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Wild Rumpus Sports

2019, 2020 World Cup Finals Tentatively Set for Québec City

Canada’s Alex Harvey (4) celebrates a win with his hometown crowd this past March at 2017 World Cup Finals in Quebec City. (Photo: Andre Lyra)

After a two-year hiatus, World Cup Finals are expected to return to Québec City in March 2019 and 2020, according to Gestev, a Québec-based event management company.

A Gestev press release stated that the International Ski Federation (FIS) Technical Committee and FIS Cross-Country Committee meetings are still underway in Zurich, Switzerland, but as of Friday, it had been confirmed that FIS Cross-Country World Cup Finals will be hosted by Canada for back-to-back years in 2019 and 2020.

“It’s a huge step forward for Québec City to cement its place on the calendar for two years in a row,” FIS Race Director Pierre Mignerey said in the release. “We should stress, though, that the entire race calendars for both years are subject to FIS Council approval this November.”

The 2019 dates are tentatively set for March 22-24.

“The format of the 2020 event is yet to be confirmed, but the 2019 competition will be the same as what we saw in March this year,” Gestev President Patrice Drouin said from his seat at the FIS meetings.

According to the release, Québec City’s 2017 World Cup Finals this past March attracted more than 60,000 people to the historic Plains of Abraham in March 2017. The event was voted the top stop on the World Cup circuit last season in an FIS survey.

Local favorite Alex Harvey, who finished third in the overall World Cup standings last year, is expected to “retire from World Cup competition on home soil” after the 2019 World Cup Finals.

“Right now, my plans are to stay on the World Cup circuit until the end of the 2018-2019 season,” he said, according to the press release. “It would truly be an honour for me to wrap up my career here in Quebec City. In fact, I could never dream of a better scenario. I’ll never forget what I achieved here back in March, and I have fond memories of the 2012 Sprint Québec and 2016 Ski Tour Canada competitions. It’s such a huge source of pride for me and the rest of the Canadian team to ski in front of a home crowd. It really is an incredible opportunity for us to race in a World Cup right in our back yard!”

Live Coverage of Nordic World Champs on NBC

(Press release)

LAHTI, Finland (Feb. 15, 2017) – NBC Sports Group is offering nordic ski fans in America the most robust opportunity ever to view their sport with wall-to-wall live coverage of the International Ski Federation’s 2017 Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland. Every event will be streamed live with commentary on and for the first time, more than 24 hours of same day televised coverage will be broadcast on NBCSN or Universal HD. In total, NBC Sports Group will present more than 60 hours of Nordic World Ski Championships coverage.

The expanded coverage is a result of a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) initiative to expand domestic coverage of nordic skiing – cross country, nordic combined and ski jumping. The USSA acquired the domestic rights for the 2015 and 2017 Alpine and Nordic World Championships, subsequently partnering with NBC to carry the programming coverage. The expanded reach through television partners NBCSN and Universal HD guarantees that the events and the U.S. athletes will receive more exposure to American audiences than ever before.

NBC commentator Bill Doleman will provide the daily play-by-play, with World Champion and Olympic medalist Johnny Spillane handling expert analysis. Spillane has provided strong coverage the last few years on both the Tour de Ski and Springertournee ski jumping series.

The World Championships opens Wednesday, Feb. 22 with NBC kicking off its coverage with the first event on Thursday, Feb. 23. On Thursday, will provide live streaming of the head-to-head cross country classic sprint races beginning at 10:30 a.m. EST. Same day broadcast coverage on NBCSN will begin at 3:00 p.m. EST.

Each day of the Championships, will provide live streaming with full same-day event coverage of each medal competition on either NBCSN or Universal HD.

“NBC Sports Group has significantly expanded its offering from the past to bring not only live streaming but daily television coverage,” said USSA Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet. “We have a strong team going to Lahti and this is a remarkable opportunity to expose our athletes to the American public a year before the Olympics in PyeongChang.”

The USSA acquired the rights to the World Championships in a first-of-its-kind partnership between the rights-holding European Broadcast Union and a national ski association. In 2015, not only did the USSA expand the live streaming and broadcast coverage, but its distribution of digital highlights brought the events to millions more than ever before.

“The USSA has managed to secure electronic media exposure which exceeded our expectations, bringing ski racing broadcasts in USA to a new level,” said EBU/Eurovision Head of Sports Winters/Winter Sports Ingolfur Hannesson. “Eurovision is extremely pleased with our constructive cooperation with the USSA during the period leading to the Championships.”

Live Streaming and Broadcast Schedule (times EST)

Thursday, Feb. 23
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Classic Sprint – LIVE STREAM
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Classic Sprint – TV: NBCSN

Friday, Feb. 24
3:30-4:30 a.m. – Nordic combined HS100m ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
6:30-7:30 a.m. – Nordic combined 10k – LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Women’s HS100m ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
1:30-2:30 p.m. – Women’s HS100m ski Jumping – TV: NBCSN
2:30-4:00 p.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: Universal HD

Saturday, Feb. 25
5:00-7:00 a.m. – Women’s skiathlon – LIVE STREAM
7:30-9:30 a.m. – Men’s skiathlon – LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Men’s HS100m Ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
8:00-11:00 p.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: Universal HD

Sunday, Feb. 26
5:00-6:00 a.m. – Nordic combined team HS100m ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
6:30-8:30 a.m. – Team freestyle sprint – LIVE STREAM
8:30-9:30 a.m. – Nordic combined 4x5k team event – LIVE STREAM
10:30 a.m.-12:40 p.m. – Mixed gender HS100m ski jumping team event – LIVE STREAM
9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: Universal HD

Tuesday, Feb. 28
6:45-8:45 a.m. – Women’s 10k classic – LIVE STREAM|
5:30-7:00 p.m. – Women’s 10k classic – TV: Universal HD

Wednesday, Mar. 1
5:00-6:00 a.m. – Nordic combined HS130m ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
6:45-8:45 a.m. – Men’s 15k classic – LIVE STREAM
9:15-10:15 a.m. – Nordic combined 10k – LIVE STREAM
7:00-10:00 p.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: Universal HD

Thursday, Mar. 2
8:00-10:00 a.m. – Women’s 4x5k relay – LIVE STREAM
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. – Men’s HS130m ski jumping – LIVE STREAM
1:00-3:00 p.m – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: NBCSN

Friday, Mar. 3
6:30-8:30 a.m. – Men’s 4x10k relay – LIVE STREAM
9:00-10:00 a.m. – Nordic combined HS130m ski jump – LIVE STREAM
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Nordic combined 2×7.5k team sprint – LIVE STREAM
12:00-2:30 p.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: NBCSN

Saturday, Mar. 4
7:30-9:30 a.m. – Women’s 30k freestyle – LIVE STREAM
10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Men’s HS130m ski jumping team event – LIVE STREAM
7:30-10:30 p.m. – Daily broadcast coverage – TV: Universal HD

Sunday, Mar. 5
7:00-9:00 a.m. – Men’s 50k freestyle – LIVE STREAM
1:30-3:30 p.m. – Men’s 50k freestyle – TV: Universal HD

Canada Nominates Preliminary World Cup Finals Team

(Note: This post has been updated to include Len Valjas, Knute Johngaard, Jess Cockney, and Graeme Killick as team nominees. They were mistakenly omitted from Cross Country Canada’s original press release.) 

Earlier this week, Cross Country Canada (CCC) announced its preliminary selections for World Cup Finals, which will be held March 17-19 in Quebec City, Quebec.

According to the press release: “This preliminary selection is based on 7.5.a-e of the Amendment to the Selection Criteria for Competitions (23-Jan.-2017):–2—2016-17-Selection-Criteria-for-Comp.aspx#.WKNIE7YrJhE. The remainder of the selection process (7.5.f-g) will be completed after March 5 to allow consideration of all the international race results in February and early March.”

The preliminary selections (nine men and seven women) are outlined below. Canada’s Nation’s Cup quota for World Cup Finals is 15 women and 15 men.

2017 World Championship Team

  • Alex Harvey                           NST – CNEPH – Club Nordique Mont Ste Ann
  • Devon Kershaw                      NST – Onaping Falls
  • Len Valjas
  • Knute Johngaard
  • Jess Cockney
  • Graeme Killick
  • Emily Nishikawa                    NST – Whitehorse
  • Dahria Beatty                          NST – AWCA – Whitehorse
  • Cendrine Browne                    NST – CNEPH – Fondeurs
  • Katherine Stewart Jones          NST – TBay NTDC – Nakkertok
  • Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt           NST – AWCA – Fondeurs-Laurentides

FIS Continental Cup Leaders at end of Period 3

  • Maya MacIsaac-Jones             NST – AWCA – Rocky Mountain Racers
  • Russell Kennedy                     Canmore Nordic

World Junior Championships (top 12 result)

  • Gareth Williams                      NST Jr – Telemark

NorAm Ranking: Top ranked athletes based on best 4 races (this excludes athletes selected above):

  • Andy Shields (1st)                  Lappe
  • Sophie Carrier-Laforte (6th)   CNEPH – Skinouk

COC Points – Best 4 Cdn Results for WC Selection – Women
COC Points – Best 4 Cdn Results for WC Selection – Men

*PyeongChang World Cup results between 20 and 30 were not considered in this preliminary selection based on an analysis of the depth of field at this event. These results may be considered in the final selection process 7.5.f.

Canada Picks Team for PyeongChang World Cup, Feb. 3-5

Earlier this week, Cross Country Canada (CCC) announced its squad for the World Cup Feb. 3-5 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The long weekend, which serves as a pre-Olympic World Cup, includes three days of racing: a classic sprint, skiathlon and team sprint. According to a CCC, the following athletes were selected based on results at the U.S. nationals trials races held earlier this month at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah (selection synopsis):

Andrea Dupont                       Rocky Mountain Racers
Annika Hicks                          AWCA – Canmore Nordic
Sadie White                            Thunder Bay NTDC –  Big Thunder
Len Valjas                               NST – Team Hardwood
Jess Cockney                           NST – Foothills Nordic
Bob Thompson                        Thunder Bay NTDC – Team Hardwood
Julien Locke                            AWCA – NST – Blackjack
Simon Lapointe                       CNEPH – Skinouk
Brian McKeever                      Para-Nordic National Ski Team

Trip leader: Charles Castonguay

U.S. Amends Selection Criteria, Expands Quota for World Cup Finals

With the 2017 World Cup Finals being moved to Canada, both Canada and the U.S. get to enter more athletes in the last races of the 2016/2017 World Cup season. The U.S. Ski Team (USST) benefits from what USST Head Coach Chris Grover explained in an email as a “1/2 Nation’s Group” quota, granting a total of 23 starts to the U.S.

On Friday, the USST posted an amended selection criteria for World Cup Finals, which will take place in Québec City from March 17-19. (More on USSA selection criteria)

“Because these races were originally scheduled to be in Russia, we did not have a selection criteria for a Nation’s Group in place,” Grover explained. “Because we have USA athletes currently racing all over the planet, and participating in various race series, this criteria is intended to provide multiple paths to qualifying for Quebec City, including World Cup, the Lahti World Champs, the SuperTour, and the WJC/U23 World Championships.”

While the race formats for the three-day mini tour have yet to be decided and will “most likely” be decided Saturday night at the World Cup in Ulricehamn, Sweden, Grover wrote that the USA’s total quotas are as follows:


  • 6 National Quota USA
  • 1 COC Overall Leader
  • 5 Nation’s Group
    = 12 Women Total


  • 5 National Quota USA
  • 1 COC Overall Leader
  • 5 Nation’s Group
    = 11 Men Total

According to page 2 of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association’s 2016/2017 Cross Country World Cup Team selection criteria, “Individuals who meet the following criteria will be selected to the Word Cup Cross Country Team for the World Cup Finals (March 17-19, 2017).

  • Athletes ranking in the top-50 in the Distance World Cup standings or in the top-50 in the Sprint World Cup standings as of February 20, 2017 shall be selected to the team.
  • The leaders of the Overall USSA SuperTour classification (man and woman) on February 19, 2017.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-25 in an individual event at the 2017 Lahti World Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-12 in an individual event at the 2017 U23 World Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Athletes finishing in the top-10 in an individual event at the 2017 World Junior Championships shall be named to the Team.
  • Should there be any remaining positions after the Objective and Discretionary selection has been applied, those positions may be filled by considering the athletes ranking highest on the 2016-2017 SuperTour Overall points lists for men and women on February 19, 2017.”

More information will be posted when it becomes available.

Québec City to Host 2017 World Cup Finals

Quebec City's own Alex Harvey greeting the crowd at the Ski Tour Canada last year in Quebec City, Quebec. (Photo: Gestev)

Quebec City’s own Alex Harvey (12) greeting the crowd at the Ski Tour Canada last year in Quebec City, Quebec. (Photo: Gestev)

On Sunday, the International Ski Federation (FIS) announced that 2017 Cross-Country World Cup Finals have been officially moved to Québec City, Quebec. The season-ending event was originally scheduled for Tyumen, Russia, but when Tyumen relinquished its hosting responsibilities last month, FIS approached Québec City, according to a press release from the Québec organizers, Gestev.

The three-day World Cup Finals will take place Friday through Sunday, March 17-19, and include a sprint day and two days of distance racing on the Plains of Abraham.

“The exact formats and starting times will be communicated later after further discussion with all the key stakeholders,” a FIS press release stated.

“We’re excited to announce this great news for Canadian athletes and the people of Quebec City, and it’s all taking place thanks to teamwork and dialogue between numerous stakeholders,” said Gestev President Patrice Drouin said, according to a press release. “An event like this reiterates our support for cross-country skiing and these remarkable athletes as well as strengthening existing ties between the FIS, the City of Quebec, the National Battlefields Commission and many more public and private event partners.”

More details will be posted as they become available.

Kasper Opposed to Blanket Sanction: ‘That’s Wrong Both Humanly and Legally’ (Updated)

According to the International Ski Federation (FIS) in an email to FasterSkier on Thursday, FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper “has always maintained that he is opposed to a blanket sanction against all Russian athletes — this has nothing to do specifically with Cross Country or the six provisionally suspended athletes, but rather with the situation around the McLaren report as a whole.”

FasterSkier previously reported that Kasper spoke out against the decision of FIS’s Doping Panel to provisionally suspend six Russian cross-country skiers, which was originally reported by the Russian News Agency, TASS. In its email to FasterSkier, FIS wrote that this was not the case.

“We should not suspend those who are innocent,” Kasper previously told the German public broadcasting radio station, Deutschlandfunk, according to TASS. “We should punish only whose who are guilty, we cannot do that indiscriminately just because they have Russian passports. That’s wrong both humanly and legally.

“I understand that many athletes are concerned in this situation,” Kasper continued. “However, just two hours after the IOC gave us an opportunity to make a decision, we suspended all six Russian cross country skiers placed on the list of WADA’s Independent Commission head, Richard McLaren. Now let’s see what our investigation will show.”

He emphasized that FIS is not considering banning Russian skiers from the 2018 Olympics.

A Week Later: The Outlook for Johaug and Latest Speculation

Therese Johaug celebrates her World Championship in the 30km freestyle.

Norway’s Therese Johaug celebrating her victory in the 30 k freestyle at 2011 World Championships in Oslo, Norway.

By Aleks Tangen

On Wednesday, Anti-Doping Norway handed its cross-country skiing superstar Therese Johaug a two-month provisional suspension after she tested positive for the anabolic steroid clostebol. Since the Norwegian Ski Federation’s press release and subsequent press conference last Thursday, Oct. 13, much has made it into the news and here is status of her case at this point:

Norwegian national broadcaster NRK published an article on Wednesday explaining what the suspension will mean to Johaug. She is not allowed to compete until Dec. 18 and will therefore miss a total of four World Cup weekends, where based the previous season’s price money, she could have potentially earned more than 700,000 Norwegian kroners, (roughly $86,000 U.S. dollars with the current exchange rate), according to both NRK and Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet.

In addition, Johaug will not be allowed to use any of the Norwegian Olympic Committee’s facilities or train with the Norwegian national team. However, Dagbladet reported that she’ll be able to train with teammates like Marit Bjørgen and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in their free time.

NRK’s expert Fredrik Aukland, a former coach of Johaug, told NRK that training on her own could be dramatic for the 28-year-old Johaug. Her lawyer, Christian B. Hjort, says that she has accepted the decision and train as best as possible during the suspension.

But that might not be the whole story, according to sports attorney Gunnar-Martin Kjenner, who believes Johaug may have to wait until Easter in early April before she can receive her sentence. He told NRK that the 2016/2017 season may be over for Johaug before it has even started. Kjenner is the author of the book Sport and Law, a leading refference for legal matters in Norwegian sports law and regulation, and he represented Norwegian race walker Erik Tysse, who, in 2010, received a two-year ban after testing positive for Cera, commonly reffered to as EPO. Kjenner said he believes a sentence will be delivered between January and April 2017. Kjenner explains that these types of cases tend to take several months to carry out investigations.

Another NRK article specifies that the suspension means that Anti-Doping Norway assumes that Johaug’s final sentence will be at least two months long, which is based on Anti-Doping Norway’s own regulations. Anti-doping Norway has declined to comment on the length of the investigation.

Johaug and Anti-Doping Norway in Disagreement

During the press conference last Thursday, Oct. 13, Johaug said, “I’m going to show everyone how innocent I am in this case.” In a press release this Wednesday, Oct. 19, Anti-Doping Norway stated, “that the prosecution committee is of the opinion that the athlete cannot be without guilt.” The leader of the prosecution committee elaborated on this to NRK, saying, “Johaug didn’t thoroughly investigate the content of the lip cream, which she is required to do and therefore a suspension is warranted.”

Both NRK and Norwegian tabloid VG  have reported that Johaug did receive the tube and the packaging it came in where there is a sign that says, “Doping”. In another article, VG reports that the packaging contained a leaflet with a warning in Italian. That warning says, “The use of this drug without therapeutic need constitutes doping and may result in a positive drug test.” The article did not specify whether or not Johaug speaks Italian.

Lawyer Randi Gustad, a former professional handball player and sports commentator, tweeted on Friday, Oct. 14, that she “doesn’t understand why everyone is so concerned with the packaging when the extenuating circumstance with regards to a punishment is the advice from the doctor.” 

Johaug’s attorney told Norwegian TV2  that they disagree with the prosecution committee’s basis for the suspension since all aspects of the case have to be revealed. But they do however accept the decision.

Johaug said in a statement released by the Norwegian Ski Federation that she takes the decision “with a heavy heart,” but “accepts it” and is now focused on working toward a full acquittal.

When asked by VG  on Thursday, Oct. 20, if Johaug will talk to press in the near future, her manager Joern Ernst says “We’re taking this day by day, we’ll see. All of this is really about one thing; Therese. There’s no strategy or tactic, it’s all about her.”

Robin Mackenzie-Robinson, an expert in Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rulings, told VG that he guessed Johaug would receive minimum one-year ban based on applicable laws in the Norwegian Confederation of Sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

An interesting question has been raised in light of this case. Bjørgen, Johaug’s teammate and Olympic, World Championship and World Cup winner, asked the question, “Is it all worth it?” in an interview with TV2 last Friday. She went on to say, “Maybe I should stop and do something else.” She received support from Østberg and Olaf Tufte, a Norwegian rower, who won gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2008 Beijing Olympics, and silver in the 2000 Sydney Games, and bronze this summer in Rio.

“Is it worth doing professional sports when so much can happen from so little and the risks of having your career ruined is so unimaginably great?” Tufte told TV2.

When asked if he is evaluating his own future, he answered, “Like Marit said, ‘Is it worth it?’

He gave an example, saying that he, a 40-year-old man, cannot consume cough syrup because it contains Efedrin, which is an illegal substance according to doping regulations, but that his 6-year-old son is allowed to do so.

In spite of all this, Johaug appears to have her nation’s popular opinion on her side. On Friday, VG published the result of a questionnaire conducted by, which concluded that only 14.4 percent of the Norwegian people think she’s fully responsible for what happened. When asked if their trust in Johaug has been weakened, almost 80 percent answered, “Not changed or strengthened.” It is worth noting that since these findings were published, evidence of Johaug’s negligence have surfaced. But this might not have mattered much to her fans. On Wednesday, NRK reported that the sales from her clothing line skyrocketed since news of her positive drug test were revealed. Active Brands Nordic Director Oystein Braata, the owner of the Johaug brand, said in the same article, “the previous weekend was the best one we’ve ever had”.

Kari-Pekka Kyrö’s Lifetime Ban Overturned

Lifetime ban no more? The former head coach of the Finnish cross-country team Kari-Pekka Kyrö, who was at the epicenter of his team’s doping scandal at the 2001 Lahti World Championships, may be a free agent after the Finnish Ski Federation recently overturned his lifetime ban, Ski-Lines reported on Sunday.

But first, that decision must be approved by Finland’s Anti-Doping Agency and the International Ski Federation (FIS). According to FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis, in such cases, FIS trusts the national federations’ decisions.

Under Kyrö, six Finnish skiers — Janne Immonen, Jari Isometsä, Harri Kirvesniemi, Mika Myllylä, Milla Jauho, and Virpi Kuitunen — tested positive for banned substances, allegedly used to disguise their use of erythropoietin (EPO). As part of his punishment, Kyrö had to pay a fine for importing illegal drugs into his country.

“All these years, it was very hard,” Kyrö, 52, said. “This [coaching] is the only profession in which I have a degree and I know. In social and professional terms, it was a very severe punishment.”

FIS Survey Seeks Fan Feedback

(Press release)

FIS Cross-Country would like to learn from its fans and followers, athletes, teams and the media what they like about the FIS Cross-Country World Cup in its current format and what should be changed in future.

In order to collect as much feedback as possible a survey has been prepared in multiple languages.

Click below to submit your feedback:





STC Canmore Photo Galleries

Canada's Alex Harvey (r) racing to fifth in the men's 15 k freestyle at the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Jon Nelson/

Canada’s Alex Harvey (r) racing to fifth in the men’s 15 k freestyle at the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Jon Nelson/

Earlier this month, photographer Jon Nelson attended the Ski Tour Canada races in Canmore, Alberta, and has posted six galleries worth of photos recapping the action.

See the complete collection here:

Ski Tour Canada Eastern Stage Photos Available

FasterSkier contributing photographer John Lazenby has posted the following galleries from the first three stops and four stages of the 2016 Ski Tour Canada (in Gatineau, Montreal and Quebec City). Special thanks to John. See all of his images at

STC East: Highlights (general interest)

STC East: Athletes, Coaches, Volunteers



Johaug and Sundby Win Out in Final Stage of STC; Diggins and Harvey 5th Overall

The all-Norwegian women's podium at the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 10 k classic pursuit, with winner Therese Johaug (c), Heidi Weng (l) in second and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (r) in third.

The all-Norwegian women’s podium at the final stage of the Ski Tour Canada, the 10 k classic pursuit, with winner Therese Johaug (c), Heidi Weng (l) in second and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (r) in third.

Saturday was a good day to be a favorite — and an overall World Cup leader as who have been beating out the masses all season won the final race of 2015/2016 and last stage of the Ski Tour Canada (STC), the classic pursuits in Canmore, Alberta.

Norway’s Therese Johaug raced from second to first in the women’s 10-kilometer classic pursuit, overcoming a 30-second starting deficit and beating teammate Heidi Weng by 1:07.8 minutes in 34:12.4. Weng shook her head in disappointment at the finish after being unable to hang with Johaug, both the Overall and Distance World Cup winner, after Johaug caught her around 4 k and dropped Weng shortly thereafter.

“I cannot believe that I win this Tour because it’s three sprint races …,” Johaug said in a post-race interview with FIS. “Everybody knows that I’m good in [the final climb of the Tour de Ski], but here it is normal track and not a lot of hills. For me, it was a goal to win this Tour because I never thought I could win here. .. It’s so good to finish the season with a victory here.”

Ingvild Flugstad Østberg made it an all-Norwegian STC podium in third, 2:13.3 back, and Krista Parmakoski of Finland raced from sixth for fourth (+2:56.2) with the fastest time of day in 33:41.8.

American Jessie Diggins started fifth and held her position, after being passed by Parmakoski (who started 7 seconds behind her) then overtaking Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, the fourth starter, while clinging to Parmakoski. Diggins finished fifth (+3:08.5), ahead of Jacobsen in sixth (+4:12), and Diggins posted the third-fastest time of day (after Johaug’s second fastest time).

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) started fifth and finished fifth overall in the Ski Tour Canada in the final stage, the 10 k classic pursuit, on Saturday in Canmore, Alberta.

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) started fifth and finished fifth overall in the Ski Tour Canada in the final stage, the 10 k classic pursuit, on Saturday in Canmore, Alberta.

“I don’t see myself as leading the team; I see myself as being the team cheerleader,” Diggins said after. “That’s my role and I’m really proud to be in that role. I’m really proud of our whole team this season.”

Two other Finnish skiers landed in the top 10, with Kerttu Niskanen in seventh (+5:20.5) and Anne Kyllönen in eighth (+5:34.8). Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk placed ninth (+6:55.7) and Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla — a sprint specialist who did not complete the Tour de Ski earlier in the season — took 10th (+7:07.8).

American Sadie Bjornsen started 11th and held her position for 11th overall (+7:12.4), about a second ahead of Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla in 12th. A third U.S. Ski Team (USST) member, Rosie Brennan placed 24th (+12:28.5) while Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) ended her first tour in 31st (+15:12.5). Caitlin Gregg (USST/Team Gregg) placed 33rd, Ida Sargent (Craftsbury Green Racing Project/USST) was 34th, and Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School/USST) 36th.

Emily Nishikawa, a leading member of Canada’s Senior Development Team, was the top Canadian in 37th and Cendrine Browne (Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre/CNST) placed 40th.

American Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) was 41st, Annika Taylor (Sugar Bowl Academy/Great Britain) was 42nd, Annie Hart (SMST2) 43rd, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (CNST) 44th, Jessica Yeaton (APU/Australia) 46th, Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic) 47th, Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation), and Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers) 49th.

Results: Women’s 10 k classic pursuit | Time of day

Overall World Cup

  1. Johaug (NOR) 2681 points
  2. Østberg (NOR) 2302
  3. Weng (NOR) 2172

(*Of note: Diggins 8th overall)

Distance World Cup

  1. Johaug (NOR) 1533
  2. Weng (NOR) 1145
  3. Østberg (NOR) 976

(*Diggins 9th overall)

Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby celebrates winning the 2016 Ski Tour Canada by nearly a minute after starting with a 39-second deficit in third at the beginning of Saturday's 15 k classic pursuit in Canmore, Alberta.

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby celebrates winning the 2016 Ski Tour Canada by nearly a minute after starting with a 39-second deficit in third at the beginning of Saturday’s 15 k classic pursuit in Canmore, Alberta.

In the men’s 15 k classic pursuit, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby wasted no time tackling a 39-second deficit and racing from third to first, leading Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov and Norway’s Petter Northug (who started second, 32 seconds after Ustiugov) early on the second of four laps at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

At 5.9 k, Sundby had built a 13.2-second lead on Ustiugov, while Northug trailed about a second farther back in third. However, the end of the lap, halfway through the race, Ustiugov and Northug had reined Sundby back in — almost. There at 7.5 k, Ustiugov was 6.7 seconds back and Northug 16.6 seconds behind. About two kilometers later, Sundby had increased his lead once again, 21 seconds ahead of Ustiugov and 48 seconds ahead of Northug.

Alex Harvey (Canadian World Cup Team) closing out the 2016 Ski Tour Canada in fifth overall while Norway's third-place finisher Petter Northug receives some attention on the ground after collapsing in exhaustion at the finish.

Alex Harvey (Canadian World Cup Team) closing out the 2016 Ski Tour Canada in fifth overall while Norway’s third-place finisher Petter Northug receives some attention on the ground after collapsing in exhaustion at the finish.

The leader of both the overall and Distance World Cup, Sundby went on to win the race in 47:24.1, while Ustiugov took second 57.7 seconds later and Northug crossed the line, absolutely spent, nearly a minute later in third (+1:52.5).

“I had my doubts today, man, but you know, final race of the season, I just had to try,” Sundby said in a post-race interview with FIS. “I had to put it all out there today and just go for it. There was no point to go for third today.”

It marked his third-consecutive Crystal Globe (overall World Cup victory).

“I’m sick this is not healthy,” Sundby joked. “But I’m so happy and what a way to finish out the season for me. … Let’s go party now.”

France’s Maurice Manificat rose from seventh to fourth (+2:18.4) with the fastest time of day in 45:54.6, while Canada’s Alex Harvey placed fifth (+2:53.9) after starting fourth and skiing solo for the first half of the race.

Finland’s Matti Heikkinen finished the Tour in sixth, 12.9 seconds after Harvey and 3:06.8 behind Sundby, after starting ninth. Heikkinen had the second fastest time of day, 10.6 seconds behind Manificat.

“I thought there was no way I would get caught, but I got caught,” Harvey said after starting fourth, 1:19 ahead of Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh, who began the race in fifth. Manificat started another 19 seconds later, following Norway’s Emil Iversen in sixth.

“I have a lot of bad days in my career. It’s just one of them,” Harvey continued. “There’s nothing to worry about. You can’t be on top everyday.”

Norway took seventh through ninth with Iversen, Hans Christer Holund and Krogh, respectively, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner finished 10th (+6:01.3).

Three Canadians finished in the top 20 of their home tour, with Ivan Babikov in 14th (+7:30.3) and Devon Kershaw in 16th (+8:17.1).

Graeme Killick (Canadian Senior Development Team) was the fourth Canadian in the top 30 in 27th overall (+11.44.3).

Noah Hoffman (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/U.S. Ski Team) led the Americans in 34th (+13:20.5). Erik Bjornsen (APU/USST) was 42nd, Canada’s Kevin Sandau (AWCA) was 43rd, Scott Patterson (APU) 46th, Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay) 49th, Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic) 50th, and Tad Elliott (SSCV) 51st.

Results: Men’s 15 k classic pursuit | Time of day

Overall World Cup

  1. Sundby (NOR) 2634 points
  2. Northug (NOR) 1602
  3. Krogh (NOR) 1584

(*Harvey 7th overall)

Distance World Cup

  1. Sundby (NOR) 1444
  2. Manificat (FRA) 763
  3. Dyrhaug (NOR) 729

Heikkinen Nabs First Win in Five Years; Canada’s Harvey Fourth and Babikov 10th

On Friday, Finland’s Matti Heikkinen, 32, won his first World Cup race since 2011, chasing down the time of Russia’s Evgeniy Belov and beating it at the line in the men’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start by 13.6 seconds in 35:16.3 in the seventh stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.

Belov had initially commanded the race, holding off Canada’s Alex Harvey by 8.1 seconds at the finish. But the two wouldn’t end up going 1-2. Instead, Heikkinen bumped Belov to second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner slotted into third, 13.9 seconds behind Heikkinen and just 0.3 seconds behind Belov.

Harvey missed the podium by 7.8 seconds and ended up 21.7 seconds out of first.

Behind him, France’s Robin Duvillard took fifth (+28.8), Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby settled for sixth (+37.5), Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh placed seventh (+37.6) and a third Norwegian, Petter Northug, took eighth (+47.4).

Canada’s Ivan Babikov notched his second-straight top 10 in 10th (+1:00.2), behind Norway’s fifth man Hans Christer Holund in ninth (+57.9).

Overall Tour leader Sergey Ustiugov of Russia placed 12th, and is now 32.3 seconds ahead of Northug in the standings with one stage to go.

Sundby is 39.6 seconds back in third heading into Saturday’s final 15 k classic pursuit, and Harvey remains in fourth (+2:10.3). Krogh is fifth (+3:29), Norway’s Emil Iversen is sixth (+3:37.1), and France’s Maurice Manificat is seventh (+3:47.9).

Heikkinen improved to ninth (+4:25.7), 10 seconds behind Holund in eighth, and Hellner is up to 10th (+5:23.3).

Babikov moved into 15th (+7:43.5).

Canada had three in the top 20 in the 15 k with Devon Kershaw in 20th, 1:30 behind the winner. He is 17th overall, 31 seconds behind France’s Jean Marc Gaillard in 16th. Graeme Killick was the fourth Canadian in the points in 29th (+1:48.4) for 27th overall.

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 23rd (+1:34.1), putting him in 37th overall. Also on Friday, Erik Bjornsen placed 34th (+2:08.1) for 43rd overall.  Tad Elliott placed 41st, Canadian Kevin Sandau was 43rd, Russell Kennedy (CAN) was 45th, Scott Patterson (USA) 47th, Lenny Valjas (CAN) 49th, and Michael Somppi (CAN) 50th.

Check back at for a complete report.

Results | Tour standings (through Stage 7)

Østberg Tops Podium in STC 10 k Freestyle; Diggins 5th

Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg took the lead by the 6.9-kilometer checkpoint and never looked back to win the penultimate stage of Ski Tour Canada, the women’s 10 k freestyle individual start in Canmore, Alberta.  The Norwegian covered the challenging Canmore course in 23.20.1, besting her teammate and overall Tour leader Heidi Weng by 23.0 seconds.  Finland’s Krista Parmakoski reached the podium in third (+24.5) while Norway’s Kari Øyre Slind was a tenth of a second off the podium in fourth. American Jessie Diggins rocketed to fifth (+32.6) ahead of Norway’s Therese Johaug, who sits in second in the Tour, after Johaug placed sixth (+40.1).

With one stage remaining, Weng leads Johaug by 30 seconds heading into Saturday’s 10 k classic pursuit. Østberg is up to third, 1:24.4 back, ahead of a fourth Norwegian, Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in fourth overall (+1:57.4). Diggins ranks fifth, 3:20.2 behind Weng and just 6.6 seconds ahead of Parmakoski in sixth.

Also for the U.S., Sadie Bjornsen placed 17th (+1:25.0) and Caitlin Gregg was 19th (+1:26.9) on Friday, for 11th and 34th overall in the Tour, respectively. Chelsea Holmes was 22nd for her first World Cup top 30 (putting her 32nd overall), and Rosie Brennan was 31st, 0.8 seconds out of 30th (for 25th overall). Just over a week after her World Cup debut, Katharine Ogden placed 34th on Friday, ahead of Emily Nishikawa, who led the Canadian women in 35th (+2:11.3).

Check back later at for a complete report.

Results | Tour standings (through Stage 7)

Harvey, Babikov in Top 10 for Canada in Canmore Skiathlon

Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby (l) followed by Canada's Alex Harvey on the second lap of the 15 k classic leg of Wednesday's 30 k skiathlon at Stage 6 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby (l) followed by Canada’s Alex Harvey (5), Finland’s Matti Heikkinen (25) and others during the second classic lap of Wednesday’s 30 k skiathlon at Stage 6 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Four men in the top 24, two in the top 10, Alex Harvey back to fourth. Yep, it was that kind of day for Canada at the sixth stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta.

While Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby won the 30-kilometer skiathlon to make a notable leap from fourth to third in the overall Tour standings, Harvey moved up as well (into fourth overall), leading the Canadians in seventh, 7.6 seconds behind Sundby.

The top seven men finished within 7.6 seconds of one another, and just 0.5 seconds separated fifth through seventh. Sundby sealed the win in 1:16:29.7 hours, just 2.8 seconds ahead of Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov — the Tour leader — in second. Finland’s Matti Heikkinen placed third (+3.7) for his best result since placing third in a World Cup skiathlon in January 2015 in Rybinsk, Russia.

Three other Norwegians made the top six, with Finn Hågen Krogh in fourth (+5.0), Didrik Tønseth in fifth (+7.1), and Hans Christer Holund in sixth (+7.4), just 0.2 seconds ahead of Harvey.

“Martin started pushing hard from the beginning, and that’s the way I wanted it,” Harvey said after the race. “I was hoping that one of the guys in front of me [in the overall standings] would have a rough day, and it happened to be [Norway’s Emil] Iversen. So it moved me up to fourth place. … I’m just focusing on staying in the top five.”

Previously third in the Tour, Iversen placed 17th on Wednesday to slip to fifth overall.

Canada’s Ivan Babikov raced to 10th (+16.9) for his first World Cup top 10 in more than two years. Graeme Killick was 19th (+1:34.2) and Devon Kershaw 24th (+2:14.2) for the host nation.

Noah Hoffman led the U.S. in 35th (+4:21.9). Erik Bjornsen placed 49th, Scott Patterson was 55th, and Tad Elliott was 58th.

Seven other Canadians stayed in the Tour, with Kevin Sandau in 40th, Lenny Valjas in 46th, Knute Johnsgaard in 47th, Russell Kennedy in 52nd, Andy Shields in 53rd, Michael Somppi in 54th, and Patrick Stewart-Jones in 57th.

Bob Thompson was lapped for Canada, ending his run in the Tour and placing 62nd on the day. Simon Lapointe did not start. For the U.S., Eric Packer (65th), Reese Hanneman (67th) and Brian Gregg (68th) were lapped as well.

Stay tuned for a complete report on

Men’s results | Tour standings (through Stage 6)


Weng Holds Off Johaug to Keep Tour Lead; Diggins Up to Fifth Overall

Jessie Diggins skis within a chase pack during the classic portion of Wednesday's 15 k skiathlon at the sixth stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

American Jessie Diggins (6, in white) skis within a chase pack, which included Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (3), during the classic portion of Wednesday’s 15 k skiathlon at the sixth stage of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Heidi Weng keeps the Ski Tour Canada leader’s bib another day. At the end of the women’s 15-kilometer skiathlon on Wednesday, the sixth stage of the Tour, the Norwegian bested her teammate and biggest threat, Therese Johaug by 0.8 seconds at the line.

Weng won in 39:41.0 minutes, maintaining a 2.9-second lead on Johaug in the overall Tour standings. More than a minute back in third overall, teammate Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen reached the podium again in the skiathlon, placing third, 9.8 seconds after Weng.

Finland’s Krista Parmakoski (+13.4) and Anne Kyllönen (+13.5) interrupted the Norwegian sweep, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, while Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg took sixth (+14.2). Four Finns landed in the top eight, with Kerttu Niskanen in seventh (+14.8) and Laura Mononen in eighth (+16.4). Switzerland’s Nathalie von Siebenthal placed ninth (+17.5), and Kari Øyre Slind of Norway notched 10th (+40.7).

Two seconds outside the top 10, American Jessie Diggins placed 11th (+42.8) and improved to fifth in the Tour (about a minute and 8 seconds behind Østberg in fourth) with two stages remaining.

Also for the U.S., Sadie Bjornsen tallied her eighth-consecutive World Cup top 20 in 16th (+1:35.3). In six stages of the Ski Tour Canada (STC) so far, she has finished 18th or better. Overall, she ranks 11th in the Tour.

Rosie Brennan was the third U.S. Ski Team member in the points, placing 25th (+2:24.0) for her season best.

The U.S. occupied 31st through 35th, with Caitlin Gregg (who missed the top 30 by 0.1 seconds) in 31st, Katharine Ogden in 32nd, Chelsea Holmes in 33rd, Annie Hart in 34th, and Ida Sargent in 35th.

Emily Nishikawa led the Canadian women in 37th and Cendrine Browne was 38th. Dahria Beatty finished 41st, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt was 42nd, Katherine Stewart-Jones 48th, Annika Hicks 49th, Maya MacIsaac-Jones 51st, Jenn Jackson 52nd, and Sophie Carrier-Laforte 55th. Alannah MacLean did not finish.

Americans Kaitlynn Miller and Jennie Bender finished 46th and 54th, respectively. Liz Stephen did not start, and thus will be unable to complete the Tour.

Women’s results | Tour standings (through Stage 6)

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 by Rosie Brennan (USA) 41st, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbit (CAN) 42nd, Emily Nishikawa (CAN) 44th, Katherine Stewart-Jones (CAN) 46th, Caitlin Gregg (USA) 47th, Cendrine Browne (CAN) 50th, Jennie Bender (USA) 51st, Jenn Jackson (CAN) 52nd, Maya Macisaac-Jones (CAN) 53rd, Katharine Ogden (USA) 54th, Sophie Carrier-Laforte (CAN) 56th, Chelsea Holmes (USA) 57th, Annika Hicks (CAN) 59th, Alannah Maclean (CAN) 60th, and Liz Stephen (USA) 61st.

The men’s 1.5 k classic sprint qualification was led by Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov in a time of 3:21.33. Second fastest qualifier time went to Norway’s Erik Brandsdal (+1.04), and third was Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby (+1:56). 

Two Canadians qualified, including Alex Harvey in 14th (+5.41) and Len Valjas in 18th (+7.03).

No American men qualified for the heats.

“The snow slowed dramatically,” Chris Grover, U.S. head coach said during an in-person interview. “The later athletes weren’t gliding  nearly as much as as the earlier ones.”

Leading the Americans was Erik Bjornsen in 44th. Also competing in Tuesday’s sprint was Devon Kershaw (CAN) in 33rd, Simi Hamilton (USA) 47th, Knute Johnsgaard (CAN) 48th, Andy Newell (USA) 52nd, Patrick Stewart-Jones (CAN) 54th, Jess Cockney (CAN) 54th, Bob Thompson (CAN) 58th, Graeme Killick (CAN) 59th, Russell Kennedy (CAN) 61st, Reese Hanneman (USA) 62nd, Andy Shields (CAN) 64th, Kevin Sandau (CAN) 66th, Ivan Babikov (CAN) 68th, Noah Hoffman (USA) 69th, Simone Lapointe (CAN) 70th, Scott Patterson (USA) 72nd, Eric Packer (USA) 73rd, Michael Somppi (CAN) 76th, Tad Elliott (USA) 77th, Dakota Blackhorse-vonn Jess (USA) 78th, Brian Gregg (USA) 81st, and Matt Liebsch (USA) 83rd.

Qualifying results: Women | Men

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

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Wax testing on the final descent into the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

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.

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

Skiers head out on the course and into the opening climb out of the stadium during official training on Monday at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Peggy Hung)

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 pursuit on Saturday in the late afternoon.

The new sprint course looks like a lollipop with two laps around the head, with the start and finish sections are unchanged.  It seems much more double pole friendly than the old course, especially with fast snow. Listening to the wax testing, it seemed as if people weren’t finding one perfect pair of skis for the whole sprint course. Picking the right part of the course to select skis for may turn out to be critical.  For the men, choosing between classic and skate skis may be difficult.

The distance courses had highly varied conditions by the end of the afternoon. Some exposed sections at the bottom were nearly slush. The top of the course was still crusty and fast. The mid-elevation sections varied greatly by sun exposure, with crust, wet transformed snow, and sugar all represented. The final pursuit on Saturday afternoon is expected to have similar weather; if so, there could be some significant changes in standings.

The distance courses are hard, with long climbs at 1,400 meters (nearly 4,600 feet) elevation.  Some skiers were looking tired after four races and a travel day, others were energized.

A light snowfall in Monday evening brought the first fresh snow in weeks.

The Stage 5 classic sprint begins at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time with the women’s qualifier, followed by the men’s qualifier at 11:10 a.m. Heats start at 1 p.m. MT.

Follow us on Twitter @FasterSkier for race updates.