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Kershaw and Harvey Struggle in Toblach 5k

Toblach, Italy – Wet new snow and a glazed track made for another challenging classic day for the men’s 5km prologue.

Canadians Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw both had disappointing performances, placing 18th and 29th respectively.

Harvey found the warm-up loop too flat and was not able to spike his lactate prior to his race—an essential piece of his pre-competition preparation.

The first part of the race ended up serving this warm-up function, and Harvey stiffened up.

Harvey headed up the first climb.

He told FasterSkier that his body felt good and his skis were excellent, and that he is “pissed” with how the day went.

“I couldn’t warm up anywhere else,” Harvey said “It is the same for everybody, but I need a hard warm-up.”

Kershaw had other issues. Hailing from Canmore, Alberata, Kershaw doesn’t get many opportunities to race on hairies—the classic ski preparation that involves roughing the kick zone with sandpaper, but not applying wax.

“I just wasn’t able to transfer the power like I usually do in classic,” Kershaw said.

He sees his ability to ski hairies as a “weakness,” with the problem rooted in trust.

“In your head you know there is no wax – so it is hard to trust it,” Kershaw said.

Kershaw is in 5th in the overall standings, 1:29.8 behind leader Dario Cologna (SUI), while Harvey is 15th, +2:33.5.

Harvey.

The final Canadian racer, Ivan Babikov was not a sure thing to start until this morning.

Babikov crashed hard in the skiathlon in Berstdorf, and there were initial concerns that he broke his wrist.

The X-rays were negative, and after warming up today, he decided he could race.

Babikov placed 72nd in the 78-skier field.

A full report on Babikov will follow.

 

And Finally, Some Snow, Ready for Action in Toblach

What with the rainy racing in Oberstdorf on Saturday, and the dry roads headed up into the Dolomites, it was a relief to drive into Toblach/Dobbiaco last night in a snow storm. Real snow. Big flakes, falling quickly and silently onto us, dusting us in white and in big grins.  We found a pizza place – prosciutto, salami and onions – with delicious sudtirolian beer: a great combination of the best that Italian and German culture have to offer.  Then we went out last night around 11:30 and skied down the road and found the stadium, which is amazing – the ski course actually climbs up and over the dome-shaped ski center. (Unfortunately, we suffered some damage to our skis passing under a small bridge where there was, er, no snow.) Still, awesome to feel like we’re finally in winter.

Now with a brilliant bright day, the men are warming up for their race, and it’s a classically classic waxing challenge. Wet new snow close to freezing. The tracks are highy glazed in many places: that wobbly, clattery stuff you get in these conditions.  Corners are going to turn to mush.

The course features a number of gradual longer climbs – very skiable. There will be a fair amount of double pole.

Here’s hoping that everyone finds the perfect wax.

Kowalczyk Struggling with Knee Injury, But Plays Down Problems

The Polish media are reporting that Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) is suffering from a knee injury that may threaten her completion of the 2012 Tour de Ski.

Kowalczyk, who currently leads by 27 seconds heading into the Tour’s fifth stage on Tuesday, has a swollen knee but is taking anti-inflammatories to combat the problem, according to the website Sport.Pl.

NRK has some quotes from the Norwegian skiers about their rival.

Newell Drops Out of Tour, Will Look Towards Milan Sprint

OBERSTDORF, Germany – U.S. Ski Team sprinter Andy Newell dropped out of the 2012 Tour de Ski before its fourth stage here on Sunday, failing to fight off an illness that had been threatening since Thursday.

“I think maybe we were all in a little denial that he was coming down with it,” said U.S. Head Coach Chris Grover. “But this morning, there was no denying it. He sounded quite bad.”

Even with a rest day approaching on Monday, Grover said that neither he nor Newell felt that the sprinter would be able to recover quickly enough to fight for good results over the next few stages in Toblach, Italy, so they pulled the plug on the Tour and will focus on upcoming sprint races over the next month in Milan, Estonia, and Russia.

Grover said that Newell would be isolated from the rest of the team, but that he’d probably travel with them to the next venue in Toblach. Asked if Newell would be strapped to the top of the American van to avoid infecting his teammates, Grover responded, “absolutely.”

“We have multiple vehicles, so he’ll be riding with the staff,” Grover said. “With the expendable part of the crew.”

Hamilton 75th in Tour Skiathlon

OBERSTDORF, Germany – Simi Hamilton finished the Tour de Ski Men’s 20K Skiathlon today in 75th place, skiing up 6 places in the skate portion, 4:12.9 back from the leaders.

Top of the Climb

Hamilton told FasterSkier that the “classic didn’t go very well. I just didn’t have a lot of pop today…I felt flat for sure.”

Charging uphill

His classic skis “had good kick but were a little draggy,” but he would’ve chosen that over slick skis on today’s course, which featured 12 robust climbs.

He was able to stay with the front group for the first couple of laps, but then the “pop left my legs.” From where he was in the back of the group, he described the pack as an “accordion” surging forward for the preems, and regrouping somewhat at the top of the hill.

The skating was somewhat better, but he added that he shifted his focus to skiing “really efficiently,” in order to feel fresh in Wednesday’s skate sprint.  He put in some good practice for Wednesday, outlunging sprinter Alexei Petukhov (RUS) who was second in yesterday’s classic sprint.

And, of course, “it’s nice that it wasn’t raining.” A sentiment likely shared by fans, skiers, and support staff alike..

 

Bjoergen’s Rides Rocket Skis to First Win of 2012 TDS

OBERSTDORF, Germany – Marit Bjoergen (NOR) won Stage 4 of the 2012 Tour de Ski here on Sunday, finally putting an end to Polish superstar Justyna Kowalczyk’s winning ways.

After four hectic laps of a 2.5-kilometer course, two in the classic technique and two in freestyle, Bjoergen capitalized on a rocket-fast pair of skis—the same ones she rode to a silver medal in the 30 k freestyle at World Championships last season—to pass Kowalczyk on the homestretch after the final descent.

Bjoergen’s teammate Therese Johaug was third.
Despite losing in the sprint, Kowalczyk still leads in the overall standings of the Tour, with nearly a 30-second lead over Bjoergen. Johaug is nearly a minute behind, with American Kikkan Randall a distant fourth, three minutes back.

Link to full results.

Freeman Missing “Top Gear” In Tour Skiathlon

Kris Freeman (USA) skied to a disappointing 47th place finish in the men’s 20km skiathlon in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Freeman entered the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in 30th overall, but slipped in the standings on day when he said he was missing his top gear.

“I got dropped in the classic which was unusual for me,. and then actually started feeling better in the skate which was really odd.” Freeman said.

The race featured six preems in the eight lap race. Bonus seconds were vailable on the top of the biggest climb, and impacted the pace.

“On the first preem the pace just went down hard, and I was like ‘I’m not doing that,’ but then it didn’t let up,” Freeman said.

“So as far as making the race really hard the preems did their job,” he added.

Freeman said he wasn’t worn down after three consecutive days of racing, chaling up his performance to “a combination of not a very good day and that I have not found my form yet this year.”

He said he had some trouble getting his classic skis to kick, but blamed that on the fact that he blew up early in the race.

His skate skis were excellent and felt he “had something to fight with in the skate.”

Northug Wins TDS Stage 4 in Typical Fashion; Cologna Draws Closer

OBERSTDORF, Germany – The rivalry between Petter Northug (NOR) and Dario Cologna (SUI) just keeps on getting better, as the Norwegian took a nail-biter of a sprint in Stage 4 to hold onto his overall lead in the 2012 Tour de Ski—by a single second.

After battling to collect bonus time in mid-race sprints over the course of a 20-kilometer skiathlon (10 kilometers of classic followed by 20 kilometers of skating), the Norwegian turned on the jets on the homestretch to edge Cologna and Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin.

While Northug emerged victorious, Sunday’s race was just as much of a victory for his Swiss opponent, who collected enough extra time to actually narrow his gap to Northug from the start of the day.

“It was a good race for me—I took back many bonus seconds,” Cologna said.

After staying out of the wind for much of the first part of the race, Northug looked better and better as the competition progressed, and said as much.

“I didn’t have the best feeling in the classic power today…I had to save my power in the skating part, and that was the plan,” Northug said in a press conference.

The race featured a rotating cast of characters at the front of the lead group, from Sweden’s Marcus Hellner to the Czech Republic’s Lukas Bauer to a whole cadre of Russians.

The mid-race sprints provided plenty of excitement, and Northug had some help from his teammates when it came to scooping up the time bonuses that came with the sprints.

Since a number of his teammates are out of contention in the overall standings, they contested the sprints when Northug was too tired, to keep his opponents from gaining too much of an advantage, and they also helped guide him through the pack, according to Norwegian Head Men’s Coach Trond Nystad.

Alexander Legkov (RUS) was the one who began mixing the race up in earnest on the final 2.5-kilometer lap. He opened a small gap, but was reeled in by Hellner, setting the stage for Northug’s heroics.

Cologna didn’t appear too disappointed with second place, and neither did his coaches—the Swiss staff were exchanging hi-fives in the finish area after the race.

Link to full results.

Babikov Injured in Bad Crash, Broken Wrist Likely

With less than 400 meters to go, what was shaping up to be an excellent day for Ivan Babikov, ended in disaster.

The Canadian distance specialist skied up from the 40’s in the first half of the fourth stage of the 2012 Tour de Ski, a 20km skiathlon,to take the lead halfway through the skate portion.

He dropped back, but just a little, and was right in the mix in the top-10 headed down the final hill to the stadium. But in moments the race, the Tour, and possibly the rest of Babikov’s season crumbled into the wet, rain-soaked snow.

Babikov fell on the final corner, sliding hard into the barrier, breaking a ski and a pole, and sustaining a cut on his face.
Worst of all however, he badly injured his wrist.

According to Canadian Head Coach Justin Wadsworth, medics in the finish area believe Babikov broke his left wrist. It swelled immediately and he was having trouble moving it.

The man know as the “Bulldog” for his tenacity, finished the race, skating across the line with one arm, before collapsing and grabbing his wrist.

“It is really too bad for Ivan,” Wadsworth said. “This is going to be a bummer for the whole team.”

Babikov was headed to the hospital in an ambulance for x-rays, with Wadsworth planning to follow behind.

Photos From TDS Classic Sprint

A few quick shots from today’s Tour de Ski sprint. Pouring rain made for challenging photography conditions – more (and hopefully better) photos to come…

Randall Undone by Freak Fall

According to US Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover, Kikkan Randall felt she had the skis and the body to compete for the podium in today’s Tour de Ski Classic sprint.

Randall advanced out of the quarters and was as good as through to the finals when she fell hard entering the stadium. There were no other skiers near her, and as Grover put it, “it was one of those kind of crashes where she didn’t even know what had happened.”

A visibly frustrated Randall was heard asking Grover “how did that happen?” in apparent bafflement.

While crashes are not uncommon in sprint races, they usually happen due to contact with other racers.

“It is especially frustrating when it is no one’s fault but her own,” Grover said.

Randall was not the only top skier to crash out. Swede Emil Joensson went down in the semis as well, after entering as one of the favorites.

And another strong woman, Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN), fell on the challenging downhill corner, but as in Randall’s crash, there were no other skiers near.

The tracks held up well considering the heavy rain that fell throughout the day, but the combination of the moisture and wet snow from earlier in the morning made for tricky conditions, particularly on the high speed descents.

 

TDS Stage 3 Results: Kriukov Leads Russian Powerhouse in Classic Sprint

Nikita Kriukov (RUS) topped a 1 through 4 sweep for the Russian sprint team in Saturday’s classic sprint stage in Oberstdorf, Germany. Alexey Petukhov finished 2nd, followed closely by teammates Nikolay Morilov and Dmitriy Japarov in 3rd and 4th.

Dario Cologna (SUI) and Petter Northug (NOR) trailed in 5th and 6th, respectively. Northug slipped and fell uncharacteristically late in the final, tangling with Cologna and bringing him to a full stop when both men were already at the back of the pack.

Emil Joensson (SWE), normally an exciting sprinter, took a spill in the semis was knocked out of final contention.

Men’s top 12:

1. Nikita Kriukov (RUS)

2. Alexey Petukhov (RUS)

3. Nikolay Morilov (RUS)

4. Dmitriy Japarov (RUS)

5. Dario Cologna (SUI)

6. Petter Northug (NOR)

7. Maxim Vyegzhanin (RUS)

8. Maurice Manificat (FRA)

9. Marcus Hellner (SWE)

10. Teodor Peterson (SWE)

11. Devon Kershaw (CAN)

12 Timo Simonlatser (EST)

Men’s overall Tour de Ski standings as of Saturday:

1. Petter Northug (NOR) 47:42.0

2. Dario Cologna (SUI) +4.8

3. Dmitriy Japarov (RUS) +14.1

4. Devon Kershaw (CAN) +36.7

5. Maurice Manificat (FRA) +38.2

6. Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) +39.2

7. Alexander Legkov (RUS) +40.0

The leaders didn’t perform as well in the sprint, so if anything, the bonus seconds only tightened up the overall.

TDS Stage 3 Results: Kowalczyk Dominates Bjoergen From the Gun

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) led the women’s final from the word ‘go’ in Saturday’s stage 3 Tour de Ski Sprint. She ended up beating Marit Bjoergen (NOR) by over 3 seconds. Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) finished in 3rd.

Kikkan Randall (USA) was taken out in the semis with an unlucky fall on the final hill coming into the stadium. She’d challenged Kowalczyk for much of the race.

1. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL)

2. Marit Bjoergen (NOR)

3. Astrid Jacobsen (NOR)

4. Natalia Matveeva (RUS)

5. Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE)

6. Aurore Jean (FRA)

7. Ingvild Oestberg (NOR)

8. Charlotte Kalla (SWE)

9. Kikkan Randall (USA)

10. Anastasia Dotsenko (RUS)

11. Vesna Fabjan (SLO)

12. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN)

Stage 3 Results.

Overall women’s Tour standings after Saturday, including bonus seconds from the classic sprint (complete standings):

1. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) 33:39.2

2. Marit Bjoergen (NOR) +22.2

3. Therese Johaug (NOR) +1:01.4

4. Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) +1:26.0

5. Kikkan Randall (USA) +1:40.8

6. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) +1:44.3

Brooks and Stephen Done for Day After Soggy Sprint Qualifier

The first sprint of the 2012 Tour Ski kicked off in Oberstdorf, Germany on a nasty day—a mixture of snow and rain soaked spectators and athletes alike and there is no sign of imroving conditions with the heats set to start in 15 minutes.

Liz Stephen and Holly Brooks failed to advance to the heats, and will be part of the cheering squad for teammate and birthday girl Kikkan Randall.

Brooks placed 40th, 3.69 seconds out of the top-30. Struggling with a wrist injury, Brooks has not yet shown the form that made her a regular points scorer in the first World Cup period.

“It was better than yesterday, but not where I have been skiing or where I should be skiing,” Brooks said.

She wasn’t bothered by the conditions, saying “I don’t mind messiness. I really like skiing in the rain. This is a great course.”

While the race was an improvement, she continues to have issues with her wrist.

“Double pole is really hard. It hurts, but also even with the pain I don’t feel like I can get full force out my arm. It feels like something is missing,” she said.

She said it might feel a little better today, but the shorter distance helped.

At this point Brooks is planning on sticking out the Tour, and is looking forward to some skate racing, which has been easier on the wrist.
“I am not ready to pull the plug at all,” she said. “I worked too hard to get here. I will just hang the best I can and maybe eke something out in one of the skate races.”

Stephen was further back in 5th in the 69-woman field. While she has been working on improving her speed, she is still more of a distance specialist.

But that didn’t mean she changed her program. Because of all the climbning on the Oberstdorf course, it plays to her strengths.

I think down the road I could qualify here—there is so much climbing. Defintiely the goal was to qualify today. I did the same warmup I always do, intervals. It will keep me sharp for tomorrow,” Stephen said.

She raced on klister as did Brooks, but Stephen felt her skis were a biut slippery, and she was out of the track for much of the climbs. She said the choice between zero skis and klister was a “tough call.”

She described the day as “almost another rest day” as she won’t be racing in the heats, and can begin focusing on tomorrow’s skiathlon.

Stage 3: Petukhov Tops Sprint Qualifier; Northug Close Behind

Alexey Petukhov (RUS) took the lead in Oberstdorf, Germany in the sprint qualifying round, +0.61 ahead of Petter Northug (NOR), who sat at the top of the results for a little while as an early starter.

The top-30 were tight—only 5.69 seconds separated the last qualifier from Petukhov. The quarterfinals will begin at 2:30 pm CET (8:30 am EST).

Top 10 (full results here):

1. Alexey Petukhov (RUS) 2:27.81

2. Petter Northug (NOR) +0.61

3. Maxim Vyegzhanin (RUS) +1.14

4. Dario Cologna (SUI) +1.83

5. Dmitriy Japarov (RUS) +1.85

6. Josef Wenzl (GER) +1.90

7. Nikolay Morilov (RUS) +1.99

8. Emil Joensson (SWE) +2.06

9. Cyril Miranda (FRA) +2.34

10. Nikita Kriukov (RUS) +2.37

14. Alex Harvey (CAN) +3.29

16. Devon Kershaw (CAN) +3.45

28. Andy Newell (USA) +5.55

34. Simi Hamilton (USA) +6.80

43. Kris Freeman (USA) +7.85

81. Ivan Babikov (CAN) +16.60

Teichmann Eludes Pileup to Win Classic Pursuit

Through challenging conditions a large pack of men battled at the front of the second stage of the Tour de Ski.  Today, a 15km classic pursuit, the skiers started based on their finish times from yesterday.  Norway’s Petter Northug donned the number one bib and started six second in front of yesterday’s second place finisher Dario Cologna (SUI).  However, the two skiers were quickly caught and a large group formed up front.

As the pace lifted over the final few kilometers and skiers jockeyed for position it was pileup with just a few hundred meters remaining that proved to be the races pivotal moment.  Germany’s Axel Teichmann was the only skier to escape and he cruised to victory over the final hundred meters.  Petter Northug (NOR) battled through the inside of the corner and the rest of the tangled skiers and tried to catch the German, but there was not enough time to close the gap.  He would have to settle for second on the day.  Dario Cologna (SUI) took the final spot on the podium, finishing third, roughly three seconds off the pace.

The Canadian squad battled up in the front pack with Devon Kershaw claiming 15th place, 16.2 second down.  Alex Harvey finished the day in 27th and Ivan Babikov crossed the line in 52nd place.

For the American’s there was a lot of movement.  Kris Freeman started the day in 64th and worked his way up to 30th, while Andy Newell had a rough one, falling from 29th starting position to 74th place.  Simi Hamilton held strong, finishing the day in 66th place.

Check back soon for more updates and reports.

Complete Results 

Kowalczyk Makes it Two for Two – Randall 6th

The race out front in the second day of the Tour de Ski quickly was down to just four skiers with Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), Therese Johaug (NOR), Marit Bjoergen (NOR) and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) all gapping the rest of the field. Over the final kilometer or so, it was Johaug and Kowalczyk who got clear from the other two. As the two battled down the final stretch, Johaug with her quick tempo and Kowalczyk with her will, it was the Pole who took her second straight stage win of the this 2012 Tour de Ski.

For the the American’s, Kikkan Randall skied from tenth position to 6th place, while Liz Stephen skied from 38th to finish in 29th place. Holly Brooks finished in 56th place.

Check back soon for full reports.

Complete Results

Tour de Ski Stage 2 Video Preview

Snow overnight and temperatures hovering near 0 C make for a potentially interesting day in Oberhof. The race is 10/15km classic. As of 2:00PM in Oberhof, the video is processing and will be available soon.

Tour de Ski Stage 1 – Calling It a Day

We’re working out a routine here on the Tour, and just finishing up our first day. You can check out reports on the international results of the men’s and women’s races, the American women, and Canadian men; we’ll have some news from the American men in the morning. Check back first thing tomorrow!

Video Higlights From Tour de Ski Final Climb

Fiemme2013 produced two videos of highlights – one for men and for women – of the 2011 Tour de Ski Final Climb.

Men:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/PQcn-ck9krE" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Women:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_qa2a9XCAvc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]