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Kriukov Outsprints Norwegians for Russian Classic Sprint Victory

Nikita Kriukov pulled a classic Kriukov move in finishing stretch of Sunday’s World Cup classic team sprint in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, double poling hard toward the line while two Norwegians — Eirik Brandsdal and Ola Vigen Hattestad — tried to match him.

While Hattestad was already slightly off the pace heading into the stadium in third, Brandsdal led into the finish before Kriukov ultimately stepped around him and won by 0.22 seconds. Kriukov secured the 1.6-kilometer team sprint victory for Russia I, with teammate Maxim Vylegzhanin, in 22:03.89, Norway I finished second with Eldar Rønning and Brandsdal, and Norway II took third (+1.78) with Pal Golberg and Hattestad.

Andy Newell led the chase pack into the stadium for the last time in fourth, but Ales Razym of the Czech Republic (with teammate Martin Jaks) overtook him in the final meters by 0.54 seconds, 13.74 seconds behind the winners. The Americans finished fifth with Simi Hamilton and Newell (+14.28), holding off Germany I (Sebastian Eisenlauer/Josef Wenzl) in a photo finish by seven-hundredths of a second.

Switzerland took seventh (+20.93), France was eighth (+22.08), Italy ninth (+26.47) and Sweden II 10th (+50.32).


Randall Wins First World Cup Sprint After Break

American Kikkan Randall showed no rust after a long break from racing, skiing from the front throughout the afternoon to win her first World Cup race of the season.

Randall qualified in tenth before going on to win each of her heats en route to victory. In the final she kept hard pressure on from the gun, ultimately breaking away over the top of the last climb for a clear victory.

Laurien Van der Graaff of Switzerland came out on top in a tight sprint for second, edging Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg of Norway.

Denise Herrmann of Germany, the Sprint Cup leader, held on to the red bib by placing fifth.

Daria Gaiazova, one of two Canadians to race, finished 13th, just missing out on a spot in the semis after she staged a strong comeback in the homestretch of her quarterfinal. Her teammate, Perianne Jones, was 39th.

Like Gaiazova, Sophie Caldwell (USA) almost made it through to the semifinals. She finished third in her quarterfinal, riding a strong closing sprint to within approximately 12 inches of advancement.

Ida Sargent rounded out the U.S. squad, placing 50th.

Full report to follow.


Ustiugov Wins Nove Mesto Qualifier, Newell Second; Visnar Top Female

The World Cup is back in full swing in Nové Mesto, Czech Republic, where Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, 21, opened with the fastest qualifying time in the men’s 1.6-kilometer freestyle sprint in 2:52.44. American Andy Newell qualified in second, 3.51 seconds off the pace, and Finland’s Martti Jylhae ranked third, 3.63 seconds back.

Also for the U.S., Simi Hamilton advanced to the heats in 25th (+7.71), and Brian Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) finished 87th three days after flying in from U.S. nationals in Utah. No Canadian men raced.

In the women’s 1.3 k freestyle sprint, Slovenia’s Katja Visnar won the qualifier in 2:44.51, 0.7 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter. Laurien Van Der Graaff of Switzerland had the third-fastest time, 0.83 second back.

American Kikkan Randall qualified in 10th (+2.52), Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova was close behind in 12th (+2.67), and Sophie Caldwell of the U.S. was 23rd (+3.73). Canadian Perianne Jones missed qualifying in 39th (+6.79).

In her first race back since late December, Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk did not qualify in 34th (+5.78).

Ida Sargent of the U.S. placed 50th (+9.49) and Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) was 64th.

Results: men | women

Babikov Powers Through Fatigue to Earn 4th Fastest Time in Tour Hill Climb

Canadian Ivan Babikov knows which side his bread is buttered on. He worked hard throughout the Tour de Ski, but was struggling to turn in the same quality results that his teammates Alex Harvey and, at least initially, Devon Kershaw, were turning in.

But Babikov consistently climbed in the standings, making significant moves beginning Wednesday in the 15-kilometer classic mass start. Babikov finished 19th, moving from 75th place in the Tour to 32nd, improving by over a place per minute.

Friday brought the 35 k pursuit, in which brought Babikov had some bad luck – he broke a pole only a kilometer into the race, and then skied 4 k without one.  He still managed to move up from 32nd in the Tour to 28th.

Then came Saturday’s 10 k individual classic in Val-di-Fiemme, where Babikov finished 27th, moving into 21st place overall. Babikov is known as a ferocious hill climber, and the final race of the tour is a ferocious 9 k hill climb. If the steep climb was not hard enough, all competitors are battling extreme fatigue by this stage in the 7-stage Tour.

With all the other North Americans, apart from American Noah Hoffman, withdrawing to focus on the upcoming Olympic Games, Babikov had Canada’s full focus.

But once again, Babikov broke a pole within a kilometer of the start. He was able to get a ready replacement this time, however. Babikov is an excellent technical skier on steep climbs, and with a 28 percent grade, the course serves Babikov’s strengths – indeed, he posted the fastest time in this leg in 2009 and the second-fastest time last year.

The fastest time of the day this year was to be owned by Johannes Dürr of Austria, finishing in 31:54.7, while Babikov took the fourth fastest time of the day in 32:14.1, which moved him into 16th place in the final Tour standings with a final time of 36:52.8.

“Ivan was really good today. He is just so tough and good technically going up that mountain,” Justin Wadsworth, the Canadian Cross-Country Ski Team Head Coach, said in a press release. “You can be extremely fit, but that climb takes a special person because you need to be fit but you also have to be really good technically. Ivan is a perfect mix and he has such good technique.”

Norway’s Martin Sundby was the first to the top and the overall Tour winner, with a time of 32:49.6. Fellow Norwegian Chris Jespersen was second (+36.0), and Austria’s Johannes Dürr finished third (+1:05.9).

Complete results

Sundby Holds Lead For Tour Victory

Martin Johsnrud Sundby (NOR) stayed strong on the trek up the Alpe Cermis, skiing unchallenged to victory in the 2014 Tour de Ski.

Sundby started the day with a 49 second lead over teammate Petter Northug, a margin he quickly extended.

Northug was tracked down by yet another Norwegian, Chris Jespersen. The pair was unable to close on Sundby, and as the climb steepened, Northug fell off the pace.

Jespersen held even on Sundby, ultimately posting a faster time of the day, and crossed in second, celebrating jubilantly.

For a time it appeared the Norwegian men would match the women and sweep the podium, but Northug fell apart, and Johannes Duerr (AUT) skied him in and spat him out the back.

Duerr posted the fastest time of the day, 4.1 seconds faster than Jespersen.

Ivan Babikov (CAN) turned in another stellar climb, posting the fourth best time, and skiing up to 16th overall.

Noah Hoffman, the lone American in the men’s race, generally a strong skater, had the 27th best time and a 25th place final ranking.


Johaug Leads Norwegian Sweep of Tour de Ski

Entering 2014, Norway had never won a Tour de Ski. That blemish on the national record has been erased as Therese Johaug overtook teammate Astrid Jacobsen as expected and lay claim to the title.

Jacobsen stayed strong, minimizing the damage to finish second, +20.4.

Heidi Weng (NOR) started hard, catching Finns Krista Lahteenmaki and Kerttu Niskanen on the flats, before tracking down yet another one of Finland’s finest, Anne Kylloenen, early in the climb.

Weng appeared to have third locked up as she skied into the clear, but an impressive late charge by Lahtenmaaki resulted in an agonizing sprint for the final podium spot. Lahteenmaki pulled even with the Norwegian, but ran out of gas in the last 50 meters.

Despite starting with a lead of 24 seconds, Jacobsen was clear that Johaug should be considered the favorite on the brutal Alpe Cermis climb. Considered the best at steep ascending, there was little doubt that, barring illness or injury, Johaug would triumph.

Jacobsen pushed hard on the more gradual terrain early in the race, taking advantage of her power and smooth technique to keep Johuag at bay initially. She also succeeded in widening the gap on any other would-be challengers, solidifying her hold on a top-2 finish.

Liz Stephen of the United States, another well known climber, moved up from a a start position of fourteenth to place seventh. Stephen posted the third fastest time of the day, behind only Johaug and Jacobsen, and just ahead of Weng.

Teammate Jessie Diggins, starting in eleventh, finished thirteenth. Diggins skied aggressively from the start, quickly moving up, but she faltered on the climb. Her performance was good for the twentieth fastest split.





Tired Hoffman 47th in Saturday’s 10 k Classic in Val-di-Fiemme, Looks Forward to Today

Back-to-back rock star performances were not in the cards for U.S. Ski Team member Noah Hoffman in the Tour de Ski on Saturday. After posting the second-fastest time of the day in Friday’s 35-kilometer pursuit, Hoffman couldn’t seem to shift into a higher gear for Saturday’s 10 k classic race in Val-di-Fiemme and finished 47th.

It was guaranteed to be a tough day for everyone. The temperature drifted around the freezing point, and it was raining lightly all day. And, of course, fatigue is a big factor for all the athletes in this stage of the Tour.

“I was feeling yesterday’s race for sure,” Hoffman said on Saturday. “Everyone raced [Friday], so it is an equal playing field, but I was definitely tired this morning.”

U.S. Ski Team Coach Matt Whitcomb agreed.

“Hoff certainly put in a Herculean effort [Friday] and for him to be tired makes perfect sense,” Whitcomb said.

“It was a little ‘uninspiring’”, Hoffman said of his race, “I just never really got going. I just started conservatively, which was my plan, but I was just never able to get it going.”

In spite of Saturday’s race, Hoffman remains optimistic about his position in the Tour.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but it doesn’t take me out of the Tour. I’m sitting at 31st [overall], and there are a lot of guys right in front of me. I am looking forward to an opportunity to move in the top-30 tomorrow and accomplish some of my goals.”

“I am very excited about [Sunday],” he continued. “I am skating really well right now and just trying to recover as well as possible between now and then. It is a very unique race and it suits my strengths very well and it is really fun. So I am excited for it.”

Whitcomb is not worried, either.

“We have every reason to think [that on Sunday] he will do exactly what he did [Friday] in Toblach. I am excited to see the Hoff tear it up tomorrow – he is skating exceptionally well and I see no reason for concern.”

How is Hoffman preparing for Sunday’s hill climb?

“He is in the ice tub right now.” Whitcomb said.

Norway Stages Sweep of Tour 10 k Classic

A Norwegian man has never won the Tour de Ski, and while there is still a stage to go, that dubious mark is looking likely to fall.

The Norwegians served notice that they cannot be underestimated, taking the top four spots in the 10 k classic individual start on the World Championship trails in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Petter Northug won his first race of the season, striding to a 9.7 second victory over teammate and overall Tour leader Martin Johsnrud Sundby.

Chris Jespersen placed third, Sjur Roethe fourth and Canadian Alex Harvey fifth.

Sundby continues to lead the Tour and sits 48.5 seconds ahead of Northug. Jespersen jumped up to third, knocking Harvey down to fourth in the overall standings.

Jespersen is 1:26.8 behind Sundby, and Harvey 1:44. 5 back. Harvey is expected to withdraw from the Tour today, a move that would move the surprising Johannes Duerr of Austria into the fourth spot.

Duerr placed eighth in today’s race.

Defending Tour champion Alexander Legkov of Russia finished back in eighteenth, and is eighth overall, 2:21.3 behind Sundby in the overall rankings.


Sundby Extends Tour Lead With Win in 35 k Pursuit; Harvey Third; Hoffman Posts Second-Fastest Stage Time

Norwegian Martin Sundby extended his lead in the Tour de Ski today with a commanding victory in today’s 35-kilometer freestyle pursuit in Toblach, Italy, finishing in 1:20:18.7, nearly a minute ahead of fellow Norwegian Petter Northug Jr. (+58.2). In third place, only a half-second behind Northug, was Canadian Alex Harvey (+58.7). Harvey is also in third place overall in the Tour.

Calle Halfvarrson of Sweden was fourth (+59.0) followed by Russia’s Alexander Legkov (+59.7).

Other North American finishers include 23rd place Canadian Devon Kershaw (+3:05.3) and American Noah Hoffman in 27th (+3:06.2).  Hoffman had the second-fastest time of the day in 1:19:58.1, only 50.7 seconds slower than sixth-place Johannes Dürr of Austria. Canada’s Ivan Babikov was 28th (+3:06.3)


Men 35 km free pursuit
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) 1:20:18.7
2. Petter Northug Jr. (NOR) +58.2
3. Alex Harvey (CAN) +58.7
FIS Tour de Ski overall standing men – total time
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) 2:08:17.3
2. Petter Northug Jr. (NOR) +1:03.2
3. Alex Harvey (CAN) +1:08.7
FIS Tour de Ski sprint standing men – total bonus seconds
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) 1:33
2. Alex Harvey (CAN) 1:02
3. Calle Halfvarsson (SWE) 0:59
Fastest time men 35 km free pursuit
1. Johannes Dürr (AUT) 1:19:07.4
2. Noah Hoffman (USA) +50.7
3. Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) +56.9

Jacobsen Wins Stage 5 Pursuit, Increases Tour Lead

Norway’s Astrid Jacobsen skied a dominating race in Friday’s 15 k freestyle pursuit race to win stage 5 of the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy.

Jacobsen skied alone on the difficult course, and finished with a time of 37:30.3 ahead of her teammate and Tour de Ski favorite, Theresa Johaug by 38.7 seconds, and Finland’s Anne Kyllönen by 1:12.2.

This was Jacobsen’s first stage win in this edition of the Tour de Ski, and with it she has increased her lead in the Tour to 43.7 seconds ahead of Theresa Johaug.

The fastest time of the day overall was recorded by Sweden’s Sara Lindborg with a time of  37:16.6.  Lindborg moved from 24th to 10th place in the overall Tour standings.

Jacobsen, speaking to FIS after the race said, “It was a tough competition. I was little bit tired after the first lap, the course is quite hard in Toblach. I was happy there was a feeding station. I felt better in second half of the race. I am happy that my shape has been so good. It is a good sign for the Games, which are the biggest goal for me. I still think that Therese (Johaug) is the biggest favorite for the overall victory in the Tour de Ski. She has been always very strong on the Final Climb.”

Full Results

15 km free pursuit:

1. Astrid Uhtrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) 37:30.3

2. Therese Johaug (NOR) 37:24.3

3. Anne Kyllönen (FIN) 37:46.8

4. Kerttu Niskanen (FIN) 38:16.0

5. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) 37:18.3

6. Eva Vrabcova-Nyltova (CZE) 37:22.1

7. Aurore Jean (FRA) 37:20.9

8. Heidi Weng (NOR) 37:53.2

9. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) 38:55.5

10. Sara Lindborg (SWE) 37:16.6


North American Results:

12. Liz Stephen 37:23.3

13. Jessie Diggins 37:28.4

39. Holly Brooks 39:03.2


FIS Tour de Ski overall standing ladies – total time

1. Astrid Uhtrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) 1:15:29.5

2. Therese Johaug (NOR) +43.7

3. Anne Kyllönen (FIN) +1:22.2


Fastest time in Women’s 15 km free pursuit:

1. Sara Lindborg (SWE) 37:16.6

2. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) +1.7

3. Aurore Jean (FRA) +4.3

Niskanen Fends Off Three Norwegians for 10 k Win in Tour Stage 4

About halfway through the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start on Wednesday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Kerttu Niskanen decided it was time to take control for Finland and passed three Norwegians, Therese Johaug, Astrid Jacobsen, and Heidi Weng.

Niskanen also overtook Finnish teammate Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, leading her by 1.2 seconds through 5.5 k. While Johaug dropped about 2 1/2 seconds off the pace, the Norwegian didn’t waste any time coming back to chase Niskanen to the finish along with Jacobsen and Weng.

Ultimately, Niskanen held them all off, winning the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in 26:27.4, four-tenths of a second ahead of Jacobsen in second. Johaug placed third (+1.1), Weng was fourth (+1.9) and Saarinen finished fifth (+2.5) in the lead pack — which finished 21 seconds ahead of Finland’s Anne Kyllonen in sixth.

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen withdrew from the Tour because of a “slight virus,” according to Eurosport commentators, after racing through the stomach bug in the freestyle sprint the day before.

Liz Stephen led the North Americans in 26th, 54.6 seconds behind Niskanen. Also for the U.S., Jessie Diggins placed 31st, Sophie Caldwell was 32nd and Holly Brooks 49th. The lone Canadian racing, Dasha Gaiazova finished 58th.

Jacobsen moved into the Tour lead, 35.4 seconds ahead of Østberg in second and Niskanen elevated herself to third (+36.5). On her last day before withdrawing from the Tour, Caldwell ended up 16th. Diggins planned to continue on in 21st, less than 2 seconds ahead of Stephen in 22nd.


Poltoranin Rings in 2014 with First Win of the Season in Stage 4

Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan saw enough of second place in 2013, finishing second in three World Cup races (including one team sprint) yet never reaching the podium in November or December.

The 26 year old put that to rest on Wednesday — New Year’s Day — as he won the 15-kilometer classic mass start at Stage 4 of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

In the final kilometer of the race, Poltoranin caught Russia’s Stanislav Volzhentsev to take the lead. Coming into the finishing straight, Germany’s Hannes Dotzler charged hard in second as he tried to catch him, but to no avail as Poltoranin put down his relentless double pole to the finish.

He won in 34:28.1, and Dotzler placed second, 0.6 seconds back. Volzhentsev took third (+1.0) in a photo finish with another German, Thomas Bing, who was fourth (+1.1). Daniel Richardsson of Sweden edged Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi for fifth (+4.0), Germany’s Jens Filbrich was seventh, Russia’s Sergey Turyshev eighth, Norway’s Sjur Røthe ninth, Russia’s Ilia Chernousov 10th.

“Difficult race … guys very crazy,” Poltoranin told FIS. “It was very fast, but I was the fastest today.”

Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway placed 14th (+10.2) to take the overall Tour lead ahead of Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson, who was 25th and currently 31.7 seconds back in the Tour standings. Canadian Alex Harvey relinquished the leader’s bib after placing 40th on Wednesday, moving him down to third (+35.3) in the Tour.

In the top 10 early on, Harvey and teammate Devon Kershaw dropped off the pace while another Canadian, Ivan Babikov, picked off the places. Babikov finished 19th, 18 seconds behind Poltoranin, and Kershaw ended up 47th.

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 55th, Andy Newell was 68th and Simi Hamilton 74th out of 91.

The women’s 10 k classic mass start begins at 15:45 CET.


Østberg Wins Lenzerheide Sprint to Take Tour Lead, Caldwell Earns Career-Best 6th

Norwegian women raced to the top two spots in today’s freestyle sprint in the 3rd race of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. After winning the qualifierIngvild Østberg took command of her final as well to win in 2:58, followed by fellow Norwegian Astrid Jacobsen 0.14 seconds back in second. Germany’s Denise Herrmann took third (+0.82).

Laurien Van Der Graaff of Switzerland (+2.6) was fourth, followed by Germany’s Hanna Kolb (+4.15) in fifth.

U.S. Ski Team member Sophie Caldwell made her first-ever final, finishing a World Cup career-best sixth overall, 6.81 seconds after Østberg. Teammate Jessie Diggins was the only other North American woman to qualify, placing 21st overall after advancing to the quarterfinals, where she finished fifth.


Hamilton Makes History with Lenzerheide Sprint Win in Stage 3 of Tour

Minutes after making history as the first American male to win a Tour de Ski stage in the third race of the 2013/2014 Tour, Simi Hamilton said it hadn’t sunk in yet.

The 26-year-old Colorado native started out the last day of the year winning Tuesday’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint qualifier, just ahead of fellow U.S. Ski Team member Andy Newell in second. Hamilton went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal in picture-perfect fashion, coming from behind to win the men’s final in 2:37.02, just 0.32 seconds ahead of Canadian Alex Harvey in second.

“I didn’t think I had it until I was, like, five feet across the line,” Hamilton told FIS media coordinator Jeff Ellis after the final. “I just focused on skiing through the finish and sticking to my guns.”

Hamilton is the second American to win a Tour de Ski stage after Kikkan Randall, Ellis’ wife.

“I’m in very good company for sure; Kikkan is a hero to us as U.S. skiers,” Hamilton said. “This hasn’t really sunk in yet so I don’t know what to say … This course, this venue this town, it’s amazing.”

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby was third (+0.74), Italy’s Federico Pellegrino placed fourth (+0.94), and an early leader Finn Haagen Krogh of Norway placed fifth (+1.61). Sunday’s sprint winner in Stage 2 in Oberhof, Germany, Calle Halfvarsson of Sweden finished sixth (+2.96).

Newell placed fourth in his semifinal to finish eighth overall, a season best.

Results | Qualifier results

Hamilton, Newell Take Top 2 Qualifying Spots in Lenzerheide; Østberg Fastest Woman

Norwegian women took two podium spots in this morning’s Tour de Ski sprint qualifiers in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Ingvild Østberg of Norway took first in the women’s 1.5-kilometer race in 2:52.99, followed by Italy’s Greta Laurent 2.25 seconds later. In third was Norwegian Marit Bjørgen (+2.77).

It was an exciting morning for American men, with the top qualifying spot going to American Simi Hamilton in 2:35.01 followed closely by fellow American Andy Newell 0.31 seconds later.  Third place was taken by Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson (+0.73).

For the second-straight race, American Sophie Caldwell qualified in the top 10 in ninth (+5.24). Fellow U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins qualified in 18th (+6.93).

Missing the top 30 were Holly Brooks  in 37th (+11.29), the top Canadian woman, Perianne Jones in 39th (+12.76). American Liz Stephen was 44th (+13.15), followed closely by Canadian Dasha Gaiazova in 45th (+13.43).

The only other North American man to qualify was the top Canadian, Alex Harvey, qualifying in 24th (+4.25). Missing qualification were Canadian Devon Kershaw in 58th (+7.93), American Noah Hoffman in 83rd (+11.52) and Canadian Ivan Babikov in 97th (+16.97).

Complete results Women | Men

Erikson Nabs First Career Win in Tour Skate Sprint; Diggins Top North American in 18th

Hanna Erikson proved there’s only one place you need to go big, and that’s the final as the Swede beat two Norwegians and three Germans in the 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint final on Sunday, the second stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany. After qualifying in 24th, she bested Germany’s Denise Herrman, who placed second 0.79 seconds later, and Norwegian Ingvild Oestberg in third, 4.32 back from Erikson’s winning time of 3:25.69.

Fourth place was taken by Germany’s Nicole Fessel (+4.4) and Saturday’s prologue winner and current Tour leader, Marit Bjørgen of Norway placed fifth (+4.8).

Norway’s Therese Johaug narrowly missed advancing to the final heat, placing seventh overall and with the third-fastest spot in her semifinal heat, but her time was not sufficient to move on as a lucky loser. Saturday’s surprise third-place finisher, Poland’s Sylwia Jaśkowiec, advanced to the semifinals after winning her quarterfinal heat.  However, she had the slowest time of either semifinal, coming in over 30 seconds behind Herrman, who won her semifinal. Jaskowiec finished 12th overall.

American Jessie Diggins was the top North American skier, placing 18th overall after finishing fourth in her quarterfinal. Behind her was American Sophie Caldwell in 22nd, Canadian Dasha Gaiazova in 27th and her teammate Perianne Jones in 28th.

Americans Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks both failed to qualify, finishing 33rd and 37th, respectively.


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.