent (USA) was 47th (+3:19.3) and Caitlin Gregg (USA) 56th (+4:31.3) out of 58 finishers.


La Clusaz World Cup Canceled, Search For Replacement Ongoing

The FIS Cross Country World Cup competitions scheduled for December 20th and 21st in La Clusaz, France, have been canceled due to lack of snow. FIS released a statement saying that they are searching for another venue to host the weekend of racing, and will issue a decision by the end of the workday on Saturday, December 13th.

Like most of central Europe, French ski resorts are generally struggling to hold snow and open trails. The Southern Alps have the most snow.

Bjørgen, Sundby Earn Lillehammer Mini Tour Titles After 10/15 k Pursuit

Martin Sundby of Norway executed what appeared to be a flawless plan in Sunday’s 15 k classic pursuit in Lillehammer, Norway. Starting with a 20-second deficit on fellow Norwegian Finn Krogh, Sundby held back in the first lap of the race. Making his move, the 2014 Overall World Cup Champion caught Krogh and ultimately passed him to win the final stage of the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour with a time of 39:48.2.

Krogh who attempted to stay with Sundby for much of the last two thirds of the race, finished second (+16.6). Three more Norwegians claimed third through fifth with Sjur Røthe (+36.5), Pål Golberg (+37.5), and Dedrik Tønseth (+43.7) finishing within 10 seconds of each other. Tønseth earned the fastest time of the day.

Canadian Alex Harvey was the top North American finisher in 10th, with teammate Ivan Babikov placing 29th after both skiers clocked the seventh and 10th fastest times of the day.

American Erik Bjornsen started in 53rd and ended in 39th.

In the women’s race, it was yet another battle between Norwegians Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug for the top spot. This time it was Bjørgen who won with a time of 28:19.7. Johaug was jut 0.6 seconds back to place second while teammate Heidi Weng  finished third, 12.3 second back.

Sadie Bjornsen was the first North American woman across the line in 18th after starting the day in 17th. Teammate Liz Stephen finished 29th.

Men’s 15 k pursuit results | Women’s 10 k pursuit results

Norway Sweeps Podium in Lillehammer 10 k freestyle

Martin Sundby demonstrated that he’s in the hunt for his second World Cup overall title with a win in Saturday’s 10 k freestyle individual start in Lillehammer, Norway.

With a time of 22:55.8 Sundby finished ahead of teammates Finn Krogh (+2.2) and Sjur Rothe (+6.4) to make it a Norwegian sweep on the podium.

Alex Harvey was the first North American in 33rd and finished 54.6 seconds back from Sundby. Teammates Ivan Babikov, Len Valjas, and Devon Kershaw followed in 43rd, 57th and 58th positions. Other Canadians who raced Saturday were Jessie Cockney in 77th and Graeme Killick in 94th.

Erik Bornsen was the top US men’s finisher, placing 51st and finishing 1:13.2 back from the lead. Simi Hamilton, Andy Newell, and Reese Hanneman trailed their teammate, placing 74th, 103rd, and 108th.

Saturday’s race marks the second of three races in the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour. After yesterday’s sprint and today’s 10 k, Krough sits atop the standings with a time of 25:50.3. He’s followed by Sundby (+20.3) and Paal Golberg (+26.6). Harvey is currently sitting in 11th position overall.

10 k results | standings

Johaug Bests Bjørgen by 0.3 Seconds; Norway Takes 6 of Top 7

Therese Johaug pulled out a 0.3-second win over Norwegian teammate Marit Bjørgen on Saturday in the second day of the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour in Norway. Johaug posted the winning time of 12:33.7, and another, Norwegian Heidi Weng, was 10.9 seconds back in third for the second-straight day to put her in second behind Bjørgen in the mini-tour standings.

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla missed the podium by just 0.4 seconds in fourth on Saturday, and Norway occupied six of the top seven.

While Weng currently trails Bjørgen by 19.9 seconds, Johaug improved from 14th to third, 32.1 seconds off the lead heading into Sunday’s final 10 k classic pursuit. Johaug won last week’s 10 k classic by 42 seconds over Bjørgen.

“It was very close between me and Marit,” Johaug told FIS after Saturday’s 5 k. “I was nervous sitting in the leader’s chair. Last weekend I had one of my best performances in my career but it will be difficult to repeat it.”

Jessie Diggins led the Americans in 15th on Saturday, moving from 55th to 21st overall. Sadie Bjornsen placed 20th to put herself in 17th, and Liz Stephen finished 22nd to improve to 35th (from 71st) for the U.S.

Caitlin Gregg (USA) placed 62nd in the 5 k, and Kikkan Randall (USA) was another three seconds back in 63rd. For Canada, Emily Nishikawa placed 67th, and Perianne Jones was 71st. Ida Sargent (USA) finished 79th, and Sophie Caldwell (USA) was 84th.

Top 10

  1. Therese Johaug (NOR) 12:33.7
  2. Marit Bjørgen (NOR) +0.3
  3. Heidi Weng (NOR) +10.9
  4. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) +11.3
  5. Ragnhild Haga (NOR) +22.7
  6. Martin Ek Hagen (NOR) +24.9
  7. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR) +30.5
  8. Yulia Tchekaleva (RUS) +31.1
  9. Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE) +33.0
  10. Petra Novakova (CZE) +34.0

Results: Women’s 5 k | Through Stage 2