As the first World Cup weekend of the cross-country ski season drew to a close, there were plenty of extra notes and quotes to go around.
Here’s what didn’t make the post-race recaps following the Saturday’s individual 10k/15k freestyle and Sunday’s relays in Sjusjøen, Norway:
Kris Freeman (USA)
On placing 55th in Saturday’s 15 k freestyle:
“I’m not coming over here for top 30s,” he told FasterSkier. “I’m over here to be in the top 10 and on the podium.”
After Sunday’s relay, where the U.S. placed 11th:
“I wanted to ski better than I did yesterday … I did feel better today. My split times didn’t line up that well, but I did blow up pretty hard at the end of the race.
“For the team, I knew all of us were in pretty good shape we’re def coming up as a team with having some good distance racers with us. I knew that we could try to stay in the lead group as long as we could.”
On the weekend as a whole:
“I was suffering this weekend because of my lack of time on snow, on both days. (Saturday) was really rutted and inconsistent snow, which is never what you want to be on when you’ve only had one day of outdoor skiing before you race. (Sunday) was tricky wax where you had to be running outside of the tracks.
“I generally have my best early-season races when the conditions are perfect because if I haven’t had much time, it corresponds a lot more to rollerskiing.”
Andy Newell (USA)
On what men’s team took from Sunday’s relay performance:
“I think people will learn individually what they need to do, and relays are tough because you can’t always ski your own race you have to ski the pace of the people around you, which sometimes can be hard physically. Each person on their leg could learn a few things about where they can save energy and how they can pick up a few seconds here and there.
“I think we’re all at different points with our fitness, but most of us of have the plan of breaking into the season a little bit. I haven’t done barely any racing and I think Freeman’s kind of in the same boat with that. It’s a long season so hopefully each race will get better and better.
“There’s not too many relays on the World Cup this year, but we’ll do our best to improve upon it.”
U.S. Ski Team coach Chris Grover
On athletes not getting on snow as early as planned:
“The older athletes are pretty savvy … with making that transition from rollerskiing to skiing pretty quickly. But it definitely is harder for the younger athletes that don’t have as much experience in that department.”
Sadie Bjornsen (USA)
On her Saturday debut:
“I like races at the beginning of the year,” she wrote in an online chat. “You know the direction to head throughout the year!”
On her back pain and deciding to race last minute:
“I picked up heavy stuff wrong the day before I left, so it has been bothering me about a week now,” she wrote in an email. “At the moment I am trying to make smart decisions that will make me heal earlier than make a huge problem, so going to take it easy here for a couple days.
On getting worked on by the Canadian physical trainer:
“I just asked Canadian PT, because the Canadians are wonderful and we are almost one team in one. Unfortunately US Team doesn’t have money to support PT on the road, so I had no other option because yesterday I was considering not racing. But they are the absolute greatest and helped me out. Hopefully he will be able to get me better enough so that by next weekend I am on the mend.”
On deciding to race Saturday:
“Had a brief good feeling (that) morning :)”
Kikkan Randall (USA)
On Saturday’s pre-race trash talk:
Note: Bib No. 40, Sargent started right behind Randall, who was bib 39.
“We were joking around a little bit ’til the start. She was giving me a hard time, saying she was going to catch me.”
On the weekend as a whole:
Note: She tied a career-best distance result of eighth on Saturday and clocked the second-fastest split in the second leg of the women’s relay.
“The opener, man, it can go so many different ways. And after spending eight months away from the circuit, you’re always anxious to put that bib on and go see what happens. So I’m happy with the start I’ve had and hoping I can just keep growing from here.”
Holly Brooks (USA)
On almost scoring points in Saturday’s race (she was 36th):
“9 seconds out of the points in one of the toughest fields of year…” she tweeted, “only my 8th World Cup start…. #I’lltakeit”
“I guess in a way that’s promising looking into the future with the races coming,” she told FasterSkier.
On anchoring Sunday’s women’s relay:
“The past couple relays, I’ve been the second to last leg. It will be fun to switch up the order.”
On Sunday’s performance:
“Kikkan and I had spoken before my leg about a potential place to make a move on the last steep hill to break the pack,” she wrote in an email. “But the conditions were such that it would have been hard to make a decisive move and drop the other girls I was with. Therefore, it was mostly skiing in the pack and being really aggressive about positioning. I actually didn’t feel as though I got to use my fitness in the slightest – I wasn’t even tired.”
Ida Sargent (USA)
On Saturday’s race:
“I started out a little fast and blew up on the last lap, which is tough. This distance (10 k freestyle) is not my favorite race.”
After Sunday’s race:
“It was a tough weekend for me but it’s still November,” she wrote in an email. “Next weekend’s races are suited more to my strengths and I’m looking forward to them!”
Note: Next weekend’s World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland, starts with sprints and a 5 k freestyle.
Ivan Babikov (CAN)
On placing 42nd in Saturday’s 15 k:
“Race was very hard for me,” he wrote in an email, adding he felt a little tired, most likely because of the travel.
“But it I felt better then same time last year, so I’m ok with it, could have been better but it could have been (worse) as well. Many good guys didn’t do very well. I would have been happy to score points, but it’s a first race of the season, and I was like 10sec off that.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.