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Falla Holds Supreme; Pellegrino Wins First-Ever Classic Sprint in Canmore

The men's 1.5 k classic sprint podium on Tuesday at Stage 5 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta: with Italy's Federico Pellegrino (c) in first, Norway's Eirik Brandsdal (l) in second, and France's Maurice Manificat (r) in third.

The men’s 1.5 k classic sprint podium on Tuesday at Stage 5 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta: with Italy’s Federico Pellegrino (c) in first, Norway’s Eirik Brandsdal (l) in second, and France’s Maurice Manificat (r) in third.

Maiken Caspersen Falla hasn’t lost a classic sprint all season and she continued the streak on Tuesday in the final sprint of the 2015/2016 World Cup, the fifth stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.

The Norwegian gave all she had on Canmore’s grueling 1.5-kilometer course to drop her competitors in the final on the second of two steep herringbone hills. With a gap over the top, she had the distance she needed to secure her fourth classic-sprint victory the season in 4:09.26 minutes, beating teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen by 7.07 seconds at the line. Norway swept the podium with Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in third (+8.66).

Behind them, two Finnish skiers bested American Jessie Diggins in the last few hundred meters, with Krista Parmakoski placing fourth (+18.03) and Anne Kyllönen taking fifth (+19.07) ahead of Diggins in sixth (+21.96). For Diggins, it was her first time reaching the final in a classic sprint, and thus, a career best in that discipline.

Another U.S. Ski Team member, Sophie Caldwell raced in the same semifinal as Diggins, where Caldwell placed sixth and did not advance to the final. Overall, Caldwell finished the day in 11th.

A day after turning 22, Canada’s Dahria Beatty qualified in 29th and went on to place 15th overall for her first individual World Cup top 30 in her 13th World Cup start. Beatty finished third in her quarterfinal, behind Jacobsen (as the winner of that heat) and Germany’s Sandra Ringwald.

Two more American women reached the heats, with Sadie Bjornsen finishing in the top 20 in 18th, after taking fourth in her quarterfinal. Ida Sargent finished fifth in her quarterfinal for 22nd overall.

In the men’s 1.5 k classic sprint, Canada’s Lenny Valjas was the lone North American to advance to the heats.

After securing his first Sprint World Cup title in Quebec City (despite placing 21st in the Quebec freestyle sprint), Federico Pellegrino reached Tuesday’s final and edged Norway’s Eirik Brandsdal by 0.54 seconds of his first-ever classic sprint win in 3:46.33.

In his first sprint final, France’s Maurice Manificat placed third, 1 second behind Pellegrino. Manificat’s previous best in a World Cup sprint was eighth (in both a 2010 skate sprint and 2011 classic sprint).

Valjas reached the semifinals after qualifying in 18th and advancing as a lucky loser in third out of his quarterfinal. In his semi, he fought to keep pace with the group and skied near the back for most of the race, ultimately finishing sixth, 7.46 seconds behind Manificat as the winner of that heat. Overall, Valjas ended up 11th on the day for his second-best result of the season (he finished 10th in the classic sprint at the Tour de Ski stage in Oberstdorf, Germany).

Final results: WomenMen

Østberg, Ustiugov Win Canmore Qualifier; 4 Americans + 3 Canadians Advance

CANMORE, Alberta — Let the betting begin. With five women topping the charts in Tuesday’s classic sprint qualifier, team Norway is taking no gamble as they head into the rounds. Leading the women’s 1.5-kilometer classic sprint qualifier at the fifth stage of the Ski Tour Canada was Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway in a time of 3:41.61. Second went to her teammate Maiken Caspersen Falla (+4.97) while Therese Johaug finished in third (+8.79). Four American women qualified for Tuesday’s classic sprint in Canmore, led by Sophie Caldwell in ninth (+12.42). Sadie Bjornsen qualified in 11th (+13.35) and 1.23 seconds behind her was Jessie Diggins in 13th (+14.58). Ida Sargent was the final U.S. woman to qualify in 18th (+15.51). Canada’s Dahria Beatty made it into the rounds in 29th (+18.95), the first Canadian to finish and only one to qualify. Americans Annie Hart and Kaitlynn Miller finished in 36th and 38th resepectively. They were followed…

Pre-Race in Canmore: Trail Report Before Tuesday’s STC Classic Sprint

By Gerry Furseth CANMORE, Alberta — Monday brought the first official training day at Canmore for the Ski Tour Canada.  Warm and sunny conditions greeted the athletes, bringing smiles to a lot of faces after some cold weather in the first week. The day started sunny and -2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit), quickly warming up as the day progressed.  This is fairly typical March weather at Canmore: below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. Away from the course, most of the snow has melted, but the skiing is still good, especially in the morning with fast, slightly crusty, tracks. Almost all of the snow base is manmade; locals say that is what makes the trails so consistently firm this time of year. The Tuesday classic sprint, Wednesday skiathlon, and Friday skate distance races are all scheduled early enough to hit the prime conditions, with only the final…

Ustiugov Holds Off Northug in 15 k Pursuit; Harvey 4th in Stage 4

Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov continued his consistent run atop the Ski Tour Canada (STC), maintaining a 17.7-second advantage over second place, Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. (+17.7) in Saturday’s 15-kilometer men’s skate race on the Plains of Abraham in Québec City. Ustiugov completed the course in 34:31.8. Despite skiing alone and posting the 13th fastest time of the day, he maintained a consistent enough pace to hold off the second- and third-place skiers, Northug and teammate Emil Iversen. Iversen clung onto the third position, finishing +1:02.2 behind after starting only 25 seconds back. Finishing in fourth was Canada’s Alex Harvey (+1:49.8), followed closely by overall World Cup leader, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (+1:50.8). Sundby skied the fastest time of the day, finishing in 34:08.9. In sixth was Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh (+3:28.2). Posting the fastest times of the day were Sundby, followed by Finland’s Matti Heikkinen (34:11.2), and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner (34:15.0). Aside…

Weng Welcomes 10 k Pursuit Win; Diggins 5th, Bjornsen 10th in Stage 4

After garnering the Ski Tour Canada (STC) leader’s bib from stage three’s freestyle sprint, Norwegian Heidi Weng maintained her title by winning the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit on Saturday in Québec City, Québec. Weng completed the 10 k course in a time of 24:18.8, displacing Norwegian teammate, Therese Johaug from the front by one tenth of a second. Securing the all-Norwegian women’s podium in third (+1:05.2) was Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Behind Jacobsen in fourth was the current World Cup sprint leader, Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway (+1:37.6). “In all the hills, I was so tired, but I still thought ‘you should go for it,’” Weng said in a post-race interview with FIS. American Jessie Diggins led the U.S. in fifth place (+1:48.1), breaking the Norwegian run after passing Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and yesterday’s sprint winner, Stina Nilsson of Sweden. The second non-Scandinavian in the top 10 was American Sadie Bjornsen. Bjornsen…

Harvey Hammers to 2nd at Home in Québec Skate Sprint

Amidst the hoots and hollers of his home crowd, Québec native Alex Harvey raced to a second place in the men’s 1.7-kilometer freestyle sprint on Friday in the third stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Québec City. In the final, Harvey headed up against Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, Norway’s Petter Northug, Poland’s Maciej Starega, and the two French skiers, Baptiste Gros and Richard Jouve. However, only Gros proved faster than the Canadian. Gros came from behind on the final stretch into the finish to win in 3:36.26, with Harvey crossing 0.55 hundredths of a second back. In third was Ustiugov, crossing 0.79 hundredths of a second after Gros. Northug placed fourth (+1.91), Starega was fifth (+2.12) and Jouve sixth (+2.18). With the silver medal, Harvey moved into fourth in the overall Tour standings. Simi Hamilton led the U.S. men in eighth, after finishing fourth in his semifinal. Canadian National Development Team skier…

Sadie Bjornsen Wins Québec City Qualifier; Harvey Qualifies 12th

U.S. Ski Team member, Sadie Bjornsen set the stakes high for the women’s 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint rounds, after she finished first in the qualifier on Friday at stage three of the Ski Tour Canada in Québec City, Québec. Bjornsen completed the 1.5 k women’s course in a time of 3:42.81, for her best-ever qualifier in a World Cup freestyle sprint. Finishing eight-hundredths of a second behind Bjornsen’s time in second was Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Another Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, finished third, eight-tenths of a second off of Bjornsen’s winning time.  Along with Bjornsen, three other U.S. women qualified for the heats, including Jessie Diggins in fourth (+1.84), Sophie Caldwell in 22nd (+7.12), and Ida Sargent in 27th (+9.05). No Canadian women qualified, with Maya Macisaac-Jones the first female to finish for Canada in 34th (+10.51). Also finishing outside of the top 30 in the women’s qualifier was American Rosie Brennan in 33rd…

Iversen Bests Northug, Ustiugov for First World Cup Distance Win; Harvey 9th in Stage 2

Get used to the name Emil Iversen, because this Norwegian is on a roll. On Wednesday the 24 year old won his first World Cup distance race at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec, and he did so by 5.3 seconds over training partner and teammate Petter Northug. Iversen won the 17.5-kilometer classic mass start in 45:05.4, besting Northug in second and Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who was 14.5 seconds behind in third. “My goal before the Ski Tour Canada was to have a good start,” Iversen told FIS afterward. “I’m sitting in second place [overall behind Ustiugov]. Now I have to take stage by stage and we see what happens.” “We had to fight hard against the wind and snow,” Northug told FIS. “Ustiugov did a lot of work in the lead. He was the strongest today. We can thank him for the high speed.”…

Johaug Snatches Tour Lead with 1-Minute Mass Start Win in Montreal

Therese Johaug isn’t used to starting a mass start in bib 27, but she made the best of it on Wednesday at the second stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Montreal, Quebec. After placing 25th in the freestyle sprint at Stage 1 on Tuesday in Gatineau, Quebec, Johaug — Norway’s overall World Cup and distance World Cup leader — started the women’s 10.5-kilometer classic mass start several rows farther back than she’s used to. She usually starts first. “Usually I start in the front, but no, I’m back and it’s a lot of people,” Johaug recalled in a post-race interview with FIS. “But I focused on myself today to do good technique. It was really cold and windy, but really nice to ski in Canada.” After making her way to the front of the 72-woman pack early, Johaug successfully dropped everyone around 4 k. At the 4.6 k checkpoint,…

Hamilton Second in Qualifier; Harvey 15th to Reach Skate Sprint Heats

After his fellow U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins raced to second in the women’s qualifier, Simi Hamilton repeated the feat in second in the men’s 1.7-kilometer freestyle sprint at the first stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Gatineau, Quebec. Hamilton posted the second-fastest time in the qualifier, 0.45 seconds behind Norwegian Petter Northug’s top time of 3:12.99. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov qualified third, 0.78 seconds back from Northug. Local favorite Alex Harvey, of Quebec, finished 15th in the qualifier, 4.18 seconds back, for his first time reaching the top 30 of a World Cup skate sprint this season. Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. advanced to the heats in 27th (+7.42), along with Canadian Knute Johnsgaard, of the Alberta World Cup Academy and Senior National Development Team, in 29th (+7.8). Finishing outside the top 30, Reese Hanneman (USA) placed 35th (+8.46), Len Valjas (CAN) was 37th, Andy Newell (USA) 42nd, Andy…