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Archives for March 2010

Østberg, Ustiugov Win Canmore Qualifier; 4 Americans + 3 Canadians Advance

CANMORE, Alberta — Let the betting begin. With five women topping the charts in Tuesday’s classic sprint qualifier, team Norway is taking no gamble as they head into the rounds.

Leading the women’s 1.5-kilometer classic sprint qualifier at the fifth stage of the Ski Tour Canada was Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway in a time of 3:41.61. Second went to her teammate Maiken Caspersen Falla (+4.97) while Therese Johaug finished in third (+8.79).

Four American women qualified for Tuesday’s classic sprint in Canmore, led by Sophie Caldwell in ninth (+12.42). Sadie Bjornsen qualified in 11th (+13.35) and 1.23 seconds behind her was Jessie Diggins in 13th (+14.58). Ida Sargent was the final U.S. woman to qualify in 18th (+15.51).

Canada’s Dahria Beatty made it into the rounds in 29th (+18.95), the first Canadian to finish and only one to qualify.

Americans Annie Hart and Kaitlynn Miller finished in 36th and 38th resepectively. They were followed by Rosie Brennan (USA) 41st, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbit (CAN) 42nd, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) 44th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 46th, Caitlin Gregg (USA) 47th, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 50th, Jennie Bender (USA) 51st, Jenn Jackson (CAN) 52nd, Maya Macisaac-Jones (CAN) 53rd, Katharine Ogden (USA) 54th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 56th, Chelsea Holmes (USA) 57th, Annika Hicks (CAN) 59th, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 60th, and Liz Stephen (USA) 61st.

The men’s 1.5 k classic sprint qualification was led by Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in a time of 3:21.33. Second fastest qualifier time went to Norway’s Erik Brandsdal (+1.04), and third was Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby (+1:56). 

Two Canadians qualified, including Alex Harvey in 14th (+5.41) and Len Valjas in 18th (+7.03).

No American men qualified for the heats.

“The snow slowed dramatically,” Chris Grover, U.S. head coach said during an in-person interview. “The later athletes weren’t gliding  nearly as much as as the earlier ones.”

Leading the Americans was Erik Bjornsen in 44th. Also competing in Tuesday’s sprint was Devon Kershaw (CAN) in 33rd, Simi Hamilton (USA) 47th, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) 48th, Andy Newell (USA) 52nd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 54th, Jess Cockney (CAN) 54th, Bob Thompson (CAN) 58th, Graeme Killick (CAN) 59th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 61st, Reese Hanneman (USA) 62nd, Andy Shields (CAN) 64th, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 66th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 68th, Noah Hoffman (USA) 69th, Simone Lapointe (CAN) 70th, Scott Patterson (USA) 72nd, Eric Packer (USA) 73rd, Michael Somppi (CAN) 76th, Tad Elliott (USA) 77th, Dakota Blackhorse-vonn Jess (USA) 78th, Brian Gregg (USA) 81st, and Matt Liebsch (USA) 83rd.

Qualifying results: Women | Men

Pre-Race in Canmore: Trail Report Before Tuesday’s STC Classic Sprint

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

By Gerry Furseth

CANMORE, Alberta — Monday brought the first official training day at Canmore for the Ski Tour Canada.  Warm and sunny conditions greeted the athletes, bringing smiles to a lot of faces after some cold weather in the first week.

The day started sunny and -2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit), quickly warming up as the day progressed.  This is fairly typical March weather at Canmore: below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. Away from the course, most of the snow has melted, but the skiing is still good, especially in the morning with fast, slightly crusty, tracks.

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Almost all of the snow base is manmade; locals say that is what makes the trails so consistently firm this time of year. The Tuesday classic sprint, Wednesday skiathlon, and Friday skate distance races are all scheduled early enough to hit the prime conditions, with only the final pursuit on Saturday in the late afternoon.

The new sprint course looks like a lollipop with two laps around the head, with the start and finish sections are unchanged.  It seems much more double pole friendly than the old course, especially with fast snow. Listening to the wax testing, it seemed as if people weren’t finding one perfect pair of skis for the whole sprint course. Picking the right part of the course to select skis for may turn out to be critical.  For the men, choosing between classic and skate skis may be difficult.

The distance courses had highly varied conditions by the end of the afternoon. Some exposed sections at the bottom were nearly slush. The top of the course was still crusty and fast. The mid-elevation sections varied greatly by sun exposure, with crust, wet transformed snow, and sugar all represented. The final pursuit on Saturday afternoon is expected to have similar weather; if so, there could be some significant changes in standings.

The distance courses are hard, with long climbs at 1,400 meters (nearly 4,600 feet) elevation.  Some skiers were looking tired after four races and a travel day, others were energized.

A light snowfall in Monday evening brought the first fresh snow in weeks.

The Stage 5 classic sprint begins at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time with the women’s qualifier, followed by the men’s qualifier at 11:10 a.m. Heats start at 1 p.m. MT.

Follow us on Twitter @FasterSkier for race updates.

Ustiugov Holds Off Northug in 15 k Pursuit; Harvey 4th in Stage 4

Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov continued his consistent run atop the Ski Tour Canada (STC), maintaining a 17.7-second advantage over second place, Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. (+17.7) in Saturday’s 15-kilometer men’s skate race on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City.

Ustiugov completed the course in 34:31.8. Despite skiing alone and posting the 13th fastest time of the day, he maintained a consistent enough pace to hold off the second- and third-place skiers, Northug and teammate Emil Iversen. Iversen clung onto the third position, finishing +1:02.2 behind after starting only 25 seconds back.

Finishing in fourth was Canada’s Alex Harvey (+1:49.8), followed closely by overall World Cup leader, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (+1:50.8). Sundby skied the fastest time of the day, finishing in 34:08.9.

In sixth was Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh (+3:28.2).

Posting the fastest times of the day were Sundby, followed by Finland’s Matti Heikkinen (34:11.2), and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner (34:15.0).

Aside from Harvey, Canada’s Devon Kershaw was the only other North American to break the top 30 overall, finishing 21st (+4:22.8). The top American was Erik Bjornsen in 32nd (+5:28.3).

Ivan Babikov (CAN) finished 35th, followed by Simi Hamilton (USA) 40th, Noah Hoffman (USA) 44th, Grame Killick (CAN) 49th, Scott Patterson (USA) 53rd, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 57th, Len Valjas (CAN) 63rd, Andy Shields (CAN) 65th, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 66th, Michael Somppi (CAN) 67th, Eric Packer (USA) 68th, Jess Cockney (CAN) 69th, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) 70th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 71st, Reese Hanneman (USA) 72nd, Bob Thompson (CAN) 74th, Tad Elliott (USA) 75th, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (USA) 77th, Matt Liebsch (USA) 79th, Brian Gregg (USA) 80th, Andy Newell (USA) 81st, and Simon Lapointe (CAN) 82nd.


Weng Welcomes 10 k Pursuit Win; Diggins 5th, Bjornsen 10th in Stage 4


After garnering the Ski Tour Canada (STC) leader’s bib from stage three’s freestyle sprint, Norwegian Heidi Weng maintained her title by winning the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit on Saturday in Québec City, Québec.

Weng completed the 10 k course in a time of 24:18.8, displacing Norwegian teammate, Therese Johaug from the front by one tenth of a second. Securing the all-Norwegian women’s podium in third (+1:05.2) was Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Behind Jacobsen in fourth was the current World Cup sprint leader, Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway (+1:37.6).

“In all the hills, I was so tired, but I still thought ‘you should go for it,’” Weng said in a post-race interview with FIS.

American Jessie Diggins led the U.S. in fifth place (+1:48.1), breaking the Norwegian run after passing Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and yesterday’s sprint winner, Stina Nilsson of Sweden.

The second non-Scandinavian in the top 10 was American Sadie Bjornsen. Bjornsen finished in 10th (+2:49.6), behind Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in ninth (+2:49.1) and Krista Parmakoski of Finland in eighth (+2:45.9).

Also scoring World Cup points for the U.S. was Liz Stephen, who finished in 29th (+5:44.7).

The next Americans to finish were Rosie Brennan in 32nd, Chelsea Holmes 39th, Ida Sargent 40th, Sophie Caldwell 42nd, and Caitlin Gregg in 44th.

Emily Nishikawa was the first to cross for Canada in 45th overall.

Kaitlynn Miller (USA) finished in 47th, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 49th, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbit (CAN) 52nd, Katharine Ogden (USA) 54th, Anne Hart (USA) 55th, Dahria Beatty (CAN) 57th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 58th, Jennie Bender (USA) 59th, Maya Macisaac-Jones (CAN) 60th, Anna Hicks (CAN) 61st, Jennifer Jackson (CAN) 63rd, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 64th, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 65th.


Harvey Hammers to 2nd at Home in Québec Skate Sprint

Canadian and Quebec native Alex Harvey pushing to the finish of the men's freestyle sprint final on Friday at the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Quebec City, where he placed second to France's Baptiste Gros (not shown), while Norway's Petter Northug (behind) placed fourth. (Photo:

Canadian and Quebec native Alex Harvey (12) pushing to the finish of the men’s freestyle sprint final on Friday at the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Quebec City, where he placed second to France’s Baptiste Gros (not shown), while Norway’s Petter Northug (behind) placed fourth. (Photo:

Amidst the hoots and hollers of his home crowd, Québec native Alex Harvey raced to a second place in the men’s 1.7-kilometer freestyle sprint on Friday in the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Québec City.

In the final, Harvey headed up against Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, Norway’s Petter Northug, Poland’s Maciej Starega, and the two French skiers, Baptiste Gros and Richard Jouve. However, only Gros proved faster than the Canadian. Gros came from behind on the final stretch into the finish to win in 3:36.26, with Harvey crossing 0.55 hundredths of a second back. In third was Ustiugov, crossing 0.79 hundredths of a second after Gros. Northug placed fourth (+1.91), Starega was fifth (+2.12) and Jouve sixth (+2.18). With the silver medal, Harvey moved into fourth in the overall Tour standings.

Simi Hamilton led the U.S. men in eighth, after finishing fourth in his semifinal. Canadian National Development Team skier Jess Cockney placed fifth in the other semifinal for 10th overall, his best result since breaking through in ninth in 2012 at the last Canadian World Cup in Canmore, Alberta

Two other U.S. Ski Team members made the men’s heats. Erik Bjornsen (U.S. Ski Team) ended up 20th after finishing fourth in his quarterfinal, and Andy Newell was 29th after finishing sixth in his quarterfinal.


In the women’s 1.5 k sprint, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took the win in a time of  3:37.15, besting Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla by eleven hundredths of a second. Rounding out the women’s podium was Norwegian Heidi Weng in third (+0.56).

Rounding out the women’s sprint final was Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in fourth (+1.09), Norwegian Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen fifth (+1.57), and Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter in sixth (+9.43). 

Three U.S. women finished in the top 13 (and four in the top 20), with Sadie Bjornsen, the fastest qualifier of the day, ultimately placing eighth after finishing fourth in her semifinal. Sophie Caldwell reached the semifinals as well, where she finished fifth for 10th overall, and Jessie Diggins took 13th on the day after placing third in her quarterfinal. That puts Diggins seventh overall in the Tour. The fourth U.S. Ski Team member on Friday, Ida Sargent placed 20th after finishing fourth in her quarterfinal.

Stay tuned for more details and results in our comprehensive race recaps.

Results: Men | Women

Tour standings (through Stage 3): Men | Women

Sadie Bjornsen Wins Québec City Qualifier; Harvey Qualifies 12th

Sadie Bjornsen racing to her first-ever qualifying win in a World Cup freestyle sprint on Friday at the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Quebec City. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Sadie Bjornsen (U.S. Ski Team) racing to her first-ever qualifying win in a World Cup freestyle sprint on Friday at the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Quebec City. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

U.S. Ski Team member, Sadie Bjornsen set the stakes high for the women’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint rounds, after she finished first in the qualifier on Friday at stage three of the Ski Tour Canada in Québec City, Québec.

Bjornsen completed the 1.5 k women’s course in a time of 3:42.81, for her best-ever qualifier in a World Cup freestyle sprint. Finishing eight-hundredths of a second behind Bjornsen’s time in second was Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Another Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, finished third, eight-tenths of a second off of Bjornsen’s winning time. 

Along with Bjornsen, three other U.S. women qualified for the heats, including Jessie Diggins in fourth (+1.84), Sophie Caldwell in 22nd (+7.12), and Ida Sargent in 27th (+9.05). No Canadian women qualified, with Maya Macisaac-Jones the first female to finish for Canada in 34th (+10.51).

Also finishing outside of the top 30 in the women’s qualifier was American Rosie Brennan in 33rd (0.73 seconds out of 30th), Caitlin Gregg (USA) in 38th, Dahria Beatty (CAN) 39th, Anne Hart (USA) 47th, Liz Stephen (USA) 50th, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbit (CAN) 51st, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 53rd, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) 54th, Jennie Bender (USA) 57th, Kaitlynn Miller (USA) 58th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 59th, Chelsea Holmes (USA) 60th, Jennifer Jackson (CAN) 61st, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 62nd, Marie Corriveau (CAN) 63rd, Katharine Ogden (USA) 64th, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 65th, and Annika Hicks (CAN) 68th. Andrea Dupont of Canada did not start.

The men’s 1.7 k freestyle qualifier win went to Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh in a time of 3:33.14. Norwegian teammate, Emil Iversen finished in second, 0.29 seconds back from Krogh’s time. In third was Italy’s Federico Pellegrino, 1.58 seconds off of Krogh’s first place finish.

Québécois favourite, Alex Harvey of Canada was the first North American qualifier in 12th (+4.63). Simi Hamilton was the top American in 13th, three-hundredths of a second behind Harvey (+4.66). U.S. ski team member Andy Newell qualified in 23rd (+7.77) and American Erik Bjornsen in 27th (+7.97). Canadian Jesse Cockney also qualified in 29th (+8.48).

Finishing out of the top 30 in the men’s field was Len Valjas (CAN) in 38th, Reese Hanneman (USA) 45th, Eric Packer (USA) 48th, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 53rd, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) 54th, Andy Shields (CAN) 56th, Michael Somppi (CAN) 59th, Dakota Blackhorse-vonn Jess (USA) 64th, Noah Hoffman (USA) 65th, Patrick Stewart Jones (CAN) 68th, Scott Patterson (USA) 70th, Graeme Killick (CAN) 71st, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 72nd, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 73rd, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 74th, Tad Elliott (USA) 76th, Bob Thompson (CAN) 78th, Brian Gregg (USA) 79th, Matt Liebsch (USA) 80th, and Simon Lapointe (CAN) 81st.

Results: Women’s Qualifier | Men’s Qualifier

Iversen Bests Northug, Ustiugov for First World Cup Distance Win; Harvey 9th in Stage 2

Norway's Emil Iversen celebrates his first distance World Cup victory and third-career World Cup win in the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 17.5 k classic mass start on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo: John Lazenby/

Norway’s Emil Iversen celebrates his first distance World Cup victory and third-career World Cup win in the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 17.5 k classic mass start on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo: John Lazenby/

Get used to the name Emil Iversen, because this Norwegian is on a roll. On Wednesday the 24 year old won his first World Cup distance race at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec, and he did so by 5.3 seconds over training partner and teammate Petter Northug.

Iversen won the 17.5-kilometer classic mass start in 45:05.4, besting Northug in second and Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who was 14.5 seconds behind in third.

“My goal before the Ski Tour Canada was to have a good start,” Iversen told FIS afterward. “I’m sitting in second place [overall behind Ustiugov]. Now I have to take stage by stage and we see what happens.”

“We had to fight hard against the wind and snow,” Northug told FIS. “Ustiugov did a lot of work in the lead. He was the strongest today. We can thank him for the high speed.”

Overall World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed fourth on Wednesday (+39.8), Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin was fifth (+51.4), and Norway’s Didrik Tønseth sixth (+55.2).

Russia’s Andrey Larkov held off a large chase group into the finish, taking seventh (+1:07), ahead of Norway’s Hans Christer Holund in eighth (+1:15.5), Canada’s local favorite Alex Harvey in ninth (+1:16.4), and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov in 10th (+1:18.7).

Three Canadians finished in the points, with Devon Kershaw in 17th (+1:38.9) and Ivan Babikov in 29th (+2:32.1).

Also for Canada, Graeme Killick (CNST) placed 50th, Kevin Sandau (Alberta World Cup Academy) was 53rd, Len Valjas (CNST) 63rd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) 64th, Jess Cockney (CNST) 68th, Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/CNST) 69th, Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) 73rd, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) 74th, Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) 76th, and Simon LaPointe (Skinouk) 82nd.

Erik Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific University/U.S. Ski Team) was the top American in 31st, just 0.4 seconds outside the top 30. Also for the U.S., Noah Hoffman (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/USST) placed 42nd, Scott Patterson (APU) 55th, Simi Hamilton (SMST2/USST) 58th, Eric Packer (APU) 67th, Reese Hanneman (APU) 70th, Andy Newell (SMST2/USST) 71st, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) 77th, Matt Liebsch (Gear West) 79th, Tad Elliott (SSCV) 80th, and Brian Gregg (Team Gregg) 81st.

Results | Tour standings (after Stage 2)

Johaug Snatches Tour Lead with 1-Minute Mass Start Win in Montreal

Norway's Therese Johaug celebrates her decisive victory in Stage 2 of the Ski Tour Canada on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. She won the women's 10.5 k classic mass start by 1:00.3 minutes. (Photo:

Norway’s Therese Johaug celebrates her decisive victory in Stage 2 of the Ski Tour Canada on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. She won the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start by 1:00.3 minutes. (Photo:

Therese Johaug isn’t used to starting a mass start in bib 27, but she made the best of it on Wednesday at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec.

After placing 25th in the freestyle sprint at Stage 1 on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, Johaug — Norway’s overall World Cup and distance World Cup leader — started the women’s 10.5-kilometer classic mass start several rows farther back than she’s used to. She usually starts first.

“Usually I start in the front, but no, I’m back and it’s a lot of people,” Johaug recalled in a post-race interview with FIS. “But I focused on myself today to do good technique. It was really cold and windy, but really nice to ski in Canada.”

After making her way to the front of the 72-woman pack early, Johaug successfully dropped everyone around 4 k. At the 4.6 k checkpoint, she had a 12-second gap on teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who was skiing in second, 8 seconds ahead of another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, in third.

Striding and herringboning through fresh powder on Montreal’s 3.5 k course (on a blustery -7 degree Celsius day), Johaug went on to win by a minute over Weng in 30:05.6.

Weng outlasted Jacobsen for second place, 1:00.3 behind Johaug, while Jacobsen held on for third (+1:09.8).

The U.S. Ski Team's Jessie Diggins (front) and Sadie Bjornsen find their pace during the second day of the Ski Tour Canada during the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start in Montreal.  (Photo:

The U.S. Ski Team’s Jessie Diggins (front) and Sadie Bjornsen find their pace during the second day of the Ski Tour Canada during the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start in Montreal. (Photo:

Norway swept the top four with sprint specialist Maiken Caspersen Falla, Tuesday’s sprint winner, placing fourth (+1:42.0). Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland notched fifth, just 0.8 seconds behind Falla, and Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg placed sixth (+1:43.0). Finland’s Kertu Niskanen was seventh (+1:43.3) and American Jessie Diggins eighth (+1:43.5), as fourth through eighth place all finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in a narrow set of finishing lanes at the top of a climb.

Two Finnish athletes rounded out the top 10, Anne Kyllönen in ninth (+1:47.4) and Krista Parmakoski in 10th (+1:51.0).

Four U.S. women finished in the points with Sadie Bjornsen in 16th (+2:04.2), Liz Stephen in 22nd (+2:44.3), and Rosie Brennan notching a season-best 28th (+3:05.8).

Also for the U.S., Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) finished 38th, Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 39th (+4:05.7), and Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) 40th (+4:05.9). Sophie Caldwell (SMST2/USST) was 42nd, Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) 47th, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) 51st, Katharine Ogden (SMS/USST) 59th, and Annie Hart (SMST2) 61st.

Canadian National Senior Development Team (CNST) member Emily Nishikawa led the Canadian women in 45th (+4:39.7). Another development team skier, Cendrine Browne of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) finished 48th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay) placed 52nd, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CNST) was 53rd, Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) 57th, Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) 60th, Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) 63rd, Alannah MacLean (NDC Thunder Bay) 64th, Dahria Beatty (AWCA/CNST) 65th, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR) 67th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) 68th, and Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/Canadian National Junior Team) 72nd.

Results | Tour standings (through Stage 2)

Hamilton Second in Qualifier; Harvey 15th to Reach Skate Sprint Heats

After his fellow U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins raced to second in the women’s qualifier, Simi Hamilton repeated the feat in second in the men’s 1.7-kilometer freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Gatineau, Quebec.

Hamilton posted the second-fastest time in the qualifier, 0.45 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug’s top time of 3:12.99. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov qualified third, 0.78 seconds back from Northug.

Local favorite Alex Harvey, of Quebec, finished 15th in the qualifier, 4.18 seconds back, for his first time reaching the top 30 of a World Cup skate sprint this season. Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. advanced to the heats in 27th (+7.42), along with Canadian Knute Johnsgaard, of the Alberta World Cup Academy and Senior National Development Team, in 29th (+7.8).

Finishing outside the top 30, Reese Hanneman (USA) placed 35th (+8.46), Len Valjas (CAN) was 37th, Andy Newell (USA) 42nd, Andy Shields (CAN) 48th, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 50th, Bob Thompson (CAN) 52nd, Jess Cockney (CAN) 53rd, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (USA) 54th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 59th, Michael Somppi (CAN) 68th, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 70th, Eric Packer (USA) 72nd, Noah Hoffman (USA) 74th, Scott Patterson (USA) 75th, Graeme Killick (CAN) 76th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 78th, Tad Elliott (USA) 81st, Matt Liebsch (USA) 82nd, Brian Gregg (USA) 83rd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 84th, and Mark Rajack (Trinidad and Tobago/XC Ottawa) 86th.

Diggins Qualifies Second in Gatineau Skate Sprint

The 2016 Ski Tour Canada opened on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, with World Cup racers like Sweden’s Hanna Falk and American Jessie Diggins putting a stamp on the freestyle sprint qualifier, posting the fastest and second-fastest times around the 1.7-kilometer course at Jacques Cartier Park, respectively.

Falk topped the women’s qualifier in 3:32.76 minutes on a cold morning with temperatures around -6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).

Out of 72 women in the field, Diggins, of the U.S. Ski Team, qualified second, 2.09 seconds back, and Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg advanced in third (+4.08).

American Sadie Bjornsen qualified eighth (+5.8), and the U.S. had two more women in the heats with Sophie Caldwell advancing in 26th (+12.45) and Ida Sargent in 28th (+12.87).

Canada’s 20-year-old Maya MacIsaac-Jones, of Rocky Mountain Racers, nabbed the final qualifying spot in 30th (+13.07).

Behind her, Rosie Brennan (USA) was 38th (+15.18), Dahria Beatty (CAN) 45th, Annie Hart (USA) 46th, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN) 29th, Caitlin Gregg (USA) 53rd, Annika Taylor (Great Britain/Sugar Bowl Academy) 54th, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 55th, Andrea Dupont (CAN) 56th, Jessica Yeaton (Australia/APU) 57th, Jenn Jackson (CAN) 58th, Liz Stephen (USA) 59th, Kaitlynn Miller (USA) 61st, Katharine Ogden (USA) 62nd, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 63rd, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 64th, Chelsea Holmes (USA) 65th, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) 66th, Marie Corriveau (CAN) 67th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 68th, Jennie Bender (USA) 70th, Annika Hicks (CAN) 71st, and Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil/CNEPH) 72nd.


Diggins Second to Falla in Lahti for Best Sprint Result; Bjornsen 10th

American Jessie Diggins (l) on the podium after placing second in the World Cup freestyle sprint on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, behind Norwegian winner Maiken Caspersen Falla (c). Diggins edged Norway's third-place finisher Heidi Weng (r) by 0.06 seconds.

American Jessie Diggins (l) on the podium after placing second in the World Cup freestyle sprint on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, behind Norwegian winner Maiken Caspersen Falla (c). Diggins edged Norway’s third-place finisher Heidi Weng (r) by 0.06 seconds.

Second place for Jessie Diggins. Add that to the list. On Saturday, at the last World Cup in Europe before the Ski Tour Canada, the 24-year-old U.S. Ski Team member raced to her career best in a sprint and first appearance in the six-woman final since placing fourth in the Lahti freestyle sprint a year ago.

Back in Lahti, Finland on Saturday, Diggins finished second to Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in the 1.6-kilometer freestyle sprint — her best result of the season after placing eighth in the freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Diggins went on to win a stage at the Tour de Ski: the 5 k freestyle in Toblach, Italy, and placed third in the 10 k freestyle at another World Cup last month in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Jessie Diggins of the U.S. Ski Team (second from l) follows Sprint World Cup leader Maiken Caspersen Falla (l) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (1), both of Norway, during the World Cup women's freestyle sprint final in Lahti, Finland, while skiing alongside another Norwegian Heidi Weng, and leading Hanna Falk of Sweden and Norway's Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (back, right). Diggins went on to place second behind Falla.

Jessie Diggins of the U.S. Ski Team (second from l) follows Sprint World Cup leader Maiken Caspersen Falla (l) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (1), both of Norway, during the World Cup women’s freestyle sprint final in Lahti, Finland, while skiing alongside another Norwegian Heidi Weng (second from r), and leading Hanna Falk of Sweden and Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (back, right). Diggins went on to place second behind Falla.

So you can say it’s been quite a run for Diggins. On Saturday, she qualified second behind Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, a serial qualifier winner, and advanced in second out of her quarterfinal (behind Falla), then third as a lucky loser out of her semifinal (behind Falla and Østberg, respectively).

In the final, Falla charged to the win in 3:33.81, while 0,25 seconds back, Diggins outlasted Norway’s Heidi Weng in a photo finish for second. The American took it, by 0.06 seconds, Weng placed third and Østberg finished fourth (+0.41) ahead of a fourth Norwegian in the final, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in fifth (+2.27). Sweden’s Hanna Falk finished sixth (+18.4).

Also in the heats, Sadie Bjornsen qualified 12th and advanced to the semifinals in second (behind Falk) in her quarterfinal. Bjornsen went on to place fifth in the second semifinal, behind Weng, Jacobsen, Norway’s Therese Johaug, and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, respectively, for 10th overall.

Sophie Caldwell finished 13th overall after qualifying sixth and finishing third in her quarterfinal. Ida Sargent placed 24th overall after qualifying 27th then taking fifth in the same quarterfinal as Bjornsen. Also for the U.S. women, Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished 35th and Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) was 50th in the qualified.

Out of two U.S. men starting on Saturday, Simi Hamilton qualified 10th and went on to place 17th after finishing fourth in his quarterfinal, 0.6 seconds behind the winner — Petter Northug of Norway. Reese Hanneman (Alaska Pacific University) placed 49th on the day.

The fourth-fastest men’s qualifier, Norway’s Emil Iversen won his quarterfinal, semifinal and ultimately the final, beating out teammate Finn Hågen Krogh and Northug in second and third, respectively. Italy’s Federico Pellegrino placed fourth, and two more Norwegians Sindre Bjørnestad Skar and Eirik Brandsdal rounded out the final in fifth and sixth, respectively.

No Canadians competed.

Stay tuned for in-depth reports on the women’s and men’s races.

Results: Women | Men

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).


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.

“Andy will also race the 42 km C tomorrow.  Reese may or may not start (that’s up to him),” Grover added. “With a distance skate race here in Nove Mesto, the format wasn’t the best for either of them.  Reese most likely would not have been able to race at all. “We have 4 men already here for the relay,” Grover continued, listing Simi Hamilton, Erik Bjornsen, Noah Hoffman, and SuperTour leader Scott Patterson. “It would have been good to have Andy here for a possible classic relay leg but the Dolomitenlauf weekend offered him two confirmed starts (including sprint) so it was a better fit.”

The U.S. Ski Team’s starters for Saturday’s 10/15 k freestyle races include those four aforementioned men, plus five women: Jessie Diggins, Liz Stephen, Rosie Brennan, Sadie Bjornsen, and Period 1 SuperTour leader Chelsea Holmes.  


– While Emily Nishikawa was a one-woman show representing Canada for all of Period 1 on the World Cup, she is now joined by four others in Nove Mesto: Dahria Beaty, Cendrine Browne, Katherine Stewart-Jones, and Maya MacIsaac-Jones, all of which raced last weekend in the Planica World Cup in Slovenia as well. On the men’s side, Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw, Graeme Killick, and Lenny Valjas return to the World Cup, joining U23+ Development Team skier Knute Johnsgaard. Valjas also raced the sprint in Lienz on Friday, but did not advance to the semifinals after placing fourth in his quarterfinal.


Croatian roller ski camp. I think I’m ready for tonight’s city sprint in Lienz. 🌴☕️


A video posted by Lenny Valjas (@lennyvaljas) on


– What’s the point? That’s the message Petter Northug is sending in conceding the overall World Cup title to Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby (more than 600 points ahead of him in the standings) and skipping this weekend’s Nove Mesto World Cup. Instead, Northug will try to win a tour and turn his attention to the season-ending Ski Tour Canada. Without a final hill climb, he thinks the Canadian race series is suited for him.

“I think it sounds like a good plan. It’s great to get into a long period of training now,” Norwegian national team coach Trond Nystad told Adresseavisen.

“Petter has said that the gap to Martin’s too big. I think it will instead be more of a duel for second place,” Northug’s personal coach Stig Rune Kveen said. Finn Hågen Krogh is currently second in the World Cup standings, 550 points behind Sundby and 71 ahead of Northug in third.


– If Krogh wins Saturday’s 15 k freestyle, he will be the first to do so in consecutive 15 k freestyle World Cups (after he won the last one in Östersund, Sweden, in February 2015) in more than 10 years. Retired French skier Vincent Vittoz was the last to win consecutive 15 k skate races: in Ruka in November 2004 and in Nove Mesto in January 2005. (Note: a 15 k freestyle was held after Östersund at 2015 World Championships on Feb. 22 in Falun, Sweden: Johan Olsson of Sweden won; Krogh placed fifth.)


– In other World Cup swaps-and-starts news: Norway’s Hans Christer Holund is skipping Nove Mesto, replaced by Per Kristian Nygård. Sweden’s resting Stina Nilsson and Ida Ingemarsdotter after Nilsson led a sweep of the women’s sprints (teaming up with Ingemarsdotter to win the team sprint) last weekend in Planica. Italy reportedly plans to start sprint star Federico Pellegrino in the relay, after he indicated he wants to improve in distance races.

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 indicated on Saturday evening that she wanted to continue the Tour, all signs indicated she had not adequately recovered the next day. As a result, the team sent her home on Sunday.

Bendiksen told NRK they had “no reason to believe” that this was anything but over-exertion.

“If she gets three or four days off, she’s probably very well recovered. Nothing suggests that this is something serious,” he said.

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

Anders Svanebo of Sweden en route to 84th place in the sprint qualifier, the first stage of the Tour de Ski on Friday.

Anders Svanebo of Sweden en route to 84th place in the sprint qualifier, the first stage of the Tour de Ski on Friday. Svanebo did not start the 30 k classic and is now done with the Tour.

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 km or more): more than 18% for the Ladies and more than 15% for the Men
    •   Prologue, Short Interval start (< 5 km) and sprint qualifications: more than 23% for the Ladies and more than 20% for the Men.

      In special conditions the jury can adapt the percentages.

Martin Johansson of Sweden did not finish the 30 k, dropping out after two laps. He is thus also out of the Tour.

“I’ve had a cold and tried to get back in shape again,” he told Swedish daily Expressen. “But I can’t be doing battle at this level now… I tried for two laps, but then I just felt it was stupid to torture the body.”

Johansson was the top Swede in the opening 3-day mini-tour of the World Cup season, in Ruka, Finland, where he placed 15th.

A number of sprinters decided already after Friday’s sprint that they would not continue with the Tour. In addition, three other men decided morning-of not to start the 30 k: Anders Svanebo of Sweden and Peeter Kummel and Marko Kilp of Estonia.


That leaves the men’s field at 82 for Sunday’s 10 k skate pursuit.

No women dropped during or after their 15 k classic mass start on Saturday, keeping the field at 65.

Start lists: women’s 5 k pursuit / men’s 10 k pursuit

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

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway celebrates at the finish line after winning the 1.5 k skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the opening stage of the 2016 FIS Tour de Ski. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway celebrates at the finish line after winning the 1.5 k skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the opening stage of the 2016 FIS Tour de Ski. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

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 told Norwegian broadcaster NRK about her Tour de Ski decision, according to a translation. “I know myself better and better…. it’s boring to go home, but the Sprint Cup is my goal this winter, and the body has to be ready. So I must deal with the consequences. And focus on the core races. Now I’ll lay on my couch in Lillehammer and watch the other girls.”

Also out already are Swiss skiers Laurien Van Der Graaf and Heidi Widmer, the latter being a former Canadian racer. Italian sprinters Greta Laurent and Gaia Vuerich are also out. The final drop from the women’s field is Lisa Unterweger of Austria.

From the men’s field a number of sprinters have dropped as well, perhaps not surprising considering that the 30 k classic mass start is the longest classic race to be included in the Tour de Ski since 2007.

The sprinters skipping that challenge include Renaud Jay and Baptiste Gros of France, Sondre Turvoll Fossli of Norway, Teodor Peterson of Sweden, and Roman Schaad, Joeri Kindschi, and Jovian Hediger of Switzerland. Italy’s Simone Urbani is also out, as well as Marko Kilp of Estonia and Yordan Chuchuganov of Bulgaria.

Start lists for the classic mass starts:

women’s 15 k

men’s 30 k

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 SkiCharlotte 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 de Ski, it’s time to take a look at the overall rankings for the World Cup. On the women’s side, Norway’s Therese Johaug sits in first, followed by Norwegian teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in second and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson in third. For the menMartin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway holds a solid lead over Norwegian teammates Northug in second and Niklas Dyrhaug in third.

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).


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 Kalla of Sweden qualified in 11th, Therese Johaug of Norway in 15th, and Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland in 21st.