In mid November, national and elite teams start flocking to northern Scandinavia in search of early snow: Muonio, Bruksvallarna, Beitostolen. But what’s it like if you’re just a normal guy seeking some skiing of your own? Are you going to get “hupped” by an exasperated Charlotte Kalla? Simon Evans investigates this strange world, and learns something about why we love our sport.
FasterSkier reported live at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria, and 2,000 kilometers north in Lillehammer, Norway, the U.S. cross-country and nordic-combined teams found success in Lillehammer. NorAm racing kicked off in British Columbia, and Bozeman SuperTour skiers braved the cold to get distance races in after Saturday’s sprints were canceled.
After spending most of last season away from the World Cup, Jeremy Teela and Lanny Barnes are back in action. Barnes says she is completely recovered from compartment syndrome surgery; Teela loves being a father, but is focusing for this season on one last push for his fourth Olympics. Both held their relay teams in the top 8 this weekend.
Action was exciting in the World Cup biathlon relays on Saturday, with plenty of lead changes, untimely penalties, and aggressive skiing. The scenery was also pretty nice, with the field snaking up long climbs and through open meadows. You’re sure to find some pictures of your favorite biathletes in our photo set – and get a hankering to hit the trails yourself.
Fresh snow couldn’t keep the US women’s relay from matching their best ever 4.5 Classic/Free Relay time. Randall, Bjornsen Stephen and Diggins claimed a bronze medal despite near disaster and broken ski pole. A second US women’s relay team clinched 12th to close the second weekend of World Cup racing
Despite Good Performances, North American Men Struggle to Gain Spots in Hochfilzen Pursuit; Smith the Lone Big Mover
Aided by an early bib and a mid-race snowstorm, Lars Berger – who was left off the Norwegian national team this year – earned his sixth win but the first in three years. He beat Martin Fourcade of France, who had two fewer penalties but was stuck in slow snow conditions. Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway was third.
Despite a mid-race snowstorm that put later starters at a serious disadvantage, Lowell Bailey finished 16th and Tim Burke 24th in the 10 k sprint in Hochfilzen. They were the only two Americans, men or women, to qualify for the pursuit races on Sunday. “We can’t control the weather,” shooting coach Armin Auchentaller said.
Switzerland has never won a biathlon World Cup race – and it was especially surprising that the first victory would come from its small women’s team. But Selina Gasparin has been close to the podium before and today she sealed the deal in the 7.5 k sprint, eking out a 1-second victory over Veronika Vitkova of the Czech Republic.