While there was plenty of excitement last weekend at the World Cup sprints in Dusseldorf, Germany, not every international competitor was there. A few Americans stayed closer to Davos, Switzerland, where they have been focusing on distance training. On Sunday, U.S. Ski Team members Liz Stephen, Noah Hoffman, Kris Freeman and Tad Elliott tested themselves in an FIS race in Seefeld, Austria. Stephen won the women’s 5 k freestyle, and Hoffman was third in the men’s 10 k skate.
Here are a few bits and pieces of what didn’t make it in the race recaps:
On celebrating the U.S. women’s success (first with Kikkan Randall’s freestyle sprint victory on Saturday, then with Randall and Sadie Bjornsen placing a historic second in the team sprint Sunday) in Dusseldorf:
“We left the hotel early (Saturday in Davos) so that we could get to Seefeld in time to see the sprint rounds. Watching Kikkan win was incredibly exciting. (Sunday) was great because our race (in Seefeld) was early in the morning. We were done in plenty of time to clean up, have lunch, and watch the team sprint final. It made for a great drive back to Davos watching Sadie and Kikkan be so successful!” — Noah Hoffman
“The team just all arrived together again (in Davos), so that is awesome. It was certainly tough not to be able to celebrate with Kikkan and Sadie after such amazing performances, but it is how it goes some times, and it brings so much energy back to the team on their return. Momentum is an amazing thing, so we will just try to keep it going!” — Liz Stephen
On the Canadians’ success in the team sprint in Dusseldorf, with Lenny Valjas and Drew Goldsack placing fifth and Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones placing seventh:
“Drew and I are so happy with this result! Drew skied amazing all day and fought really hard to keep us in contention. I had so much fun skiing today! Our team is really happy to have all these great results, but we are ready to step it up and start getting on the podium.” — Valjas
“I think today’s result is a great sign of how much the level has come up on both the men’s and the women’s side!” — Goldsack
On preparing for the final in the team sprint:
“It’s so intense during the racing that they key is to try and relax.” — Goldsack
On the jam-packed team sprint on Dusseldorf’s narrow course:
“It’s pretty hectic, but not that foreign. It was like skiing in a sprint race. It was all about holding your ground Some of the big guys made me realize that.” — Skyler Davis (U.S.A.), on the semifinal, in which he and teammate Andy Newell failed to advance.
“I was so happy to be racing in a team sprint. I absolutely love team sprints, and (Sunday) I simply went out there and raced as hard as I could. Our team coaches picked the teams and the team order, and it was great to be anchoring for Canada 2.” — Dasha Gaiazova, who teamed up with Alysson Marshall in the team sprint for Canada, but did not advance to the final.
“I felt good in the race and it went super-smooth for Alysson and I in all our exchanges and on the race course.”
Davis, on starting his season with World Cup sprints:
“The first lap was good … on the second lap I felt bad. Then on the last lap, it felt like the middle of a 20 k. It was pretty hard. … It’s just (my) second race of the year. It’s hard to judge fitness. I need more of these though.”
On this being the last time World Cup races are held in Dusseldorf until at least 2013:
“If it’s up to us, the 11th FIS Cross-Country Ski World Cup will take place in Dusseldorf in two years’ time. Everything is perfect here. It’s as simple as that. I assume that we will be here again in two years.” — German national coach Jochen Behle told FIS Ski.
“It is a pity that we won’t be here next year. The organization is excellent, the track is always well-prepared, and the atmosphere around the event is super. I am hoping that we will be back in two years.” — Hanna Kolb (GER), 11th in individual sprint, 10th in team sprint.
“I want to say thanks to Dusseldorf and the audience, they are great. It was again a fantastic event and I am pleased to be here and show a strong performance.” — Alexey Petukhov (RUS), second in both the freestyle sprint and the team sprint. “I love this city sprint event. … It’s incredible how many enthusiastic fans cheer us on along the course.”
On the small U.S. contingency that went to Seefeld:
(Note: Liz Stephen, Kris Freeman, Noah Hoffman, Tad Elliott and coach Bryan Fish drove from Davos to Seefeld on Saturday and returned by Sunday afternoon.)
“It was really fun to check out Seefeld. … Seeing new places with a small group is even more enjoyable, as there are far fewer logistics and craziness going on.” — Stephen
Stephen, on winning the Seefeld 5 k by 18 seconds:
“The race was really fun. It was nice to get a low-key race in on an off weekend. … I have put a couple of pretty big weeks along with racing and an altitude adjustment this week, so I felt about about on par with what I would have expected. I had some tired legs, but energy was pretty good up until my bonk with 200 meters to go, but in an 5 k that’s an OK place to hit the wall.”
On racing a 5 k:
“My goal was to go get a hard effort in and treat it like a relay leg. 5 k races, to me, are relay races, as it is rare to have a standalone 5 k event, except in a mini tour or relay, and it is easy to get fired up for a relay for me. … I went out hard and tried to hang on. … There is not enough time to be conservative or safe.” — Stephen
On skiing in Seefeld:
“The skiing in Seefeld was the best terrain with the longest loop that we have had this year. … Seefeld had 2.5k of rolling terrain and it was beautiful! The Youth Olympic (Games) Nordic events will be held there in January, and those guys should be stoked for sure.” — Stephen
On training and gearing up for races in Davos:
“I am excited for Davos, and we just got some snow (Sunday) night, so hopefully it will keep falling this week and we can ski the full 5 k loop so that they can run the full 15 k race, which is on the (World Cup) schedule (Dec 10). I am very excited for a 15 k skate! They are some of my favorite races.” — Stephen
“We are in Davos rocking a one k loop. It gets old but it’s skiing.” — Elliott
“I am looking forward to racing in Davos and Rogla (Slovenia) before Christmas. Unfortunately this winter is very heavy on skate sprints, and I am naturally better in classic-style. My next World Cup classic sprint opportunity is 1.5 months away, but every sprint — skate or classic is equally important for me this year.” — Gaiazova
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.