The official beginning to the 2014 racing season didn’t disappoint with tons of exciting nordic action taking place across the globe. The World Cup kicked off in all three nordic disciplines, including the highly anticipated Super Tour races in West Yellowstone, Mont., which FasterSkier covered on-site.
World Cup racing began on Friday with the classic sprint as the first leg of the Ruka Triple mini-tour in Kuusamo, Finland. Kikkan Randall (APU/USST) come out firing with a second-place finish, her best in a World Cup classic sprint. Justyna Kowalczyk won it, looking as strong as ever. Sadie Bjornsen (APU/USST) dominated in the qualifier in third and finished the day in 26th, and teammate Ida Sargent finished 16th. On the men’s side, Eirik Brandsdal of Norway overcame Anton Gafarov and Teodor Peterson to win the first World Cup race of the season. Andy Newell was the lone North American to qualify and finished the day in 24th.
Bjornsen demonstrated that Friday’s result was not a fluke by finishing seventh in the 5 k classic on Saturday, followed by Randall in 15th. Kowalczyk won the race with the Norwegian duo of Marit Bjørgen and Therese Johaug in hot pursuit. Lukas Bauer won the 10 k classic, followed closely by Eldar Rønning. Canadian Ivan Babikov and Noah Hoffman (USST/SSCV/Team HomeGrown) were the only two North American men to crack the top 30, finishing 21st and 28th respectively.
On the final day of action in Kuusamo, Bjørgen captured her fourth-straight Ruka Triple title, besting Swede Charlotte Kalla and teammate Johaug by nearly 20 seconds in the 10 k pursuit. For the U.S., Randall, Jessie Diggins (SMST2/USST), and Liz Stephens (Burke/USST) respectively recorded the seventh, eighth and ninth fastest times of the day, with Randall finishing fifth overall. Hoffman made major waves and skied the fastest time in the men’s 15 k, rising from 38th to ninth in the mini tour. Norway’s Martin Sundby won the Ruka Triple, just 12 seconds ahead of Hoffman.
The U.S. SuperTour opened in West Yellowstone and Team Gregg dominated. The Midwest couple, Caitlin and Brian Gregg conquered the field with Caitlin winning both Friday’s skate sprint and Saturday’s 10 k skate (by over a minute and 20 seconds) and Brian taking second overall in the 15 k skate (to Norwegian Mads Strøm, a University of Colorado freshman).
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup opened on Thursday in Östersund, Sweden, with a 20 k individual, which France’s Martin Fourcade won. Canadian Jean-Philippe Le Guellec finished an impressive fourth and teammate Nathan Smith placed 16th. More impressive results followed, with American Tim Burke notching third in Saturday’s 10 k sprint behind winner Fourcade. Teammate Lowell Bailey finished 14th, and Susan Dunklee was 16th in the women’s 7.5 k sprint on Friday. Sunday’s pursuit races were canceled due to inclement weather.
In nordic-combined action in Kuusamo, American Taylor Fletcher posted the fastest time in his anchor leg to give the U.S. seventh in the 4 x 5 k team event.
FIS Cross-Country World Cup, Kuusamo, Finland (results)
Super Tour, West Yellowstone, Mont. (results)
IBU Biathlon World Cup, Östersund, Sweden (results)
Thursday’s 15 k and 20 k | Men’s Report |
Friday’s 7.5 k Sprint | Women’s Report |
Saturday’s 10 k Sprint |Men’s Report |