Crawford at the flower ceremony. Photo: Christian Manzoni/NordicFocus.com.
Rosanna Crawford at the flower ceremony after achieving a career-best fourth in the Pokljuka IBU World Cup sprint last week. (Photo: Christian Manzoni/NordicFocus)

Some of the U.S. Ski Team members are starting to feel like themselves again, even after a couple crashes took Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell out of contention in Sunday’s freestyle-sprint semifinals at the World Cup in Davos, Switzerland.

“It was a bummer to fall because the feelings were a lot stronger today,” Randall said after placing ninth. “I was just really happy that I felt more like myself today. You don’t realize how bad you were feeling until you start to feel good again.”

“I was just thinking, ‘Oh God, am I ever going to get back there this year, and how long is it going to take?’ ” Caldwell said after ending up 11th. “I’ve just taken big steps the last two weekends, and that helps a ton with my confidence.”

Liz Stephen placed 12th on Saturday in the 10 k freestyle in Davos, 4.9 seconds out of the top 10.

“Each weekend is a little bit of a step forward for me and that’s a fun way to go about it,” Stephen said. “I didn’t race as well as I possibly could have to get a top ten, so I’m happy with the way it ended up.”

Two Canadians made it into the heats on Sunday — Lenny Valjas and Jesse Cockney — and ended up 18th and 29th, respectively, which coach Tor-Arne Hetland found both promising and disappointing.

“When you’re starting in the heats, you want to be in the final,” he said.

“It feels awesome to finally get into the heats again,” Cockney stated after his first time in the World Cup top-30 since two seasons ago in Canmore, Alberta.

Then there was Rosanna Crawford, a Canadian biathlete who racked up four of her best IBU World Cup results over the last week. Following her fifth-place finish in the pursuit in Hochfilzen, Austria, two weekends ago, she placed fourth in the next race: the 7.5 k sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia. The next day, on Saturday, Crawford was seventh in the pursuit, then capped the weekend with 12th in the mass start to put herself a best-ever eighth in the overall World Cup.

“I am really happy with where I am heading into the Christmas break, only one race that wasn’t in the top 16,” she wrote in an email.

Her Biathlon Canada teammate Nathan Smith, also made the top-30 overall World Cup cutoff for the mass start, and in his second-ever time racing that format, he placed ninth.

“Mass starts are a lot different than pursuits. It’s nice to get one under my belt now and I hope to do a few more this season, too,” Smith reflected. “I’m very happy … and it’s a perfect way to cap off a strong trimester. It gives me extra motivation to rest up and train over the Christmas break.”

On Saturday, Canada’s Megan Heinicke rose from 41st to 14th in the pursuit.

“I kept that little voice in my head that was telling me this was an awesome race pretty quiet because I know how fast everything can change,” Heinicke explained. “I didn’t really believe it until after the last standing.”

Hannah Dreissigacker en route to 17th place in the World Cup sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia, today. Photo: USBA/NordicFocus.com.
Hannah Dreissigacker en route to her best IBU World Cup result in 17th in last Thursday’s sprint in Pokljuka, Slovenia. Photo: USBA/NordicFocus.com.

US Biathlon’s Hannah Dreissigacker tallied a career-best 17th in the Pokljuka sprint, just ahead of teammate Susan Dunklee in 19th.

“Biathlon is so weird,” Dreissigacker said. “When things go badly, it’s so hard, and it’s hard to imagine that they would ever be good. And then a week later, somehow everything just goes much better. It’s such a roller coaster like that.”

At the IBU Cup in Obertilliach, Austria, Canada’s Scott Gow found his way onto the podium in the 10 k sprint last Friday, Audrey Vaillancourt was seventh in the women’s sprint that day, and Julia Ransom recorded a career-best seventh in the sprint last Wednesday. That same day, Gow’s younger brother Christian was “ecstatic” after placing eighth in the men’s sprint. To start the series off, Emma Lunder placed 10th in the 15 k individual last Tuesday, followed by Ransom in 11th.

“The whole Canadian team is only going to build on this momentum,” Ransom predicted in an email that day.

At the Nordic Combined World Cup in Ramsau, Austria, the U.S. placed fifth in the 4 x 5 k team event, and Billy Demong as the sole American to qualify for Sunday’s individual competition finished 32nd.

The NorAm made its second stop in Sovereign Lake, British Columbia, where 20-year-old Dahria Beatty of the Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA) and Canadian U23 team won the women’s 15 k freestyle interval start and American Kris Freeman won the men’s 30 k by more than 1 1/2 minutes over Brian Gregg.

The day before, on Friday, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Rocky Mountain Racers) edged Alysson Marshall in the women’s classic sprint, and Patrick Stewart-Jones (AWCA) dominated the men’s sprint.

“I’m racing among a group of super strong and talented girls who I respect a lot, so I try to learn from them during the races, but I also try not to be intimated,” Bouffard-Nesbitt wrote in an email. “I didn’t leave anything out there today, I just went for it!”

FIS Cross-Country World Cup, Davos, Switzerland

Saturday: 10/15 k freestyle individual starts men’s report | women’s report | U.S. report | Canadian report

Sunday: 1.3 k freestyle sprints women’s report | men’s report | U.S. report | Canadian report

Notes & Quotes

IBU World Cup, Pokljuka, Slovenia

Thursday: women’s 7.5 k sprint report | U.S. report

Friday: men’s 10 k sprint report

Saturday: 10/12.5 k pursuits women’s report | men’s report

Sunday: 12.5/15 k mass starts men’s report | women’s report

IBU Cup, Obertilliach, Austria

Dec. 16: 15/20 k individual report

Dec. 17:  7.5/10 k sprints report

Friday: 7.5/10 k sprints report

Saturday: mixed relay recap

Nordic Combined World Cup, Ramsau, Austria

Saturday’s team event & Sunday’s individual recap

NorAm #2: Sovereign Lake, Vernon, British Columbia

Friday: 1.2/1.4 k classic sprints report

Saturday: 15/30 k freestyle interval start report

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