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Canada Launches Million-Dollar Program; Reveals Treadmill & Rifle Lab

Canada’s Nordic Sports, Own the Podium Launch Million-Dollar Program Designed to Win More Olympic and Paralympic Medals

—Culture of excellence, information-sharing, increased training opportunities core to Nordic Consortium—

 (Press release)

CANMORE, Alta.—Focused on winning more medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Canada’s Nordic sport athletes and coaches will build strength in numbers thanks to a new Own the Podium initiative launched on Wednesday that will bring more than $1 million in additional investment to those sports during this four-year Olympic cycle.

Canada’s nordic sports and Own the Podium unveiled a $1-million dollar program Wednesday for its athletes in an effort to win more medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Paralympic biathlete Mark Arendz demos a new indoor sport-specific treadmill for media. (CCC photo).

Canada’s Nordic Consortium brings together sport directors from Cross Country Canada, Biathlon Canada and Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Canada with advisors at Own the Podium, Canadian Sport Centre Calgary, WinSport Canada and the Canmore Nordic Centre to share critical research and information while identifying gaps in preparation so the nation’s top cross-country skiers and biathletes are fully prepared to achieve excellence in 2014 and beyond.

“Nearly 30 per cent of the 228 Olympic medals, and more than 50 per cent of the 186 Paralympic medals are awarded at the cross-country skiing and biathlon venues,” said Ken Read, director, winter sport, Own the Podium. “While we did celebrate record performances by many of our Nordic athletes in 2010, Canada unfortunately did not step onto the Olympic podium in these sports. Winning medals at these venues is critical to achieving Canada’s performance goals at the Games. The creation of the Nordic Consortium is the first critical step taken to produce more Nordic medals at future Olympic Games, and build on the strong performances of Canada’s Paralympic athletes who won five medals in 2010.”

Committed to building a stronger and sustainable high-performance sport system, Own the Podium spearheaded the Consortium project which has three major areas at its core: research and innovation; Sochi venue-specific projects; and ensuring the Canmore Nordic Centre continues to provide a world-class training environment for podium-targeted athletes.

The Canadian Sport Centre Calgary hired Geret Coyne to build upon OTP’s 2010 Top Secret Nordic venue research in preparation for Sochi 2014. Coyne will lead the Sochi venue projects where he will gather and share data that will be interpreted and integrated into equipment, training and the competitive environment. Other Sochi-specific projects will focus on course profiling, ski base development and equipment preparation. The Canmore Nordic Centre, which is home to Canada’s cross-country skiing and biathlon programs, will continue to work closely with the sports to ensure they have access to the world-leading resources and facilities required for success. The Canadian Sport Centre Calgary will also support the program by monitoring the development and implementation of initiatives identified to help Nordic athletes attain podium performances.

“Developing a competitive culture of excellence where Nordic athletes at all levels can come together for both short and long periods oftime is key to Canada’s success,” said Tom Holland, high-performance director, Cross Country Canada. “The Nordic sports recognize the importance of contributing to the Olympic and Paralympic medal count, and we believe our athletes deserve the opportunity to have access to all of the much-needed resources to compete and win against the world’s best. The Consortiuminitiative is significant to helping put the nation’s cross-country skiers and biathletes back on the podium.”

Canada’s World Cup Nordic athletes participated in a media conference at their home training centre – WinSport Canada’s Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre – to also officially unveil the first two major projects requested by the Consortium: an indoor sport-specific treadmill; and a rifle lab. 

Custom-designed specifically for Nordic athletes, the unique $200,000 treadmill – which has a front pivot and rear drop – can be used by two skiers at one time, and reach speeds up to 35km/hour with an elevation grade up to 20 per cent. Created by Calgary-based Treadsport Training Systems, the treadmill has an overhead safety system that is integrated with the machine. As the elevation changes, the harness helps the athlete maintain his/her position. The treadmill will serve as a key training device in readying athletes for World Cup, Olympic and Paralympic competitions as it has the ability to upload data collected on race courses to simulate specific competition venues around the world.

“The treadmill provides such an unique and incredible new addition to our training – be it for a controlled environment to do intensity or an isolated track to focus in on technique,” said Mark Arendz, Paralympic biathlete, who finished second on the IPC World Cup in each of the last two seasons. “It also gives me new insight into my performance. These small discoveries on the treadmill will lead to medal performances on the snow. I can’t thank OTP enough for this game changing opportunity and support of the Nordic sports.”

Arendz and his able-bodied World Cup and IPC World Cup biathlon teammates will also benefit from a new biathlon rifle lab alongside the treadmill in Canmore that has previously only existed in Europe. Created byFinland’s Eko-Aims, the $50,000 shooting system, which has been used at the Paralympics since 2002, has an infrared light, sound system, camera technology, and is equipped for most biathlon rifle stocks and can be used up to 15-metre shooting distance. The system, which has a pressure mapping program to helpathletes establish the ideal position for their rifles, will be critical for fine-tuning skills of the nation’s top biathletes and improve training for Canada’s future generations.

There are a total of 34 medals in cross-country skiing and 29 in biathlon as part of the 228 medals that will be handed out at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games where Canada has a goal of fighting for the number oneposition in the overall medal count. The world’s best Para-Nordic athletes will fight for 94 of the 186 Paralympic medals available. Canada is focused on achieving a top-three finish in the overall gold medal tally.

Own the Podium, a not-for-profit organization, prioritizes and determines investment strategies to national sport organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada. Own the Podium’s largest contributor of funding is the Government of Canada with additional funding provided by theCanadian Olympic Committee and its Canadian Olympic Foundation, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, along with the corporate community.

A national sport technical initiative, Own the Podium was created in 2005 to help Canada become the number one nation at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and to place in the top-three nations in the gold medal count at the 2010 Paralympic WinterGames. While Canada remains committed to being a world-leading winter sportnation, Own the Podium has set a goal for Canadian athletes to have a top-12 placing at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games, and to be in the top-eightnations in gold-medal count at the 2012 Paralympic Summer Games. Both of these initiatives reflect what Canadians want from Canada’s high-performance athletes and helps advance the “excellence” goal of the Canadian Sport Policy.

For a full summary of Own the Podium initiatives and programs, including a breakdown of support and services by sport, please visit us at www.ownthepodium.org.

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Secret’s Out: Kalla Trained with Bjørgen and Norwegian Women in Oslo

She managed to keep it secret for a few weeks but the Swedish press finally got wind of Charlotte Kalla’s recent visit to Oslo, Norway, where she trained with Marit Bjørgen, Therese Johaug and Ingvild Flugstad Ostberg. On Monday the Sport-Expressen reported that the Scandinavian rivals did ten workouts together just before the Norwegian National Team flew to Livigno, Italy, and Kalla returned home for a Swedish camp in Bruksvallarna.

Yes, Charlotte stayed with me a few days. We have well managed to keep it a secret until now,” Bjørgen said. “I see nothing wrong in it. Charlotte is a good friend and an amazing girl. I just want her to succeed.”

Though the Norwegian women provided Kalla a unique training opportunity, Johaug said the Swede pushed her hosts during workouts as well.

“It’s this kind of match that makes us even better,” Johaug said.

The trip was one that Kalla had been considering for a long time as a way to see her friends outside the race season. “And of course I’m curious about how they work,” she said.

“It’s something I thought about doing for years. And I no longer want to just think about things; I want to be the one who does them. Now it was so.”

The Sport-Expressen was quick to point out that this Swedish-Norwegian friendship stands in contrast to the trash talk that goes on in the press between Marcus Hellner (SWE) and Petter Northug (NOR).

“No, you can forget it,” Johaug said when asked to say something nasty about Kalla.

“No, you can not. I have only good to say,” Bjørgen said.

The reigning World Cup champion does have her rivalries, though. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), for instance, will not likely be visiting Bjørgen in Oslo any time soon.

“I’d rather have Charlotte with me than Kowalczyk,” she said.

 

 

 

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Crawford, Perras Double Up for North American Championships Biathlon Victories

This weekend in Canmore, Canadian biathletes contested the North American Summer Championships with sprint and pursuit races both on rollerskis and on foot. The elite field rollerskied, with national team members Rosanna Crawford and Scott Perras sweeping in in the women’s and men’s divisions.

In Saturday’s sprint, Crawford bested teammate Melanie Schultz by 41 seconds despite missing a shot in standing while Schultz cleaned. Junior racer Julia Ransom also cleaned to place third, just over a minute behind Crawford. On Sunday, the podium remained the same, with Crawford collecting only three penalties to Schultz’s five and extending her lead to a minute and 24 seconds. Ransom again took bronze, this time with five penalties.

In the men’s field, Perras opened with a commanding 57-second win over fellow national team member Scott Gow in the sprint; American Bill Bowler was third, 1:48 back. All three men had a single missed shot. On Sunday, the national team’s Nathan Smith created some excitement when he skied and shot his way onto the podium. After a disappointing sprint in which he missed six shots and fell over four minutes behind Perras, Smith rebounded by hitting all but one of his targets on Sunday, and moving into silver medal position, under a minute behind Perras, who had five penalties. Lukas Kristejn of the Czech Republic was third with four penalties.

Results: Saturday sprint / Sunday pursuit

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Sept. 4 Roundup: Arritola 3rd, Glenn Randall 9th at World Mountain Running Champs

— The World Mountain Running Championships took place over the weekend in Ponte di Legno, Italy, and featured several former and current U.S. cross-country skiers. In her second mountain-running race, former U.S. Ski Team member Morgan Arritola led the American women with a bronze medal, finishing 51 seconds behind winner Andrea Mayr of Austria and 29 seconds after Valentina Belotti of Italy in second place.

“It was really hard; this is my second mountain running race ever,” Arritola said to Alberto Stretti after the race (video here). “[The course] was tough, but it was beautiful.”

Asked if she was pleased with her result, Arritola said, “You always want to win; you have to go into every race wanting to win, but I’m happy. I did all I could and today that was bronze.”

Antonella Confortola, Italian World Cup-skier-turned-marathon specialist, was 17th.

Former Bridger Ski Foundation skier Glenn Randall was the top American in the senior men’s race in ninth. He finished 4:14 behind the winner from Eritrea, Petro Mamo, and described the race in detail on his blog.

“I sprinted down the hill as fast as my legs could take me, around a corner and to the finish,” Randall wrote. “I had out kicked somebody [Eritrean Atoy Estifanos] for the first time in my life.”

Seventeen-year-old Cal Deline, who skis for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, ran in the junior men’s division (under-19) of the championships and finished 25th out of 71 runners — the second American across the line.

Results

 

Kris Freeman (USA) won an interval-start 10 k skate at New Zealand’s Snow Farm on Monday against the Canadian men. Six men competed in total; Devon Kershaw (CAN) finished second (+29.4), Ivan Babikov (CAN) was third (+30.7), Alex Harvey (CAN) finished fourth (+46.1), Noah Hoffman (USA) was fifth (+1:42.5) and Lenny Valjas (CAN) sixth (+4:34.9).

Results

 

— Labor Day weekend saw plenty of racing action stateside, too. In Park City, Utah, U.S. Ski Team athletes Billy Demong, Bryan Fletcher (nordic combined) and Liz Stephen (cross country) ran the Labor Day Funky 5 k.

Taylor Fletcher and Todd Lodwick raced in the Steamboat Stage Race, a three-day road bike event in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Lodwick finished third overall in the men’s Category 3 division and won the stage 3 criterium on Monday.

“It was a lot of fun,” Lodwick told Steamboat Today. “It’s good offseason training for us, and winning never gets old.”

Fletcher, a Cat-2, finished 14th in the overall men’s Pro-1-2 standings.

Stage and overall results

 

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Cichero Wins Ushuaia Loppet in Argentina

Federico Cichero won the 42 k freestyle Ushuaia Loppet on August 25, coming across the line in 1:58:43, one second ahead of fellow Argentine, Carlos Lannes. The race took place in the Valley of Tierra Mayor outside of Ushuaia, Argentina. The start-finish was at Centro Invernal Tierra Mayor and the course covered two counter-clockwise laps of the traditional 21 KM Marcha Blanca course.

Conditions this austral winter in Tierra del Fuego have been excellent thanks to big storms in June that hit the region. Race day snow was fast and Cichero and Lannes gapped the entire field right from the start. The two alternated in the lead for 42 KM and only at the end was Cichero able to get a slight advantage. Both skiers ski for Argentina in the FIS Developing Nations Group.

The Ushuaia Loppet was the last competitive event in a month of cross-country events which will end in early September with the Mini-Marcha for skiers under 13 years-old. Together, the events formed the first ever “International Month of Cross Country Skiing” based around the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia.

Complete results and more information are available at www.ushuaialoppet.com

The start of the 2012 Ushuaia Loppet, 42F. Tierra Mayor, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Photo: Marcha Blanca

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Jones, Sandau Win Whitefish Races

The joint training camp between the Canadian Women’s National Ski Team (CNST) and Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) came to a close Saturday in Whitefish, Mont., but not without some racing.

Fourteen women competed in a a 10-kilometer skiathlon (5.5 k classic/4.5 k skate), which Perianne Jones (CNST) won by nearly a minute in 25:35.7. Teammate Chandra Crawford was second (+58.9) and Heidi Widmer (AWCA) was third (+1:08.7).

A total of 14 women from either the Alberta World Cup Academy or Canadian National Ski Team competed in Saturday’s time-trial pursuit near Whitefish, Mont. (AWCA photo).

Women’s 10 k rollerski race results

In an email, national-team coach Eric de Nys explained the majority of the classic portion was double pole, and the following skate leg had varied terrain and an overall elevation gain. Jones and Academy skiers Emily Nishikawa and Kate Brennan led by the end of the classic leg, building about a 30-second gap on independent skier Amanda Ammar of Canmore. Ammar had about 10 seconds on Crawford, Widmer, Marlis Kromm, Alysson Marshall, Suzanne Stevenson and Janelle Greer.

In the end, Nishikawa finished fourth, Ammar was fifth and Brennan placed sixth.

“The skate portion really stretched out the field but there was hard pushing right to the finish line,” de Nys wrote. “All in all, good hard work.”

Meanwhile, the AWCA men’s team took part in a local 10 k called the “Whitefish Friends and Family Fun Run.” Kevin Sandau beat 32 men to win in 32:52.4. His Academy teammate Jesse Cockney was 3.4 seconds back in second, and Graeme Killick (AWCA) was third (+6.6). New to the team this year, Michael Somppi was fourth and Chris Hamilton placed fifth.

Men’s 10 k running race results

As for Sandau’s secret to success, apparently it’s baseball.

On Saturday, the Alberta World Cup Academy’s Twitter feed featured a photo of Sandau “just running bases taking in America’s [pass] time” on Friday afternoon.

Kevin Sandau on base during a “recovery” baseball game on Friday afternoon in Whitefish, Mont. The Alberta World Cup Academy skier won Saturday’s 10 k running race to cap off the team’s dryland camp. (AWCA photo)

The Alberta World Cup Academy swept the podium of the men’s 10 k running race on Saturday in Whitefish, Mont. Also on the Canadian Senior Development Team, Kevin Sandau (c) in first, Jesse Cockney (r) in second and Graeme Killick in third. (AWCA photo)

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An Update from Whitefish with Photos

The Canadian Women’s World Cup team and Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) are in the thick of their joint dryland camp in Whitefish, Mont., about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Canadian border on the edge of Glacier National Park.

With nearly 30 skiers, the group started training last Friday and will continue through Sunday to complete the 10-day training camp — their first in Whitefish. In a previous interview with FasterSkier, women’s national-team head coach Eric de Nys said they were drawn to the location because of its relative proximity to Canmore (about a six-hour drive) and because it was an unknown.

Academy skier Kevin Sandau, also on the Canadian Senior Development Team (CSDT), wrote in an email that the team typically holds its August camp in Whistler, British Columbia. This year, however, he headed south with teammates — biking 158 k of the way. They rode from Canmore, Alberta, to Radium, B.C., which took about 4 hours and 30 minute, and hopped in the van for the remainder of the trip.

“Definitely a scenic and fun ride, awesome weather and a bit of a tail wind in parts,” Sandau wrote.

Once they got to Whitefish, they hit the paved roads on rollerskis and scenic trails on foot.

“The main training focus is an increase in training hours while maintaining our standard level of intensity and strength workouts,” Sandau wrote. “This means a normal training day consists of generally an am and pm workout. … We’re staying just off of Whitefish Lake so it’s a pretty nice place to cool off after training.”

On Thursday, temperatures were expected to reach 27 degrees Celsius (81 Fahrenheit) and hover around there through the weekend. The AWCA men spent Wednesday afternoon on the lake, snapping a few photos of one another wakesurfing and wakeboarding behind a powerboat.

Alberta World Cup Academy assistant coach Stefan Kuhn wakesurfing on Whitefish Lake during a training camp with the Academy and Canadian women’s team in Whitefish, Mont. (Kevin Sandau photo)

New to the AWCA men’s team, Brent McMurtry (formerly of CNEPH) takes off his lifejacket after being towed behind a powerboat on Whitefish Lake, where the team is at a 10-day training camp in Whitefish, Mont. (AWCA photo)

On the women’s side, the camp was about uniting several Academy athletes, World Cup skiers Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford, and independent skier Amanda Ammar. Alysson Marshall (AWCA/CSDT) wrote in an email that everything was going great so far.

“We are staying on the lake here so we can jump into the water after every workout and hang out on the beach when we have an afternoon off,” she wrote. “Training has been pretty standard – 2 long workouts, some intensity, speed, strength and recovery workouts. We have a time trial coming up on Saturday which should be fun. This is the first camp with all the Academy girls and it has been great to have the whole team together and nice to have Peri, Chandra and Amanda join in as well!”

On Monday, she tweeted a photo of teammate Heidi Widmer running along the edge of a rocky cliff.

“Awesome long workout today: long roller ski up Going to the Sun Road then alpine run,” Marshall tweeted. “This makes training easy!”

AWCA skier Heidi Widmer running along an alpine route on Monday in Whitefish, Mont. (Alysson Marshall photo)

Other tweets from camp:

@WorldCupAcademy (on Monday): “Awesome long day at glacier national park.2.5hr roller ski followed by a 2hr run.”

@StefanKuhn: “Glacier national park is a really sweet place for a day at work. Sweet views reminds me of Europe.”

@KevinSandau: “Even the hardest of training camps requires some time to relax lake style. Boatin’ and boardin’ on Whitefish Lake”

@PhilWid (Phil Widmer): “Not the average afternoon training camp activity…” see photo

 

More photos from around Glacier National Park  

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Aug. 14 Roundup: Kowalczyk Sweeps NZ Races; Bjerke Signed for VO2 Max

— Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk dominated all three Australia/New Zealand Cup races last weekend at the Snow Farm near Wanaka, New Zealand, winning the 10-kilometer classic, skate sprint and 5 k skate race, respectively. A two-time champion there last year, Kowalczyk isn’t ready to leave the NZ Winter Games just yet. According to her coach, Aleksander Wierietielny, Kowalczyk will compete in the 42 k Merino Muster ski marathon on Aug. 18 as well as the Winter Triathlon, which involves running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, on Aug. 27.

“The conditions are so perfect,”  Wierietielny said in a translated version of Kowalcyzk’s blog. “Snow is maybe a little less than a year ago, but all the routes are well prepared. Besides, [they] have excellent weather conditions. At night it’s minus five, six degrees Celsius, so the snow is frozen, and the beautiful sun shining days. We call it the Italian weather.”

Last Thursday, Kowalczyk beat a small field of five, including five Japanese skiers and one Austrian, in the 10 k classic. She won again on Saturday ahead of a similar group, and on Sunday, beat Russia’s Julia Tikhonova by more than 30 seconds to win the 5 k freestyle.

Kowalczyk’s training partner, Maciej Kreczmer of Poland won the men’s 15 k classic and 10 k skate. He edged Japan’s Nobu Naruse by 7.8 seconds in the first race and 8.2 in the second to claim the top spots. Russia swept the sprint’s top four, with Alexey Petukhov capturing the win, Nikita Kriukov taking second, Alexander Panzhinskiy placing third and Igor Usachev finishing fourth. Kreczmer placed fifth.

Complete results from NZ Winter Games’ Snow Farm races

 

— Elsewhere in the world, Federico Cichero won on his home turf near Ushuaia, that capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, at the first FIS-sanctioned race on a homologated course in South America. Cichero captured his first international victory in Friday’s 10 k classic interval start and repeated the feat Saturday in the 15 k skate at the Francisco Jerman Nordic Ski Area. On Sunday, he was second in the classic sprint to fellow Argentine Carlos Lannes, who currently lives in Spain. Leandro Ribela of Brazil took third in all three races.

Through an interpreter, Argentina’s developing nations group coach, Sebastián Menci, told FIS News what the races meant for South American skiing.

“Everything went really well,” he said. “On one hand it was a small race but on the other it was start … I was not sure I would have ever seen this day actually happen.”

Complete results

 

Team Exspirit, a world-leading nordic distance squad based out of Sweden, announced Monday it signed Norwegian skier Espen Harald Bjerke for the upcoming season. Of the qualities they’re most excited about in the 32-year-old? His VO2 max.

“[He’s] a skier with extremely high oxygen uptake and he’s the only one together with Björn Dählie who has reached a test value of 96,” Team Exspirit Director David Nilsson said in a press release. “Espen Harald has a lot of experience from both World Cup, National team and long distance skiing, something Team Exsprit will benefit from a lot.”

Living in Lillehammer with his girlfriend and their two children, Bjerke previously skied for the Lillehammer Ski Club and Team Birken, and placed third in the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet last season.

“It feels great to join a team who aims 100% at long distance skiing,” Bjerke said. “I get the opportunity to develop as a skier only focusing on long distance. We have good service around the team and the best opportunities to only focus on training and ski fast.”

 

— We’ve heard from the North American women at the Swedish national-team training camp, but what about the Swedes? According to Anna Haag on her website, all is going well. She recently blogged about a session in which someone said she looked strong.

“If there anything you want as a skier, it is to look strong,” Haag wrote, according to a translation. “The body. In the bud. Physically and mentally. Radiate some sort of desire to win. … Feeling strong is something even better. Perhaps the best feeling there is.”

After some long racing seasons, she wrote that her body felt like it was falling apart and her muscles were like a sponge, unable to bounce back. This year has been different for the 26-year-old.

“It is so wonderful that after several months of hard training again to begin to recognize my body stronger. With muscles,” she wrote. “The head is included. The tanks are in the right place. It is focused, but alert to the environment, changes. Ready for anything. Nothing is a surprise. All situations manageable. No barrier impossible to cross.”

Haag was told she looked strong before the Olympics, and she went on to win silver in the 15 k pursuit and team sprint in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“Today I was told that I looked strong. Just like that. Spontaneous. Damn happy I was! Psyched,” she continued. “Happy! Words that may not really mean much, but at the right time, by the right person it can get me to lift to the skies and move mountains!”

 

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Diggins Reports from Sweden; Randall in a Walking Boot

How do you know you’re working hard at a cross-country skiing training camp? Go bowling.

The youngest woman on the U.S. Ski Team, 20-year-old Jessie Diggins felt the post-workout burn last night during a laid-back bowling session with the Swedish national women’s team.

On Wednesday night, the U.S. Ski Team women went bowling near Salen, Sweden, with members of the Swedish national team, with whom they’ve joined for a 10-day training camp. From left to right, American teammates Holly Brooks, Jessie Diggins, Liz Stephen and Ida Sargent. (Photo courtesy of Jessie Diggins/jessiediggins.com)

Diggins, four of her teammates and Canadian Chandra Crawford kicked off their joint camp with the Swedes four days ago in Sälen, Sweden. On Friday, they’ll head south on a rest day to the Torsby ski tunnel, then go hard again with the team for four more days.

According to Diggins, it’s definitely been challenging so far.

“Last night we went bowling as a team, and it was very funny because our arms were so tired from strength that we could barely lift the bowling balls!” she wrote on her blog.

That was after a 2 1/2-hour run Wednesday morning and a 1 1/2-hour skate session that afternoon. In the two days before that, camp participants logged 6 hours of rollerskiiing and a 3-hour run.

Diggins described the first day of the Swedish/U.S. ski team training camp:

“A 3 hour adventure run through mud, rocks, streams and a bog, followed by a 2 hour classic with speed work in the afternoon! YAHTZEE! This camp is so totally awesome. Not only are all the Swedish girls fun to train with and nice, but they’re tough, too. We’ve been putting in some good hours and quality training no matter the weather.”

She detailed the rest of their completed workouts and wrote, “if it sounds a little intense, that’s because it is!”

“But the camp is only two sets of 4 days, so when it’s short like that you can cram in a lot of quality training and then go home and REST,” she added. “If you don’t let your body recover in-between training and after camp, as well as eat lots of good food, your body just won’t soak up the training as well and you’ve been wasting your time.”

Swedish National Ski Team members Lisa Larsen and Magdalena Pajala at a bowling alley near Salen, Sweden. (Photo courtesy of Jessie Diggins)

Diggins doesn’t see that as a problem. The condo she’s sharing with three of her teammates (Liz Stephen, Ida Sargent and Holly Brooks) is just a short walk from a restaurant.

“It’s the best feeling ever in the middle of a cold and rainy workout to know that a hot meal is waiting for you! While it’s fun to cook for ourselves most times, during intense camps it’s often much better to have good food prepared ahead of time so that the athletes can focus on rest and recovery.”

With all that nourishment, she’s focusing on learning some Swedish.

“On today’s run I had a blast learning some new Swedish words and trying to remember the correct phrases,” Diggins wrote. “My goal? To remember enough so that when we come back to Sweden in the winter, I can meet even more of the Swedish team and be able to finally speak to them in their own language, which sounds so beautiful to American ears.”

***

In the same blog post, there’s a photo of Diggins’ teammate and sprint world champion, Kikkan Randall, wearing a walking boot.

In an email, Randall explained it’s just a precaution.

“I have a bone in my right foot that is ‘stressed’ and so I have been instructed to wear the walking boot when I’m not training to let the foot rest a little,” she wrote.” So far I’ve been able to do all of the training fine. We’ve been taping the foot as well which is helping. Mostly I’m just trying to start a new fashion trend :)”

For proof that she’s OK, check out this video by USST women’s coach Matt Whitcomb, which shows Randall training in the Torsby ski tunnel on Sunday.

Kikkan Randall (l), Chandra Crawford (c) and Holly Brooks posing in front of an enlarged map of the world-famous Vasaloppet, a 90 kilometer cross-country ski race from Salen to Mora, Sweden. Randall is wearing a walking boot on her right foot to rest a ‘stressed’ bone, but is training normally. (Photo courtesy of Jessie Diggins)

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Hoffman Runs Away With Oberhof Time Trial

The U.S. Ski Team held an 11-kilometer skate time trial in the ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany, on Monday, and Colorado’s Noah Hoffman let it rip by posting an huge win – almost a full minute over Tad Elliott, his teammate on both the national team and Team Homegrown.

“I was happy with how I felt, especially considering the snow was fast and a little icy, which is a surface I’ve struggled on in the past,” Hoffman wrote in an e-mail to FasterSkier.

The race was six laps of the entire tunnel loop, about 1.75 k. Stratton Mountain School T2 racer Eric Packer, who is on the trip as a special guest, finished third, 49 seconds behind Elliott. USST sprinter Simi Hamilton was 24 seconds behind him in fourth, while Andy Newell did not race due to stomach troubles.

USST Head Coach Chris Grover cautioned against analyzing the results, which were shared with FasterSkier by Hoffman, too closely.

“We typically don’t like to publish time trial results since there are a lot of factors influencing performance this time of year: some athletes have race skis here while others are testing new skis, some have good grinds while others don’t, athletes are in different phases of training (i.e. some are more fatigued than others), etc,” Grover wrote in an e-mail.

But everyone agreed: Hoffman was flying.

“Noah was the clear winner and looked the best, skiing with great energy for the entire 11 kilometers,” Grover wrote.

“Das hoff putting on a straight up clinic on how to ski fast today. Big winner of our time trial. #byalot,” Elliott tweeted after the session on Monday.

Hoffman himself was pleased with the effort and took it as a sign that his work this summer is paying off.

“I was especially happy with how high I was able to get my heart rate and lactate considering the snow and terrain,” he wrote. “I believe this is an indication of the progress my coaches and I have made on improving my technique, of which the on-snow time has played a big part. There is still a long ways to go and I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the rest of the time here in the tunnel, in New Zealand in September, and in Canmore in October.”

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Jerome Repeats as U.S. Ski Jumping Champ; Frenette & Johnson Tie

At the 2013 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships last weekend in Park City, Utah, national-team member Jessica Jerome defended her large-hill title for her ninth career win at nationals. She was second overall on Saturday after Canadian Alexandra Pretorius, who nailed two jumps of 125.5 meters each for the outright victory.

Jerome was the top American with a first jump of 119.5 meters and second jump of 117.5 meters. She was followed by Canada’s Atsuko Tanaka in third.

In a USSA press release, Jerome acknowledged that her jumping this summer hasn’t been as technically good compared to years past.

“I knew that I had to work a little harder and I’m definitely satisfied,” she said. “The Canadian girls are giving me a run for my money, but it’s really good to see because it means the sport is growing as a whole. It’s nice to have competition out there. Conditions were great today and pretty consistent.”

The defending U.S. men’s large-hill champion, Peter Frenette reached another milestone — the first tie for the win in the history of ski-jumping nationals — with his USA Ski Jumping teammate Anders Johnson.

“I’ve never heard of a tie at U.S. Championships, but it’s pretty sweet that Peter and I can both take home the victory today, so I’m pleased,” Johnson, of Park City, told USSA. “Having this on my home hill has allowed me to probably have the most amount of jumps on this hill than anyone has had in the competition today. I consider both here and Lake Placid my home hills and I feel like I can do well at each place and it’s definitely an advantage that I can go home after this and go eat a nice home meal.”

With 229 points apiece, Frenette and Johnson placed third after Canada’s Maken Boyd-Clowes (127.5m, 129.5m) — the overall winner — and Mathew Rowley (123m, 129.5m) in second.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

U.S. Championships

Park City, UT – Aug 4, 2012

Ski Jumping – Large Hill (HS134)

(Jump distances in meters) total points

Men

1. Maken Boyd-Clowes, Canada (127.5m, 129.5m) 252.6

2. Mathew Rowley, Canada (123m, 129.5m) 242

T3. Anders Johnson, Park City, UT (119m, 123.5m) 229

T3. Peter Frenette, Saranac Lake, NY (212m, 121.5m) 229

Women

1. Alexandra Pretorius, Canada (125.5m, 125.5m) 218.8

2. Jessica Jerome, Park City, UT (119.5m, 117.5m) 217.1

3. Atsuko Tanaka, Canada (120m, 120.5m) 214.4

Complete results

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U.S. Ski Team Wraps Up in Ramsau

The U.S. Ski Team men’s August training camp is in full swing. The group wrapped up the Dachstein Glacier segment in Ramsau, Austria, on Friday to take off for the ski tunnel in Oberhof, Germany. By all accounts, the skiing on Dachstein was beautiful. After taking a tram up to 8,500 feet to get on snow every morning, the team got busy logging easy distance hours in the spring-like conditions.

Joining the team in EUrope is Stratton Mountain School T2 rookie Eric Packer, a recent Dartmouth graduate and part of the USST National Training Group (NTG). As one of the top senior skiers in the U.S., Packer is at Dachstein on special invitation from the USST coaches.

Eric Packer skiing on the glacier. Photo, Chris Grover.

“Having Eric here has been an excellent addition to the group; he is training well and skiing technically well,” head coach Chris Grover wrote in an email.

We asked Packer a bit about what the skiing is like on the glacier:

“The skiing up here is awesome with good spring skiing conditions,” Packer wrote in an email. “It’s been a bit soft for skating but great for classic. Swix Universal mixed with Rode Rossa has been kicking well.”

Skiers see Dachstein and automatically think snow, but the glacier is also a tourist destination for the average outdoor enthusiast. The American squad has been getting out early to beat the traffic.

“We’ve been getting out there early to catch the first tram every morning,” Packer wrote. “On the sunny days, literally thousands of people swarm to the Dachstein to sightsee, hike and climb. It’s important to get there early and beat the crowds or you might be waiting an hour or more to get on the tram.”

Apart from tourists on the trams, says Packer, the trails themselves have mainly been clear of other athletes.

“We’ve seen the South Korean Junior National team and a few French U23 National Team skiers, but by and large we’ve had the tracks to ourselves.”

Eric Packer and SMS teammate Andy Newell skiing together on the glacier. Photo, Chris Grover.

Glacial skiing. Photo, Eric Packer.

Bluebird skies. Photo, Eric Packer. For more photos, check out the SMS T2 blog.

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North American Women Off to Sweden

Twitter is lighting up like that neighbor’s house who should take the Christmas lights down already, as several North American women and their friends on the Swedish national team anxiously awaiting their first joint camp in Sweden. Five U.S. Ski Team members and one from the Canadian national team are gearing up for the two-week camp, which will be held in Torsby and Sälen.

Ida Sargent, Jessie Diggins and Holly Brooks all planned to leave the U.S. on Thursday to meet two of their teammates, Kikkan Randall and Liz Stephen, in Orsa, Sweden. Anna Haag and other Swedish skiers would likely be there as well, and hardly anyone could contain their excitement.

On Tuesday, Haag tweeted: “On my way to Orsa to meet my American Sisters ‪@lizstephen & ‪@kikkanimal, have been longing for them so long now!! Will be amazing as always!”

Stephen responded: “Cannot wait Swedish sis! We are already reunited with bjorn and mama Haag!! Watching the olympics and waiting for you.”

Randall and Stephen have been in Scandinavia for more than two weeks — first participating in the Blink rollerski festival in Sandnes, Norway, and later getting some skiing in on a fjord.

According to Brooks, USST member Sadie Bjornsen wasn’t going to make the trip because of some injuries she’s coping with. On the flip side, Canadian Olympic gold medalist Chandra Crawford was already there.

In an email, Canadian women’s coach Eric de Nys wrote that Crawford flew out Tuesday to Östersund, Sweden. There, she’d work with one of Canada’s technicians, Micke Book, before meeting the Americans and Swedes in Torsby.

“From Torsby the crew will head to Salen for some dry land training with the Swedish women and then the ladies will head back to Torsby for a few days on snow in the tunnel,” de Nys wrote. “The majority of the time over there will be in a camp situation.”

Sargent wrote in an email that she was just plain excited after spending the last few months in Craftsbury, Vt. A block of training at home was a welcome change to living overseas last winter, but she was ready to get back to Europe again.

“I haven’t ever been to Scandinavia in the summertime so I’m really excited about the trip,” Sargent wrote. “I’m psyched to see all my USST teammates and looking forward to the opportunity to train with the Swedish National Team. It’s an unbelievable opportunity to train with this group. It will also be great to have some sessions in the tunnel with the opportunity to try on snow some of the technique changes I’ve been working on this summer.”

On Wednesday, Diggins tweeted that she was busy packing, among other things. “Day off! Time to go rally some dirt roads, paint a house, pack for Sweden, drink more coffee, procrastinate, and (maybe) finish packing.”

 

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July 31 Roundup: Australian Championships Begin; Pierre Harvey Talks Olympism

— Winter is in full swing in the Southern Hemisphere, and the 2012 FIS Australia/New Zealand Cup began last weekend with the start of the Australian Championship at Perisher Valley. Esther Bottomley (AUS) won both the freestyle sprint and 5 k classic for a strong start in defending her 2011 championship title. Lucy Glanville (AUS) was the runner-up to Bottomley on both days.

There was more variety on the men’s podiums; after two races there is currently a three-way tie in the series between Callum Watson, Alex Almoukov and Phillip Bellingham, all Australian. Almoukov won the sprint on the first day, and Watson took the 10 k classic a day later. The overall championship is scored by points, and all three currently have 160.

The series resumes August 9 – 12 at the Snow Farm in New Zealand, where skiers from Russia and Japan are also expected to compete. The final three events take place back in Australia at Falls Creek, ultimately concluding with the 42 k Kangaroo Hoppet.

— Arvis Liepins and Inga Dauskane (LAT) took top honors at the second stage of the Roller Tour series in Madona, Latvia, over the weekend. The race consisted of a 6.8/15 k skiathlon, and the respective winners of the men’s and women’s races skied to convincing victories over a field that included competitors from four countries, including Russia and Estonia.

The third stage of the Roller Tour, a 200 m uphill sprint, takes place in September on the streets of Cesis.

— Pierre Harvey, father of Alex Harvey and the first Canadian athlete to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics, recently wrote an article (in French) in La Presse about the athlete’s experience of competing in the Games.

“These athletes live a cocktail composed of a mixture of stress, adrenaline, hope and luck. Among the 20 best in the world in each discipline, 19 will be disappointed not to win. For them, the games are difficult and they will long remember this event,” Harvey writes.

“I love to watch the Games and see our Canadians perform better and better. I remain convinced that the investment made by our governments is very profitable. If each and every Canadian Quebecers who follow our athletes said they too can do a little better, a little further, the country would improve. Take responsibility for your health, wanting to be better at work, help others, well enjoy life and learn to be happy, it costs nothing, but it changes everything. It’s just we who decide if we want to or not.”

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