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Northug Delivers Relay Gold With Usual Antics

Friday, March 1st, 2013

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy — Petter Northug and the Norwegian men trounced the men’s 4×10 k relay field on Friday at World Championships with a tactical game in the last leg and final sprint with Sweden, Russia and Italy. For most of the final 10 k the leaders eased way off the pace, standing up on downhills and stopping to make others take the lead. The pace was so slow that teams like the United States, Finland and France, who started the last leg way behind leaders, were able to bring themselves back into contact.

But when Northug decided to go on the second-to-last climb no one could match his finishing kick. Northug tilted his head and smirked for the cameras as he crossed the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson.

“This was a dream relay,” Northug told the NRK after finishing. “It’s awful fun to win the relay, and a dream to fight against Sweden at the end. I know what rests on my shoulders. It is almost a scandal to be number two.”

The American anchor, Tad Elliott, brought his team home in 10th (+1:01.4) after spending all his energy clawing back to the leaders on his first laps. Canada finished twelfth (+2:39.3).





Poltoranin Drops Cologna, Pellegrino for Davos Sprint Victory

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Second in Saturday’s qualifier to Italian young gun Frederico Pellegrino, Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan made a point to win every heat thereafter in the World Cup 1.5 k classic sprint in Davos, Switzerland. Poltoranin made the biggest splash in the final, dropping the field and winning by 5.49 seconds over Switzerland’s Dario Cologna.

Pellegrino finished 6.02 seconds back in third and American Andy Newell was fourth (+9.09). Poltoranin’s teammate, Nikolay Chebotko placed fifth (+11.51) and Canadian Lenny Valjas was sixth (+12.34).

Devon Kershaw (CAN) tied his season best in eighth, but he failed to advance out of the semis in fourth. Simi Hamilton (USA) was 13th after qualifying in fifth and placing third in his quarterfinal, which wasn’t quite fast enough for a lucky-loser spot.


Kowalczyk Claims Fourth Tour, But Johaug Closes Gap to 30 Seconds; Stephen is Second-Fastest Climber

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

When Justyna Kowalczyk left the stadium at the bottom of Alpe Cermis, she was quite sure she was going to win her fourth consecutive Tour de Ski – and she did. But Norway’s Therese Johaug put on a show and drove herself to complete exhaustion, closing a 2:08 gap to Kowalczyk at the start of the race down to 27.9 seconds at the finish. By doing so, Johaug posted the fastest time of the day. Teammate Kristin Størmer Steira hung tight in third, not climbing as fast as expected and finishing 2:39 behind the winner. She was in no danger of losing the podium, however.

Krista Lahteenmaki of Finland dropped Astrid Jacobsen of Norway near the very top of the climb to claim fourth, while Heidi Weng had one of the faster times of the day and moved from tenth all the way up to sixth, passing the likes of Kikkan Randall and Charlotte Kalla along the way. Kalla crossed the line seventh and Randall 12th.

The best American performance on the day came from Liz Stephen, who skied the second-fastest time behind Johaug to move from 22nd up to 15th. Jessie Diggins finished 21st and Holly Brooks 38th to round things out for the U.S.

Final Tour de Ski standings / times for the final climb

Penalty to Legkov Changes Tour Standings

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

In initial results from today’s Tour de Ski mass start, there were penalties next to Alexander Legkov and Tobias Angerer’s names, and it wasn’t entirely surprising. In the mass sprint at the finish, Legkov tried to ski in between tracks because it was faster, but there’s not really space there, and he had a slight tangle with Angerer.

Now, officials have assessed a 15-second penalty to Legkov for obstruction.

That changes not only the results from the race, but also the overall tour standings. If his time had stood, Legkov would have been atop the rankings going into the final climb, 8.5 seconds ahead of Dario Cologna of Switzerland and 20 ahead of Petter Northug of Norway. Instead, current standings (find them here) have Cologna just where he usually is… in the lead going into the final climb. Legkov is second, 6.5 seconds back, and Northug third, another five behind. Maxim Vyegzhanin of Russia is just five seconds behind Northug.

Poltoranin Goes Two in a Row with Another Tour Win, Valjas & Harvey Podium

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Alexei Poltoranin of Kazakhstan has gotten stronger and stronger as the Tour de Ski has gone on, and after picking up a convincing prologue victory yesterday won an exciting sprint finish in the 15 k classic mass start in Val di Fiemme, Italy today. The win gained him enough bonus seconds to move up into fifth place in the overall Tour standings.

While Tobias Angerer of Germany and Alexander Legkov of Russia tangled a bit in the lanes at the finish, it was Lenny Valjas of Canada sneaking through on the outside to take second while teammate Alex Harvey edged Italian ageless wonder Giorgio di Centa for third by the slimmest of margins.

Perhaps the most notable development in the race however was that after making a sprint for the first round of bonus seconds just 1.8 k into the race, Petter Northug of Norway struggled to remain in contact with the group, slipping back through the field and ultimately finishing almost 30 seconds back.

Ivan Babikov was 8th and Devon Kershaw 21st for Canada, and all four of the Canadian men now sit in the top 20 of the overall Tour.

For the Americans, only Noah Hoffman and Kris Freeman are left, and they finished 32nd and 40th in the mass start.


Kowalczyk Untouchable in Tour Mass Start; Steira, Lahteenmaki Next

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

In the 10 k classic mass start in Val di Fiemme, Italy, today, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland used her cardiovascular capacity, strong classic skiing, and perhaps the best wax job in the field to extend her lead in the Tour de Ski standings. At 5k coming through the stadium, Norwegians Therese Johaug and Kristin Størmer Steira were still on her heels. But as the second round of climbing began, Kowalczyk pulled away, working at the pace only she is capable of, and finished with a lead of 33 seconds. She was aided by slippery skis on Johaug, who was bested in the finishing stretch by Krista Lahteenmaki of Finland and locked out of the bonus points; Steira held on for second place six seconds ahead of the Finn.

Kowalczyk now has two minutes on the rest of the field going into tomorrow’s final climb.

Kikkan Randall led the U.S. team with an 11th place finish, 1:05 after Kowalczyk. Jessie Diggins was 25th (+1:55), Liz Stephen 29th (+2:11), and Holly Brooks 47th (+3:18).


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.

Newly Launched USSA Network to Broadcast Quebec Sprints Live

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The newly launched USSA Network will bring live coverage of this weekend’s FIS Cross Country World Cup in Quebec City to American fans. Live online coverage of the team sprint begins at 2:00 p.m. EST Friday and freestyle sprints start at 1:15 p.m. Saturday on the USSA Network, available at

USSA Communications Director Margo Christiansen says the network is working to bring the same live coverage to the Canmore, Alberta, World Cups next week and “potentially more down the line.” Fans will also be able to watch archived videos of each race after the live broadcast.

The arrangement was a last-minute one according to USSA Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet. In order to put the feed together, USSA will pick up video from Europe, add voice-over from a studio in Salt Lake City, and stream the end product on its website.

“It’s the same feed that we produce for the World during our Alpine and Freestyle and Grand Prix World Cups,” Jaquet said. “The voice was important for us to add to give the feed some production value so that’s why we are spending some money there.”

Tom Kelly, USSA’s VP of Communications, will commentate the broadcast this weekend. “Peter Graves was unavailable as he’s on site in Quebec,” Jaquet said of cross-country’s prolific announcer. “We are looking for future more permanent solutions but we know Tom will do a great job tomorrow.”

Sundby Surprises for Skate Victory At World Cup Openers

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

GALLIVARE, Sweden – Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway is no slouch – he’s a World Championship medalist, after all. But generally considered a classic specialist, Sundby was still a surprise to see atop the results sheet in today’s opening 15 k skate race. The Norwegian took an eight-second win over Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan. Marcus Hellner couldn’t quite harness his home field advantage to take the win, but he did place third, less than three seconds behind Poltoranin, which is a major improvement over his performance in FIS racing in Bruksvallarna last week.

Ivan Babikov (CAN) led the North American contingent with a 14th-place finish. Teammates Alex Harvey placed 36th and Devon Kershaw 44th, while NorAm leader Kevin Sandau clocked in at 64th. Kris Freeman (USA) just missed the points in 33rd, with Noah Hoffman close behind in 38th. Tad Elliott and Simi Hamilton placed 59th and 63rd, and SuperTour leader Sylvan Ellefson wrapped things up in 76th.


Bjørgen Tops in Gallivare 10k, Randall on Podium

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

GALLIVARE, Sweden – It was a good morning for Norway’s top racers and for the U.S. women here at Hellner Stadium. Starting last of 78 racers, 2012 World Cup Champion Marit Bjørgen gobbled up the field and skied to a 13-second win over teammate Therese Johaug in the 10 k interval start skate race. Kikkan Randall surprised with a third place finish (16 seconds back), edging the home country’s best hope, Charlotte Kalla.

Holly Brooks finished an even more surprising fifth, continuing a day of strong performances for the Americans. Liz Stephen and Jessie Diggins were ranked right in with their teammates early in the race, but falls by each kept them out of the top ten. Stephen finished 21st, Diggins 32nd, and Ida Sargent 53rd.

Dasha Gaiazova led the Canadians in 61st place, followed by Chandra Crawford in 71st and Alysson Marshall in 77th.