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‘Unknown’ Jensen Wins 100m Bislett Sprint; Northug Knocked Out Early

Sixteen men and women were invited to an exhibition 100 m sprint in Oslo, Norway, on Monday to try to set new on-snow 100 m records in front of thousands of ski fans. Invitees included Petter Northug (NOR), Teodor Peterson (SWE), Kikkan Randall (USA), Emil Joensson (SWE), Andy Newell (USA) and Lenny Valjas (CAN), who competed in a series of elimination rounds on snow at the Bislett track & field stadium.

Up against some of the biggest names in sprinting on cross-country skis, it was a relative unknown from Norway who crossed the finish line first at the end of the day. 24-year-old Ludvig Søgnen Jensen, who gained entry to the Bislett sprints by sending a video of himself skiing 100 m in 11.25 seconds to the organizers, outkicked Peterson and Eirik Brandsdal (NOR) to take the win in 11.56 seconds.

“I hope there will be more such contests,” Jensen told the NRK. “Then I still had to work at it. I think audiences love it.”

Northug was eliminated in the semifinals, but wasn’t really surprised. “I know I’m not fast enough at 100 meters,” he told the NRK.

Finland’s Mona-Lisa Malvalehto won the women’s division in a time of 13.04.

Bislett event website (full results not yet available).

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Swedish Film Accuses Dæhlie and Others of Doping in the ’90s

A Swedish documentary film called Blood Race in Skiing that aired on Swedish television on Wednesday night has accused multiple Norwegian skiers from the 1990’s of blood doping, citing results from a recent study that found blood samples from athletes of that era with high hemoglobin data. The film, shown on SVT, is based on information from a key source from the Norwegian national team, according to director Arto Halonen.

Among the implicated athletes is the most decorated winter Olympian of all-time, Bjørn Dæhlie, who firmly denies cheating at any point in his career. He also reiterated that the documentary is old news, based on accusations that have been circulating for several years.

“I know that there is a finding that has been out for Norwegian cross-country skiers in a few years,” Dæhlie told Afterposten. “It has probably been made some documentaries, too, and some of the material is the SVT has taken hold of now. It comes from the same place.”

“I have never cheated or manipulated my blood,” Dæhlie told Dagbladet. “My hemoglobin levels have normally been around 15.6-15.8 but I have also reached 16 and 17. That may happen during extreme circumstances and be related to training in altitude or to fluid intake.”

The test results were obtained from a 1997 World Cup event in Lahti, Finland and were supplied by former Finnish coach Kari-Pekka Kyrö, who had a central role in a 2001 Finnish doping scandal at World Championships.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) said in a press release Thursday that the test results involved in the film do not sufficiently prove or disprove doping.

“It is not possible for the FIS to confirm the values that have been published by Kari-Pekka Kyrö and consequently, to comment on these. The testing that was done at the time the research was conducted by experts in the FIS Medical Committee for statistical purposes, with the desire to find the level of hemoglobin values for health checks,” the statement said.

“These tests were not doping controls, and can not now be evaluated as if they are blood pass tests performed today, with clear criteria and procedures defined by WADA.”

FIS Anti-Doping Manager Bengt Saltin insists that the tests taken from “that period in the 90s when everything was on trial stage and very unsystematic.”

Read more here.

 

Correction March 1, 2013: A previous version of this article stated that the documentary was Finnish. It is acutally Swedish; we apologize for the mistake.

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Silitch Claims Historic Silver at Ski Mountaineering World Champs

After becoming the first American to win a ski-mountaineering World Cup last season, American Nina Silitch broke through again on Monday, capturing silver in the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) World Championships sprint in Les Ecrins, France.

Silitch, 40, who lives in Chamonix, France, and races for the U.S., finished second to Mireille Richard of Switzerland and shared the podium with Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg in third.

“Winning a silver medal at the Ski Mountaineering World Championships in the sprint event is a dream come true for me,” Silitch wrote on her blog, which includes photos of the race.

“Never would I have imagined myself here 10 years ago when I first moved to Europe and had not even tried randonee skiing. It was 6 years ago when I attended my first skimo worlds in Switzerland, just 2 years after my 2nd child and 1 year after starting the sport.”

Sprint results

For more on Silitch, visit ninasilitch.com.

 

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Ellefson, Ski Denver Collaborate on Short Film

Hoptocopter Films and Ski Denver recently collaborated on a beautifully-produced short film promoting Sylvan Ellefson (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Team HomeGrown) and the sport of cross-country skiing in Colorado. The 2:09-minute short premiered in conjuction with the SIA Snow Show in Denver Colo., earlier this month. For your Wednesday dose of great nordic imagery, check it out:

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Aussies Accept Video Challenge With Katy Perry Parody

In just two days since its original posting, the U.S. Ski Team’s (+ Chandra Crawford) parody of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” has over 30,000 hits on YouTube and at least three video responses. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Australian men’s team responded with a rendition of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” on Monday.

Who’s next? We’re looking at you, Norway.

 

 

And in case you missed these gems, the American Scando Cup teams pounced on the USST’s video contest almost immediately with Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight” and The Lonely Island’s “Threw It On The Ground” over the weekend.

 

 

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Caldwell 2nd in Scando Cup Skate Sprint in Estonia

Sophie Caldwell of the Stratton Mountain School T2 Team tallied a career-best result at the Scandinavian Cup on Sunday, placing second in the 1.1-kilometer freestyle sprint at Jõulumäe Recreation Centre in Pärnu, Estonia. Fifth in the qualifier, Caldwell ended up on the podium with Norwegian winner Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes and Sweden’s Linn Soemskar in third.

Another American, Jennie Bender (Central Cross Country) finished just outside the top 10 in 11th after qualifying in the same position. Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was 22nd, Becca Rorabaugh (Alaska Pacific University) finished 25th and Anika Miller (Payette Lake Sports) was 26th.

Women’s results

In the men’s 1.6 k sprint, Tomas Northug — Petter’s younger brother — won the final ahead of Norwegian teammate Sindre Bjørnestad Skar in second and Johan Edin of Sweden in third. Reese Hanneman (APU) was the top American in 42nd, a few places better than his 45th finish in Saturday’s classic sprint. Eric Packer (SMST2) was 43rd, Ben Saxton (F.A.S.T.) placed 71st, David Norris (MSU) was 72nd, Forrest Mahlen (APU) was 77th, and Jack Novak (APU) was 83rd.

Men’s results

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Hoffman Romps Swiss Nationals 15 k Pursuit

Noah Hoffman didn’t just win Sunday’s 15-kilometer classic pursuit at Swiss Nationals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, the 23-year-old US Ski Team member did so by 1 minute and 20.9 seconds. Without Saturday’s 15 k skate winner Dario Cologna to contend with, Hoffman started first, skied away from the field and finished in 1:16:08.4.

Switzerland’s Toni Livers was second and Erik Bjornsen also made the podium for the U.S. in third (+1:57.1).

Jonas Baumann (SUI) placed fourth, American Tad Elliott was fifth, and former US Ski Team member Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) finished 10th.

Men’s results

In the women’s 10 k classic pursuit, Swiss Seraina Boner topped teammate Bettina Gruber by 24.6 seconds, winning in 45:25 after placing fourth to three Americans (Liz Stephen, Jessie Diggins and Holly Brooks, respectively) in Saturday’s 5 k skate. No U.S. women competed Sunday.

Women’s results

 

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Stephen Wins Swiss Nationals 5 k, U.S. Women Sweep Podium

Just over a year after placing second to Canadian Chandra Crawford at the 2012 Austrian National Championships, US Ski Team veteran Liz Stephen took top honors in the 5-kilometer freestyle at Swiss Nationals on Saturday in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Stephen won the event in 13:45, leading a U.S. podium sweep with Jessie Diggins placing second (+6.3) and Holly Brooks taking third (+24.5).

Seraina Boner was the top Swiss in fourth (+39.8) and Ida Sargent (USST) was seventh (+51.8).

Women’s results

In the men’s 15 k freestyle, Swiss superstar Dario Cologna reigned, beating American Noah Hoffman by 20.1 seconds to win in 36:39. Switzerland’s Remo Fischer placed third (+38.0) and Toni Livers was fourth (+49.8), while USST members Tad Elliott and Erik Bjornsen were fifth and sixth, respectively. American Torin Koos (Bridger Ski Foundation/Rossignol) finished 19th, and Andy Newell (USST) did not finish.

Men’s results

Swiss Nationals concludes Sunday with 10/15 k classic pursuits.

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US Ski Team, Crawford Collaborate in Mock Music Video

The US Ski Team, with choreographic help from Canadian National Team member Chandra Crawford, recently released its own music video, set to the tunes of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and filmed in snowy places like France, Switzerland and Sochi, Russia. Produced and edited by World Cup racer Simi Hamilton, and directed by Noah Hoffman, some YouTube commenters think this was the women’s idea.

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FIS Introduces New BMW xDrive Trophy for Bonus Sprints

FIS is pleased to announce the introduction of a new sprint ranking in the FIS Cross-Country World Cup for bonus sprints in mass start competitions and bonus seconds in multi-stage competitions. In close cooperation with FIS Marketing AG the new concept for the World Cup bonus sprints has been created to improve the presentation of the bonuses.The BMW xDrive Trophy will be put in place as from the 2012/13 season supported by the premium sponsor of the FIS Cross Country World Cup, by awarding two BMW X1 20d for the winners of the new ranking.

Animation of Competitions

FIS and its partners are always searching for elements that integrate additional animation and action in distance competitions. Special attention has been paid to awarding athletes who succeed in the bonus sprint challenges and to involving sprint specialists in distance competitions.

“The BMW xDrive Trophy will increase the interest of athletes in bonus sprints from the beginning until the end of the season. Intermediate bonus sprints were introduced two years ago to increase the excitement in mass start competitions. The value of these bonus sprints will be increased further with this opportunity to leave the Finals in Falun with a BMW car. I’m really looking forward to seeing the season’s last mass start races in Oslo and Falun in March 2013,” remarked FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey.

We are pleased to support the newly initiated sprint ranking that should make Cross-Country even more attractive to spectators and athletes“, commented Johannes Seibert, Marketing Director at BMW Germany. “We are excited to find out whjch athletes will triumph in this ranking and are looking forward to some spectacular duels next season.”

Ranking

The ranking will be calculated on the basis of bonus seconds and bonus World Cup points awarded from the beginning to the end of the World Cup season.

The winners of the new trophy will be the athletes (male & female) who have collected the most bonus seconds or/and bonus points during the season. One bonus World Cup point equals one bonus second.

The first bonus seconds will be awarded in the classical sprint at the stage 1 of Ruka Triple in Kuusamo (FIN). The last bonus seconds will be given out in the mass start competition in Falun (SWE), stage three of the World Cup Final on 23rd March 2013. The next day, on 24th March, two brand new BMW X1 will find their owners.

Understandable and Easy to Follow

FIS and FIS Marketing AG have been working together with BMW on a new visual identification and installations for the BMW xDrive Trophy that will be easy to follow and understandable for Cross-Country Skiing fans and TV viewers. Brand new TV graphics will be introduced.

“The new competition will augment the value of bonus sprints during the whole season. Bonus World Cup points and bonus seconds together with the BMW car will stay in focus for five months. Bonus point will get its own branding, including countdown signs to guide the athletes before the decision point. They will also make the sprint bonus points more visible for TV audiences. All bonus points/seconds will count and good sprinters will have a chance to go for the BMW car too. Three factors are important: the BMW xDrive Trophy will be easy to understand, straightforward to follow and it will create new potential for future communications,” Jürg Capol FIS Marketing AG Nordic Director stated.

Share the Pleasure

A pleasure of sports, fighting spirit, tackling the challenge of fierce competitions along with demanding snow and weather conditions are the common values shared between FIS and premium sponsor of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup BMW.

Virtual Standing 2011/2012

Looking back at the virtual unofficial BMW xDrive Trophy standing from last season, the classification on the ladies’ side remained open until the second to last competition of the season. In the end, Marit Bjoergen (NOR) would have driven away with the new BMW as she would have collected 483 points, whilst Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) would have finished second, only 3 points behind after the entire season.

On the men’s side Dario Cologna would have won the BMW car ahead of Devon Kershaw (CAN) and Petter Northug (NOR).

“I do love the dynamics that those intermediate sprints add and I seem to be decent at snagging them. I think that the new competition will make it even more exciting and enticing though – it’s almost a ‘most aggressive award’ like they have in cycling. Should be fun to see who goes for it,” Canada’s Devon Kershaw says.

Fact Sheet BMW xDrive Sprint Trophy

* * *

About FIS

FIS is the governing body for international skiing and snowboarding, founded in 1924 during the first Olympic Games in Chamonix, France. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIS manages the Olympic disciplines of Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding, including setting the international competition rules. Through its 115 member nations, more than 6’500 FIS ski and snowboard competitions are staged annually. Specific initiatives are undertaken by FIS to promote snow activities as a healthy leisure recreation, notably for the young.

For more information, please visit www.fis-ski.com.

(Complete BMW xDrive Trophy press release)

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Myslicki Makes Appeal to Drivers, Cyclists

Former Canadian Nordic Combined Team member Jason Myslicki wrote about the disharmony between drivers and cyclists in North America, and more specifically in Calgary, on his blog Friday. Less than a week ago, he witnessed his friend, former Canadian biathlete Robin Clegg get hit by a car during a Sunday ride.

In his blog, “What’s all this talk about cycling?“, Myslicki details his relationship with the sport, which began as an means of getting to his friends’ houses in northern Ontario and taking pretty girls out on dates. By 16, he became a driver like most, which forms the basis of his argument that cyclists belong on the roads.

“Cyclists are usually also drivers, but not every driver is a cycles,” he wrote. “So when this war of rights of cyclists grows in Calgary cyclists have the upper hand because they have open minds and can see both sides of the argument. I would urge anybody that is confident enough to weigh in on the war against cyclist to have the courage and open mind to try cycling a couple of times so that they can give an educated statement.”

A two-time Olympian, Myslicki, 34, has been riding as a means of transportation, exercise and injury rehabilitation since his late 20s when U.S. Nordic Combined skiers Carl Van Loan (2006 Olympian) and Billy Demong (who eventually won gold at the 2010 Winter Games) introduced him to road cycling.

“I [rode] to improve my physical performance, as well as my tactical performance, for cross-country skiing,” Myslicki wrote. “Surprisingly it was the tactics from bike racing that made the greatest difference in my skiing career.”

Before Clegg was hit by a car and suffered multiple broken bones (including his elbow and collarbone), Myslicki said his worst fear of riding in Calgary was getting caught in a hail storm. “Those hurt,” he wrote.

“Please take responsibility for your driving and be excited for those taking it to two wheels,” he added, referring back to a point he made about an active, healthy people benefitting the nation’s healthcare system. “Try cycling yourself it could change your attitude, life and save our society.”

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Team Exspirit Becomes Team Coop, Signs Bauer

Team Exspirit, one of the world’s top long distance cross-country ski teams, recently made big changes to its sponsorship and athlete lineup. The team’s new name, Team Coop, reflects its new partnership with grocery chain giant Coop Norway that will extend for the next few years. Team Coop’s roster, which already includes multiple winners of the Vasaloppet, Birkebeiner and Marcialonga, made a high-profile addition in signing Czech star Lukas Bauer. The two-time Tour de Ski winner will also be taking part in the Ski Classics this winter.

Lukas Bauer (CZE) joins Norwegian distance-specialists on Team Coop this winter.

“This is a new challenge for me that I am looking forward to and Team Coop is very professional in their service and support. They have many experienced long distance skiers that I can learn a lot from and I’m excited about the coming winter,” Bauer said.

Though Bauer will be participating in more marathons, he emphasized that his primary goals are still the Tour de Ski and the World Cup.

“My goal is to…experience the atmosphere of another type of racing,” Bauer said in a Czech Ski Association press release. “[My] priority remains the Tour de Ski and World Cup. There is no change.”

Signing one of the best skiers in the world is certainly a coup for Team Coop.

“It is very exciting to have maybe the best traditional classic skier in the world in Team Coop. Long distance skiing is something different from the World Cup and it will take some time for Lukas to adapt to the discipline. But it will be exciting to see what he can do this coming winter,” said Team Director David Nilsson.

The team was equally excited about its new partnership  In a team press release, Nilsson said the collaboration will both open new possibilities for the coming winter and will see continued association with the Lillehammer Ski Club.

“The Ski Classics races are unique with both the elite and amateurs competing at the same time. The collaboration with Coop has the same possibilities to combine the professional team with the Coop members,” Nilsson said.

For the Coop itself, the partnership helps the grocery store chain meet goals to grow its ski and sport equipment sector.

“It is very exciting for us to brand and collaborate close with our own long distance ski team. Athletic sponsorships fit us well with our strategy of sport equipment and food for a healthy living. We are happy to be identified with a winning team within our national sport and also to support talents. Supporting a international team comes from the collaboration between Coop-stores in different countries,” said Svein Fanebust, CEO Coop Norge Handel.

Ski Classics, the long distance ski championships is developing quickly. The TV-distribution is growing faster than the FIS World Cup with more than 15 countries showing the event on live TV. At the same time the races are breaking participant records each year with close to 60,000 people taking part in Vasaloppet and close to 40,000 people in the Birkebeiner during one week.

“We see long distance skiing as an active part for many reasons,” said Coop’s sponsorship director Vegard Hansen. “We know it is a big interest among our 1.3 million members and 22,000 employees. From a commercial point of view it is important with both the elite and amateurs participating in the same event. And from a sponsorship perspective it is also important with the ongoing development of the TV-production. Mass start races are exciting to watch and it creates good TV.”

Team Coop.

Team Coop consists of:

Team Captain Oskar Svärd, Sweden, three time winner of Vasaloppet and Jizerska Padesatka.

Lukas Bauer, Czech Republic, two-time Tour de Ski winner, 23 World Cup podiums, Olympic and World Championship medalist.

Jenny Hansson, Sweden, Ski Classics Champion 2012 and winner of Vasaloppet, Birkebeiner and Marcialonga.

Seraina Boner, Switzerland, Ski Classics Champion 2011, winner of Birkebeiner the last two years and winner of both Marcialonga and Ski Classics Final.

Jimmie Johnsson, Sweden, 2012 runner up in long distance skiing with to podium places and another two top five places in Ski Classics.

Morten Eide Pedersen, Norway, Ski Classics You Champion 2012.

Roger Aa Djupvik, Norway, second place in Birkebeiner and Ski Classics Final 2012.

Espen Harald Bjerke, Norway, third place in Birkebeiner 2012.

Nicola Morandini, Italy, two times seventh place in Marcialonga.

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Oct. 3 Roundup: Hoffman a Social Butterfly in PC; Norwegian NoCo in Utah

— U.S. Ski Team member Noah Hoffman has been busy in Park City, Utah, where he’s been training for most of the last month. On Tuesday, he played tennis with U.S. alpine skier and Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety, who beat him in two sets with tiebreaks. It was the second time Hoffman, 23, played singles against Ligety, 28, and Hoffman wrote in an email that they’ve played doubles a couple times.

“We’re a good match,” Hoffman wrote. “He’s a super nice guy, and I really enjoy playing with him.”

Hoffman’s also been hanging out with German cross-country skier Monique Siegel, who nabbed two top-10s at U23 World Championships last season. In an email, he wrote that she’ll be in Park City for a couple of weeks to train with the Canadian and U.S. national teams. The Americans’ final dryland camp of the season starts Oct. 8 in Park City and runs through Oct. 17.

While one of his teammates, Tad Elliott, has been jumping into workouts with the U.S. Nordic Combined team in PC (check out this video), Hoffman has been using the presence of the Canadian men’s team to his advantage. A few days ago, he did 6 x 5-minute skate intervals with them in North Salt Lake, Utah, matching his rollerskis to those of Alex Harvey, Devon Kershaw and Ivan Babikov. Here’s a video of the mostly uphill workout, in which Hoffman is the lone American and the only guy wearing a shirt.

“Those guys are some of the best skiers in the world and any time I get the chance to go hard against them is a great opportunity,” Hoffman wrote. “I felt very good on the session and was able to ski with the leaders for the entire session. I am planning on doing a similar session, classic, with them on Thursday.”

 

— According to U.S. Nordic Combined coach Dave Jarrett, his skiers in Park City have welcomed Elliott as a training partner.

“He gets along well with everyone and it is good for us to have someone to chase and push our guys,” Jarrett wrote in an email. “It is always hard to get schedules to coincide but we do our best to get some fresh faces in our group.”

On Wednesday night, they will be joined by Norway’s nordic-combined team, which will stay and train in Park City for a month. Earlier this year, the two teams held somewhat of a joint camp there, and the Norwegians loved it so much they came back.

“We will do a lot of sessions with them both on the hill and for XC,” Jarrett wrote on Wednesday. “We go back to Europe for one more jumping camp from Oct 15-25. It is very busy in PC. We did a [time trial] at SoHo [Soldier Hollow] this morning and the Canadian [biathlon] men and women were there, Canadian XC girls as well.”

 

Petter Northug, Jr., won’t be chasing ski marathon titles this winter. In fact, the Norwegian world champ hasn’t signed up for any distance races outside of the World Cup, Tour de Ski and World Championships — except for the Skarverennet, a 38-kilometer race at the end of April in Norway.

Rather than sign up for the Vasaloppet (like he did last year) or compete in the Marcialonga (where he placed 10th), Northug’s focused on winning the Tour de Ski and nabbing three gold medals at the 2013 World Championships. His manager, Lars Gilleberg, told VG Nett that Northug will be out of the distance game until after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“Petter has contract with Team United Bakeries [a ski-marathon team] for two seasons,” Gilleberg said. “However, it is clear that he will not be competing in long distance competitions this season. It’s in the contract, and it has been the plan all the way.”

 

— Three-time U.S. Olympic cross-country skier Carl Swenson married Katie Gould two weekends ago on Sept. 22, and we just found out because he changed his Facebook status on Oct. 1. Now a criminal-defense lawyer living in Portsmouth, N.H., Swenson, 42, tied the knot with Gould, product and marketing manager for Tecnica Outdoor.

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Retired Canadian Biathlete Stuck by Allegedly Agitated Driver

Three-time Canadian Olympian Robin Clegg, 35, was the victim of an alleged road-rage incident Sunday while cycling northwest of Calgary, Alberta. According to the two Olympians he was riding with, former nordic-combined athlete Jason Myslicki and cross-country skier Sean Crooks, a driver accelerated to hit Clegg, knocking him off his bike and onto his right shoulder.

He wasn’t unconscious, but Crooks called emergency services and Clegg underwent surgery Monday to insert a plate in his broken elbow. A Canmore resident, Clegg helped Canada finish 10th in the biathlon relay at the 2010 Winter Games.

“It’s such an avoidable incident,” Myslicki, a two-time Olympian from Thunder Bay, Ontario, told the Global Edmonton. “It’s uncalled for.”

Police questioned a male driving a sport utility vehicle, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the incident was under investigation.

According to Myslicki, the driver brushed past the three men and honked before braking in front of them. Myslicki and Crooks swerved left and Clegg right to avoid the vehicle, which then accelerated and knocked Clegg to the pavement, he said.

Myslicki said they chose a route along a township road near the Springbank Airport because of its lack of traffic. Both retired from their respective winter sports, Myslicki and Clegg road race with the Rundle Mountain Cycling Club in Canmore, Alberta.

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Norway Cracks Down on Weight Issues; Størmer Steira on Board

During a research conference Thursday at the Olympic headquarters in Oslo, Norway, the sports entity took a strong stance on weight issues, threatening to ban medically underweight athletes from racing for up to four weeks.

Olympiatoppen’s nutrition general manager Ina Garth outlined the policy during a lecture, and chief physician Lars Engebretsen confirmed that athletes “who are in competitive denial due to weight disturbance” will be sidelined for three to four weeks, VG.no reported. Last season, Norwegian cross-country skier Kristin Størmer Steira missed two weeks of World Cup races because staff members were concerned about her low weight.

Previously, there were no clear rules on the issue, which is a sensitive topic among elite nordic skiers. Stricter guidelines was presented Thursday at the conference.

“Now we have clear rules, and then it becomes easier to deny athletes to compete in competitions before the end of a few weeks,” Engebretsen said.

After initially downplaying her weight problems last season, Størmer Steira, 31, went on the record to support the new policy.

“It is good to [have] strict guidelines,” she said, according to a translation. “It is great that others have learned from what happened to me.”

 

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Sept 24 roundup: French Biathlon World Champ Aims for XC WC, World Champs

– France’s Martin Fourcade, who won three gold medals at 2012 biathlon World Championships, has set his sights on representing France in the opening cross country World Cups in Gallivare, Sweden, this fall. He has committed to competing in the opening ski races in Beitostolen, Norway, to try to earn his place in the 15 k skate. One of the fastest skiers on the biathlon circuit, Fourcade will be following in the footsteps of the Norwegian biathlon team, which competed in the Sjusjoen openers last year, where fellow World Champion Tora Berger had the top finish, placing fourth. Fourcade is also reportedly hoping to ski a leg of the French relay at FIS World Championships in Val di Fiemme later in the season. (source: ski-nordique.net)

– Norway’s favorite hard-charging, wild-shooting, fellatio-simulating biathlete, Lars Berger, got lasik surgery to improve his vision. In the past he has worn contact lenses during competition, but noted that there were problems including losing the lenses while he was skiing. With vision being an obviously essential aspect of biathlon, Berger is hoping that he will shoot better this year. “I think it’s critical that you see the target and whack it,” said captain obvious. (source: NRK)

– Canadian biathlete Claude Godbout added another couple of obstacle racing titles to her repertoire, winning both the Spartan Beast and Ultra Beast races in Killington, Vt., this weekend.

– World Championships bronze medalist Jaroslav Soukup of the Czech Republic is expected to miss the entire season due to a horrific bike crash suffered during a training camp in Rogla, Slovenia. While road biking, Soukup flew over his handlebars and was reportedly unconscious for several minutes. FasterSkier gets squeamish just describing this, but injuries included open fractures to his arm, a broken shoulder, sprains in the lumbar area of his back. Soukup has been moved from Slovenia to a hospital in Liberec, Czech Republic, and will have been through several surgeries by the time he’s through. According to teammate Michal Slesingr, once in Liberec, a CT scan revealed extensive neck and head injuries which had not been identified in Slovenia – meaning that the drive home was extremely dangerous and could have led to permanent complications. The fractures to Soukup’s right arm, which include injuries to the elbow, will be particularly difficult for the 30-year-old, and will have a large effect on his stability and stance while shooting. As with all open fractures, there’s also a serious risk of infection. There’s nothing much to say except get well soon! (source: biathlon-online.de)

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Stephen Claims Third Climb to the Castle Victory

On a damp and chilly Saturday morning on the Whiteface Toll Road, the U.S. Ski Team’s Liz Stephen won her third career Climb to the Castle in dominating fashion. Her time, 43:33, was over five minutes faster than the next finisher, Jessie Diggins (48:38), and nearly a minute and a half better than the time she won the race in last September in considerably sunnier conditions. Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) took third and Hannah Dreissigacker (CGRP/USBA) was fourth.

Top ten:

1.  Liz Stephen (USST) 43:33

2. Jessie Diggins (SMS T2/USST) 48:38

3. Ida Sargent (CGRP/USST) 48:55

4. Hannah Dreissigacker (CGRP/USBA)

5. Clare Egan (CGRP) 50:10

6. Sophie Caldwell (SMS T2) 50:56

7. Annie Hart (Dartmouth) 51:38

8. Caitlin Patterson (CGRP) 52:13

9. Erika Flowers (SMS T2) 52:33

10. Heather Mooney (Middlebury ) 57:24

 

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Elliott Takes Men’s Climb to the Castle

Tad Elliott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail/U.S. Ski Team) won the men’s Climb to the Castle on Saturday in a closely-contested race up the Whiteface toll road. Elliott beat runner-up Pat O’Brien (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) by ten seconds with a time of 39:28. Julian Dorais took third.

Men’s top ten:

1. Tad Elliott (SSCV/USST) 39:28

2. Pat O’Brien (CGRP) 39:38

3. Julian Dorais 39:46

4. Sylvan Ellefson (SSCV) 40:33

5. Andy Newell (SMS T2/USST) 40:40

6. Tim Reynolds (CGRP) 41:23

7. Lowell Bailey (USBA) 41:28

8. Bryan Cook (CGRP) 41:46

9. Nils Koons (CGRP) 42:23

10. Ryan Scott (SSCV/Team Homegrown) 43:17 *correction from results posted below*

 

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Saturday’s Climb to the Castle Preview

Note: Because of website difficulties, this preview story had to be categorized as a blog. Please read on.

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It’s just a rollerski race. Yeah, right.

Between the U.S. Ski Team (USST), US Biathlon Team and National Elite Group, nearly 90 athletes pre-registered for Saturday’s Climb to the Castle, a five-mile hurt fest up Whiteface Mountain’s Memorial Highway in Wilmington, N.Y.

And they didn’t sign up for the panoramic views. You can drive to the top for that.

So what’s the draw? For some, it’s prestige of winning. For others, the dream of hanging with the leaders outweighs the pain of the average 8-percent ascent.

This year, the sixth-annual Climb to the Castle Rollerski Race, hosted by the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) and Olympic Regional Development Authority, falls right in the middle of the two-week USST Elite Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Sometimes the eastern offseason tradition takes place on the last weekend of camp. Other years, it’s been scheduled for earlier, depending on when NYSEF can arrange to close the toll road to traffic. Either way, USST head coach Chris Grover said the timing works fine, and the race always makes for a tough workout.

“It’s just fun in a painful way for these guys,” Grover said after a bounding-intensity session at Whiteface on Wednesday. “I think [it] gets everyone a little more mentally tough and helps them kind of start gearing up mentally for the competition season.”

While the USST training schedule in Lake Placid isn’t built around the Climb, Grover said he typically gives his athletes the option to take Sunday off to recover. Following the 35- to 45-minute race to the top of New York’s fifth highest peak (at 4,867 feet), the team will have a strength session Saturday afternoon.

Right now, fewer than 24 hours before the start of the 8 a.m. race, all most participants can think of is the fastest, most efficient way to get to the summit.

Men’s Race

U.S. Ski Team member Kris Freeman sprinting toward the finish to win the 2011 Climb to the Castle, just ahead of US biathlete Tim Burke (not shown).

Two-time reigning champion Kris Freeman of the USST gave his two cents on what it takes to win the Climb in an email from New Zealand.

“There is not a lot of strategy in the race,” wrote Freeman, who edged US Biathlete Tim Burke in a sprint to the finish last year. “I just push myself up to redline and make sure I don’t step over it until five minutes to go. There is no way to flush out excess lactate.”

While he wishes he could be in New York to defend his title, Freeman believed the time trial he recently did with the Canadian men’s team was sufficient. He won it.

Another race favorite, Burke won’t likely compete on Saturday, either. In an email, Burke explained that he caught a cold earlier this week after flying home from Germany, where the US Biathlon A-team trained for three weeks. His coach advised that he race only if he felt 100 percent, and with nearly a month of training ahead in Lake Placid before heading to Utah, Burke wanted to get healthy.

“Even if I miss the Climb I am looking forward to getting in some sessions with the ski team guys next week,” he wrote. “It’s always motivating for me to mix it up with different people. I use these sessions to look at areas where I am strongest and see where I need to improve.”

As for last year’s race, where he took over at 1.5 miles and challenged Freeman until the last 500 meters, Burke stated his only regret was waiting so long – 10 minutes – before moving to the front.

“So if I feel better over the next few days, I will probably try and push the pace right from the start,” he wrote. “I would rather try and thin out the field, than have 10 guys together for the last kilometer.”

However, that might not work for everyone. Burke stressed the importance of settling into one’s own pace.

“You really don’t want to go out too hard and find yourself looking for recovery because there is no place to rest!” he wrote. “I don’t think it is necessary to go right from the start in order to win. But this strategy definitely takes out most of the tactics that you can get in a mass start race. Of course the weather can also play a big part in a race like this. If there is a strong headwind you probably won’t see anyone want to go to the front and you will see a much bigger group make it to the summit together.”

The third man across the line last year, USST member Noah Hoffman wrote in an email from New Zealand that the Climb was certainly the on his and Freeman’s minds.

“First of all, Kris loves that race so he’s always talking about it,” Hoffman wrote. “Second, there’s not a lot going on down here so we have little else to think about.”

Asked who he’d hypothetically put his money on to win, Freeman picked teammate Tad Elliott, who was sixth last year after leading out of the start.

Hoffman said the same people typically make the podium, and often, in the same order on the men’s side.

“You’re either good at that type of thing or not,” he wrote of the race, which he considered a pure test of fitness and climbing agility. “However, it’s still a rollerski race so ski speed can make a huge difference and it’s only mid September so the results don’t necessarily have a lot of bearing on the coming season.”

That’s what most racers are keeping in mind.

Elliott laughed when asked how he’d approach this year’s Climb.

“Follow. My tactic is follow, try to hang on,” he said. “Everyone’s been looking good.”

When he heard Burke probably wouldn’t start, Elliott was disappointed.

“He is one of the best skate skiers in the country and a good guy,” he wrote in an email. “I wanted to race him. Learn a few things.”

Fourth last year, Andy Newell was surprised with his performance back then. For some reason, the sprinter said he always feels good for the race – probably because it’s a long hill climb. Either way, he’s hoping things shape up similarly this year.

“I can build into it a little bit, so that kind of gives an advantage to me as far as I can usually stack up against some of these really strong distance skiers,” Newell said. “It’s hard to take it too seriously because it is a rollerski race, but I’ll try to hang with the lead guys as much as I can. For me, the best-case scenario is that it stays together and I can try to outsprint some guys in the last K. ”

Female Favorites

In the women’s race, with slightly more than 30 racers, Liz Stephen is the favorite after winning last year. The USST veteran took off around the halfway point, beating teammate Ida Sargent to the top of Whiteface.

Following a big training block in Park City, Utah, Stephen didn’t make it to Lake Placid until late Thursday. There, she wrote in an email that she was feeling good and looking forward to the race.

“This race is brutal by all standards, so it is one of those things that it hurts to think about in the days leading up to it,” Stephen wrote. “But always after the gun goes off the stress of facing all of the pain is lifted and your mind just decides to kick in and do it’s thing. … This is a race and it is supposed to be uncomfortable, so remembering that, while not blowing up is key, I think.”

Sargent smiled when asked about the matchup, especially with teammate Jessie Diggins in the mix. (Diggins did not come to the Lake Placid camp last year; she last placed fourth in the 2010 Climb.)

“[I’ll] probably try to hang with Jessie and Liz for a little while and see what they do and use it as a good hard workout,” said Sargent, last year’s runner-up. “It’s a tough one.”

On a bluebird day last year, Stephen and Sargent worked together to drop young biathlete Tara Geraghty-Moats, who led early on fast rollerskis. Stephen eventually pulled away from Sargent as well, winning by a minute and 24 seconds.

Among other athletes to watch are US Biathletes Susan Dunklee, Annelies Cook and Hannah Dreissigacker (Note: Lowell Bailey registered for the men’s race). On the women’s side, there’s also Diggins, who wrote in an email that she was going for a good solid effort rather than take the Climb too seriously as a race.

“I think with everyone on rollerskis it won’t be matched up, and with the conditions changing year to year, I can’t really compare to my previous year’s times,” Diggins wrote. “That said, I think it’s an awesome hill climb and a great chance to play around with [Level] 3-4 pace, and find out what kind of effort is sustainable so you know how hard to push without blowing up halfway through. I’m really glad [NYSEF] puts this event on every year and it’s way, way more fun than doing intervals!”

2012 Climb to the Castle entry list  | 2011 men’s results | 2011 women’s results

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USST Lake Placid Camp Photos: Day 2 Bounding Intervals

WILMINGTON, N.Y. — On just the second day of the U.S. Ski Team’s Elite fall training camp, the theme Wednesday morning was “go hard” at Whiteface Mountain.

Five national-team members (Andy Newell, Tad Elliott, Skyler Davis, Jessie Diggins and Ida Sargent) completed the maximal-intensity, ski-bounding workout with nearly 20 other top nordic skiers, all of which were invited to the two-week dryland camp. The Craftsbury Green Racing Project had the largest contingent, with 12 of its 14 skiers participating (including Sargent and US Biathlon member Hannah Dreissigacker).

Just before 9 a.m. at Whiteface’s bunny-hill base, U.S. Ski Team (USST) Head Coach Chris Grover gave a rundown of the session: warm up for 30 minutes, then complete five to seven 3-minute bounding intervals up a steep dirt road at increasingly harder intensities. They were given 4 minutes to recover in between while making their way back down to the start.

Grover said to start with a threshold-plus effort, do the next interval at low-Level 4, then mid-Level 4, and so on. Athletes were expected to progress farther up the mountain with each interval, and check their lactate and heart rate once or twice during the workout.

Some photos of the action:

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