The Best of the Rest: Kuusamo and Canmore

Alex KochonDecember 3, 2012
Kikkan Randall during the Kuusamo 10 k classic pursuit, where she placed fifth on Sunday. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Phew. When the season starts, it starts in full force. On the second weekend of World Cup and U.S. SuperTour racing, the NorAm season kicked off as well. Up in Canmore, Alberta, the stakes couldn’t have been much higher for two days of domestic racing that determined Canada World Cup starts.

While we weren’t able to be everywhere and talk to everyone after the races – spanning from Kuusamo, Finland, to Bozeman, Mont. – here are some of the best of our typical “Notes and Quotes” series. Think of it as “the best of the rest,” including thoughts from two of the top finishers in Canmore and a few North Americans in Kuusamo.

For weekend results and highlights across the world (including biathlon and nordic combined), check out Monday’s roundup.


Canmore NorAm

 On Swiss winner Eligius Tambornino’s impressive sprint skills:

“He was in full beast mode heading up the second climb of the course. I didn’t think it was possible to one-skate, but he proved me wrong and did it with authority. It was impressive.”

– Phil Widmer (Alberta World Cup Academy), the top Canadian in the freestyle sprint A-final who placed fifth to four guys from Switzerland (Tambornino, Jovian Hediger, Christoph Eigenmann and Jöri Kindschi, respectively)


On Saturday’s strange conditions for usually consistent Canmore:

“Conditions were all over the map! It was a weird day for Canmore, which normally has such consistent weather. The morning had cold/hard tracks typical of Canmore and the afternoon held snow and soft tracks that eventually glazed over and become super squirrelly.” –Widmer, who solidified his prequalified starts for the Canada World Cup sprints


On race form:

“I was really happy with my performance on Saturday. Last season I had the speed and the fitness but my tactics were lacking. Yesterday, I feel like I was finally able to put pieces together.” – Andrea Dupont (Rocky Mountain Racers), the top Canadian in the women’s sprint A-final after winner Bettina Gruber (SUI)


On not worrying about the Swiss:

“[Gruber] led off the front and the Canadians all seemed more concerned about our positioning amongst ourselves and no one appeared to work too hard to hang onto her. It is a long tough course, so I started out fairly conservatively and got pretty boxed in on the first climb. When I made my move on the second climb, Gruber had a fairly sizable gap. And the top 3 skied comfortably into the finish.”– Dupont, who will start both World Cup individual sprints between Quebec and Canmore


Kuusamo World Cup

On pacing in a pursuit race:

“You have to be ready to go out fast because everyone is trying to catch the guy in front of him. The first lap and a half were brutal [Sunday]. I suffered for most of the race just trying to hang on to people. Yes, especially with the fresh snow, I believe the course is as brutal as it looks on TV. Haha, did I say I expect to be pacing top-20 consistently?– Noah Hoffman, 26th in Kuusamo World Cup 15 k classic pursuit


On sprint racing in Kuusamo:

“What’s tricky about Kuusamo is keeping an eye on the tracks and figuring out which lane we want to be in. Certain tracks get beat up through the qualification and through kind of preferred lines, the inside track on an uphill could get chewed up and no longer be the preferred lane. That’s where Kuusamo can get difficult on a cold, dry day like today [Friday].” – Matt Whitcomb, US Ski Team women’s coach


On nerves:

“I was really nervous before the qualifier but then I was a late starter and I was hearing lots of finishing times in the start pen.  All the people I skied with in the Muonio sprint were doing really well so that gave me confidence that I could be there too.” – Ida Sargent, career-best ninth in Friday’s classic sprint


On bad warmups:

“It’s a bit of a battle (mentally) when you are feeling that while warming up (not great feelings) while you will yourself to get into a good mind-set to attack something so short and explosive like a sprint qualifier is. No ‘warming into it’ in those puppies.” – Devon Kershaw, who failed to qualify for the heats on Friday


On the cold:

“It’s been pretty chilly this week. [Thursday] was nasty, really windy, and that made it really cold. [Friday] the wind was less significant so that made a big difference for me. I was able to stay warm out there, and we didn’t have to put any tape on our faces so that was good, and they say it’s going to get warmer. They say Kuusamo can get really cold, and today was just moderately cold.” – Kikkan Randall, 10th in Friday’s classic sprint

“It’s not as crazy cold as it has been in years past, still quite cold with a 16 mile-per-hour wind, pretty steady. We saw some white noses out there today, but our team was quite well prepared with Kinesio tape and Vaseline and our PT in the start with blankets and jackets and warm Gatorade at the finish if needed. People didn’t spend much time outside after the race, but nobody complained too much of struggling out there. I know Jessie [Diggins] had some cold fingers.” – Whitcomb, after Saturday’s 5/10 k individual races


On trailside support:

“I’d asked Matt to give me more generic comments like ‘hunt for 5 more seconds!’ instead of splits because I respond better to a challenge. It definitely helped!” – Jessie Diggins, 12th in Saturday’s 5 k individual freestyle


On the US Ski Team’s recent widespread success:

“The positive atmosphere on the team is contagious and I feel like we are all benefiting from the momentum that the girls built last weekend. It was awesome to watch Ida nail her best ever finish [Friday] and see Kikkan coming back into her sprint form.” – Simi Hamilton, 24th in Friday’s classic sprint

“Our staff is doing an amazing job. They’re running around like crazy; we are definitely using every person we have [four dedicated wax techs and three coaches]. You just see some of these other teams and they’ve got coaches sitting around in the dining tent and our guys are running from one thing to the other. It’s really satisfying for the athletes when we can put some good results up on the board and kind of say thanks to all our team that’s working so hard for us.” – Randall


On Randall’s rapid recovery:

“We’ve had a PT on the road with us for this entire period thus far, and Kikkan’s had a lot of attention on her injury and we’ve been monitoring that really closely to make sure that she’s not returning to competition too early. All signs are certainly positive right now. From an injury perspective, Kikkan is quite healthy and we’re psyched with how that’s going.” – Whitcomb


On Randall’s chances at the Quebec World Cup freestyle sprints next week:

“She is looking to do big things in Quebec. She is really excited about the two skate opportunities in particular. It is a little bit of a home course advantage, not that she has skied these particular city streets. I know she is fired up. [There are] way too many wild cards to predict any results, but I think it could go very well for Kikkan.” –Whitcomb


On not getting to blow out the candles until two days after your birthday:

“Not too much planned for the birthday, just hanging out with the team tonight and getting ready to race again tomorrow. We might have to wait and celebrate on Sunday after the mini tour wraps up.” – Andy Newell, who turned 28 on Friday

Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon ( is a former FasterSkier editor and roving reporter who never really lost touch with the nordic scene. A freelance writer, editor, and outdoor-loving mom of two, she lives in northeastern New York and enjoys adventuring in the Adirondacks. She shares her passion for sports and recreation as the co-founder of "Ride On! Mountain Bike Trail Guide" and a sales and content contributor at When she's not skiing or chasing her kids around, Alex assists authors as a production and marketing coordinator for iPub Global Connection.

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