Emil Joensson of Sweden won the first World Cup race of his career, outsprinting last year’s World Junior Sprint Champion, Ivan Ivanov of Russia. Matias Strandvall (FIN) gained his first World Cup podium in the third spot.
Kuzzy talks strategy before the B-Final
Andy Newell comes into the first corner during his quarter final heat
“Andy went to the right and they moved him out while I went into the first lane and I had a clean shot to the finish,” Kuzzy explained. “Andy had been in first or second most of the heat, but in the final 300 meters or so, where it's all-out drag racing, I picked my lane and was all alone while he was boxed out.”
USST Head Coach Pete Vordenberg was pleased with the final day's racing, although he would have preferred to see Newell in the semis and finals. “It looked like a tactical error for Andy, which was too bad,” he said.
“This was the race I was looking at all week,” said Kuzzy, who also leads the USSA Cross Country SuperTour. “I was hoping to get into the top 30. If that happened, I had no idea what to expect in the heats. In the semifinal, I thought I'd made the final, but then they said no, I'd lost the photo finish. It was still a great day. I know what I need to work on. The Olympics are always the dream, but now I know what I still have to do.”
The Candadian men had a solid day. Drew Goldsack joined Kuzzy and Koos in the B-Final, finishing 12th overall. Phil Widmer delighted the crowd with the 5th fastest qualification, but all that got him was a quarterfinal date with Tor Arne Hetland (NOR), Bjorn Lind (SWE), Christian â€œZoroâ€ Zorzi (ITA), Ivan Ivanov (RUS), and Oystein â€œThe Sausageâ€ Pettersen (NOR) — some of the biggest names in World Cup sprinting. Widmer battled valiantly and though he was knocked out, he finished 13th overall.
Devon Kershaw rounded out the Canadian trio in the heats in 20th.
Chris Cook (USA) missed qualifying by .16 seconds and finished 33rd.
The skate sprints featured the largest field of the week, with 72 athletes competing in the men’s race. The Norweigans, who dominated the classic sprint, qualified six, but struggled in the heats, with Tord Asle Gjerdalen posting the best finish in 16th.
Vordenberg commented on the week as a whole. “We didn't reach our goal, which was to have someone on the podium here in Canmore, and that's disappointing,” he said. “We have to improve the program so we can target an event and capitalize on it. We had everything going for us here. We had great skis, a good living situation, good health, a kind of 'home field advantage' – and we couldn't get that podium.
“We have the athletes to get it done, and the staff to get it done. Now, we just have to do it. We've got some serious work to accomplish, but I'm really revved about getting done what we need to do so when we get to Vancouver in 2010, we know we've done everything to make things happen.”
The Viessman FIS Cross Country World Cup schedule resumes Feb. 9-10 in Otepaeae, Estonia. The American World Cup team leaves immediately for Europe. Kuzzy, Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT) and Laura Valaas (Wenatchee, WA) will join the U.S. Ski Team later in the season to get some more World Cup experience.
Men's 1.1K FR Sprints
(30 qualify; six make finals)
1. Emil Joensson, Sweden
2. Ivan Ivanov, Russia
3. Matias Strandvall, Finland
4. Nikolay Morilov, Russia
5. Josef Wenzl, Germany
6. Vassili Rotchev, Russia
9. Garrott Kuzzy, Hayward, WI
11. Torin Koos, Leavenworth, WA
12. Drew Goldsack, Red Deer, Alta
13. Phil Widmer, Banff, Alta
17. Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT
20. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont
33. Chris Cook, Rhinelander, WI
T39. Stefan Kuhn, Canmore, Alta
T39. Sean Crooks, Thunder Bay, Ont
46. Brent McMurtry, Calgary
52. Graham Nishikawa, Whitehorse, Yukon
54. Leif Zimmermann, Bozeman, MT
55. Colin Rodgers, Sun Valley, ID
57. Anders Haugen, Anchorage, AK
58. Lars Flora, Anchorage, AK
61. Ian Murray, South Harbour, N.S.
64. Mike Argue, Yellowknife, N.W.T.
65. Skeets Morel, Parry Sound, Ont
67. Marshall Greene, Bend, OR
69. Brian Gregg, Winthrop, WA
70. Jesse Winter, North Bay, Ont
Oystein Pettersen through the first corner