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Archive for March, 2010

Randall 2nd in Oslo!

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Kikkan Randall  gave the US Ski Team a second podium in less than a week, finishing 2nd in the freestyle sprint in Oslo.

Randall looked strong all day, and led heading into the finish stretch.  But Marit Bjoergen is unbeatable right now, and she skied away in the last 50 meters.  Randall held off a hard-charging Natalia Korosteleva at the line.

Andy Newell advanced to the semis, but faded in his last heat, and ended up 10th overall.

More to follow.

Randall and Newell Advance to Heats in Oslo

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Oslo, Norway – Kikkan Randall and Andy Newell both advanced to the heats in the 1.3/1.5km freestyle sprint this morning in Norway.

Randall posted the 8th fastest qualifying time, 3.11 seconds behind leader Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).

Kowalczyk sped through the course in a time of 3:02.19, a full 1.45 seconds ahead of Hanna Falk (SWE) in 2nd.

With a little more time gone by since the Olympics and a large Nations Cup group from Norway, the fields are large and very strong.  A number of top skiers failed to advance, including Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), Stephie Boelhler (GER), Pirjo Murnanen (FIN), and Miriam Goessner (GER).

The Norwegian women advanced seven to the heats, and Sweden and impressive five.

Dasha Gaiazova, the lone Canadian woman in the race, was 37th, 1.54 seconds out of the top-30.

Caitlin Compton (USA) was 21.22 seconds off Kowalczyk’s pace – finishing last (61st).

All 30 qualifiers were within 10 seconds of the lead.

The men’s race featured even more upsets than the women’s but as usual, Emil Joensson (SWE) was near the top.

Joensson was actually the second qualifier, a significant 2.06 seconds behind Anders Gloersen (NOR).

Gloersen led a contingent of nine Norwegians in the heats.  Top sprinter Ola Vigen Hattestad barely squeaked through, placing 29th.  Times were tightly packed, and Marcus Hellner (SWE) in 30th was just 7 seconds in back Gloersen, and 5 behind Joensson.

Newell qualified in 23rd, not as high as he usually does, but considering the tight times, and the fact that he has made aneefort to relax a little in the first round, this is not surprising.

Simi Hamilton was just outside, placing 34th, .52 seconds from 30th position.  Hamilton beat John Kristian Dahl (NOR), Kalle Lassila (FIN), Yuichi Onda (JPN), and Boerre Naess (NOR) among others.  This is an excellent result, and given the strength of the field, more impressive than his Olympic performance.

Mike Hinckley was 66th, +13.25, and Brian Gregg 73rd, +19.90.

Stefan Kuhn (CAN) finished 63rd, +12.56.

Heats start in roughly 30 minutes.

Both Randall and Newell are in quarterfinal 5 of their respective races, and while there are certainly no easy heats, their matchups look favorable.

Holmenkollen Sprint Features Large Fields

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Oslo, Norway – The pre-World Championship freestyle sprint at the Holmenkollen Ski Stadium features large strong fields.  76 men and 64 women will start the 1.3/1.5km race.

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) is back in action after sitting out Saturday’s 30km and will try to end Marit Bjoergen’s winning streak.  The US starts Kikkan Randall and Caitlin Compton while Dasha Gaiazova represents Canada.

This will be Randall’s first skate sprint start since before the Olympics.  She has been racing very well recently and should be in the mix for a spot in the finals.

Petter Northug will not start the men’s sprint for Norway, leaving Emil Joensson (SWE) as the easy favorite.  The Northug family will be represented as Petter’s younger brother Thomas gets his second World Cup start.

The US will run Andy Newell, Simi Hamilton, Mike Hinckley and Brian Gregg while Stefan Kuhn is the lone Canadian to start.

Newell will try to defend his first World Cup podium in two years.  He was 3rd just three days ago in Drammen.  While that race was classic, his other two podiums both came in freestyle sprints.

Predictions

Men:

1. Emil Joensson (SWE)

2. Nikita Kriukov (RUS)

3. Alexia Petukhov (RUS)

4. Andy Newell (USA)

5. Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR)

6. Simen Oestensen (NOR)

Women:

1. Marit Bjoergen (NOR)

2. Arianna Follis (ITA)

3. Kikkan Randall (USA)

4. Hannah Falk (SWE)

5. Pirjo Muranen (FIN)

6.  Natalia Korostoleva (RUS)

Complete Start Lists

Aukland to Leave Swiss Team After Season

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Fredrik Aukland of Norway, the Swiss National Team coach will leave the Swiss team after the season.

Earlier today he explained reasons for his decision.

“I want to spend more time with my girls at home and therefore want to reduce traveling.”

Aukland will continue to be involved in Cross-Country skiing.

“I’ve got new job with Arena Group.  I will help them to develop concepts for health and motivation.”

Aukland, however, will not leave Dario Cologna.

“I will continue coaching for a few racers like Dario. I have had a fantastic time in Switzerland and will take with me this great experience. Now new challenges are ahead of me!”

Newell on Podium in Drammen

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Drammen, Norway – Andy Newell (USA) skied to 3rd place, and his third career World Cup podium.  Newell qualified in 11th, and advanced through one of the toughest World Cup fields imaginable.  It is hard to find a deeper and stronger group of racers than what you get in a classic sprint in Norway.

That didn’t phase Newell, however, and the top American sprinter advanced to the finals, placing second to eventual winner Emil Joensson (SWE) in both the quarterfinals and semis.

Joensson pulled away from the group to win the race by 1.9 seconds over Petter Northug, gaining a measure of redemption after a disappointing Olympics.  Northug barely edged Newell, crossing the line just .1 seconds in front.

Newell last finished on the podium in 2008, when he finished 2nd in the freestyle at the Lahti Ski Games.  He was also 3rd in the freestyle sprint in Changchun, China in 2006.

Over the last months, Newell has consistently stated that his fitness is the highest it has ever been.  But he has struggled to reach the finals, and the Olympics were the ultimate disappointment when he crashed during qualifying.

But today proved him correct, and he moved into 4th in the overall Sprint Cup standings, with 2nd within striking distance.

Newell has 278 points, two behind John Kristian Dahl (NOR) and 28 in back of Northug.  Joensson is now clear in the lead with 427 points.

Two sprint races remain – one this weekend in Oslo, and then next Wednesday in Stockholm.

Newell is also ranked 15th in the overall World Cup standings.

Norway Packs Heats in Drammen

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The Norwegian men took 13 of the 30 spots in the heats, while the women advanced 7 in the classic Sprint in Drammen.

Andy Newell was the lone North American male to advance, placing 11th, 2.63 seconds behind leader Emil Joensson (SWE).

Simi Hamilton was the next American in 53rd, +10.64.  Mike Hinckley was 59th and Brian Gregg 65th.

Stefan Kuhn led the Canadians in 54th with teammate Devon Kershaw just .01 behind in 55th.

A number of top skiers failed to advance, including Sami Jauhojaervi (FIN), John Kristian Dahl (NOR), and Alexei Pethukov (RUS).

Petter Northug, who qualified 2nd, just .19 seconds behind Joennson, is joined in the heats by younger brother Thomas.

Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) won the women’s qualifier by .63 seconds over Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).  Pirjo Murnanen (FIN) was 3rd, three seconds behind.  Finland had three of the top four and six of the top-11.

Kikkan Randall (USA) just missed the heats in 34th, 1.88 seconds out of 30th.

Daria Gaiazova (CAN) was 39th.

Brink, Nystrom Win Vasaloppet

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Sweden’s Joergen Brink and Susanne Nystrom won the annual 90k Vasaloppet on Sunday, topping a combined field of over 16,000.

Brink became infamous for bonking in the relay at World Championships in 2003, blowing Sweden’s big lead, but today’s win should help him move on. He beat his countryman–and three-time race winner–Daniel Tynell in a four-up sprint at the line.

For men’s and women’s top ten, click here (in Norwegian).

Norway Wins Both Relays in Lahti

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

On Sunday in Lahti, the Norwegians showed that homefield advantage can’t hold a candle to fitness, as both their men and women skied away from host nation Finland and everyone else in the 4×5 and 4×10 k relays.

In the women’s race, it was Marit Bjoergen besting Germany’s Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle and Italy’s Arianna Follis in a three-up sprint, while for the men, it was Norway’s second team, anchored by the unheralded Kristian Tettli Rennemo, that won over their first team, as well as Germany and Russia.

Full results here, and report to come.

Bjoergen, Manificat Take Lahti Pursuit Races

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Marit Bjoergen and Maurice Manificat won the 15 and 30 k pursuit races in Lahti, Finland this morning. Kikkan Randall and James Southam led the way for the United States, in 24th and 36th, respectively. No Canadians took to the start line.

Full results available here.