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Tour de Ski

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

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

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

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

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

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

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.


Diggins Blog: The Tour Recap

Friday, January 11th, 2013

The following is reprinted with permission from Jessie Diggins’ blog.

I think maybe one of the most mixed feelings in the world is waking up super sore and achy, with knots in muscles you didn’t even know you had and energy levels so low you just go back to sleep instead of going down to breakfast. It feels aweful for sure…but at the same time, you know that to get to this point you’ve pushed yourself hard. Past whatever previous limits your self-preservation had set for you. Past that mental wall that says you can’t race hard and fast day after day. And certainly past the point at which you actually care what flavor of energy bar you get!

The Tour de Ski is finished, and everyone on our team made it through healthy and with a great attitude. And now we get to: 1. do laundry!!! 2. drink Italian espressos in the sun and 3. train in the beautiful mountains while we recover. As I’m typing this there are a bunch of somewhat tipsy Italians singing outside the hotel, so I’m taking that as a sign of the start of a great rest week.

Today we did a team debriefing of the Tour, focusing on what we did well, what we can improve on for next year, and how it went overall. It was great to review, so here’s my short(ish) recap! It was a great tour for us, with Kikkan in 12th, Liz in 15th, Me in 21st, Holly in 38th, Bird in 44th and Noah in 46th.

Starting the tour for me was a little rough – I was still getting over the virus I picked up in Canmore and hadn’t stopped coughing yet. But my lungs were slowly clearing out and I knew that the best way to get back into racing shape was simply to race! Falling hard in the first stage and coming in 62nd was a little rough but it also took off any pressure – all I had to do was chase and try to move up in the standings, one day at a time.

The only way to handle the tour, for me at least, was so focus only on the day at hand, especially if it wasn’t a great race the day before. In such a long stage race there will definitely be bad races, and there will also be great races. But if you focus on a bad day and let it pull you down, you can get pretty negative pretty fast, which won’t ever help! That’s another reason this team is so awesome – the whole team was committed right from the start to taking this challenge day by day and staying strong mentally, even when it wasn’t easy. It made all the difference!

My worst race were definitely the ones in Oberhof, the most exciting was the night sprints in Val Mustaire, and my best was in Toblach-Dobbiaco, in the 15km skate. I skied the race almost entirely by myself instead of in a pack, which was sometimes harder but much faster for me on the downhills because with some faster corners I was able to ski them the way I wanted to, and make up time instead of playing tactics. But that’s a women’s race for you – just hammer, don’t mess around!

The last two races, my stomach wasn’t cooperating very well. I get stomach aches after either getting wicked nervous, or after super hard efforts. And after so many races in a row, my stomach was just in a constant knot! It was pretty painful and I felt like I might puke. So…timing the food just right when the racing gets more intense is definitely something I need to work on!

The last day, the day of Alpe Cermis climb, I was the most nervous. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t nervous about how I was going to finish, or how I was going to race. I was nervous because I have done hill climbs in the past, and I know that for me, they are more painful than any other race. And I was scared not of how much it was going to hurt, but scared that I would get to the point where you either stop or push through it…and not keep pushing. I was worried that I wouldn’t push myself hard enough when it came down to it. Because giving up is the worst feeling, worse than losing a race when you have given your all.

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry, because I ended up pushing hard enough to be pretty much delirious on the finish line! But I definitely had a moment during warmup when I had to stop, stand still and just breathe, and remind myself that this is just a race. The last stage started especially well; since Liz and Holly warned me that the mass start was crazy and you could get stuck on the narrow trail, I led from the mass start and tried to set a fast pace so we could start reeling people in. I knew Liz was going to have a great climb and I didn’t want people getting in the way of a fast section from the stadium to the base of Cermis! Then we took turns leading and that flat section till the base was probably the most fun I had since we were working together and moving along fast. It was so cool! (but not literally – it was super hot outside and I was burning up in the black race suit!)

Of the 74 girls who started the tour, only 51 completed all the stages. I was the youngest one to cross the finish line, and I guess I have about 10 more Tours coming up in my career. And I’m pretty psyched for them!

But the most impressive thing about the Tour is not the amount of racing but how much hard work goes in behind the scenes. Our staff was amazing – they were waking up early and testing, getting our race skis prepped, moving the wax room every day or evey other day, and they did a great job. We don’t have the biggest staff on the World Cup, but the people we DO have are fantastic and I feel so lucky to get to work with them!

The night sprint we went to right after the Tour was a show team sprint put on by Sportful, and it was so, so fun. Our teams were me and Ida, and Liz and Holly, and we were zooming around this loop in a field with banners, arches and a pretty good crowd! I tagged for the final time to Ida with a small lead, and then Holly bridged the gap in the last lap and won, with Ida coming in 3rd. We all got gift baskets with RIDICULOUS amounts of cheese and sausages. Yum!

Here’s a couple pictures from the night sprint, taken by Cork:

Me leading the pack around a tight corner.

Warming up in the stadium with the Italian ladies.

Last but certainly not least, CONGRATS and good luck to everyone back home at Nationals! While you guys are waking up early to check on us in Europe, we’ve been staying up to check on your results. Seriously – Liz and I literally couldn’t sleep until we heard how the first races had shaken out. It’s been super fun following!

Poltaranen Wins Tour Stage 5

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Alexey Poltaranen  won the mens 5km individual start classic as fatigue took over the men’s race following yesterday’s 36km race over a mountain pass.  Petter Northug and Dario Cologna also looked relatively fresh in claiming the remaining podium spots and time bonuses.

  • 1 Alexey Poltaranin (KAZ), 12:37.9
  • 2 Petter Northug (NOR), 8.0 seconds behind
  • 3 Dario Cologna (SUI), 8.2 behind
  • 4 Dmitriy Japarov (RUS), 13.7 behind
  • 5 Alexander Legkov (RUS), 15.7 behind


Lenny Valjas lead the Canadians in 11th, 25.0 seconds behind, after going through the 1.8km time check  in 35th. Devon Kershaw was 20th, 34.4 seconds back.  Ivan Babikov was 31st, 44.1 back.  Alex Harvey was 42nd, 59.6 seconds behind after looking tired from the start.

Andy Newell lead the American contingent in 44th, less than a second behind Harvey.  Noah Hoffman was 60th, 1:15.9 behind the winner.  Kris Freeman was 61st, 1:18.0 back.

73 men finished stage 5.

Kowalczyk dominates Toblach 3.3k – Stage 5

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Justyna Kowalczyk re-established her position as race favourite with a big victory in a 3.3km individual start classic race in Toblach, Italy.

Kowalczyk won in 10:08.1 on what was otherwise a good day to be Finnish.  She was 15.8 seconds ahead at the top of the course and gained almost a second on the descent.

  • 1 Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), 10:08.1
  • 2 Krista Lateenmaki (FIN), 16.5 seconds behind
  • 3 Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR), 17.1 behind
  • 4 Anne Kylloenen (FIN), 17.7 behind
  • 5 Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), 21.1 behind
  • 6 Therese Johaug (NOR), 22.2 behind
  • 7 Kikkan Randall (USA), 24.2 behind
  • 8 Denise Herrmann (GER), 25.2 behind
  • 9 Charlotte Kalla (SWE), 25.3 behind.


With the 15 second winning bonus going to Kowalczyk, second-overall Charlotte Kalla is now 1:03 behind and third-overall Therese Johaug 1:06 behind.

For the Americans, Jessie Diggins was 32nd, Holly Brooks was 38th, and Liz Stephen was 45th of 57 racers remaining in the Tour.

Kowalczyk Holds on to Tour Lead, Kalla Closes Gap

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) started the day with a 50 second lead on Norwegian Therese Johaug, heading into the 15km freestyle pursuit in Toblach, Italy.

She held her top position, and it was Charlotte Kalla (SWE) and not Johaug who crossed in second, just 18 seconds behind the Pole. Johaug was just a meter behind in third, with teammate Kristin Stoermer Steira  just back in fourth.

Johaug started by herself, and cut 12 seconds off the lead over the first of three laps, but was unable to make additional progress. Kalla meanwhile pushed hard from behind, pulling Steira along, eventually catching Johaug, and leading the pack on an attack that knocked twenty seconds off the lead in a matter of kilometers.

With sprint bonuses awarded to the top three, Kowalczyk now sits 23 seconds ahead of Kalla in the overall.

Kikkan Randall (USA) dropped from 5th to 8th, but made up time, and is just seconds out of her start position.

Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins had strong days for the U.S. as well. Stephen moved from 25th to 19th and Diggins from 39th to 27th.

Holly Brooks dropped from 23rd to 34th.



Northug Claims Tour Pursuit Victory

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

A year ago, Petter Northug’s hopes of a Tour de Ski victory came to a sudden and painful end on the long gradual climbs up from Cortina in the 35km pursuit.

He blew up in spectacular fashion, leaving Dario Cologna (SUI) to ski away to an insurmountable lead.

Such was not the case today, as not only did Northug hang tough, he took the stage win, and has set up the potential for one of the closes Tours ever.

Northug won a sprint to the line over Alexander Legkov (RUS), Cologna, and Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS).

The four men now enter the final three stages separated by just 16 seconds, the bigger margin coming from the sprint bonus seconds awarded to the top-3 at the end of today’s race.

Alex Harvey (CAN) continued his strong Tour, placing 6th, just a tenth of a second behind another Russian, Illia Chernousov. The pair is a full 1:40 behind Northug, but with major bonus seconds available in Saturday’s mass start, and the Alpe Cermis looming on Sunday, the gap is not impossible.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) continued his resurgence, skiing up to 12th from 22nd, while teammates Ivan Babikov and Lenny Valjas placed 21st and 23rd respectively at the end of the day.

The Americans were unable to capitalize on an event the appeared favorable, with Kris Freeman leading the way in 43rd. Noah Hoffman was 57th and Andy Newell 67th.


Day After 30th Birthday, Randall Wins Tour Skate Sprint

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

After winning the qualifier by nearly five seconds, American Kikkan Randall rolled through the heats on Tuesday, New Year’s Day, winning the Tour de Ski 1.4-kilometer skate sprint in Val Müstair, Switzerland. After turning 30 Monday, Randall went on to win her final by 8.8 seconds over Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) in second, and Heidi Weng (NOR) was third (+10.6).

Randall is currently fifth in the Tour de Ski overall standings, 1:18.1 behind Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), who was seventh on Tuesday.

Women’s final

1. Kikkan Randall (USA) 3:37.0

2. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) +8.8

3. Heidi Weng (NOR) +10.6

4. Hanna Kolb (GER) +12.6

5. Kristin Størmer Steira (NOR) +14.7

6. Charlotta Kalla (SWE) +19.5

Top 10

7. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)

8. Denise Herrmann (GER)

9. Aurore Jean (FRA)

10. Therese Johaug (NOR)

Other U.S. results:

17. Jessie Diggins

18. Holly Brooks

25. Liz Stephen


Krogh Nabs First World Cup Stage Win, Valjas Notches 3rd in Tour Sprint

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Finn Haagen Krogh of Norway put down a strong qualifier and went on to stay alive through the heats, winning the third stage of the Tour de Ski, the 1.4-kilometer skate sprint on Tuesday in Val Müstair, Switzerland. After qualifying in third behind Emil Jonsson (SWE) and Dario Cologna (SUI), respectively, Krogh went on to win his quarterfinal and advance as a lucky loser in his semi.

Canadian Lenny Valjas did the same, moving on as a lucky loser after finishing third ahead of Krogh in the semifinal. The two moved on to the final, where Valjas decided he didn’t want to be in the back anymore, charged ahead and ended up third. Cologna fell and settled for fourth in the Tour’s first visit to his hometown, and Frederico Pellegrino (ITA) held his own for second.

Men’s Final

1. Finn Haagen Krogh (NOR) 3:21.3

2. Frederico Pellegrino (ITA) +1.0

3. Len Valjas (CAN) +1.6

4. Dario Cologna (SUI) +3.5

5. Calle Halfvarsson (SWE) +6.5

6. Emil Jonsson (SWE) +32.9

Top 10

7. Marcus Hellner (SWE)

8. Petter Northug (NOR)

9. Andy Newell (USA)

10. Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS)

Other Canadian results:

12. Alex Harvey

15. Devon Kershaw

67. Ivan Babikov