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Updated and Final 2019-20 World Cup Criterion

Dear Cross Country Ski Racing Community,

We’ve just posted an updated and final version of the World Cup Selection Criterion for 2019-20, which captures recent calendar changes in the SuperTour and World Cup schedules, and it can be found here:

https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sites/default/files/files-resources/files/2019/2019-20%20Cross%20Country%20World%20Cup%20Criteria%206-25-19.pdf

This criterion was created by a working group that included 8 senior club coaches, the Chair of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Sport Committee, 2 non-active U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athlete Representatives, and 4 of the U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The criterion was then reviewed and approved by the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Sport Committee.

Here are some of the main ways in which this year’s selection criterion differs from past criteria:

• We have a special selection for the Sprint Tour in Quebec City and Minneapolis. Our quota for this Tour will be 15 men and 15 women.
• We have a special selection for the World Cup Finals in Canmore. Our quota for this event will also be 15 men and 15 women.

We are excited for these extensive racing opportunities in North America and relish the opportunity for so many USA athletes to start in these events. We feel this criterion will do a great job of selecting the right athletes to represent the USA in World Cup competition.

If you are an athlete or a coach that is impacted by these criterion, and you have any questions or concerns about it, please feel free to contact me directly. My contact info is below.

Sincerely,

Chris Grover
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org
(435) 640-8545

World Cup Discretionary Selection Dates and Procedures

Dear XC Community,

Here are the approximate dates when the World Cup Working Group will be making discretionary selections to the different periods of World Cup:

June 11, 2019: World Cup Period 1 (see previous post)

Dec. 16, 2019: Tour de Ski (WC Period 2) Selection

Jan. 3, 2020: WC Period 3 Selection

Jan. 27, 2020: WC Period 4 Selection

Feb. 17, 2020: WC Period 5 Selection

Selections for the Sprint Tour (Quebec City – Minneapolis) and the Canmore WC Finals will not utilize the World Cup Working Group for discretionary selections, but will rely solely on following the World Cup 19-20 Selection Criterion, which is undergoing final draft modifications and review by the World Cup Working Group, and will be sent to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Cross Country Committee for their review before publication this summer.

The World Cup Working Group is comprised of 15 members. Please see my previous blog post for those members. In the case of a disagreement concerning the discretionary selection of an athlete or athletes to a World Cup start, every member of the Working Group casts a vote. Every vote is equal. Because we have an odd number of Group members, we will always have a majority in order to make a final decision. This same dynamic is at work with the 3-person Discretionary Selection Review Committee.  The names of those Committee members also can be found in my previous post.

Please let me know if you have any questions about our procedures.

Sincerely, Chris

chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org
(435) 640-8545

World Cup Period 1 Team Selection

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the USA Cross Country Team for World Cup Period 1 of the 2019-20 season:

Ruka, FIN Triple

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – 17th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Erik Bjornsen – Objective – 36th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Andy Newell – Discretion – 30 World Cup Points 18-19
David Norris – Discretion – 22 World Cup Points 18-19
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 17 World Cup Points 18-19
Scott Patterson – Discretion – 12 World Cup Points 18-19
Logan Hanneman (alternate) – Discretion – 10 World Cup Points 18-19

Women

Julia Kern – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – 4th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 7th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 8th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Rosie Brennan – Objective – 27th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Kelsey Phinney – Discretion – 12 World Cup Points 18-19
Caitlin Patterson – Discretion – 9 World Cup Points 18-19
Hailey Swirbul – Discretion – 18-19 OPA Distance Podiums
Rosie Frankowski – Discretion – 24th Seefeld WSC Skiathlon

Lillehammer, NOR Skiathlon and Davos, SUI 10/15 km F

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen – Objective – 36th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Simi Hamilton – Discretion – 40 World Cup Distance Points 18-19
David Norris – Discretion – 22 World Cup Distance Points 18-19
Scott Patterson – Discretion – 12 World Cup Distance Points 18-19
Adam Martin – Discretion – Next lowest FIS distance ranking

Women

Julia Kern – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 6th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 13th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Rosie Brennan – Objective – 27th World Cup Distance Standings 18-19
Caitlin Patterson – Discretion – 9 World Cup Distance Points 18-19
Hailey Swirbul – Discretion – 18-19 OPA Distance Podiums
Rosie Frankowski – Discretion – 24th Seefeld WSC Skiathlon

Davos, SUI Sprint F and Planica, SLO Sprint F

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – 17th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Andy Newell – Discretion – 30 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 17 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Logan Hanneman – Discretion – 10 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Erik Bjornsen – Discretion – 7 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Ben Saxton (alternate) – Discretion – Next lowest FIS sprint ranking

Women

Julia Kern – Objective – Overall 18-19 SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – 4th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 7th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 8th World Cup Sprint Standings 18-19
Rosie Brennan – Discretion – 16 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Kelsey Phinney – Discretion – 12 World Cup Sprint Points 18-19
Hannah Halvorsen – Discretion – Next lowest FIS sprint ranking

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 15-person working group that includes:

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athlete Rep
Tad Elliott, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athlete Rep
Cami Thompson-Graves, U.S. Ski & Snowboard XC Sport Committee Chair / Dartmouth College
Austin Caldwell, CU
Dragan Danevski, MEA
Erik Flora, APU
Joe Haggenmiller, CXC
Chris Mallory, SVSEF
Pepa Miloucheva, CGRP
Pat O’Brien, SMS
Dan Weiland, SSCV
Bernie Nelson, U.S. Ski Team
Jason Cork, U.S. Ski Team
Matt Whitcomb, U.S. Ski Team
Chris Grover, U.S. Ski Team

The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of:

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athlete Rep
Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport
Bryan Fish, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this coming season, with the next selection for the Tour de Ski (i.e. Period 2) coming on or after Dec. 18, 2019.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

FIS Meeting Notes

Dear USA XC Community,

Here are a few notes from FIS meetings.

FIS Meeting Notes – Cavtat, CRO May 29-31, 2019

World Cup 2019-20:

Updated World Cup calendars can be found here:

https://www.fis-ski.com/en/inside-fis/document-library/cross-country-documents

The Planica, SLO individual sprint in December was changed to skate to provide technique balance in sprint events for the season and to better compliment course design.

Tour de Ski:

Dramatic change in Tour race formats for this season.

2-day pursuit in Toblach with pursuit based only on results from day before to keep competition tighter on TV and make the event more exciting. Normal overall Tour standings are not impacted by this change.

Tour de Ski Final Climb on Alpe Cermis is Mass Start (not Pursuit). This means that the first person across the line may not be the winner. TV graphics (virtual standings) will be key for telling the story of what is happening. Lots of discussion about how this will be produced and filmed. There will be a rush for athletes to get into a good position prior to the narrowing on the Marcialonga trail, and likely a sprint bonus at the end of the regular stadium area trails time-check.

We are getting rid of bonus points in stage pursuit races (updated rules coming soon).

New sprint-oriented point ranking. Sprint bonuses earlier in distance events to encourage sprinters to go for points early in race. Possible green sprinters bib like Tour de France? FIS staff is working on a plan over the summer to present in Zurich.

Lots of discussion about how to keep people from dropping out of Tour. Early sprint bonuses designed to keep sprinters in Tour longer, as well as placing 2nd sprint later in the Tour.

Modified course in Dresden. 2 laps of 650 meters. Doesn’t go under the bridge, but turns before it. Shorter course. Changed direction of the course to create a long finish stretch. Ski service boxes on spectator stand side. Building artificial bridge on flat on way back to finish. Creating more stands for spectators. Dresden working to create a better atmosphere around the event.

Relay in Nove Mesto on day two changed to Pursuit.

Ski Tour 2020 (Mid-Scandinavian Tour):

Team presentation on Friday evening prior to Östersund races.

Åre Sprint F will be on lower alpine hill. Two laps.

Athletes (mandatory) and staff (not mandatory) on the train between venues. This is part of the sustainable vision of this Tour.

TV (SVT, NRK) on the train and at least one press conference on the train.

Teams will transport their own skis and equipment. Wax trucks.

3 accommodation hubs (Östersund, Åre, Trondheim).

For Stage 4, the wax trucks will stage at finish in Meråker, where there should be good testing and space for waxing/skiing. The OC will provide some hotel rooms for teams to change/hang out, etc.

Idea from the OC is to have the athletes carry their own feeds on point to point stage 4. OC feeds possible at 22 and 33 km. We will need to create a strategy for procuring using Camelbacks, etc.

North American World Cups:

Full-sized USA Nation’s Group for Quebec City, Minneapolis, and Canmore (max 15 athletes per sex) including National Quota, COC leader, sprint top-20 (QC/MSP only), and Nation’s Group.

Team Sprint in Quebec City eliminated because it doesn’t fit into a Sprint Tour concept. We will have a Sprint C instead. Total 3 sprints in the Tour. Scored like a mini-Tour. Promotes attendance in both Quebec City and Minneapolis. Half-points each stage. 200 points for the Tour victory.

Canmore WC Finals. A new format will be introduced to World Cup: mixed relay on last day of WC (Sunday March 22). 4 x 5 km. CC/FF. Woman, Man, Man, Woman. No relay quotas so that most athletes can race the relay.

World Cup 2020-21:

Weekends off prior to and after the Tour de Ski.

We will try an interval start at Holmenkollen. TV is already organized for this. It will be an experiment, and if it works well it may be repeated going forward and will complement the mass-start 30 km and 50 km at the Olympics and World Champs.

World Cup 2021-22:

Discussion of moving the Tour de Ski forward one week to allow for better participation in the Tour on an Olympic year, and give time for recovery and training/preparation prior to the Olympics. However, moving it forward puts the Tour very close to Christmas.

Free weekend prior to Beijing Olympics.

General:

Discussion in the Rules & Control subcommittee of no-pole skating hard (with aggressive arm swings) in mass-starts, sprint heats, and pursuits where one athlete’s poles are obstructing/injuring another athlete. This is often a type of tactical skiing athletes are employing, but the behavior can’t be contained or measured effectively by creation of a rule, and must be left to the discretion of the jury. Athletes can employ this tactic but do risk penalties for obstruction or unsportsmanlike conduct if behavior is egregious.

There will be China City Sprints in 2019-20 again this winter. Details coming later this summer/fall. Many different cities may be host sites.

International Ski Leaders of Tomorrow Seminar (women in coaching) in Oslo, NOR in September 13-15, 2019. More info coming in June. Room and Board are graciously being provided by the organizer.

There is a lot of momentum for replacing the word “ladies” in all FIS XC English language documents with the word “women”. Everyone is in support of modernizing the language. Will take quite a bit of work to go through all documents.

World Cup Rules:

The limitation of 4 bibs (2 x Course 1, 2 x Course 2) on World Cup race days is effective already this season (2019-20). Also, Nations can only combine Service Teams with one other Nation maximum. There was strong support for these proposals.  This means that athletes will need to be ready to test much more often by themselves, if they are testing on course. This should help to level the playing field between the biggest service teams and all other nations.

FIS staff will create a working group this summer that includes representatives from Service Teams and the SRS to further discuss creating standardized windows of testing on World Cup race courses depending on the event type, and come to Zurich fall meetings ready for discussions and creating rules.

There will be some language that attempts to prevent teams from doing a lot of ski testing at a race venue in the weeks leading up to the competition. However, it is always possible to be testing skis with athletes any time, and there was recognition that this would be very challenging to police. The idea is to prevent lots of testing without athletes at WC race venues (i.e. supplanting reduced race day testing with increased testing during the week).

Working group created to investigate an increase WC prize money in the 2020-21 season. The group will come to Zurich in October with a proposal. It’s been 18 years since we’ve had a prize money purse increase. This would need to be approved by FIS council.

The OC can charge a team for meals/access to the FIS family room 10 CHF/day if that nation is booking lodging outside the OC. Nations that are booking their own hotels should speak with the OC to make sure the hotel is part of the OC’s “network”.

The FIS staff can set official departure and arrival days at venues during a multi-state event, starting with the Tour de Ski this coming season. We are waiting to hear back from the staff concerning which days will be official Tour de Ski travel days for the 19-20 season.

World Juniors / U23s:

All Nations support adding a U23 mixed relay. Teams would like it added to the program already by Oberwiesenthal 2020. This must be approved by the FIS Council because it is a medal event. We need time for GER to discuss with Oberwiesenthal and Nordic Combined to see what is possible for the schedule. Most nations would like to have the relay as the last event at the Champs for both juniors and U23s. The CCC would like the format to be CC/FF. 4 x 5 km. Woman, Man, Man, Woman.

The FIS staff suggested that normally the WJC/U23 Championships will be held in late January – early February. The March timing of Oberwiesenthal is an anomaly based on the needs of the GER Federation. The USA strongly supports keeping the Championships out of March to avoid future conflicts with NCAA Champs and Junior Nationals.

Olympic Quota (already being considered at the IOC):

Quota no longer calculated with FIS points, but by analyzing results from World Championships 2021 and U23s 2021.

Maximum 8 men and 8 women per nation. Quota is fixed so that number of men and women is the same overall. Nations may or may not have an equal number of women and men, unless they reach their max quota of 16. However, the total Games quota for all teams will be an equal number of men and women.

We will know our quota (specific number of women and men) for the 2022 Olympics by the end of the 2020-2021 Season! This will really help all teams effectively plan for the Games, take the guess-work out of team sizes, etc.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Chris Grover
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org
+1 435 640 8545

U.S. Cross Country Women’s Coaching Fellowship

Male cross country ski coaches outnumber female coaches by a 2:1 ratio in the United States. When observing head coach and other leadership positions, this ratio becomes even more exaggerated. To help address this disparity, the U.S. Cross Country Team is creating a fellowship to provide female coaches an opportunity to share experiences alongside U.S. Ski Team coaches and athletes.

Who: Four female cross country coaches, accepted through the below application process.

What: A one-week coaching fellowship to take place at the October U.S. Cross Country Team training camp. Accepted applicants will work alongside U.S. Ski Team coaches to assist and learn from athletes in a camp setting. All expenses will be covered thanks to the generosity of the HerRay! Foundation.

Where: The October U.S. Cross Country camp will be split into two locations, Lake Placid, NY and Park City, UT. Two fellowship applicants will be selected to attend the Lake Placid camp and two fellowship applicants will be selected to attend the Park City camp.

When: October 7-13, 2019 (for both locations)

How: Please submit:
1. Your résumé
2. One area you believe U.S. Cross Country Skiing could improve, and how that issue should be addressed (1 page maximum).

Applications from female coaches of all experience levels will be considered. Please submit the listed materials to gus.kaeding@usskiandsnowboard.org by 7/31/2019.

2021 U.S. Ski Team Criteria

Dear Cross Country Community,

We have recently posted a first draft of the 2021 USST selection criteria here:

https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sport-programs/criteria/us-cross-country-team-criteria

The criteria for 2021 is almost identical to the criteria for 2020. The one significant change is this wording for A-Team selection:

· Any athlete achieving one top-6 finish and one top-12 finish in FIS individual distance or sprint World Cup races in the 2019-20 season, excluding “Winner of the Day” performances in pursuit events.

Here we clarified that the intention was to select athletes finishing in the top-6 in a non-“Winner of the Day” World Cup race, and that the athlete also must back-up that performance with an additional top-12 performance to ensure that the top-6 performance was not a one-off, but indicative of true potential or progress towards a medal standard.

When we have the date range for the 8th FIS points list of 2020, which is used to determine World Rank, we can finalize the criteria.

In the meantime, please feel free to call or e-mail me with any questions or concerns you might have. Thanks, Chris

Chris Grover
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

+1 435 640 8545

Development Coaching Position

Dear U.S. Ski & Snowboard Coaching Community,

U.S. Ski & Snowboard currently has an open position for Cross Country Development / D-Team Coach. If you, or someone you know, are interested in this opportunity, please use this link for a detailed description of the position: https://usskiandsnowboard.org/about/careers/xc-development-coach-d-team-coach

Please help us circulate this notification. The application period will tentatively close on April 1, 2019.

Thanks, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
https://usskiandsnowboard.org/
+1 435 640 8545
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

World Cup Period 5 Nominations

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the nominations for the USA Cross Country Team for World Cup Period 5:

Oslo, NOR 50/30 km C

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen – Objective – 39th World Cup Distance Standings
David Norris – Discretion – 33rd Cogne 15 km C
Scott Patterson – Discretion – Historic 50 km results
Adam Martin – Discretion – Historic distance results
Ben Lustgarten – Discretion – Historic distance results

Women

Kaitlynn Miller – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 6th World Cup Distance Standings
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 14th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Brennan – Objective – 20th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Frankowski – Discretion – Historic distance results
Caitlin Patterson – Discretion – Historic distance results

Drammen, NOR Sprint C

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – 17th World Cup Sprint Standings
Andy Newell – Discretion – 15th Otepää Sprint C, 23rd Cogne Sprint F
Erik Bjornsen – Discretion – 24th Otepää Sprint C
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 18th Seefeld WSC Sprint F, 21st Toblach Sprint F
Logan Hanneman – Discretion – 26th Seefeld WSC Sprint F, 27th Cogne Sprint F
Ben Saxton – Alternate – Historic sprint results

Women

Kaitlynn Miller – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – 4th World Cup Sprint Standings
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 8th World Cup Sprint Standings
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 11th World Cup Sprint Standings
Julia Kern – Discretion – 11th Cogne Sprint F, 19th Dresden Sprint F
Ida Sargent – Discretion – 15th Otepää Sprint C, 21st Davos Sprint F
Rosie Brennan – Discretion – 21st Lillehammer Sprint F, 27th Cogne Sprint F
Kelsey Phinney – Alternate – 19th Lahti Sprint F

Falun, SWE Sprint F

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – 17th World Cup Sprint Standings
Andy Newell – Discretion – 15th Otepää Sprint C, 23rd Cogne Sprint F
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 18th Seefeld WSC Sprint F, 21st Toblach Sprint F
Logan Hanneman – Discretion – 26th Seefeld WSC Sprint F, 27th Cogne Sprint F
Ben Saxton – Discretion – Historic sprint results

Women

Kaitlynn Miller – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – 4th World Cup Sprint Standings
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 8th World Cup Sprint Standings
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 11th World Cup Sprint Standings
Julia Kern – Discretion – 11th Cogne Sprint F, 19th Dresden Sprint F
Ida Sargent – Discretion – 15th Otepää Sprint C, 21st Davos Sprint F
Rosie Brennan – Discretion – 21st Lillehammer Sprint F, 27th Cogne Sprint F
Kelsey Phinney – Alternate – 19th Lahti Sprint F

Falun, SWE 10/15 km F

Men

Kyle Bratrud – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen – Objective – 39th World Cup Distance Standings
David Norris – Discretion – 22nd fastest WSC Skiathlon skate time
Scott Patterson – Discretion – Historic Distance F results
Simi Hamilton – Discretion – Historic Distance F results

Women

Kaitlynn Miller – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 6th World Cup Distance Standings
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – 14th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Brennan – Objective – 20th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Frankowski – Discretion – 14th fastest WSC Skiathlon skate time
Julia Kern – Discretion – 18th fastest WSC Skiathlon skate time
Caitlin Patterson – Discretion – 23rd Ulricehamn 10 km F

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 15-person working group that includes 10 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and four U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport, and an athlete representative who is a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board.

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this season.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

World Cup Period 4 Nominations

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the nominations for the USA Cross Country Team for World Cup Period 4:

Lahti, FIN Sprint F

Men
Kyle Bratrud, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton, Objective, 25th World Cup Sprint Standings
Andy Newell, Discretion, 15th Otepää Sprint C, 25th Dresden Sprint F
Kevin Bolger, Discretion, 21st Toblach Sprint, 29th Dresden Sprint F
Erik Bjornsen, Discretion, 24th Otepää Sprint C, Historic Team Sprint C Results
Logan Hanneman, Discretion, Top Sprint F Qualifier U.S. Nationals

Women
Julia Kern, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell, Objective, 6th World Cup Sprint Standings
Ida Sargent, Discretion, 15th Otepää Sprint C, 36th World Cup Sprint standings
Hannah Halvorsen, Discretion, 35th Dresden Sprint F, 23rd Lahti U23 Champs Sprint C
Kelsey Phinney, Discretion, 3rd qualifier U.S. Nationals Sprint F behind Halvorsen and Kern.
Hailey Swirbul, Discretion, 41st Dresden Sprint F, 24th Lahti U24 Champs Sprint C

Cogne, ITA Sprint F

Men
Kyle Bratrud, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton, Objective, 25th World Cup Sprint Standings
Andy Newell, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts
Kevin Bolger, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts
Erik Bjornsen, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts
Logan Hanneman, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts

Women
Julia Kern, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell, Objective, 6th World Cup Sprint Standings
Sadie Bjornsen, Objective, 11th World Cup Sprint Standings
Jessie Diggins, Objective, 13th World Cup Sprint Standings
Ida Sargent, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts
Rosie Brennan, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC sprint F starts
TBD, Discretion, Best Lahti Sprint F performance by Halvorsen, Phinney, or Swirbul

Cogne, ITA 10/15 km C

Men
Kyle Bratrud, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen, Discretion, 43rd Distance World Cup. 30th Otepää 15 km C
Adam Martin, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts
Scott Patterson, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts
David Norris, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts
Ben Lustgarten, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts

Women
Julia Kern, Objective, SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins, Objective, 6th World Cup Distance Standings
Sadie Bjornsen, Objective, 12th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Brennan, Objective, 22nd World Cup Distance Standings
Caitlin Patterson, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts
Rosie Frankowski, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts
Sophie Caldwell, Discretion, Help determine Seefeld WSC distance starts

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 15-person working group that includes 10 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and four U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport, and an athlete representative who is a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board.

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this season, with the next selection for Period 5 coming in late February.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

World Cup Period 3 Nominations

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the nominations for the USA Cross Country Team for World Cup Period 3:

Dresden Sprint F

Men
Ben Lustgarten       Objective         SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton        Objective         19th World Cup Sprint Standings
Kevin Bolger            Discretion       21st Toblach WC Sprint
Erik Bjornsen          Discretion       Historic Sprint F Results
Andy Newell            Discretion       Dominant sprint qualifiers in Yellowstone and Silver Star.
Logan Hanneman  Discretion       Top Sprint F Qualifier U.S. Nationals

Women
Julia Kern                  Objective         SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell        Objective         3rd World Cup Sprint Standings
Ida Sargent                Discretion       U.S. Nationals Sprint C Champion
Hailey Swirbul          Discretion       2nd qualifier Silver Start Sprint F. Prep for U23 World Champs.
Hannah Halvorsen  Discretion       3rd qualifier Silver Start Sprint F. Prep for U23 World Champs.
Kelsey Phinney         Discretion       3rd qualifier U.S. Nationals Sprint F behind Halvorsen and Kern.

Otepää Sprint C

Men
Ben Lustgarten         Objective          SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton          Objective          19th World Cup Sprint Standings
Kevin Bolger             Discretion         21st Toblach WC Sprint
Erik Bjornsen           Discretion         Historic Sprint F Results
Andy Newell             Discretion         Dominant sprint qualifiers in Yellowstone and Silver Star.
Ben Saxton               Discretion         U.S. Nationals Sprint C Champion

Women
Julia Kern                 Objective         SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell       Objective         3rd World Cup Sprint Standings
Sadie Bjornsen        Objective         6th World Cup Sprint Standings
Jessie Diggins          Objective        12th World Cup Sprint Standings
Ida Sargent               Discretion      U.S. Nationals Sprint C Champion

Rosie Brennan         Discretion      42nd Sprint WC standings.  Qualified in last 2 World Cups.

Kelsey Phinney        Discretion       2nd qualifier U.S. Nationals Sprint C behind Sargent.

Otepää 10/15 km C

Men
Ben Lustgarten         Objective       SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen           Discretion     42nd Distance World Cup. Sick at Tour de Ski.
Kyle Bratrud             Discretion     U.S. National Champ 15 km C
David Norris             Discretion     U.S. National Champ 30 km F
Adam Martin            Discretion     2nd place U.S. National 15 km C
Scott Patterson         Discretion    Historic Distance Results

Women
Julia Kern                  Objective      SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins           Objective      5th World Cup Distance Standings
Sadie Bjornsen         Objective      12th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Brennan          Objective      20th World Cup Distance Standings
Caitlin Patterson      Discretion    U.S. National Champ 10 km C
Sophie Caldwell       Discretion     36th Toblach WC 10 km F, Historic 10 km C results
Ida Sargent               Discretion     Historic 10 km C results

Ulricehamn 10/15 km F

Men
Ben Lustgarten       Objective        SuperTour Leader
Erik Bjornsen          Discretion     42nd Distance World Cup. Sick at Tour de Ski.
Kyle Bratrud            Discretion     U.S. National Champ 15 km C
David Norris            Discretion     U.S. National Champ 30 km F
Simi Hamilton        Discretion     Top USA Finisher Toblach 15 km F, Historic 15 km F results
Scott Patterson       Discretion      Historic Distance Results

Women
Julia Kern               Objective        SuperTour Leader
Jessie Diggins        Objective        5th World Cup Distance Standings
Sadie Bjornsen       Objective       12th World Cup Distance Standings
Rosie Brennan       Objective        20th World Cup Distance Standings
Caitlin Patterson   Discretion      U.S. National Champ 20 km F
Sophie Caldwell     Discretion     36th Toblach WC 10 km F, Historic 10 km C results
Rosie Frankowski  Discretion     2nd place U.S. Nationals 20 km F

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 15-person working group that includes 10 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and four U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport, and an athlete representative who is a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board.

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this season, with the next selection for Period 4 coming in late January.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

Tour de Ski & Dresden Nominations

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the nominations for the USA Cross Country Team for the Tour de Ski and the Dresden, GER World Cup.

Tour de Ski

Men
Ben Lustgarten – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – Top-20 (19th) World Cup Sprint
Erik Bjornsen – Objective – 30th World Cup Distance
Scott Patterson – Discretion – Past distance skate results. Tour is skate heavy (5 of 7 stages).
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 31st in Davos Sprint F. 2 skate sprints in Tour.
Andy Newell – Discretion – Dominant sprint qualifiers in Yellowstone and Silver Star.
Kyle Bratrud – Discretion – Silver Star 15 km C winner.

Women
Julia Kern – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – Top-20 (6th) World Cup Sprint
Sadie Bjornsen – Objective – Top-20 (8th) World Cup Sprint, 13th World Cup Distance
Jessie Diggins – Objective – 8th World Cup Distance
Rosie Brennan – Objective – 11th World Cup Distance
Caitlin Patterson – Discretion – 30th place Lillehammer 10 km F. Tour is skate heavy (5 of 7 stages).
Rosie Frankowski – Discretion – Yellowstone 10 km F winner. Tour is skate heavy (5 of 7 stages).

Note that most of the above discretionary nominations are being turned-down by athletes who are planning on racing at Craftsbury U.S. Nationals rather than the Tour de Ski.

Dresden GER Sprint World Cup

Men
Ben Lustgarten – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Simi Hamilton – Objective – Currently 19th World Cup Sprint. Likely to qualify objectively post TdS.
Erik Bjornsen – Discretion – Past Team Sprint F results.
Kevin Bolger – Discretion – 31st in Davos Sprint F.
Andy Newell – Discretion – Dominant sprint qualifiers in Yellowstone and Silver Star.
TBD – Discretion – Best Sprint F qualifier from US Nationals.

Women
Julia Kern – Objective – SuperTour Leader
Sophie Caldwell – Objective – Currently 6th World Cup Sprint. Likely to qualify objectively post TdS.
Ida Sargent – Discretion – Past Sprint F and Team Sprint F results
TBD – Discretion – Best Sprint F qualifier from US Nationals.
Hailey Swirbul – Discretion – 2nd qualifier Silver Start Sprint F. Possible prep for U23 World Champs.
Hannah Halvorsen – Discretion – 3rd qualifier Silver Start Sprint F. Possible prep for U23 World Champs.

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 15-person working group that includes 10 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and four U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport, and an athlete representative who is a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board.

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this season, with the next selection for Period 3 coming after US Nationals.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

2018-19 World Cup Period 1 Team Selection

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to announce the USA Cross Country Team for World Cup Period 1, (Nov. 24 – Dec. 16, 2018).

Men
Simi Hamilton                              Objective              40th Overall WC 2017-18, 17th Sprint WC 2017-18
Erik Bjornsen                                Objective              50th Overall WC 2017-18
David Norris                                  Objective              Overall SuperTour Leader 2017-18
Scott Patterson                             Discretion             Distance
Paddy Caldwell                             Discretion             Distance
Ben Lustgarten                             Discretion             Distance
Adam Martin                                Discretion             Distance
Kevin Bolger                                 Discretion             Sprint
Logan Hanneman                       Discretion             Ruka Sprint C only
Ben Saxton                                   Discretion             Ruka Sprint C only

Women
Jessie Diggins                              Objective              2nd Overall WC 2017-18, 3rd Dist. WC, 6th Sprint WC
Sadie Bjornsen                            Objective              6th Overall WC 2017-18, 10th Dist. WC, 8th Sprint WC
Sophie Caldwell                           Objective              19th Overall WC 2017-18, 3rd Sprint WC
Ida Sargent                                   Objective              23rd Sprint WC 2017-18
Kaitlynn Miller                            Objective              Overall SuperTour Leader 2017-18
Rosie Brennan                             Discretion             Distance and Sprint
Caitlin Patterson                         Discretion             Distance
Kelsey Phinney                            Discretion             Sprint
Rosie Frankowski                       Discretion             Distance alternate

The above discretionary selections were nominated by a 14-person working group that includes 9 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and 4 U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself. The nominations were then approved by a discretionary selection review group comprised of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Nordic Program Manager, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Chief of Sport, and a athlete representative who is a member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Board.

The newly approved World Cup Selection Criteria can be found here:

https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sites/default/files/files-resources/files/2018/XC%20World%20Cup%20Criteria%2018-19%20-%208-27-18.pdf

The above discretionary selection process will be repeated for each period of World Cup this coming season, with the next selection for the Tour de Ski (i.e. Period 2) coming on or after Dec. 16, 2018.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about this process, feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

2019 World Championships Selection Criteria

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are pleased to introduce our 2019 World Championships selection criteria. This criteria is the creation of a 14-person working group that includes 9 of our top club coaches, a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete representative, and 4 U.S. Ski Team coaches. After the working group’s completion of the criteria, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Sport Committee has also reviewed, questioned, and added to the document before voting to approve the criteria.

The criteria can be found here:
https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sites/default/files/files-resources/files/2018/Cross%20Country%20World%20Championships%20Criteria%202019%20-%208-29-18.pdf

The goal of the criteria is to make sure that the USA has the fastest athletes with the best potential for medals and additional top finishes toeing the line in Seefeld, AUT this coming February. As always, our challenge remains how to most effectively select athletes from two separate and simultanerous competition series: the World Cup in Europe and the SuperTour in North America. We feel that this criteria provides the best solutions for selecting these athletes, and I am grateful for the contributions of so many athletes, coaches, and sport leaders in this extensive process.

Here are some of the important new features of this criteria:

• The World Cup distance selection will close on January 5, 2019 and will not include the Final Climb Tour de Ski stage.
• Language has been added to strengthen the 5-sprinter-max rule; specifically, a World Cup athlete that qualifies for WSC via both the distance and sprint World Cup standings counts towards the cap of 5 sprinters per sex.
• The selection of athletes from SuperTour is now considered as part of Phase 2 Discretionary Selection. This is perhaps the most significant change in the criteria. The idea behind this change is to allow the staff and the discretionary selection review group to select athletes from domestic competition via “pools” (i.e. distance men, sprint men, distance women, sprint women) as needed to fill specific starts at the World Championships.
• We have included language concerning approximate World Championships team size (i.e. 16 men and women total). This language is intended to let the community know that we plan on filling our starts with the best possible athletes at the Championships and that we do not plan on selecting athletes that will not start. We are not limited to selecting 16 athletes; the team could be smaller or bigger. We simply want the community to understand that the focus of the USA team at the Championships will be excellence, including bringing home medals.
• We have also included language concerning discretionary athlete selections that focus on athletes with a world rank of 120 or better. Again, this language is intended to alert the community as to the caliber of athletes who we believe are prepared to be successful at the event, but it does not prevent us from selecting athletes with a world rank of greater than 120 who are clearly skiing fast and are needed to fill starts.
• We have created a mechanism by which athletes may petition directly to the Selection Committee to be considered for discretionary selection.
• We have also outlined appeal and grievance proceedures and added the direct contact of the USOC athlete ombudsman.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be further discussing this criteria, as well as the recently published 2019-20 U.S. Ski Team criteria, in a possible podcast or article on FasterSkier. Our hope is to effectively communicate all of the aspects of these new criteria with the community, to explain the rationale behind changes and to answer any questions. In the meantime, if there are athletes, coaches, or parents with questions or concerns about this or any other criteria, please feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

Updated 2018-19 World Cup Selection Criteria

Dear Cross Country Community,

At the suggestion of the US Ski & Snowboard XC Sport Committee, we have added the following language to this season’s World Cup selection criteria in reference to appeal and grievance procedures:

U.S. Ski & Snowboard provides an equal opportunity to amateur athletes, coaches, trainers, managers, administrators, and officials to participate in amateur athletic competition, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, or national origin, and with fair notice and opportunity for a hearing before declaring any such individual ineligible to participate.

And:

U.S. SKI & SNOWBOARD APPEAL AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

Any member who believes that he/she has wrongfully been denied membership on any team whose members are selected through participation in “protected competition,” as that term is defined in the USOC Bylaws, shall be entitled to appeal such decision.
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Grievance Procedures can be found within section IX of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard bylaws found at: usskiandsnowboard.org

ATHLETE OMBUDSMAN

Athletes who have questions regarding their opportunity to compete that are not answered by U.S. Ski & Snowboard may contact the USOC Athlete Ombudsman, Kacie Wallace, by:
• Telephone at (719) 866-5000
• Toll-free telephone at (888) ATHLETE (1-888-284-5383)
• E-mail at Kacie.wallace@usoc.org
• www.athleteombudsman.org
• http://www.teamusa.org/For-Athletes/Athlete-Ombudsman.aspx

The complete updated criteria can be found here:

https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sites/default/files/files-resources/files/2018/XC%20World%20Cup%20Criteria%2018-19%20-%208-27-18.pdf

Thanks to the XC Sport Committee for their careful consideration and their work to strengthen this criteria.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns you might have.

Chris Grover
Head Coach, U.S. Cross Country Ski Team
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

2019-20 U.S. Ski Team Selection Criteria

Dear Cross Country Community,

We are excited to announce a new U.S. Ski Team selection criteria for the 2019-20 season.  The intent of the criteria is unchanged from past criteria: to identify those athletes who have the potential to win medals at the Winter Olympic Games and the World Championships.

The criteria can be found here: https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sport-programs/criteria/us-cross-country-team-criteria

The new criteria are much more detailed than those that we have been using for the past years; they are primarily based on world rank (WR).  The USST staff has spent much of the past year examining data from major championship medalists over the past decade, and have found that world rank is often the best indicator of who is on the path towards a future medal. As you’ll see, these criteria create many objective pathways to a USST nomination, and identify a clear path for athletes, coaches, and parents to understand exactly what is necessary to be nominated to the USST.

A couple of main points about these criteria:

·         The D-Team has informally been a U-23 Team for years, but this formalizes it.  If an athlete is a last-year U23, they must qualify for the B-Team for the following season.
·         We’ve dramatically expanded the standard for a direct performance nomination to the USST by Juniors and U23s, from a top-3 individual finish, to a top-10 individual finish.
·         We’ve tightened the A-Team standard from top-30 to top-15 in the Red Groups to finally mirror the changes made to funding levels in the Red Groups by the FIS several years ago.  Only the top-15 receive Red Group support these days.
·         Another change you’ll see is the inclusion of an age-weighted criteria.  This takes some of the guesswork out of deciding who is in a position to succeed at the World Cup level right now vs. younger athletes with strong potential.

I’m confident that these new criteria will help us do a better job of identifying those athletes with the potential to medal, while creating better transparency around the U.S. Ski Team nomination process.

If someone has a question or concern about these criteria, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Sincerely, Chris

Chris Grover
Cross Country Head Coach
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

World Cup Selection Criteria 2018-19

Dear Cross Country Ski Racing Community,

We’ve just posted the World Cup Selection Criteria for 2018-19, and it can be found here:

https://usskiandsnowboard.org/sport-programs/criteria/cross-country-world-cup-criteria

These criteria were created by a working group that included 8 senior club coaches, the Chair of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Committee, a non-active U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athlete Representative, and 4 of the U.S. Ski Team coaches, including myself.

Here are some of the main ways in which this year’s selection criteria differs from past criteria:

• We’ve changed the standard by which men advance from one World Cup period to the next from top-30 to top-40 to reflect the greater depth in the men’s WC field.
• We’ve added SuperTour leaders as guaranteed starts to the Tour de Ski.
• We’ve added language to the past criteria for selecting a World Cup Finals squad in Quebec City, including:

o    Top-30 individual performance at the Seefeld World Champs (the previous standard was top-25).
o    Created a best 11 of 14 SuperTour results selection to round-out the WC Finals team, to encourage athletes to continue to race in Europe mid-season, rather than feeling the need to attend every SuperTour competition.

• We’ve created a discretionary selection review group that includes an athlete rep to evaluate and approve our discretionary World Cup nominations.

We are excited for these changes. We feel these criteria do a better job than ever before of selecting the right athletes to represent the USA in World Cup competition.

If you are an athlete or a coach that is impacted by these criteria, and you have any questions or concerns about it, please feel free to contact me directly. My contact info is below.

This same working group is also currently working on an updated selection criteria for the 2019 Seefeld World Championships, and we will have that posted this summer.

Sincerely,

Chris Grover
chris.grover@usskiandsnowboard.org

Team Nomination Discussion

As a U.S. Ski Team staff, we’ve noticed the recent scrutiny of the 2017-18 Cross Country Team Nominations. I’d like to share a couple of thoughts in response to some of the criticism.

First, as with any criteria or policy or nomination, the USST staff welcomes constructive criticism when it is fair and unbiased. We take criticism seriously, discuss is thoroughly, and if warranted, use that feedback to help guide future decision-making. We are not opposed to hearing new viewpoints and we welcome a healthy discussion. We are imperfect humans who have made mistakes in the past and will make mistakes in the future. Like everyone, we learn and improve as we move forward.

As I mentioned in the FasterSkier interview at the time of the team nomination, this year’s nomination was a very challenging one, and we spent many hours discussing the make-up of the team. In the end, we nominated an extremely talented group of athletes with a strong potential for success at the highest level, but I would also suggest that there are many USA athletes that were not nominated who also have the potential to reach the podium. In a sport like cross country ski racing, with a long-term athlete development timeframe, it’s quite challenging to pinpoint which athletes have the capacity to reach the podium in 2, 5, or 10 years from now. So just like being nominated to the USST does not guarantee future success, being left out of the nomination for a particular team certainly doesn’t preclude an athlete from reaching the top in the sport.

We stand by the nominations of every athlete selected to the 2017-18 team; these are great athletes with massive potential.

There is no bias or favoritism towards certain athletes over other athletes in nominations. When it comes to team nominations, we have one goal: to see the USA on the podium at the highest levels of international competition. That’s it. We are not taking personalities into consideration; only current results and our perceptions on an athlete’s future ability to secure podiums, often in specific events. We want to see USA athletes winning just as desperately as everyone in the greater cross country community. We all share this goal.

When it comes to the current USST nominations, the percentage of athletes chosen via objective criteria versus those chosen via discretion is very similar to past seasons. We’ve basically had the same criteria in place for many years and it’s been an effective tool. For 2017-18, we had 9 athletes selected via objective criteria and 7 athletes via discretion. In 2016-17, that split was 8 and 8. In fact, this 2017-18 team may be one of the nominations that includes the smallest percentage of discretionary selections in decades, and reflects the fact that we have more athletes than ever skiing at a high international standard, securing World Cup podiums, World Champs and World Junior Champs medals, and thereby making the team via the objective criteria.

When it comes to crafting a selection criteria for the US Ski Team, our experience has been that discretion works better with young athletes than objective criteria. This is especially true in our sport where it can be challenging to capture the wide scope of the competition pipeline, where athletes are simultaneously racing in North America and Europe throughout the season. As we’ve seen in almost every selection criteria ever written, objective criteria works well at the top of the selection, but often somewhat poorly at the end of the selection. Every criteria is imperfect in its attempt to predict what will happen in a future competition season. Even if we were to create objective criteria to select the B and D Teams, we would still be forced to use discretion at the end of the selection to ensure that our best performing young skiers are not being missed, sick or injured athletes were captured, etc.

As we discussed with the Cross Country Committee at USSA Congress this month, the USST Cross Country staff is committed to providing as many paths for USA athletes to the top of our sport as we can find. We have a new World Championship and Olympic Winter Games selection criteria in place that provides athletes with the most visible and concrete path towards team nomination possible. We have recently expanded quotas on the World Cup and we are working with our senior clubs to increase our presence on the World Cup. You’ll see more USA athletes getting more start opportunities at the highest level of the sport this coming season than ever before. There will be many pathways to the top.

Thanks for reading. Sincerely, Chris

Lahti 2017 World Champs Criteria

Dear Athletes and Coaches,

You can now find the new selection criteria for the upcoming 2017 Lahti World Championships posted here:

http://nordic.usskiteam.com/cross-country-programs/athletes/criteria/world-championships

We are excited about this new criteria, which has been a work-in-progress between US Ski Team staff, top club coaches and program directors, and a USSA athlete representative for the past 2 years.

As you’ll see, the Objective and Discretionary selection procedures in this criteria are very similar to what we have used in the past. The big change, however, comes in how Additional Team Selections are made. In the past, additional selections have been made using FIS or USSA points, which are created by scoring points races on a year-round continuum. This new criteria relies on head-to-head SuperTour and U.S. Nationals racing in the fall/early winter of the season of the Lahti Championships themselves.

Here are some of the advantages of this new criteria:

Because the criteria doesn’t rely on FIS or USSA points, athletes will no longer be tempted to chase points races or to willingly manipulate the results of races. Also the potential for errors in the various points lists are negated.

This criteria rewards head-to-head competition in the season of the Championships. Athletes who skied fast in the spring of the previous season no longer have a potential advantage over those athletes skiing fast in the current season. The criteria provides a clear path for athletes to the World Championships. The athlete that is winning races is most likely going to make the Team. The guesswork of improving one’s FIS or USSA points is removed.

This criteria allows athletes to race World Cup Period 1 and still qualify for the World Championships team. It was important to us that we created a selection criteria that didn’t discourage athletes from racing World Cup. So athletes that are on the US Ski Team, SuperTour leaders racing World Cup, and invited athletes to World Cup all still have a path to the World Champs via great racing at U.S. Nationals.

Although we can clearly see that no selection criteria is perfect, especially when it comes to the last selections to any Team, we sincerely hope this new selection criteria serves our nation well. We look forward to watching the selection process unfold this winter.

If there are athletes and coaches who have remaining questions about the criteria, please don’t hesitate to contact me: cgrover@ussa.org

Sincerely, Chris

Summer Racing and National Team Exposure

I recently encountered Marty Hall’s comments following an article in SkiTrax about the Climb to the Castle that were misinformed in several important ways, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some thoughts with the community, and hopefully clear up some of these misconceptions. The comments can be found here: http://skitrax.com/85688/?c

The first comment had to do with summer racing:

A real shame that the national team passed up the hill climb—it would have been a fitting effort after the week of intensity focus they had just completed. Biathlon had just finished a 3 week intensity block and fit the hill climb into their final workout.
One of the things that has been evident over the past few years is that the Euros race a lot more in the summer (on RS) then the NAs do—way more, which keeps them closer to their top fitness then the NAs are to theirs.
At the coaches seminar in Lake Placid about 10 days ago HC Grover made the comment that the Norwegians were way more fit then the American Team at this point in the year. I brought up this fact that the Norwegians, and for that matter all the Europeans, race way more then the Americans. Essentially his answer was lack of races—and then they pass up the hill climb. Nothing beats putting on a bib—they can do all their intensities—but racing is what it is all about.
Sort of like last fall as they entered period #1 of the WC and said they were taking an easier focus on the start of the WC so they could be ready for the WSC in Falun. That is known not to work—-the Canadian’s tried it the year before—white terry cloth robe training in Davos when all the other teams were in Scando racing.
At the seminar a couple of the speakers made it clear that when you hit the racing season it has to be the focus to keep the pedal to the metal. They cited some ideas about things being tried besides racing—like weight lifting. I’m sure you’ll read more about this in the future.
Well, we’ll have to wait another year for this to happen—-here in the east we have tons of venues that can host 1-2 day race formats through out the summer—let’s get going in taking a step forward in having our racers ready too really race at their top level all through the season.

There are a number of problems in these arguments. The first is the leap of logic that contends that racing the Climb to the Castle equals winter racing fitness. It does not. Racing in the Climb to the Castle may contribute to one individual’s fitness, while it may be destructive for another individual, producing unwanted levels of fatigue. The U.S. Ski Team has many years of history competing in this event so we have an intimate understanding of how a long grinding skate hill climb affects different athletes. At our recent Lake Placid training camp, we had a big group of sprint athletes and not so many pure distance skiers. Because of this, we ran a classic sprint time trial the day prior to the Climb. This was the appropriate workout given the athletic goals of the majority of athletes that were present in Lake Placid. The sprint capped a week that included 3 additional intensity workouts that were designed for the needs of this particular group. Even so, some athletes, including Climb winners Mary Rose of the Sun Valley Gold Team and Paddy Caldwell of SMS T2 and the USST, chose to race in both the sprint time trial and the Climb, creating a week with 5 intensity sessions. For those athletes, capping their week with a tough uphill skate made good athletic sense. But it’s not logical to assert that the answer to being able to compete with Norway is to race every race that is out there, especially when the format of a given race is so specialized. Instead, the only way to compete at the highest level is to maximize the preparation of each individual athlete, and that includes intelligent decisions made in selecting workouts (aerobic vs. anaerobic), timing of intensity workouts, skate vs. classic, periods of recovery, etc. One size doesn’t fit all at the World Cup level, especially when the athletic goals of individuals (i.e. target races) are so varied.

Mr. Hall references the fact that the U.S. Biathlon Team competed in the Climb at the end of an intensity-training block. What he fails to mention is that there have been some years at the Climb where USBA athletes were present in Lake Placid and did not compete because the event didn’t make good athletic sense for them at the time (they were in a recovery week, for example). Those are years when the U.S. Cross Country Team did compete. One can’t pick and choose only the history that supports ones’ theory. Also, when you look at the format of the Climb (i.e. distance skating), it lends itself to the training needs of biathlon athletes, who only have distance skating as a lone race format. In cross-country, where we have sprint and distance events, classic and skate, 1 km to 50 km, the Climb format doesn’t always make great sense for every athlete, and each race that an athlete competes in eliminates another opportunity to compete in a different race format that day.

In the future, there will be camps when the Climb to the Castle works well for many National Team athletes, especially in years where we have a longer camp in Lake Placid and when more distance skiers are present. It’s a great event, the athletes and coaches love doing it, and we try to support it when it makes good athletic sense.

As a National Team, we are looking for opportunities to compete on rollerskis in the preparation period more frequently when appropriate. I agree with Marty that athletes in North America could find improvement by staying closer to top racing shape during the summer months. Many members of the U.S. Ski Team competed in 3 rollerski races at Toppidrettsveka in Norway in August, and the formats of those races (classic sprint, Skiathlon, classic pursuit) were strategically ideal for the Team’s technical needs. Looking forward to our next camp in Park City in October, we’ll be running a 3-day rollerski mini-Tour at Soldier Hollow that mimics the demands of the World Cup for this season, in which more than half of the World Cups are Tour stages. One of our biggest challenges in North America is not that we can’t create or participate in enough summer rollerski racing, but that it’s really hard to create quality depth within those racing fields in order to push the athletes along at a high enough pace. In Norway, we easily find that depth of competition. So the answer is not always more rollerski racing, but more importantly the type of racing and the quality of the field.

Mr. Hall then makes another leap of logic, equating racing in the Climb to the Castle (putting on a bib) with a fast start on the World Cup in the fall. Well, the U.S. Ski Team athletes did compete in the Climb last season, and it didn’t help our start to the World Cup! The fact is that there are too many variables involved to suggest that participating in one event or skipping that event leads to World Cup success or failure. The USA did have a slow start to the World Cup season last year for a number of reasons, including everything from preparation, to injury and illness, to overtraining, to occasional struggles with waxing. We are working hard to rectify these issues for this season so that we are competitive all season long. But Marty neglects to mention that every nation except Norway struggled at the beginning of the World Cup last year. So was the USA that bad or was Norway that good? Every country was left scratching their heads after World Cup Period 1, and wondering how Norway had become so dominant in such a short period of time. In retrospect, our strategy of being faster at the time of the Falun Championships actually worked, but I agree with Marty that ideally we’d be faster all season long. As we all know, this is hard to achieve but possible for some athletes.

A second post by Mr. Hall reads:

One other thing—the National Team has very little reality time in the states—-some races in the Spring time and that is it. So, whom is getting gypped, not us—who cares, but the next level of skiers is losing out big time. The National Team coaching staff has to be thinking about who those next skiers are going to be and how good they are going to be. If it only starts another Kikkan or Jessie to start to dream—JOB DONE!!!
Small thinkers produce small gains—-you’ve got to do better National Team leaders.

I don’t believe there are many National Teams that actually create better opportunities for their best young skiers to measure themselves against their World Cup athletes than the USA does. As always, the Lake Placid camp included National Elite Group (NEG) athletes, National Training Group (NTG) athletes, and top club skiers training alongside the U.S. Ski Team every day. These are American junior, U23 and senior athletes training and competing with athletes that have World Cup and World Championship podiums. It is an incredible opportunity, and one that will be available again for the NTG and elite club skiers in Park City this month.

Here’s what Katharine Ogden had to say on this topic recently in a FasterSkier article that followed the Lake Placid camp:

“It never ceases to amaze me training with the USST girls. Getting the opportunity to copy their technique and have them there to motivate us during harder sessions is beyond awesome. One thing that I learned talking to some Norwegian junior skiers is that they have never even met most of their national team girls. This really put in perspective for me how lucky we are to be able to train with them.”

I’m not sure the experience of this particular Norwegian athlete is reflective of everyone’s experience, but the point is that we currently have and will continue to create high-end training and racing experiences for our best young athletes. Could we do more? Absolutely, but we are always working to strike a balance between giving the World Cup athletes the training stimuli that they require while providing developing athletes with invaluable experience. Also, Norway is a small country where it is potentially easier to get the best juniors to camps alongside the National Team. The USA has 5 time zones! Our logistics and expenses are much more challenging, which makes what we’ve been able to accomplish as a cross-country community that much more impressive.

More importantly, I don’t agree with Marty’s assertion that we should be sending our best racers home to race more frequently. Show me a professional sport where the best athletes, competing at a world-class level, are sent back to the farm leagues during the competition season in order to develop the next generation. We are competing in a predominantly European sport. We need to be sending our best developing athletes to Europe instead. You don’t get better by sending 5 good athletes home; you get better by sending 30 good developing athletes to Europe, where they can be pushed by many athletes every day. And thanks to the help of the NNF, we are doing exactly that.

I appreciate the fact that Marty is challenging the thinking of the U.S. Ski Team staff and I relish this opportunity to present my perspective to the community. There are good questions raised here and I hope that I have addressed them in a way that promotes better understanding in the American cross-country family.

2015-16 Canadian World Cup Selection Criteria

Dear Athletes and Coaches,

 

The World Cup selection criteria for this season, including the Canadian World Cup Tour, is now posted, and can be found here:

 

http://nordic.usskiteam.com/cross-country-programs/coaches/criteria/world-cup

 

A working group of 12 senior club coaches, along with the U.S. Ski Team staff, collaborated to create the Selection Criteria.

 

Here is a summary of start spots allotted to the USA for the Canadian Tour:

 

Women

National World Cup Tour Quota for 2015-16: 7

SuperTour Overall Leader: 1

Nation’s Group: 5

Total: 13 women

 

Men

National World Cup Tour Quota for 2015-16: 5

SuperTour Overall Leader: 1

Nation’s Group: 5

Total: 11 men

 

In addition to the usual World Cup quotas, which are determined by results from the previous World Cup season, the overall leaders of the SuperTour on February 7, 2016 (one man and one woman) will be selected to the Canadian Tour. As always, these are the two athletes who would normally be attending World Cup Period IV.

 

Additionally, USA will have a nation’s group quota of 5 women and 5 men for the Canadian Tour.  These 10 athletes will be selected in the following manner:

 

First, up to one man and one woman (2 athletes total) will be selected from either World Cup results or OPA (Europa Cup) results between January 16 and February 21, 2016. Priority goes to the athlete that has scored World Cup points in an individual (non-pursuit) World Cup race in that period. This could be a sprint or a distance race. If no athlete makes the WC criteria, then second priority goes to any athlete with 1 x top-5 result or 2 x top-7 results in OPA (Europa Cup) competition, during the same selection period.

 

The majority of the Nation’s Group will be selected via the SuperTour competitions held between the start of the 2015-16 race season and the end of U.S. Nationals. Eight athletes (4 men and 4 women) will be selected from SuperTour on January 11, 2016. We will select the top 2 leaders on the men’s distance list, men’s sprint list, women’s distance list, and women’s sprint list. These leaders will not be selected on total SuperTour points, but rather their best 3 out of 4 results (highest SuperTour points races) in one discipline (sprint or distance). As usual, races at U.S. National Championships are scored as double-points races.

 

We have decided to close the selection period for these 8 athletes relatively early (mid-January) for two important reasons. The first is that we wish to continue to encourage our best athletes to race in Europe in the middle of the winter (post-Nationals), and not be forced to stay home in order to qualify for the Canadian Tour. The second reason is to give adequate time for athletes, clubs and coaches to plan for waxing and support logistics during the Canadian Tour.

 

The Canadian Tour will be an exciting opportunity for US athletes to demonstrate their abilities in North America. With our fan base in attendance and by competing in familiar venues, we will certainly have a home-course advantage. With a total of 24 athletes on the start line, we need to seize this opportunity for World Cup success.