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Tour de Ski

Freeman Crashes Early in Pursuit; Will Continue Tour Despite Shoulder Contusion

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Kris Freeman (USA) crashed into a fence early in the pursuit stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberhof, Germany, on Sunday, breaking his pole and causing major bruising on his shoulder. The fall happened around the 1 k mark on the first major descent right before the fabled blind downhill turn, resulting in a high-speed collision with the fence lining the course and the loss of valuable momentum.

“It was deep corn snow and some guys started snowplowing in front of me, and I started snowplowing so I wouldn’t run into them, and next thing I knew I was in the fence,” Freeman said in a phone interview on Sunday evening. “I’m in a lot of pain but I’m OK… It was a pretty crappy day.”

Freeman was positioned at or near his 35th starting position prior to falling; after it he was fairly close to the back of the 97-man field. Once he found a replacement pole he climbed back to 57th by 3.7 k and remained thereabouts for the rest of the 15 k, finishing 3:11.1 behind Maxim Vylegzhanin’s (RUS) winning time.

Freeman was unsure of how he would have raced otherwise. “It’s impossible to say how good I felt today, because after you crash into a fence things kind of change,” he said. “I tried to get back into the race — I moved up from 70th or something to 50th pretty quickly, but I ran out of gas.”

Freeman was given a replacement pole fairly quickly, but it was short and had a basket ill-suited for the sugary snow. “You needed a powder basket today and I was going down to the asphalt with my pole on every stroke,” he said, adding that he chose not to replace it again because “once you get moving it takes too much time to switch poles again.”

After finishing, Freeman was advised by the Canadian team ostepath not to cool down or ski with the bruised shoulder on Monday’s rest day in order to keep inflammation under control, but was also told he should be OK to race again on Tuesday for Stage 3 of the Tour.

Freeman’s goal prior to starting the Tour was to finish in the top ten; now he says he’s reassessed to focus on the remaining stages as individual opportunities.

“Any time you drop three minutes in a stage you kind of have to reassess — it’s a Tour, it’s a long event,” he said. “I’m pretty bummed out. Barring some incredibly good racing I’ll just be looking for some good indivudal races here.”


Vylegzhanin, Legkov Go 1-2 in Tour Pursuit

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The Russians want this Tour. Maxim Vylegzhanin and Alexander Legkov pushed the pace early and held on to nab first and second, respectively, in Sunday’s 15 k classic pursuit. The two overtook Norwegian leader Petter Northug within the first few kilometers with teammate Ilia Chernousov, Switzerland’s Dario Cologna and Canadian Alex Harvey.

Despite changing leads several times, it was always the Russians up front, and at the finish, Vylegzhanin and Legkov broke away to take the top two spots on the podium. Vylegzhanin won in 39.47 and Legkov was given the same time.

Meanwhile, Northug and Cologna switched positions in the back of the seven-man pack, and the two overtook Harvey, who was running in third, at the finish. Northug claimed third (+6.4) and Cologna was fourth by 0.2 seconds, while Harvey was fifth (+7.6) one second later.

Chernousov placed sixth (+20.4), Matti Heikkinen (FIN) salvaged seventh after tripping up on a lane change, Lukas Bauer (CZE) was eighth, Sergey Turyshev (RUS) was ninth, and Johan Olsson (SWE) took 10th.

Canadian Ivan Babikov finished 19th (+1:29.3) after starting 32nd, Devon Kershaw placed 27th (+1:55.3) and Lenny Valjas was 33rd (+1:59.8).

American Kris Freeman ended up 58th (+3:11.0), Noah Hoffman was 69th (+3:37.2) and Andy Newell was 74th (+4:20.9).


Northug Back in Action, Claims Tour de Ski Prologue

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Petter Northug proved he hasn’t been slacking off the past few weeks despite missing the Canadian World Cups. The Norwegian won the 42 k La Sgambeda Marathon nearly two weeks ago in Livigno, Italy, then kicked off the Tour de Ski on Saturday with a victory in the 4 k freestyle prologue in Oberhof, Germany.

Northug beat runner-up Marcus Hellner of Sweden by 6.1 seconds, and Alexander Legkov of Russia was third (+7.2). Defending TdS champ Dario Cologna was fourth (+10.1) and Ilia Chernousov (RUS) took fifth (+10.7). Canadian Alex Harvey finished sixth (+11.3) for his best result of the season just ahead of Maxim Vlegzhanin (RUS) and Martin Jaks (CZE), who tied for seventh (+11.8).

Andy Newell led the U.S. in 21st (+22.2), Ivan Babikov of Canada was 32nd (+25.7) and Kris Freeman (USA) was 35th (+27.0).

Other North Americans: 48. Devon Kershaw (CAN), 52. Lenny Valjas (CAN), 94. Noah Hoffman (USA)

Men’s prologue results

Tour de Ski men’s standings after Stage 1

World Cup Calendar Finalized for 2012-2013

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The race calendar for the 2012-2013 World Cup season was finalized on Thursday by the FIS Council. Highlights of the season include World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, the seventh running of the Tour de Ski and (for North America) two weekends in Canada at the end of Period 1.

There are a few other new stops on the calendar: a TdS stage will be held in Switzerland for the first time and Sochi, Russia, will hold three pre-Olympic World Cup races from February 1 – 3.

The Junior and U23 World Championships will be held in Liberec, Czech Republic from January 20 – 27.

Check out the full FIS World Cup calendar here.

Britain’s Andrew Musgrave on His Tour de Ski

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – FasterSkier caught up with Britain’s Andrew Musgrave for a quick interview after his efforts in the penultimate stage of the 2012 Tour de Ski. Like Norway’s Eldar Roenning, Musgrave has had some help on the Tour from his brother.

Legkov Notches Fastest Men’s Time Up Alpe Cermis

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – A pair of men who had a pair of the worst days in Saturday’s Stage 8 of the Tour de Ski here had the two best days in Sunday’s Stage 9 – the Tour’s final climb up the Alpe Cermis.

Alexander Legkov (RUS) and Maurice Manificat (FRA) finished first and second in the contest for best time in the final climb, in nearly a dead heat. Legkov finished in 30:38.2 and Manificat in 30:38.3, with Marcus Hellner in third place another second back, in 30:39.9. (The reason the three men weren’t the first to the finish line is because Stage 9 was a handicap-start, with athletes placed higher in the overall standings getting a head start.)

While Hellner started in third place and used his result to climb to second in the overall Tour standings, Legkov and Manificat weren’t situated as well at the start of the day, thanks to nightmare races in Stage 8 here on Saturday.

Legkov had problems with his skis and wax, while Manificat struggled with his body.

After the race on Sunday, Manificat told FasterSkier he had “better legs, and good skis.”

“Yesterday, it was a day without, as we say in French. But it’s like that—the Tour is very long, and you need to be at 100 percent,” he said. “All works today, and so, I finish on good things, and it’s good to continue the season.”

Link to results.

Cologna Wins Third Tour, Hellner Breaks Northug for Second

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – Dario Cologna (SUI) won his third Tour de Ski, title easily holding his signifcant lead on the way to the top of the Alpe Cermis.

With a lead of 1:22 entering the 9km stage, there was little doubt that Cologna would win, but the race for second was another story.

Cologna on the Final Climb.

Northug headed out 40 seconds up on Marcus Hellner (SWE) and Devon Kershaw (CAN). The two worked together on the flat, before Hellner attacked headed into the climb. Kershaw fell off the pace, and the Swede quickly closed the gap on Northug.

If Northug has one weakness, it is the final climb, and Hellner easily outdistanced him.

Kershaw held onto fourth and his teammate Alex Harvey placed 12th.

Alexander Legkov (RUS) posted the fastest time of the day, besting Maurice Manificat (FRA) by .1 seconds. The tow men were in contention for second until Saturday’s 20k mass start. The two struggled, falling back in the standings.

Hellner had the third fastest time, 1.7 seconds behind Legkov.

Italian Roland Clara was fastest on the hill itself.

Complete Results


Kowalczyk Wins Up the Alpe, Collects Third Tour Victory

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Score one for Justyna Kowalczyk.

For the first time in three years, the Polish skier got the better of Norwegian Marit Bjoergen in the premiere event of the ski season, dropping her rival partway up the climb of the Alpe Cermis to win the 2012 Tour de Ski.

While Bjoergen had the upper hand at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and at the 2011 World Ski Championships in Oslo, Kowalczyk finally broke through this time. She was 28 seconds faster than Bjoergen up the hill, with plenty of time to celebrate at the top.

“It has been a very big fight between me and Justyna,” Bjoergen said in a press conference afterwards. “Justyna was stronger than me.”

Therese Johaug (NOR) was the third woman to the top, giving her the final place on the overall podium, and also the fastest time of the day.

Kikkan Randall (USA) dropped two places from her start position, but still managed to hold on to 10th place in the overall. Her teammate Liz Stephen notched the 8th-fastest time of the day, moving her up to 24th overall, while Holly Brooks (USA) was 31st, giving her 39th place in the overall.

Link to full results from the day.

Link to overall results.

Kowalczyk Wins Tour Stage 8, Takes Narrow Lead into Alpe Cermis

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – The battle between Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) is coming down to the wire.

Kowalczyk won Stage 8 of the Tour de Ski on Saturday to take an 11-second lead in the overall standings over her Norwegian rival heading the Tour’s last stage here on Sunday: a nine-kilometer hill climb up the Alpe Cermis, a local alpine ski area.

Kowalczyk went out of the start hot, took a small lead on the second of two 4.5-kilometer laps, then fought off a late charge by Bjoergen to take her first win since Stage 3 of the Tour in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Charlotte Kalla (SWE) was third, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) fourth, and Julia Ivanova (RUS) fifth.

Kikkan Randall (USA) was 12th after skiing with the lead pack early, while her teammates Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks were 34th and 45th, respectively.

Link to full results.

Roenning Takes Brutal 20k, Harvey 2nd

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

TESERO, Italy – Eldar Roenning (NOR) used a hard attack on the last small climb into the stadium to open a five meter gap on the field, before holding on in the homestretch to win the penultimate stage of the 2012 Tour de Ski.

Alex Harvey (CAN) bested overall Tour leader Dario Cologna (SUI) in the double pole to take second and claim his first World Cup distance podium since 2009 in Trondheim, Norway.

Cologna hung on to third, just a fraction of a second ahead of Northug.

With the intermediate bonus sprint moved to the top of the largest climb, the race broke apart in a fashion usually only seen on the women’s side.

The pack was already stringing out the first time to the top at 1.8k. While the pace dropped somewhat coming through the stadium, the numbers at the front dwindled consistently.

Some of the big names in contention for the overall podium could not hold on—namely Maurice Manificat (FRA) and Alexander Legkov (RUS), and to a lesser degree, Ilia Chernousov (RUS).

Devon Kershaw (CAN) was sixth, and right in the mix at the end. Both he and Harvey captured bonus seconds on every lap except for one.

Cologna took a number of seconds as well, and pretty much iced his overall win.

The battle is now for second and it is very close.

Complete Results