NorAm/SuperTour (Sovereign Lake near Vernon, British Columbia): Classic sprints
On the opening day of the NorAm Continental Cup series in Canada (which doubled as a U.S. SuperTour), American Kaitlynn Miller of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) started Saturday with a nearly three-second win in the classic-sprint qualifier at the Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, then went on to win her quarterfinal and semifinal before topping the final as well.
Miller was the fastest women’s qualifier by 2.87 seconds on the 1.3-kilometer course with a time of 2:59.39. Ultimately, she won the final in 2:57.53, 0.93 seconds ahead of her teammate Caitlin Patterson in second and 2.59 seconds clear of the third American on the podium, Hannah Halvorsen of Alaska Pacific University (APU) and the U.S. Ski Team (USST) D-team, in third place.
Halvorsen previously qualified third behind Kelsey Phinney, of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) in second. Phinney finished fourth in the final (+2.85), while a third Craftsbury skier, Liz Guiney placed fifth (+3.53). The lone Canadian in the six-woman final, Sophie Carrier-Laforte of the Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (CNEPH) placed sixth (+4.38).
Thompson Fends Off Five Americans
Of the six racers in the men’s 1.3 k freestyle sprint final, five of them were American. Bob Thompson, of the Thunder Bay National Team Development Centre (NTDC), bested them all for the win in 2:29.31, just 0.03 seconds ahead of Ben Saxton, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) Elite Team, in second place. Cole Morgan (SVSEF), the qualifying winner who had so far dominated all of his heats, ended up third overall, 0.48 seconds behind Thompson.
Sun Valley and APU each had two athletes reach the men’s final with Jack Hegman (SVSEF) taking fourth (+0.51), and APU’s Reese Hanneman and Tyler Kornfield placing fifth (+7.75) and sixth (+7.9), respectively.
To start the day, Morgan posted the fastest men’s qualifying time in 2:31.00, while last weekend’s SuperTour skate sprint winner Nick Michaud, of the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF), qualified in second, 0.78 seconds back. Americans took the top-three qualifying spots with Logan Hanneman (APU) in third (+1.59), while Thompson was the top Canadian qualifier in fourth (+2.34).
Morgan won both his quarterfinal and the first semifinal to advance to the final, along with Thompson who placed second in that semifinal (and placed second to Hegman in the quarterfinals). Saxton won the second semifinal (after finishing second to Logan Hanneman in the quarterfinals) and Kornfield was second behind Saxton in that semifinal to automatically advance to the final. Reese Hanneman and Hegman made it to the final as lucky losers after placing third and fourth, respectively, in the first semifinal.
IBU World Cup (Hochfilzen, Austria): Men’s and women’s pursuits
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Bø notched his second-straight win in Hochfilzen after Martin Fourcade of France missed three on the final shooting stage of the men’s 12.5 k pursuit on Saturday. Bø, who started the race 12 seconds ahead of Fourcade in second, cleaned the final standing stage to leave the range nearly a minute ahead of Slovenia’s Jakov Fak in second. Meanwhile, Fourcade, who had been skiing in first just ahead of Bø before the last stage, dropped 1:19 minutes back to fifth.
While Bø skied the win in 36:41.1 minutes and Fak, the third starter, finished 58.8 seconds later in second place, Fourcade made up two places on the final loop to place third (+1:10.0) after passing Germany’s Simon Schempp and Russia’s Maxim Tsvetkov.
Schempp settled for fourth (+1:10.5), and Bø’s older brother, Tarjei Bø, passed Tsvetkov as well to claim fifth (+1:11.9), while Tsvetkov finished sixth (+11:12.3).
On another snowy afternoon in Hochfilzen, Johannes Bø had three penalties, two of which came in the first stage (2+0+1+0). Fak was one of four men in the race with just one miss (0+0+1+0) — no one cleaned — while Fourcade missed five (1+0+1+3). Schempp had four penalties (3+1+0+0) but held onto his starting position in fourth, Tarjei Bø improved from 14th at the start to fifth with just two misses (1+0+1+0) and Tsvetkov raced up from 20th to sixth with a single miss (1+0+0+0).
American Sean Doherty tied his second-best World Cup result in 17th (+2:12.8) after starting 23rd and 1:39 out of first. He had two penalties (1+0+1+0).
Canada’s top finisher, Nathan Smith placed 31st (+3:02.2) after starting 19th and missing three shots (1+1+0+1). His teammate Brendan Green rose to 33rd (+3:15.7), up from 52nd at the start, with three penalties as well (1+0+1+1).
Four Canadians qualified for the pursuit, with Scott Gow placing 48th (+5:08.4) with seven penalties (1+1+3+2). His younger brother Christian Gow crossed next in 49th (+5:13.7) after missing five (+5:13.7).
The other American man in the race, Lowell Bailey placed 36th (+3:20.6), up from 53rd, with three misses (0+2+1+0).
Kuzmina Gets First Win in Three Years
In the women’s 10 k pursuit that followed, Slovakia’s Anastasia Kuzmina overcame a 22-second starting deficit to win her first race in three and a half years, shooting 19-for-20 (1+0+0+0) and finishing in 34:31.2. Kuzmina (the sister of Russia’s Anton Shipulin) started second behind Friday’s sprint winner Darya Domracheva of Belarus. Domracheva had a single miss as well in Saturday’s pursuit (0+0+1+0) but slipped to second after her penalty in the first standing stage, while Kuzmina cleaned the last three stages to take the win.
Domracheva settled for third (+11.8) and Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen rose to second (+10.2) after shooting 18-for-20 (1+0+0+1) and skiing the fastest course time to rise from her starting position in sixth.
Italy’s Dorothea Wierer slipped one place to fourth (+51.6) after starting third and missing two (1+0+0+1), while Norway’s Marte Olsbu raced up from 13th to fifth (+58.2) with a single penalty (1+0+0+0). Ukraine’s Yuliia Dzhima improved from 20th to sixth (+1:08) with one miss as well (0+0+0+1).
Canada’s Emma Lunder achieved her second-best career World Cup result in 27th (+2:31.6) after starting 42nd and cleaning three stages after missing one in the first prone (1+0+0+0). Her teammate Rosanna Crawford improved from 49th at the start to 39th at the finish (+3:44.3) with four penalties, one in each stage (1+1+1+1).
The U.S. had one woman qualify for the race, Clare Egan, who finished 53rd (+5:21.6) with seven penalties (2+2+2+1).
For the third and final day of World Cup racing in Hochfilzen, the men’s and women’s relays will be held Sunday.
FIS Cross Country World Cup (Davos, Switzerland): Freestyle sprints
Kikkan Randall returned to the podium on Saturday in the first freestyle sprint of the 2017/2018 World Cup season, placing third in the women’s 1.5-kilometer skate sprint behind Sweden’s Stina Nilsson and Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, respectively, in Davos, Switzerland.
Americans made up half of the women’s final, with Jessie Diggins racing to fourth and Ida Sargent sixth, with Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad Østberg between them in fifth.
Nilsson started the day by winning the qualifier in 2:51.71 minutes, while Østberg had the second-fastest qualifing time, 2.57 seconds back. Switzerland’s Nadine Fähndrich posted the third fastest qualifying time (+2.73), and for the U.S., Diggins qualified fourth (+3.37), Sargent fifth (+3.78), Randall sixth (+4.11), Sophie Caldwell ninth (+4.87), and Sadie Bjornsen in 11th (+5.38).
Nilsson then won her quarterfinal and the first semifinal before outlunging Falla by eight-hundredths of a second for the final win in 2:47.99. Randall (who won her quarterfinal and advanced to the final as a lucky loser in third in the first semifinal) finished 2.53 seconds after Nilsson for third overall, and Diggins (who won both her quarterfinal and the second semifinal) was 4.41 seconds back in fourth. Østberg finished 5.62 seconds back in fifth, and Sargent crossed the line 14.49 seconds back in sixth.
Caldwell placed eighth overall after winning her quarterfinal then placing fourth in the second semifinal, behind Diggins, Sargent and Germany’s Sandra Ringwald, respectively. Ringwald did not advance to the final, either, for seventh overall. Bjornsen placed 13th on the day after finishing third in her quarterfinal.
Also for the U.S., Julia Kern (U.S. Ski Team D-team) finished in 57th in the qualifying round, 16.55 seconds out of first.
Dahria Beatty was the top Canadian in 53rd (+15.53), followed by Katherine Stewart-Jones in 55th (+16.18) and Cendrine Browne in 64th (+18.27).
In the men’s 1.5 k skate sprint, Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo rocketed to his sixth-straight win in as many World Cup races this season, topping the qualifier in 2:23.10 (by 1.27 seconds over France’s Lucas Chanavat and 1.73 seconds over Italy’s Federico Pellegrino in third) then winning his quarterfinal and semifinal comfortably before capping the day with a victory in the final in 2:28.07. Pellegrino placed second in the final, 1.8 seconds back, and Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov tallied his third podium of the season in third place (+4.64). Finland’s Ristomatti Hakola placed fourth (+5.39), France’s Richard Jouve was fifth (+8.65) and Russia’s Gleb Retivykh was sixth in the final (+18.34).
Americans Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton both qualified for the heats in 10th and 12th, respectively. Hamilton went on to place ninth overall after finishing second in his quarterfinal (behind France’s Renaud Jay) and fifth in the second semifinal (which Hakola won). Newell’s day ended in the quarterfinals, where he placed fifth, 2.44 seconds behind Klæbo, who won that heat. Overall, Newell was 21st.
Canada’s Alex Harvey qualified for the heats in 21st and went on to place 23rd overall after finishing fifth in his quarterfinal, 1.14 seconds behind Retivykh in first.
Also for Canada, Julien Locke missed qualifying in the top 30 by 1.07 seconds in 36th (+7.84). Russell Kennedy placed 48th (+9.39), Knute Johnsgaard was 52nd (+10.35), Jess Cockney 54th (+10.83), Devon Kershaw 63rd (+11.78).
For the U.S., Erik Bjornsen finished 58th (+11.12) and Paddy Caldwell 108th (+24.04) in the qualifier.