USST Taps Sargent, Hoffman for World Cup Opener

Nathaniel HerzNovember 17, 201010
Ida Sargent in a race last winter.

Despite two sensational weeks of racing in Europe, Ida Sargent still has to head back to Dartmouth College in December to take final exams. But thanks to her stellar results, she has added a couple of stops along the way: two weekends of World Cup racing in Scandinavia.

Along with Noah Hoffman, the U.S. Ski Team (USST) gave Sargent the nod to travel to Gallivare, Sweden, where the squad will contest the season’s first World Cups on Saturday and Sunday. Sargent will continue on with the team to the following weekend’s mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland, while Hoffman will likely drop back down to the domestic European circuit.

Sargent is strongest in sprints, the first of which is not until Kuusamo, but USST Head Coach Chris Grover said that her presence in Gallivare should allow the U.S. to run a 4×5 k relay team on Sunday—which, according to data available from the International Ski Federation, would be the first time the country has contested the event on the World Cup in at least a full decade.

“We felt like her classic 5 k skiing was good enough that it would be a nice chance to get her this opportunity this weekend, really with the focus of looking toward Kuusamo,” Grover said in an interview.

The mini-tour in Kuusamo includes three events, the first of which is a 1.2 k classic sprint, Sargent’s specialty. After her performance in the sprint in Muonio, Finland last weekend, where she topped World Cup stalwarts like Magda Genuin and Riitta-Liisa Roponen in qualifying, Sargent should be a lock to at least make the top-30, if not advance into the later rounds.

After a rude welcome to international racing in which she was barked at by Polish superstar Justyna Kowalczyk, Sargent said that she’s just hoping to get a few more big events under her belt. “For this first part of the season, I’m focusing on getting solid international racing experience, and the competitive fields in Muonio were the perfect place to begin,” she wrote in an e-mail.

“I’m really excited for the chances to race World Cups, and just hoping to get more experience and keep the momentum going.”

While Sargent will be donning a World Cup bib for the first time this weekend, Hoffman has competed in two events, in Whistler and Canmore in 2009 and 2010. He will get his third shot in Gallivare after a strong 10 k skate race in Muonio, where he finished less than a minute behind Kris Freeman.

Noah Hoffman racing last winter.

“I think he was able to demonstrate in the skate race…that he can come up and be at least competitive enough to have a good experience at the World Cup,” Grover said, noting that the skate race in Gallivare suits Hoffman better than two classic events in Rovaniemi, Finland, which were his other options for the weekend.

Like the women, the USST men should also compete in Sunday’s relay, barring illness or injury. In addition to Hoffman, 2010 SuperTour champion Chris Cook will also be in Gallivare, and Kris Freeman and Andy Newell complete the four-man team.

Sargent and Hoffman were the only athletes invited by the USST to travel to the first weekend of World Cup racing. While Leif Zimmerman skied just as fast as Hoffman on Sunday—the two finished less than a second apart—Grover said that the USST’s priority was to offer opportunities to less-experienced athletes.

“Noah is younger than Leif, hasn’t had the kind of opportunity Leif has had to ski in World Cups, to ski in World Championships, or Olympic Winter Games,” Grover said. “As a young athlete, who’s been in Europe a week less than Leif—we’re trying to give him some more opportunity.”

Nathaniel Herz

Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.

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  • Martin Hall

    November 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    What’s up with Koos—has he opted out of the World Cups or were his results in Beito not good enough to get him invited to the WC in Gallivare? Just wondering as there is no mention of his name.

  • lsiebert

    November 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    If you look at Koos’ results, they weren’t especially good. His sprint result was solid but not spectacular, and his distance result was pretty bad, but we don’t expect much from Koos in distance anyway. Gallivare is a distance weekend, so there is no reason to invite a pure sprinter who doesn’t do much for the relay team. Additionally, I would assume the reasoning is much the same as it was with Zimmerman, who had better results than Koos-he’s older, and the USST wants to give younger skiers an opportunity to prove themselves. Finally, if Koos wants to impress the USST coaches and move himself back into a position where he is getting WC starts again, why did he go to Beito and not Muonio, where the rest of the Americans in Scandinavia were?

  • Martin Hall

    November 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Koos has take a big gamble going it a lone—too many other things taking up his energy that the team does for you—like all the logistical stuff he now has to do for himself— a weak support group for waxing and races—-post race care and recovery etc
    I’ll be surprised if he makes it—hope he can get back into the team!

  • dougherty.andrew

    November 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Giving skiers a chance to prove themselves in Europe then taking young potential to World Cups is extremely inspiring. I think this will motivate the next generation of US skiers and make people stick with the sport competitively much longer.

  • tetlowjm

    November 17, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    2 full relay teams! It’s been a long time. Good indicator of a healthy ski nation.

  • Brian Gregg

    November 17, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Great to see Hoff and Ida get the oppourtunity. Good luck.

  • nexer

    November 17, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    The revolving door model is a great way to give many skiers the opportunity to compete in the big races. Before this year the USSA picked whoever had the most supertour points at the end of a certain period. This year there are more pathways to the WC and there is more club involvement. Clubs love it, skiers love it, fans love it, plus, athletes aren’t burned out from a month of racing before they even make it to Europe.

  • Reese

    November 17, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Awesome. THIS is how we get more people with World Cup experience… which leads to more people ON the World Cup!

  • FasterSkier

    November 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Just to clarify, in response to nexer – USSA does not pick SuperTour leaders to go to Europe. That comes from FIS – the leader of any Continental Cup series at certain points in the season gain entry into the next period’s World Cup races.

    So USSA has no direct control over how that system works. Obviously they have input to FIS.

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