After months of training, racing and waiting, the roster is out. On Saturday afternoon the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association named the cross country team it will take to Val di Fiemme, Italy, for the 2013 FIS World Championships. Thirteen athletes — six men and seven women — made the cut.
Each athlete’s previous World Championships appearances are listed after their names. Between the two squads there are two rookies: Erik Bjornsen and Sophie Caldwell.
- Erik Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, U.S. Ski Team/Alaska Pacific University
- Tad Elliott, Durango, CO, USST/Ski and Snowboard Club Vail Team HomeGrown (2011)
- Kris Freeman, Andover, NH, USST/Maine Winter Sports Club (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- Simi Hamilton, Aspen, CO, USST/Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (2011)
- Noah Hoffman, Aspen, CO, USST/SSCV Team HomeGrown (2011)
- Andy Newell, Shaftsbury, VT, USST/SMS T2 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- Sadie Bjornsen, Winthrop, WA, USST/APU (2011)
- Holly Brooks, Anchorage, AK, USST/APU (2011)
- Sophie Caldwell, Peru, VT, SMS T2
- Jessie Diggins, Afton, MN, USST/SMS T2 (2011)
- Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, AK, USST/APU (2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- Ida Sargent, Orleans, VT, USST/Craftsbury Green Racing Project (2011)
- Liz Stephen, E. Montpelier, VT, USST/Burke Mountain Academy (2009, 2011)
FIS Nordic Ski World Championships
Val di Fiemme, Italy
Feb. 20 – Opening Ceremony
Feb. 21 – Classic sprint
Feb. 23 – Skiathlon (men 15k CL/15k FS; women 7.5k CL/7.5k FS)
Feb. 24 – Freestyle team sprint
Feb. 26 – Women’s 10k freestyle
Feb. 27 – Men’s 15k freestyle
Feb. 28 – Women’s 4x5k relay (CL/FS)
Mar. 1 – Men’s 4x10k relay (CL/FS)
Mar. 2 – Women’s 30k classic
Mar. 3 – Men’s 50k classic
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January 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Simi Hamilton and Tad Elliott?? What have they done so far this year to qualify them for World’s? Didn’t Torin Koos win two races (and would have placed himself well for the final had he not been obstructed twice in his quarterfinal heat) at nationals? A classic sprint and a 30km classic mass start? Also had a solid 6th in the 15km skate, all while being sick for a month and having only 2 races before nationals, clearly on the up and up. Who else won 2 races at Nationals in the men’s division? Certainly not Tad Elliott, and we saw how well he skied today. Bjornsen is deserving, but Elliott and Hamilton are not. Hamilton has only done 2 individual races on the world cup and unless USSA watched a different race, wasn’t very convincing. Shame. Another blunder by USSA nordic.
January 19, 2013 at 11:21 pm
How on earth USSA is going to even try to justify this team selection is beyond my wildest imagination. Women’s team is very reasonable though of course there are always going to be close calls / tricky tradeoffs that are hard to know how to weigh against eachother. But overall reasonable. But the men’s??? Let’s take a look at this:
Named to the team:
1. Erik Bjornsen (promising youngster, USST Devo team member, got his butt kicked 2 out of 2 head to head races with Torin Koos.)
2. Tad Elliot (really nice guy, USST Devo member, hopefully will make lots of progress in future but NOT skiing fast right now, as in dead last in today’s world cup. Or was it 2nd to last with Noah Hoffman last? Can’t remember and don’t really care.)
3. Kris Freeman (a worthy pick of course, but feeling awful enough and skiing bad enough right now to have to leave the world cup and rest at home for 5 weeks – honestly in such a bad rut that Koos might even be able to beat him in a mass start distance race right now. And we all know Freeman is not a contender in any sprint races.)
4. Simi Hamilton (is healthy for about 5% of the races each season. Has not had any good results all year. If you get sick ALL THE TIME you should not be taking up someone else’s spot on a Worlds team, in my clueless opinion…)
5. Noah Hoffman (was either dead last or 2nd to last with Tad Elliot today. Nice race in Canmore though.)
6. Andy Newell (duh. Only guy not sucking on the USST right now? Or almost anyway. Only 23 seconds out of 1st in today’s DISTANCE race, and he’s mainly a sprinter.)
NOT NAMED TO THE TEAM:
1. Torin Koos (Has won every sprint race at US Nationals for the past 3 years in a row except one where his binding ripped off his ski through no fault of his own (and that absolutely bogus, not-internationally-relevent DQ last year does not count for beans in my book); 1st place in the 30k classic at Nationals this year too. AKA, indisputably the best male US sprinter other than Newell right now, and possibly the 2nd or 3rd best distance skier and mass start racer right now too, at least in classic! Also the only other male skier to podium in a world cup sprint besides Newell, right? More experience than any US male sprinter besides Newell. Knows how to ski heats. Knows how to ski at the World Cup level. Cut from USST the same year he qualified 2nd fastest in the World Cup sprint in Canmore AND the same year he beat Newell, Lenny Valjas, and everyone else in the only sprint race at SuperTour finals.)
Just to be perfectly clear here, I don’t have any personal ties to Koos or any personal reason to hate the USST. I did race for many years on the SuperTour circuit and would like to think I have at least a not-totally-uninformed perspective on the sport. I was never close to making an Olympic, World Cup, or World Champs spot myself and have absolutely no bitterness about that. I’m just someone who is a huge fan of the sport both, and believes in USA being able to win medals consistently on the World Cup, Olympics, and World Champs. I’ve quietly sat and watched for the past 20+ years as the same short-sighted USSA approach is taken year after year when it comes to naming teams of all kinds. I say this as someone who thinks extremely highly of several USST coaches and most of the USST athletes. I’m rooting for them all big time, year round. But it is heartbreaking and painfully obvious that this strategy of investing only in the youngest skiers, then dumping them all when they turn 22 and haven’t won any World Cups yet (I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not that much, really) is NOT helping the sport.
One huge thing the US finally has going for it is an awesome development pipeline up to the senior club level. Athletes can now graduate from HS (or college if they want to go that route) and go straight into APU, CXC, Craftsbury Green Team, MWSC, Stratton T2, etc. and have very solid support for their continued training, racing, and development. But where it breaks down in a major way is when you can place FIRST, FIRST, and SIXTH at US Nationals and still not be allowed to go kick some butt on the international stage. What kind of hope and inspiration does that give young skiers coming up? It sends the message: “forget the fact that xc skiing is a LONG term development sport and that the average age of the World Cup red group tends to be about 30 or 31. You better be the top junior by the time you’re an OJ or your international career ends there.” And to anyone over 23 or 24: “if you’re not getting on the world cup podium on a regular basis and a younger US skier that’s only 1 or 2min. slower than you, they take your spot on the team and you’re never coming back no matter how many domestic races you win.”
Here’s hoping Koos has the funds and wax support to make it around to the rest of the domestic circuit this year and win that automatic FIS start spot to the end of season World Cups (yeah, that same FIS rule that allowed someone “old” like Holly Brooks to get some World Cup starts to prove herself to the point that USST had no way to not name her to the team.) Somehow this BS needs to change. I don’t care if I had anything to do with it, I don’t care about being “right” or throwing my weight around. But SOMEONE needs to put an end to this mentality of “fund the super young then throw them out and repeat” because it clearly does NOT produce fast skiers at a very high ratio.
The clubs (like the ones that made Kikkan, Jessie, Holly, Sadie, Erik, Sophie and others the skiers they are today) are there to support development for the younger skiers. Shouldn’t the USST be for those that are just plain the fastest each year regardless of age???? Or is it a better idea to keep trying to guess who might be fast 6 years from now at the cost of dumping the older, smarter, more experienced skiers who are not only skiing faster than them but WINNING the only important races they are allowed to start?
January 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm
The problem is our selection criteria, with the number one filter being a top-60 overall ranking on the world cup, followed by a top 50 in either distance or sprint. Then its down to FIS points, then USSA. (As a side note, i have nothing against any of the racers on our domestic scene, only the selection criteria, which is truly BS).
The U.S selection criteria unfairly rewards world cup ranking vs. skiing fast at the right time of the year. It also disregards field strength, and timing of the races. The way world cup points work, every point you score is valid for one whole calendar year. So if you know the world champs selection is happening in period 3 of 2013, at a minimum, you need solid world cup points from the period 3 onward from 2012. So long as those points from the previous year hold compared to the new season, you technically wouldn’t have to race a damn race, and you could get selected! Not likely of course but you get the picture of how stupid this is. Do you look at the previous years performance as a pure indicator of your stock portfolio and investment strategy? I sure as hell hope not.
Additionally, this system tends to reward November All-Stars. If you can ski well in early world cups, where many world cup skiers are likely training through those early races (think Kowalczyk, especially this year) and get some solid points, then it’s pretty likely you can snag a top-50 ranking in either distance or sprint by the time World Champs selection comes around. This is especially true if you race well at a World Cup with a a limited field (i.e Canmore). Doesn’t matter if you’re dragging your nuts on the ground in the weeks leading up to World Champs…
So basically it ends up becoming this stupid game you have to play in order to qualify. It’s no longer about who is racing fastest when it counts, or to win races at Nationals, or prove you’re on top of the domestic scene, it’s simply a game that needs to be played the right way. How many skiers are fast in November and don’t do squat for the rest of the year? Yet the USST seems to think this is a solid way to pick the team…
January 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm
I had some tight ass plans for today, but I think I’ll just join this discussion instead. Maybe you guys aren’t ready for the Val de Fieme Val de Fieme but here’s whats up.
davord: Dude get your facts straight. Maybe whilst sitting on the couch it’s easy to dismiss Elliot, but he is one of America’s best distance skiers, especially in a 50k mass start. As for Simi: to be clear you are talking about Simeon Hamilton the man who is one of only 3 american men to make it into a WC heat this year? Ok thats what I thought
g0usa: How dare you speak ill of my favorite ski star erik bjornsen, “butt kicked?” I hardly think that is an appropriate term considering it was only a few seconds in each race, and wax could have seemingly thrown either one of those in his favor, and btdubs did he not WIN A NATIONAL TITLE IN THE 15 KILOMETER SKATE which last time I checked is on the list for World Champs. As for Tad, first off lets get things straight he’s not on the Devo team. I would suggest you get your facts straight before you go accusing people of things. Don’t tell me you “don’t remember and don’t really care” because if you took the time to post that comment, I’m sure you do know for sure. As for Bird, how about you try racing with diabetus!(let me know if you too manage to get top 10 in a WC) As for Simi, see what I said to davord. Das Hoff? Did you really just dismiss a top 10 world cup performance? Oh yeah he’s been “terrible” this year…except when he’s been awesome which has been very often, seeing as he’s scored a hell of a lot of points this year, cracking the top 30 in 5 different races. And yeah Newell is deserving, and I can’t really tell if you’re saying that 23 seconds back in the 15k classic yesterday is a good thing or a bad thing, but trust me its good.
cuttsy: Your post is interesting, and I think it covers some important points except for the fact that no one does well and then sits the rest of the world cups in hopes of making the team. I can promise you they’re going as fast as they can, and if they can’t do good enough for you then by all means defect to mexico.
Your shared idea that Koos should be on the team is well founded in fact, and I do believe that he should be however, he is not one of the top 6 choices for america and the unfortunate reality that we must face as a skiing nation is that until we choose to face our problems head on we will forever be in the shadow of a looming budget problem that cripples us so badly we cannot even afford to field the best team america has to offer and bring more than 6 people to a world championships, so next time the NNF drive comes around lets all chip in again and work harder to make our friends donate too that way we won’t get boned and have this problem next year for sochi and again in falun in 2015….
So bros chill out, I’m headed back to my tight ass plans till you comment again, they’re much more doper.
January 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm
HERE’S THE THING. Where is my man Skyler Davis?!?! With a 24th place finish at Canmore in the sprint it only seems fair that he receive a chance to sprint for a World Championship title. Sky is the reason the sun shines bright each morning. It would not be a sprint with out sky, merely a citizens “fun ski.” AND LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ELSE g0usa! Erik Bjornsen is beautiful. A blonde babe that does not lose to many. NATIONAL TITLE IN THE 15K SKATE AT THE US CHAMPIONSHIPS. Sorry bro beans i do not believe you could even comprehend the butt kicking laid down by Erik in that race. These boys are the heart and soul of the D team and together, the backbone. The team would not be who they are without these two fine young man. g0usa must be skiing very fast right now since he feels justified to shred the dreams of these Dteam members, but fear not, Erik and Sky will not tolerate this nonsense. They will rise about the hate and set the trails ablaze. As a great man once said, haters gunna hate, so keep drinking that haterade g0usa, and maybe consider changing your name to koosboylover101
January 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Last week Fasterskier wrote that Dakota Blackhorse Von Jess was told by Chris Grover that the way onto the national team and major championships selection was by winning races. Torin Koos won another one today, the 20K at the Twin Cities Super Tour. It looked pretty easy for him. Koos has long been in Chris Grover’s doghouse. It likely started when Koos stayed in school and turned down the USST residency program that Chris Grover coached. One of Grover’s first actions as USST head coach was dropping Koos from the team. Up to that point the USST had a competitive men’s sprint relay team, since then the only final they have achieved was at the Oslo World Championships with Koos, who raced with a dislocated shoulder.
Koos crossed the line first in six consecutive national sprint championships, with last years classic sprint relegation certainly highly debatable. The guy’s season effectively opened with the US Nationals in Soldier Hollow and he was excellent throughout. So far he appears to be consistently excellent at the distance races in the Minneapolis SuperTour.
Many of us hope the US will send a full complement to the World Championships. If winning races is the criteria, perhaps the two open men slots and one open women’s slot can be filled based on mid-season race results.
Given how little attention US Nordic ski competitors receive, and how much they sacrifice to achieve excellence, we as a ski community owe them opportunities to prove their mettle.
January 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Ha, i’m not sure where you get the idea that I think everyone is not “fast enough”, or that people do well and hang out for the rest of the season. I was simply pointing out a flaw with the selection criteria. It’s been exciting as hell to watch the U.S this year. I just think it makes more sense to use World Cup points from only the World Champs year (Lets say period 2 – 4? Just throwing it out there) instead of just the a top 60 / top 50, which takes into account all the points from the previous year. A lot happens in one year, as evidenced by Torin Koos for example. Obviously the constraints of budget are a big issue and probably the primary motivator for the current system. It makes it easier and a little more Black / White, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best system to use…
January 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm
So much passion, that is good, but we should be using it positively. We all want the best US skiers to have a chance to race internationally and succeed. I’m psyched that Grover selected 13, but he has 3 more spots he could fill, and Koos deserves one. He’d really strengthen our sprint team, and his distance results have been topnotch lately. Simi and Tad are totally deserving and will show why in Val de Fiemme! I just hope that everyone is healthy and at their best. Go USA! A backwoods Idaho fan…
January 20, 2013 at 7:34 pm
So bjornsenhole96, tell me why you think Tad Elliott and Simi Hamilton are more deserving of a world’s spot than Torin Koos? What result has Tad Elliott had this year on the world cup, or any other race, that would suggest he deserves a spot on this team? Here are his results from this year’s interational races he has taken part in:
110th in the Muonio FIS race classic sprint qualification, 22 seconds behind Newell, 154 FIS points.
59th in Gaellivare World Cup 15km skate individual start race (probably his best event), 2:05 behind
15th best time in 3rd leg of 4×7.5 relay and the US finished 15th.
116th in Kuusamo Ruka Triple classic sprint qualification, 22 seconds behind Joensson (at least he is consistant there)
69th in Kuusamo Ruka Triple 10km skate individual start race, 1:40 behind, not horrible, but winner was under 22 minutes, fast conditions.
82nd time Kuuamo Ruka Triple finale, 15km classic handicap start, 4:20 minutes behind winner, 77 overall, 14 people didn’t start and 3 didn’t finish (among them, Kris Freeman and Andrew Newell, but it was very cold and very humid, so I think it’s understandable, as far as those two are concerned)
Then the tour migrated to Canada:
Canmore 15km classic mass start, 46th, 3:15 behind Tscharnke, the winner, in a smaller WC field filled with North Americans.
Canmore 30km duathlon, 28th, 3:20 behind Manificat, the winner. Solid. Probably his best result of the season, pretty much the same skiers as the 15km race, so smaller, but getting some WC points is always nice.
Didn’t race until US Nationals, where he was 39th in the classic sprint, 12 seconds behind Blackhorse Von Jess, the prologue winner.
Next race he did at SoHo was the 15km individual skate race, probably his second best race of the season, 2nd, 6 seconds behind Erik Bjornsen.
30km classic mass start race, 7th place, 23 seconds behind Torin Koos.
Skate sprint, 15th in qualifying, 6th overall, behind Blackhorse von Jess.
Then we go back to the old continet.
69th out of 69 finishers in the La Clusaz 15km classic mass start race, 4:02 behind Poltoranin, the race winner.
13th fastest time, 1:41 behind fastest skier (Sundby) in the third leg (skate leg) of the 4×7.5 relay, US team finished 10th, 3:02 behind “questionable” winners Norway.
I won’t go in any detail with Hamilton, mostly because he has barely raced this season, so there is nothing to go off of, but also because go0usa already discussed this in his well written post.
Regarding Bjornsen and Davis. You may have missed the part where I said Bjornsen was ‘deserving.’ He really is deserving. Like Koos, he can ski whatever distance, whatever style right now, and like Koos, he will only get better as the weeks roll by.
Davis on the other hand is a one trick pony. He can only sprint right now, and apart from finishing in the WC points in Canmore, hasn’t done much. 69th in the Quebec skate city sprint, 20 seconds behind Joensson in the qualifications, didn’t podium in any race at nationals, finished 105th (West Yellowstone supertour 9km skate, ) and 111th (SoHo senior nationals 15km skate) in the only 2 distance races he has done so far this season, finished 55th (16 seconds out) in his latest individual sprint race, finished 27th out of 28 teams in the team sprint the very next day (both his 2nd and 3rd laps were 23 seconds behind Bjornsen).
So really, right now, there are very few skiers in the US right now who can ski well and be competitive in BOTH sprint AND distance races, the only ones on the World Championship team who can do that are Andy Newell and Erik Bjornsen. Freeman and Hoffman can be there or thereabouts in most distance races. Tad Elliott, Simi Hamilton and Skyler Davis cannot.
January 21, 2013 at 10:10 am
I know that writing on these boards is always a mistake but I’m going to anyways. How about we keep the ripping of these athletes out of this. Let’s be supportive of the team that was selected and discuss other skiers that also were deserving but not at the expense of tearing apart others. Nordic skiing in the US is small and while I hope the aforementioned guys don’t bother to read these comments, my guess is they do.
January 21, 2013 at 10:12 am
What’s that infamous definition of insanity again?
January 21, 2013 at 10:57 am
Excuse me davord, it seems you have WAY too much time on your hands since you were able to pull together a novel about this issue, can’t wait to see your plans for the feature film. I, however, have a very fulfilling life so I will only have a little time to degrade you so bare with me. For starters, A ONE TRICK PONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?? I was unaware a one trick pony could classic AND skate sprint. One plus one makes two. Second, Sky is still a young skier on the rise in Europe and the way you talk, it is quite clear you have never raced in Europe or understood what its like. It is another world over there and with every new experience, time is required to be the best and one day Sky will be the best. Finally, the sun obviously does not shine where you are from (my guess is Russia since you rip on a US SKI TEAM MEMBER), so i wish you a good day in darkness. Better luck next time russiaFTW101
January 21, 2013 at 11:49 am
Last time I checked a DFL in a World Cup is still a solid result in a US national. The women got last in their last relay , should we cut diggings and Kikkan? The dudes and chicks don’t get enough credit for placing 44th on the WC. That’s not going to win you a gold medal in Sochi, but it beats winning any other race in the US. Not taking anything away from Koos, because maybe he should be on the WC, but I personally think the US is heading in the direction of success.
January 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm
1) Koos is skiing very consistently right now. I don’t know the politics behind Koos’ relationship with the US Ski Team, but he seems like a relatively well-kept man. He is deserving of a spot on the team.
2) US Women have turned in enough results this year to have proven themselves (and have at least one bad day). Deserving.
3) Bjornsen killed naty’s this year. Deserving.
4) Davis… not a hot commodity this year. When he’s fast, he’s fast. When he’s cold, he’s like Fairbanks mid-winter. Not deserving.
5) Simi… 4 races this year? Top result Muonio in November? Questionable, but probably not deserving.
6) Elliot… he’s fast… in a 50km skate. Pretty sweet skate sprint at naty’s, though. Questionable.
7) Liebsch? Notice he didn’t f*#$ s*&% up this weekend? Definitely deserving.
It should also be noted that the new selection criteria should include user review and comments, with 100% weighting on Fasterskier comments. If we can rally together and get some sick pump-up mojo for our skiers, they’ll mos def race faster (duh, “faster”skier?). That way, when you feel the need to voice your opinion, someone might actually give a f^&%.
LEAVE THEM ALONE!
January 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm
The 13 athletes picked for the Championships are all worthy of respect and have worked hard to get where they are. I don’t take issue with the selection by the coaches, except for the omission of Koos whose performance has merited inclusion on the team. He fits the seven bullet points for discretionary picks of the World Championship team amazingly well. I can not recall a Championship team from the US which left off a person who won two titles at Nationals that year.
While he certainly is one of the top 3 sprinters and one of the top distant classic mass start skiers in the US, it’s in the Team Sprint where he is needed. In the past 5 seasons, the Newell/ Koos combo was a perfect 5 for 5 in international competition for making the finals. The US was 0 for 6 in qualifying for the finals in WC with any combo other than Newell/ Koos. Newell obviously is going great, and Koos is certainly fit and skiing fast. On paper a Newell/ Koos combo is our best shot in the Team Sprint. It would be a disservice to both athletes to take away the opportunity to represent their country with distinction, and perhaps improve on the 4th place they took at Dusseldorf.
January 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm
All chosen should be there, and Koos should be there. Is it funding? Is there a way to make it happen?? If it isn’t funding???
January 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm
John, a DFL is not a good result, in any race, last time I checked. Elliott raced in Europe, didn’t do a thing, raced in Canada and had one solid result, Grover then had him race at Nationals to ‘confirm’ his well being and he could muster only one podium, whereas Koos won 2 races. The only thing he can ski well at right now is distance skate races. Don’t get why Grover has him racing classic and sprint races. Hamilton, again, hasn’t had enough races, and like Elliott has only one good result in international races so far this year. Also like Elliott, he can only do one thing right now, sprints, whereas somebody like Koos can do everything well (see sprints the last 3 years at nationals, 30km classic at SoHo and 20km Classic at Wirth, 2nd at 10km skate at Wirth, meaning his shape is very good and his training has been tailored around February, not November. This isn’t about how nice or not nice somebody is, because every member of this team is ‘nice,’ nobody is denying that, but this isn’t about how nice or not nice a skier is, this is how fast you are right now and in what direction you are going. What direction are Elliott and Hamilton going right now? The stats on Elliott I put up aren’t made up, they don’t lie. They aren’t there to belittle him, rather to show the facts and to be realistic. Plus it doesn’t take that much time, really, you can check them out yourself:
If you take Elliott and Hamilton, guys who have underperformed this year, Koos should be on this team. If nationals results aren’t figured in this selection, why have them? Look at the qualification requirements for Canadians the last few years. Why aren’t we using the same or something similar?
January 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm
It looks like they went down the list. For the men, top four distance, top two sprint.
For the ladies, top five sprint, top five distance.