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Poltoranin Drops Cologna, Pellegrino for Davos Sprint Victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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:

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.


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.


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.