BiathlonCanadian National Ski TeamContinental CupGeneralNewsNordic CombinedRacingUS Ski TeamWorld CupWeekly Roundup: Lillehammer Mini Tour, Östersund and Bozeman

Brainspiral BrainspiralDecember 10, 2014

 

Look familiar? We saw this all-Norwegian podium twice, except with Therese Johaug (r) as the winner and Marit Bjørgen (c) in second in the 5 k freestyle on Day 2 of the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour. On Day 3, Bjørgen won it outright over Johaug, and Heidi Weng (l) was once again third. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Look familiar? We saw this all-Norwegian podium twice, except with Therese Johaug (r) as the winner and Marit Bjørgen (c) in second in the 5 k freestyle on Day 2 of the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour. On Day 3, Bjørgen won it outright over Johaug, and Heidi Weng (l) was once again third. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

As Chelsea Little pointed out in her story about France’s Martin Fourcade dusting the men’s field in the 10-kilometer sprint last Saturday in Östersund, Sweden, “when he’s on, he’s on.”

And he wasn’t the only one repeatedly in the headlines of the IBU and FIS World Cup and U.S. SuperTour coverage this past weekend. We got used to Norwegian winners like Marit Bjørgen and Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and Alaska Pacific University’s Rosie Brennan — who’s won three out of four SuperTour races this season.

A pumped Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway) after winning the men's 15 k classic pursuit for the overall Lillehammer mini-tour title on Sunday in Norway. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
A pumped Martin Johnsrud Sundby (Norway) after winning the men’s 15 k classic pursuit for the overall Lillehammer mini-tour title on Sunday in Norway. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

Then there were consistent top performers in the Lillehammer World Cup mini tour: Alex Harvey of the Canadian World Cup Team placed fifth in last Friday’s skate sprint and ended up 10th overall in the three-stage series, and Sadie Bjornsen led the U.S. Ski Team in 18th overall.

Also in Lillehammer, Bryan Fletcher of the U.S. Nordic Combined team rose from 36th to eighth on Sunday for a season best. His teammate, Adam Loomis notched a career-best 35th.

At the five-race IBU World Cup in Östersund, Canada’s Megan Heinicke rose to a career-best 12th in the women’s 15 k individual last Thursday.

“I have never started the season so relaxed and feeling so little pressure,” Heinicke explained after the race, in which she shot 19-for-20. “I wasn’t even sure if I should start this season and I think the low expectations (from myself and others) really helped me lose that nervous ‘I have to hit’ feeling.”

After placing ninth and 12th, respectively, in Saturday’s sprints, Canadians Nathan Smith and Rosanna Crawford qualified for the Östersund pursuit, where Smith was on track for a possible top-four finish before missing his first three shots of the day in the final standing stage.

C’est la vie — that’s biathlon. He ended up 16th and Crawford took 14th. Meanwhile, Americans Lowell Bailey and Susan Dunklee finished 17th and 19th, respectively. In the 20 k individual earlier in the week, Tim Burke placed 11th and Bailey was 20th, and Dunklee took 21st in the women’s 15 k. Burke went on to place 17th to lead the U.S. in the sprint.

FasterSkier was on site for the second SuperTour the season in Bozeman, Mont., as racers weathered unseasonably warm temperatures on Saturday and Sunday — well above 40-degrees Fahrenheit.

Rosie Brennan (APU) glides to a first-place finish during the women's SuperTour classic sprint at Bohart Ranch near Bozeman, Mont.
Rosie Brennan (APU) double poling to the women’s SuperTour classic-sprint victory last Saturday at Bohart Ranch near Bozeman, Mont.

But with freezing temperatures overnight, the 5 k distance course became fast and icy Sunday morning, and organizers postponed the classic mass starts an hour to let the snow thaw. Still, Brennan dreaded what awaited her in the women’s 10 k.

She called the conditions her least favorite, in fact, “her worst nightmare,” she said. But the Anchorage, Alaska, resident used the race as an opportunity to conquer some fears. Brennan ultimately edged APU teammate Chelsea Holmes by five seconds for the win.

“She just crushes me in double pole,” Holmes said, “Which is good — I see her go by and I go as hard as I can to keep up with her, and maybe one day I will be able to.”

The next-closest finisher, 17-year-old Katharine Ogden finished 1:20 back in third. She called the conditions “an extra challenge,” but was glad to have kick that lasted throughout. “Our skis were really fast,” she said.

In the men’s race, Matt Gelso of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team racked up his third SuperTour podium of the season so far, finishing third behind winner Mads Strøm (University of Colorado) and SVSEF teammate Miles Havlick, respectively.

At Canada’s opening domestic biathlon races (and Youth-Junior World Championships Team, as well as IBU Cup Team trials) in Canmore, Alberta, Sarah Beaudry won back-to-back sprints to punch her ticket to the IBU World Cup this coming weekend in Hochfilzen, Austria.

SuperTour #2, Bohart Ranch, Bozeman, Mont.

FIS Cross Country World Cup #2, Lillehammer (Mini Tour), Norway

IBU World Cup #1, Östersund, Sweden

FIS Nordic Combined World Cup #2, Lillehammer, Norway

Biathlon NorAm, Canmore, Alberta

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