On Wednesday, Brian Gregg is boarding a plane to his next race destination. No, he’s not jet setting from West Yellowstone, Mont., to Sun Valley, Idaho, in place of a 4 1/2 hour drive; the 31-year-old Sochi Olympian is bound for Europe.
Instead of racing the second set of SuperTours this weekend in Sun Valley, he’ll be prepping for the Dec. 12 World Cup in Davos, Switzerland: the 30-kilometer freestyle individual start.
Gregg, of Team Gregg/Madshus, confirmed his itinerary for the next two weeks in an email. On Monday, the U.S. Ski Team (USST) officially gave him the word that he had been granted the Davos 30 k start.
“The Davos Skate distance race has been a goal of mine for a long time and has been in the back of my mind all summer,” Gregg wrote two days after winning the first SuperTour distance race of the season, the 15 k freestyle in West Yellowstone. “I am grateful for the opportunity to race a European World Cup that I feel suits my strengths well. It is really cool to see that the US Ski Team is looking at the Super Tour and how to help bridge the gap to World Cup racing.”
USST Head Coach Chris Grover explained that they had an open men’s start in the Davos 30 k and decided to offer it to Gregg since he won the only distance skate race on the SuperTour schedule this fall.
“This is a stand-alone start. We have not offered him any other starts in the future,” Grover wrote in an email.
The Period 1 SuperTour schedule includes two stops this year: West Yellowstone and Sun Valley. West Yellowstone held two skate races (a sprint and the 10/15 k), and next weekend’s races in Sun Valley are the same distances — but both are classic.
By skipping the Sun Valley races, Gregg is essentially out of the running for the overall SuperTour lead and the Period 2 World Cup starts in January that come with it. Instead, he’s focused on Davos first, then World Cup starts later in the season.
“Unfortunately, missing the Super Tours in Sun Valley would make staying in the Super Tour Lead real hard,” Gregg wrote. “I have decided to focus on the Davos World Cup instead…”
The World Cup starts awarded to the overall male and female SuperTour leader after Sun Valley involve two weekends: a sprint weekend in Planica, Slovenia, and a 10/15 k freestyle and relay in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
“I will be at US Nationals and will certainly have my sights set on Period 3 Super Tour World Cup starts and on the Period 4 Canadian Tour starts,” Gregg wrote.
“My goal in Davos is to score World Cup points,” he continued. “I finished 35th last year in the 50km Freestyle Holmenkollen World Cup and am looking to build on that performance.”
He was also excited to see his wife Caitlin Gregg, who is racing the World Cup circuit as a new member of the U.S. Ski Team, and help her prepare for the women’s 15 k skate race in Davos. Their personal coach, Tom Jorgensen, is currently in Europe with Caitlin and the USST, and will be the couple’s wax technician for the races in partnership with the USST, Gregg explained.
“Without racing [in Sun Valley] I am pretty sure I will fall out of the Super Tour top 4,” Gregg added. “I love to race, but I think arriving in Europe earlier gives me a better shot at reaching my goals in the Davos WC.”
He flies to Zurich on Wednesday and will race on his 10th day in Europe.
“Like any athlete, if Brian were to have an outstanding performance on World Cup in Davos, we would strongly consider him for future World Cups,” Grover explained. “Every World Cup start is technically discretionary, including starts for those athletes on the A-Team (i.e. Red Group athletes). Each NGB [National Governing Body] decides which athletes to race within their given quota at each event. We always race the athletes whom we feel have the strongest likelihood of producing a top result for the USA.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.