Scenes from the front of the pack during the women’s three-lap, 30-kilometer classic mass start at U.S. Distance Nationals last Friday at Hillside trails.
The 4 x 5 k relay made its way back into U.S. nationals for the first time in about 16 years, but with a new twist of two men and two women per team. APU showed its strength and depth early on, and its winning anchor, Kikkan Randall said she’s hoping the format makes it into the World Cup. She’s not alone.
Liz Stephen led the U.S. in 15th to get closer to her overall World Cup and distance-ranking goals, and Noah Hoffman tried to ski more conservatively than usual to secure points in 18th. Kikkan Randall placed 20th and Sadie Bjornsen was right behind in 21st in Saturday’s skiathlon at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden.
Two Weeks After International Debut, Hanneman Nabs PB’s at World Cup Finals; Diggins Also Close for U.S.
Reese Hanneman came within 0.45 seconds of becoming the third American man to make the World Cup heats this season, and Jessie Diggins was just over a second shy of qualifying in her first race back since getting sick post-Sochi. The two logged top-40 results again on Saturday, along with Ida Sargent, in the World Cup Finals skiathlons.
Three U.S. women and one man qualified for the rounds on the first day of World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden, a strong start to what turned out to be a solid day for the Americans. Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell once again made the final as a unit, and Sadie Bjornsen narrowly missed out on advancing to the semis after placing third behind them in their quarterfinal. Andy Newell made the semifinals to finish eighth overall.
Norwegians Marit Bjørgen and Ingvild Østberg took the top two spots in the classic sprints in Sweden today, with Americans Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell making the final heat. Randall walked away with the heavy crystal Sprint Globe from the overall World Cup sprint win, while Bjørgen is now only three points behind teammate Therese Johaug for the overall World Cup chamionship.
Late-Season Calculations Play into World Cup Strategies: Harvey Improves to Top 6 Overall, Hoffman Goes for Points
For many, the Holmenkollen 50 k freestyle mass start on Saturday was all about larger goals — not just the race itself. But to achieve those goals, one had to do well enough in the challenging six-lap race. Alex Harvey improved from 46th to 14th with that mindset, and Noah Hoffman put it all on the line for bonus points.
Teammates on the U.S. Ski Team and Alaska Pacific University, Kikkan Randall and Sadie Bjornsen tallied the best distance results of their respective careers on Sunday at Holmenkollen, the ultimate distance race of the season. Randall worked her way up and attacked late to finish 12th, and Bjornsen skied consistently with a pack of Norwegians to place 14th.
The first thing U.S. women’s coach Matt Whitcomb tweeted after Saturday’s freestyle sprint, the first World Cup since the Olympics: “We are back!” Randall had won another skate sprint to rise to the top of the World Cup sprint standings, and Sophie Caldwell joined her on the podium — the first time two U.S. women have shared an individual World Cup podium.
In three Olympic competitions in Sochi, U.S. Nordic Combined didn’t end up with the fairy tale some had come to expect after the 2010 Vancouver Games. But with icons in Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick likely in their last Olympics, the story was more about the team closing one book and opening another.
With the leaders through 48 k, U.S. skier Noah Hoffman ended up 26th in the Olympic 50 k. He was far from happy with his result – it’s “not what I’m looking for” – but said he feels more and more comfortable skiing at the front. Brian Gregg finished 51st and Kris Freeman 57th in the last race of the Olympics.