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Archive for March, 2012

Bjørgen Shines on Holmenkollen Trails

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

OSLO, Norway – The ladies’ 30 k classic mass start on the Holmenkollen trails today was a stark contrast to the men’s 50 k yesterday as the top three women had no interest in skiing in a pack, instead they went out at a pace that would have looked fast for a 10 k.  By the 2 k mark Norway’s Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug had already broken clear with Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) as the rest of the field was strung out at least 10 seconds behind.

The trio continued to force the pace for the next 10 kilometers which gave Johaug trouble as she fell back, skiing by herself for many of the following kilometers.  As Bjørgen and Kowalczyk approached the 16.3 k mark with bonus points on the line the pace lifted yet again, but on the ensuing downhill Bjørgen used her superior descending skills or at least capitalized on Kowalczyk lack there of to open up a gap.

From there it was all Bjørgen, as she gave her Norwegian faithful much to be excited about on this warm and sunny day – crossing the finish line in 1:26:09.8.  Over the last few kilometers Johaug continued to chase Kowalczyk, eating away at her lead kilometer by kilometer.  By the time the pair entered the stadium it was clear that it was going to be a sprint for the line.  Johaug tried to do her best Eldar-Roenning down the homestretch to the delight of the passionate Norwegian fans, but over the final 200 meters Kowalczyk’s double pole was too strong.  Kowalczyk and Johaug finished 51.9 and 53.3 seconds down on Bjørgen, respectively.

For the Americans, Kikkan Randall led the way in 21st place, crossing the line in 1:32:26.7. Liz Stephen followed in 24th place in 1:34:12.9.


More American Results: 

40. Sadie Bjornsen – 1:37:19.8

45. Jessie Diggins – 1:39:05.1

51. Ida Sargent – 1:42:10.3


Complete Results:

Sylvan Ellefson on Racing Holmenkollen

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Sylvan Ellefson on racing the famed Holmenkollen 50k

The 50k Holmenkollen was one of those things I dreamt about doing probably about seven years ago, but never really thought I would ever have the chance.

Today I had that chance and it probably was one of the most amazing things I have ever done.

Having our US girls cheer, having coaches cheer, having people cheer when you’re cramping and you’re not sure if you’re gonna make it around the next corner, having everyone around the entire course cheer and yell your name even when you’re sitting in the 50′s.

So much positivity and love for this sport over here .An experience that I will never forget.

Roenning Wins Holmenkollen 50k over Cologna

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Eldar Roenning (NOR) has been looking to the Holmenkollen 50k all season, and his focus paid off. The Norwegian classic specialist bided his time in the pack for most of the race before moving to the front with less than 10k to go.

On the final steep hill, he led a break with Dario Cologna, teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Russians Maxim Vylegzhanin and Konstantin Glavatskikh.

Only Cologna could match the Roenning’s pace, and remained right on the Norwegian’s tails up the stadium hill and over the flat into the final stretch.

Cologna pulled out and initially took over the lead on the double pole, but Roenning responded and when he switched to a running classic stride with 20 meters to go, he gained the meters to take the win.

Sundby crossed in third with Russia holding the next four spots.

Devon Kershaw led the North Americans in 10th, taking a number of bonus seconds at the intermdiate sprints. The performance moved him ahead of Petter Northug into second in the overall World CUp standings.

Kris Freeman led the AMericans in a strong 22nd, one of his best Holmenkollen races. Teammate Noah Hoffman took bonus seconds and was skiing toward the front for much of the race before fading hard at the end.

Hoffman broke a ple at one point, and also had a rough time during one of the ski changes, losing significant time and forcing a big expenditure of energy catching back up.

Alex Harvey was 29th after falling off the pace at the end.

Ivan Babikov, who was on the bubble of making the top-50 in the World Rankings and qualifying for the World Cup Finals, struggled from the get-go and ended up dropping out.

Full report to follow.


Bjoergen Wins in Drammen, Randall Secures Overall Sprint Title

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) exploded out of the start gates in the women’s final, making it only a three women race right away.  As the trio worked their way around a left-hand turn midway through Kowalczyk was sitting in third, but slid to the ground and was not able to regain contact with the front, finishing third on the day.  Bjoergen blazed up the final climb to take the win entertaining the Norwegian crowd as she returned down the Drammen main street.

American Kikkan Randall had trouble with one of her skis during her semifinal heat, but did well enough today to celebrate tonight as she secured the overall sprint title for the season.


1) Marit Bjoergen (NOR)
2) Astrid Jacobsen (NOR)
3) Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)
4) Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR)
5) Chandra Crawford (CAN)
6) Aurore Jean (FRA)
7) Anne Kylloenen (FIN)
8 ) Daria Gaiazova (CAN)
9) Mona-Lisa Malvalehto (FIN)
10) Nicole Fessel (GER)


Women’s Semifinals

Heat 1:

Marit Bjoergen (NOR) put the hammer down from the get go, bringing with her countrywomen Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen and Maiken Caspersen.  The three Norwegians broke clear format he rest of the group and all finished together.  Randall skied near the back of the pack early, but had some issues with her ski as she need to switch for another.  By the time that had happen she was out of contact with the rest.

Heat 2:

As one might expect Justyna Kowalczyk tried to break up the group early by going hard from the gun.  The only skier able to keep pace throughout the first half of the race was Canada’s Chandra Crawford.  By the end though Anne Kylloenen was able to catch back up, but was not overtake Crawford.   Kylloenen did manage a lucky loser position – the other from the first heat was Falla.

Brandsdal Delights Drammen Crowd with Victory, Valjas Takes Second

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The men’s final strategically played out similarly to the women’s, but not with the names that one might have expected.  It would have been a safe bet to say Emil Joensson was going to out sprint the field with his powerful stride over the final meters.

Yet, it was Canadian Lenny Valjas that pushed the pace early bringing with him Norway’s Erik Brandsdal and Paal Golberg.

The three broke away midway through and gapped the others.  Then as they entered the finish lanes it was Brandsdal whose snappy striding gave him the victory in front of the passionate Drammen fans.  Canada still had much to celebrate as Valjas used his own long striding form climbing to the finish, for a career best second place.

American Andy Newell capped off a strong day on a course where he has seen success in the past.  He finished up in sixth place.


1) Eirik Brandsdal (NOR)

2) Lenny Valjas (CAN)

3) Paal Golberg (NOR)

4) Alexander Panshinskiy (RUS)

5) Emil Joensson (SWE)

6) Andy Newell (USA)

7) Simeon Hamilton (USA)

8 ) Nikolay Morilov (RUS)

9) Teodor Peterson (SWE)

10) Gleb Retivykh (RUS)

Complete Results



Men’s Semifinal

Heat 1:

The Norwegian pair of Eirik Brandsal and Paal Golberg set the pace early with the Swedish duo of Emil Joensson and Teodor Peterson drafted right behind.  About halfway through the course, though, Russian Alexander Panzhinskiy made a hard move to the front.  As they entered the final uphill climb to the finish it was a drag race to the line.  Brandsdal (NOR) led the way and Joensson (SWE) used his powerful and quick stride to move into second.

Heat 2:

From the opening gun it was Lenny Valjas (CAN) and Kent Ove Clausen (NOR) who set the pace as American’s Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell changed track right away to settle in.  Staying comfortable drafting throughout much of the early meters it was not until the courses short steep climb that Newell and Hamilton tried to move forward.  By the end Valjas used his long stride to keep at the front and Newell’s powerful double pole took him comfortably into second.  Hamilton kept pushing finishing third, but was not able to advance as a lucky loser as both of those positions were from the first heat.

Men’s Quarterfinals

Heat 1:

Erik Brandsdal (NOR) showed early form that he was in good shape today, besting the rest of the field by over two seconds in the first heat.  Russia’s Alexander Panzhinskiy was the next best in second over two seconds faster than Anssi Pentsinen (FIN).

Heat 2:

Norway’s Paal Golberg kept the home crowd happy as he was best to the line crossing with the same time as Germany’s Josef Wenzl.  Teodor Peterson (SWE) was third across, fast enough to gain a lucky loser position in the semifinals.

Heat 3:

Emil Joensson (SWE) controlled the heat for the first two-thirds of the race.  Then Yuichi Onda (JPN) took control as they worked through the bends before entering the stadium.  As they entered the stadium Len Valjas (CAN) moved to the front and Emil Joensson (SWE) and he used strong diagonal stride up the final grade to the finish to both advance.

Heat 4:

Andy Newell (USA) controlled much of the heat including, he positioned himself decisively at the front as they worked through the left and then right turn before the final homestretch.  He strided well and seemed to have good skis.  As they approached the final pitch Nikolay Morilov (RUS) just slipped past Newell as Newell seemed to struggle just a bit over the final few meters.

Alex Harvey (CAN) crashed midway through the course on a gradual down just before a right turn.  He skied admirably to regain contact finishing fourth in the heat.

Heat 5:

Again the American squad had good skis as Simi Hamilton (USA) battled at the front with Norway’s Kent Ove Clausen.  The two took the lead into the homestretch where Clausen gained an edge and Hamilton battled with Nikita Kriukov (RUS), just getting the better of the Russian.

Canada’s Devon Kershaw also had some bad luck as he broke a pole early in the heat.

Nine North Americans to Heats in Drammen, Bjørgen, Brandsdal Pace Qualifier

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

The day is off to a good start for the Canadians and Americans in Drammen, Norway. Combined, the two countries qualified nine skiers for the heats in the classic city sprint in the center of of town.

On the women’s side, Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen moved on in 10th and 16th respectively, while Chandra Crawford and Dasha Gaiazova were 9th and 11th.

Marit Bjørgen (NOR) was the top qualifier in a time of 3:13.73, just .29 seconds ahead of rival Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).

Randall is in good position to wrap up the Sprint Cup title today. She meets her closest pursuer, Natalia Matveeva (RUS) in the quarterfinals, along with Bjørgen.

Gaiazova is also in that heat and will have her work cut out for her.

Alex Harvey led the North American men, qualifying in second, behind only Eirik Brandsdal (NOR).

Brandsdal was still an impressive 2.16 seconds ahead of the Canadian.

Lenny Valjas advanced in 6th and Devon Kershaw reached the heats in Drammen for the first time in 23rd.

Andy Newell led the US in 12th, with Simi Hamilton not far behind in 18th.

While there are no freebies in sprinting, Newell and Harvey may have ended up in the toughest quarter of the day. They are joined in the fourth heat by Russians Nikolay Morilov, Alexey Petukhov, and Gleb Retivykh as well as Swede Calle Halfvarsson.

Hamilton and Kershaw meet up in heat five and Valjas will battle Emil Joensson and Dario Cologna in heat three.

Norway qualified just five skiers for the heats, a number matched by the Russians. It appears that the days of the home country sweeping the podium and most of the top-12 are gone.

Ola Vigen Hattestad was among the many Norwegians who did not advance.

Men’s Qualification

Women’s Qualification


Joensson Edges Teammate Peterson in Lahti Sprint Final – UPDATED

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Emil Joensson narrowly avoided a crash on the final downhill and went on to outsprint his Swedish teammate, Teodor Peterson, to win Sunday’s 1.4 k classic sprint in Lahti, Finland.

The fastest qualifier of the day, Joensson nearly collided with Nikita Kriukov (RUS) on the infamous hairpin turn, but both stayed on their feet. Joensson won by a toe in 3:13.9 ahead of Peterson, the World Cup sprint leader. Kriukov was third (+0.9). Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) finished fourth (+1.0), Sami Jauhojaervi (FIN) was fifth (+3.0) and Gleb Retivykh (RUS) fell off the pace early to finish sixth (+3.4).

Joensson won the qualifier in 3:09.31.

Simi Hamilton led the American men, qualifying in 13th and advancing to the semifinals, where he finished sixth. Hamilton was 11th overall. Andy Newell made it to the quarterfinals and was 15th overall. He qualified in 19th.

Lenny Valjas was the lone Canadian qualifier in 27th. He ended was fourth in his quarterfinal and ended up 19th.

Other North American finishes:

44. Alex Harvey (CAN)

51. Devon Kershaw (CAN)

62. Sylvan Ellefson (USA)

81. Mike Sinnott (USA)

84. Noah Hoffman (USA)

85. Kris Freeman (USA)

Men’s results

Notes From The Rounds


Heat 1:

The heat was basically defined by a crash between Alexander Panzhinskiy (RUS) and Matias Strandvall (FIN) just as the pair approached the difficult Lahti corner before dropping into the stadium.  Sweden’s Emil Joensson was strong to the line for first with Ola Vigen Hattestad (NOR) taking second.


Heat 2: 

The second heat was much slower than the first as Teodor Peterson (SWE) controlled things early. He was able to cruise down the final meters with Siim Sellis (EST) besting the rest of the men through the stadium for second.


Heat 3:

In the third heat it was the Russians that got the best of the Finish team. The Russian duo of Gleb Retivykh and Nikita Kriukov skied away from Finland’s four skiers in the heat, Retivykh even tucking down portions of the final homestretch on his way to the win.


Heat 4:

In the fourth heat, Nikolay Morilov (RUS) took control at the front about a third of the way through the course. Andy Newell (USA) remained in second for much of the race until Kent Ove Clausen (NOR) moved ahead. As the group descended into the challenging final corner before the stadium, Newell remained in third, but tried a risky move on the inside to gain an advantage on the Norwegian and move into second. It, however, did not work and the pair went down allowing Fabio Pasini (ITA) to slide into second. That is how they would come to the line with Newell in third. As Clausen crossed the line he motioned to Newell and it was not clear if he was upset or just acknowledging the challenging day.


Heat 5:

The fifth heat was equally as exciting as Simi Hamilton battled in the stadium with two Swedes, Simon Persson and Robin Bryntesson. As they charged to the line a late surge by Hamilton almost gave him second, but his time was fast enough to advance as the luck loser.



Heat 1:

In the first semifinal heat it was Emil Joensson (SWE) that pushed the pace with his teammate Teodor Peterson that followed in second. Nikita Kriukov (RUS) stayed close, but lost his balance on the descent into the stadium. He remained on his feet, but bobbled again just before the homestretch and lost contact with the Swedes.


Heat 2:

In the second heat it was four that came through the Lahti corner clean with a double pole battle in the stadium to follow. By the end it was Gleb Retivykh (RUS) that crossed the line first with Sami Jauhojaervi (FIN) finishing second.

The second heat was significantly slower than the first, so both lucky losers would be from the first heat as Kriukov and Hattestad advanced.



Bjørgen Takes Lahti Sprint, Randall 5th – UPDATED

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Marit Bjørgen (NOR) used a perfectly executed move on the tough 180 degree turn above the stadium to move past Julia Ivanova (RUS) to take a commanding lead in the women’s classic sprint in Lahti, Finland.

Earlier in the race, Ivanova and Bjørgen overtook Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) and opened an insurmountable gap.

Kowalczyk had skied away in both her first two heats, opening an unbelieveable gap, but was unable to drop the field in the final.

Kikkan Randall (USA) finished 5th. She looked somewhat fatigued in the final after strong performances in her first two heats. Randall used efficient technique on the steeper sections of the climbs to open space to advance, but bogged down in the herringbone in the final

One of Randall’s main rivals in the Sprint Cup, Natalia Matveeva (RUS) was eliminated in the semis, but Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) edged out Randall for 4th, though this was only a difference of five World Cup points.

Randall came back on Falla after the later pulled away on the first climb. The American made it close in the homestretch, but ran out of space.

Dasha Gaiazova (CAN), the only other North American to make the heats, placed 13th. Gaiazova was in the mix in her quarterfinal and ended up as the fastest woman not to advance.


Notes From The Rounds


Heat 1:

Marit Bjoergen (NOR) basically led the entire heat. She was challenged by Nicole Fessel (GER) as they dropped back into the stadium and then the two Russians came up along side her as they skied around the final curve before the homestretch. Anastasia Dotsenko (RUS) was able to match Bjoergen down the finish lanes as the Russian came to the line in second, she was followed by her teammate Julia Ivanova, who out-sprinted Fessel over the final hundred meters.

Bjoergen’s time was 3:41.7, the quickest of all the heats and Ivanova and Fessel, who finished just behind would be quick enough to advance as well.


Heat 2:

The second heat became a three women race quickly as Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR), Katja Visnar (SLO) and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) broke clear. By the end it would be Falla and Visnar that would advance just ahead of Oestberg.


Heat 3:

The third included Kikkan Randall (USA) and Charlotte Kalla (SWE), with only Masako Ishida (JPN) matching their pace. Randall was able to pull away as they came into the famous Lahti corner before dropping into the stadium. Kalla closed the gap on Randall over the final meters for second and Ishida claimed third in a time slower then the first heat, so she is finished for the day.


Heat 4:

In the fourth quarterfinal heat, Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) made sure that she was away from any trouble right away as she hammered out of the starting gates. The rest of the ladies in heat seemed comfortable battling for second and the remaining spot to advance. As the rest of the group came back into the stadium and down the homestretch Finland’s Anne Kylloenen had gapped Russia’s Valentina Novikova for second.


Heat 5:

The fifth heat was easily the most exciting as early on it looked to only be a three women race as Natalia Matveeva (RUS), Heidi Weng (NOR) and Daria Gaiazova (CAN) battled at the front, but the heat regrouped as they entered the challenging corner before dropping into the stadium. By the end it was a well-time sprint by Norway’s Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes for second behind Matveeva.



Heat 1:

Julia Ivanova (RUS) took control of the first semifinal heat with Marit Bjoergen (NOR) just on her tails. At the end it was the pair that came to the line with a comfortable lead.


Heat 2:

In a stacked second heat it was clear what would happen from the beginning as Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) forced a punishing pace right away. Kikkan Randall (USA) was able to close over the second half of the course and gapping the rest of the heat. Randall closed as they finished the heat with a solid gap back to the rest of the women.

The lucky losers would both come out of the first semifinal heat as Falla and Dotsenko advanced.



Gaiazova Leads Canadian Women in 37th at Lahti Skiathlon

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Dasha Gaiazova led a group of Canadian women, which are best known as sprinters, in the 15 k skiathlon at the World Cup in Lahti, Finland, on Saturday. She was 37th, 2:53 behind Norwegian winner Therese Johaug.

Gaiazova started in bib 59 and cracked the top 40 later in the race. At 11.4 k in the skate portion, she was 42nd.

Teammate Perianne Jones finished 50th (+3:39.7) after starting in bib 68, and Canadian Senior Development Team member Alysson Marshall placed 52nd (+4:02.6).

“The start was pretty chaotic,” Marshall wrote in an email after starting in bib 62. “I managed to stay out of trouble but got stuck at the back and wasn’t able to get on to the next group.”

She tried to ski with Gaiazova and Jones but couldn’t quite catch them. Seeing Jones for most of the skate leg kept her chasing.

“I wasn’t sure how I would feel today after getting sick last week but I actually had decent energy,” she wrote. “I am excited for the classic sprint tomorrow!”

Women’s results

Kershaw Cleans Up on Bonus Seconds, Babikov Struggles After Illness

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

After finishing on the podium in four of his last seven World Cup races, including two victories, 14th place may seem like a bit of a letdown for Devon Kershaw (CAN).

But despite not being able to stay with the lead group when winner Dario Cologna (SUI) upped the pace at 20k, the Canadian still had a successful day.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) battled for bonus points today while finishing 14th. Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus.

Kershaw won the first three bonus sprints in the race, gaining 45 points, the equivalent of another 5th place finish. Kershaw also crashed at 11k, costing valuable position and energy, and hurting his chances for a better result.

Third in the overall World Cup standings, he continues to close on the absent Petter Northug (NOR), and he is now just 78 points out of second with six races and the World Cup Finals mini-tour standings remaining.

Kershaw’s teammate Ivan Babikov struggled after falling ill several days ago and placed 36th.

“I was very sick few days ago, with the fever and sore throat and stuff like that, so the race felt very tough from the beginning,” Babikov wrote to FasterSkier in an email.

While the skiathlon is one of Babikov’s favorite events, he was realistic about his chances given his health.

“I just went out with all I had in the tank, and it wasn’t enough today,” he wrote.

He said that by the end of the classic his legs were cramping, and by the mid-point of the skate, his upper body had joined in, and the race became a battle to finish.

Complete Race Report