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.
IBU Cup in Beitostølen: 7.5/10 k sprints
[UPDATE] With the second set of men’s and women’s sprints canceled Saturday and moved to Sunday in Beitostølen, Norway, the first IBU Cup relays of the season were bumped off the schedule, and no North Americans competed on Sunday. (American Russell Currier placed 44th in the IBU Cup sprint on Friday.)
In the women’s 7.5 k sprint, Marketa Davidova of the Czech Republic pulled out a 3.6-second win over Germany’s Nadine Horchler, and Germany had two on the podium with former cross-country skier Denise Herrmann in third (+29.9). Davidova hit 9 out of 10 targets (1+0) en route to the victory in 24:18.3. Horchler missed just one target as well (0+1) and Herrmann (who won the IBU Cup women’s sprint two days earlier) had three penalties (1+2) but skied fast enough for the podium.
In the men’s 10 k sprint, Russia’s Matvey Eliseev edged his teammate Dmitry Malyshko by just 3.2 seconds for the win in 26:16.8. More than a minute later, Norway’s Henrik L’Abee-Lund placed third (+1:15.9) with four penalties (1+3). Both Eliseev and Malyshko had one miss apiece, with Eliseev missing one in prone (1+0) and Malyshko missing one standing (0+1).
The next IBU Cup is set for Dec. 6-11 in Ridnaun, Italy.
IBU World Cup in Östersund: Mixed and Single Mixed Relays
The first race if the International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup season went to Norway, which won Sunday’s co-ed mixed relay (2 x 6 k + 2 x 7.5 k) by nearly 34 seconds over Germany in Östersund, Sweden.
The Norwegian team of Marte Olsbu, Fanny Horn Birkeland, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, and Johannes Thingnes Bø used a total of six spare rounds to get to the finish line first in 1:10.57.1.
Germany, with Franziska Hildebrand, Laura Dahlmeier, Benedikt Doll, and Arnd Peiffer, used the same amount of total spares for second place (+33.7), and both teams avoided the penalty loop.
Italy took third (+44.2), with Lisa Vittozzi, Dorothea Wierer, Lukas Hofer, and Dominik Windisch using a combined 12 spares and having one penalty loop during Hofer’s standing stage.
The Italians narrowly held off Russia (Olga Podchufarova, Tatiana Akimova, Maxim Tsvetkov, Anton Shipulin) by 0.3 seconds for the final spot the podium.
France placed fifth (+1:13.3), Sweden was sixth (+1:20.9), the Czech Republic seventh (+1:20.9), and the U.S. eighth (+2:38.5).
Susan Dunklee started first for the Americans using three spares to clean (0+1, 0+2), then tagging off to Clare Egan, who didn’t need any spares for prone, but had to use all three and skied two penalty loops in standing. Lowell Bailey used just two spares (0+1, 0+1), and Tim Burke locked up eighth for the team with a flawless prone and three spares in standing (0+0, 0+3). In all the team used 13 spares and had two penalty loops.
Of 24 teams in the race, Canada (Julia Ransom, Megan Tandy, Scott Gow, and Brendan Green) was among the four that were lapped. In seven out of eight stages, the team combined for 11 spares and two penalties.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Ruka: Individual Large Hill/10 k
Germany’s Johannes Rydzek can do the Usain-Bolt-victory stance all the way to the next Nordic Combined World Cup after winning the first two competitions of the 2016/2017 season, with another individual large hill/10 k win on Sunday in Kuusamo, Finland.
After winning by 34 seconds over his teammate Eric Frenzel on Saturday, Rydzek took a 14.7-second win over Wilhelm Denifl of Austria, while Japan’s Akito Watabe was just 0.3 seconds back in third.
Rydzek posted the fifth-best jump after Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber, Watabe, Denifl, and Austria’s Mario Seidl, respectively. Rydzek started the 10 k Gundersen 1:04 minutes after Riiber and posted the seventh-fastest course time to capture first. Riiber slipped to 10th (+1:07.5) at the finish, with the 37th-ranked course time of 42 in the cross-country race.
Of note, Frenzel improved from 27th in the jump to 17th (+1:32.4) at the finish with the second-fastest course time.
Bryan Fletcher was one of two Americans in the race, finishing 31st (+3:40.7). His jump ranked 40th, but he skied the fourth-fastest course time to pick off nine places. Taylor Fletcher placed 40th (+6:24.4), improving slightly from 43rd in the jump.
The Nordic Combined World Cup now moves to Lillehammer, Norway, for a team and two individual competitions Dec. 2-4.
Visma Ski Classics Prologue in Pontresina: 8 k Classic
The Visma Ski Classics series started off in Pontresina, Switzerland, with 8-kilometer time trials for both men and women.
In the women’s race, an individual interval start seeded last to first, Kristin Antonsen of Team Synnfjell set an early best mark. But as the previous season’s top women hit the course times began to come down, and the race ended as a battle between Britta Johansson Norgren of Team Lager 157 and Katerina Smutna of Team Santander. Smutna ended up with the win by just 0.66 seconds over Johansson Norgren, with Sara Lindborg of Team Serneke third (+20.66).
The men’s race was a team interval start, with the teams separated by five minutes and with skiers at 15 second intervals within that span. Last year’s Visma Ski Classics Champion, Petter Eliassen of Team Leaseplan Go, came out on top with a time of 19:42.66. Bastien Poirrier of Team Gel Interim Rossignol was second (+8.53), leading five members of his new France-based team into the top ten and turning heads along the way. Morten Eide Pedersen of Team BN Bank was third (+15.80).
FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Ruka: 10/15 k Classic
Twenty-four-year-old Finnish A-teamer Iivo Niskanen notched his second-career World Cup victory the men’s 15-kilometer classic on Sunday, Day 2 of the Ruka World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland.
Niskanen started 21st of more than 90 in the men’s field and finished in 35:27.6, which stood as the fastest time all day. After the finish, he paced between the leader’s chair and the finishing pen, even jogging around the stadium and course. But every time he looked the Finnish crowd, he was all smiles.
Niskanen held off three Norwegians in the top four, with Emil Iversen 10.2 seconds behind him in second, Martin Johnsrud Sundby 11.2 seconds back in third, and Didrik Tønseth missing the podium by about six seconds and tying Sweden’s Johan Olsson for fourth (+17.0). Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh placed sixth (+18.3), Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson was seventh (+21.2), Russia’s Alexander Bessmertnykh was eighth (+24.3), Finland’s Matti Heikkinen ninth (+32.0), and Great Britain’s Andrew Musgrave 10th (+33.8).
Canada’s Alex Harvey was close behind in 11th (+35), and was the lone North American man in the points on Sunday. His teammate Devon Kershaw missed the top 30 by 4.5 seconds in 33rd (+1:23.4).
Erik Bjornsen led the U.S. men in 41st (+1:37.2). Canada’s Graeme Killick was 53rd (+2:12.9), American Noah Hoffman was 64th (+2:42.6). For Canada, Len Valjas was 76th (+3:19.8), Jess Cockney 78th (+3:26), Knute Johnsgaard 85th (+3:53.4), and Andy Shields 91st (+4:26.1), and for the U.S., Eric Packer 87th (+4:01) and Andy Newell 88th (+4:17.4) out of 96.
In the women’s 10 k classic earlier in the day, Marit Bjørgen of Norway picked up her first win of the season, a 4.6-second win over Finland’s Krista Parmakoski.
It is the 103rd World Cup win for the 36-year-old Bjørgen, who took last season off to have a baby. Norway followed up Bjørgen’s win with third and fourth place finishes by Heidi Weng (+12.7) and Ingvild Flugstad Ørtberg (+36.8).
Parmakoski also led a good day for the Finnish team, with Laura Mononen coming in seventh (+50.0). She was just behind sixth-place Nicole Fessel of Germany (+42.4).
Jessie Diggins led the U.S. women’s team with a 13th-place finish (+1:09.0), one of her best distance classic races ever outside of Tour and mini-tour stages. Sadie Bjornsen followed in 17th (+1.14.9), and 2016 SuperTour champion Caitlin Patterson of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project scored points in 28th (+1:45.4). The U.S. Ski Team rounded out its results with Rosie Brennan 39th (+2:22.2), Kikkan Randall 43rd (+2:29.7), Ida Sargent 44th (+2:30.4), and Sophie Caldwell 61st (+3:13.4)
Cendrine Browne and Emily Nishikawa slotted into 58th and 59th for Canada, +3:04.8 and +3:07.1, respectively. Dahria Beatty finished 74th (+3:54.4).