It was a spectacular weekend for sprinting as the World Cup continued in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, with both an individual and team sprint. FasterSkier was on site at the 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships in Midway, Utah, as well as the biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding, Germany. Action in the nordic ski world also took place at the Nordic Combined World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France.
Fresh off a training block and ready to go after skipping the Tour de Ski, Kikkan Randall was victorious in the Saturday’s World Cup freestyle sprint in Nove Mesto. The U.S. Skit Team member bested Lauren Van Der Graff of Switzerland and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway.
Canadian Dasha Gaiazova just missed the semifinals for 13th overall. American Sophie Caldwell was the only other North American to make the rounds after qualifying in 25th and finishing 15th.
On the men’s side it was Sergey Ustiugov of Russia who came out on top in the freestyle sprint. He was followed by Italian Federico Pellegrino and Russia’s Alexey Petukhov, respectively.
American Andy Newell qualified second to start off the day but was unable to capitalize on his previous speed in the finals and finished in 17th. Teammate Simi Hamilton, who also qualified for the finals, finished 20th overall.
The Russians were once again triumphant in Sunday’s team sprint, with the team of Maxim Vylegzhanin and Nikita Kriukov winning the men’s competition over Norway I and Norway II. The win set the Russians up as the favorites going into the Olympics that will be hosted in their home country next month.
Newell and Hamilton placed fifth overall for one of the best U.S. men’s team sprint results in recent memory.
Norway had some redemption in women’s team sprint with Østberg and Maiken Caspersen Falla. They bested the Finnish and Russian teams, who placed second and third, respectively.
With Randall and Sadie Bjornsen recovering this Sunday, Caldwell and Ida Sargent stepped up to that challenge and skied an impressive race. They went on to place sixth in the final.
Canada’s team of Gaiazova and Perianne Jones finished 13th, just missing the qualification for the final.
The 2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships wrapped up last Friday with classic sprints. In the women’s race, Russian Natalja Naryshkina of CXC won the sprint over Rosie Brennan (APU) and Nichole Bathe (UAF). Brennan was crowned national champion as she was the first American in the race.
Reese Hanneman (APU), who won the qualification round and every one of his heats that followed, dominated the men’s race. He was followed by Erik Bjornsen (APU/U.S. Ski Team) and Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy). Hanneman made the podium in every race in which he competed, and is now the overall SuperTour leader.
This weekend also marked the end of the Canadian Olympic Team Trials in Canmore, Alberta. Based on the results from the week’s results, Canada will name two men (one distance ski athlete and one sprint skier), and two women (one distance ski athlete and one sprint skier). The four athletes will be named at Cross Country Canada’s Olympic Team announcement on January 14 in Calgary, Alberta.
As if the weekend wasn’t busy enough, the women’s 15 k individual took place in Ruhpolding, Germany, on Friday as part of the fifth week of the IBU World Cup in which Canadian Rosanna Crawford finished 26th and teammate Maggie Heinicke crossing the line in 30th. The top American finisher was Susan Dunklee who finished 41st.
The men raced in their 20 k individual on Saturday in Ruhpolding. Lowell Bailey was the only North American to place in the top 30, finishing 25th. Scott Perras was the top Canadian in 36th.
Dunklee was the top North American in Saturday’s 10 k pursuit, placing 33rd. In the men’s 12.5 k pursuit, Canadian Nathan Smith placed 16th with Bailey not far behind in 21st.
In addition, US Biathlon announced its 2014 Olympic Team nominations on Sunday.
In the world of nordic combined, American Todd Lodwick crashed in Friday’s provisional jump in Chaux-Neuve, France, sustaining an injury to his shoulder. He immediately flew to Park City, Utah, where he is currently receiving further evaluation and taking part in rehab before next month’s Olympics.
The next day, the World Cup races continued. Billy Demong finished 18th in Saturday’s HS 10 k and Bryan Fletcher placed 28th. In Sunday’s team sprint, the two Americans teamed up for seventh.
FIS Cross Country World Cup, Nove Mesto, Czech Republic
2014 U.S. Cross Country Championships, Midway, Utah
2014 Canadian Olympic Team Trials, Canmore Alberta
Saturday’s freestyle sprint: recap
Sunday’s 15 k and 30 k skiathlon: press release
IBU World Cup, Ruhpolding, Germany
IBU Cup 5, Val Ridanna, Italy
Saturday and Sunday: recap
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, Chaux-Neuve, France
Saturday’s LH 10 k: recap
Sunday’s team sprint: recap