FIS Cross Country World Cup (Planica, Slovenia): 10/15 k classic
Just when it looked like one of those Charlotte-Kalla days, Finland’s Krista Pärmäkoski swooped in and topped the Swede’s time by 3.6 seconds in the women’s 10-kilometer classic individual start on Sunday for her first-career outright World Cup win.
Outright meaning non-stage; Pärmäkoski has two World Cup wins to her name for setting the fastest time of day in 2016 pursuit races.
But Sunday’s 10 k in Slovenia saw her rising to the challenge and besting Charlotte Kalla’s time of 27:12.3, which was at least 39 seconds faster than the first 57 starters. Kalla had started 32nd and beat the previous top time set by Swedish U23 skier Ebba Andersson (bib 28) by 48.6 seconds.
Austria’s Teresa Stadlober started later in bib 56 and clocked the second-fastest time to Kalla, 39 seconds back.
But it was Pärmäkoski in bib 58 who beat them all. Even Norway’s Heidi Weng, who started 60th, couldn’t come close, as she finished 33.5 seconds off Pärmäkoski’s winning time for third place. That put Stadlober in fourth and Andersson in fifth at the end of the day.
Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen placed sixth (+49.4), Norway’s Kari Øyre Slind took seventh (+49.5), Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk (who’s more of a marathon skier these days) placed eighth (+1:02.1), Norway’s Kathrine Rolsted Harsem (who placed second in Saturday’s classic sprint) finished ninth (+1:03.2), and American Jessie Diggins was 10th (+1:05.4).
Another American, Caitlin Patterson, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), broke through with her second-best individual World Cup result in 20th (+1:45.2). (Last year, she finished seventh in the pre-Olympic PyeongChang World Cup 15 k skiathlon in a notably small field.)
Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) followed in 23rd (+1:50.4), and her teammates Sophie Caldwell placed 31st (+2:17.2), Liz Stephen 35th (+2:34.9), and Ida Sargent 37th (+2:37.5).
For the second-straight weekend, no Canadian women competed.
In the men’s 15 k classic, Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin tallied his second win of the season and first in a race against Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo on Sunday, winning by 13.2 seconds over Klæbo in 36:54.7.
Poltoranin, 30, started 44th and a minute behind the 21-year-old Klæbo. When Klæbo finished, he bumped Russia’s Ivan Kirillov, also 21, out of the leader’s chair by 43.3 seconds. Then Poltoranin finished 13.2 seconds faster, but Klæbo held onto second when Sweden’s 60th starter, Calle Halfvarsson, finished third (+42.8). It was Halfvarsson’s second podium of the season after placing third in the classic sprint at the November World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland. In Saturday’s classic sprint in Slovenia, Halfvarsson qualified second but crashed out of the quarterfinals to finish the day in 30th overall.
Norway’s Emil Iversen started 66th and ended up fourth (+54.7) and Kirillov scored his first World Cup top 10 in fifth (+56.5). Russia had four in the top 10 with Stanislav Volzhentsev in sixth (+57.8), Andrey Larkov in eighth (+1:02.2) and Andrey Sobakarev in ninth (+1:03.4). Norway’s Mattis Stenshagen finished seventh (+1:00.8) and Finland’s Iivo Niskanen took 10th (+1:10.1).
Scott Patterson (U.S. Ski Team) was the top North American in 43rd (+2:56.2), Ben Lustgarten (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) finished 46th (+3:04.9) and Tyler Kornfield (Alaska Pacific University) was 57th (+4:03.7). Andy Newell did not finish.
Canada’s Devon Kershaw returned to the circuit and placed 44th (+2:57.1), Bob Thompson (NTDC Thunder Bay) was 64th (+5:05.0), and Dominique Moncion-Groulx (Alberta World Cup Academy) was 70th (+6:11.7).
FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup (Rena, Norway): First-ever women’s competitions
Fourteen women, including American Gabriella Armstrong, made history this weekend by competing in the first women’s Nordic Combined Continental Cup in Rena, Norway (after the scheduled opener in Jan. 6-7 in Otepää, Estonia, was canceled), with back-to-back days of individual large hill/5-kilometer Gundersen start races.
On Saturday, Russia’s Stefaniya Nadymova took the win in 16:26.9, just 0.6 seconds ahead of Japan’s Ayane Miyazki in second. Germany’s Jenny Nowak joined them on the podium in third, 16.6 seconds out of first. Armstrong finished 12th (+6:24).
Nadymova, 23, had kicked off the event by jumping to first in the provisional round, which was used for the jumping results, and began the 5 k with a 10-second head start on Nowak in second place. Miyazaki jumped to third and started 14 seconds back. Armstrong jumped to 14th and started 4:08 out of first.
On Sunday, 15-year-old Miyazaki took the win in 16:23.2, swapping places with Nadymova, who finished second, 11.7 seconds back. Nowak, also 15, repeated in third, but finished over a minute and 21 seconds back out of first.
Miyazaki had jumped to first place earlier in the day and started the 5 k with a 20-second cushion to Nadymova in second. Nowak jumped to third and started 1:08 minutes back.
Armstrong, 19, of the New York Ski Education Foundation, jumped to 11th and finished 11th, 4:26.1 after Miyazaki.
Several U.S. Nordic Combined men also competed in Rena, with Taylor Fletcher placing fourth in Saturday’s individual large hill/10 k, 2.7 seconds behind Austria’s Thomas Joebstl in first. Fletcher had skied up from 25th and 2:17 back after the jump with the second-fastest course time.
Also for the U.S., Adam Loomis placed 33rd (+2:30.7) after jumping to 45th with the 12th-fastest course time. Grant Andrews finished 41st (+3:28.7), and Jared Schumate 43rd (+4:10.1).
Fletcher reached the podium in Sunday’s individual large hill/10 k in third behind two Austrians. After jumping to 19th, he skied the fourth-fastest course time to finish third, 3.7 seconds behind Dominik Terzer in first and 2.7 seconds behind Martin Fritz in second.
Loomis improved to 29th (+1:40.9), up from 35th in the jump, and Andrews finished 37th (+2:36.4) and Shumate 40th (+2:57.9).
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup (Chaux-Neuve, France): Saturday & Sunday
Four American men competed at the Nordic Combined World Cup this weekend in Chaux-Neuve, France, with three of them racing in Saturday’s individual large hill/10 k Gundersen and all four racing Sunday’s large hill/4 x 5 k team event.
Norway’s Jan Schmid was the big winner this weekend, racking up an individual win on Saturday and a team victory on Sunday. He won Saturday’s competition after jumping to fourth and starting 27 seconds behind jump leader Akito Watabe of Japan. Schmid worked his way up to first in the 10 k with the third-fastest course time, crossing the line 1.4 seconds ahead of Watabe in 23:32.7.
Watabe finished second and Finland’s Ilkka Herola placed third (+21.5), just ahead of Austria’s Lukas Klapfer in fourth (+21.8).
Ben Loomis led USA Nordic in 37th (+2:49), after jumping to 37th, Stephen Schumann finished 45th (+5:17.0) and Ben Berend 46th (+5:22.2).
On Sunday, Schmid teamed up with Espen Andersen, Jarl Magnus Riiber and Jørgen Graabak to win the 4 x 5 k team event in 47:22.5 by 13.1 seconds. Germany followed in second, with Eric Frenzel, Fabian Rießle, Johannes Rydzek, and Vinzenz Geiger, and Finland placed third (+20.5) with Leevi Mutru, Arttu Maekiaho, Herola, and Eero Hirvonen.
Norway had led after the jump and started the relay 1:03 minutes ahead of Finland in second. France jumped to third and ended up fourth (+47.4), after being passed by Germany, which had started the relay in fourth.
Japan placed fifth (+2:50.9), Italy sixth (+3:59.9), Austria seventh (+4:06.8), Poland eighth (+5:22.1), Estonia ninth (+5:52.1), Russia 10th (+6:41.2), and the U.S. (with Schumann, Loomis, Berend, and Jasper Good) 11th (+6:52.4).
Western Canadian Championships (Red Deer, Alberta): Relays
Nine men’s teams and six women’s squads contested the open relays on the last day of the NorAm Western Canadian Championships on Sunday in Red Deer, with Ontario’s Team “O” (Scott Hill, Michael Somppi and Andy Shields) winning the men’s 3 x 5 k and Alberta 1 (Annika Hicks, Emma Camicioli and Zina Kocher) winning the women’s 3 x 5 k.
For Shields and Hicks, it was their second win of the weekend after they won their respective classic mass starts on Saturday.
Team “O” posted a 19.9-second win over B.C. Storm (Remi Drolet, Tallon Noble and Greg Kilroy), finishing first in 36:22.6. Alberta 5.1 (Sebastien Boehmler-Dandurand, Sam Hendry and Russell Kennedy) placed third (+52.3).
In the women’s relay, Alberta 1 beat out B.C. Fast, Furious & Freakin’ Awesome (Katie Weaver, Michaela McLean and Kaia Andal) by 2 minutes and 37.8 seconds, winning in 43:17.2. Alberta had two teams on the podium with the Kit Kats (Ember Large, Molly Jane Strum, and Sara McLean) in third (+4:25.8).