The World Cup season draws ever-closer as season-opening races continued this weekend in Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland.
In Muonio, Finland, a long weekend of racing wrapped up with 10 and 15 k skate races. Finland’s Anne Kylloenen took the win in the women’s 10 k, besting Emilie Kristoffersen of Norway by 8.2 seconds. Kylloenen’s national-team teammates Laura Mononen and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen took third (+14.0) and fourth (+17.1), respectively. Merete Myrseth, a Norwegian skier who competed for the University of Utah on the NCAA circuit last season, finished 17th, +57.1.
In the men’s 15 k, Alexey Chervotkin of Russia took a 13.8-second win over Iivo Niskanen of Finland. Denis Spitzov of Russia was third, +17.5, and University of Utah alum Snorri Einarsson fourth, +21.2. Einarsson is competing for Iceland. Graham Nishikawa of Canada finished 19th, +1:14.4, and Brian McKeever 40th, + 2:05.3.
Finishing sixth (+37.0) was Maxim Vylegzhanin of Russia, who made his second flower ceremony of the weekend. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided on Thursdayto strip the Russian skier of three silver medals from the 2014 Olympics for doping violations and ban him from all future Olympic Games. However, the International Ski Federation (FIS) has not yet taken any action since he and five other skiers were banned from the IOC, meaning that all six athletes are currently free to take part in non-Olympic ski competitions. FIS has not yet responded to a request for comment about Vylegzhanin’s continued competition.
In Bruksvallarna, Sweden, Sunday meant skate sprinting, and Norwegians took both the men’s and women’s wins. In the men’s race, Paal Troean Aune bested countryman Even Northug in the final, with Anton Persson the only Swede on the podium in third. None of the top sprinters from either country competed. Jack Carlyle of Canada finished 60th, 19.4 seconds behind Aune’s qualifying time.
In the women’s sprint, Wenche Aune Snildalsli took the win over four Swedes: Emma Thalin, Moa Olsson, Jackline Lockner, and Wilma Joensson were next across the line, and Latvia’s Patricija Eiduka finished sixth.
A large contingent of international racers has also been training in Davos, Switzerland, where organizers have a lengthy saved-snow loop covering some of the same terrain which will host the World Cup in mid-December. On Friday and Saturday, the Swiss competed with the German and Italian teams in sprint and distance races, with a few individual athletes from other countries attending as well.
In Friday’s sprints, Laurien Van Der Graaf came out on top for the home team, besting Germany’s Laura Gimmler and Steffi Boehler in the ‘A’ final after Gimmler had won beat her by 1.59 seconds in the qualifier. Fourth place went to Sandra Ringwald, also of Germany, and fifth to Ilaria Debertolis of Italy. In the men’s sprint Thomas Bing claimed the win for Germany, skiing away Switzerland’s Erwan Kaeser by more than two seconds. Giacomo Gabrielli and Stefan Zelger of Italy were third and fourth, and Janosch Brugger of Germany rounded out the ‘A’ final in fifth.
In Saturday’s distance races, Katerina Smutna – racing for the Czech Republic after taking a break for several years to focus on a long-distance marathon career – won the three-lap, 10.5 k competition by just three seconds over Katharina Hennig of Germany, with Boehler another 12.2 seconds back in third. Van Der Graaf finished fourth, + 27.1, and Debertolis fifth, +39.6.
In the men’s four-lap race, covering 14 k, Swiss Olympic gold medalist Dario Cologna took a commanding 26.6-second win over Russia’s Ilia Chernousov. Jonas Dobler of Germany claimed third, +33.8, with Giandomenico Salvadori of Italy fourth (+59.2), narrowly beating out Livio Bieler of Switzerland (+1:00.9).
Chernousov could soon become an Olympic champion like Cologna. Vylegzhanin’s disqualification from the 2014 Olympics, along with that of Alexander Legkov, leaves Chernousov to inherit a gold medal in the 50 k freestyle, where he initially finished third. He has not been named in any of the doping investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency or the International Olympic Committee. In fact, a Russian ski coach recently claimed that Chernousov had turned whistleblower and informed against his Russian teammate, but Chernousov has denied that allegation.
Sprint races (one document, men & women / qualifier & heats)