World Cup racing kicked off early this week, on Wednesday in Drammen, Norway, with a World Cup sprint. Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland resumed her dominance in the classic technique, while Petter Northug skied to a convincing win as he tries for the overall World Cup title. For the U.S., Kikkan Randall finished fifth, her top classic result of they year, while Torin Koos made his return to the World Cup sprint heats and finished 20th; Andy Newell and Sadie Bjornsen made the heats, along with Canadians Dasha Gaiazova, Alex Harvey, and Lenny Valjas.
A few days later the show moved to nearby Oslo for the Holmenkollen, one of the most prestigious and traditional World Cups of the year. This time is was Alexander Legkov of Russia who prevailed, winning a tough 50 k on Saturday that put him in the lead in the race for points against Northug and Dario Cologna. A day later Norway’s Therese Johaug skied to another convincing win on the 30 k course. Liz Stephen finished ninth and Noah Hoffman 24th to lead the Americans, while the Canadians struggled.
The Holmenkollen also hosted nordic combined, where Taylor Fletcher finished fifth, and ski jumping, where American teenager Sarah Hendrickson won the first women’s competition ever held as part of the festival.
Biathlon hosted the last World Cup of the season in Siberia. In the frigid cold of Khanty-Mansiysk, the big winners were Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic, who swept all three women’s races, and Martin Fourcade, who collected two wins on his way to securing a sweep of all the crystal globes. Christoph Sumann of Austria also had a good weekend, winning the pursuit just weeks after considering quitting the sport because things were going so badly. The Canadians didn’t fare so well, with Scott Gow the only one to make the cut for the pursuit, but Lowell Bailey and Tim Burke had strong finales with several top-ten performances capped by Burke’s fourth-place finish in the mass start.
U.S. skiers also competed in Toblach, Italy, where Sadie Bjornsen made the step down from the World Cup by winning the 5 k classic at OPA Cup Finals before losing a sprint finish in the pursuit to Sandra Ringwald of Germany. Kate Fitzgerald and Caitlin Patterson also collected top-20s. At the end of the weekend Sam Tarling, Erik Bjornsen, and Matt Gelso sat in spots 23 through 25; Paddy Caldwell wound up 12th in the junior series.
Junior Nationals took place in Fairbanks, Alaska, and we featured full writeups thanks to Matias Saari. This year’s event was dominated by Norwegian guests in the J1 category, but Americans managed to notch victory even there; the J2 and OJ divisions were also home to top finishes. Check out the reporting at the links below.
FIS Cross Country World Cup Sprints, Drammen, Norway
Holmenkollen FIS Cross Country World Cup, Oslo, Norway
Holmenkollen FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, Oslo, Norway
IBU World Cup Biathlon, Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
OPA Cup Finals, Toblach, Italy | results
Friday prologue: race report
Saturday 5/10 k classic: race report
Sunday 10/15 k pursuits
USSA Junior National Championships, Fairbanks, Alaska | Alaska Cup points
Birkebeiner, Rena to Lillehammer, Norway
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.