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Kowalczyk Dusts Women’s 10 k Classic on Her Birthday at Home; Stephen Sixth

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

A heavy favorite for the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start in Szklarska Poręba, Poland, Justyna Kowalczyk lived up to her home-crowd’s delight on Sunday, dropping the field soundly by the halfway point and striding to a 41.8-second win.

On her 31st birthday, Kowalczyk finished without anyone in sight in 34:34.2, and waited at the finish to congratulate Russian runner-up Yulia Tchekaleva. Another Russian, Julia Ivanova rounded out the podium in third, 1:15.2 minutes behind, after outsprinting Germany’s Denise Herrmann by four seconds. After Herrmann in fourth, Germany’s Claudia Nystad took fifth, 5.2 seconds ahead of American Liz Stephen in sixth (+1:26.4). For Stephen, it was a career best in an outright World Cup (not including stages).

Germany had three in the top seven with Stefanie Boehler (+1:28.4), who finished ahead of Russia’s Natalia Zhukova in eighth (+1:47.8). Ida Sargent of the U.S. placed ninth (+1:49.3) for her best result of the season, and Austria’s Katerina Smutna was 10th.

Also for the U.S., Kikkan Randall tallied 14th a day after winning her second-straight World Cup skate sprint, Sophie Caldwell was 16th, and Jessie Diggins 24th. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) did not finish.



Randall on a Hot Streak, Wins 2nd Straight Skate Sprint in Poland

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) reiterated that she’s in top form three weeks out from the Olympics, qualifying in 10th then winning each of her heats on Saturday at the World Cup 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint in Szklarska Poręba, Poland.

Putting herself in prime position coming into a flat-and-fast finish, Randall outsprinted Germany’s Denise Herrmann for the victory in 3:06.89, her second-straight sprint win since dominating last weekend’s freestyle final in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

“Today took a lot more strategy,” Randall said in a post-race interview with her husband and FIS media coordinator Jeff Ellis. “With the draft out there and fast conditions, fast finish you really had to be confident on your feet out there.”

Randall edged Herrmann by 0.25 seconds for the win and Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan placed third, 1.10 seconds back. Another American in the final, Jessie Diggins followed Randall toward the finish before getting caught up on a corner with Switzerland’s Laurien Van der Graaff. The two went down, Poland’s Sylwia Jaskowiec used the home fans to fuel her to fourth, 1.42 behind Randall, and Diggins got up to finish fifth (+6.99). Van der Graaff came across the line nearly 20 seconds later in sixth.

Earlier in the afternoon, Jaskowiec qualified in second behind Italy’s Greta Laurent, who won the qualifier in 3:08.69 but placed fifth in her quarterfinal. Herrmann qualified third and Sophie Caldwell of the U.S. advanced in fourth.

Caldwell ended up seventh after winning her quarterfinal and placing third in her semifinal.

Perianne Jones led Canada with a season-best 10th after qualifying in 30th, and teammate Dasha Gaiazova placed 23rd after qualifying in 26th and placing fifth in her quarterfinal.

American Ida Sargent qualified 15th and ended up 13th, after placing third in her quarterfinal, and Liz Stephen tallied a career-best sprint result of 15th after qualifying in 22nd and edging Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk for third in the quarterfinals. The sixth American woman, Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) narrowly missed qualifying in 33rd.

Final results | Qualifier

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

Saturday, January 18th, 2014

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)


Final Results


Østberg Speeds Norwegian Women Into 1st in Nove Mesto Team Sprint, Finland Comes In Close 2nd, American Women 6th

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Norwegian women hammered their way to victory today in the classic Team Sprint, in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic today, edging Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

The Norwegian team, composed of Maiken Caspersen Falla and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, finished the 6×1.3-kilometer course in 20:58.47, 3.8 seconds ahead of Finland. The Norwegian women were less than a half-second behind Finland at the final tag, when Østberg turned on the afterburners, posting a blisteringly fast 3:13.58, by far the fastest individual leg of the day. In third place was Russia II, composed of Evgenia Shapovalova and Julia Ivanova (+4.56).

Russia I took fourth (+26.01), while Norway II was fifth (+26.7).

American women were sixth-place (+34.18), fielding Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell, while the Canadian women, Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova,  were 13th, advancing to the semifinals. American standouts Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen decided not to race.

Complete Results


Kriukov Outsprints Norwegians for Russian Classic Sprint Victory

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results: men | women

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

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results | Qualifier results

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

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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