(Note: This brief summary of Saturday’s freestyle sprints was intended was followed up with more in-depth reports. Read the full story about Hamilton here.)
Simi Hamilton had this race circled on his calendar. Several U.S. Ski Team members did as the Saturday’s 1.3-kilometer sprint in Toblach, Italy, was the second freestyle sprint in the last two World Cup weekends.
Last weekend, Hamilton qualified in 10th at the skate sprint in Davos, Switzerland. He broke a pole halfwayinto hisquarterfinal and ended up 26th overall. Not bad, but Hamilton, 28, was looking for more.
He said he couldn’t complain on Saturday after qualifying in 16th and placing second in both his quarterfinal and semifinal en route to the final where he reached the podium in second overall. It was his first podium in a non-stage World Cup after winning a Tour de Ski sprint two years ago in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. According to a USSA press release, this stood as the sixth podium in U.S. men’s cross-country history: Andy Newell has three and Torin Koos has one.
“I knew that I wanted to put something together for this weekend; skate skiing is one of my strengths my best thing and we had one on the schedule and it got me fired up,” Hamilton said in a post-race phone interview with FasterSkier. “I’m pretty psyched for sure about the day. A lot of things just came together for me.”
Hamilton placed second to Italy’s Federico Pellegrino, who won his second-straightfinal in 2:29.57, after winning last weekend’s Davos sprint as well. Now with fiveWorld Cup skate sprint victories, Pellegrino is tiedwithChristian Zorzi as Italy’smost successful sprinter ever.
Hamilton finished 0.48 seconds after Pellegrino, just ahead of Andrew Young, who became Great Britain’s first-everskier to podium in aWorld Cup sprint in third (+0.84).Switzerland’s Jovian Hediger placed fourth (+1.09), Norway’s Finn Hgen Krogh was fifth (+1.44), and Norway’s Sondre Turvoll Fossli took sixth (+11.89).
In a press release, U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover noted that Hamilton has been in topform and finally had a chance to show it on Saturday.
“Heexecuted his race plan perfectly from quarterfinals to final — relaxing early on in each heat and then making big moves to get himself to the front in the middle of the course and on the last uphill before the finish,” Grover said. “The next sprint on the World Cup is Lenzerheide where Simi won two years ago.”
Also for the U.S., Newell qualified in 13th and went on to place 27th after finishing sixth in his quarterfinal. He was only a second back from the winner, Hediger, in that heat.
In the women’s race, Hamilton’s girlfriend, Sophie Caldwell, narrowly missed her second World Cup final of the season in seventh. Last Sunday, sheplaced sixth in Davos.
On Saturday, Caldwell qualified 10th (she was one of three U.S. women to qualify in the top 10), and went on to place second in her quarterfinal then fourth in her semifinal, 0.53 seconds behind Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, who won that semifinal and went on to win the final as well.
Just behind Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen ended the day in ninth after qualifying in sixth, advancing in second in her quarterfinal then placing fifth in her semifinal (just 0.01 seconds behind Russia’s Natalia Matveeva in fourth and 0.46 behind Norway’s Ingvild Flugstad stberg, who won that semifinal.
Jessie Diggins qualified ninth for the U.S. and ended up 22nd after taking fifth in her quarterfinal. She raced in the same quarterfinal as teammate Ida Sargent, who finished sixth in that heat after qualifying in 28th. The fifth U.S. woman, Rosie Brennan missed the top 30 by 1.91 seconds in 35th.
Stay tuned for complete reports.