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U.S. Women Make History, Second in Nove Mesto Relay

The U.S. women's relay, with Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen, hugs anchor Jessie Diggins at the finish after she secured second for the best-ever U.S. women's relay result in a cross-country World Cup on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

The U.S. women’s relay, with Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen and Liz Stephen (r), hugs anchor Jessie Diggins (second from l) at the finish after she secured second for the best-ever U.S. women’s relay result in a cross-country World Cup on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

The U.S. women’s 4 x 5-kilometer relay team made history on Sunday in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, placing second overall for its strongest podium finish ever.

The relay team was led by Sophie Caldwell in the opening classic leg. Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østeberg took it out hard, leading all teams from the start. Caldwell kept the chase pack going and tagged off to Sadie Bjornsen for the second classic leg of the day.

In lap two, Bjornsen and Finland’s Krista Parmakoski began to gap the rest of the field, battling it out for second and third place. Coming into the exchange zone, Bjornsen was third and tagged Liz Stephen for the first freestyle leg, 25.7 seconds behind Norway in first and 1.2 seconds behind Parmakoski.

Stephen charged past Finland’s Riitta-Liisa Roponen with 2 k to go, moving the U.S. into second place behind Norway’s Therese Johaug. Stephen trailed Johaug all the way until the exchange zone, where the hand off for the final freestyle leg went to the team anchor, Jessie Diggins, 32.5 seconds back .

Chasing down Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen of Norway, Diggins expanded Stephen’s lead over third place. Diggins crossed the line in second overall for the U.S., 42.1 seconds behind Norway’s winning time of 50:17.2 and 13.8 seconds ahead of Finland in third.

The U.S. women have been on the podium three times before (in third place), most recently at the last relay in Lillehammer, Norway, where they placed third behind Norway and Finland. 

The Canadian women, in their first-ever relay for all four (Emily Nishikawa, Dahria Beatty, Cendrine Browne, and Maya MacIsaac-Jones) placed 12th (+5:02.4).

Results

Diggins Takes Third in Nove Mesto; Three More American Women Crack Top 30

Another World Cup podium for American Jessie Diggins today in Nove Mesto, CZE. The 24-year-old Minnesota native raced to a third place finish in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle event, only 9.3 seconds behind the race winner Therese Johaug of Norway, who complete the course in a time of 25:09.1. This marks the second time Diggins reaches the World Cup podium in the past two weeks, after she won the women’s 5 k freestyle individual start on Jan. 8 at the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. Three other American women cracked the top thirty, with Sadie Bjornsen in 14th (+1:11.3), Liz Stephen in 17th (1:18.4), and Rosie Brennan scoring World Cup points in 28th (1:40.1). 

For complete race results, click here.

Who’s in Nove Mesto? Not Newell, Hanneman, Northug…

– Newell and Hanneman in the Dolomitenlauf? If you’re looking for American sprint specialists Andy Newell and Reese Hanneman at this weekend’s World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, you won’t find them there; they’re signed up for Saturday’s Dolomitenlauf 42-kilometer classic marathon in Lienz, Austria. While the main event happens on Sunday — the 60 k freestyle Dolomitenlauf (part of the Worldloppet series) — Newell and Hanneman already raced the Dolomitenlauf sprint on Friday night, where Newell reached the final and placed fourth overall while Hanneman missed advancing past the quarterfinals. The sprint was one of the main reasons they were there, U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover explained in an email.

“Andy will also race the 42 km C tomorrow.  Reese may or may not start (that’s up to him),” Grover added. “With a distance skate race here in Nove Mesto, the format wasn’t the best for either of them.  Reese most likely would not have been able to race at all. “We have 4 men already here for the relay,” Grover continued, listing Simi Hamilton, Erik Bjornsen, Noah Hoffman, and SuperTour leader Scott Patterson. “It would have been good to have Andy here for a possible classic relay leg but the Dolomitenlauf weekend offered him two confirmed starts (including sprint) so it was a better fit.”

The U.S. Ski Team’s starters for Saturday’s 10/15 k freestyle races include those four aforementioned men, plus five women: Jessie Diggins, Liz Stephen, Rosie Brennan, Sadie Bjornsen, and Period 1 SuperTour leader Chelsea Holmes.  

 

– While Emily Nishikawa was a one-woman show representing Canada for all of Period 1 on the World Cup, she is now joined by four others in Nove Mesto: Dahria Beaty, Cendrine Browne, Katherine Stewart-Jones, and Maya MacIsaac-Jones, all of which raced last weekend in the Planica World Cup in Slovenia as well. On the men’s side, Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw, Graeme Killick, and Lenny Valjas return to the World Cup, joining U23+ Development Team skier Knute Johnsgaard. Valjas also raced the sprint in Lienz on Friday, but did not advance to the semifinals after placing fourth in his quarterfinal.

 

Croatian roller ski camp. I think I’m ready for tonight’s city sprint in Lienz. 🌴☕️

 

A video posted by Lenny Valjas (@lennyvaljas) on

 

– What’s the point? That’s the message Petter Northug is sending in conceding the overall World Cup title to Norwegian teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby (more than 600 points ahead of him in the standings) and skipping this weekend’s Nove Mesto World Cup. Instead, Northug will try to win a tour and turn his attention to the season-ending Ski Tour Canada. Without a final hill climb, he thinks the Canadian race series is suited for him.

“I think it sounds like a good plan. It’s great to get into a long period of training now,” Norwegian national team coach Trond Nystad told Adresseavisen.

“Petter has said that the gap to Martin’s too big. I think it will instead be more of a duel for second place,” Northug’s personal coach Stig Rune Kveen said. Finn Hågen Krogh is currently second in the World Cup standings, 550 points behind Sundby and 71 ahead of Northug in third.

 

– If Krogh wins Saturday’s 15 k freestyle, he will be the first to do so in consecutive 15 k freestyle World Cups (after he won the last one in Östersund, Sweden, in February 2015) in more than 10 years. Retired French skier Vincent Vittoz was the last to win consecutive 15 k skate races: in Ruka in November 2004 and in Nove Mesto in January 2005. (Note: a 15 k freestyle was held after Östersund at 2015 World Championships on Feb. 22 in Falun, Sweden: Johan Olsson of Sweden won; Krogh placed fifth.)

 

– In other World Cup swaps-and-starts news: Norway’s Hans Christer Holund is skipping Nove Mesto, replaced by Per Kristian Nygård. Sweden’s resting Stina Nilsson and Ida Ingemarsdotter after Nilsson led a sweep of the women’s sprints (teaming up with Ingemarsdotter to win the team sprint) last weekend in Planica. Italy reportedly plans to start sprint star Federico Pellegrino in the relay, after he indicated he wants to improve in distance races.

Jacobsen Out of Tour, Recovering at Home After Post-Race Collapse

Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen has left the Tour de Ski to recover at home, according to the Norwegian national team doctor, after she pushed herself past the brink of exhaustion in Stage 2, the women’s 15-kilometer classic last Saturday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

She finished 11th in that race, and did not start the third stage of the Tour, the 5 k pursuit, on Sunday.

“We have assessed the situation together with Astrid this morning,” team doctor Fredrik S. Bendiksen told reporters Sunday morning. “She’s still tired and not fully recovered…”

According to NRK, Jacobsen, 28, struggled with both breathing and nausea during the 15 k. She collapsed at the finish line and lay in the snow for more than five minutes before medical staff was summoned to help her to her feet. She underwent an hour of medical supervision afterward and left the stadium to recover in her hotel room.

While she indicated on Saturday evening that she wanted to continue the Tour, all signs indicated she had not adequately recovered the next day. As a result, the team sent her home on Sunday.

Bendiksen told NRK they had “no reason to believe” that this was anything but over-exertion.

“If she gets three or four days off, she’s probably very well recovered. Nothing suggests that this is something serious,” he said.

Martin Johansson Drops Out of Tour de Ski; Bellingham & Others Lapped In 30k

Anders Svanebo of Sweden en route to 84th place in the sprint qualifier, the first stage of the Tour de Ski on Friday.

Anders Svanebo of Sweden en route to 84th place in the sprint qualifier, the first stage of the Tour de Ski on Friday. Svanebo did not start the 30 k classic and is now done with the Tour.

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland—The slow conditions, sloppy waxing, and otherwise grueling nature of Saturday’s men’s 30 k classic mass start, the second stage of the Tour de Ski, had big consequences for a few racers: they were lapped on the 3.75 k course and are now out of the eight-stage competition.

Those who were lapped include Phil Bellingham of Australia, Callum Smith of Great Britain, Andrey Gridin of Bulgaria, and Pawel Klisz and Jan Antolec of Poland.

Finishing any stage of the Tour de Ski too far from the leaders means being excluded from the rest of the competition. From the FIS Rules:

  • –  Overlapping (ICR 343.13) in Mass Starts and Pursuits will lead to exclusion from rest of the Tour de Ski.
  • –  In interval starts, prologue and sprint qualifications, an athlete will be excluded from the rest of the Tour de Ski if he loses:
    •   Interval start ( 5 km or more): more than 18% for the Ladies and more than 15% for the Men
    •   Prologue, Short Interval start (< 5 km) and sprint qualifications: more than 23% for the Ladies and more than 20% for the Men.

      In special conditions the jury can adapt the percentages.

Martin Johansson of Sweden did not finish the 30 k, dropping out after two laps. He is thus also out of the Tour.

“I’ve had a cold and tried to get back in shape again,” he told Swedish daily Expressen. “But I can’t be doing battle at this level now… I tried for two laps, but then I just felt it was stupid to torture the body.”

Johansson was the top Swede in the opening 3-day mini-tour of the World Cup season, in Ruka, Finland, where he placed 15th.

A number of sprinters decided already after Friday’s sprint that they would not continue with the Tour. In addition, three other men decided morning-of not to start the 30 k: Anders Svanebo of Sweden and Peeter Kummel and Marko Kilp of Estonia.

 

That leaves the men’s field at 82 for Sunday’s 10 k skate pursuit.

No women dropped during or after their 15 k classic mass start on Saturday, keeping the field at 65.

Start lists: women’s 5 k pursuit / men’s 10 k pursuit

Falla Drops Tour After Winning Opening Stage; 14 Others Out As Well

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway celebrates at the finish line after winning the 1.5 k skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the opening stage of the 2016 FIS Tour de Ski. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway celebrates at the finish line after winning the 1.5 k skate sprint in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the opening stage of the 2016 FIS Tour de Ski. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland—After just one stage of the Tour de Ski, a few names are already off the start list.

Perhaps the biggest? Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway, who won the women’s sprint in the opening stage.

Falla’s goal this year is the World Cup sprint title, and she doesn’t see the point in going through a grueling 15 k classic on Saturday or a 5 k skate pursuit on Sunday before getting to the next sprint. Sprints which are part of tours and mini-tours are only worth half the normal amount of points – 50 instead of 100 – compared to a regular-season sprint anyway.

After Friday’s win, Falla has a 40-point lead in the Sprint Cup standings over Stina Nilsson of Sweden. Even if Nilsson wins the second of two Tour de Ski sprints, she would only be ahead of Falla by ten points.

“Skipping it was planned,” Falla told Norwegian broadcaster NRK about her Tour de Ski decision, according to a translation. “I know myself better and better…. it’s boring to go home, but the Sprint Cup is my goal this winter, and the body has to be ready. So I must deal with the consequences. And focus on the core races. Now I’ll lay on my couch in Lillehammer and watch the other girls.”

Also out already are Swiss skiers Laurien Van Der Graaf and Heidi Widmer, the latter being a former Canadian racer. Italian sprinters Greta Laurent and Gaia Vuerich are also out. The final drop from the women’s field is Lisa Unterweger of Austria.

From the men’s field a number of sprinters have dropped as well, perhaps not surprising considering that the 30 k classic mass start is the longest classic race to be included in the Tour de Ski since 2007.

The sprinters skipping that challenge include Renaud Jay and Baptiste Gros of France, Sondre Turvoll Fossli of Norway, Teodor Peterson of Sweden, and Roman Schaad, Joeri Kindschi, and Jovian Hediger of Switzerland. Italy’s Simone Urbani is also out, as well as Marko Kilp of Estonia and Yordan Chuchuganov of Bulgaria.

Start lists for the classic mass starts:

women’s 15 k

men’s 30 k

World Cup Holiday Roundup: Bjørgen’s Baby Boy; World Cup & Tour de Ski Stats and Standings

– It’s a boy! While the day after Christmas meant leftovers for some, it was labor for Marit. On Dec. 26, Norwegian skiing superstar Marit Bjørgen and her partner Fred Børre Lundberg welcomed the birth of their baby boy, according to Langrenn. Bjørgen hopes to be back in competition in time for the World Cup races in March.

– A few facts about the Tour de SkiCharlotte Kalla of Sweden and Dario Cologna of Swizerland are the two youngest athletes to win the overall Tour de Ski. Kalla won in 2008 when she was just 20 years old and Cologna won at age 22 in 2008. Only two skiers have competed in all 10 editions of the Tour de Ski, Norway’s Petter Northug Jr. and Italy’s Giorgio Di Centa. With four overall Tour de Ski titles under her belt, Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland has won the most overall Tour de Ski competitions.

– With a brief break before the next stage of nordic racing begins on Jan. 1 with the Tour de Ski, it’s time to take a look at the overall rankings for the World Cup. On the women’s side, Norway’s Therese Johaug sits in first, followed by Norwegian teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in second and Sweden’s Stina Nilsson in third. For the menMartin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway holds a solid lead over Norwegian teammates Northug in second and Niklas Dyrhaug in third.

Golberg Wins Kuusamo Qualifying, Newell and Valjas Make Quarterfinals

Pål Golberg of Norway took the top qualifying time in the men’s 1.4 k classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland, this morning, covering the course in 2:32.62. Teammate Sondre Turvoll Fossli was less than half a second behind to take the second-best qualifying time, with distance king Martin Johnsrud Sundby surprising in third (+2.21).

The Finns and Norwegians dominated qualifying, with Anssi Pentsinen qualifying in fourth. Emil Jönsson qualified for Sweden in 11th, +6.18.

Andy Newell of the U.S. Ski Team led the North American qualifiers in 12th (+6.44). He will be joined in the heats by Lenny Valjas of Canada (22nd, +8.32).

Results

Falla Wins Kuusamo Qualifier, 4 American Women into Heats

Maiken Caspersen Falla of Norway edged her teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg by 0.62 seconds to take the fastest qualifying time in the classic sprint in Kuusamo, Finland, this morning. Falla covered the 1.4 k course in 2:59.42. Norway dominated the women’s qualifying, with Heidi Weng and Astrid Jacobsen took spots three and four. Stina Nilsson of Sweden was the fifth-fastest qualifier (+4.51).

Four Americans qualified for the quarterfinals, led by Sadie Bjornsen in 18th (+8.62). Sophie Caldwell, Jessie Diggins, and Ida Sargent qualified in 27th, 29th, and 30th.

Five other North Americans were left out of the heats: Rosie Brennan (USA, 42nd), Emily Nishikawa (CAN, 58th), Caitlin Gregg (USA, 81st), and Liz Stephen (USA, 84th).

The sprint is the first stage of the Ruka Triple 3-day mini tour. Some favorites kept their overall hopes for a win alive by making the heats, where they will collect more time bonuses: Charlotte Kalla of Sweden qualified in 11th, Therese Johaug of Norway in 15th, and Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland in 21st.

Results

Tour de Force for Bjørgen in Holmenkollen 30 k, Norway Sweeps Podium

Marit Bjørgen shadowed Norwegian teammate Therese Johaug for almost the entire 30-kilometer race at Holmenkollen on Sunday, before sprinting away from her up the last major climb and winning the famed mass start by 10 seconds in Oslo, Norway.

Around 17 k into the race, Johaug pushed hard to win sprint bonus seconds. Bjørgen went with her, but Charlotte Kalla of Sweden, who had been skiing with the pair, was popped off the back. For the next 12 kilometers, Johaug and Bjørgen traded the lead back and forth. A move or increase in the pace by one of the women was always countered by the other.

With 800 meters to go, the pair hit the Hellnerbacken hill, a punishingly steep climb which brings the race course back into the Holmenkollen stadium. Both women upped their tempo and their pace, sprinting as fast as they could up the climb — but Bjørgen’s skiing was faster and she opened a huge and insurmountable gap on Johaug, even though her more diminutive teammate is widely acknowledged to be the best skier in the world at skating up steep climbs.

With a sizable time cushion, Bjørgen enjoyed her ski down the finishing straightaway in front of a grandstand of ecstatic Norwegian fans.

After being dropped by the two leaders, Kalla slipped back, a second here and a second there. Eventually she landed in the sights of Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, who had been dropped by the lead trio early and skied almost the entire race alone in fourth place. Jacobsen worked furiously to close the gap, and caught Kalla with just a few kilometers to go. Similarly to her winning teammate, she dropped the Swede in the final few hundred meters and skied into third place all alone, rewarded for the kilometers of punishing climbs she had endured all by herself.

Norway’s Heidi Weng beat teammate Ragnhild Haga in a photo finish for fifth place, followed by another Norwegian, Martine Ek Hagen. Germany’s Nicole Fessel placed eighth at the back of that pack, and Liz Stephen of the U.S. was ninth, 16 seconds behind Fessel after skiing in and often leading the chase pack until the very last kilometers.

Also for the U.S., Jessie Diggins placed 14th (+2:44) and Caitlin Gregg 19th (+3:07). Sadie Bjornsen crossed the line in 44th, Caitlin Patterson in 53rd, and Rosie Brennan in 55th.

The lone Canadian, Emily Nishikawa, placed 50th (+8:04).

Stay tuned for full race reports.

Results

Røthe Nabs Holmenkollen 50 k in Photo Finish

Sjur Røthe of Norway won a thrilling photo finish against Switzerland’s Dario Cologna in the 50 k skate race in Oslo, Norway, to cap of the men’s World Cup cross country ski season.

Many different skiers put in their time at the front as the field wound its way around and around the Holmenkollen venue’s 50 k course. Robin Duvillard of France and Anders Gløersen of Norway had the most successful breakaway, going to the front when the rest of the field swapped skis at 33 k and holding onto their break for almost six kilometers.

Closer to the finish, Cologna put in a big surge to try to break away. But four skiers followed him: Røthe and Norwegian teammates Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Hans Christer Holund, and Belarus’s 41-year-old Sergei Dolidovich.

Most of the field couldn’t keep up, but Sweden’s Marcus Hellner saw the break happening and fought his way through the chase pack before bridging the gap. In the final kilometer he skied into the middle of the lead pack, at times in second or third place.

But the race came down to what happened in the stadium, with the Norwegians and Cologna attacking up the final uphill and over the bridge above the biathlon range. As they dropped down to the finish, it looked like Hellner might snag a podium spot. Instead, either his legs or his skis were slower than the rest, and he slipped back through the pack of six.

Røthe led to the line, but Cologna put in a furious sprint and a well-timed lunge to get a photo finish. The two ended up with the same time but Røthe was enough in front that he has been crowned champion of the famous 50 k race. Sundby was third, Dolidovich fourth, Hellner fifth, and Holund sixth.

Canada’s Alex Harvey was in the lead pack until the last five kilometers, and when the pace surged he couldn’t keep up. He finished 13th, +52.6. The only other Canadian in the race, Ivan Babikov, finished 27th, +4:59.

Brian Gregg of Team Gregg led the United States, placing 35th +6:47. Noah Hoffman crossed the line in 44th, +8:55, and Erik Bjornsen dropped out.

Rarely figuring into the race was Petter Northug of Norway, the World Champion in the 50 k classic just two weeks ago in Falun, Sweden. Northug was in the lead pack early but was dropped with over ten kilometers still to go. He plummeted through the field and finished 39th, almost eight minutes back.

Results

Norway Sweeps Top 4 in Men’s, Women’s Drammen Sprints

Eirik Brandsdal and Maiken Caspersen Falla took wins for the home team at the Drammen sprints, the only city sprints to be held on the World Cup this season and the final sprint competitions of the year.

Norway’s Brandsdal edged teammates Finn Hågen Krogh and Ola Vigen Hattestad – who had won qualifying – in an exciting sprint finish in the 1.2 k classic final. Sondre Turvoll Fossli finished fourth, +5.31, and Sergey Ustyugov of Russia was fifth, the first non-Norwegian. His teammate Nikita Kruikov was relegated to last place in the final.

Andy Newell of the United States was the lone North American to reach the semifinals, but there finished sixth and did not make the final. Lenny Valjas of Canada qualified 19th and just missed the semis, finishing third in his quarterfinal heat.

The women’s final was also a show of Norwegian dominance, as Falla outsprinted teammate Heidi Weng for the win. Marit Bjørgen, who already has the overall World Cup title locked up, finished third, +1.51; Ingvild Flugstad Østberg made it four for Norway when she crossed the line +2.49. Stina Nilsson of Sweden and Katja Visnar of Slovenia finished fifth and sixth.

Sadie Bjornsen of the United States qualified in ninth, but was unable to advance to the semis out of a difficult quarterfinal which included both Falla and Østberg, as well as fifth-place qualifier Astrid Jacobsen of Norway.

Stay tuned for full reports of the day’s racing.

Results: men / women

Sadie Bjornsen Qualifies Ninth, Valjas and Newell in the Heats in Drammen

 

In the final sprint of the season, Sadie Bjornsen of the U.S. Ski Team qualified ninth on Wednesday in Drammen, Norway. Her time was 5.22 seconds back from Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, the fastest woman on the 1.3-kilometer classic-sprint course in 3:01.25.

Bjornsen was the lone American female to advance to heats, as Sophie Caldwell finished 1.18 seconds outside the top 30 in 35th, 11.59 seconds behind Østberg. After reaching the podium in last weekend’s freestyle sprint in Lahti, Finland, Kikkan Randall finished 45th in the classic-sprint qualifier, 18.03 seconds behind the winner. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 51st (+19.73).

No Canadian women competed.

In the men’s 1.3 k qualifier, Lenny Valjas was the lone Canadian to advance, clocking in 4.9 seconds behind Norway’s Ola Vigen Hattestad, the fastest male in 2:36.48. Teammate Alex Harvey missed qualifying in 33rd, 0.7 seconds out of the top 30 and 6.53 seconds behind Hattestad.

American Andy Newell qualified in 28th (+5.48). His teammates in Drammen, Erik Bjornsen was 38th (+7.16), Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess was 42nd (+7.75) and Simi Hamilton finished 65th after crashing (+13.56).

“I took a hard spill on the new tight downhill corner,” Hamilton explained in a text message. “My klister just stuck in my left ski as I was stepping the turn. It’s frustrating because I felt the best that I have all year, but such is racing I guess. Looking forward to training hard and skiing fast on the World Cup in the seasons to come.”

Heats start at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Results: Women | Men

 

Falk, Edin Lead Lahti World Cup Sprint Qualifier; Diggins Fifth

Johan Edin posted the best time in Satruday’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint qualifier in Lahti, Finland. Crossing the line at 2:41.14, the Swede topped the field of 79 skiers at the first World Cup since the end of the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden. Norway’s Eirik Brandsdal placed second in the qualifier, just 0.19 seconds behind Edin. Third went to teammate Finn Hågen Krogh who was off pace by 1.44 seconds.

The U.S. Ski Team’s Andy Newell was the only North American to qualify of the heats, finishing 13th and 3.02 seconds behind Edin. Teammate Simi Hamilton narrowly missed qualification in 33rd. He was 0.32 seconds from the top 30.

Canada’s Len Valjas finished 48th while Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess and Erik Bjornsen finished 55th and 57th. Alex Harvey, Jesse Cockney, and Micheal Somppi placed 63rd, 68th, and 74th respectively.

Another Swede topped the qualification round in the women’s 1.5 k freestyle sprint, with Hanna Falk posting a time of 3:03.84. She was followed by Norwegians Ingvild Flugstad Østberg and Marit Bjørgen who finished 0.28 and 1.07 seconds back.

Two North Americans qualified for the heats with Jessie Diggins placing fifth, 2.60 seconds back from Falk. Kikkan Randall placed 28th to make the heats, trailing by 7.87 seconds. Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell finished outside of qualification in 2nd and 34th place.

Canada’s Andrea Dupont and Ida Sargent finished 42nd and 43rd. Liz Stephen and Cendrine Browne finished 46th and 47th, while Caitlin Patterson, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt, Heidi Widmer, and Dahria Beatty placed 51st, 56th, 58th, and 65th respectively.

The quarterfinals begin at 3:30 EET (8:30 EST).

Qualifier results: men | women

Injured Jönsson Will Not Compete in World Championships

Sweden’s Emil Jönsson will not compete at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden due to a strained groin muscle. The news comes after the sprinter fell in a quarterfinal of the Östersund World Cup classic sprint, which took place the weekend before the start of Worlds. Unable to stand, he did not finish the race and was forced to be carried off course.

After several days of extensive evaluation and therapy Jönsson was told that he would be unfit to compete at Worlds. According to the Swedish star, the news was especially difficult given that the year’s most anticipated races are taking place in his home country.

“It has fluctuated emotionally, from hearty pain on race day to positive emotions as rehabilitation happened so fast. I feel pretty good, but there is a difference between living a normal life trying to be the best in the world in Falun,” he said, roughly translated, to the press. 

Although Jönsson will not compete, he said he will be rooting for Sweden to take as many medals as possible throughout the two weeks of racing in Falun.

Krogh Completes Östersund Sweep with First 15 k Skate Win

Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh claimed his first World Cup distance win in a 15-kilometer freestyle and his second-straight win of the last weekend of World Cup racing before World Championships by 13.5 seconds on Sunday.

The Sprint World Cup leader, who won Saturday’s classic sprint, Krogh posted the winning time of 32:46 in Östersund, Sweden. France’s Maurice Manificat finished 13.5 seconds back in second, and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner took third (+18.9), ahead of Norway’s Hans Christer Holund, an early leader who ended up fourth (+19.7).

Sweden’s Johan Olsson took fifth (+26.1), and two more Norwegians, Diderik Tønseth and Niklas Dyrhaug placed sixth and seventh, respectively.

Finishing his first World Cup of the season, American Noah Hoffman placed 38th (+1:54.2). His teammate Erik Bjornsen was 60th (+2:43.4), Matt Gelso took 71st (+3:33.8), and Northern Michigan University senior Kyle Bratrud was 84th in his first World Cup.

Canada’s Ivan Babikov placed 49th (+2:11.3), and Michael Somppi was 69th (+3:18.4).

Results

Kalla Wins First World Cup in 5 Years; Bjørgen Secures Overall World Cup Title

Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla led from start to finish of Sunday’s 10-kilometer freestyle individual start, and for a change, not even Norwegian World Cup leader Marit Bjørgen could come close as Kalla won her first World Cup since March 2010 by 36.4 seconds in 23:26.1.

“It feels great to win a World Cup again,” Kalla told FIS afterward in Östersund, Sweden. “The crowd here in Ostersund was so encouraging.  I know the courses here very well and I felt strong.  The 15th of February is a special day for me.  I won Olympic Gold in Vancouver on this day and again last year in Sochi we won the relay on this day, and now a World Cup win today.”

The Swede started 50th and led at every checkpoint before claiming her spot in the leader’s chair over Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. Norway took four of the top five with Bjørgen in second, Therese Johaug in third (+53.6), Heidi Weng in fourth (+1:01.3), and Jacobsen in fifth (+1:08.3).

Also on Sunday, Bjørgen clinched her fourth Overall World Cup title as she is now 565 points ahead with four World Cup races left this season (all of which are after World Championships).

American Jessie Diggins landed in the top 20 in 17th (+1:47.7), teammate Liz Stephen was 26th (+2:08.6), Rosie Brennan placed 32nd (+2:26.6), and Kikkan Randall was another tenth of a second back in 33rd (+2:26.7).

Emily Nishikawa represented Canada, racing to 36th (+2:35.9).

Results

Bjørgen Wins Again, Krogh Outlasts Harvey in Östersund Sprint

Marit Bjørgen of Norway expanded her overall lead in the women’s World Cup standings by winning Saturday’s 1.2-kilometer classic sprint in Östersund, Sweden.

After qualifying in seventh, Bjørgen comfortably won the final in a time of 2:46.82, 1.80 seconds ahead of teammate Maiken Caspersen Falla. Sweden’s Stina Nilsson placed third (+2.03) in front of a roaring home crowd.

A trio of Norwegians took up the other spots in the final. Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes placed fourth (+4.28) after qualifying in first to earn her best World Cup result of the season, while World Cup sprint leader Ingvild Flugstad Østberg was fifth (+6.51) and Celine Brun-Lie finished in sixth (+12.35).

Americans Sadie Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell raced in the same heat after qualifying in 27th and 24th, respectively. Up against Nilsson and Bjørgen – who won the heat in 2:50.88 – Bjornsen took fourth (+4.53) and ended up 20th overall, while Caldwell was fifth (+5.57) and placed 22nd overall.

In the men’s race, Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh held off Canada’s Alex Harvey to win the final in a time of 2:25.28. Harvey was just 0.47 seconds behind, and earned his best World Cup sprint result of the season. Norway’s Timo André Bakken took the final spot on the podium (+1.41).

Sondre Turvoll Fossli of Norway placed fourth (+4.27), Finland’s Matias Strandvall was fifth (+5.86), and Russia’s Alexander Panzhinskiy was sixth (+9.30).

World Cup sprint leader Federico Pellegrino of Italy failed to qualify for the final, taking fifth in his semifinal out of five skiers after crashing on the second lap while trying to move into a qualifying position.

American Simi Hamilton qualified in 12th and won his quarterfinal heat, but fell ascending a hill during the first lap of the second semifinal and took sixth, 6.33 seconds behind semifinal winner Fossli. He ended up placing 11th overall.

American Andy Newell finished 12th overall after qualifying in 17th and taking third in his quarterfinal heat, while Lenny Valjas of Canada qualified in 18th and also finished third in his semifinal, ending up 13th overall.

Results: Men | Women

Saxton Added to U.S. World Championships Team

 

The U.S. 2015 World Championships roster grew by one Tuesday, with the addition of Stratton Mountain School T2’s Ben Saxton. The 21-year-old will join the 16 other athletes named to the team, making it the largest U.S. team in recent history. Saxton’s selection follows a sixth-place finish in the classic sprint at the U23 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

While Saxton did not meet any objective qualifying criteria, the U.S. Ski Team coaches used digression to pick the Minnesota native. (Read more about the U.S. selection process here.) 

“Ben has had another breakout year in sprinting. His sprint result at the U23 World Championships indicates that he is ready to compete with the very best in the world,” USST Head Coach Chris Grover said in a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) press release.

Grover told FasterSkier in January that any additional picks from the U23 World Championships would be the result of a skier demonstrating they could perform better than a current team member.

“Somebody needs to have a standout performance to demonstrate that they would ski faster than somebody who is already on the World Championship team,” he said.

“I am incredibly honored to be named to the World Championship team in Falun this year. Being a part of the U.S. Ski Team Family has undoubtedly played a significant role in my growth as a skier, and I am very excited to take represent that team, and our country in Sweden,” Saxton said to USSA.

This story is developing…

U.S. Cross Country Team Named for 2015 World Championships

The USST announced its much anticipated cross country selections for the 2015 FIS Nordic World Championships Monday Jan. 26th. Headlining the large team of 16 athletes are Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins, the defending 2013 World Champions in the team sprint. Eight skiers prequalified before Monday’s announcement with eight more added after further selection criteria were taken into account.

The 2015 team demonstrates a mix of 12 previous World Championships competitors and four newcomers, the youngest of which is Northern Michigan University senior Kyle Bratrud.

See the full team roster below. This story is developing…

2015 U.S. World Championship Cross Country Team
(Name, Hometown, Birthdate, USSA Club, Past Championships)

Men

  • Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess, Bend, OR, 3/18/86, Bend Endurance Academy
  • Kyle Bratrud, Eden Prairie, MN, 2/9/93, Northern Michigan University Ski Team
  • Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, 7/14/91, Alaska Pacific University Nordic (2013)
  • Matt Gelso, Truckee, CA, 7/18/88, Sun Valley Ski Education Founation Olympic Development Team
  • Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, 5/14/87, Stratton Mountain School/T2 (2011)
  • Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, 8/1/89, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (2011, 2013)
  • Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, 10/14/80, Freebird XC, (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013)
  • Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, 11/30/83, Stratton Mountain School/T2 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013)

Women

  • Rosie Brennan, Park City, UT, 12/2/88, Alaska Pacific University Nordic
  • Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop WA, 11/21/89, Alaska Pacific University Nordic (2011, 2013)
  • Sophie Caldwell, Peru, VT, 3/22/90, Stratton Mountain School/T2 (2013)
  • Jessie Diggins, Afton MN, 8/26/91, Stratton Mountain School/T2 (2011, 2013)
  • Caitlin Gregg, Minneapolis, 11/7/80, Team Gregg (2009)
  • Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, 12/31/82 Alaska Pacific University Nordic (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013)
  • Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT, 1/25/88, Craftsbury Green Racing Project (2011, 2013)
  • Liz Stephen, East Montpelier, VT, 1/12/87, Burke Mountain Academy (2009, 2011, 2013)

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
FIS Nordic Ski World Championships Falun, Sweden

Feb. 18 – Opening Ceremony
Feb. 19 – Classic Sprint
Feb. 21 – Skiathlon
Feb. 22 – Freestyle Team Sprint
Feb. 24 – Women’s 10k Freestyle
Feb. 25 – Men’s 15k Freestyle
Feb. 27 – 4X10k Relay
Feb. 28 – 30k Women’s Classic Mass Start
Mar. 1 – 50k Men’s Classic Mass Start