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Halvarsson of Sweden Wins Stage 2 of TdS

Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson won the second stage of the Tour de Ski on Sunday in the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint final in Oberhof, Germany. In densely falling snow, Halfvarsson fended off Italy’s Federico Pellegrino and a late-charging Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway to capture Sweden’s second win of the day (Hanna Erikson won the women’s final.)

Andy Newell, Alex Harvey, and Devon Kershaw all qualified for the quarterfinals.  Harvey and Kershaw raced against each other in the first quarterfinals, with Harvey advancing in second and Kershaw just missing out in third.

Harvey started his semifinal in third position until Russian Alexander Legkov’s ski caught him and he fell at the base of a climb. Unable to catch up, he finished the day in 11th.

Newell also advanced to the semifinal round, finishing 10th overall.


1. Calle Halfvarsson (SWE)

2. Federico Pellegrino (ITA)

3. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR)

4. Jens Eriksson (SWE)

5. Josef Wenzl (GER)

6. Petter Northug (NOR)


North American results:

10.  Andy Newell (USA)

11.Alex Harvey (CAN)

18. Devon Kershaw (CAN)

35. Simi Hamilton (USA)

95. Noah Hoffman (USA)

101. Ivan Babikov (CAN)

Harvey, Østberg Top Tour Sprint Qualifiers in Oberhof; Caldwell Fifth

The good vibes are still very much with Alex Harvey a day after the Canadian won the opening stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany, finishing just ahead of his teammate Devon Kershaw in Saturday’s freestyle prologue.

Harvey went on to post the fastest men’s time in the 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint qualifier in 2:49.76, finishing 2.34 seconds faster than Sweden’s Jens Eriksson in second. Ales Razym of the Czech Republic was just another five-hundredths of a second back in third, and Russia’s Alexander Legkov another two-hundredths back in fourth.

After Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson in fifth, Norway’s Petter Northug qualified in sixth, and Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave in seventh.

Kershaw advanced to the heats in 10th, Andy Newell of the U.S. qualified in 12th, but Simi Hamilton was a second out of the top 30 in 35th.

In the women’s 1.5 k qualifier, Norway’s Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg was fastest around the one-loop course in 3:08.6. Finland’s Anne Kyllonen was second, 0.27 seconds back, and Slovenia’s Alenka Cebasek third (+1.68). Norway’s Marit Bjørgen qualified in fourth (+2.76) ahead of American Sophie Caldwell in fifth (+3.05). Caldwell edged Germany’s Denise Herrmann in sixth by one-hundredth of a second.

After France’s Celia Aymonier in seventh, Norway’s Therese Johaug and Astrid Jacobsen qualified in eighth and ninth, respectively. Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova advanced in 10th, Perianne Jones moved on in 14th, and Jessie Diggins of the U.S. ranked 18th.

Also for the U.S., Liz Stephen placed 33rd, missing the top-30 cut by 0.78 seconds, and Holly Brooks was 37th, another 1.75 seconds back.

Results: men | women

Canadians Back on Top: Harvey, Kershaw Go 1-2 in TdS Prologue

After somewhat of a slow start to the season, the Canadians found some serious speed on Saturday in Oberhof, Germany, as Alex Harvey finished first and Devon Kershaw took second in the 4.5-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first stage of the Tour de Ski.

“It was obviously a great day for me,” Harvey told FIS. “[Four-and-a-half] k prologues are always very hard, you need to pace it really perfectly I think if you want to be in the top ten.  So try to start fast, but save some power for the last lap.”

Kershaw sat in the leader’s chair for a good portion of the race after topping Swede Jens Eriksson‘s previous best by 11.4 seconds. Harvey was the only man to finish faster by 4.1 seconds in 9:03.4, bumping Kershaw to second.

“It’s awesome to share the podium with Kersh,” Harvey added. “It’s the second time we do that, and the second time in a prologue actually, so it’s great to have Canada one, two.”

Despite some late Norwegian starters, their  positions held as Chris Jespersen of Norway placed third, 10.2 seconds behind Harvey. Russia’s Ilia Chernousov was fourth, France’s Robin Duvillard fifth, and Norway’s Martin Sundby sixth, while Eriksson ended up seventh.

Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi rounded out the top 10 in eighth, along with Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh in ninth and Estonia’s Aivar Rahemaa in 10th.

The 12th starter, Andy Newell led the U.S. in 20th (+20.4) after hovering just outside the top 10 for much of the race. Canada’s Ivan Babikov had a personal-best prologue finish in 26th (+24.8), just 0.2 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug in 25th.

Also for the U.S., Simi Hamilton placed 42nd and Noah Hoffman was 82nd out of 106. Lenny Valjas did not start.


Bjørgen Off to Fast Start in Tour de Ski Opening Prologue; Two U.S. Women in Top 10

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen didn’t have any trouble getting going in the rainy-and-slow conditions in Oberhof, Germany, winning Saturday’s Tour de Ski opening 3-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first of seven stages.

Bjørgen bested teammate Astrid Jacobsen by 1.9 seconds with the fastest time of 6:34.4.

“It was a short race so its really hard to find the right speed, but today it was good for me,” Bjørgen told FIS. “It’s a good start. It’s been 2 weeks since my last competition so it’s good to be back again.”

The Tour’s four-time defending champion, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland did not race for reasons that were immediately unknown.

“I’m very sorry, but in this situation I can not occur in Tour de Ski,” Kowalczyk wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Another Polish skier stepped up in her place, with 27-year-old Sylwia Jaśkowiec tallying her first World Cup podium in third, 7 seconds behind Bjørgen.

Denise Herrmann of Germany was fourth (+8.4), American Jessie Diggins notched fifth (+9.2) for her best Tour de Ski stage result (and tying her best individual World Cup finish). Diggins was 62nd in the Oberhof 3 k prologue last year.

Finland’s Anne Kyllonen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen finished sixth and seventh, respectively, on Saturday, and Slovenia’s Alenka Cebasek was eighth (+10.7) and American Sophie Cadwell ninth (+11.8) ahead of Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen in 10th (+12.0)

Also for the US Ski Team, Holly Brooks finished 21st and Liz Stephen placed 34th.

Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova took 37th and Perianne Jones was 47th of 78 finishers.


Oberhof Tour de Ski Course Shortened to 1.5 k

(Press release)

Due to to extremely warm weather conditions the Organizing Committee of Oberhof and FIS decided to change the competition program of the FIS Tour de Ski Stages in Oberhof (GER).

Competition Course

The competition course had to be shortened to 1500 m and will be used both on Saturday and Sunday for ladies and men competitions.

Stage 1, Prologue Free

Stage 1 of the FIS Tour de Ski will be carried out as planned, ladies and men prologue free technique. Ladies will ski 2 rounds, men 3 rounds

Stage 2, Sprint Free

Sprint free ladies and men will be the stage 2. Both ladies and men will ski one lap – 1.5 km

Starting Times Oberhof

Starting times of the ladies and men prologue remains unchanged. Starting time of the ladies/men sprint free quarterfinals on Sunday, 29th December is 14:30 CET

Competition Program of the rest of the FIS Tour de Ski stages

Competition program of the other FIS Tour de Ski stages in Lenzerheide (SUI), Cortina/Toblach (ITA) and Val di Fiemme (ITA) stays unchanged.

Tour de Ski Will Start as Planned in Oberhof

(FIS Cross Country press release)

The 8th edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft sportswear will be carried out as planned, with stages in Oberhof (GER), Lenzerheide (SUI), Cortina/Toblach (ITA) and Val di Fiemme (ITA).

The Organizing Committee of Oberhof (GER) did everything possible to collect the snow from the region to make sure the competition course is ready for the start of the FIS Tour de Ski.

Volunteers and helpers from the OC, regional ski clubs, sponsors, supporters and fans of Skiing collected and brought the natural snow from the surrounding places to the DKB Ski Hall where it will stored until 26th December. In addition there are two artificial snow depots on the competition course.

Competition course

The OC will be able to keep the original length of the ladies prologue competition course, which is 2.1 km long and which will be used on both days for ladies and men competitions.

“It’s very good news we can start the 8th FIS Tour de Ski in Oberhof. I know the Organizing Committee has been working very hard to make the first Tour stages in Oberhof possible. Thanks to great engagement of the Organizing Committee, volunteers, ski clubs and other supporters we will be able to carry out the competition program in Oberhof as planned,” FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey said.

Competition program in Oberhof

The competition program of the first two Tour de Ski stages will be carried out as planned with the ladies and men free technique prologue on Saturday and Pursuit classic on Sunday.

Seven competitions in nine days

After the opening competitions in Oberhof, Tour stages 3 and 4 will be held in Lenzerheide with a free technique sprint on 31st December and classical mass start competition on the first day of the New Year.

After the second rest day, the Tour will continue in Cortina – Toblach (ITA) on 3rd January with distance competitions for the ladies and the A to B stage from Cortina to Toblach for the men. The FIS Tour de Ski will traditionally conclude in Val di Fiemme with an individual start competition on 4th January and the Final Climb on 5th January 2014.

Finland’s Saarinen, Kyllönen Dominate Classic Team Sprint; U.S. Fifth and Eighth

On another muggy morning in Asiago, Italy, Finland’s women showed they have no problem keeping pace on slow snow as Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Anne Kyllönen routed the 10-team final with a 10-second victory.

Neck and neck with Finland for most of the race, Norway I fell four seconds behind on the second-to-last lap of the 6 x 1.25-kilometer classic team sprint, with Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg tagging Maiken Caspersen Falla in second and Falla falling another six seconds back on the final lap.

The Norwegians settled for second, 9.68 seconds off Finland’s winning time of 19:15.72, after barely holding off Germany’s Katrin Zeller and Denise Herrmann, who finished 0.34 seconds later in third.

Norway II took fourth with Kari Gjeitnes and Celine Brun-Lie (+11.53) and the Americans placed fifth (+18.48) with Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall. Bjornsen brought the team as high as fourth into the last exchange, but they were still more than 2 seconds behind Norway II in third and 12 seconds out of first.

USA II’s Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell finished eighth (+20.56) in the final, and Caldwell posted the third-fastest course time on her first lap.

Canada placed 16th overall after Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova placed eighth in the second semifinal.


Hattestad Outlunges Poltoranin for Norwegian Team Sprint Victory in Asiago

Ola Vigen Hattestad knew exactly what was coming as he held a slight margin over Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin coming into the finishing stretch of Sunday’s World Cup 6 x 1.65-kilometer classic team sprint in Asiago, Italy.

Inches behind the Norwegian, Poltoranin jumped into what many deemed a faster track in the final 100 meters. Hattestad didn’t look back, but just kept chugging, double poling ferociously to the finish. Poltoranin was closing, and Hattestad thrust his leg over the line, extending himself so far he almost didn’t make it.

But he did.

The Norwegian’s first team of Hattestad and Eldar Rønning took a photo finish win of Kazakhstan (with Nikolay Chebotko, who fell on the second-to-last lap). Norway won in 24:47.40, Kazakhstan was second and Norway II’s Øystein Petterson and Eirik Brandsdal placed third (+2.19).

Russia I (Alexander Panzhinskiy/ Nikita Kriukov) ended up fourth (+2.63), and Sweden I (Teodor Petterson/Simon Persson) finished nearly 13 seconds back in fifth.

Neither the Canadians nor the Americans advanced to the 10-team final. Canada’s Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey placed fifth and USA I with Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell were sixth in the second semifinal, but neither had fast-enough times to advance. Canada placed 11th overall and the Americans 12th.

Canada II (Jesse Cockney/Lenny Valjas) placed 13th in the same semi for 24th overall, and USA II (Torin Koos/Mikey Sinnott) finished 15th in the first semi for 28th.


Kriukov Outdoes Poltoranin for Classic Victory in Italy

Nikita Kriukov has won World Cup stages before, but never a World Cup outright. The 28-year-old Russian came back from a disqualification in last weekend’s sprint in Davos, Switzerland (which kept him from racing the final), to win Saturday’s 1.65-kilometer classic sprint in Asiago, Italy.

“I love Italy,” said Kriukov, who won the classic sprint at 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Kriukov bested Kazakstan’s Alexey Poltoranin by 0.15 seconds for the win in 4:21.18. The Russian had been the seventh-fastest qualifier of the day after Norwegian Ola Vigen Hattestad’s winning time of 3:57.37.

Kriukov placed second in his quarterfinal and won his semifinal to advance to the final, which he mostly led then held off Poltoranin through the finish. Poltoranin took second ahead of Gianluca Cologna, who notched his first World Cup podium in third (+4.12). Norway’s Eldar Rønning got tangled up midway through the race and finished fourth (+7.85), Sweden’s Emil Joensson fell on a troublesome downhill corner and took out Russian Alexander Panzhinskiy, and the two finished fifth (+30.42) and sixth (+44.41), respectively.

Americans Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell raced the same quarterfinal, where Newell crashed alone on the same downhill and lost a ski. Hamilton went on to place fifth for 23rd overall, and Newell recovered his ski and finished sixth for 26th.


Kowalczyk Holds Off Kyllönen, Falla for Asiago Classic Sprint Win

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk got out front early and never relinquished the lead on Saturday in Asiago, Italy, winning the World Cup women’s 1.25-kilometer classic sprint final by 1.35 seconds in 3:14.03.

After qualifying in second behind Slovenia’s Katja Visnar, Kowalczyk went on to win both her quarterfinal and semifinal in a similarly commanding fashion, then denied Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla of leading early in the final. Meanwhile, Finland’s Anne Kyllönen conserved in third, and outsprinted Falla for second behind Kowalczyk.

Kyllönen finished 1.35 seconds behind Kowalczyk for her first World Cup podium, and Kalla took third, 2.31 seconds after the winner. Britta Johansson Norgren of Sweden took fourth (+5.18), Germany’s Denise Herrmann was fifth (+6.31), and Norway’s Kari Gjeitnes was sixth (+7.29).

Visnar ended up 11th after dropping to sixth in her semifinal. Ida Sargent of the US Ski Team (USST) was the lone North American to advance to the semifinals after placing third in her quarterfinal. She ended up fifth in her semifinal behind Kowalczyk, Gjeitnes, Herrmann, and Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, respectively.

Dasha Gaiazova placed 14th for Canada after finishing third in her quarterfinal, Americans Sadie Bjornsen finished 16th and Kikkan Randall was 20th after finishing fourth and fifth in their heats. Also on the USST, Sophie Caldwell was fifth behind Bjornsen for 24th.


Visnar, Hattestad Top Asiago Qualifiers; Bjornsen, Newell Fifth Fastest

Katja Visnar of Slovenia and Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad posted the fastest qualifying times in the women’s 1.25 k and men’s 1.65 k classic sprints, respectively, by more than two seconds at Saturday’s World Cup in Asiago, Italy.

Visnar bested Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk by 2.23 seconds in 3:02.85, and Germany’s Denise Herrmann qualified in third (+3.00). Mona-Lisa Malvalehto of Finland ranked fourth (+3.41) and American Sadie Bjornsen qualified fifth (+3.70).

Hattestad finished the 1.65 k qualifier in 3:57.37, topping Sweden’s Emil Joensson in second by 2.8 seconds. Norwegians Eirik Brandsdal qualified third (+4.78), Eldar Rønning ranked fourth (+4.83), and another US Ski Team member, Andy Newell, advanced in fifth (+5.0).

Also qualifying: US Ski Team members Ida Sargent (21st), Sophie Caldwell (25th), Simi Hamilton (25th), and Kikkan Randall (27th), and Canadian Dasha Gaiazova (28th).

Outside the top 30, Canada’s Devon Kershaw placed 33rd, Chandra Crawford finished 45th, Perianne Jones was 54th, Lenny Valjas was 70th, and Jess Cockney 77th. Alex Harvey was disqualified for skating.

Americans Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation) finished 67th, and Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) was 78th.

Women’s qualifier | Men’s qualifier

Gløersen Tallies Another Norwegian Win in Davos Sprint, Finland’s Jylhae Second

Finland’s Martti Jylhae had the race of his life on Sunday, qualifying in first then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal en route to the World Cup 1.5-kilometer men’s freestyle sprint final in Davos, Switzerland. A podium would have been a career best for the 26 year old.

With a bit more World Cup experience under his belt, Norway’s Anders Gløersen, 27, qualified in 10th and placed second in each of his heats, doing exactly what he needed to make the final. There, rounding the 750-meter course twice, Gløersen sat patiently as others, including Jylhae, jostled at the front. With one major hill on the course, the Norwegian charged up to the front of the pack just before it and gradually pulled away, holding first place through the finish.

Gløersen won the final in 2:38.74, and Jylhae took second by 0.59 seconds. Sergey Ustiugov edged his Russian teammate Alexey Petukhov by 0.32 seconds in third (+1.0). Finn Haagen Krogh of Norway took fifth (+2.15) and Italy’s Federico Pellegrino ran out of gas after trying to lead early to finish sixth (+11.81).

Simi Hamilton of the US Ski Team was the top North American in 14th after placing third in the second-fastest quarterfinal. Andy Newell did not make it out of the quarterfinals after placing fourth in his heat for 17th overall.

None of the Canadians qualified, with Alex Harvey placing 45th, Lenny Valjas 61st,  Devon Kershaw 69th, and Jess Cockney 82nd. Neither did Americans Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) in 56th and Mikey Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) in 85th.


Bjørgen Overtakes Randall for Narrow Davos Sprint Victory

Marit Bjørgen pulled a classic Bjørgen move, hanging in contention but out of the lead until the last split-second of Sunday’s freestyle sprint at the World Cup in Davos, Switzerland. With American Kikkan Randall leading into the finishing stretch, the Norwegian world champ came on strong down the finishing stretch, beating Randall by one-hundredth of a second at the line.

Bjørgen won the 1.5 k sprint in 2:57.60 and Randall took second ahead of Germany’s Denise Herrmann in third (+0.24). Bjørgen qualified fourth, won her quarterfinal and placed second to Randall in the semifinal to capture her ninth World Cup victory in Davos.

“I had a good feeling today, but Kikkan is very strong,” Bjørgen said in a post-race interview with Randall’s husband Jeff Ellis, a media coordinator for FIS. “I was a little bit better than her so I’m really happy. That was really good.”

In her first World Cup final, Hanna Erikson of Sweden followed with a career-best fourth (+3.13), Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan was fifth (+4.05), and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took sixth (+7.54).

Americans Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins made the semifinals, where they placed fifth and sixth, respectively, to end up ninth and 12th overall.

Also on the US Ski Team, Sadie Bjornsen placed 27th overall after finishing sixth in her quarterfinal, and Holly Brooks missed qualifying in 33rd, half a second out of 30th. (The top 30 were packed within 3.6 seconds of one another.) Ida Sargent placed 41st in the qualifier and Rosie Brennan was 61st for the U.S.

Canadians Dasha Gaiazova and Chandra Crawford placed 42nd and 43rd, respectively, in Crawford’s first World Cup this season.


Herrman, Jylhae Top Davos Qualifiers, 6 Americans in Heats

DAVOS, Switzerland – Denise Herrman of Germany led the women’s World Cup field in freestyle sprint qualification this morning, clocking in a time of 2:59.25 over the two-loop course. To avoid interference from lapping competitors, organizers held the qualification in groups – athletes would head out on course at ten second intervals, and then starters would allow a gap for the entire group to finish before starting the next group. Despite the odd format, U.S. skier Sadie Bjornsen said that it was “just like normal.”

Ingvild Flugstad Östberg of Norway qualified second and teammates Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen and Marit Björgen third and fourt. Jessie Diggins was the top qualifier for the Americans in sixth, and will be joined in the heats by Sophie Caldwell (9th), Kikkan Randall (10th), and Sadie Bjornsen (18th). No Canadians made the cut.

In the men’s race, Martti Jylhae of Finland set the pace with a time of 2:32.19. Alexey Petukhov of Russia was the second qualifier and Simon Persson of Sweden the third. A highlight for the crowd came when Roman Schaad, a late starter in bib 74, blasted into ninth place, the home team’s top qualifier. At just 20 years old, it was the very first World Cup of the young racer’s career.

Andy Newell skied the 12th-fastest time and Simi Hamilton also made the heats for the U.S. in 21st. Again Canada was left on the outside looking in.

Qualifier results: women / men

Bjørgen’s Late Push Lifts Her Ahead of Johaug for Davos 15 k Victory; Four Americans in Top 30

If there was one thing reiterated in Saturday’s World Cup in Davos, Switzerland, it’s never underestimate the closing potential of Marit Bjørgen.

The Norwegian rose to the challenge in the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start after trailing her teammate Therese Johaug by about 10 seconds with 5 1/2 kilometers to go. Bjørgen came on strong to win by 13 seconds over Johaug in 35:34.4. Johaug took second ahead of Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla (+28.9), and Norway’s Kristin Størmer Steira placed fourth (+53.2). Led by Kerttu Niskanen in fifth, Finland took three out of the top seven with Krista Lahteenmaki in sixth and Riita-Liisa Roponen in seventh.

Four US Ski Team women made the top 30, with Kikkan Randall in 18th (+1:52.3), Liz Stephen in 20th (+1:55.5), Holly Brooks 25th (+2:09.5), and Jessie Diggins in 30th (+2:17.9). Also for the U.S., Rosie Brennan (APU) placed 51st (+3:44.5).


Manificat Rises to Win 30 k in Davos; Hoffman 25th

Maurice Manificat of France timed Saturday’s 30-kilometer freestyle individual start to a ‘T’ and finished 3.3 seconds ahead of Norway’s Chris Andre Jespersen for the win in 1:05:10.8. The leader thround 24.5 k, Jespersen finished second for his first career World Cup podium and became the World Cup distance leader. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed third, 14.9 seconds behind Manificat, to hold onto the overall World Cup lead.

“It was a tough race,” Manificat told FIS after the race. “I was thinking of two years ago when I did not push hard enough towards the end and lost victory in the last lap. Today,  tried to save some energy to the last 7.5 km and I was afraid to open too hard. I tried to ski fast in the flat sections. It feels great to win today.”

Noah Hoffman was the lone American skier in the men’s race and placed 25th (+1:54).

“I did okay,” Hoffman told FasterSkier. “I probably went out a little harder than I wanted to. It felt okay, but not great.”

Ivan Babikov represented Canada in 47th (+4:05.4)

Russia Holds Off Pressing Norwegians for Lillehammer Relay Win

After his three Russian teammates did most of the work ahead of him on Sunday, Maxim Vylegzhanin took advantage of skiing in the top three and a major risk in the final stretches of the World Cup 4 x 7.5 k relay in Lillehammer, Norway. With the likes of Norwegians Petter Northug (NOR I), Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR II), Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR III) on his tail, Vylegzhanin attacked on the second-to-last climb and held the gap all the way to the finish for 1.6-second Russian victory.

Gjerdalen fell behind on the final ascent, but Krogh and Northug pushed relentlessly in an effort to catch Vylegzhanin down into the stadium. With Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Alexander Legkov (who made a decisive attack in the third leg to break 11 skiers down to three), and Vylegzhanin, Russia won in 1:19.04.7, and Norway’s second team captured second with Krogh (+1.6). Norway took third and fourth as well, with Northug (+1.8) and Gjerdalen (+9.3), respectively, and Marcus Hellner carried Sweden to fourth (+21.0) ahead of France’s Ivan Perrillat Boiteux in fifth (+22.2). The Czech Republic placed sixth (+49.7) with Martin Jaks as its anchor. Norway’s fourth team placed seventh, 1:15 out of first.

Canada finished 14th with Lenny Valjas, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov, and Devon Kershaw (+3:01.4), and the U.S. men placed 17th of 19 teams (+3:48.2), with Andy Newell, Kris Freeman, Noah Hoffman, and Simi Hamilton.



Norway Runs Away with Women’s Relay; U.S. Fights for Third

Just over a year after placing third in Gallivare, Sweden, for a historic World Cup podium, the U.S. women repeated the feat in Sunday’s 4 x 5-kilometer relay at the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway — with Jessie Diggins (US Ski Team) using every last ounce of her energy to hold onto third.

Marit Bjørgen capped off a commanding performance for Norway, which won in 58:38.9 with scrambler Heidi Weng, an aggressive second leg by Therese Johaug, and Kristin Stormer Steira. A minute and 15 seconds back, Krista Lahteenmaki anchored Finland to second. After Liz Stephen tagged the USA’s first team (they started two) in third, 15 seconds behind Finland, Diggins made a run for second and caught Lahteenmaki about two kilometers in. Bjørgen started the final leg with a 35-second lead and stayed smooth in sloppy, snowy conditions for a comfortable win.

With Lahteenmaki and Diggins skiing together for the rest of the race, the Finn skied away after the last big climb and final descent into the stadium. Diggins crashed, broke a pole but quickly got a replacement from the Norwegian team and held onto third, finishing 23.4 seconds after Lahteenmaki and nearly 11 seconds ahead of Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR II).

After Russia in fifth, Sweden in sixth, Norway III in seventh, Germany in eighth, Russia II in ninth, France in 10th and Poland in 11th, the USA’s second team of Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, Holly Brooks, and Rosie Brennan placed 12th (+3:20.5).


Golberg Romps Lillehammer 15 k; Harvey Top North American in 16th

Norwegian Pål Golberg was in it for the long haul on Saturday, hanging in the mix then accelerating in the second half of the men’s 15 k classic individual start to win his first World Cup by 14.2 seconds in Lillehammer, Norway.

Golberg ousted Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin from the leader’s chair with the fastest time of 35 minutes flat. Poltoranin placed second, 1.3 seconds ahead of Didrik Tønseth of Norway, who placed third.

Sweden’s Marcus Hellner and Johan Olsson took fourth (+20.2) and fifth (+21.4), respectively. Russian Alexander Legkov closed hard for sixth (+22.2), just ahead of three Norwegians: Martin Sundby (seventh), Chris Jespersen (eighth) and Petter Northug (ninth). Swede Daniel Richardsson finished 10th (+42.3).

After finishing 43rd overall in last weekend’s Kuusamo Ruka Triple, Canadian Alex Harvey captured 16th on Saturday, 50.2 seconds behind Golberg.

Harvey’s teammate, Ivan Babikov placed 35th, and Noah Hoffman was the top American in 41st.

Also for Canada, Devon Kershaw finished 56th, and Jesse Cockney was 68th.

Americans Kris Freeman placed 75th and Mikey Sinnott was 81st.


Kowalczyk Upsets in Lillehammer, Kalla Second in 10 k Classic; Bjornsen 7th

A six-time runner-up in Norway, Justyna Kowalczyk had yet to win a distance race there. The Pole checked that off her to-do list on Saturday, winning the women’s 10-kilometer classic individual start at the Lillehammer World Cup in 24:59.4. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla was second, 12.4 seconds back, and Norway’s Marit Bjørgen settled for third, 25.6 behind Kowalczyk.

Norwegian Therese Johaug took fourth (+39.0) and Yulia Tchekaleva of Russia was fifth (+1:03.1)). Heidi Weng of Norway placed sixth (+1:06.8) and U.S. Ski Team member Sadie Bjornsen tallied seventh (+1:18.3), tying her personal best from last weekend, where she was seventh in the 5 k classic in Kuusamo, Finland.

Also for the U.S., Kikkan Randall placed 16th, Jessie Diggins was 30th, Ida Sargent 39th, Rosie Brennan 54th, and Holly Brooks 65th. No Canadian women raced.