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2019, 2020 World Cup Finals Tentatively Set for Québec City

Canada’s Alex Harvey (4) celebrates a win with his hometown crowd this past March at 2017 World Cup Finals in Quebec City. (Photo: Andre Lyra)

After a two-year hiatus, World Cup Finals are expected to return to Québec City in March 2019 and 2020, according to Gestev, a Québec-based event management company.

A Gestev press release stated that the International Ski Federation (FIS) Technical Committee and FIS Cross-Country Committee meetings are still underway in Zurich, Switzerland, but as of Friday, it had been confirmed that FIS Cross-Country World Cup Finals will be hosted by Canada for back-to-back years in 2019 and 2020.

“It’s a huge step forward for Québec City to cement its place on the calendar for two years in a row,” FIS Race Director Pierre Mignerey said in the release. “We should stress, though, that the entire race calendars for both years are subject to FIS Council approval this November.”

The 2019 dates are tentatively set for March 22-24.

“The format of the 2020 event is yet to be confirmed, but the 2019 competition will be the same as what we saw in March this year,” Gestev President Patrice Drouin said from his seat at the FIS meetings.

According to the release, Québec City’s 2017 World Cup Finals this past March attracted more than 60,000 people to the historic Plains of Abraham in March 2017. The event was voted the top stop on the World Cup circuit last season in an FIS survey.

Local favorite Alex Harvey, who finished third in the overall World Cup standings last year, is expected to “retire from World Cup competition on home soil” after the 2019 World Cup Finals.

“Right now, my plans are to stay on the World Cup circuit until the end of the 2018-2019 season,” he said, according to the press release. “It would truly be an honour for me to wrap up my career here in Quebec City. In fact, I could never dream of a better scenario. I’ll never forget what I achieved here back in March, and I have fond memories of the 2012 Sprint Québec and 2016 Ski Tour Canada competitions. It’s such a huge source of pride for me and the rest of the Canadian team to ski in front of a home crowd. It really is an incredible opportunity for us to race in a World Cup right in our back yard!”

U.S. Amends Selection Criteria, Expands Quota for World Cup Finals

With the 2017 World Cup Finals being moved to Canada, both Canada and the U.S. get to enter more athletes in the last races of the 2016/2017 World Cup season. The U.S. Ski Team (USST) benefits from what USST Head Coach Chris Grover explained in an email as a “1/2 Nation’s Group” quota, granting a total of 23 starts to the U.S.

On Friday, the USST posted an amended selection criteria for World Cup Finals, which will take place in Québec City from March 17-19. (More on USSA selection criteria)

“Because these races were originally scheduled to be in Russia, we did not have a selection criteria for a Nation’s Group in place,” Grover explained. “Because we have USA athletes currently racing all over the planet, and participating in various race series, this criteria is intended to provide multiple paths to qualifying for Quebec City, including World Cup, the Lahti World Champs, the SuperTour, and the WJC/U23 World Championships.”

While the race formats for the three-day mini tour have yet to be decided and will “most likely” be decided Saturday night at the World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden, Grover wrote that the USA’s total quotas are as follows:

Women:

  • 6 National Quota USA
  • 1 COC Overall Leader
  • 5 Nation’s Group
    = 12 Women Total

Men:

  • 5 National Quota USA
  • 1 COC Overall Leader
  • 5 Nation’s Group
    = 11 Men Total

According to page 2 of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association’s 2016/2017 Cross Country World Cup Team selection criteria, “Individuals who meet the following criteria will be selected to the Word Cup Cross Country Team for the World Cup Finals (March 17-19, 2017).

  • Athletes ranking in the top-50 in the Distance World Cup standings or in the top-50 in the Sprint World Cup standings as of February 20, 2017 shall be selected to the team.
  • The leaders of the Overall USSA SuperTour classification (man and woman) on February 19, 2017.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-25 in an individual event at the 2017 Lahti World Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-12 in an individual event at the 2017 U23 World Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-10 in an individual event at the 2017 World Junior Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Should there be any remaining positions after the Objective and Discretionary selection has been applied, those positions may be filled by considering the athletes ranking highest on the 2016-2017 SuperTour Overall points lists for men and women on February 19, 2017.”

More information will be posted when it becomes available.

Kari-Pekka Kyrö’s Lifetime Ban Overturned

Lifetime ban no more? The former head coach of the Finnish cross-country team Kari-Pekka Kyrö, who was at the epicenter of his team’s doping scandal at the 2001 Lahti World Championships, may be a free agent after the Finnish Ski Federation recently overturned his lifetime ban, Ski-Lines reported on Sunday.

But first, that decision must be approved by Finland’s Anti-Doping Agency and the International Ski Federation (FIS). According to FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis, in such cases, FIS trusts the national federations’ decisions.

Under Kyrö, six Finnish skiers — Janne Immonen, Jari Isometsä, Harri Kirvesniemi, Mika Myllylä, Milla Jauho, and Virpi Kuitunen — tested positive for banned substances, allegedly used to disguise their use of erythropoietin (EPO). As part of his punishment, Kyrö had to pay a fine for importing illegal drugs into his country.

“All these years, it was very hard,” Kyrö, 52, said. “This [coaching] is the only profession in which I have a degree and I know. In social and professional terms, it was a very severe punishment.”

FIS Survey Seeks Fan Feedback

(Press release)

FIS Cross-Country would like to learn from its fans and followers, athletes, teams and the media what they like about the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in its current format and what should be changed in future.

In order to collect as much feedback as possible a survey has been prepared in multiple languages.

Click below to submit your feedback:

English

French

German

Finnish

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.

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

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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.

Results

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: Flyingpointroad.com/NNF)

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: Flyingpointroad.com/NNF)

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

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).

Results

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.

Sadie Bjornsen Qualifies Ninth, Valjas and Newell in the Heats in Drammen

 

In the final sprint of the season, Sadie Bjornsen of the U.S. Ski Team qualified ninth on Wednesday in Drammen, Norway. Her time was 5.22 seconds back from Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, the fastest woman on the 1.3-kilometer classic-sprint course in 3:01.25.

Bjornsen was the lone American female to advance to heats, as Sophie Caldwell finished 1.18 seconds outside the top 30 in 35th, 11.59 seconds behind Østberg. After reaching the podium in last weekend’s freestyle sprint in Lahti, Finland, Kikkan Randall finished 45th in the classic-sprint qualifier, 18.03 seconds behind the winner. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 51st (+19.73).

No Canadian women competed.

In the men’s 1.3 k qualifier, Lenny Valjas was the lone Canadian to advance, clocking in 4.9 seconds behind Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad, the fastest male in 2:36.48. Teammate Alex Harvey missed qualifying in 33rd, 0.7 seconds out of the top 30 and 6.53 seconds behind Hattestad.

American Andy Newell qualified in 28th (+5.48). His teammates in Drammen, Erik Bjornsen was 38th (+7.16), Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess was 42nd (+7.75) and Simi Hamilton finished 65th after crashing (+13.56).

“I took a hard spill on the new tight downhill corner,” Hamilton explained in a text message. “My klister just stuck in my left ski as I was stepping the turn. It’s frustrating because I felt the best that I have all year, but such is racing I guess. Looking forward to training hard and skiing fast on the World Cup in the seasons to come.”

Heats start at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Results: Women | Men

 

After Double Hip Fracture, Steira Returns to World Cup

Kristin Størmer Steira (l) and fiancé Devon Kershaw during a day hike on one of their acclimatization days during a 22-day trek in April in Nepal’s Himalayas. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

Kristin Størmer Steira (l) and fiancé Devon Kershaw during a day hike on one of their acclimatization days during a 22-day trek in April in Nepal’s Himalayas. (Photo: Devon Kershaw)

After suffering a double hip fracture in October, Norway’s Kristin Størmer Steira returned to the World Cup circuit on Friday, where she placed fifth in the 10-kilometer freestyle, 41.4 seconds behind her teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who won the first of three races this weekend in Rybinsk, Russia.

Steira plans to race two of the three in Rybinsk after breaking her hip in two places when she fell during a workout on the glacier during a Norwegian national-team altitude camp. She continued training for several weeks after the injury before she went to the doctor and was diagnosed with two fractures to her pelvic bone. During the long recovery, Steira, 31, has worked systematically at returning to racing in time for the World Championships from Feb. 8 to March 1 in Falun, Sweden.

Last weekend, she competed in her first races of the season on the Scandinavian Cup in Falun and was pleasantly surprised.

Kristin Størmer Steira in 2012 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Kristin Størmer Steira in 2012 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“It went far better than I feared, and I felt pretty OK. Now I’m just missing the top gears,” Steira told the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.

Steira has been diligent with her rehabilitation and tried to be patient, but explained that the alternative training had been tough mentally as well as physically.

“As an elite athlete, it’s always hard to sit still so much,” Steira said. “I’ve focused on finding alternative training methods and staying positive throughout the rehab period, and being patient enough to progress step by step. The hardest part is to understand and recognize how much and how hard you can train, but I think there almost always some way to stay active, even when you are injured. Of course, it’s always helpful to have a professional support staff, and I’ve had a lot of help from Olympiatoppen [the Norwegian Olympic Development Center].”

This weekend, Steira planned to race the 10 k skate event on Friday and the 15 k skiathlon on Sunday, and skip Saturday’s skate sprint. Additionally, she will race the Norwegian national championships in Røros the following week.

With strong performances at these events, along with her results from the Continental Cup in Falun last weekend, Steira might just find herself a part of the Norwegian squad to the 2015 FIS World Champioships.

“She has two opportunities prior to the World Championships: Rybinsk this weekend and the Norwegian national championships,” said Åge Skinstad, Norwegian national-team director. “And that we know what she is capable of in the past is never a disadvantage.”

Steira has competed in six World Championships and three Olympics, collecting two Olympic medals and eight World Championship medals, as well as 22 World Cup podium finishes.

Jacobsen Wins, Stephen Second in Rybinsk Opener

In her first World Cup competition since Lillehammer in December, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen came out with a vengeance and won the interval-start 10 k freestyle race in Rybinsk, Russia. The Norwegian clocked a time of 28:12.5 over the difficult and hilly course.

That put her 14.4 seconds ahead of runner-up Liz Stephen of the United States. Stephen started one bib ahead of Jacobsen, who was able to track her along the course.

“For me today is amazing,” Stephen said in an International Ski Federation press release. “I didn’t realize right away but this is not only my first World Cup podium but also the best ever distance result for a US female. I really can’t believe it.  It’s great to be here.  I like racing in Rybinsk.  It is a hard course with long climbs, which suits me very well.”

Stephen’s previous bests in top-level competition were 5th place in this season’s Tour de Ski 10 k classic and also 5th place in the 10 k skate at 2013 World Championships.

The result is a new best for U.S. women in distance skiing, topping Kikkan Randall’s third-place finish in Gällivare, Sweden, in 2012.

Stefanie Boehler of Germany finished third, +36.4, narrowly edging Yulia Tchekaleva of Russia in fourth, +37.6. Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway, also returning to the World Cup after an injury-induced break, placed fifth +41.4.

The two other U.S. entrants, Jessie Diggins and Rosie Brennan, finished 12th (+1:34.5) and 13th (+1:37.5) respectively. No Canadian women competed.

Results

Cologna Back on Top in Tour Prologue; Harvey in 13th

Dario Cologna started his campaign for a fourth Tour de Ski win Saturday, with a victory in the 4.4 k freestyle prologue in Oberstdorf, Germany. The Swiss skier was only male in 93 starters to break the 10-minute barrier, with a time of 10:54.2. Calle Halfvarsson of Sweden finished second, five seconds back from Cologna. Petter Northug of Norway rounded out the podium just 5.5 seconds off the winning pace.

Ilia Chernousov of Russia and Marcus Hellner placed fourth and fifth.

Overall World Cup leader and 2014 Tour de Ski winner Martin Sundby placed 10th after skiing on the wrong part of the course. At the time of publication there was no official word on whether the deviance from the course would result in disqualification.

Alex Harvey was the top North American in 13th place. The Canadian won the same event last year, with teammate Devon Kershaw close behind in second. Today, Kershaw placed 45th. The USST’s Simi Hamilton was the only other North American to make the top-30 with a 26th place finish.

Results

Davos Word Cup Set to Continue with Shorter Distances

Although there may be limited snow, the World Cup in Davos, Switzerland will still take place Dec. 13-14. The weekend’s races will begin Saturday with a 10/15 k classic, which was originally scheduled as a 15/30 k. Sunday’s sprints will continue as scheduled. Check out an FIS press release regarding the changes to the event below.

(press release)

Swiss Ski together with the International Ski Federation (FIS) has confirmed that the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Davos will take place as planned with the following changes:

  • Due to lack of snow the competition distance on Saturday, 13th December has been changed to ladies’ 10 km C and men’s 15 km C interval start
  • A 5 km loop will be prepared by the LOC
  • The starting time of the men’s 15 km C has changed to 14:30 CET
  • Start of the ladies 10 km C remains unchanged at 11:15 CET
  • Competition program and starting time for Sunday’s sprint classic remains unchanged

Bjørgen, Brandsdal Blow Past Competition in Kuusamo Opener; Sargent 5th

Norwegians Marit Bjørgen and Eirik Brandsdal used sprint-savvy and rocket skis to outlast their competitors on Saturday in the opening World Cup of the 2014/2015 season in Kuusamo, Finland. Bjørgen won the women’s 1.4-kilometer classic sprint and Brandsdal topped the men’s 1.4 k final for the double Norwegian win.

Third in the qualifier after teammates Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Celine Brun-Lie, respectively, Bjørgen timed her quarterfinal and semifinal to perfection with a win in each. She went on to surge past Østberg and Slovenia’s Katja Visnar after the final climb into the stadium and pulled off the victory in 2:58.33.

Visnar was second, 0.46 seconds back, and Maiken Caspersen Falla came through in third, 1.7 behind Bjørgen. Østberg placed fourth (+3.02) and American Ida Sargent hung tough in fifth (+5.95) for a career best in the first World Cup race of the season.

Russia’s Natalia Matveeva was sixth, 12.37 seconds after Bjørgen.

In the men’s race, Brandsdal qualified sixth behind Russia’s Alexander Panzhinskiy, Sondre Turvoll Fossli (Norway), Pal Golberg (Norway), Timo Andre Bakken (Norway), and Matias Strandvall (Finland), respectively.

Brandsdal, who was third in last year’s Kuusamo classic sprint after Russian Nikita Kriukov and Norwegian Petter Nothug, respectively, went on to win his quarterfinal and semifinal on Saturday. With three Norwegians leading into the final climb, he held off Northug and Fossli into the finish for the overall victory in 2:34.84. Northug, who passed Fossli on that climb, placed second for the second-straight year 0.47 seconds back, and Fossli finished third (+1.18) just ahead of another Norwegian, Finn Hagen Krogh (+1.69) in fourth.

Russia’s Alexey Petukhov placed fifth (+4.54) and Sergey Ustiugov faded after a strong charge for first to finish sixth (+14.63).

Women’s results

Men’s results

North American results:

Women’s 1.4 k classic sprint

5. Ida Sargent (USA)

16. Kikkan Randall (USA): 4th in quarterfinal

29. Sadie Bjornsen (USA): 6th in quarterfinal

48. Perianne Jones (CAN)

64. Jessie Diggins (USA)

 

Men’s 1.4 k classic sprint

14. Alex Harvey (CAN): 3rd in quarterfinal

26. Simi Hamilton (USA): 6th in quarterfinal

28. Andy Newell (USA): 6th in quarterfinal

49. Lenny Valjas (CAN)

56. Erik Bjornsen (USA)

57. Devon Kershaw (CAN)

67. Reese Hanneman (USA)

Norway, Sweden Announce Kuusamo World-Cup Opener Teams

By Inge Scheve

Rookie Barbro Kvåle’s sprint victory at the Beitostølen FIS season opener impressed the coaches to name her to the team for the World Cup opener in Finland this weekend, as did Timo Andre Bakken.

“Timo Andre Bakken skied a solid qualifier and delivered a strong fifth place in the Sunday sprint,” Norwegian national-team director Åge Skinstad said in a press release Monday.  “He was one of the top racers on kick wax in a race where that was so heavy on double poling. But the courses in Ruka demand more than just double-pole power.

“Furthermore, both Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes and Barbro Kvåle delivered in the sprint on Sunday and are rewarded with tickets to Finland,” he added.

Timo Andre Bakken, Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes and Barbro Kvåle are not permanent members of the ski team.

Norway’s Kuusmo Team 

Women, Club, Notes

  1. Marit Bjørgen (Rognes IL)
  2. Therese Johaug (IL Nansen) 2013/2014 Overall World Cup winner = automatic start
  3. Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes (Henning Skilag)
  4. Heidi Weng  (IL i BUL)
  5. Celine Brun-Lie (Njård)
  6. Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (Gjøvik Skiklubb)
  7. Marthe Kristoffersen (IL Varden)
  8. Maiken Caspersen Falla (Gjerdum IL)
  9. Martine EK Hagen (BUL)
  10. Kathrine Harsem (IL Varden) Continental Cup winner = automatic start
  11. Barbro Kvåle (Lillehammer Skiklubb)

Men, Club, Notes

  1. Eirik Brandsdal  (Kjelsås IL)
  2. Ola Vigen Hattestad( Ørje IL)  2013/2014 Sprint World Cup winner = automatic start
  3. Pål Golberg  (Gol IL)
  4. Finn Hågen Krogh  (Tverrelvdalen IL)
  5. Timo Andre Bakken (Konnerud IL /Team Jobzone)
  6. Eldar Rønning (Skogn IL)
  7. Sondre Turvoll Fossli (Hokksund IL)
  8. Petter Northug (Strindheim IL)
  9. Tomas Northug (Strindheim IL)
  10. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Røa IL) 2013/2014 Overall World Cup winner = automatic start
  11. Petter Eliassen (Tverrelvdalen IL)
  12. Sjur Røthe (Voss IL)
  13. Chris Jespersen (IL Korlevoll – Odda)
  14. Didrik Tønseth (Byåsen IL)
  15. Simen Håkon Østensen (Fossum IF) Continental Cup winner = automatic start

Swedish Names Kuusamo Picks

The Swedish team that will race the World Cup opener in Finland this weekend includes two rookies: Maja Dahlqvist and Sofia Henriksson, both 20, who impressed coaches at the Swedish FIS season opener in Bruksvallarna this weekend and have been rewarded with the opportunity to race at the highest level next Saturday and Sunday.

“During the weekend races in Bruksvallarna, both of the girls who helped Sweden to relay gold at the Junior World Championships last winter impressed,” Swedish national team head coach Rikard Grip told Laengd.se after the team was announced Monday afternoon. “It was great to Sofia in the 5 K classic race and Maja in the classic sprint. Now we want to give them the opportunity to bag some international experience.”

Grip expects tough races as the World Cup gets underway with classic sprints on Saturday and 10/15 k classic distance races on Sunday in Kuusamo (Ruka).

Sweden’s Starting Lineup

Women’s sprint

  1. Maja Dahlqvist (Falun-Borlänge SK)
  2. Hanna Falk (Ulricehamns IF)
  3. Ida Ingemarsdotter (Åsarna IK)
  4. Lina Korsgren (Falun-Borlänge SK)
  5. Magdalena Pajala (Piteå Elit)
  6. Evelina Settlin (Hudiksvalls IF)

Women’s 10 k classic 

  1. Sofia Bleckur (IFK Mora SK)
  2. Anna Haag (IFK Mora SK)
  3. Sofia Henriksson (Piteå Elit)
  4. Sara Lindborg (Falun-Borlänge SK)
  5. Charlotte Kalla (Piteå Elit)
  6. Emma Wikén (Åsarna IK)

Men’s sprint

 

  1. Johan Edin (IFK Mora SK)
  2. Calle Halfvarsson (Falun-Borlänge SK)
  3. Emil Jönsson (IFK Mora SK)
  4. Teodor Peterson (IFK Umeå)
  5. Carl Quicklund (Östersunds SK)
  6. Simon Persson (IFK Umeå)

Men 15 k classic 

  1. Calle Halfvarson (Falun-Borlänge SK)
  2. Marcus Hellner (Gellivare Skidallians)
  3. Martin Johansson (IFK Mora SK)
  4. Jesper Modin (Piteå Elit)
  5. Lars Nelson (Åsarna IK)
  6. Daniel Richardsson (Hudiksvalls IF)

Harvey Wins Sprint in Poland, Newell Falls in A-Final After Qualifying Second

Canadian Alex Harvey was once again on top of the podium with his win in the freestyle sprint at the World Cup in Szkarska Poreba, Poland. Harevey, who qualified 7th, out-sprinted Gremany’s Josef Wenzl and France’s Baptiste Gros in the final stretches of the fast and tactical course.

American Andy Newell qualified in second position and skied a smart and controlled quarterfinal and semifinal. In the A-final, however, Newell fell on one of the last turns into the finish, knocking him out of contention for the podium. He ended his day in sixth.

Top ten:

Alex Harvey (CAN)

Josef Wenzl (GER)

Baptiste Gros (FRA)

Cyrill Gaillard (FRA)

Martin Jager (SUI)

Andy Newell (USA)

Anton Gafarov (RUS)

Tim Tscharnke (GER)

Nikita Kruikov (RUS)

Gleb Retivkykh (RUS)

Qualification

Final Results

 

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.

Results