Based on their results from the recent World Cups in Quebec City and Canmore, U.S. Ski Team head coach Chris Grover has offered Sophie Caldwell (SMS T2) and Skyler Davis (SMS T2/USST) starting spots in the Liberec, Czech Republic, World Cups on January 12 and 13.
U.S. SuperTour leaders Sadie and Erik Bjornsen will also join the World Cup tour beginning on January 12 for Period Two per the usual start rights FIS awards to Continental Cup leaders after every competition period.
Liberec could be an important weekend for athletes like Davis and Caldwell for several reasons. Consisting of an individual classic and team sprint, it immediately precedes U23 World Championships on the same courses a week later. Davis and Caldwell, provided they continue to race well at U.S. Nationals, are still young enough to compete in U23s.
“Along with COC leader Erik Bjornsen, both Sophie and Skyler…can use the experience they gain during the Liberec World Cup sprints to help them prepare for the sprint during the U23 World Championships a week later,” Grover said in an email.
The Liberec World Cup also falls just within selection period the U.S will use to pick its 2013 World Championships team. The published objective criteria are based first on World Cup ranking: up to eight American men and women could go to Val di Fiemme in February if they rank in the top 60 overall or top 50 in sprint or distance by January 14. Liberec is the only World Cup remaining within that period outside the Tour de Ski, so the opportunity presents Caldwell, Davis and the Bjornsens, none of whom are on the American Tour roster, with a final chance to meet that objective criteria.
On Wednesday Caldwell said she had accepted the invitation to compete in Liberec.
“I’m not sure which races I’ll be doing yet because one is a sprint race and one is a team sprint, but I think it will be a great opportunity for some more international experience,” Caldwell said.
As for her World Championships ambitions?
“Obviously World Champs is something I’d love to compete in,” she said. But Caldwell is primarily looking at Liberec as another top-level racing opportunity.
“I don’t know how many spots the US has or who they’re looking to take so I’m trying to enjoy each chance I get to race a World Cup in the meantime and not worry too much about World Champs yet,” Caldwell said.
Davis also accepted the Liberec invitation. “I’m very excited to keep racing on the World Cup,” he said in an email. “It is a huge consideration to have more World Cup starts in my goal to be racing in world champs!”
Though the U.S. can take up to eight men and eight women, that doesn’t mean the team will be sixteen-strong come February. Grover says the Val di Fiemme team could consist of anywhere from six to eight athletes of each gender.
“Our goal is not simply to fill start spots,” he said. “Rather, our goal is to be successful. We have our sights set on a medal in Val di Fiemme. [These] Championships will not be an experiential or development project for us, and the team that is named will reflect that fact.”
This article was updated Dec. 20 at 11:30 am EST to include confirmation of Davis’ acceptance.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.