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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results | Qualifier results

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

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

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

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

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

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


Halvarsson of Sweden Wins Stage 2 of TdS

Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson won the second stage of the Tour de Ski on Sunday in the men’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint final in Oberhof, Germany. In densely falling snow, Halfvarsson fended off Italy’s Federico Pellegrino and a late-charging Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway to capture Sweden’s second win of the day (Hanna Erikson won the women’s final.)

Andy Newell, Alex Harvey, and Devon Kershaw all qualified for the quarterfinals.  Harvey and Kershaw raced against each other in the first quarterfinals, with Harvey advancing in second and Kershaw just missing out in third.

Harvey started his semifinal in third position until Russian Alexander Legkov’s ski caught him and he fell at the base of a climb. Unable to catch up, he finished the day in 11th.

Newell also advanced to the semifinal round, finishing 10th overall.


1. Calle Halfvarsson (SWE)

2. Federico Pellegrino (ITA)

3. Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR)

4. Jens Eriksson (SWE)

5. Josef Wenzl (GER)

6. Petter Northug (NOR)


North American results:

10.  Andy Newell (USA)

11.Alex Harvey (CAN)

18. Devon Kershaw (CAN)

35. Simi Hamilton (USA)

95. Noah Hoffman (USA)

101. Ivan Babikov (CAN)

Harvey, Østberg Top Tour Sprint Qualifiers in Oberhof; Caldwell Fifth

The good vibes are still very much with Alex Harvey a day after the Canadian won the opening stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany, finishing just ahead of his teammate Devon Kershaw in Saturday’s freestyle prologue.

Harvey went on to post the fastest men’s time in the 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint qualifier in 2:49.76, finishing 2.34 seconds faster than Sweden’s Jens Eriksson in second. Ales Razym of the Czech Republic was just another five-hundredths of a second back in third, and Russia’s Alexander Legkov another two-hundredths back in fourth.

After Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson in fifth, Norway’s Petter Northug qualified in sixth, and Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave in seventh.

Kershaw advanced to the heats in 10th, Andy Newell of the U.S. qualified in 12th, but Simi Hamilton was a second out of the top 30 in 35th.

In the women’s 1.5 k qualifier, Norway’s Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg was fastest around the one-loop course in 3:08.6. Finland’s Anne Kyllonen was second, 0.27 seconds back, and Slovenia’s Alenka Cebasek third (+1.68). Norway’s Marit Bjørgen qualified in fourth (+2.76) ahead of American Sophie Caldwell in fifth (+3.05). Caldwell edged Germany’s Denise Herrmann in sixth by one-hundredth of a second.

After France’s Celia Aymonier in seventh, Norway’s Therese Johaug and Astrid Jacobsen qualified in eighth and ninth, respectively. Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova advanced in 10th, Perianne Jones moved on in 14th, and Jessie Diggins of the U.S. ranked 18th.

Also for the U.S., Liz Stephen placed 33rd, missing the top-30 cut by 0.78 seconds, and Holly Brooks was 37th, another 1.75 seconds back.

Results: men | women

Canadians Back on Top: Harvey, Kershaw Go 1-2 in TdS Prologue

After somewhat of a slow start to the season, the Canadians found some serious speed on Saturday in Oberhof, Germany, as Alex Harvey finished first and Devon Kershaw took second in the 4.5-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first stage of the Tour de Ski.

“It was obviously a great day for me,” Harvey told FIS. “[Four-and-a-half] k prologues are always very hard, you need to pace it really perfectly I think if you want to be in the top ten.  So try to start fast, but save some power for the last lap.”

Kershaw sat in the leader’s chair for a good portion of the race after topping Swede Jens Eriksson‘s previous best by 11.4 seconds. Harvey was the only man to finish faster by 4.1 seconds in 9:03.4, bumping Kershaw to second.

“It’s awesome to share the podium with Kersh,” Harvey added. “It’s the second time we do that, and the second time in a prologue actually, so it’s great to have Canada one, two.”

Despite some late Norwegian starters, their  positions held as Chris Jespersen of Norway placed third, 10.2 seconds behind Harvey. Russia’s Ilia Chernousov was fourth, France’s Robin Duvillard fifth, and Norway’s Martin Sundby sixth, while Eriksson ended up seventh.

Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi rounded out the top 10 in eighth, along with Norway’s Finn Haagen Krogh in ninth and Estonia’s Aivar Rahemaa in 10th.

The 12th starter, Andy Newell led the U.S. in 20th (+20.4) after hovering just outside the top 10 for much of the race. Canada’s Ivan Babikov had a personal-best prologue finish in 26th (+24.8), just 0.2 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug in 25th.

Also for the U.S., Simi Hamilton placed 42nd and Noah Hoffman was 82nd out of 106. Lenny Valjas did not start.


Bjørgen Off to Fast Start in Tour de Ski Opening Prologue; Two U.S. Women in Top 10

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen didn’t have any trouble getting going in the rainy-and-slow conditions in Oberhof, Germany, winning Saturday’s Tour de Ski opening 3-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first of seven stages.

Bjørgen bested teammate Astrid Jacobsen by 1.9 seconds with the fastest time of 6:34.4.

“It was a short race so its really hard to find the right speed, but today it was good for me,” Bjørgen told FIS. “It’s a good start. It’s been 2 weeks since my last competition so it’s good to be back again.”

The Tour’s four-time defending champion, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland did not race for reasons that were immediately unknown.

“I’m very sorry, but in this situation I can not occur in Tour de Ski,” Kowalczyk wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Another Polish skier stepped up in her place, with 27-year-old Sylwia Jaśkowiec tallying her first World Cup podium in third, 7 seconds behind Bjørgen.

Denise Herrmann of Germany was fourth (+8.4), American Jessie Diggins notched fifth (+9.2) for her best Tour de Ski stage result (and tying her best individual World Cup finish). Diggins was 62nd in the Oberhof 3 k prologue last year.

Finland’s Anne Kyllonen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen finished sixth and seventh, respectively, on Saturday, and Slovenia’s Alenka Cebasek was eighth (+10.7) and American Sophie Cadwell ninth (+11.8) ahead of Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen in 10th (+12.0)

Also for the US Ski Team, Holly Brooks finished 21st and Liz Stephen placed 34th.

Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova took 37th and Perianne Jones was 47th of 78 finishers.


Finland’s Saarinen, Kyllönen Dominate Classic Team Sprint; U.S. Fifth and Eighth

On another muggy morning in Asiago, Italy, Finland’s women showed they have no problem keeping pace on slow snow as Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Anne Kyllönen routed the 10-team final with a 10-second victory.

Neck and neck with Finland for most of the race, Norway I fell four seconds behind on the second-to-last lap of the 6 x 1.25-kilometer classic team sprint, with Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg tagging Maiken Caspersen Falla in second and Falla falling another six seconds back on the final lap.

The Norwegians settled for second, 9.68 seconds off Finland’s winning time of 19:15.72, after barely holding off Germany’s Katrin Zeller and Denise Herrmann, who finished 0.34 seconds later in third.

Norway II took fourth with Kari Gjeitnes and Celine Brun-Lie (+11.53) and the Americans placed fifth (+18.48) with Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall. Bjornsen brought the team as high as fourth into the last exchange, but they were still more than 2 seconds behind Norway II in third and 12 seconds out of first.

USA II’s Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell finished eighth (+20.56) in the final, and Caldwell posted the third-fastest course time on her first lap.

Canada placed 16th overall after Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova placed eighth in the second semifinal.


Hattestad Outlunges Poltoranin for Norwegian Team Sprint Victory in Asiago

Ola Vigen Hattestad knew exactly what was coming as he held a slight margin over Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin coming into the finishing stretch of Sunday’s World Cup 6 x 1.65-kilometer classic team sprint in Asiago, Italy.

Inches behind the Norwegian, Poltoranin jumped into what many deemed a faster track in the final 100 meters. Hattestad didn’t look back, but just kept chugging, double poling ferociously to the finish. Poltoranin was closing, and Hattestad thrust his leg over the line, extending himself so far he almost didn’t make it.

But he did.

The Norwegian’s first team of Hattestad and Eldar Rønning took a photo finish win of Kazakhstan (with Nikolay Chebotko, who fell on the second-to-last lap). Norway won in 24:47.40, Kazakhstan was second and Norway II’s Øystein Petterson and Eirik Brandsdal placed third (+2.19).

Russia I (Alexander Panzhinskiy/ Nikita Kriukov) ended up fourth (+2.63), and Sweden I (Teodor Petterson/Simon Persson) finished nearly 13 seconds back in fifth.

Neither the Canadians nor the Americans advanced to the 10-team final. Canada’s Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey placed fifth and USA I with Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell were sixth in the second semifinal, but neither had fast-enough times to advance. Canada placed 11th overall and the Americans 12th.

Canada II (Jesse Cockney/Lenny Valjas) placed 13th in the same semi for 24th overall, and USA II (Torin Koos/Mikey Sinnott) finished 15th in the first semi for 28th.


Kowalczyk Holds Off Kyllönen, Falla for Asiago Classic Sprint Win

Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk got out front early and never relinquished the lead on Saturday in Asiago, Italy, winning the World Cup women’s 1.25-kilometer classic sprint final by 1.35 seconds in 3:14.03.

After qualifying in second behind Slovenia’s Katja Visnar, Kowalczyk went on to win both her quarterfinal and semifinal in a similarly commanding fashion, then denied Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla of leading early in the final. Meanwhile, Finland’s Anne Kyllönen conserved in third, and outsprinted Falla for second behind Kowalczyk.

Kyllönen finished 1.35 seconds behind Kowalczyk for her first World Cup podium, and Kalla took third, 2.31 seconds after the winner. Britta Johansson Norgren of Sweden took fourth (+5.18), Germany’s Denise Herrmann was fifth (+6.31), and Norway’s Kari Gjeitnes was sixth (+7.29).

Visnar ended up 11th after dropping to sixth in her semifinal. Ida Sargent of the US Ski Team (USST) was the lone North American to advance to the semifinals after placing third in her quarterfinal. She ended up fifth in her semifinal behind Kowalczyk, Gjeitnes, Herrmann, and Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, respectively.

Dasha Gaiazova placed 14th for Canada after finishing third in her quarterfinal, Americans Sadie Bjornsen finished 16th and Kikkan Randall was 20th after finishing fourth and fifth in their heats. Also on the USST, Sophie Caldwell was fifth behind Bjornsen for 24th.


Visnar, Hattestad Top Asiago Qualifiers; Bjornsen, Newell Fifth Fastest

Katja Visnar of Slovenia and Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad posted the fastest qualifying times in the women’s 1.25 k and men’s 1.65 k classic sprints, respectively, by more than two seconds at Saturday’s World Cup in Asiago, Italy.

Visnar bested Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk by 2.23 seconds in 3:02.85, and Germany’s Denise Herrmann qualified in third (+3.00). Mona-Lisa Malvalehto of Finland ranked fourth (+3.41) and American Sadie Bjornsen qualified fifth (+3.70).

Hattestad finished the 1.65 k qualifier in 3:57.37, topping Sweden’s Emil Joensson in second by 2.8 seconds. Norwegians Eirik Brandsdal qualified third (+4.78), Eldar Rønning ranked fourth (+4.83), and another US Ski Team member, Andy Newell, advanced in fifth (+5.0).

Also qualifying: US Ski Team members Ida Sargent (21st), Sophie Caldwell (25th), Simi Hamilton (25th), and Kikkan Randall (27th), and Canadian Dasha Gaiazova (28th).

Outside the top 30, Canada’s Devon Kershaw placed 33rd, Chandra Crawford finished 45th, Perianne Jones was 54th, Lenny Valjas was 70th, and Jess Cockney 77th. Alex Harvey was disqualified for skating.

Americans Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation) finished 67th, and Michael Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) was 78th.

Women’s qualifier | Men’s qualifier

Gløersen Tallies Another Norwegian Win in Davos Sprint, Finland’s Jylhae Second

Finland’s Martti Jylhae had the race of his life on Sunday, qualifying in first then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal en route to the World Cup 1.5-kilometer men’s freestyle sprint final in Davos, Switzerland. A podium would have been a career best for the 26 year old.

With a bit more World Cup experience under his belt, Norway’s Anders Gløersen, 27, qualified in 10th and placed second in each of his heats, doing exactly what he needed to make the final. There, rounding the 750-meter course twice, Gløersen sat patiently as others, including Jylhae, jostled at the front. With one major hill on the course, the Norwegian charged up to the front of the pack just before it and gradually pulled away, holding first place through the finish.

Gløersen won the final in 2:38.74, and Jylhae took second by 0.59 seconds. Sergey Ustiugov edged his Russian teammate Alexey Petukhov by 0.32 seconds in third (+1.0). Finn Haagen Krogh of Norway took fifth (+2.15) and Italy’s Federico Pellegrino ran out of gas after trying to lead early to finish sixth (+11.81).

Simi Hamilton of the US Ski Team was the top North American in 14th after placing third in the second-fastest quarterfinal. Andy Newell did not make it out of the quarterfinals after placing fourth in his heat for 17th overall.

None of the Canadians qualified, with Alex Harvey placing 45th, Lenny Valjas 61st,  Devon Kershaw 69th, and Jess Cockney 82nd. Neither did Americans Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) in 56th and Mikey Sinnott (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation) in 85th.


Bjørgen Overtakes Randall for Narrow Davos Sprint Victory

Marit Bjørgen pulled a classic Bjørgen move, hanging in contention but out of the lead until the last split-second of Sunday’s freestyle sprint at the World Cup in Davos, Switzerland. With American Kikkan Randall leading into the finishing stretch, the Norwegian world champ came on strong down the finishing stretch, beating Randall by one-hundredth of a second at the line.

Bjørgen won the 1.5 k sprint in 2:57.60 and Randall took second ahead of Germany’s Denise Herrmann in third (+0.24). Bjørgen qualified fourth, won her quarterfinal and placed second to Randall in the semifinal to capture her ninth World Cup victory in Davos.

“I had a good feeling today, but Kikkan is very strong,” Bjørgen said in a post-race interview with Randall’s husband Jeff Ellis, a media coordinator for FIS. “I was a little bit better than her so I’m really happy. That was really good.”

In her first World Cup final, Hanna Erikson of Sweden followed with a career-best fourth (+3.13), Slovenia’s Vesna Fabjan was fifth (+4.05), and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took sixth (+7.54).

Americans Sophie Caldwell and Jessie Diggins made the semifinals, where they placed fifth and sixth, respectively, to end up ninth and 12th overall.

Also on the US Ski Team, Sadie Bjornsen placed 27th overall after finishing sixth in her quarterfinal, and Holly Brooks missed qualifying in 33rd, half a second out of 30th. (The top 30 were packed within 3.6 seconds of one another.) Ida Sargent placed 41st in the qualifier and Rosie Brennan was 61st for the U.S.

Canadians Dasha Gaiazova and Chandra Crawford placed 42nd and 43rd, respectively, in Crawford’s first World Cup this season.


Manificat Rises to Win 30 k in Davos; Hoffman 25th

Maurice Manificat of France timed Saturday’s 30-kilometer freestyle individual start to a ‘T’ and finished 3.3 seconds ahead of Norway’s Chris Andre Jespersen for the win in 1:05:10.8. The leader thround 24.5 k, Jespersen finished second for his first career World Cup podium and became the World Cup distance leader. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby placed third, 14.9 seconds behind Manificat, to hold onto the overall World Cup lead.

“It was a tough race,” Manificat told FIS after the race. “I was thinking of two years ago when I did not push hard enough towards the end and lost victory in the last lap. Today,  tried to save some energy to the last 7.5 km and I was afraid to open too hard. I tried to ski fast in the flat sections. It feels great to win today.”

Noah Hoffman was the lone American skier in the men’s race and placed 25th (+1:54).

“I did okay,” Hoffman told FasterSkier. “I probably went out a little harder than I wanted to. It felt okay, but not great.”

Ivan Babikov represented Canada in 47th (+4:05.4)

Russia Holds Off Pressing Norwegians for Lillehammer Relay Win

After his three Russian teammates did most of the work ahead of him on Sunday, Maxim Vylegzhanin took advantage of skiing in the top three and a major risk in the final stretches of the World Cup 4 x 7.5 k relay in Lillehammer, Norway. With the likes of Norwegians Petter Northug (NOR I), Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR II), Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR III) on his tail, Vylegzhanin attacked on the second-to-last climb and held the gap all the way to the finish for 1.6-second Russian victory.

Gjerdalen fell behind on the final ascent, but Krogh and Northug pushed relentlessly in an effort to catch Vylegzhanin down into the stadium. With Dmitriy Japarov, Alexander Bessmertnykh, Alexander Legkov (who made a decisive attack in the third leg to break 11 skiers down to three), and Vylegzhanin, Russia won in 1:19.04.7, and Norway’s second team captured second with Krogh (+1.6). Norway took third and fourth as well, with Northug (+1.8) and Gjerdalen (+9.3), respectively, and Marcus Hellner carried Sweden to fourth (+21.0) ahead of France’s Ivan Perrillat Boiteux in fifth (+22.2). The Czech Republic placed sixth (+49.7) with Martin Jaks as its anchor. Norway’s fourth team placed seventh, 1:15 out of first.

Canada finished 14th with Lenny Valjas, Alex Harvey, Ivan Babikov, and Devon Kershaw (+3:01.4), and the U.S. men placed 17th of 19 teams (+3:48.2), with Andy Newell, Kris Freeman, Noah Hoffman, and Simi Hamilton.



Norway Runs Away with Women’s Relay; U.S. Fights for Third

Just over a year after placing third in Gallivare, Sweden, for a historic World Cup podium, the U.S. women repeated the feat in Sunday’s 4 x 5-kilometer relay at the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway — with Jessie Diggins (US Ski Team) using every last ounce of her energy to hold onto third.

Marit Bjørgen capped off a commanding performance for Norway, which won in 58:38.9 with scrambler Heidi Weng, an aggressive second leg by Therese Johaug, and Kristin Stormer Steira. A minute and 15 seconds back, Krista Lahteenmaki anchored Finland to second. After Liz Stephen tagged the USA’s first team (they started two) in third, 15 seconds behind Finland, Diggins made a run for second and caught Lahteenmaki about two kilometers in. Bjørgen started the final leg with a 35-second lead and stayed smooth in sloppy, snowy conditions for a comfortable win.

With Lahteenmaki and Diggins skiing together for the rest of the race, the Finn skied away after the last big climb and final descent into the stadium. Diggins crashed, broke a pole but quickly got a replacement from the Norwegian team and held onto third, finishing 23.4 seconds after Lahteenmaki and nearly 11 seconds ahead of Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR II).

After Russia in fifth, Sweden in sixth, Norway III in seventh, Germany in eighth, Russia II in ninth, France in 10th and Poland in 11th, the USA’s second team of Sophie Caldwell, Ida Sargent, Holly Brooks, and Rosie Brennan placed 12th (+3:20.5).