Weekend Roundup: Goodbye Ruka and West, Hello Rest of 2014/2015

BrainspiralDecember 2, 2014
Ida Sargent racing to a career-best fifth in Saturday's classic sprint at the World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland. She placed 51st in the 10 k classic the next day. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)
Ida Sargent racing to a career-best fifth in the classic sprint at the World Cup opener last Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland. She placed 51st in the 10 k classic the next day. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Ruka and West came and went like the went, but the biathletes are just getting things going in Östersund, Sweden. The 2014/2015 International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Cup season kicked off Sunday with the mixed relay, where the U.S. pulled out its best performance in the last several years in seventh.

And Susan Dunklee, Annelies Cook, Tim Burke, and Lowell Bailey were just 17 seconds off fourth.

“I don’t remember our exact place here last year, but we definitely weren’t that close to a podium finish,” Burke said. “We were in it all the way until the end. It gives us good confidence going forward.”

The men get after it again in Östersund on Wednesday in the 20-kilometer individual race, starting at 17:15 CET (11:15 a.m. EST). The women’s 15 k individual will be held Thursday at the same time.

But before we launch into more biathlon, then more cross-country World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway (with three days of action Friday through Sunday) and SuperTour stop No. 2 in Bozeman, Mont., here’s what happened in the last week — starting with West Yellowstone on Friday, Nov. 28.

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess of Bend Endurance Academy pushes in front of the University of Colorado's Mads Stroem during the A-final of the SuperTour men's skate sprint in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: Toko)
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess holds off Mads Strøm during the A-final of the SuperTour men’s skate sprint in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: Toko)

Things got a little stalled on Day 1 at the Rendezvous Trails with timing, but at the end of the day, Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess and Alysson Marshall emerged as the definite winners.

“West Yellowstone’s a hard place,” Blackhorse-von Jess said of the early-season race, after edging the University of Colorado’s Mads Strøm by 0.9 seconds in the men’s skate sprint. “I’m tired, everybody’s tired.”

Then there were two Canadian women that dominated the women’s sprint: Marshall in first and Heidi Widmer in second, teammates on the Alberta World Cup Academy and Canadian National Development Team. Marshall won the 1.5 k final by a boot length.

Day 2 saw Rosie Brennan outlast 17-year-old Katharine Ogden in the women’s 10 k individual start, and the win meant everything to her after facing some tough times this summer. In the men’s 15 k, Matt Gelso put himself in contention for domestic World Cup starts in just over a month with a nearly 10-second win over Brian Gregg.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cup seasons also got rolling last weekend at the Ruka venue in Kuusamo, Finland. There, Ida Sargent was the biggest thing going for North America after a career-best fifth in the classic sprint — the U.S. Ski Team’s first race of the season. The next day, Sadie Bjornsen skied to 17th to lead the Americans in the opening 10 and 15 k distance races.

“Finland loves Ida Sargent and I know that Ida loves Finland!” former U.S. Ski Team member Holly Brooks wrote on Facebook. “So impressed w/ @sadzarue who skis fast & studies hard! Currently presenting senior thesis while racing WC in NOR!”

Alex Harvey put down two top-15 performances for Canada, including seventh in the 15 k classic, and teammate Devon Kershaw wasn’t far behind him in 14th on Sunday. Canadian development-team member Emily Nishikawa struck a career-best World Cup result in Europe, placing 38th in the 10 k.

Noah Hoffman did not finish a race for the first time in his career after crashing hard off the trail and into a fence with slightly less than 2 k remaining in the 15 k. After seeking immediate medical attention, he learned he broke his fibula, according his blog post, and headed home to the U.S. on Monday for further evaluation.

Also in Ruka, the NoCo guys got after it in the large-hill individual competition and team sprint, where Bryan Fletcher led the U.S. in 17th on Day 1 and was 13th with brother Taylor Fletcher on Sunday.

U.S. SuperTour Opener, West Yellowstone, Mont.

Friday’s freestyle sprint: men’s report | women’s report

Saturday’s 10/15 k freestyle: women’s report | men’s report

Photo Gallery: race photos

FIS Cross Country World Cup, (Ruka) Kuusamo, Finland

Saturday’s classic sprint: U.S. report | Canadian report | international women’s report | international men’s report

Sunday’s 10/15 k classic: Canadian report | U.S. report | international men’s report | international women’s report

Hoffman’s injury: In his words | Initial report

IBU World Cup, Östersund, Sweden

Sunday’s mixed relay: France wins | U.S. report | Canadian report

FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, (Ruka) Kuusamo, Finland

Saturday’s large hill/10 k: recap

Sunday’s team sprint: recap


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