The 2008/2009 World Cup season gets under way this weekend in Gaellivare, Sweden with a 10/15km Freestyle on Saturday and the traditional 4×5 and 4x10km relays on Sunday. All races will be available to watch on Universal Sports (formerly WCSN). The schedule can be found here. All video on Universal Sports is currently available for free – no paid subscription is necessary.
Kris Freeman is currently the only scheduled starter in the 15km free, according to US coaches. The US men will then field a team in the 4x10km relay. With just four skiers in Europe, all will participate, making a team of Freeman, Chris Cook, Andy Newell, and Torin Koos (note: this is not necessarily the team's running order). The later three are primarily sprinters, though both Cook and Newell raced one of the 15km FIS races in Muonio last weekend, and Koos posted strong results at US Distance Nationals last spring.
Says Newell, “The focus will be on the relay in Sweden. We will for sure start and I think the team is looking strong and we want to show everyone what we can do.”
Devon Kershaw (CAN) at the World Cup finals last seaosn (Photo Credit: Swix Sport)
The lone woman on the US World Cup team will not be in Gaellivare. Kikkan Randall, while starting a number of distance races last season, and demonstrating some promise, is primarily a sprinter. She will join the team before the second World Cup weekend, in Kuusamo, Finland, which features a classic sprint and a 10km individual classic.
The three males sprinters will join Randall in the sprint competition, and Randall is a likely start in the 10km. Freeman will start the 15km classic – the same event in which he posted a season-best 5th place finish last year. We may see Koos in that event, and possibly Newell and Cook as well if they haev the requisite distance points.
Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones will join Kuhn and Kershaw in Kuusamo. We do not currently have information on who will start which races.
The World Cup then heads to La Clusaz, France for a 15/30km freestyle mass start and another relay. Only Freeman will make the trip, with the sprinters headed to Davos to train and prepare for the freestyle sprint on December 14th. Freeman will also race the 15km classic in Davos on the 13th. With the distance race the day before the sprint, it is unlikely any of the US sprinters will start the distance race.
Defending Overall World Cup Champion Virpi Kuitunen leads the pack last season (Photo Credit: Swix Sport)
Newell, Koos and Randall will follow the circuit to Duesseldorf, Germany for the final pre-Christmas stop on the World Cup, while Freeman and Cook will head back to the States to prepare for US Nationals. In Duesseldorf, all three Americans will race the the freestyle sprint on the 20th, and Newell and Koos will partner in the freestyle Team Sprint the next day. Combined teams are not allowed, so Randall, without a US partner, will not race the Team event.
Chris Cook racing in Muonio last weekend (Photo Credit: Pete Vordenberg, TeamToday.org)