With one more race weekend on the docket for the first World Cup period, the US Ski Team has dispersed to various spots around the globe.
On the Road Again
The World Cup Team has been split in half, with Andy Newell, Kikkan Randall, Kris Freeman, Torin Koos and Lars Flora, along with coaches/servicemen Wadsworth, Augustson, and Johanson made the nine hour drive to Rogla, Slovenia yesterday.
Newell describes the first-time World Cup venue as “Basically in the middle of nowhere on top of a mountain. But it looks sweet.”
As expected, Newell will start the sprint, and is currently planning on the 30k, pending how he recovers from the first day. If he “feels great,” he will go. But if he is coughing badly or generally not recovered, he will skip the distance event. “I have to be a little careful this time of year at altitude when it’s cold.”
After hard intervals in -20 temperatures in Davos (a mix of level 3 and 4) and some icy kneecaps, Newell is feeling solid – though altitude can make such evaluations difficult – “Better than last weekend and ready to race.”
The venue is 1,500 meters above sea level.
Not as much for Koos, who is fighting a cold according to coach Matt Whitcomb. There has been illness going around, and Koos may have succumbed. This report was from Wednesday, so hopefully he is ok.
Freeman, Randall, and Flora are all healthy and ready to go. Whitcomb, always the optimist, is expecting “our best weekend of the year.
Those guys are prepared.”
Newell describes the Rogla sprint course as tough, and long for the women.
The rest of the team returned to where ever they call home. Morgan Arritola and Liz Stephen, along with coaches /servicemen Vordenberg, Grover, Whitcomb, Gibbs and Hanson are now all state-side.
Arritola and Grover both contracted colds during the long travel, but have some time to recover.
“We were pscyched to have Sun Valley body-worker Brett Hanson on the trip with us. He worked really hard for us on all fronts and kept the team healthy and recovered,” said Whitcomb.
So Far So Good
No matter what happens this weekend, the first phase of the World Cup has been a great success for the US.
For Grover, the personal high point has been the fitness of all the US athletes.
“The preparation that these athletes have had this season was very effective. Almost every day of World Cup racing included at Top-7 finish by a US athlete. This has not happened too often in the past. It was very exciting to be a part of, and to be working daily on skis for these athletes.”
And the most exciting moment? Freeman’s 4th. “We were all (coaches, servicemen, and athletes) watching the clock tick as he came roaring into the finish. It was a spectacular performance.”
Whitcomb seconded that, but ranked Randall’s sprint 7th just as high. “f you haven’t seen a U.S. skier fight for a podium in a World Cup, I
recommend making it happen,” he said.
Personally, he was excited to see Arritola and Stephen “fire their jets” and post career-best World Cup results in Davos.
While many World Cup skiers took to the slopes on Monday (off-day), Newell took it easy. With all the sickness going around, he rested and “kicked it on main street Davos.”
Unfortunately he was not bored enough to orchestrate a video production, but warns that “boredom could strike at any time.”
Vordenberg’s wife, Barb, headed the US cheering section in Davos with an American flag suspended from her avalanche probe over the race course. “She brought good noise.”
Silas Gill, a former athlete of Whitcomb’s at Burke took the train from Italy to support the US in the sprints. “Fans are always great,” says Whitcomb.
After Rogla, Newell meets US Ski Jumper and girlfriend Jessica Jerome in Muich. The two will train and celebrate Christmas in Ramsau, Austria before Newell heads to the Tour de Ski.
Grover is looking forward to the NorAm sprints in Canmore. “These races should be the best indicator so far of who are potential candidates for the classic sprint at the Games, outside of Kikkan, Torin, and Andy.”
Newell promised me a sweet FasterSkier tee-shirt for Christmas. Too bad the store is down for repair.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.