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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

August 26 Roundup: U.S. Nordic Combined at Summer Grand Prix; USOC Opts Out of 2020 Bid

Friday, August 26th, 2011

— U.S. Nordic Combined athletes, led by Billy Demong, are in Oberwiesenthal, Germany getting ready for the first day of competition tomorrow at the FIS Summer Grand Prix. Seventy seven athletes from 14 nations are set to compete.

Tomorrow’s event is a pilot run of a new format that will be introduced to the World Cup this winter. Skiers will have to complete a certain number of penalty laps on rollerskis based on how far they jump; style points will not be included in calculating the handicap. The format introduces a new tactical component to the rollerski portion, as competitors can decide when to do the penalty laps throughout the race.

Click here for the full Grand Prix schedule.

— Britain’s Andrew Musgrave, who notched at 6th at U23s last winter, recently gave an interview with FIS Cross Country. Despite being disappointed with his 50K at World Championships, he said he loved racing in front of the crowds at Holmenkollen. He’s also learned that entering every race  at World Champs isn’t the best strategy for good racing, and is aiming to add Olympic and World Championship medals to his resume down the road.

— The U.S. Olympic Committee has opted out of bidding for the 2020 Summer Games. Though it’s too early to tell what the USOC is thinking beyond 2020, and international politics and disputes over broadcasting revenue-sharing with the IOC complicate these decisions, this does leave the United States as an open possibility to hosting in 2022, a full 20 years after Salt Lake City.

Husband: Tchepalova Return Not Ruled Out

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The career of 33-year-old former Olympic champion Julia Tchepalova, currently serving a two-year suspension from cross-country skiing for performance-enhancing drug use, may not be over, according to her husband.

In an interview with the Russian website GZT.ru, Vassily Rotchev, Tchepalova’s second husband, said that her decision on whether or not she would return to skiing was still pending.

“I can say that now, the question is not answered herself. In principle, this is possible,” Rotchev said.

Chepalova appealed the two-year ban handed down from the International Ski Federation, taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). CAS rejected the appeal, though, and thus her suspension does not expire until August, 2011.

According to International Olympic Committee rules, if she does return, Tchepalova will not be able to compete in the 2014 Sochi Games.

May 10 Daily Roundup: Spillane Catches Fish; Skier Braves Bomb Scare

Monday, May 10th, 2010

–In addition to being a darned good jumper and skier, triple Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane is also apparently a skilled fly-fisherman. Read more here.

Spillane with a fish. Almost as big a haul as his Olympic medals. Photo from Deneki Outdoors: http://www.deneki.com/

–Bates skier Megan Mcclelland was caught up in the bomb scare on a Greyhoung bus that resulted in a tense standoff in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. An article in the Kennebec Journal includes some details from Abby Samuelson, one of Mcclelland’s teammates on the Bates Ski Team.

–The drug testing efforts at the 2010 Olympics were praised by a team of independent observers, although they mentioned that only half of the samples from biathlon races were tested for EPO, something they said should be corrected.

–The translation is rough, but Langrenn has an in-depth article in which they discuss the costs and benefits of cycling with a number of retired skiers, including Kristen Skjeldal and Frode Estil.

McKeever to Sit Out 50K

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

With four athletes with a chance, albeit small, to medal in Sunday’s 50 k classic event at the Olympics, Canada’s Head Coach Inge Braten is planning on leaving Brian McKeever off the start list, instead choosing Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw, George Grey, and Ivan Babikov.

McKeever was shooting to become the first athlete to compete in the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, as he is legally blind.

For more, see this article  by the Canadian Press.

Bjoergen Leads Norway to Relay Gold

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Lightning. Bears. Concrete walls.

Those are a few things that might be able to stop Norway’s Marit Bjoergen right now. Mere mortals from Italy, Finland, and Germany? Fat chance.

Taking the tag from Kristin Stormer Steira with Italy hot on her heels, Bjoergen laid down a blazingly fast final leg—dropping Sabina Valbusa on the first climb and skiing away, uncontested, to her third gold medal of these Games, and Norway’s first in the women’s relay in 26 years.

The real battle unfolded behind, as the chase pack of Finland, Sweden, and Germany quickly swallowed up Valbusa. Without a single medal for her country from the 2010 Games thus far, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) was out for blood, driving the pace hard for her two laps of the 2.5 kilometer course. Only Germany’s Claudia Nystad could hang on, passing the Finn on the final climb to take silver, while Saarinen held on for the bronze.

How it Unfolded

With Bjoergen anchoring, Norway may have been the favorite, but their coaches couldn’t take anything for granted until Vibeke Skofterud made it through the first leg unscathed.

Italy and Germany led things out up the first big climb, with the pack still together. Kikkan Randall sat in the second row, just next to Skofterud.

Skiing aggressively, Randall still sat in the lead group on her second lap, then used a fast pair of skis to gap the rest of the field on the course’s biggest downhill. Anna Olsson (SWE), Skofterud, and Katrin Zeller (GER) made up the ground on the climb before the stadium, but Randall still came into the stadium with the leaders, tagging off to Holly Brooks in fourth place—just ten seconds back.

Brooks didn’t have the legs today, though, and she quickly fell off the back. She said afterwards that she’s worried her health problems from the summer (see may have resurfaced, and she spoke to the team doctor about doing some testing to figure out what’s wrong.

“It was really fun having Kikkan come in in such a strong position,” Brooks said. “There was a little pressure going into that, but I just know that can ski a lot faster than I’m skiing right now, and it’s pretty frustrating.”

At the front, Norway, Italy, and Germany were still together, while Sweden’s Magdalena Pajala was gapped going up the big climb on her first lap.

As the three leaders duked it out up ahead, Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk was working her way back from the 18-second deficit she’d inherited from her teammate, Kornelia Marek. Echoing yesterday’s spectacular second leg by Lukas Bauer (CZE), Kowalczyk made up all the ground Marek had lost, then just kept on going.

No one could respond when she came by—Marianna Longa (ITA), Therese Johaug (NOR), and Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (GER) couldn’t hold on, and the lead group shattered. Kowalczyk’s leg ended up being nearly thirty seconds faster than anyone else’s, and she tagged off to Paulina Maciuszek with a ten-second lead.

Which promptly evaporated. Maciuszek was no match for the power of Norway’s Kristin Stormer Steira and Italy’s Silvia Rupil, as that pair caught her and dropped her almost in the same breath.

Meanwhile, after a miserable first leg, Finland’s Riitta-Liisa Roponen had worked her way back to a chase group, which included Sweden, Germany, and France. Led by Charlotte Kalla (SWE)—who turned in the fastest split of the leg—that group stayed within striking distance of Steira and Rupil, coming through the exchange just fifteen seconds behind.

But with Bjoergen anchoring Norway, the most any of those teams could hope for was silver or bronze. While Italy and Norway came into the exchange together, Bjoergen was gone before Valbusa could say “arrivederci.” Bjoergen gapped the Italian going up the first climb out of the stadium, and was off to her third gold of the Games. Despite coming to a full stop before the finish to pick up a Norwegian flag, and skiing the last hundred meters with no poles, she still had the fastest time of her leg.

After being dropped by Bjoergen, Valbusa was fading hard. The chase group behind her was gaining, led by a ferocious Saarinen. As the Finn V2-ed her way up the course’s big climbs, it didn’t seem like there was any way that Germany’s Claudia Nystad or Sweden’s Ida Ingemarsdotter could hold on, and indeed, Ingemarsdotter came off on the last lap—just as the trio caught and passed Valbusa. But Nystad hung tough, and somehow found the energy to go by Saarinen on the final climb and ski in for silver.

Anchored by Caitlin Compton, the U.S. finished 12th on the day. Like Brooks, Compton said that she wasn’t at her best today, and also may have had trouble with her skis, according to Zach Caldwell, one of the members of the U.S. service staff. Canada was 14th.

Full report to come!

Skari on Bjoergen: “She Will Have More Medals”

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Norwegian legend Bente Skari says she is “sure” that Marit Bjoergen will win more medals over the rest of the 2010 Olympics.

“She seems to be so full of self confidence,” Skari told FasterSkier this morning.

After some rough going over the last few winters, Skari said that she didn’t expect to see her countrywoman performing well this year.

“Right now I’m not surprised that she is doing that well. But if you had asked me before the season, I had thought that she will not have these medals,” said Skari.

She added that the Norwegian women are all thrilled by Bjoergen’s success, and that they are “working as a team,” rather than a bunch of individuals gathered in one place.

Skari is in Whistler as a member of the race jury. That body is currently involved in a minor controversy stemming from yesterday’s women’s pursuit, when Norway accused Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) of skating too early in the transition. The case affects the Norwegians because Kowalczyk edged Kristin Stormer Steira (NOR) in a photo finish.

Norway didn’t lodge a protest, but Skari said that the jury already examined the incident and ruled that Kowalczyk didn’t do anything wrong.

“What [Norway] can do now is make an appeal, and they are welcome to do that,” she said.

The Norwegian television station NRK reported this morning that its country’s team will make its decision on an appeal after today’s men’s pursuit.

Video Interview With Kershaw, Babikov, and Goldsack in Whistler

Friday, February 19th, 2010

FasterSkier caught up with some of the Canadians to talk about the first two cross country races.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8s56eHx-m0I" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Majdic’s Injuries Include Broken Rib, Punctured Lung–Career Could Be Over

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Outlets are reporting that the injuries of Slovenia’s Petra Majdic, who won bronze yesterday in the sprint, are more severe than initially thought.

Majdic has four broken ribs and a punctured lung, according to this report in the Vancouver Sun.

And according to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK, Majdic’s Olympics are over, as well as possibly her season and maybe even her career.

Read the rough translation here.

Morning Chill Greets Skiers, Wax Techs for Olympics Freestyle Races

Monday, February 15th, 2010
Polish wax technicians out testing this morning before the start of the freestyle 10/15k in Whistler

Polish wax technicians out testing this morning before the start of the freestyle 10/15k in Whistler

After a textbook Whistler snow squall on Sunday, a new weather system has moved in for today, bringing with it clear skies and cooler temperatures. It’s currently 27 degrees at Whistler Olympic Park, with highs predicted to reach just 35–significantly cooler than the last few days.

German Head Coach Jochen Behle told FasterSkier this morning that organizers groomed very late, which hasn’t given the course much time to set up. While the racing should be fast, frozen granular for the women, he said that it may soften up again by the time the men go off in the afternoon.

Fans were already trickling in two hours before the start of the races. Pressure is high on the Scandinavians this morning, according to a couple of international journalists. Sweden hasn’t yet won a single medal in this Games, and Norway only has Emil Hegle Svendsen’s silver from yesterday. The women’s race going off at prime time in those countries, and the spotlights are on Marit Bjoergen (NOR), Petter Northug (NOR), Charlotte Kalla (SWE), and Marcus Hellner (SWE).

Langrenn.com’s Ivar Haugen said that today’s race is probably Bjoergen’s best chance at a medal, a tough way for her to start the Games, psychologically. For Northug, however, expectations are a little lower, since he tends to excel more in mass starts, and Haugen said that the 15k freestyle is probably the worst event for the Norwegian men.

Snowstorm Scraps American Biathlon Hopes

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

A wild snowstorm erupted in the middle of the men’s biathlon 10k sprint today, scuttling American hopes for a medal from Tim Burke.

Only the early starters had a chance today, as the heavy snow made the skis of the later starters prohibitively slow. All three of the podium finisher-Vincent Jay of France, Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway, and Jakov Fak of Croatia, in that order-were among the first ten on the course.

Tim Burke, the U.S.’s best hope for a medal, ended up skiing in the height of the storm, and didn’t help his own cause with three penalties. He finished in the high forties, over two and a half minutes back.

Jeremy Teela, who started 13th, was the top American finisher in 9th, while Canada’s Jean-Philippe Leguellec, with the eighth bib, was sixth, with a single penalty.

None of the other Americans cracked the top thirty, but all qualified for the pursuit, which consists of the sixty fastest finishers in the sprint.
Full report to come.