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Fritz, Hendrickson 14th in Stage 5 of China TDS

Haakon Hjelstuen of Norway (bib 3) crosses the line ahead of Didrik Fjeld Elset of Norway (bib 4) to win the freestyle sprint final in Stage 5 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski in Xiwuqi. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

Haakon Hjelstuen of Norway (bib 3) crosses the line ahead of Didrik Fjeld Elset of Norway (bib 4) to win the freestyle sprint final in Stage 5 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski in Xiwuqi. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

Lauren Fritz (APU) and Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) each reached the quarterfinals to finish 14th overall in Stage 5 of the China Tour de Ski, a 1.2-kilometer freestyle sprint held in Xiwuqi, in the Inner Mongolia region of China, earlier Saturday.

The two-lap race was held beneath sunny skies and cold temperatures, with race-time temps a barely FIS-legal –17 C, or 1.4° F. It was the third skate sprint in five stages, following 1.5 k skate sprints in Stages 1 and 2 in Changbaishan and Changchun.

First place in the women’s race went to Li Xin of China, who also won the sprint in Stage 1 and the prologue-distance mass start in Stage 4. Chinese and Swedish skiers made up the rest of the four-person final. Fritz made it as far as the quarterfinals on the day after qualifying in 13th.

In the men’s race, Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen (formerly of Michigan Tech), who also won Stage 1, logged his second victory in this year’s Tour, coming out ahead of a French–Norwegian four-person final. Behind him, Hendrickson qualified in 12th and ended his day 14th overall. Jack Novak (APU) was 19th in qualifying (only the top 16 made the heats). Skyler Kenna (APU) was a few places back in 23rd.

Hjelstuen has already wrapped up the overall Tour victory; with Monday’s final stage still remaining, Hjelstuen leads Samuel Rege Gianasso of France by 102 points. With 100 points awarded for a stage victory, Hjelstuen is assured of the final overall title and an additional 20,000 yuan (slightly under $3,000). The women’s overall race is much tighter, with Li Xin holding a 31-point lead over her countrywoman Meng Honglian going into Stage 6.

Hendrickson is currently eighth in the overall Tour standings, Novak 15th, and Kenna 23rd out of 42 racers. Fritz ranks 15th out of 37 on the distaff side.

The Tour ends with Stage 6, one last 1.5 k skate sprint, at Shijinglong Ski Resort, in Yanqing, roughly 80 kilometers outside of downtown Beijing, on Monday morning. Tour racers are due in the hotel parking lot at 4:30 a.m. Sunday for the bus from the hotel to the airport to begin the process of returning from Inner Mongolia to Beijing.

Results: women | men | women’s Tour overall | men’s Tour overall

— Gavin Kentch

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Caldwell, Hamilton Win OPA Cup Sprints in Planica

U.S. Ski Team (USST) skiers raced well throughout the weekend in a three-race series of OPA Cup races in Planica, Slovenia, including an American podium sweep in the opening sprint races.

On Friday the first couple of American sprinting, Sophie Caldwell (USST and SMST2) and Simi Hamilton (USST and SMST2), ruled the day, with each skier winning their final in a 1.25-kilometer freestyle sprint.

On the women’s side, Caldwell was eighth in qualifying in the 44-racer field, 4.45 back from the leading qualifying time set by Italian Greta Laurent. Fellow USST sprinter Ida Sargent (USST and Craftsbury Green Racing Project) was roughly a second faster, qualifying in fifth (+3.60).

Both Caldwell and Sargent made the A-Final. Caldwell won it, over Laurent in second and Italy’s Francesca Baudin in third. Sargent ended her consistent day with a fifth in the A-final. Times for the final were not immediately available.

In the men’s race, Hamilton qualified second, 2.93 seconds behind Lucas Chanavat of France. The other American in Planica for the weekend, Andy Newell (also USST and SMST2), qualified eighth, 5.06 back, near the top of a 94-racer field.

Newell’s day ended in the quarterfinals, leaving him 13th overall. Hamilton advanced to and won the A-final, taking the victory over French skiers Baptiste Gros and Chanavat. Again, Hamilton’s winning time is unknown.

Results: Women (qualifying and final) | Men (qualifying and final)

— Gavin Kentch

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Bjornsen Out of Tour de Ski, Battling Cold

Sadie Bjornsen (U.S. Ski Team) racing to her first career World Cup podium on Friday at Stage 5 of the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. She placed third in the 5 k freestyle. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Sadie Bjornsen (U.S. Ski Team) racing to her first career World Cup podium on Friday at Stage 5 of the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. She placed third in the 5 k freestyle. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

One day after earning the first World Cup podium of her career, Sadie Bjornsen was forced to call it quits on the 2017 Tour de Ski.

“I woke up battling a little something yesterday, but was hoping I would kick it out of the house with a night of sleep,” Bjornsen wrote in an email on Saturday morning. “But that wasn’t quite possible. It’s just a little cold, but there is a lot of racing left this season and I don’t need to miss another block of training trying to find health… so I’m playing the smart card. Health first.”

Bjornsen was in ninth position in the overall Tour de Ski standings going into the final two stages, but will end up watching from the sidelines.

“So sad to not be finishing this amazingly fun tour, but I am still soaking in some good moments to motivate my immune system back to 100%,” she wrote.

Despite feeling slightly run down Friday morning, Bjornsen had locked in third place in the 5 k skate in Toblach, Italy. As for how she was able to turn in one of the best performances of her career at the onset of her cold, Bjornsen said it was par for the course.

“I think that’s how it often works,” she wrote. “Right before you go down, you can sometimes go up. Our immune systems are in constant tax mode with this tour racing. I had a lot of swings this past week with some super ups and super lows.. which probably contributed to picking up a little bug. I have the form right now, I now just need to learn how to deal with excitement and dissapointment a little better. Every day is a new lesson on this traveling circus!

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Novak Reaches Podium in Stage 4 of China TDS

Lauren Fritz poses for a picture with local spectators in Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia during the 2016 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: Lauren Fritz)

Lauren Fritz poses for a picture with local spectators in Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia, during the 2016 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: Lauren Fritz)

Jack Novak (APU) recorded the first American podium finish in this year’s China Tour de Ski, coming out of a group sprint to place third in a 5.7-kilometer freestyle mass start race in Stage 4 of the Tour in Xiwuqi, China, earlier Friday.

Following Wednesday’s Stage 3 in Changchun, the Tour moved close to 1,000 kilometers northwest, to the Inner Mongolia region of China, for Friday and Saturday’s races. Friday, athletes competed on a 1.9 k loop with minimal elevation change. Men raced three laps for a 5.7 k mass start skate race. Women raced two laps for a 3.8 k mass start skate race.

Samuel Rege Gianasso of France won the men’s race, finishing in 13:06.9. The top four finishers all crossed the line within 0.9 seconds of each other. Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen (formerly of Michigan Tech) was second (+0.3). Novak was third (+0.6). Another Norwegian, Erlend Moian Nydal, was fourth (+0.9).

The next American was Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) in 10th (+27.6). Finally, Skyler Kenna (APU) was 24th (+1:12.2) in the 39-racer field.

Novak earned 4,000 yuan (a little less than $600) for the third-place finish.

On the women’s side, Lauren Fritz (APU) finished 16th in the 3.8 k race, up two spots from her 18th place in Wednesday’s Vasaloppet China. She was 37.9 seconds back of women’s winner Li Xin of China.

Racing continues Saturday with a 1.2 k skate sprint at the same venue.

Results: Women | Men

— Gavin Kentch

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Jan. 5 Roundup: Cheating in Worldloppets; Ustiugov on Public Perception; Sundby Defends Russians

– According to the International Association of Worldloppet Skiers (IAWLS) in a Dec. 29 post on its website, cheating has infiltrated the highest level of master’s cross-country ski racing, with a system that’s existed for “many years” and was carried out by multiple participants.

The scheme was a bit elaborate, so bear with us:

One racer would carry the timing chip of another skier who didn’t race, nor was anywhere near the race, in their pocket during the Worldloppet marathon. The racer also had their own timing chip, which registered at the start, finish and throughout checkpoints on the course — as did the chip in their pocket.

After the race, two Worldloppet passports were stamped, and two Master Diplomas were later granted — one for the person that raced and one for the one that didn’t.

This has created problems with results across the circuit, spanning for several years.

“This means there are many invalid Master diplomas today, shown in WL webpages,” the IAWLS noted. “According to the rules, both skiers involved in the scheme are disqualified and if a Master diploma contains a disqualified race that Master and all results in it become invalid.”

A working group of investigators found that this cheating pattern dates back to 2011.

“The chips indicate identical times (intermediate and finish) of two members of the cheating group whereas the pictures/videos show the presence of only one skier (pictures of the second skier are not available for the good reason that he did not ski the race),” the post noted. “A report on these findings was sent to WL who handled the case at their annual Worldloppet Congress in June 2016. The investigating work group making the reports was all IAWLS members and this cheating system was also discovered by IAWLS members.”

“This massive and unprecedented cheating led to strong reactions,” it continued. “WL-congress made some statements and decisions which included to delete all cheat results and affected masters already submitted. This was after carefully analyzing the documents, connected pictures and films in reports given to them. And WL also made a statement saying that the cheats are no more welcome at any of the Worldloppet races. This means that no new WL Master applications will be accepted from this group of cheats. These are very strong and clear words from WL.”


– The man dominating the Tour de Ski through four stages so far, Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov  gets the impression that some of his competitors think he’s not competing clean.

“Honestly, I do not know. Perhaps some of the athletes look at me strangely. I do not know,” he told the media on the first day of the Tour, according to A reporter asked him if it was possible for a Russian to win and not be suspected of doping.

“It is unpleasant to hear that if you are Russian and perform well, you are probably using performance enhancing drugs,” he responded. “I do not like that people think like this and ask questions like these.”

At least Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby vouches for him. Currently second to Ustiugov in the Tour, Sundby has said that he is absolutely sure that the Russian skiers are not doping, Ski-Lines reported.

“I trust them [the Russian cross-country skiers] 100 percent,” Sundby said. “I have easily performed with them for 17 years, and we have a long history of struggle on the road. I trust these guys.”


– On Dec. 30, Russian athletes continued to be in the news as the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) announced its decision to provisionally suspend four Russian skeleton racers for violating the anti-doping rules during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, according to Tass. The IBSF was informed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that an investigation was opened regarding the violations, which led the IBSF to suspend four Russian skeleton athletes effective Dec. 30, 2016. Russian skeleton racers won two medals at the Sochi Olympics. Alexander Tretiakov won gold and Yelena Nikitina earned bronze. Also on Dec. 30, six Russian cross-country skiers, including 2014 Olympic champion Alexander Legkov, were subject to provisional suspensions as well by FIS since their urine samples were allegedly tampered with.  This is all laid out in the McLaren report where over 1,000 Russian athletes were named.


– French biathlete Simon Fourcade has been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, according to a post on his Facebook page on Dec. 28. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is caused by toxoplasmas, and is usually transmitted through undercooked meat, in soil or in cat feces. There are usually no symptoms in adults, but it mimic the flu.

“The rate of testing are unusually high and suggest the presence of the parasite in your body and an infection relatively recent,” Fourcade quoted the results of his blood tests.

After struggling the last two IBU World Cups, the older brother of Martin Fourcade now knows why he was getting fatigued so quickly in recent few weeks. There is no special treatment for toxoplasmosis so he planned to rest and work on getting back into shape before returning to racing in 2017. Fourcade will have to work his way back up to the top form once he returns.


– Not that we need another reason to get out and ski, but a recent study done by the Mayo Clinic generated a list of the 36 most popular forms of exercise and their caloric impacts. The study is based off a 200-pound individual working out for an hour. Cross-country skiing came in at 15th on the list, burning 619 calories/hour. Other popular sports on the list were: #7) Tennis (728 calories/hr.), #6) Running at 5 mph (755 calories/hr.) and #4) Swimming (892 calories/hr.). The No. 1 exercises were: running at 8 mph which burns 1,074 calories/hr, and skipping rope which also burns 1,074 calories/hr, according to Business Insider.


– On Dec. 26, the Italian Team Sprint Championships took place at Fiera di Primiero in Trentino, Italy. The five-time defending champions Federico Pellegrino and Dietmar Nöckler were looking to win their sixth title, but collided during an exchange, which resulted in Pellegrino breaking his pole and the pair being disqualified, according to a FIS news release. This opened the door for Maicol Rastelli and Fabio Pasini to take the overall win.

In the women’s race, Gaia Vuerich and Debora Roncari took the team victory while Ilaria Debertolis crashed out of contention on the final corner after making contact with Vuerich.

— Ian Tovell and Alex Kochon 

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Hendrickson Repeats as Top American in 6th in China TDS Stage 2

Racers from China, Norway, and the Czech Republic prepare for the start in the men’s freestyle sprint final at Stage 2 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

Racers from China, Norway, and the Czech Republic prepare for the start in the men’s freestyle sprint final at Stage 2 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

It was déjà vu all over again in Stage 2 of the China Tour de Ski, as Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) led four American skiers with a sixth place finish in the semifinals of a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint for the second stage in a row.

Stage 2 brought the racers, 40 men and 36 women, to Changchun, in China’s Jilin region, closer to Vladivostok than to Beijing. Race-time temperatures were -11 Celsius, or 12° F, for the one-lap, 1.5 k skate sprint.

Hendrickson was consistent throughout the day, qualifying in sixth and ultimately advancing to the semifinal for a final position of sixth. Jack Novak (APU) qualified in 10th, and ended his day in the quarterfinals in 14th. Skyler Kenna (APU) finished 25th today, out of the 16-person heats, after qualifying in 16th in Sunday’s Stage 1.

The sole American woman, Lauren Fritz (APU), moved up relative to Sunday, after enduring several days’ worth of missing luggage to start her trip and racing Sunday on borrowed equipment. Today she qualified in seventh and finished 11th overall, after qualifying 10th and finishing 14th in Stage 1.

Overall winners today were China’s Zhu Mingliang for the men and Man Dandan for the women. Sprint races in the China Tour de Ski feature four-person heats.

Racing continues tomorrow with Stage 3, the Vasaloppet China, a 50 k classic mass start race in Changchun’s Jingyuetan Park.

Results: Women | Men

— Gavin Kentch

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Hendrickson Leads Americans in 6th in China TDS Stage 1

Norway's Haakon Hjelstuen crossing the line first for the win in the men's freestyle sprint at Stage 1 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen crossing the line first for the win in the men’s freestyle sprint at Stage 1 of the 2017 China Tour de Ski. (Photo: China Tour de Ski/

All four Americans made the heats, with a final finishing position as high as sixth, in Stage 1 of the China Tour de Ski, a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint, in Changbaishan on Sunday, Jan 1.
On the men’s side, the top 20 qualifying times in a 40-racer field moved on to the heats. Jack Novak (APU) led the Americans in qualifying in 10th, Skyler Kenna (APU) was 16th, and Nick Hendrickson (now University of Utah, former U.S. Nordic Combined) was 17th. Their positions were largely reversed by the end of the day: Hendrickson finished second in the four-person semifinal for sixth overall, while Novak (16th) and Kenna (20th) ended their days in the quarterfinals.
For the women, Lauren Fritz (APU) qualified in 10th. (The women’s field was more selective than the men’s, with less than half of the field – 16 racers out of 36 – moving on.) Fritz ended her day in the quarterfinals in 14th overall.
Finishing times were not available for the heats. Both genders featured four-person heats throughout the day.
Norway’s Haakon Hjelstuen and China’s Li Xin took the Stage 1 victories and overall Tour lead.
Racers left Changbaishan at 8 a.m. local time Monday morning on an approximately 350-kilometer bus ride to Changchun, the site of Stages 2 and 3. Another skate sprint is Tuesday, followed by a classic marathon, 50 k for full Vasaloppet China racers but of unknown length for Tour racers, on Wednesday.
Results: Women | Men
— Gavin Kentch

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Dec. 26 Roundup: Ski to Sea Decides to Keep XC; Northug Skips Tour; Fischer and Rossi Team Up

Brian Gregg (l) with his Boundary Bay team, which won its fourth-straight Ski to Sea title on May 25, 2014. (Photo: Brian Gregg/Facebook)

Brian Gregg (far left) with his 2014 Boundary Bay ‘Ski to Sea’ team, which won its fourth-straight Ski to Sea title on May 25, 2014. (Photo: Brian Gregg/Facebook)

– A week ago on Monday, Dec. 19, the Ski to Sea team relay race announced that it was eliminating the cross-country ski leg in the upcoming edition of the race on May 28, 2017, according to The Bellingham Herald. Organizers cited a recruitment problem for teams when it came to finding cross-country skiers and considered swapping out the nordic leg for something else. But ultimately, they simply cut it, making the relay consist of six legs: downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, cyclocross, and kayaking.

“When we looked through our registration records and saw that we had so many teams that were full except for a cross-country skier, we knew this was the right choice. It’s something we have been hearing from races for years,” race director Anna Rankin said.

Less than 24 hours after the Ski to Sea board decided to nix XC, it reversed its decision, The Bellingham Herald reported. Organizers stated that they take public concern very seriously, as there was a lot of disagreement on their Facebook page after the Monday decision.

“We want to thank everyone who has reached out via the phone, email and here on Facebook to share your thoughts about the decision to drop the Cross County Ski leg of the race,” the post read.

The comments from racers were varied, but the initial decision turned off a few racers who proclaimed that they were done with the Ski to Sea. One participant, Heather Orthmer wrote, “Horrible horrible HORRIBLE decision. My team (and many others) has been racing for 20+ Years and now this?! You are destroying OUR race. The x-country leg is as essential to the race as our x-country skier is to our team! Would love to see the event in the hands of people who have a clue. Do we have any options? I will definitely boycott the race this year!”


– Petter Northug will not be racing in the upcoming Tour de Ski even after all of his efforts to get back into shape. According to, even with his rest in December he still has very low energy and will be unable to successfully race in the next part of the Tour de Ski. Northug is hoping to be strong enough during the second half of the season especially for the Lahti World Championships in February. A three-time 2015 world champion, Northug plans to return and defend his titles. He will be replaced on the Tour by Sjur Røthe.


– Two of the world’s biggest nordic-ski brands, Fischer and Rossignol are teaming up to launch a new brand called TURNAMIC, according to a joint press release. This new brand sets out to enhance the performance and usability of both their product portfolios and will consist of cross-country boot soles and bindings. According to the press release, skiers of all abilities will be able to benefit from the innovative and easy-to-use turn lock mechanism that makes entry and exit easier than before. For the first time, it will be possible to adjust setting without the use of any tools. This optimized setup will be available for everyday use with the NNN profile.

— Ian Tovell

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Dec. 18 Roundup: Broomhall Turns 97; Di Centa is Back

– Wendell “Chummy” Broomhall celebrated his 97th birthday on Dec. 3 and reminisced with a reporter from The Advertiser Democrat about being a two-time Olympian and World War II veteran at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Paris, Maine. Broomhall who was born in 1919 in Mexico, Maine, but grew up across the river in Rumford, where he and his 14 siblings grew up on a dairy farm.

“They called me Chubby,” he said. “I was a little chubby guy, but when you get up on a farm you don’t stay chubby at all. They put you to work. They started calling me Chummy and that stuck with me the rest of my life.”

Broomhall ski raced, and went to war, then returned to racing once again. He qualified for the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz as well as the 1952 Olso Olympics. He served as chief of competition for the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, where he also designed the ski trails for both Games.

Upon returning from WWII, Broomhall donated 300 acres to the club, which was used to create ski facilities. The Black Mountain of Maine officially opened in 1962, where Broomhall also designed the trails.

“In 1960, there wasn’t anybody around there that did anything about cross-country so they made me the American representative to Federation of International Ski – the world governing body,” he explained.

Racing against the Swedes, which didn’t lose training time to WWII, Broomhall said he was at a disadvantage.

“I was skiing on solid hickory skis and one of my skis weighed as much as three of the Swedes skis,” he said.

Today, Broomhall is the oldest member of Rumford’s Chisholm Ski Club. He was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1981 and was an inaugural member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in 2003.


– Italy’s 44-year-old Giorgio Di Centa has come out of retirement and returned to the World Cup after placing 41st last weekend in the 30 k freestyle in Davos, Switzerland. He followed that up with 38th on Saturday in the men’s 15 k freestyle mass start. According to OAsport, Italy planned to use the La Clusaz World Cup as an opportunity to experiment with its lineup before 2017 World Championships, and Di Centa is aiming for a spot on that World Championship team.


– Therese Johaug’s provisional two-month suspension has been extended until Feb. 19, according to Anti-Doping Norway. She had initially been suspend until Sunday, Dec. 18, but Niels Kiaer, Norway’s anti-doping agent, extended it pending the outcome of her case, reported. Last month is when the agency called for her 14-month ban and filed charges with the Norwegian Sports Federation’s disciplinary committee, which will hold a verbal hearing scheduled for Jan. 25-27.  Her provisional suspension will count toward her 14-month ban making her eligible to race in December 2017, two months before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where Johaug is hoping to compete.


– Did you ever want to be able to see how the conditions were at your favorite cross-country skiing trails, but didn’t want to pick up the phone and call?  Now you can check online with  This is a free website for nordic skiers to post reports and read other skier reports of trail conditions.  This can help you figure out where the best skiing is, how the trails are holding up after that rain storm, or see the popular spots in your area. This is completely user based, so if your favorite trails are not on the map you can add them. The best part is, on your next trip to Norway, you can use this application to ski the same course the World Cup skiers race.  This only works if you help update their map, so help your fellow skier find the best skiing in the area with XC Trail Tracker.


– The International Ski Federation (FIS) released its new official mobile application on Friday, Dec. 16. The FIS App offer users an entirely new experience to follow all FIS competitions and related news.  Some of the features include, exclusive video content, ability to favorite athletes, and notifications to stay up to date on your favorite World Cup competitions.  Use the FIS App to follow your favorite athlete in the next World Cup.


– The second International Biathlon Union (IBU) IBU Cup took place Dec. 6-11 in Ridnaun-Val Ridanna, Italy.  Canadian Emma Lunder was the best North American finisher in the women’s 7.5 k sprint, where she finished 15th (+1:54.7) with 9-for-10 shooting (1+0), behind Ukrainian winner Anastasiya Merkushyna, who cleaned the two-stage race and won in 21:11.8. All of the top three shot clean with Russia’s Uliana Kaisheva in second (+34.6), while Karolin Horchler of Germany in third (+50.5).

Lunder duplicated her 15th place in the 10 k pursuit, despite five penalties (1+2+0+2) finishing 4:03.4 behind Kaisheva, who won in 31:48.6 with her second-straight day of perfect shooting (0+0+0+0).  Horchler ended up second (+1:24.7) with two penalties, and her sister Nadine Horchler was close behind in third (+1:36.1), with one penalty. Lunder was called up to the IBU World Cup for this weekend, where she placed 82nd in the sprint in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.

Results: Sprint | Pursuit


– The brand-new IBU Junior Cup circuit kicked off in Dec. 9-11 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.  The only North American racing was Canadian Emily Dickson, who shot clean for 11th in the 7.5 k sprint. She  finished 1:43.6 behind French winner Caroline Colombo, who also hit every target to win in 21:10.9. Dickson was one of just four skiers to shoot clean. Khrystyna Dmytrenko of Ukraine placed second (+6.5) with clean shooting, while Vanessa Voigt of Germany finished third (+36.8) with one miss.

In the 12.5 k pursuit the day before, Dickson placed 38th with six penalties (1+2+1+2), each adding a minute to her time. She finished 7:57.7 behind French winner Julia Simon, who took the win in 38:19.7 despite two misses, finishing ahead of Germany’s Janina Hettich, who cleaned for second place (+58.6). Ekaterina Moshikova of Russia finished third (+2:00.4) with two penalties.

Results: Individual | Sprint

— Ian Tovell

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Dec. 11 Roundup: Tongan Summer Athlete Takes Up XC; La Clusaz is a Go

— You might not know the name Pita Taufatofua, but you would probably recognize him. Taufatofua, the taekwondo athlete from Tonga made world news after his oiled body appeared during the opening ceremonies during the Rio 2016 Olympics. Though he was eliminated in the first round, he now has his sights set on the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea, where he is hoping to compete in cross-country skiing, according to InsidetheGames.

According to MSN, Taufatofua said, “I’m going to be taking my Olympic dreams on step further. My goal is to let people see if I can do it, they can do it.”

Taufatofua would only be the second Winter Olympian from Tonga if he succeeds in qualifying. Bruno Banani competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic in luge.

— The FIS Cross-Country World Cup in La Clusaz, France, will take place as scheduled next weekend, Dec. 17-18, according to a FIS press release. The La Clusaz organizing committee has been working hard to ensure that the snow conditions are as good as they can be, considering the weather has been warmer than usual. There will be a shorter loop due to the lack of snow, but the women will race a 10 k skate and the men a 15 k skate on Dec. 17, and the men’s and women’s relays will be held on Dec. 18.

— The Canadian cross-country ski community lost another great ambassador. Walter Scott, the father of two-time Olympic medalist Beckie Scott and husband of Jan Scott, passed away on Dec. 5. According to a Cross Country Canada press release, Walter had a true passion for the outdoors, which he shared with everyone that he met. Immigrating from Europe, he found Canada, a place he believed had no limits. He was able to teach this philosophy to his daughter, who was able to become the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold in cross-country skiing. Walter was a volunteer, coach, and masters skier, and was in his element when he was on the ski trails. He was described as respectful, humble, fair, tough and driven to succeed.

— Ian Tovell

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Davos World Cup to Be Held on Shortened Course

Saturday’s FIS Cross Country World Cup 15/30 k interval-start races in Davos, Switzerland, will be held on a six-kilometer loop for men and a five-kilometer loop for women, the organizing committee has announced, due to low snow conditions. The standard World Cup course is 7.5 kilometers.

While Switzerland got snow in early November, with some ski resorts opening early, since then warm temperatures have dominated. MétéoSuisse, the federal meteorological bureau, reported that the month of November was 0.5 to 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1981-2010 average, depending on location, and that some places saw all-time temperature records.

Some of this was driven by Föhn winds, warm, down-slope winds that warm central Europe after dropping their water on the other side of the Alps. Through November the Föhn stayed in the Swiss alps, raising temperatures in some valleys to 20°C or nearly 70°F.

The Davos organizing committee has an extensive snow-saving operation, and has been hosting races since the last weekend in October. However, snow has been consolidated into the most important parts of the race course as the surrounding areas remain dry, brown, and snowless.

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Dec. 1 Roundup: Graves FIS Journalist of the Year; Kalla Seeks Medical Treatment

Peter Graves (c) with his FIS Journalist of the Year award, alongside FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis (l) and USSA CEO Tiger Shaw. (Photo: FIS)

Peter Graves (c) with his FIS Journalist of the Year award, alongside FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis (l) and USSA CEO Tiger Shaw. (Photo: FIS)

– Peter Graves, one of the most prominent voices in skiing, was honored as the International Ski Federation’s (FIS) Journalist of the Year during the alpine World Cup in Killington, Vt., last weekend. The award is presented by both FIS and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA).

After skiing collegiately at Fort Lewis College, Graves, originally from Bennington, Vt., began his career in broadcasting. His passion for the sport grew to the point where he has either been a venue announcer or broadcaster at nine summer and winter Olympic Games dating back to his role with ABC sports for the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. He most recently served as interim director for the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA), up until October.

According to a USSA press release, Graves, 64, said, “I’m deeply humbled in receiving this award, Being honored by your peers means the world to me. From the moment I first heard Bob Beattie call the Hahnenkamm I dreamed of announcing ski racing. It was electrifying and still is today! In many ways I feel like I’m just starting out in my career. It still energizes me in a way that moves me to the core.”

Graves is the 17th recipient of this award and is in good company with some of the sports most noted journalists. “Peter is a highly worthy recipient of the FIS Journalist Award,” FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis said. “His extensive knowledge of the sport and each of the disciplines comes across loud and clear in his commentary and reporting. Peter’s commentary is always a pleasure to listen to, in addition to communicating well-researched facts and figures about the competition, the course and the athletes.”


– After a disappointing start to the season in Ruka, two-time Olympian Charlotte Kalla of Sweden said that she did not feel well during the races. Kalla finished 75th out of 79 in the women’s 10 k classic, four minutes behind the winner, Marit Bjørgen of Norway. After the weekend, Kalla flew back to Stockholm to undergo a thorough medical examination, according to It was found out that she has atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, or other heart-related complications.

“I’m relieved because I’m not sick, tests have shown. I experienced a situation that I had never experienced in my life every day,” Kalla told

The Swedish team’s spokesperson Per Andersson told Interia Sport, “We are confident that Charlotte after a rest will return quickly to normal training and compete on an international level.”


– One season out from the 2018 Olympics, US Biathlon team veteran Tim Burke is eyeing Olympic gold. Burke has been ranked first in the world, won silver at World Championships and made three U.S. Olympic teams, but has yet to win the coveted gold. Burke considered retiring going after the 2014 Olympics, but he was not 100 percent because of sickness.

“If you are not 100 percent physically in this sport, it makes it pretty difficult to compete at a high level,” Burke told

He became the first American to wear the yellow bib as the top-ranked biathlete in the 2009/2010 season. At the age of 34, Burke will look to become the first American to win an Olympic medal. “It would be a dream come true to win an Olympic medal,” he said. “I’ve put so much time into pursuing this. I am planning to retire after the Olympics, so this will be it for me.”

— Ian Tovell

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Cross Country Canada Names New CEO: Shane Pearsall

Shane Pearsall, Cross Country Canada's incoming CEO (Photo: CCC)

Shane Pearsall, Cross Country Canada’s incoming CEO (Photo: CCC)

Corporate leader returns to sport community to build on strong foundation of shaping bright future for Nordic sport

(Press release)

CANMORE, Alta. — After spending the last decade in Alberta’s oil patch, Shane Pearsall is returning to the Canadian sport community, January 1, as the chief executive officer for Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada, the Board of Directors announced on Monday.

The Chef de Mission for the 2006 Canadian Olympic Team, Pearsall was the chief operating officer of Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton (BCS) for three years before returning to his career in the oil and gas industry in 2006 where he took on leadership positions with AltaGas and EnCana Corporation/Cenovus Energy.

A member of Canada’s National Men’s Hockey Team in 1980, Pearsall is most recognized in the sport community for his work at BCS where he developed a corporate strategy designed to build extensive relationships with the organization’s major government and corporate partners that continue with him today, motivated a team of dedicated professionals, and managed a financially sustainable budget – all of which contributed to providing a pathway for athletes to deliver countless World Championship, World Cup, and a record-setting four Olympic medals for the sports of bobsleigh and skeleton in Torino.

“Shane is very well respected in the Canadian sport community and is no stranger to cross-country ski circles in Canada, so our selection committee felt he was an ideal fit to lead our sport to 2018 and beyond,” said Jamie Coatsworth, chair, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada. “We were fortuitous our leadership opportunity aligned with Shane’s availability, in order to move quickly and get him on board to lead our passionate staff. Shane is a proven performer in sport and business, and is driven to succeed in steering our sport’s future.”

In 2007, Pearsall played an instrumental role in connecting Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada with one of its premier, and longstanding, corporate partners in AltaGas.

“I learned a great deal while working in the corporate sector, and value the knowledge gained during this time, but I never lost touch with sport,” said Pearsall. “Sport has become big business, and has many synergies with the corporate sector. Success starts within our own walls. It is critical we work together as a tight-knit community who is aligned and believes in the brand, are committed to the long-term strategic goals, and are relentless in our pursuit of excellence if we truly want to create more Olympic and Paralympic champions for Canada in cross-country skiing, and in turn put more kids on snow. I am absolutely honoured to have the opportunity to join the Nordic community.”

Working with Cross Country Ski de Fond’s network of provincial sport partners, Pearsall is committed to leading a continued focus on delivering the tools athletes and coaches – from the grassroots to elite levels – need to ski onto the podium.

He will take over the reigns of the governing body for cross-country skiing in Canada in the New Year from Pierre Lafontaine, who announced recently he would be returning to his native Ottawa to lead Cycling Canada.

“Shane and Pierre have tremendous respect for one another, and are already working together to ensure a seamless transition in our leadership,” added Coatsworth. “Our sport is in good hands, and I am looking forward to celebrating many milestones in our continued progress with Shane leading the charge.”

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Nov. 25 Roundup: Canadian Olympian Donald Farley Dies; Northug Out for Ruka

Canada's Donald Farley racing at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games (CCC file photo)

Canada’s Donald Farley racing at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games (CCC file photo)

– The nordic ski community is mourning the loss of Canadian Olympian Donald Farley, who passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 19. Farley, 46, was an 11-year member of the Canadian national team between 1992 and 2002, according to Cross Country Canada (CCC). A two-time Olympian (Nagano 1998 and Salt Lake City 2002) and five-time World Championships competitor, he was one of the most decorated skiers of all time at Canadian nationals, where he accumulated 23 titles, 10 second-place finishes, and two third places. While he was a full-time national team member, he was able to achieve a degree in science at the University of Waterloo. CCC obtained a quote from one of his Olympic teammates, Robin McKeever:

My best memories of Donald was working as a team going into the 1997 World Champs in Trondheim with him. He was at a high level as a teammate that season as we were trying to qualify for the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He came through leading the relay there after 5km and still tagged off to me in touch with the lead in 6th. It was an amazing race for the team and he was the pure leader that season. And yes, he was a crazy hard worker and every workout was like it was the Olympic 10km classic, which Don considered the toughest race.”

– There won’t necessarily be more tests, but the offenses for dopers will be tougher, International Ski Federation (FIS) Secretary General Sarah Lewis recently told Langrenn. While the number of tests taken will remain about the same as previous years, FIS plans to test more in-competition blood samples, Lewis explained. The federation is also aiming for more testing at local training sessions, since it can be expensive and time consuming to test at the more remote locations. “Everyone should feel confident that FIS testing program will make it very difficult to cheat,” Lewis said. “We are very confident that those who dare to try, will be revealed.”

– Petter Northug will not be starting this weekend at the World Cup in Ruka, Finland. “He is perfectly healthy, but feels he does not have enough energy to perform well this weekend,” a Norwegian team press release stated. According to Langrenn, Northug has done a good amount of training in Val Senales, but has not produced the results he was hoping for during the season-opening races in Beitostølen. In the 15 k classic, Northug finished 74th, four minutes behind Didrik Tønseth, who also won the 15 k skate the next day, when Northug finished 15th. Northug will be targeting Lillehammer, Norway, as his first World Cup race.

“Lillehammer is the main weekend points-wise in the World Cup before Christmas and I have been trying to ‘time’ the shape a bit [for that],” Northug said.

Pål Golberg will take Northug’s place in Saturday’s World Cup opening classic sprint while Simen Hegstad Krüger will race the 15 k classic in Northug’s absence on Sunday.

– There will be some important changes for the 2016/2017 FIS World Cup season, according to Langrenn. The first major change will be start quotas, which are now based on the women’s and men’s Nation Cup standings from last season. The quotas will be valid for the whole season and there are no special quota rules for the Tour de Ski or World Cup Finals. The number of additional quota have been reduced. The overall World Cup winner and Continental Cup winner from the previous season are awarded starts in addition to the team quota.

Also, the way the nation rankings are calculated has been modified as well. In individual competitions, only top-three results will be taken into account. In the past, it was all the athletes who scored World cup points. One team per nation in relays and team sprints will score as well.

Finally, the last major change is the maximum pole length for classic races, which must not exceed 83% of the competitors body height. In freestyle races, the maximum pole height is 100 percent of the competitor’s height (i.e., poles can’t be taller than the athlete).

– The Visma Ski Classics series opens this weekend on Sunday, Nov. 27, with a prologue in Pontresina, Switzerland, and fans can follow the action with the newly launched Ski Classics Play app, a video platform for web, Apple TV, iOS and Android.

“Fans can become a member through Season [39.99 Euro], Monthly [7.99 Euro] or Day Passes [4.99 Euro] and get access to Visma Ski Classics live HD feed from all races the upcoming season as well as to interviews and historical videos,” a press release stated. “The idea with the brand new Ski Classics Play plattform is to build a digital community for fans through constant updates on the latest Visma Ski Classics news. Members can watch the unique experiences via live streaming and this will eventually include multiple streams and camera angles, remote production capabilities and other innovations to make the live broadcast even more interesting.” The release noted a free trial until Nov. 30.

– Twenty-six adaptive skiers are in Canmore this week, Nov. 24-27, at a development camp for Canada’s Para-Nordic Ski Team.

“As part of an aggressive national recruitment strategy to increase the pool of athletes and coaches in Canada’s Para-Nordic program, Cross Country Ski de Fond Canada will hold its annual development camp for athletes in all classifications who are early in the Paralympic pathway right up to Canada’s best,” a press release explained.

Current national-team members and Paralympic medalists Mark Arendz and Chris Klebl are among some of the big names leading the camp. Many young athletes were introduced to the camp by their local clubs or provincial organizations, and some have been recruited from sports like sledge hockey and para-cycling.

“The camp, which provides an opportunity for athletes and coaches at all levels to train, learn, and work together in an effort to have a positive impact on skill development, will include both on-snow and in classroom sessions over the four-day session,” the release stated.

— Ian Tovell & Alex Kochon


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Saturday, Sunday Rundown: Top 15’s for Sargent, Patterson in Saariselkä; Ishida Wins in Bruks


– Americans Ida Sargent and Caitlin Patterson, Craftsbury Green Racing Project teammates, both landed in the top 15 on Saturday at the International Ski Federation (FIS) classic sprint in Saariselkä, Finland. Sargent (U.S. Ski Team A-team) placed eighth, while Patterson (last season’s U.S. SuperTour winner who will start the season on the World Cup) finished 14th. To start the day, Sargent qualified 13th and Patterson 15th to advance to the heats. Russia’s Elena Soboleva qualified fourth and went on to win the final, ahead of fellow Russians Natalia Matveeva and Natalia Nepryaeva, in second and third, respectively. Russia swept the top four and Germany’s Hanna Kolb placed fifth of out of 44.

Also on Saturday, Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin posted his second-straight victory of the weekend, winning the men’s classic sprint final ahead of teammate Alexander Panzhinskiy and Germany’s Sebastian Eisenlauer, who placed second and third, respectively. Vylegzhanin initially qualified 14th, 10.31 seconds behind another Russian Nikolay Morilov while Eisenlauer and Panzhinskiy qualified second (+1.77) and third (+2.34), respectively. Morilov went on to place seventh overall out of 62.

For the final day of Saariselkä’s three-day series, Germany’s Nicole Fessel won the women’s 10 k freestyle in 28:46.8. She was 38.1 seconds clear of runner-up Yulia Tchekaleva, of Russia, who won Friday’s 5 k classic to start the weekend. Germany had two on the podium with Victoria Carl in third (+41.1). Seventy-four women competed, but Sargent and Patterson were not among them.

Russia once again dominated the men’s 15 k freestyle on Sunday, with Andrey Melnichenko leading his teammates to the podium in 36:21.6. Andrey Larkov was 18.4 seconds back in second, and Russia’s third man Artem Maltsev finished 27.1 seconds back from Melnichenko. Evgeniy Belov took fourth (+39.9) for Russia, and Germany’s Florian Notz broke up the sweep in fifth (+51.7). In the men’s field, 104 finished.

Results: Women’s classic sprint | Men’s classic sprint | Women’s 10 k freestyle | Men’s 15 k freestyle


Masako Ishida has still got it, Japan’s leading skier proved Saturday in Bruksvallarna, Sweden. After turning 36 earlier this month and finishing 10th in the 5 k freestyle opener in Bruksvallarna on Friday, Ishida beat out 67 other women in Saturday’s 10 k classic, winning by 31 seconds in 31:24.1. Sweden’s Anna Haag placed second and Saturday’s winner, 19-year-old Ebba Andersson of Sweden took third (+35.8).

In the men’s 15 k classic, Sweden’s 2013 and 2015 world champion Johan Olsson bested teammate Marcus Hellner, who won Friday’s 10 k freestyle, by 5.4 seconds, winning in 40:31.6. More than a minute behind Olsson, Jens Burman completed the Swedish podium sweep in third (+1:02.5) out of 170 finishers.

On Sunday, Calle Halfvarsson beat out his Swedish teammates in the men’s classic sprint, winning the final ahead of Teodor Peterson in second and Oskar Svensson in third. Halvarsson also won the qualifier to start the day with 125 men competing.

In the women’s classic sprint, Sweden’s Hanna Falk emerged as the overall winner after qualifying third (out of 58) and topping the final. She outlasted teammate Stina Nilsson, the fastest in the qualifier, and 22-year-old Maja Dahlqvist, also of Sweden.

Results: Women’s 10 k classic | Men’s 15 k classic | Men’s classic sprint | Women’s classic sprint 


– FasterSkier was on site for the Beitostølen FIS races all weekend in Norway. In her first race back since March 2015, Marit Bjørgen pulled out an 11-second win in the 10 k freestyle on Saturday, and another Norwegian national-team member, Didrik Tønseth won his second straight on the weekend. Stay tuned for Sunday’s report.

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Friday Rundown: Harvey Wins Davos Sprint; Hellner Goes Big in Bruks

Canada's Alex Harvey (l) leads Switzerland's Jovian Hediger (r) and others in a heat during a preseason classic sprint on Nov. 18 in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: NORDIC-ONLINE.CH)

Canada’s Alex Harvey (l) leads Switzerland’s Jovian Hediger (r) and others in a heat during a preseason classic sprint on Nov. 18 in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: NORDIC-ONLINE.CH)

(Note: This race rundown has been updated with comments from Canadian World Cup Team member Alex Harvey.)

– While it wasn’t an International Ski Federation (FIS) race, Canada’s Alex Harvey won a classic sprint in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, posting the fourth-fastest time out of 34 men in the prologue, then reaching the final in the King’s-Court-style heats. In the final, he nipped Swiss runner-up Jovian Hediger at the line and bested Swiss national-team favorite Dario Cologna, who placed third, by 2 seconds. Erwan Käser, also of Switzerland, rounded out the four-man final in fourth, finishing 3 seconds after Harvey.

“I’ve been working a lot of the Summer to get my sprint level back,” Harvey wrote in an email. “Especially in classic and double poling, which is an area I feel used to be one of my strengths but that I struggled in last season.”

Canada's Alex Harvey en route to a win in his first race of the season: a classic sprint in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, Nov. 18. (Photo: NORDIC-ONLINE.CH)

Canada’s Alex Harvey en route to a win in his first race of the season: a classic sprint in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, Nov. 18. (Photo: NORDIC-ONLINE.CH)

The qualifier took place early in the morning, making it “hard to get the body firing up on all cylinders with jet lag and all but it was still a pretty decent effort,” he added.

In his first time racing a King’s Court format (which guarantees each racer more heats), he noted that it was pretty fun. In the quarterfinal, he raced against the top-three qualifiers — Hediger, Cologna and Käser — and led them for most of the second half of the heat.

“But [the course] kind of finished with a little 180° turn and then a short steep uphill and Jovian opted to run outside the track there and just blew by me!” Harvey recalled. “In the semi, kind of the same deal but with Josef Wenzl [of Germany] in there instead of Dario. I lead for the 2nd half and Jovian, once again, bested me on the last little pitch. That’s when I realized why he was going so much faster then me…by just runing outside the track.”

In the final Harvey took the lead at the halfway point but changed his strategy for the final hill. This time, he ran outside the track and kept his lead all the way to the finish.

“Overall it’s a good day at the office,” Harvey wrote, noting this his biggest goal was to “dial” his race-morning routing.

“I think I can do better for how I prepare for the qualifier but otherwise I’m right on point,” he wrote.

On the women’s side, Canadian-born Swiss skier Heidi Widmer finished eighth overall after posting the 11th-ranked time in the prologue earlier in the day. Switzerland’s Laurien van der Graaff topped the women’s field of 23, qualifying first then dominating the final ahead of teammate Nadine Fähndrich, who placed second (+2.0), Germany’s Elisabeth Schicho in third (+7.0), and Rachel Imoberdorf (Switzerland) in fourth (+12.0).

Harvey noted he was impressed by the organization of the small race.

“It was like a normal race with a team meeting in the evening, bibs, electronic chip timing, starting gate and everything running on schedule by the minute (this part is to be expected in Switzerland!),” he wrote.

Asked what brought him and his Pierre-Harvey Training Centre teammate (and Canadian U25 Team member) Cendrine Browne and coach Louis Bouchard to Davos, Harvey explained that’s been a longtime plan. For the last several years, they had intended to spend their first 10 days in Europe in Davos, but had to change their plans the last two years because of low snow.

“In the Fall of 2013 (during Sochi Olympic year) I was here for 10 days with Louis and Devon [Kershaw] and we really liked it,” he wrote. “[There is] more natural light so a bit easier to get over jet lag and the 10-day exposure at this altitude made a nice link after the 2 other 3 week altitude camp we had this summer.”

Harvey has historically struggled in Davos, keeping him out of the top 15 in distance races there, except for his ninth place in a 2011 skate sprint.

“It’s clearly one of the worst stop on Tour for me,” he wrote. “I really think the altitude is a big part of the reason. So this year when Christian Flury, a coach on the Swiss team, told Louis that they could guarantee 4-5km by Nov. 1st, we opted for this plan again and were pretty confident that this time we wouldn’t have to change our travel plan the week before coming here like we had to do in the Fall of 2014 and 2015.”

On Friday night, he skied the bottom of the World Cup course (the “snow farming” zone takes place up top). It had grown from 4 k when the Canadians arrived to the complete 7.5 k World Cup course.

“Plus the golf course in the bottom of the valley is packed and rolled so you can skate there — I skied all the way to the base of Sertig a few days ago, that made for a nice longer loop!” Harvey wrote.



– Ida Sargent and Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project continued their tour of Finland, racing in the Saariselkä FIS races in a mountainous region of northern Finland. There, Sargent (also a U.S. Ski Team member) placed 19th and Patterson (the overall U.S. SuperTour winner last season) was 23rd in the 5 k classic, finishing roughly 1 minute and 1:07 behind the winner, Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva. Clocking in at 18:30.4, Tchekaleva beat out a women’s field of 76 and led a Russian sweep of the top three, with Yulia Belorukova in second (+3.1) and Alisa Zhambalova in third (+10.2).

In an email on Thursday, the day before the 5 k, Patterson noted the darkness in Saariselkä and that it had been overcast and snowing the last few days.

“There’s maybe 5-6″ of natural snow to make everything feel wintry, and then the ski trails have a solid base of man-made snow,” she wrote. “It looks like for these races coming up the course is going to include a brutal herringbone pitch up part of a small downhill mountain, but then there are also some really nice stride-able hills. And there are tons of Russians and Belorussians, as well as quite a few Germans, Japanese, and a few others on the start list. It’s an exciting time, to be back in the thick of racing!”

In the men’s 10 k classic, Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin took the win in 28:20.8, edging his teammate Stanislav Volzhentsev by 2.7 seconds. Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin took third (+3.3) in a field of 99 finishers.

Results: Women | Men


– In Bruksvallarna, Sweden, 19-year-old Ebba Andersson, of the Swedish club Sellefteaa Skidor, pulled out a victory in the women’s 5 k freestyle in 14:24.9. In Sweden’s first FIS race of the season, she fended off World Cup regulars Hannah Falk by 0.9 seconds, Stina Nilsson by 13.1 seconds, and Anna Haag by 20.8 seconds (who placed second through fourth, respectively). Ninety-six women finished.

In the men’s 10 k freestyle, Sweden’s Marcus Hellner opened his season with a 48.7-second win over runner-up Axel Ekström, who’s nearly a decade younger. Hellner, who turns 31 next Friday, finished in 24:46.3, Ekström took second, and Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic placed third (+49.8). The men’s field included 249 finishers, making it the biggest FIS race of several taking place around the world on Friday.

Results: Women | Men


– FasterSkier was on site for Norway’s first FIS races of the season in Beitostølen. Check out Friday’s race report, complete with comments from American Cambria McDermott and Canadians Madison Fraser, Jack Carlyle, Ryan Jackson, and Joey Foster.

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Nov. 18 Roundup: Abramova’s Ban Up Before IBU World Champs; Pellegrino Expected in Ruka


  • Ukrainian biathlete Olga Abramova has been banned for one year by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) after a failed drug test containing meldonium. She tested positive at an IBU World Cup event in Germany just nine days after meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list. InsidetheGames reported that WADA had to clarify their stance on the substance as there was confusion earlier this year. Athletes who provided a sample of urine that contained less than five micrograms between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29 were given a “no fault” verdict. Abramova’s sample of meldonium contained 7.3 micrograms, 2.3 micrograms over the limit allowed. She will not be able to compete in six out of the nine World Cup series events, but will return for the 2017 IBU World Championships to take place in Hochfilzen, Austria, on Feb. 8, four days after her ban is lifted. Her best performance was as a member of Ukraine’s relay team who placed third in World Cup races last season. This decision comes after she was provisionally suspended back in February. The time away from the sport she has served in the provisional suspension counts toward her one-year ban.


  • Two-time Olympic silver medal winning Russian biathlete Olga Vikukhina has retired from the sport, according to InsidetheGames. Her two Olympic medals came on home snow at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. She was second in the 7.5 k sprint as well as with the 4 x 6 k relay, which lost to Ukraine. She did not compete in the 2015 season at all, and last season, she felt unable to get back to her normal self. “It is no longer possible to return to the original condition,” Vilukhina told InsidetheGames. “I stopped training in October and decided to wrap up my sport career. I’m eternally grateful to all those who helped me achieve this success, my family and friends, each of the coaches with whom I have had the privilege to work, all sports leaders with whom we were preparing for the Olympics in Sochi, partners and sponsors who helped me in professional sports and, of course, each and every one of the fans.”


  • Italy’s Federico Pellegrino has reason to be smiling after three days of extra training in Davos, Switzerland. The 2015/2016 overall FIS World Cup sprint champion injured an adductor muscle on his left leg, which put his season start in doubt. According to, he is expected to be at the start of the opening stage in Kuusamo, Finland, where he will compete in the classic sprint. “Of course I do not feel 100 percent at the moment, but I have managed to do good laps on the track, alternating with the treatments,” Pellegrino told FISI. “On Thursday I will have an ultrasound, and I am very confident of being present in the Ruka sprint, where finally we will have a comparison with the competition.”


  • American Oksana Masters is 100-percent committed to nordic skiing and biathlon after competing in handcycling at the Rio Paralympics.“The transition from cycling to skiing is extremely challenging especially in such a short time,” she told the International Paralympic Committee. “In my opinion cross-country skiing is so much harder than cycling. Although cycling helped me maintain my endurance [and] fitness, I have lost all of my ski specific strength.”A relative rookie in handcycling, she began seriously training for the summer sport five months before the Rio Games. There in Brazil, she placed fifth in the time trial. “Handcycling is mainly a push motion and the pulling is so different that it’s really not similar to skiing pulling motion,” she said. “This season is going to be not just a physical challenge but also a mental challenge of accepting that I am starting this season from a different form of fitness.”Even while committing wholeheartedly to cycling for Rio, her heart has been set on the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, for the last couple years. “PyeongChang has always been my main goal. I have had my eyes set on PyeongChang since the last day in Sochi 2014,” Masters said. “I can’t believe it is already less than 500 days away. I know it is going to be a really challenging shooting range because everything is so open and exposed to the wind which means anything can happen, so this year I am trying to really focus on my biathlon.”


  • One of the greatest skiers in the world will rejoin Alpina ski boots. Petter Northug, who has won eleven World Championships and an Olympic Gold under the Alpina brand will re-ride them for the 2017 World Cup seasons. “I contacted Alpina because they are passionate about ski boots. They work to develop even better products- it shows when you have boots on feet up to 30 hours a week,” Northug said. According to, Alpina differs from the other major suppliers since they only focus on the development of boots. The partnership with Alpina means that Northug also will have a partnership with Rottefella. Northug will join his little brother Even, who also is with Alpina.

— Ian Tovell

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Nov. 10 Roundup: Fletcher Bros on ‘The Frynge’; Mäkäräinen Preps for XC World Champs

— U.S. Nordic Combined A-teamers and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher are the center of a monthlong campaign on ‘The Frynge’, a website dedicated to raising money and exposure for athletes in “action, adventure & Olympic sports” outside the mainstream. Nordic combined is one of those sports. The Frynge offers 10 brands of products and donates 10 percent of proceeds from all sales. For the month of November, those donations will go to the Fletchers.

“With just about three months until the 2017 World Championships and 16 months until the next Olympics in South Korea, we need your help now more than ever,” the Fletchers wrote in a letter on their campaign page. “Over the next month you will learn just how much goes into Nordic combined to reach the top. Funding, however, is our biggest limiting factor. Each competition jump suit lasts around 30-50 jumps and costs nearly $350. A good suit can add as much as 10 meters to your jump. A 10-meter difference is about 1.5 minutes’ difference in start time when it comes to the cross country portion of the sport. Ultimately that is the difference between winning and losing. Suits are not our only expense however, as travel, lodging, living & school expenses all add up. By purchasing from The Frynge you will help alleviate some of those financial hurdles allowing us to focus on achieving gold in the big event!”

— Biathlon in Georgia? It’s happening, according to prime minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who recently revealed that an Olympic-standard biathlon track will be constructed in the ski-resort area of Bakuriani, along with an ice-hockey venue. InsidetheGames reported that the country is investing 796,500 Georgian Lari (GEL) (roughly $330,200 U.S. dollars) in the biathlon venue. About 30 kilometers from Bakuriani, the resort town of Borjomi has also been earmarked for Olympic facilities as Georgia hopes to one day host a Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. The country with a population of 3.75 million (about at third of the population of the U.S. state of Georgia) has yet to win a Winter Olympic medal.

— The Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, or Norwegian Birkie or “Birken” for short, has seen declining participation since 2014 and thus less revenue, reports. Based on the last two years, organizers anticipate the 54-kilometer race will draw 10 million Kroner (roughly $1.46 million) less in 2017 compared to 2016. Since the beginning of this year, the Norwegian Birkie has reduced its staff from “18 or 19” employees to 16, and will continue to rely heavily on volunteers. On a positive note, the 2017 Birken is scheduled for March 18, well ahead of Easter, which has attracted an average of 1,500 more participants in the past.

— Finnish biathlon world champion Kaisa Mäkäräinen hopes to compete in cross-country skiing’s 2017 Lahti World Championships in her home nation in February, Neveitalia reports. She has acknowledged that Finland’s cross-country team is very strong and she hopes to secure her spot on the team at those championships. Lahti World Championships (Feb. 22-March 5) follow the IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria (Feb. 8-19), and overlap with the IBU World Cup in PyeongChang, South Korea — the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Mäkäräinen, 33, plans to continue competing in biathlon through the 2018 Olympics, she announced in a Facebook press conference in April.

“[I] shall devote a hard summer training, then in autumn I will check if I feel strong enough to try to earn a place in this event [Lahti World Championships] as well as Hochfilzen, to which I look with great affection, because 2005 was my first World Cup ,” she said, according to a rough translation.

In 2014, Mäkäräinen placed ninth in a 10 k freestyle at the cross-country World Cup in Lahti. She has two national titles in the 10 k freestyle event, in 2013 and 2014.

— Three of the world’s top marathon skiers will compete in the Red Bull Nordenskiöld Race,  “the world’s longest and toughest ski race”, according to, which takes place north of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden on April 15, 2017. This will be the second-straight year of the resurrected 220 k race, with origins dating back to 1884. The 2017 race is capped at 500 racers, and Norway’s defending champion John Kristian Dahl, runner-up Anders Aukland, and Sweden’s fourth-place finisher from last year Jörgen Brink will be in the hunt for the overall win.

— Ian Tovell and Alex Kochon

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Snowfarm Racing Kicks off in Europe

It’s not just Frozen Thunder: international racing also kicked off in Europe over the weekend. Finland kicked things off in Vuokatti with Finnish Cup races.

In Saturday’s sprints, Anne Kyllönen bested Andrea Julin in the final. Hanna Varjus was relegated to last in the final for interference, leaving Ann-Mary Ähtävä in third.

“It’s good exercise, I got to go four times around the track at a hard pace for skiing,” Kyllönen told Kestävyys Urheilu. The World Cup veteran finished as high up as fifth in the Sprint Cup standings back in 2013, but has evolved into a stronger all-around skier recently, ranking tenth in the overall World Cup last season.

22-year-old Julin has had a few World Cup starts but is still seeking her first trip to the sprint quarterfinals.

@annekyllonen sai #schiihto-avauksessa onnistuneen harjoituksen. Voittajan mietteet Facebookissamme. Onnea! #vuokatti #sprintti

A photo posted by Hiihdon Suomen Cup (@hiihdonsuomencup) on

In the men’s sprint, Matias Strandvall edged Ristomatti Hakola in the final ahead of Lauri Vuorinen. World Cup regulars Toni Ketelä, Anssi Pentsinen, and Christoffer Lindvall rounded out the final. Strandvall, a perennial top-10 threat in World Cup sprints, and Hakola battled the whole way, pulling away from the field early on. But Strandvall dropped Hakola on the final climb to ski to the finish with a clear win. “Ristomatti tried to strike at the very beginning…. I struck when the time was ripe,” Strandvall said.

In Sunday’s relays – 3 x 4 k for women and 3 x 6 k for men – more stars came out, like Riita-Liisa Roponen, Laura Mononen, Ville Nousiainen, and Martti Jylhä.

Sprint results: men / women

Relay results: men / women

In Switzerland, the saved-snow loop in Davos opened on Saturday with sprint races amongst the country’s elite skiers. Jöri Kindschi topped the men’s field over Roman Furger and Dario Cologna, all of the Swiss National team. Tatiana Stiffler of Schweizerischer Akademischer Skiclub (SAS) was the top woman, beating out Delphine Claudel of France and Rahel Imobersdorf, also of SAS.

The loop is four kilometers and has attracted the likes of German biathlete Laura Dahlmeier.

You can take a video tour of the “snowfarming” loop on the Davos Nordic Facebook page.

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Outside Ranks Nordic Skiing ‘World’s Toughest Outdoor Sport’

What is the toughest outdoor sport in the world? In the minds of most nordic skiers, cross-country skiing takes the top spot. But how might non-nordic athletes rank it?

In a recent article by Outside Magazine, author Dan Roe outlined the top five toughest outdoor athletic activities in the world: rock climbing, downhill mountain biking, ultrarunning, nordic skiing, and open-water swimming. These sports were chosen based on the degree of difficulty they take to master, the risk factor involved with competing in each, and the amount of skill/fitness that is required to perform each activity.

Using peer-reviewed research, Roe then compared numbers on calories burned per hour, average number of injuries per 1,000 hours, and fatality rates for each sport. Finally, Roe interviewed professionals within each sport, asking them what makes their sport so challenging and to vote for one of the five athletic activities — outside of their own — that they viewed as the most difficult.

Just how did nordic skiing stack up in the eyes of other world-class athletes and Outside mag? All in all, nordic skiing was voted the toughest sport in the world, with athletes burning an average of 952 calories per hour (the second highest number of the five sports, just five calories short of open-water swimming), participants sustaining injuries at a rate of 30 per 1,000 hours (also the second highest), and the third highest fatality rate at 11 per 1 million participants.

American ultrarunning living legend, Scott Jurekauthor of the New York Times bestseller ‘Eat and Run‘, voted for cross-country skiing and told Outside, “Nordic skiing came to my mind right away. There’s nothing like it in terms of the feeling when you’re floating along, to grind up the uphills and cover the terrain. I think Nordic skiing is the most taxing workout.”

According to Outside’s verdict, nordic skiing was the winner:

“For our money, this is the toughest sport,” the article states. “It requires the endurance of ultrarunning, the sprint speed of mountain biking, the mental toughness of open water swimming, and, at times, can put skiers in situations of real exposure. And at 952 calories per hour, competitive nordic skiers burn the equivalent of a Chipotle burrito every hour. To be successful, athletes must maintain unparalleled cardiovascular fitness in addition to muscular strength and coordination.”

Rock climbing ranked second overall, followed by open-water swimming in third, downhill mountain biking in fourth and ultrarunning in fifth.

Both Sophie Caldwell and Kikkan Randall of the U.S. Ski Team were interviewed for the article. Caldwell voted for ultrarunning, while Randall opted for open-water swimming.

“I would have to think that open-water swimming is pretty challenging, because you are so vulnerable, and regulating your body temperature in the water can be really challenging,” Randall told Outside.

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