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Wild Rumpus Sports

City of Dresden to Host First World Cup on Manmade Loop

A view of the 1.2 k World Cup sprint course from the bridge that spans the Elbe River in Dresden, Germany. Racers will ski beneath its farthest left arch.

DRESDEN, Germany — With the conclusion of the Tour de Ski last Sunday, nearly 120 World Cup athletes gradually made their way to Dresden for the Period 2 of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross Country World Cup season.

On Saturday, those racers will tackle a brand-new 1.2-kilometer course (it was originally set to be 1.4 k, but shortened due lack of stored snow) in Dresden, which is hosting its first FIS Cross Country World Cup. The entire track is set along the city’s Elbe River, one of Central Europe’s major waterways. According to a course official, there is “no natural” snow on course; only manmade snow will be used for the weekend’s freestyle races (with individual sprints Saturday and team sprints on Sunday). This perhaps makes sense as the races are within walking distance of the city center’s major shopping plaza.

Conditions at the Dresden World Cup race venue on Friday.

Temperatures on Saturday afternoon were around 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit). On all sides of the surrounding course fence — and a diamond inside where the course splits for the athletes to turn back to the finish — green grass was a visible reminder that this venue is in Saxony’s second-largest city and capital (Saxony being an eastern German state).

Spectators may watch the races from atop the bridge that spans the Elbe, as competitors ski under the left-most arch (as shown in the photo at the top of this post) and between the final brick abutments.

The course is predominantly flat, with one climb about two-thirds of the way through followed by a brief flat and the course’s sole downhill, which then leads into a 100-meter finish.

The freestyle sprint weekend opens with the women’s qualifier at 9:50 a.m. CET.

Start lists: Women | Men

A groomer sets on out the Dresden 1.2-kilometer sprint course on Friday.

— Gabby Naranja

Canada Picks Team for PyeongChang World Cup, Feb. 3-5

Earlier this week, Cross Country Canada (CCC) announced its squad for the World Cup Feb. 3-5 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The long weekend, which serves as a pre-Olympic World Cup, includes three days of racing: a classic sprint, skiathlon and team sprint. According to a CCC, the following athletes were selected based on results at the U.S. nationals trials races held earlier this month at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah (selection synopsis):

Andrea Dupont                       Rocky Mountain Racers
Annika Hicks                          AWCA – Canmore Nordic
Sadie White                            Thunder Bay NTDC –  Big Thunder
Len Valjas                               NST – Team Hardwood
Jess Cockney                           NST – Foothills Nordic
Bob Thompson                        Thunder Bay NTDC – Team Hardwood
Julien Locke                            AWCA – NST – Blackjack
Simon Lapointe                       CNEPH – Skinouk
Brian McKeever                      Para-Nordic National Ski Team

Trip leader: Charles Castonguay

Johaug and Sundby Win Out in Final Stage of STC; Diggins and Harvey 5th Overall

The all-Norwegian women's podium at the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 10 k classic pursuit, with winner Therese Johaug (c), Heidi Weng (l) in second and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (r) in third.

The all-Norwegian women’s podium at the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 10 k classic pursuit, with winner Therese Johaug (c), Heidi Weng (l) in second and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (r) in third.

Saturday was a good day to be a favorite — and an overall World Cup leader as who have been beating out the masses all season won the final race of 2015/2016 and last stage of the Ski Tour Canada (STC), the classic pursuits in Canmore, Alberta.

Norway’s Therese Johaug raced from second to first in the women’s 10-kilometer classic pursuit, overcoming a 30-second starting deficit and beating teammate Heidi Weng by 1:07.8 minutes in 34:12.4. Weng shook her head in disappointment at the finish after being unable to hang with Johaug, both the Overall and Distance World Cup winner, after Johaug caught her around 4 k and dropped Weng shortly thereafter.

“I cannot believe that I win this Tour because it’s three sprint races …,” Johaug said in a post-race interview with FIS. “Everybody knows that I’m good in [the final climb of the Tour de Ski], but here it is normal track and not a lot of hills. For me, it was a goal to win this Tour because I never thought I could win here. .. It’s so good to finish the season with a victory here.”

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg made it an all-Norwegian STC podium in third, 2:13.3 back, and Krista Parmakoski of Finland raced from sixth for fourth (+2:56.2) with the fastest time of day in 33:41.8.

American Jessie Diggins started fifth and held her position, after being passed by Parmakoski (who started 7 seconds behind her) then overtaking Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, the fourth starter, while clinging to Parmakoski. Diggins finished fifth (+3:08.5), ahead of Jacobsen in sixth (+4:12), and Diggins posted the third-fastest time of day (after Johaug’s second fastest time).

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) started fifth and finished fifth overall in the Ski Tour Canada in the final stage, the 10 k classic pursuit, on Saturday in Canmore, Alberta.

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) started fifth and finished fifth overall in the Ski Tour Canada in the final stage, the 10 k classic pursuit, on Saturday in Canmore, Alberta.

“I don’t see myself as leading the team; I see myself as being the team cheerleader,” Diggins said after. “That’s my role and I’m really proud to be in that role. I’m really proud of our whole team this season.”

Two other Finnish skiers landed in the top 10, with Kerttu Niskanen in seventh (+5:20.5) and Anne Kyllönen in eighth (+5:34.8). Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk placed ninth (+6:55.7) and Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla — a sprint specialist who did not complete the Tour de Ski earlier in the season — took 10th (+7:07.8).

American Sadie Bjornsen started 11th and held her position for 11th overall (+7:12.4), about a second ahead of Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in 12th. A third U.S. Ski Team (USST) member, Rosie Brennan placed 24th (+12:28.5) while Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) ended her first tour in 31st (+15:12.5). Caitlin Gregg (USST/Team Gregg) placed 33rd, Ida Sargent (Craftsbury Green Racing Project/USST) was 34th, and Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School/USST) 36th.

Emily Nishikawa, a leading member of Canada’s Senior Development Team, was the top Canadian in 37th and Cendrine Browne (Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre/CNST) placed 40th.

American Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) was 41st, Annika Taylor (Sugar Bowl Academy/Great Britain) was 42nd, Annie Hart (SMST2) 43rd, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CNST) 44th, Jessica Yeaton (APU/Australia) 46th, Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) 47th, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation), and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) 49th.

Results: Women’s 10 k classic pursuit | Time of day

Overall World Cup

  1. Johaug (NOR) 2681 points
  2. Østberg (NOR) 2302
  3. Weng (NOR) 2172

(*Of note: Diggins 8th overall)

Distance World Cup

  1. Johaug (NOR) 1533
  2. Weng (NOR) 1145
  3. Østberg (NOR) 976

(*Diggins 9th overall)

Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby celebrates winning the 2016 Ski Tour Canada by nearly a minute after starting with a 39-second deficit in third at the beginning of Saturday's 15 k classic pursuit in Canmore, Alberta.

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby celebrates winning the 2016 Ski Tour Canada by nearly a minute after starting with a 39-second deficit in third at the beginning of Saturday’s 15 k classic pursuit in Canmore, Alberta.

In the men’s 15 k classic pursuit, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby wasted no time tackling a 39-second deficit and racing from third to first, leading Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov and Norway’s Petter Northug (who started second, 32 seconds after Ustiugov) early on the second of four laps at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

At 5.9 k, Sundby had built a 13.2-second lead on Ustiugov, while Northug trailed about a second farther back in third. However, the end of the lap, halfway through the race, Ustiugov and Northug had reined Sundby back in — almost. There at 7.5 k, Ustiugov was 6.7 seconds back and Northug 16.6 seconds behind. About two kilometers later, Sundby had increased his lead once again, 21 seconds ahead of Ustiugov and 48 seconds ahead of Northug.

Alex Harvey (Canadian World Cup Team) closing out the 2016 Ski Tour Canada in fifth overall while Norway's third-place finisher Petter Northug receives some attention on the ground after collapsing in exhaustion at the finish.

Alex Harvey (Canadian World Cup Team) closing out the 2016 Ski Tour Canada in fifth overall while Norway’s third-place finisher Petter Northug receives some attention on the ground after collapsing in exhaustion at the finish.

The leader of both the overall and Distance World Cup, Sundby went on to win the race in 47:24.1, while Ustiugov took second 57.7 seconds later and Northug crossed the line, absolutely spent, nearly a minute later in third (+1:52.5).

“I had my doubts today, man, but you know, final race of the season, I just had to try,” Sundby said in a post-race interview with FIS. “I had to put it all out there today and just go for it. There was no point to go for third today.”

It marked his third-consecutive Crystal Globe (overall World Cup victory).

“I’m sick this is not healthy,” Sundby joked. “But I’m so happy and what a way to finish out the season for me. … Let’s go party now.”

France’s Maurice Manificat rose from seventh to fourth (+2:18.4) with the fastest time of day in 45:54.6, while Canada’s Alex Harvey placed fifth (+2:53.9) after starting fourth and skiing solo for the first half of the race.

Finland’s Matti Heikkinen finished the Tour in sixth, 12.9 seconds after Harvey and 3:06.8 behind Sundby, after starting ninth. Heikkinen had the second fastest time of day, 10.6 seconds behind Manificat.

“I thought there was no way I would get caught, but I got caught,” Harvey said after starting fourth, 1:19 ahead of Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh, who began the race in fifth. Manificat started another 19 seconds later, following Norway’s Emil Iversen in sixth.

“I have a lot of bad days in my career. It’s just one of them,” Harvey continued. “There’s nothing to worry about. You can’t be on top everyday.”

Norway took seventh through ninth with Iversen, Hans Christer Holund and Krogh, respectively, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner finished 10th (+6:01.3).

Three Canadians finished in the top 20 of their home tour, with Ivan Babikov in 14th (+7:30.3) and Devon Kershaw in 16th (+8:17.1).

Graeme Killick (Canadian Senior Development Team) was the fourth Canadian in the top 30 in 27th overall (+11.44.3).

Noah Hoffman (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/U.S. Ski Team) led the Americans in 34th (+13:20.5). Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) was 42nd, Canada’s Kevin Sandau (AWCA) was 43rd, Scott Patterson (APU) 46th, Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) 49th, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) 50th, and Tad Elliott (SSCV) 51st.

Results: Men’s 15 k classic pursuit | Time of day

Overall World Cup

  1. Sundby (NOR) 2634 points
  2. Northug (NOR) 1602
  3. Krogh (NOR) 1584

(*Harvey 7th overall)

Distance World Cup

  1. Sundby (NOR) 1444
  2. Manificat (FRA) 763
  3. Dyrhaug (NOR) 729

Heikkinen Nabs First Win in Five Years; Canada’s Harvey Fourth and Babikov 10th

On Friday, Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, 32, won his first World Cup race since 2011, chasing down the time of Russia’s Evgeniy Belov and beating it at the line in the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start by 13.6 seconds in 35:16.3 in the seventh stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.

Belov had initially commanded the race, holding off Canada’s Alex Harvey by 8.1 seconds at the finish. But the two wouldn’t end up going 1-2. Instead, Heikkinen bumped Belov to second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner slotted into third, 13.9 seconds behind Heikkinen and just 0.3 seconds behind Belov.

Harvey missed the podium by 7.8 seconds and ended up 21.7 seconds out of first.

Behind him, France’s Robin Duvillard took fifth (+28.8), Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby settled for sixth (+37.5), Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh placed seventh (+37.6) and a third Norwegian, Petter Northug, took eighth (+47.4).

Canada’s Ivan Babikov notched his second-straight top 10 in 10th (+1:00.2), behind Norway’s fifth man Hans Christer Holund in ninth (+57.9).

Overall Tour leader Sergey Ustiugov of Russia placed 12th, and is now 32.3 seconds ahead of Northug in the standings with one stage to go.

Sundby is 39.6 seconds back in third heading into Saturday’s final 15 k classic pursuit, and Harvey remains in fourth (+2:10.3). Krogh is fifth (+3:29), Norway’s Emil Iversen is sixth (+3:37.1), and France’s Maurice Manificat is seventh (+3:47.9).

Heikkinen improved to ninth (+4:25.7), 10 seconds behind Holund in eighth, and Hellner is up to 10th (+5:23.3).

Babikov moved into 15th (+7:43.5).

Canada had three in the top 20 in the 15 k with Devon Kershaw in 20th, 1:30 behind the winner. He is 17th overall, 31 seconds behind France’s Jean Marc Gaillard in 16th. Graeme Killick was the fourth Canadian in the points in 29th (+1:48.4) for 27th overall.

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 23rd (+1:34.1), putting him in 37th overall. Also on Friday, Erik Bjornsen placed 34th (+2:08.1) for 43rd overall.  Tad Elliott placed 41st, Canadian Kevin Sandau was 43rd, Russell Kennedy (CAN) was 45th, Scott Patterson (USA) 47th, Lenny Valjas (CAN) 49th, and Michael Somppi (CAN) 50th.

Check back at for a complete report.

Results | Tour standings (through Stage 7)

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

Ustiugov Holds Off Northug in 15 k Pursuit; Harvey 4th in Stage 4

Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov continued his consistent run atop the Ski Tour Canada (STC), maintaining a 17.7-second advantage over second place, Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. (+17.7) in Saturday’s 15-kilometer men’s skate race on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City.

Ustiugov completed the course in 34:31.8. Despite skiing alone and posting the 13th fastest time of the day, he maintained a consistent enough pace to hold off the second- and third-place skiers, Northug and teammate Emil Iversen. Iversen clung onto the third position, finishing +1:02.2 behind after starting only 25 seconds back.

Finishing in fourth was Canada’s Alex Harvey (+1:49.8), followed closely by overall World Cup leader, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (+1:50.8). Sundby skied the fastest time of the day, finishing in 34:08.9.

In sixth was Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh (+3:28.2).

Posting the fastest times of the day were Sundby, followed by Finland’s Matti Heikkinen (34:11.2), and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner (34:15.0).

Aside from Harvey, Canada’s Devon Kershaw was the only other North American to break the top 30 overall, finishing 21st (+4:22.8). The top American was Erik Bjornsen in 32nd (+5:28.3).

Ivan Babikov (CAN) finished 35th, followed by Simi Hamilton (USA) 40th, Noah Hoffman (USA) 44th, Grame Killick (CAN) 49th, Scott Patterson (USA) 53rd, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 57th, Len Valjas (CAN) 63rd, Andy Shields (CAN) 65th, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 66th, Michael Somppi (CAN) 67th, Eric Packer (USA) 68th, Jess Cockney (CAN) 69th, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) 70th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 71st, Reese Hanneman (USA) 72nd, Bob Thompson (CAN) 74th, Tad Elliott (USA) 75th, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (USA) 77th, Matt Liebsch (USA) 79th, Brian Gregg (USA) 80th, Andy Newell (USA) 81st, and Simon Lapointe (CAN) 82nd.


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


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.


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:

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:

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

Iversen Bests Northug, Ustiugov for First World Cup Distance Win; Harvey 9th in Stage 2

Norway's Emil Iversen celebrates his first distance World Cup victory and third-career World Cup win in the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 17.5 k classic mass start on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo: John Lazenby/

Norway’s Emil Iversen celebrates his first distance World Cup victory and third-career World Cup win in the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 17.5 k classic mass start on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo: John Lazenby/

Get used to the name Emil Iversen, because this Norwegian is on a roll. On Wednesday the 24 year old won his first World Cup distance race at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec, and he did so by 5.3 seconds over training partner and teammate Petter Northug.

Iversen won the 17.5-kilometer classic mass start in 45:05.4, besting Northug in second and Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who was 14.5 seconds behind in third.

“My goal before the Ski Tour Canada was to have a good start,” Iversen told FIS afterward. “I’m sitting in second place [overall behind Ustiugov]. Now I have to take stage by stage and we see what happens.”

“We had to fight hard against the wind and snow,” Northug told FIS. “Ustiugov did a lot of work in the lead. He was the strongest today. We can thank him for the high speed.”

Overall World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed fourth on Wednesday (+39.8), Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin was fifth (+51.4), and Norway’s Didrik Tønseth sixth (+55.2).

Russia’s Andrey Larkov held off a large chase group into the finish, taking seventh (+1:07), ahead of Norway’s Hans Christer Holund in eighth (+1:15.5), Canada’s local favorite Alex Harvey in ninth (+1:16.4), and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov in 10th (+1:18.7).

Three Canadians finished in the points, with Devon Kershaw in 17th (+1:38.9) and Ivan Babikov in 29th (+2:32.1).

Also for Canada, Graeme Killick (CNST) placed 50th, Kevin Sandau (Alberta World Cup Academy) was 53rd, Len Valjas (CNST) 63rd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) 64th, Jess Cockney (CNST) 68th, Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/CNST) 69th, Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay) 73rd, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) 74th, Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay) 76th, and Simon LaPointe (Skinouk) 82nd.

Erik Bjornsen (Alaska Pacific University/U.S. Ski Team) was the top American in 31st, just 0.4 seconds outside the top 30. Also for the U.S., Noah Hoffman (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/USST) placed 42nd, Scott Patterson (APU) 55th, Simi Hamilton (SMST2/USST) 58th, Eric Packer (APU) 67th, Reese Hanneman (APU) 70th, Andy Newell (SMST2/USST) 71st, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy) 77th, Matt Liebsch (Gear West) 79th, Tad Elliott (SSCV) 80th, and Brian Gregg (Team Gregg) 81st.

Results | Tour standings (after Stage 2)

Johaug Snatches Tour Lead with 1-Minute Mass Start Win in Montreal

Norway's Therese Johaug celebrates her decisive victory in Stage 2 of the Ski Tour Canada on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. She won the women's 10.5 k classic mass start by 1:00.3 minutes. (Photo:

Norway’s Therese Johaug celebrates her decisive victory in Stage 2 of the Ski Tour Canada on Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec. She won the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start by 1:00.3 minutes. (Photo:

Therese Johaug isn’t used to starting a mass start in bib 27, but she made the best of it on Wednesday at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec.

After placing 25th in the freestyle sprint at Stage 1 on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, Johaug — Norway’s overall World Cup and distance World Cup leader — started the women’s 10.5-kilometer classic mass start several rows farther back than she’s used to. She usually starts first.

“Usually I start in the front, but no, I’m back and it’s a lot of people,” Johaug recalled in a post-race interview with FIS. “But I focused on myself today to do good technique. It was really cold and windy, but really nice to ski in Canada.”

After making her way to the front of the 72-woman pack early, Johaug successfully dropped everyone around 4 k. At the 4.6 k checkpoint, she had a 12-second gap on teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who was skiing in second, 8 seconds ahead of another Norwegian, Heidi Weng, in third.

Striding and herringboning through fresh powder on Montreal’s 3.5 k course (on a blustery -7 degree Celsius day), Johaug went on to win by a minute over Weng in 30:05.6.

Weng outlasted Jacobsen for second place, 1:00.3 behind Johaug, while Jacobsen held on for third (+1:09.8).

The U.S. Ski Team's Jessie Diggins (front) and Sadie Bjornsen find their pace during the second day of the Ski Tour Canada during the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start in Montreal.  (Photo:

The U.S. Ski Team’s Jessie Diggins (front) and Sadie Bjornsen find their pace during the second day of the Ski Tour Canada during the women’s 10.5 k classic mass start in Montreal. (Photo:

Norway swept the top four with sprint specialist Maiken Caspersen Falla, Tuesday’s sprint winner, placing fourth (+1:42.0). Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland notched fifth, just 0.8 seconds behind Falla, and Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg placed sixth (+1:43.0). Finland’s Kertu Niskanen was seventh (+1:43.3) and American Jessie Diggins eighth (+1:43.5), as fourth through eighth place all finished within 1.5 seconds of one another in a narrow set of finishing lanes at the top of a climb.

Two Finnish athletes rounded out the top 10, Anne Kyllönen in ninth (+1:47.4) and Krista Parmakoski in 10th (+1:51.0).

Four U.S. women finished in the points with Sadie Bjornsen in 16th (+2:04.2), Liz Stephen in 22nd (+2:44.3), and Rosie Brennan notching a season-best 28th (+3:05.8).

Also for the U.S., Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) finished 38th, Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 39th (+4:05.7), and Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) 40th (+4:05.9). Sophie Caldwell (SMST2/USST) was 42nd, Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg) 47th, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) 51st, Katharine Ogden (SMS/USST) 59th, and Annie Hart (SMST2) 61st.

Canadian National Senior Development Team (CNST) member Emily Nishikawa led the Canadian women in 45th (+4:39.7). Another development team skier, Cendrine Browne of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) finished 48th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (NDC Thunder Bay) placed 52nd, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CNST) was 53rd, Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) 57th, Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) 60th, Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay) 63rd, Alannah MacLean (NDC Thunder Bay) 64th, Dahria Beatty (AWCA/CNST) 65th, Maya MacIsaac-Jones (RMR) 67th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CNEPH) 68th, and Marie Corriveau (CNEPH/Canadian National Junior Team) 72nd.

Results | Tour standings (through Stage 2)

Hamilton Second in Qualifier; Harvey 15th to Reach Skate Sprint Heats

After his fellow U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins raced to second in the women’s qualifier, Simi Hamilton repeated the feat in second in the men’s 1.7-kilometer freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Gatineau, Quebec.

Hamilton posted the second-fastest time in the qualifier, 0.45 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug’s top time of 3:12.99. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov qualified third, 0.78 seconds back from Northug.

Local favorite Alex Harvey, of Quebec, finished 15th in the qualifier, 4.18 seconds back, for his first time reaching the top 30 of a World Cup skate sprint this season. Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. advanced to the heats in 27th (+7.42), along with Canadian Knute Johnsgaard, of the Alberta World Cup Academy and Senior National Development Team, in 29th (+7.8).

Finishing outside the top 30, Reese Hanneman (USA) placed 35th (+8.46), Len Valjas (CAN) was 37th, Andy Newell (USA) 42nd, Andy Shields (CAN) 48th, Devon Kershaw (CAN) 50th, Bob Thompson (CAN) 52nd, Jess Cockney (CAN) 53rd, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (USA) 54th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 59th, Michael Somppi (CAN) 68th, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 70th, Eric Packer (USA) 72nd, Noah Hoffman (USA) 74th, Scott Patterson (USA) 75th, Graeme Killick (CAN) 76th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 78th, Tad Elliott (USA) 81st, Matt Liebsch (USA) 82nd, Brian Gregg (USA) 83rd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 84th, and Mark Rajack (Trinidad and Tobago/XC Ottawa) 86th.

Diggins Qualifies Second in Gatineau Skate Sprint

The 2016 Ski Tour Canada opened on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, with World Cup racers like Sweden’s Hanna Falk and American Jessie Diggins putting a stamp on the freestyle sprint qualifier, posting the fastest and second-fastest times around the 1.7-kilometer course at Jacques Cartier Park, respectively.

Falk topped the women’s qualifier in 3:32.76 minutes on a cold morning with temperatures around -6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).

Out of 72 women in the field, Diggins, of the U.S. Ski Team, qualified second, 2.09 seconds back, and Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg advanced in third (+4.08).

American Sadie Bjornsen qualified eighth (+5.8), and the U.S. had two more women in the heats with Sophie Caldwell advancing in 26th (+12.45) and Ida Sargent in 28th (+12.87).

Canada’s 20-year-old Maya MacIsaac-Jones, of Rocky Mountain Racers, nabbed the final qualifying spot in 30th (+13.07).

Behind her, Rosie Brennan (USA) was 38th (+15.18), Dahria Beatty (CAN) 45th, Annie Hart (USA) 46th, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CAN) 29th, Caitlin Gregg (USA) 53rd, Annika Taylor (Great Britain/Sugar Bowl Academy) 54th, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 55th, Andrea Dupont (CAN) 56th, Jessica Yeaton (Australia/APU) 57th, Jenn Jackson (CAN) 58th, Liz Stephen (USA) 59th, Kaitlynn Miller (USA) 61st, Katharine Ogden (USA) 62nd, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 63rd, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 64th, Chelsea Holmes (USA) 65th, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) 66th, Marie Corriveau (CAN) 67th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 68th, Jennie Bender (USA) 70th, Annika Hicks (CAN) 71st, and Jaqueline Mourao (Brazil/CNEPH) 72nd.


Diggins Second to Falla in Lahti for Best Sprint Result; Bjornsen 10th

American Jessie Diggins (l) on the podium after placing second in the World Cup freestyle sprint on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, behind Norwegian winner Maiken Caspersen Falla (c). Diggins edged Norway's third-place finisher Heidi Weng (r) by 0.06 seconds.

American Jessie Diggins (l) on the podium after placing second in the World Cup freestyle sprint on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, behind Norwegian winner Maiken Caspersen Falla (c). Diggins edged Norway’s third-place finisher Heidi Weng (r) by 0.06 seconds.

Second place for Jessie Diggins. Add that to the list. On Saturday, at the last World Cup in Europe before the Ski Tour Canada, the 24-year-old U.S. Ski Team member raced to her career best in a sprint and first appearance in the six-woman final since placing fourth in the Lahti freestyle sprint a year ago.

Back in Lahti, Finland on Saturday, Diggins finished second to Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in the 1.6-kilometer freestyle sprint — her best result of the season after placing eighth in the freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Diggins went on to win a stage at the Tour de Ski: the 5 k freestyle in Toblach, Italy, and placed third in the 10 k freestyle at another World Cup last month in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Jessie Diggins of the U.S. Ski Team (second from l) follows Sprint World Cup leader Maiken Caspersen Falla (l) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (1), both of Norway, during the World Cup women's freestyle sprint final in Lahti, Finland, while skiing alongside another Norwegian Heidi Weng, and leading Hanna Falk of Sweden and Norway's Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (back, right). Diggins went on to place second behind Falla.

Jessie Diggins of the U.S. Ski Team (second from l) follows Sprint World Cup leader Maiken Caspersen Falla (l) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (1), both of Norway, during the World Cup women’s freestyle sprint final in Lahti, Finland, while skiing alongside another Norwegian Heidi Weng (second from r), and leading Hanna Falk of Sweden and Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (back, right). Diggins went on to place second behind Falla.

So you can say it’s been quite a run for Diggins. On Saturday, she qualified second behind Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, a serial qualifier winner, and advanced in second out of her quarterfinal (behind Falla), then third as a lucky loser out of her semifinal (behind Falla and Østberg, respectively).

In the final, Falla charged to the win in 3:33.81, while 0,25 seconds back, Diggins outlasted Norway’s Heidi Weng in a photo finish for second. The American took it, by 0.06 seconds, Weng placed third and Østberg finished fourth (+0.41) ahead of a fourth Norwegian in the final, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in fifth (+2.27). Sweden’s Hanna Falk finished sixth (+18.4).

Also in the heats, Sadie Bjornsen qualified 12th and advanced to the semifinals in second (behind Falk) in her quarterfinal. Bjornsen went on to place fifth in the second semifinal, behind Weng, Jacobsen, Norway’s Therese Johaug, and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, respectively, for 10th overall.

Sophie Caldwell finished 13th overall after qualifying sixth and finishing third in her quarterfinal. Ida Sargent placed 24th overall after qualifying 27th then taking fifth in the same quarterfinal as Bjornsen. Also for the U.S. women, Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished 35th and Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation) was 50th in the qualified.

Out of two U.S. men starting on Saturday, Simi Hamilton qualified 10th and went on to place 17th after finishing fourth in his quarterfinal, 0.6 seconds behind the winner — Petter Northug of Norway. Reese Hanneman (Alaska Pacific University) placed 49th on the day.

The fourth-fastest men’s qualifier, Norway’s Emil Iversen won his quarterfinal, semifinal and ultimately the final, beating out teammate Finn Hågen Krogh and Northug in second and third, respectively. Italy’s Federico Pellegrino placed fourth, and two more Norwegians Sindre Bjørnestad Skar and Eirik Brandsdal rounded out the final in fifth and sixth, respectively.

No Canadians competed.

Stay tuned for in-depth reports on the women’s and men’s races.

Results: Women | Men

Krogh Completes Östersund Sweep with First 15 k Skate Win

Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh claimed his first World Cup distance win in a 15-kilometer freestyle and his second-straight win of the last weekend of World Cup racing before World Championships by 13.5 seconds on Sunday.

The Sprint World Cup leader, who won Saturday’s classic sprint, Krogh posted the winning time of 32:46 in Östersund, Sweden. France’s Maurice Manificat finished 13.5 seconds back in second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner took third (+18.9), ahead of Norway’s Hans Christer Holund, an early leader who ended up fourth (+19.7).

Sweden’s Johan Olsson took fifth (+26.1), and two more Norwegians, Diderik Tønseth and Niklas Dyrhaug placed sixth and seventh, respectively.

Finishing his first World Cup of the season, American Noah Hoffman placed 38th (+1:54.2). His teammate Erik Bjornsen was 60th (+2:43.4), Matt Gelso took 71st (+3:33.8), and Northern Michigan University senior Kyle Bratrud was 84th in his first World Cup.

Canada’s Ivan Babikov placed 49th (+2:11.3), and Michael Somppi was 69th (+3:18.4).


Kalla Wins First World Cup in 5 Years; Bjørgen Secures Overall World Cup Title

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla led from start to finish of Sunday’s 10-kilometer freestyle individual start, and for a change, not even Norwegian World Cup leader Marit Bjørgen could come close as Kalla won her first World Cup since March 2010 by 36.4 seconds in 23:26.1.

“It feels great to win a World Cup again,” Kalla told FIS afterward in Östersund, Sweden. “The crowd here in Ostersund was so encouraging.  I know the courses here very well and I felt strong.  The 15th of February is a special day for me.  I won Olympic Gold in Vancouver on this day and again last year in Sochi we won the relay on this day, and now a World Cup win today.”

The Swede started 50th and led at every checkpoint before claiming her spot in the leader’s chair over Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Norway took four of the top five with Bjørgen in second, Therese Johaug in third (+53.6), Heidi Weng in fourth (+1:01.3), and Jacobsen in fifth (+1:08.3).

Also on Sunday, Bjørgen clinched her fourth Overall World Cup title as she is now 565 points ahead with four World Cup races left this season (all of which are after World Championships).

American Jessie Diggins landed in the top 20 in 17th (+1:47.7), teammate Liz Stephen was 26th (+2:08.6), Rosie Brennan placed 32nd (+2:26.6), and Kikkan Randall was another tenth of a second back in 33rd (+2:26.7).

Emily Nishikawa represented Canada, racing to 36th (+2:35.9).


Østberg Stays Ahead of Nilsson for 2nd World Cup Win in Otepää Classic Sprint

For Ingvild Flugstad Østberg on Saturday, there was mostly one woman threatening her quest for the win in the 1.2-kilometer classic sprint in Otepää, Estonia: Sweden’s Stina Nilsson.

Østberg topped the women’s qualifier by 0.24 seconds over Nilsson in 2:52.93. Then she won her quarterfinal ahead of Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter and fellow Norwegian Kathrine Rolstead Harsem, respectively, both of which advanced to the semifinals with a fast-enough time.

Nilsson placed second in her quarterfinal to Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, and was again second to Falla in their semifinal, after strategically letting up at the finish when she nearly caught Falla on the last descent.

Nilsson’s skis were fast enough, and she knew it. Østberg knew it, too, as she tried to keep her behind her in the finishing straight of the final.

Østberg did so, keeping seven or so meters ahead of the Swede to clinch her second-sprint victory of the season and fourth World Cup podium by 0.6 seconds in 3:20.18.

Two other Norwegians were in the final, with Celine Brun-Lie placing third (+2.29) and Falla finishing fourth (+3.67). Evgenia Shapovalova of Russia was fifth (+4.78), and Sweden’s Magdalena Pajala placed sixth (+5.99).

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk qualified 12th but ended up 16th after placing fourth in her quarterfinal behind Falla, Nilsson and Shapovalova.

Sadie Bjornsen was the lone American woman to qualify for the heats, and was a victim of the slowest quarterfinal. While she came up from behind late to challenge for second, she lost the photo finish to Pajala, who was second to Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes in the fifth quarterfinal. Third in her heat, Bjornsen ended up 15th overall.

Also for the U.S., Sophie Caldwell missed qualifying by one place and 0.9 seconds in 31st, as did Rosie Brennan, who placed 38th, 2.8 seconds out of the top 30, in her first World Cup of the season (fresh off three wins at U.S. nationals). Ida Sargent crashed out of contention in the qualifier and finished 43rd.

For Canada, Alysson Marshall placed 44th in her first World Cup of the season.

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen, Therese Johaug and Heidi Weng, coming off the Tour de Ski, did not compete. American Kikkan Randall is also skipping this World Cup weekend (and the next) during a 16-day break at home in Anchorage, Alaska.


Thomas Northug Breaks Away for 1st World Cup Win in Otepää

Without his older brother Petter Northug toeing the line and competing for attention on Saturday, Norway’s Thomas Northug made a name for himself with his first-career World Cup win in the men’s 1.5-kilometer classic sprint in Otepää, Estonia.

The 24-year-old Northug qualified seventh (4.4 seconds behind teammate Pål Golberg, the fastest qualifier in 3:17.61), and went on to place second in his quarterfinal and fourth in his semifinal, narrowly advancing to the final as a lucky loser with Golberg (who placed third).

Northug avoided a dramatic late crash in the semifinal from Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who poled between his own legs in the finishing straight and spun completely around, clipping Northug’s ski — who  was behind him — but Northug scooted around and outlunged Sweden’s Emil Jönsson for fourth.

In the men’s final, two of five Norwegians opted for skate skis on a slowing and chewed-up course. Northug wasn’t one of them and broke away on the first climb, putting nearly 40 meters into his competitors.

He looked back once, 200 meters before the finish, to make sure he was still in control and won the final by 1.57 seconds over teammate Ola Vigen Hattestad, who also stuck with classic skis on the herringbone course and locked up second. Hattestad outlunged Finland’s Toni Ketelae, who led the chase after Northug, in a photo finish. Ketelae placed third for his first World Cup top 10.

Golberg finished fourth (+6.28) and the two Norwegians at the back of the pack — Finn Hågen Krogh and Sondre Turvoll Fossli — placed fifth (+9.23) and sixth (+10.26) because of their skate-ski gamble.

Two American men qualified for the heats: Andy Newell in 21st and Simi Hamilton in 30th. Hamilton and Newell went on to place third and fourth in the first quarterfinal, respectively, 3.26 and 3.68 seconds behind Golberg as the winner and Hattestad, who was 0.3 seconds back in second.

Erik Bjornsen missed the top-30 qualifying cutoff in 57th, and for the Canadians, Lenny Valjas was 45th, Jess Cockney 61st and Patrick-Stewart Jones (Alberta World Cup Academy) 62nd in his first European World Cup.


Northug Outlasts Halfvarsson, Sundby and Belov to Take Toblach Pursuit; Harvey 6th

With a 1.5-second head start in the men’s Tour de Ski 25-kilometer freestyle pursuit on Thursday, Petter Northug used both brains and brawn to edge the four men behind him: Calle Halfvarrson of Sweden, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and Russia’s Evgeniy Belov, respectively.

The Norwegian Tour leader heading into Thursday’s race, Northug hung around fourth through every checkpoint on the five-lap race. At 20.7 k, he trailed Belov in first by 2.3 seconds. Sundby sat in second, less than a second back, and Halfvarsson positioned himself in third.

The fifth stage and the Tour’s longest-distance race came down to a sprint between the four, with Northug pulling out a two-second win in 53:56.9, ahead of Halfvarsson in second, then Sundby, who was third for the third-straight day (+2.2), and Belov in fourth (+2.4).

“I was tired in the third and fourth lap,” Northug told FIS. “I tried to save some energy for the last lap. It is a close Tour de Ski and we will see what happens in the mass start in Val di Fiemme.”

A minute and 43.5 seconds later (and 1:45.9 behind Northug), Norway’s third man, Niklas Dyrhaug nipped Alex Harvey by one-tenth of a second for fifth. Harvey improved one spot in the standings to sixth, finishing 0.4 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Dario Cologna in seventh.

Wednesday’s 10 k classic winner, Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan took eighth (+1:49.1), Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson finished ninth (+1:51) and Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin was 10th (+2:08.3).

Three Canadian men competed in the pursuit, with Devon Kershaw improving to 25th (+4:11) after starting 29th, and Ivan Babikov holding his starting position in 31st at the finish (+4:13.9).

Harvey is currently sixth in the Tour with two stages to go in Val di Fiemme, Italy (although he plans to skip the final climb on Sunday), 2:01 behind Northug. Kershaw is 25th (+4:26) and Babikov is 31st (+4:28.9). Northug in first overall is currently 7 seconds ahead of Halfvarsson in second, and 12.2 ahead of Sundby in third.

The three American men withdrew from the Tour after Wednesday’s 10 k.


Sundby Bumps Tønseth by 6.6 Seconds for Davos 15 k Classic Win

Didrik Tønseth probably felt pretty good about himself after bumping Switzerland’s Dario Cologna from the leader’s chair on Saturday in the 15-kilometer classic individual start at the Davos World Cup. He might not have been the Swiss fans’ favorite at the time, but it was quite a feat to top Cologna by 0.7 seconds.

At the same time, Tønseth probably knew what was coming — his Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who ended up topping him by 6.6 seconds for his sixth individual World Cup win in 39:39.7.

My plan was to ski 3 even laps. I tried to keep the same pace,” Tønseth told FIS after the race. “I thought that the course here would not fit me because I like steeper uphills. Last year I also started last season strong, but after the Christmas it was not good. I hope I can keep the good shape until the World Championships in Falun.”

Sundby said he wasn’t sure whether to race on classic or double pole on skate skis, like Cologna did. Cologna was the only one in the field to do so, and ended up on the podium, 7.3 seconds behind Sundby.

I expected that last 5 km to be really hard if I went double poling,” Sundby told FIS. “After 10 km when I heard that Dario had a big lead I thought I made a wrong choice.”

But he hadn’t. Not only did Sundby beat Tønseth and Cologna, he completed the three-lap course faster than his teammate Sjur Røthe, who ended up fourth (+16.4) and Sweden’s Daniel Richardsson in fifth (+22.9).

I am very happy to finish on the podium,” Cologna told FIS. “My first races at the beginning of the season were not good. I decided to go double poling. It was a right choice for me. I had a good speed until the end.”

An early leader, Norway’s Petter Northug finished 10th (+54.9).

Alex Harvey led the Canadians in 17th (+1:05.8), Devon Kershaw was 32nd (+1:45.5), Graeme Killick placed 41st (+2:08), and Kevin Sandau was 70th (+4:07.4) in his first World Cup of the season.

Erik Bjornsen placed 48th (+2:31) for the U.S., and Reese Hanneman was 79th (+5:36.4) of 83 men.