There’s never a dull weekend during the ski season, and this second week of February was no exception. On the World Cup circuit, the biggest news was probably a pair of strong U.S. relay results: the cross country women finished a remarkable fifth place in a 4 x 5 k relay in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, anchored by a lightning-fast Jessie Diggins, while a team of biathletes cobbled together based on who was healthy raced to a best-ever sixth place finish in the mixed relay in Kontiolahti, Finland. The U.S. men placed 12th in the Nove Mesto relay; Canada did not enter any relay teams this weekend.
For the skiers, the individual races were less exciting; no Americans scored World Cup points, while Devon Kershaw led Canada with a 12th-place finish in the 30 k mass start. Despite being a step down from his heroics last weekend, the result helped him maintain his third-place ranking in the overall World Cup. Perianne Jones also scored points for Canada, finishing 30th in the 15 k.
Kontiolahti saw multiple top-ten and top-twenty finishes from North Americans, who seem to be only getting better as the season advances towards World Championships. In Saturday’s sprint, Lowell Bailey and Russell Currier were mere seconds from the podium, placing fifth and sixth; the next day in the pursuit, the Americans packed the mid-teens. On the women’s side, Sara Studebaker notched a season-best 15th-place finish on Saturday, and Canada’s Zina Kocher placed 12th and 9th, her best finishes in two years.
On the World Cup, it was a good weekend for Norway, which swept both cross country relays, and picked up a win from Marit Bjørgen and an epic 93rd World Cup victory by 38-year-old biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen.
North Americans also competed on the continental cup circuit in Europe. Canada’s Alysson Marshall had the best result of the weekend, qualifying third before winding up seventh in a classic sprint in Albu, Estonia.
We haven’t reported on it yet, but stay tuned: biathlon’s IBU Cup circuit came to Canmore, Canada, and several North Americans saw top-ten finishes. The highlight of the weekend was Canadian Nathan Smith sweeping both races on home turf.
Domestically, Karl Nygren, Matt Gelso, Leif Zimmerman, Jennie Bender, Chelsea Holmes, and Morgan Arritola all picked up victories at the Aspen Nordic Festival in Aspen, Colorado, with Zimmerman and Arritola winning the prestigious Owl Creek Chase. Canadians wrapped up the NorAm season at Mont Orford, Quebec, which saw wins by Kate Brennan, Andrea Lee, Brent McMurtry, and Kevin Sandau.
Here’s a guide to our race reporting, with links to results for all the racing that happened this weekend.
FIS Cross Country World Cup, Nove Mesto, Czech Republic
IBU Biathlon World Cup, Kontiolahti, Finland
Scandinavian Cup, Albu, Estonia
IBU Cup Biathlon, Canmore, Alberta
Aspen Nordic Festival SuperTour, Aspen, Colorado
Mount Orford NorAm, Mount Orford, Quebec