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Posts Tagged ‘Aino-Kaisa Saarinen’

Bjørgen Takes Fourth Holmenkollen Title by Nearly Two Minutes; Randall 12th, Bjornsen 14th

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Who wins a race by almost two minutes? That would be Marit Bjørgen, Norway’s multiple world champion and Olympic gold medalist, who racked up her fourth Holmenkollen victory in Sunday’s 30-kilometer classic in Oslo, Norway.

Bjørgen gradually broke away from her Norwegian teammate and last year’s 30 k freestyle winner, Therese Johaug, starting around 10 k in. Within six kilometers, Bjørgen was nearly a minute ahead of Johaug, who skied alone in second for the remainder of the race.

A few tried to close, but no one came close, as Bjørgen won by 1:41.2 minutes in 1:20:55.7. Johaug placed second, and Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen finished third, another 44.6 seconds back. Bjørgen now trails Johaug by just 39 points for the overall World Cup lead.

“I knew I had to ski in front to be fighting for bonus points,” Bjørgen told FIS after the race. “If I am to win the overall World Cup I have to be good and faster than Therese next three competitions.”

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla took fourth (+2:46.6) after skiing with Niskanen from around 20 to 24 k, then dropping about 15 seconds behind. Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen was fifth (+3:08.9), ahead of another Swede, Emma Wiken in sixth (+3:17.8).

It was nearly 45 seconds to the next finisher, with Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova of the Czech Republic in seventh, Norway’s Kristin Størmer-Steira in eighth, Sweden’s Sofia Bleckur in ninth, and Finland’s Krista Lahteenmaki in 10th.

Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva placed 11th and American Kikkan Randall was just 5.8 seconds back in 12th (+4:17.7). Norway’s Heidi Weng placed 13th, and Sadie Bjornsen of the U.S. outsprinted another Norwegian, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg by 0.1 seconds for 14th (+4:27.8).

Also for the U.S., Liz Stephen placed 32nd, Sophie Caldwell was 35th, Caitlin Gregg finished 39th, and Ida Sargent was 42nd. Canada’s lone woman entered in the 30 k, Andrea Dupont did not start. American Jennie Bender also did not start.


Østberg Speeds Norwegian Women Into 1st in Nove Mesto Team Sprint, Finland Comes In Close 2nd, American Women 6th

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Norwegian women hammered their way to victory today in the classic Team Sprint, in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic today, edging Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

The Norwegian team, composed of Maiken Caspersen Falla and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, finished the 6×1.3-kilometer course in 20:58.47, 3.8 seconds ahead of Finland. The Norwegian women were less than a half-second behind Finland at the final tag, when Østberg turned on the afterburners, posting a blisteringly fast 3:13.58, by far the fastest individual leg of the day. In third place was Russia II, composed of Evgenia Shapovalova and Julia Ivanova (+4.56).

Russia I took fourth (+26.01), while Norway II was fifth (+26.7).

American women were sixth-place (+34.18), fielding Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell, while the Canadian women, Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova,  were 13th, advancing to the semifinals. American standouts Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen decided not to race.

Complete Results


Niskanen Fends Off Three Norwegians for 10 k Win in Tour Stage 4

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

About halfway through the women’s 10-kilometer classic mass start on Wednesday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Kerttu Niskanen decided it was time to take control for Finland and passed three Norwegians, Therese Johaug, Astrid Jacobsen, and Heidi Weng.

Niskanen also overtook Finnish teammate Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, leading her by 1.2 seconds through 5.5 k. While Johaug dropped about 2 1/2 seconds off the pace, the Norwegian didn’t waste any time coming back to chase Niskanen to the finish along with Jacobsen and Weng.

Ultimately, Niskanen held them all off, winning the fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in 26:27.4, four-tenths of a second ahead of Jacobsen in second. Johaug placed third (+1.1), Weng was fourth (+1.9) and Saarinen finished fifth (+2.5) in the lead pack — which finished 21 seconds ahead of Finland’s Anne Kyllonen in sixth.

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen withdrew from the Tour because of a “slight virus,” according to Eurosport commentators, after racing through the stomach bug in the freestyle sprint the day before.

Liz Stephen led the North Americans in 26th, 54.6 seconds behind Niskanen. Also for the U.S., Jessie Diggins placed 31st, Sophie Caldwell was 32nd and Holly Brooks 49th. The lone Canadian racing, Dasha Gaiazova finished 58th.

Jacobsen moved into the Tour lead, 35.4 seconds ahead of Østberg in second and Niskanen elevated herself to third (+36.5). On her last day before withdrawing from the Tour, Caldwell ended up 16th. Diggins planned to continue on in 21st, less than 2 seconds ahead of Stephen in 22nd.


Bjørgen Off to Fast Start in Tour de Ski Opening Prologue; Two U.S. Women in Top 10

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Norway’s Marit Bjørgen didn’t have any trouble getting going in the rainy-and-slow conditions in Oberhof, Germany, winning Saturday’s Tour de Ski opening 3-kilometer freestyle prologue — the first of seven stages.

Bjørgen bested teammate Astrid Jacobsen by 1.9 seconds with the fastest time of 6:34.4.

“It was a short race so its really hard to find the right speed, but today it was good for me,” Bjørgen told FIS. “It’s a good start. It’s been 2 weeks since my last competition so it’s good to be back again.”

The Tour’s four-time defending champion, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland did not race for reasons that were immediately unknown.

“I’m very sorry, but in this situation I can not occur in Tour de Ski,” Kowalczyk wrote on her Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Another Polish skier stepped up in her place, with 27-year-old Sylwia Jaśkowiec tallying her first World Cup podium in third, 7 seconds behind Bjørgen.

Denise Herrmann of Germany was fourth (+8.4), American Jessie Diggins notched fifth (+9.2) for her best Tour de Ski stage result (and tying her best individual World Cup finish). Diggins was 62nd in the Oberhof 3 k prologue last year.

Finland’s Anne Kyllonen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen finished sixth and seventh, respectively, on Saturday, and Slovenia’s Alenka Cebasek was eighth (+10.7) and American Sophie Cadwell ninth (+11.8) ahead of Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen in 10th (+12.0)

Also for the US Ski Team, Holly Brooks finished 21st and Liz Stephen placed 34th.

Canada’s Dasha Gaiazova took 37th and Perianne Jones was 47th of 78 finishers.


Finland’s Saarinen, Kyllönen Dominate Classic Team Sprint; U.S. Fifth and Eighth

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

On another muggy morning in Asiago, Italy, Finland’s women showed they have no problem keeping pace on slow snow as Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Anne Kyllönen routed the 10-team final with a 10-second victory.

Neck and neck with Finland for most of the race, Norway I fell four seconds behind on the second-to-last lap of the 6 x 1.25-kilometer classic team sprint, with Ingvlid Flugstad Østberg tagging Maiken Caspersen Falla in second and Falla falling another six seconds back on the final lap.

The Norwegians settled for second, 9.68 seconds off Finland’s winning time of 19:15.72, after barely holding off Germany’s Katrin Zeller and Denise Herrmann, who finished 0.34 seconds later in third.

Norway II took fourth with Kari Gjeitnes and Celine Brun-Lie (+11.53) and the Americans placed fifth (+18.48) with Sadie Bjornsen and Kikkan Randall. Bjornsen brought the team as high as fourth into the last exchange, but they were still more than 2 seconds behind Norway II in third and 12 seconds out of first.

USA II’s Ida Sargent and Sophie Caldwell finished eighth (+20.56) in the final, and Caldwell posted the third-fastest course time on her first lap.

Canada placed 16th overall after Perianne Jones and Dasha Gaiazova placed eighth in the second semifinal.


Jan. 15 Roundup: No Rest for Tour Skiers; Jauhojärvi Mourns Loss of Father

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

– Think everyone who didn’t do the World Cup last weekend was slacking? After seven races in nine days, the Tour de Skiers had good reason to put their feet up. Even so, several couldn’t sit still. At the Bedřichov V Jizerských Horách ski marathon on Sunday, Lukas Bauer (CZE), Valentina Schevchenko (UKR) and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) made the podium in their respective men’s and women’s 50 k classic races in the Czech Republic. After placing 16th in the Tour, Schevchenko won the women’s race, Bauer was second and Saarinen was third.

– Finland’s Sami Jauhojärvi hasn’t raced since the Kuusamo World Cup Dec. 2, and the Helsingin Sanomat explained why. His father died suddenly the day before Christmas while clearing snow in Ylitornio, Finland. Jauhojärvi, 31, tried to revive him and the ambulance arrived within 10 minutes.

“Unfortunately, nothing could be done,” Jauhojärvi told the Sanomat. “[My] father left us too soon.”

While it was decided that Jauhojärvi would sit out the Tour, Finland’s head coach Magnar Dalen was not sure when he’d return to racing.

“I’m sad for Sam,” Dalen told Iltalehti. “This is all part of life, and I wish him the best.”

– There’s a standoff in Meråker, Norway, and if the herders have their way, there will not be a summer ski race with the likes of Petter Northug – unless they $900,000 kroner (roughly $160,000 dollars) and then some.

According to NRK, the dispute between local race organizers and agriculturalists is nothing new, but this year the farmers are serious. Instead of allowing the annual ski race and mountain run to be held in late June, they’re demanding that it take place after Aug. 1 so as not to interfere with the reindeer industry during calving and marking season.

“They offer us to have a summer ski when [there] is no snow,” said Roar Aspaas, the CEO of Meråker’s activities, according to a translation. “The grazing district knows grazing it is not possible.”

Aspaas had hoped the race would attract Northug and other World Cup cross-country ski racers. The herders are requesting an additional $900,000 kroner in compensation for previous races. According to NRK, both sides were meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the issue.


Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen to Train in U.S.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The guessing game is over. It looks like Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen will be the guest of honor at the North American women’s camp in Anchorage, Alaska, later this month.

Kikkan Randall made the announcement via Twitter on Tuesday: “Roller ski intervals in the rain with @jessdiggs this am and now picking up Aino-Kaisa Saarinen for a lot of sweet training coming up!”

A recent FasterSkier article about U.S. Ski Team camps referenced the inclusion of  “an unnamed European guest” at the USST/Canadian national team camp on Eagle Glacier from June 18-July 1.

Saarinen, 33, has won multiple world championships and three bronze medals over two Olympics. Last year, she led Finland’s relay to second and third place on the World Cup.

December 6 Roundup: Comebacks by Northug, Saarinen, and…Boit?

Monday, December 6th, 2010

–Yeah, yeah, we know–Petter Northug (NOR) made his return to competition on Saturday, winning a domestic race in Norway. So did Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN). But the guy you really need to know about is Philip Boit (KEN). (No, really, KEN, for Kenya.) Boit is the former elite runner whose crossover to nordic skiing in the 1990s was funded by Nike. He competed at the 1998 Olympics, where Bjoern Daehlie famously waited at the finish for Boit to cross the line. After racing in the 2002 and 2006 Games, he didn’t qualify for Vancouver, but he’s now training in Norway (with juniors!) in advance of the 2011 World Ski Championships.

–Did you hear about the Rampa con Campioni, the race up the Alpe Cermis, otherwise known as the Tour de Ski’s final climb. Participants, apparently, will include Czech Olympic champion Katerina Neumannova, FIS Cross-Country Race Director Jurg Capol, and living Norwegian legend Vegard Ulvang.

– (the French version of FasterSkier) has a cool gallery of many of the World Cup biathletes dressed in their street clothes, which is not something you see every day…

–Oddly enough, the best interview we’ve read with Norwegian biathlon star Emil Hegle Svendsen has been conducted by the Russian ski website Read it to find out about how Svendsen will come down from his current peak after Christmas, whereupon which he will give his body “a good spanking.” He also talks about the Russian fans at the 2011 World Championships venue, Khanty-Mansiysk, where apparently they cheer when the foreign athletes miss their targets.

–Norwegian classic specialist Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset hasn’t raced on the World Cup yet this season, but after winning a domestic race in Norway on Sunday (topping, among others, Petter Northug), he’ll get a start in Davos.

–Todd Lodwick won both Continental Cup nordic combined races held in Steamboat Springs, CO, last weekend.

–Lastly, we know most people read FasterSkier for our cross-country coverage, but we have to put in a quick plug: All the biathlon races this weekend were totally kick-ass. The best part–you can watch them all, for free, at any time, on the website of the International Biathlon Union. During your lunch break, study hall, or whatever, make sure you catch the men’s sprint and pursuit races, which featured totally epic battles between Norwegian biathlon god Ole-Einar Bjoerndalen and Emil Hegle Svendsen, the 25-year-old who would usurp that title. Really. It’s worth it.

October 27 Roundup: Finnish Ski Association in Hot Water

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

–The Helsingen Sanomat reports that four officials at the Finnish Ski Association will face charges of fraud and perjury in an investigation stemming from newspaper claims of widespread doping in the 1990s. The charges, the report says, come just a few days after news broke that the Association had “been borrowing money from its athletes’ coaching fund to patch up its finances.”

–The Helsingen Sanomat also has a good profile of Finnish star Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

–The Northern News service profiles Canadian Olympic biathlete Brendan Green.

–The International Ski Federation has a piece on Kjell-Erik Kristiansen, the announcer and ski personality who travels with the World Cup circuit.

June 23 Daily Roundup: FIS Northug Interview, 2018 Games

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

–FIS Cross-Country has a brief interview with Norwegian star Petter Northug, primarily on his training and plans for the summer. There’s also a video interview with Finnish Olympic medalist Aino-Kaisa Saarinen.

–Northug’s home race, the Tour de Trondelag, is supposed to take place this weekend, but is in court due to complaints by local reindeer owners. Seriously.

–Swedish distance specialist Anders Soedergren has expressed his disappointment over the fact that there’s no 50 k in this year’s World Cup calendar. (The only one is during the World Championships in Oslo.)

–The list of finalists for the 2018 Olympics was released Tuesday, with no surprises: Pyeongchang, South Korea; Annecy, France; and Munich. Apparently, Pyeongchang is favored, which, given its reputation for hectic weather, may not please biathletes and cross-country skiers.