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Kalla Rebounds for Huge Win; Poltoranin, Kowalczyk Double Up in Muonio

- Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla may have been feeling blue yesterday, after 23-year-old upstart Emma Wiken edged her by 2.4 seconds in the 5 k classic. But Kalla was back with a vengeance today, reminding fans that she is one of the best skaters in the world as she posted a 39.8-second win over Wiken in the 10 k freestyle at the opening weekend of FIS racing in Bruksvallarna. Smooth and powerful through the whole race, Kalla never appeared to tire, unlike the rest of the field. Ida Ingemarsdoter finished third, +58.3, and Sofia Bleckur fourth, +1:02. national team veteran Anna Haag struggled, placing ninth +1:49. Results.

- Over in Muonio, Finland, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland and Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakstan repeaed their win’s from Friday’s sprints, this time in 5/10 k classic races. Kowalczyk bested Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva by 29 seconds in the short race, while the rest of the field packed in behind her. Masako Ishida of Japan was third, seven seconds behind the Russian, while Liz Stephen was the top American woman in 13th. The men’s race was much closer, with Poltoranin eking out a five-second win over Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic; Jens Filbrich of Germany and Kris Freeman of the U.S. were 13 and 18 seconds behind the Kazakh, respectively, to place third and fourth. More to come.  Results.

 

Olsson Takes Bruksvallarna 15k; Falla, Glørsen Best in Beito Sprints

- In Bruksvallarna, Sweden, Johan Olsson used smart pacing to take victory in a 15 k interval-start skate race. Yesterday’s winner in the 10 k classic, Daniel Richardsson put on an early charge to lead about halfway through the race, but faded to finish second, ten seconds back. Ivan Babikov of Canada started last out of the whole field, but skied a strong race to place third, 32 seconds behind Olsson. Top ten below; stay tuned for more on the main site.

- A few hundred kilometers west in Beitostolen, where the Norwegians are holding their own opening FIS races, Maiken Casperson Falla and Anders Glørsen took wins in the classic sprint. Falla led from start to finish after winning the qualifying by 0.73 seconds over fellow Norwegian Kjersti Bø, and then winning the final by over three seconds. The French added some excitement to the final, however, with Aurore Jean besting Norway’s  Kari Gjeitnes in a photo finish for second. Austria’s Katerina Smutna also mixed things up, finishing fifth in the final.

The same could not be said of the men’s final, which was an all-Norway affair. Qualifying winner Kent Ove Clausen did not make the final, where Glørsen narrowly edged Eldar Rønning for the win by just 0.1 seconds. But the final was marred by a disastrous crash seemingly caused by Petter Northug, who seemed to simply ski right into Eirik Brandsdal and Simen Ostensen. (“What were you doing here, Northug?” asked NRK, who posted video of the pile-up.) That left relative unknown Torjus Børsheim to cross the line in third.

June 29 Roundup: Cologna “Very Hungry”; Bråten Memorial Race is Sunday

— Dario Cologna and his Swiss teammates are currently training in Innsbruck, Austria, and coach Guri Hetland says the 2012 overall World Cup champion is looking as strong as ever. In an interview with Norwegian paper Adresseavisen, Hetland talked about Cologna’s summer training and his goals for the coming season.

“Our scheme is largely the same as last year, but we try to have slightly better quality of everything,” said Hetland. “We practice relatively traditionally, with lots of volume in the summer.”

“Everything has gone according to plan so far.”

Like his competitors, Cologna has his sights set on World Championships. A top-three in Val di Fiemme, Italy, would be Cologna’s first World Chamionships podium.

“Dario is very hungry” Hetland said. “He has no World Championship medals before and World Championships in Val di Fiemme as the season’s main goal. Beyond that, he will participate in the Tour de Ski, while some World Cup weekends must be removed.”

— This Sunday a rollerski race in Sunne, Sweden, is being held in honor of Inge Bråten, the accomplished Norwegian and Swedish ski coach who passed away this April. Petter Northug, Marcus Hellner, Johan Olsson, Charlotte Kalla, Anna Haag and Ida Ingemarsdotter are among those headed to Sunne to participate in the day’s events. Read more here.

— German and Norwegian junior skiers are planning to train together for three separate camps this summer and fall, reports Langrenn. German junior coach Markus Kramer and his Norwegian counterpart Brit Bardishol both agree than their respective junior skiers stand to learn a lot from each other.

I think it was a very good idea. We can learn thoroughness and systematics of the Germans,” Baldhishol said. 

Two of the camps will be in Sjusjoen, Norway, and one in Oberhof, Germany between the end of August and October.

Cory Wubbels Joins USST World Cup Service Team

Cory Wubbels recently joined the U.S. Ski Team (USST) staff as a part of its World Cup service team. Wubbels has previously worked as a service tech for the Rossignol race team and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation team.

The recent growth of the USST’s presence on the World Cup has brought a need for an expanded service crew this season. Peter Johansson, who has worked with the team since 2006, will take on additional duties as the Head of Service. Wubbels joins Randy Gibbs and Oleg Ragilo as the other World Cup servicemen.

Wubbels briefly joined the tech team this winter while recently retired USST coach Pete Vordenberg went home for the birth of his new baby.

“We are very excited to have Cory join our World Cup Service Team,” said USST head coach Chris Grover. “As the size of our World Cup Team has grown over the last several years, the need for increased coaching and service support for this Team has grown as well. Adding Cory to our staff will help us increase our strike-rate for making World Cup winning skis. Cory brings a lot of experience in the wax room to the U.S. program, including World Cup service experience with us during the 2011-12 season. Cory has the experience and know-how to help U.S. athletes ski at their absolute potential.”

Freeman wins Pole Pedal Paddle

U.S. Ski Team member Kris Freeman won Bend’s Pole Pedal Paddle five-sport race in a time of 1:46:00, besting previous champ Andrew Boone by 57 seconds. XC Oregon racer Zach Violett was third.

In the women’s division, Stephanie Howe of XC Oregon picked up her third consecutive win, beating teammate Mary Wellington by over five minutes.

Full report and photos to follow shortly.

U.S. Ski Team Athletes Set for Pole Pedal Paddle

Saturday morning will see the U.S. Ski Team competing in its first race of the new season – in this case a five-sport extravaganza called the Pole Pedal Paddle in Bend, Oregon. The event combines alpine and nordic skiing, biking, kayaking and running; last year roughly 1000 individuals and teams graced the results sheet.

Kris Freeman will compete as an individual, while his fellow skiers will compete in teams. In the women’s field, Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen, and Jessie Diggins will race against Ida Sargent, Holly Brooks, and Liz Stephen; the five-man team of Skyler Davis, Andy Newell, Tad Elliott, Noah Hoffman, and Erik Bjornsen will also compete. No points for guessing which leg Elliott will be contesting.

“We are really excited to enter four teams on Saturday,” U.S. Ski Team women’s coach Matt Whitcomb wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved in an excited community here in Bend, and of course a chance to take a race in the off season way too seriously.  It’s created quite a buzz around our houses here at camp and the athletes are excited for a hard race.”

Other skiers will also participate, including many XC Oregon athletes such as Ollie Burruss and Stephanie Howe, who will be vying for her third consecutive title. Santi Ocariz will also compete with his brother.

Stay tuned for FasterSkier’s on-site coverage on Saturday.

President Obama Uses Ski Analogy

FasterSkier contributor Win Goodbody points out on his blog that American President, Barak Obama, used a ski analogy in reference to comments by Vice-President Joe Biden.

Goodbody posted the follwoing screnshot form The Caucus, a New York Time political blog.

You can find the rest of Goodbody’s post here—An American political analogy the Norwegians can understand.

A worthwhile and entertaining read.

Former Norwegian, Canadian coach Inge Bråten Dies at 63

Legendary Norwegian national team coach Inge Bråten passed away on Friday morning at the age of 63 after a brief illness, reports Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Inge Bråten. Photo: Langrenn.com.

Bråten was one of the most successful coaches in Norway’s history, and is largely credited with reviving the national program in the 1990s, during which time his athletes, including Vegard Ulvang, Bjorn Daehlie, and Thomas Alsgaard, won 15 World Championship and Olympic gold medals. He left the national team after the hugely successful Lillehammer Games.

In 2005 he returned to coaching, this time for the Swedes, and led them to three Olympic golds in 2006. He left Sweden in 2007, and later joined Canada’s coaching staff for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Afterwards Bråten became the Swiss head coach, but left after five months. Most recently, he worked as a commentator for Canal+ and Eurosport.

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Bakken and Nilsson Set 100 m World Records at Bislett

In a photo finish with Magnus Frodahl (NOR), Timo André Bakken (NOR) set a 100 m world record on cross country skis in Bislett Stadium in Oslo, Norway on Thursday. Frodahl was initially declared the winner, but upon video review it became apparent that Bakken had gotten his toe across the line first, clocking in at 11.82 seconds.

“I knew when I crossed the finish line that I was first, but it must have been something wrong with my chip,” said Bakken to Aftenposten following his win.

Petter Northug (NOR) failed to advance to the finals, but said afterwards that he knew he wouldn’t be able to contest the win.

“I have trained a lot with Magnus (Frodahl – 2nd place) and he is much faster than me at 100 meters,” conceded Northug.

* * *

In the women’s 100 m, 18-year-old Stina Nilsson (SWE), who won the sprint at World Juniors this February, was the surprise victor and new world record-holder. Nilsson beat impressive names in the process — Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Charlotte Kalla (SWE), and Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE).

“It went very well,” said Nilsson to Norway TV2 after the race.

When asked for an explanation for her speed, she attributed her quick reflexes to a Swedesh card game called “banka bäver,” which somehow requires fast response times.

Results: 

Men 100 m:

1. Timo André Bakken 11.82

2. Magnus Frodahl 11.84

3. Robin Bryntesson 12.55

4. Ola Vigen Hattestad 13.44

Women 100 m:

1. Stina Nilsson 13.19

2. Katja Visnar 13.44

3. Tatjana Stiffler 13.58

4. Ida Ingemarsdotter 13.87

Men 500 m:

1. Emil Jönsson

2. Ola Vigen Hattestad

3. Joeri Kindschi

4. Robin Bryntesson

Women 500 m

1. Laurien van der Graaf

2. Katja Visnar

3. Kikkan Randall

Kershaw Gets Ready To Battle for His Overall Podium Position

STOCKHOLM, Sweden – FasterSkier caught up with Devon Kershaw before the World Cup Finals get started in Sweden.

FasterSkier: Last week you went on skate skis for the classic qualifier and Newell and Northug (probably others) have done that here.  Are you considering that as an option for tomorrow or do you feel you learned that lesson and will stick to the classic boards tomorrow?

Devon Kershaw: For sure I am considering going on skate skis and double poling the course here in Stockholm. I remember striding it last year – and most people double poled – so I both barely made it into the heats, then when I was racing my 1/4 final everyone was double poling on skate skis and I got worked hard.

That said, it’s 100% conditions dependent. We’ll just have to warm up, test both, see how soft the course is getting and make a decision at that point.

FS: According to a news report from a Norwegian newspaper that had quotes from Northug’s coach it sounds like he is out for the finals.  How does that make you feel?  Is there any sort of let down not to be able to fight it out with him this weekend or are you more feeling a relief? 

DK: I’ve heard that too (that Northug isn’t here). I think it’s too bad – seems like after the Tour he’s had a rough go. Still though, the guy is one of the best skiers that ever lived. Of course he’s got to be disappointed with his season, but before Christmas the dude was almost untouchable.

As far as the overall goes – I would rather he be here racing it out. I mean, he’s only like 15 or 17 points behind me so the fight would have been pretty fun. I’m not feeling any relief though – I mean, although there’s 260 odd points between Legkov and I – that’s by no means safe with the way FIS has set up the pointapalooza that the World Cup Finals have become. There’s plenty of chance for him and Hellner to light it up and move through me. I’m just focused on day by day – race by race and on Sunday we’ll know if I was able to accomplish my big goal for the year or not (finish top 3 in the World Cup Overall).

FS: With this race being on a Wednesday do you feel recovered after your challenging race in Oslo last Saturday?

DK: Yeah – that’s the major question/problem right now. I feel pretty tired most of the time after that epically long 50km at Holmenkollen on Saturday. I’m just hoping that others that were in the race feel the same as me (tired). We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. I also hope there’s some speed left in the body for the last sprint race of the year – but after only a few days after that 50km to bounce back we’ll just have to wait and see.

FS: Do you have any specific strategies for the sprint race considering the probable conditions?

DK: Like I said above – a question I have strategically is whether to double pole or stride. Once that gets sorted out, then the next challenge is to make the top 30. You’d think it’d be no big deal, but I’ve had years where I don’t qualify here either (what is it about these Scando classic city sprints?!?) – so that’s goal #1. If I make the heats I’d like to be in the mix, get an open lane up the last climb to the finish line and after that it’s all body dependent to see if it’s fast enough to get there in the top 2 to guarantee to move on.

FS: There is quite a juxtaposition racing around the Royal Palace, how is this race unique to others you race on the World Cup?

DK:  It’s unique in that it’s in downtown Stockholm. Also, it’s unique in the fact that it’s pretty flat, and on the short side (as far as men’s sprints go). But I mean, there have been so many city sprints this year, so I don’t know. It’s a cool venue and the  atmosphere is pretty boss. The images of the race are so cool and Stockholm is such a beautiful city all around. Lots to be excited about and in those obvious ways it’s unique. But on the technical aspects (course/race itself) side of things, it’s  the same as other city classic sprints. Double pole or not? Warm up well running. Not much time on course prior to the race.Things like that.

FS: Thanks Devon!

All 2012 FIS World Cup Finals coverage is brought to you through the generous support of Fischer Sports USA, proud sponsors of Kikkan Randall, 2012 overall Sprint Cup Champion.

Norway Wins Mixed Relay After Target Snafu

Norway won today’s World Championship mixed relay in the most unorthodox way possible, crossing the line second but ending up first after being awarded a time adjustment. Third leg racer Ole Einar Bjørndalen experienced an error in the electronic timing system, and his first shot in standing was not recorded even though it was a hit. The jury awarded Norway a time bonus of 28 seconds for the spare round and subsequent penalty loop Bjørndalen had to ski, which bumped them into first.

Slovenia crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Norway, and ended up with silver. Germany finished third after a final stage meltdown by anchor Arnd Peiffer.

The U.S. finished 12th and Canada 18th.

Results

Bjoergen Takes Back Yellow Bib with Rybinsk Win

Drafting off of Charlotte Kalla (SWE) most of the race, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) made her move in the stadium and is once again in the lead of the overall World Cup with her victory in the Rybinsk 10 k mass start. Kalla finished 4.1 seconds back. Marthe Kristoffersen (NOR) out sprinted Therese Johaug (NOR) for third by a tenth of a second, Kristoffersen finishing 19.4 seconds off of the winning time.

Jessie Diggins came on strong in the last lap to finish fifth (+26.3), passing Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) in the final kilometers and likely posting one of the top fourth lap times, though no splits yet.

Liz Stephen (USA) finished 26th, Holly Brooks 40th and Sadie Bjornsen 45th. No Canadian women started the 10 k.

Results.

Kershaw Wins Rybinsk Mass Start

Canada’s Devon Kershaw won the first official World Cup of his career in Rybinsk, Russia, coming from behind in the final few hundred meters to take victory in the 15 k freestyle mass start by 0.9 seconds on Saturday. Ilia Chernousov (RUS) finished second for the home crowd; Tobias Angerer (GER) took the bronze. (+1.6)

Kershaw’s teammates Alex Harvey finished fifth (+5.5) and Ivan Babibikov was 17th (+13.6).

The Americans were led by Kris Freeman in 28th (+17.6). Tad Elliott was 39th (+50.5) and Sylvan Ellefson 43rd (+1:14.1).

Results.

 

Britain’s Andrew Musgrave on His Tour de Ski

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.

Bjoergen Gets Another Win in Toblach

TOBLACH, Italy – After skiing nearly 15 kilometers with Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) edged her rival in a sprint down the homestretch, taking her fourth straight win of the Tour and vaulting into the overall lead.

Kowalczyk started the day four seconds ahead in the standings, and thus began the 15 k freestyle pursuit race with a small lead, but Bjoergen quickly closed it down and the two women skied the rest of the race together.

They put some 45 seconds into Therese Johaug, who started in third place, two-and-a-half minutes down, and ended the race in the same position, but roughly 3:15 behind.

American Kikkan Randall, who began the day in fourth place, was passed by Finnish skier Krista Lahteenmaki, and ended up winning a sprint for fifth over Marthe Kristoffersen and Charlotte Kalla.

Link to full results.

Bjoergen Bests Kowalczyk in Game of Cat and Mouse: Stage 5 of Tour de Ski

Marit Bjoergen (NOR), starting 1 minute ahead of Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), skied the 3.3 kilometer Tour de Ski Toblach Prologue 3.9 seconds faster than the Pole. Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) was third, 15.1 seconds behind her teammate. It was an exciting finish as the crowd waited to see if Kowalczyk would cross the line just ahead of or just behind Bjoergen.

Kowalczyk still leads the Tour, now 18 seconds ahead of Bjoergen. Therese Johaug (NOR) is in third, just over a minute and a half behind Kowalcyzk.

American Kikkan Randall finished 29th; she felt as though she skied well, but the result didn’t reflect that. Holly Brooks with several broken bones in her left wrist, finished 53rd, 1:21.7 seconds back. Liz Stephen, who started the day between two giants (of sorts) – Johaug and Bjoergen – finished 56th, 1:24 behind the leader. The Americans now sit in 7th (Randall), 41st (Stephen), and 56th (Brooks) overall.

While the majority of the men raced on hairies earlier in the day, the women were split between hairies and hard wax. Both Bjoergen and Kowalczk skied on wax.

Complete results for the day.

Current Tour de Ski standings after today (stage 5).

More details to come!

Legkov wins Stage 5, Cologna Takes Lead of Tour de Ski

Alexander Legkov (RUS) took the victory today in the 2012 Tour de Ski’s men’s 5K classic race, 1.7 seconds in front of Norway’s Eldar Roenning. Dario Cologna (SUI) followed in 3rd, 2.0 seconds behind the winner, reclaiming the lead of the tour from Petter Northug (NOR) who finished 13.8 seconds off the pace.

Devon Kershaw (CAN) lead the North Americans in 18th, 24.6 seconds out. Alex Harvey (CAN)was 29th, 37.5 seconds back. Kris Freeman finished in 52nd, 54.6 seconds out. Ivan Babikov (CAN) finished 72nd, 1:16 out, after a day of rest following a bad crash and a hand injury. Simi Hamilton (USA) did not start.

Complete results.

Stage 3: Kowalczyk Leads Qualification; Randall 4th

Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) continued her dominating Tour de Ski performance by taking the qualifying round of the Stage 3 sprint by 1.07 seconds over Marit Bjoergen (NOR). The women have two hours from the qualification start time to the beginning of the quarterfinals.

At the start of round, it was raining in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Top 10 (full results here):

1. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) 2:49.83

2. Marit Bjoergen (NOR) +1.07

3. Astrid Jacobsen (NOR) +1.73

4. Kikkan Randall (USA) +3.22

5. Natalia Matveeva (RUS) +4.48

6. Anne Kylloenen (FIN) +5.67

7. Vesna Fabjan (SLO) +5.87

8. Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) +5.90

9. Natalia Korosteleva (RUS) +6.06

10. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg (NOR) +6.14

39. Holly Brooks (USA) +14.74

57. Liz Stephen (USA) +21.11

Dec. 20 Roundup: Caspersen Falla Took Exams Before Winning Rogla; Hellner Confident for Tour

— While most of her competitors were focused solely on racing, Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR) was stressed out about taking her University finals in the weeks leading up to her first career World Cup win in Rogla, Slovenia on Sunday. Though she considers herself first and foremost a skier, Caspersen Falla said she enjoys having something to take her mind off of training.

“I am sure tired after a lot of races now. So now I’m looking forward to coming home for Christmas, train well and go [on] long ski trips and to relax,” she told NRK. She’s also got her sights set on the overall sprint title—after Sunday’s win, she’s 64 points down to Kikkan Randall (USA) in the standings.

— Marit Bjoergen (NOR), who sat out the Rogla races to recover from a cold, is back to full training again, reported VG Nett on Monday. Teammate Kristin Stormer Steira, however, is still out with a stuffy nose. Both women are aiming to be back to full form in time for the Tour de Ski.

— Marcus Hellner, who (like everyone else) is focused on the Tour de Ski this winter, is not worried about his fitness going into the final weeks before the main event. After his 8th place in the Rogla 15 k classic, he wrote in his blog: “Still think [it was] a good answer for the tour. The form is in itself quite well.”

Canada Finishes 6th in World Cup Mixed Relay

The Canadian team of Megan Imrie, Zina Kocher, Brendan Green, and JP Le Guellec finished sixth in a mixed relay in Hochfilzen, Austria to finish the first period of World Cup racing for the season. The group used eight spare rounds to drop all of the targets after shooting two stages each. Canada was fourth at the last handoff, but Le Guellec did not have a smooth run of things on the shooting range.

The US team initially appeared to be in a better position as Sara Studebaker tagged off in sixth. But the next skiers, Annelies Cook, Tim Burke, and Leif Nordgren, gradually slipped a few spots and wound up 14th after using ten spare rounds.

Russia took a convincing win, with the Czech Republic second and France third. Notably, Norway, the defending World Champion in the event, did not field a team.