Welcome to The Rundown, your quick primer of need-to-know information about the day’s racing. We’ll be updating this digest as the day goes on with additional results, photos and quotes. The Rundown is NOT a race report; stay tuned for complete race reports later today with interviews from the day’s top racers.
(Note: This Rundown has been updated to include comments from U.S. Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher, who placed ninth on Sunday at the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway.)
U.S. SuperTour opener in West Yellowstone: 10/15 k classic
Matt Gelso made the case that he can win any discipline and format when it comes to cross-country skiing, topping the SuperTour podium for the second-straight day of the circuit’s opening weekend in West Yellowstone, Mont. Gelso, of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team, won the men’s 15-kilometer classic individual start in 42:57. He finished 32.2 seconds ahead of Ben Lustgarten of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) in second, and Scott Patterson, of Alaska Pacific University (APU), clocked in 1:16.8 back in third.
In the women’s 10 k classic, Liz Guiney (CGRP) tallied the distance victory in 33:52.8. Katharine Ogden, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) and U.S. Ski Team D-team, finished 7.7 seconds back in second place, while Craftsbury put two on the podium with Kaitlynn Miller in third (+28.4).
Nordic Combined World Cup in Lillehammer: Two individual comps and a relay
[UPDATE) Twenty-second in the jump. Ninth at the finish. That’s a bit more like it for U.S. Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher. The American jumped to 22nd on Sunday on the large hill in Lillehammer, Norway, then raced to ninth in the 10 k Gundersen start cross-country race. He finished 1:22 minutes behind race winner Eric Frenzel, who notched his second-straight individual victory and third win (including Friday’s team event) of the Nordic Combined World Cup’s long weekend in 25:13.6.
“Going into the race on Sunday I was confident that with a good race I could move up quite well,” Fletcher wrote in an email. “So I just set out to ski my own race and right from the start I was moving up. Top 10 was the goal and I was happy to accomplish that.”
Germany went 1-2 with Björn Kircheisen in second (+10.8) and Jørgen Graabak of Norway finished third (+23.4) on Day 3 in Lillehammer. Fletcher’s younger brother Taylor Fletcher placed 26th (+2:21.1), moving way up from 48th in the jump (with the fastest overall course time). Also for the U.S., Ben Berend placed 49th (+4:30), and Ben Loomis was 52nd (+5:16).
The Nordic Combined World Cup is turning out to be all about Germany (most) all of the time, with Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek at the forefront, after Rydzek won both opening World Cup competitions last weekend.
On Friday, the German teammates started off the three-day series with a victory in the first 4 x 5 k team event of the season. They teamed up with Kircheisen and Fabian Riessle for first, beating Norway by 31.5 seconds with a winning time of 49:34.9.
Norway’s squad, with Mikko Kokslien, Espen Andersen, Håvard Klemetsen, and Graabak, finished second without anyone else in sight. Austria took third (+1:23.7) with David Pommer, Mario Seidl, Wilhelm Denifl, and Phillipp Orter.
Finland placed fourth, Japan was fifth, France sixth, the Czech Republic seventh, Italy eighth, and the U.S. ninth (+4:19.1), ahead of Russia in 10th.
The order for the U.S. team was Bryan Fletcher, Berend, Loomis, and Taylor Fletcher. They rose as high as sixth during Bryan’s first leg, but dropped to eighth and finally ninth.
On Saturday, in the individual normal hill/10 k competition, Frenzel overtook Rydzek for the win in 24:35. Rydzek started the day by winning the jump, and Frenzel ranked fourth heading into the 10 k Gundersen start. Frenzel overcame a 24-second deficit at the start to pass Rydzek and beat him by 15 seconds at the finish. Germany ended up sweeping the podium with Riessle in third (+25.8), after Riessle improved from 11th at the start with the second-fastest course time.
Also on Saturday, Taylor Fletcher led the Americans in 26th (+1:51.2) after jumping to 44th and starting 2:02 minutes back from Rydzek. Fletcher skied the ninth-fastest course time.
Bryan improved from 43rd at the start to 32nd (+2:32.9), Loomis ended up 43rd (+5:02.6) and Berend 44th (+5:33.4).
“Going into this weekend I was feeling good and had some solid jumps in training so I knew that I was capable of a decent performance,” Bryan wrote on Sunday. “However, I struggle to put all the pieces together through the weekend. The team event was a good performance on my part and it was fun to ski with our young guys too. In Saturday’s event, I was close but had a rather unusual race in which I just couldn’t get going and fell off the pace quickly. Sunday however it all came together with a decent jump and race to finish 9th. This is more indicative of my true level at the moment so I was happy to finally fall into form.
“This is definitely a result that I was hoping for in this period,” he continued. “I would like to finish in the top 10 consistently this year and it was a bit of a shaky start but I am starting to find the rhythm now. I hope to continue this momentum in Ramsau.”
IBU World Cup in Östersund: 10/12.5 k pursuits
Lowell Bailey came oh-so-close to fourth place on Sunday. Just two fewer misses and he could’ve been in the hunt, but that’s how biathlon goes.
US Biathlon’s top man so far this season, Bailey started 13th in the IBU World Cup 12.5 k pursuit on Sunday in Östersund, Sweden, and by the first prone stage, he was up to seventh with clean shooting. Two-and-a-half kilometers later, he was back in the range and shooting without a miss again. Bailey headed out on his third loop in fourth, and more or less held that position through the third shooting — cleaning yet again in standing.
But two misses on the final standing dropped him to ninth, and on the final loop, Bailey slipped six spots to 15th at the finish. With two penalties (0+0+0+2), Bailey finished 1:21.8 behind the winner, Russia’s Anton Babikov, who hit 19-of-20 targets en route to his first World Cup victory and podium. Russia took second place as well with Maxim Tsvetkov shooting clean (0+0+0+0) and finishing 10.5 seconds behind his teammate, and France’s Martin Fourcade pushed through four penalties (2+0+0+2) to place third (+15.2).
Fourcade started the day in first, after winning Saturday’s sprint, and lost the lead on the final stage, with two misses sending him to the penalty lap. On that last shooting, Babikov (the seventh starter) took control, and Tsvetkov (who started 11th) moved up from skiing in third for most of the race to second place.
Also for the U.S., Tim Burke placed 35th (+2:39.2) after starting 29th, with four penalties (0+1+2+1).
Canada’s Scott Gow finished 47th (+3:34.8) with three misses (0+0+2+1), Brendan Green was 50th (+3:45.5) wit five misses (1+3+0+1), and Macx Davies 51st (+3:54.6) with four penalties (0+0+2+2).
In the women’s race, Gabriela Koukalová (formerly Soukalova, you’ll get used to it, we promise), took her third-place finish in Saturday’s sprint and catapulted herself into first on Sunday in the 10 k pursuit. Koukalova shot 19-for-20, missing just one on the first standing (0+0+1+0) to cross the finish line first, 8.4 seconds ahead of Germany’s Laura Dahlmeier.
While Koukalova, of the Czech Republic, took the win in 31:43.3, Dahlmeier placed second (after starting fourth) with two penalties (0+1+1+0). Italy’s Dorothea Wierer improved from 19th to third (+21.4) at the finish, with perfect shooting (0+0+0+0).
Switzerland’s Lena Häcki also cleaned for fourth (+36.3), after starting 12th.
The first out of the gate (the winner of Saturday’s sprint), France’s Marie Dorin Habert dropped to seventh, more than a minute and 15 seconds back, with six penalties (2+1+2+1).
American Susan Dunklee moved up to 22nd (+2:55.7) after starting 27th, despite five penalties (2+2+0+1).
Also for US Biathlon, Clare Egan improved to 30th (+3:35.4), up from 44th, with three misses (0+0+1+2).
Joanne Reid (US Biathlon) finished 47th (+4:59.6) with four misses (1+1+1+1), and Canada’s Julia Ransom finished 58th (+6:36.8) with eight misses (2+0+4+2).
FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Lillehammer: 10/15 k classic pursuits
Martin Johnsrud Sundby is the man to beat once again after winning the men’s 15-kilometer classic pursuit on Sunday in Lillehammer, Norway. The Norwegian started seventh and overcame a 50-second deficit to Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson, the leader going into the final day of the mini tour. Halfvarsson dropped to fifth, while Sundby rose to first and brought another Norwegian Johannes Høsflot Klæbo to the top with him. Klæbo started sixth, 3 seconds ahead of Sundby, and placed second, 2.3 seconds behind him. Finland’s Matti Heikkinen took the final spot on the podium in third (+2.7), by 0.9 seconds over Norway’s Emil Iversen in fourth. Halfvarsson was 6.3 seconds back in fifth, his Swedish teammate Marcus Hellner sixth (+6.8), Norway’s Pål Golberg and Finn Hågen Krogh seventh (+9.9) and eighth (+15.0), respectively, and Canada’s Alex Harvey ninth (+16.2), ahead of Finland’s Iivo Niskanen in 10th (+52.0)
Canada had two in the points with Devon Kershaw rising from 43rd to 27th (+2:08.5). Len Valjas placed 48th (+3.44), Graeme Killick was 53rd (+3:53.9), Knute Johnsgaard 72nd (+6:20.3), Bob Thompson 81st (+8:16.3), Andy Shields 83rd (+9:57.3).
For the U.S., Noah Hoffman rose to 36th (+2:39.5) after starting 48th, Erik Bjornsen finished 57th (+4:33.3), and Eric Packer finished out his first overseas mini tour in 68th (+5:45.1).
Heidi Weng of Norway started the 10 k pursuit in first place, and that’s where she finished it, 16.1 seconds ahead of teammate Ingvild Flugstad Østberg. Finland’s Krista Parmakoski rounded out the podium in third, after skiing up from a fifth place starting position and passing Østberg near the end of the race but then crashing on a downhill and losing valuable seconds. Nevertheless her effort gave Parmakoski the fastest ski time of the day.
Jessie Diggins, who started the race in third position after winning yesterday’s 5 k skate, made an early bid to ski with Østberg but ultimately lost ground, ending eighth, +1:39.4.
Instead it was Marit Bjørgen who took fourth, +57.5. Stina Nilsson of Sweden was one of the biggest movers of the day, skiing from 27th at the start all the way up to fifth, +1:26.1.
Following Diggins, Sadie Bjornsen finished 11th, +1:51.2. The American had started in a pack of skiers and stayed there for most of the race. Liz Stephen was 38th (+3:31.8), and Rosie Brennan and Caitlin Patterson 41st (+3:50.2) and 42nd (+3:56.8). Ida Sargent rounded out the U.S. results in 57th (+5:39.7).
Emily Nishikawa led the Canadians in 46th (+4:08.5), with Cendrine Browne and Dahria Beatty 52nd (+4:41.5) and 59th (+6:08.2).