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Saturday was a historic day for the American women as the first post-Olympic World Cup took place in Lahti, Finland. After qualifying 11th, Kikkan Randall skied her way to another World Cup victory in the 1.5 k freestyle sprint. The win moves Randall to first in the World Cup sprint rankings, just under 40 points ahead of Germany’s Denise Hermann who failed to advance out of the quarterfinals in Saturday’s race.

Randall wasn’t the only American to turn heads. Sophie Caldwell made her first World Cup podium, finishing third. The up-and-coming skier finished sixth in the same event at the Sochi Olympics, the best result an American woman has ever obtained.

The result marks the first time two American women have been on a World Cup podium together.

Slovenian Katja Visnar joined the American’s on the podium, placing second. The final was missing some big names, such as Norway’s Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg who finished first in the qualification round but fell over Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in semifinals.

Women’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint results

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Sweden’s Teodor Peterson topped the men’s 1.55-kilometer freestyle sprint qualifier at the fist World Cup in nearly a month in Lahti, Finland, on Saturday, less than a week after the final men’s race at the Olympics.

Peterson put down the fastest time of 2:30.57, edging Norway’s Haavard Solaas Taugboel by 0.84 seconds. Another Norwegian, Pål Golberg advanced in third (+1.72), and Sweden’s Johan Edin was close behind in fourth (+1.75), as was Ola Vigen Hattestad in fifth (+1.9).

Alex Harvey was the lone Canadian qualifier in 14th. Lenny Valjas was outside the top 30 in 43rd, Devon Kershaw placed 64th, Raphael Couturier was 82nd, Graham Nishikawa 83rd, and Michael Somppi 85th.

Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton qualified for the U.S., with Newell in 23rd and Hamilton in 29th. Erik Bjornsen placed 69th in the qualifier, Reese Hanneman was 80th, and Sylvan Ellefson 93rd.

Results

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Exactly a week after the last women’s race at the Olympics, the skiers jumped back into the World Cup on Saturday in Lahti, Finland, where Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway nipped Slovenia’s Katja Visnar by sixth-hundredths of a second in the women’s 1.55-kilometer freestyle sprint qualifier.

Marit Bjørgen qualified third for Norway, 0.14 seconds behind Østberg’s winning time of 2:53.89. Another Slovenian, Vesna Fabjan advanced in fourth (+0.43), and Sweden’s Jennie Oeberg had the fifth-fastest time (+0.8).

Kikkan Randall qualified 11th for the U.S., and her teammate Sophie Caldwell made the cut in 25th.

No Canadian women made the top 30 to advance to the heats, with Perianne Jones in 34th, Alysson Marshall in 46th, Heidi Widmer in 47th, Andrea Dupont in 59th, and Cendrine Browne in 71st.

Also for the U.S., Ida Sargent was 44th, Jennie Bender 58th, Holly Brooks 66th, Caitlin Gregg 68th, and Liz Stephen 75th.

Results

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Our friends on the Spanish national team asked us to share this with you.  They’re ready for the Games to begin.  Are you?

 

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Team Norge couldn’t have given itself a better Olympic sendoff, with Marit Bjørgen capturing her second win of the weekend at the Toblach World Cup, then Ola Vigen Hattestad capping it off with a victory in the men’s freestyle sprint — the last race before the 2014 Winter Games start Saturday in Sochi, Russia.

In the women’s 1.3-kilometer final on Sunday, Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla and American Kikkan Randall led most of it, while Bjørgen sat contently in the pack — until the final descent into the stadium. There she out-glided and outlasted the field, holding off Germany’s Denise Herrmann, who also came from behind to take second. Bjørgen won it by 0.42 seconds in 2:59.8, leading three Norwegians in the top four with Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in third (+1.45) and Falla in fourth (+2.12). Randall slipped toward the back of the pack after the last downhill to place fifth (+2.65). Slovenia’s Katja Visnar finished sixth (+3.00).

Hattestad won the men’s 1.3 k final by 0.69 seconds in 2:44.89, leading three Norwegians in the top four. Eirik Brandsdal placed second and Pal Golberg finished fourth after Germany’s Josef Wenzl in third. Golberg edged Sweden’s Teodor Peterson in a photo finish, and Switzerland’s Jovian Hediger took sixth after crashing early in the final.

Randall was the lone North American to make the finals, after qualifying in fourth. Three of her teammates also qualified in the top 30, with Sophie Caldwell in 19th, Jessie Diggins in 21st and Holly Brooks in 27th. They did not advance past the quarters, finishing 19th, 28th, and 29th, respectively.

Also for the U.S., Ida Sargent was just outside qualifying in 33rd, Sadie Bjornsen place 37th and Caitlin Gregg was 41st.

For Canada, Perianne Jones qualified 28th and Dasha Gaiazova advanced in 30th. Both did not advance to the semifinals, with Gaiazova finishing 25th overall and Jones placing 30th. Chandra Crawford narrowly missed the top 30 in 34th and Heidi Widmer was 38th in the qualifier.

In the men’s race, Americans Andy Newell qualified in eighth and Simi Hamilton made the heats in ninth. Hamilton ended up third in his quarterfinal and Newell was fourth in his heat in a photo finish; neither advanced and placed 14th and 17th, respectively. Alex Harvey was Canada’s lone man in the heats, placing fourth behind Hamilton in the quarterfinal for 20th overall.

Outside of qualifying, American Torin Koos was 35th and Canada’s Jesse Cockney placed 47th, Devon Kershaw was 60th and Lenny Valjas 64th in his first World Cup race since leaving the Tour de Ski in late December to rehab his knee at home.

Results: Men | Women

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Russia's Alexander Legkov leads Canadian Alex Harvey (r) during the men's World Cup 15 k classic individual start on Saturday in Toblach, Italy. Legkov went on to win and Harvey placed fifth. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Russia’s Alexander Legkov leads Canadian Alex Harvey (r) during the men’s World Cup 15 k classic individual start on Saturday in Toblach, Italy. Legkov went on to win and Harvey placed fifth. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

In what looked to be a fairytale re-entry to the World Cup for Dario Cologna, the plot line didn’t quite play out for the Swiss superstar in Saturday’s 15-kilometer classic individual start in Toblach, Italy.

Cologna started 25th in his first World Cup of the season following an ankle injury in the fall, then rose to the top — finishing with the fastest time by 45 seconds. Others tried to match him, including Russia’s Dmitriy Japarov, who came 21 seconds short in second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner, who bumped Japarov down a spot after finishing 14.7 seconds back from Cologna.

Ultimately, Russia’s Alexander Legov had the most juice left at the finish, edging Cologna by 2.9 seconds with the winning time of 37:02.7. Cologna settled for second, Hellner was third (+17.6), Japarov placed fourth (+23.8), and Canadian Alex Harvey notched fifth (+27.4). Petter Northug was the top Norwegian in sixth (+48.3) and an early leader, Lars Nelson of Sweden, ended up seventh (+48.6).

A week before his first Olympics, Erik Bjornsen led the way for the U.S. in 18th (+1:17.9), his first World Cup top 20.

Canada had two in the top 40 with Devon Kershaw in 39th and Graeme Killick in 40th, Noah Hoffmann (USA) was 41st, Jesse Cockney (CAN) placed 51st, Ivan Babikov (CAN) was 62nd, Kris Freeman (USA) 64th, and Brian Gregg (USA) 69th.

Results

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Marit Bjørgen (r) on her way to winning Saturday's World Cup 10 k classic individual start in Toblach, Italy. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Marit Bjørgen (r) on her way to winning Saturday’s World Cup 10 k classic individual start in Toblach, Italy. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

In Marit Bjørgen‘s first World Cup race back since a stomach virus took her out of the Tour de Ski a month ago, the Norwegian showed she’s in top form exactly a week before the Olympics, winning the 10-kilometer classic individual start in Toblach, Italy.

And she made a statement as she did so, posting the fastest times through the two checkpoints at 2.1 and 6.7 k and winning by 36.7 seconds in 26:54.2. Teammate Therese Johaug was second for the Norwegian 1-2 sweep, and Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla notched third, 42.9 seconds behind Bjørgen, in her first World Cup since Davos, Switzerland, in mid December. Second with just over 3 k to go, Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk ended up fifth, following Norway’s Heidi Weng in fourth.

“I am very happy with my result today,” Bjørgen told FIS.  ”I was not so strong at Norwegian championships so I was not sure of my shape.”
The 33 year old was third in the 10 k classic at Norwegian nationals on Jan. 16, finishing 1:11 minutes behind Johaug as the winner and 11 seconds after Weng in second.
“It gives me good confidence for Sochi,” Bjørgen said on Saturday. “The competition will be tough, but I hope to win at least one individual gold medal.  My plan is to compete in all six events.”
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The Americans had four in the top 20 with Liz Stephen leading the way in 11th, Kikkan Randall placing 15th, Sadie Bjornsen finishing 17th, and Ida Sargent in 20th. Holly Brooks was right there as well in 22nd, and Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) placed 45th. Canada’s lone starter, Emily Nishikawa was 40th.
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After originally planning to fly home to Minneapolis on Wednesday, Caitlin Gregg posted on Facebook on Tuesday that she had a change of plans and will be starting this weekend’s World Cup in Toblach, Italy, before sending her husband Brian off to compete at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I have decided to stay in Italy with Brian and see him off before the Olympic Games begin!” Caitlin wrote in a post that began with a tribute to the late Igor Badamshin, Peter Hale and John Hugus. “Life is so awesome but precious! In honor of our former coach Igor Badamshin, our ski rep Peter Hale and our great friend John Hugus we have vowed to live like these incredible men did! Full of life, love and even more so immense GIVING and GRATITUDE to those around us!”

She went on to explain she’ll start the Toblach World Cups this weekend. “I am so grateful the USST has offered to help me out!!! I am sad to miss the City of Lakes Loppet but I will be there in spirit and look forward to seeing everyone in less than two weeks!!!”

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A heavy favorite for the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start in Szklarska Poręba, Poland, Justyna Kowalczyk lived up to her home-crowd’s delight on Sunday, dropping the field soundly by the halfway point and striding to a 41.8-second win.

On her 31st birthday, Kowalczyk finished without anyone in sight in 34:34.2, and waited at the finish to congratulate Russian runner-up Yulia Tchekaleva. Another Russian, Julia Ivanova rounded out the podium in third, 1:15.2 minutes behind, after outsprinting Germany’s Denise Herrmann by four seconds. After Herrmann in fourth, Germany’s Claudia Nystad took fifth, 5.2 seconds ahead of American Liz Stephen in sixth (+1:26.4). For Stephen, it was a career best in an outright World Cup (not including stages).

Germany had three in the top seven with Stefanie Boehler (+1:28.4), who finished ahead of Russia’s Natalia Zhukova in eighth (+1:47.8). Ida Sargent of the U.S. placed ninth (+1:49.3) for her best result of the season, and Austria’s Katerina Smutna was 10th.

Also for the U.S., Kikkan Randall tallied 14th a day after winning her second-straight World Cup skate sprint, Sophie Caldwell was 16th, and Jessie Diggins 24th. Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Madshus) did not finish.

Results

 

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Out of a congested pack racing toward the finish, Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin emerged as the victor in the World Cup 15-kilometer classic mass start Sunday in Szklarska Poreba, Poland. Vylegzhanin, 31, had outlasted Russian teammate Evgeniy Belov, eight years younger, for the win by 2.2 seconds in 35:39.0.

Another 0.1 seconds back, Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin placed third ahead of Canada’s Alex Harvey in fourth (+5.2). Germany took fifth and sixth with Hannes Dotzler (+5.8) and Tobi Angerer (+7.3). Russia’s Stanislav Volzhentsev notched seventh (+19.2), three-tenths of a second ahead of Canadian Devon Kershaw in eighth. Ivan Babikov rounded out Canada’s best team showing of the season in ninth (+20.9), and Germany’s Jens Filbrich placed 10th (+21.3).

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 19th (+1:05.2), Andy Newell finished 27th and Erik Bjornsen was 40th.

Results

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