NorAm Mini Tour (Rossland, B.C.): Freestyle sprints
On Day 2 of NorAm racing in Rossland, British Columbia, Julien Locke, of the Black Jack Ski Club and Canadian National U25 Team, won the men’s 1.4-kilometer freestyle sprint final on his home trails by just one-hundredth of a second over Evan Palmer-Charrette, of the National Team Development Centre (NTDC) Thunder Bay, in 2:38.13. NTDC Thunder Bay had two on the podium with Julian Smith in third, 0.4 seconds behind Locke.
Locke started the day by qualifying second, just 0.06 seconds behind Bob Thompson (NTDC Thunder Bay), who won the qualifier in 2:39.49. Locke went on to finish second to Thompson in the first quarterfinal, then won the second semifinal while Thompson won the first semi.
In the final, Locke tallied his first NorAm win of the season, while Thompson, last weekend’s classic-sprint winner at Sovereign Lake, placed fourth (+0.43), missing the podium by three-hundredths of a second. Andy Shields (Lappe Nordic) finished fifth (+1.78) and Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand (Canmore Nordic/Stefan Kuhn HP Team) sixth (+5.21) in the men’s final.
Also on Saturday, American Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/Loppet Nordic Racing) racked up her second-straight win in Rossland (after topping Friday’s 5 k classic), winning the women’s 1.4 k skate-sprint final in 3:03.36. Canada’s Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers) finished 2.5 seconds later for second place and Zina Kocher (Foothills Nordic) scored her first podium of the season in third (+3.53).
Dupont won the women’s qualifier in 3:07.68, and Gregg qualified second, 0.87 seconds back. Dupont went on to win the first quarterfinal and first semifinal, while Gregg won her quarterfinal and semifinal as well. (Gregg’s quarterfinal had four racers, compared to five in Dupont’s quarterfinal, as only 21 women competed in the senior women’s heats.)
Also in the final, Laura Leclair, of the Centre National d’Excellence Pierre Harvey/Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH), finished fourth (+6.11), Maya MacIsaac-Jones (U25 Team) was fifth (+6.31) and Sophie Carrier-Laforte (Skinouk) sixth (+8.57).
OPA Cup (St. Ulrich, Austria): 5/15 k classic
On the second day of Alpen Cup (a.k.a. OPA Cup) racing in St. Ulrich, Ida Sargent of the U.S. Ski Team (USST) finished third in the women’s 5 k classic behind two Russians, Elena Soboleva and Natalia Matveeva, respectively.
Soboleva took the win in the individual-start race in 14:25.8, and Matveeva was 12.5 seconds back for second place. Just like Matveeva, Sargent reached the podium for the second-straight race in third (+18.1), after placing third in the freestyle sprint on Friday (Matveeva finished second in the sprint).
Germany’s Antonia Fräbel finished fourth (+21.0) and American Sophie Caldwell (USST), who won the sprint the day before, placed fifth (+22.7). The other USST member in the race, Julia Kern finished 15th (+53.5).
The men raced a 15 k classic, with France’s Alexis Jeannerod taking the win in 38:45.6. Germany’s Thomas Wick was 4.7 seconds back in second, and Russia’s Gleb Retivykh placed third (+11.3). The lone American man racing, Andy Newell (USST) finished 36th (+2:07.1) out of 125 finishers.
The three-day OPA Cup weekend in St. Ulrich wraps up Sunday with 10/15 k freestyle mass starts.
IBU World Cup (Annecy, France): Women’s and men’s pursuits
Germany’s Laura Dalhmeier captured her first win of the season, preventing Slovakia’s Anastasia Kuzmina from her third-straight win, and American Susan Dunklee raced to a season-best sixth in the women’s 10-kilometer pursuit on Saturday in Annecy-Le Grand Bornand, France.
Canada’s Emma Lunder achieved a career-best 18th after starting 34th, and her teammate Julia Ransom placed 27th after starting 39th.
In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit that followed, Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø started first, shot clean and fended off his competition to rack up his fourth-straight victory — winning by more than a minute.
And for the second-straight race, France’s Martin Fourcade finished second, this time 1:01.4 minutes behind Bø, who crossed the line first in 32:52.1. Fourcade had to ski two penalty laps later in the race (0+0+1+1), while Russia’s Anton Shipulin, who started sixth and had a single miss (0+0+0+1), rose to third place (+1:10.5).
American Lowell Bailey shot clean to race up to 14th (+2:13.9) after starting 35th. His US Biathlon teammate Tim Burke finished 26th (+3:03.1) with three penalties (1+0+1+1), after starting 10th.
Canada’s Scott Gow finished a second later for 27th (+3:04.1) after starting 16th and skiing four penalty laps (1+0+1+2). His brother Christian Gow moved up one spot to 29th (+3:06.6) after starting 30th and shooting 19-for-20 (1+0+0+0).
The U.S. had four men in the pursuit, with Sean Doherty placing 30th (+3:07.0) with three penalties after starting 17th.
Leif Nordgren improved to 48th (+4:54.9), up from 56th, despite three misses.
FIS Cross Country World Cup (Toblach, Italy): 10/15 k freestyle
In the men’s 15 k freestyle on Saturday in Toblach, 24-year-old Simen Hegstad Krüger achieved his first individual World Cup victory in 29:58.8 minutes, and was joined on the podium by France’s Maurice Manificat in second (+10.6) and Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave in third (+11.5).
Canadian World Cup Team member Alex Harvey missed the podium by 2.5 seconds in fourth place (+14.0), tying his best result of the season after finishing Ruka Triple mini tour in fourth place late last month in Kuusamo, Finland.
Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov followed in fifth, Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh was sixth and Hans Christer Holund seventh, Finland’s Matti Heikkinen eighth, Switzerland’s Toni Livers ninth, and notably, Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo — who hasn’t lost a race all season (he sat out last weekend’s 15 k skate in Davos, Switzerland) — was 10th.
Erik Bjornsen of the U.S. Ski Team (USST) was the lone American in the points (top 30) in 29th (+1:09.6), Noah Hoffman finished 40th (+1:24.5), Scott Patterson (USST) was 42nd (+1:29.4), and Paddy Caldwell (USST) 53rd (+1:50.0)
For Canada, Devon Kershaw (World Cup Team) placed 38th (+1:22.1), Graeme Killick (World Cup Team) was 49th (+1:47.8), Russell Kennedy (Team R.A.D.) 60th (+2:13.2), and Knute Johnsgaard (World Cup Team) 85th (+3:28.3).
In the women’s 10 k freestyle individual start in Toblach, Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla tallied her third win of the season in 22:40.1 minutes, ahead of five Norwegians and American Jessie Diggins.
Norway’s Ragnhild Haga was 5.8 seconds shy of Kalla’s time for second place, and her teammate Heidi Weng was another 8 seconds back in third (+13.8).
Norway occupied second through sixth place, with Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen in fourth (+17.9), Marit Bjørgen in fifth (+22.6) and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in sixth (+29.3). Diggins led the U.S. Ski Team (USST) in seventh (+40.5), with Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen close behind in eighth (+43.5) and the second U.S. woman in the top 10, Sadie Bjornsen, another 0.4 seconds back in ninth (+43.9).
The USST had three in the top 20 with Rosie Brennan placing 19th (+1:15.2) for her second-straight top-20 result (following a 17th place in last weekend’s 10 k freestyle in Davos, Switzerland). Chelsea Holmes (Alaska Pacific University) finished 36th and Liz Stephen (USST) was 47th.
Emily Nishikawa (Canadian World Cup Team) led her team in 51st, Cendrine Browne (Canadian U25 Team) followed in 55th, Dahria Beatty (World Cup Team) was 69th, and Katherine Stewart-Jones (U25 Team) 77th.