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Spring Series Photos: U.S. Distance Nationals 30 k Classic

2014 U.S. Distance Nationals 30 k classic mass start at Hillside trails in Anchorage, Alaska

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.

Mysterious Man in Red, New Mexico’s Nikander Out-Double Poles Hoffman in 50 k

Winner Aku Nikander of the University of New Mexico (l) and runner-up and first American Noah Hoffman of the U.S. Ski Team congratulate each other after finishing the men's 50 k classic race at U.S. Distance Nationals on Friday.

Aku Nikander was somewhat an unknown in the men’s 50-kilometer classic mass start on Friday at U.S. Distance Nationals. As far as Noah Hoffman was concerned, he was the guy that stood between him and a shot at his second individual victory of 2014 Spring Series.

Sadie Bjornsen Tops Stephen, Randall in Season-Ending 30 k Classic

Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST) celebrates her third national title and first of U.S. Distance Nationals in the women's 30 k classic mass start on Friday at Hillside trails in Anchorage, Alaska. She dropped USST teammate Liz Stephen in the final kilometers to do so.

Sadie Bjornsen rose to the occasion for the final race of the season on Friday, going hard even when she had hoped she wouldn’t have to, working with Liz Stephen to drop the pack, then attacking to leave Stephen behind in the final kilometers of the 30 k classic at U.S. Distance Nationals.

Spring Series in Photos: Mixed Relay

(Photo: Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News)

Photos from Tuesday’s 4 x 5 k mixed relay, a new event at U.S. Distance Nationals, which was held at 5 p.m. in Anchorage and included 26 teams, 18 of which were vying for a national title.

Business First, But Fun Throughout: APU Dominates Inaugural Mixed Relay at Distance Nationals

(Photo: Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News)

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.

SuperTour Sprint: Randall Delivers Another Win for Home Crowd, Anchorage Mayor Included

Kikkan Randall leads a semifinal heat at Sunday's SuperTour Finals classic sprint race at Anchorage's Kincaid Park. Photo, Bill Roth, Anchorage Daily News

With Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan shouting encouragement, Kikkan Randall won her second straight race in front of a home crowd on a sunny Sunday at Kincaid Park.

Hoffman Works His Way into 15 k Skate, Wins Day 1 of SuperTour Finals

Noah Hoffman (SSCV/Team HomeGrown/USST) racing to a 10.9-second win in Saturday's 15 k freestyle at SuperTour Finals at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo: Rob Whitney)

Noah Hoffman knew he had to shake UVM senior Scott Patterson with every ounce of energy he had in Saturday’s three-lap 15 k skate at SuperTour Finals. By the end of the second lap, Hoffman had built a nearly 5-second lead and extended it to 11 seconds through the finish.

Spring Series Preview Video: Back in Alaska

kikkan and liz 2014 supertour finals kincaid park

On a sunny afternoon in Kincaid Park, several World Cup skiers, including three Olympians and three Alaska Pacific University members, took the time to chat on camera between training and testing on Friday.

Final Thoughts from World Cup Finals: Notes & Quotes

Kikkan Randall with her third consecutive Sprint World Cup Crystal Globe. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Still craving more of the World Cup? Here are some comments from a few of the U.S. skiers who closed their international-racing seasons at World Cup Finals last Sunday in Falun, Sweden. (And don’t fear, Spring Series is almost here!)

Three Americans Land Top 20, Four in Top 21 at World Cup Finals Skiathlon

The start of the women's 15 k skiathlon on Saturday at World Cup Finals in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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 in spring-like conditions at World Cup Finals in Falun. (Photo: Reese Hanneman/Instagram)

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 Americans in Top 10, Four in Top 20 in World Cup Finals Classic Sprint

Several members of the U.S. Ski Team lift up Kikkan Randall after she won her third-straight World Cup sprint Crystal Globe on Friday in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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.

Bjørgen Wins Falun Sprint at World Cup Finals; Randall Earns Third-Straight Sprint Title

Today's Sprint Podium in Falun, Sweden at the World Cup Finals. Ingvild Flugstad Ostberg (NOR, Marit Bjorgen (NOR), Stina Nilsson (SWE) (l-r) (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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

Start of the men's 50 k freestyle mass start at Holmenkollen on Saturday in Oslo, Norway, with Alex Harvey (3) trailing overall World Cup leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby (yellow bib). (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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.

Randall, Bjornsen Capture Top-14 Distance Career Bests in Holmenkollen 30 k

Americans Kikkan Randall (c) and Sadie Bjornsen (r) ski with Norway's Marthe Kristoffersen (l), and Germany's Nicole Fessel 
in the Holmenkollen 30 k classic mass start on Sunday in Oslo, Norway. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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.

Randall Grabs Redemption in Drammen

U.S. teammate Kikkan Randall (l) and Sophie Caldwell celebrate the first U.S. double podium in Saturday's World Cup skate sprint in Lahti, Finland. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Kikkan Randall’s disappointing elimination, by a hair’s breadth, from Wednesday’s classic sprint final in Drammen, Norway, was more than made up for when she found out that she was crowned the world’s best sprinter for the third consecutive year.

Kikkan Randall, Noah Hoffman America’s Best in Lahti 10 and 15 k Skate

Kikkan Randall was the top American in today’s World Cup freestyle in Lahti, Finland skating her way to 21st place. Noah Hoffman was the top American man, finishing 24th on the icy course.

U.S. Women Get Their Swagger Back with Randall, Caldwell on First Double Podium

Fellow U.S. Ski Team members Kikkan Randall (l) and Sophie Caldwell after finishing an unprecedented first and third, respectively, in the Lahti World Cup freestyle sprint on Saturday in Finland. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

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.

Four Years Later, U.S. Nordic Combined Lacks Olympic Fanfare But Comes Full Circle

Billy Demong (l) with his son Liam and wife Katie after the final competition of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the 4 x 5 k team event.

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.

Hoffman ‘A Little Bit Closer’ with 26th in Olympic 50 k

Noah Hoffman (bib 26) skiing with Anders Soedergren of Sweden inthe Olympic 50 k.

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.