Canadian National Ski TeamGeneralRacingWorld CupSki Tour Canada: A Look at Likely Starters for the U.S. and Canada

Gerry Furseth Gerry FursethFebruary 19, 2016
One of many Alex Harvey cheering sections at the Canadian World Cup in Quebec City, which took place Dec. 7-8, 2012.
One of many Alex Harvey cheering sections at the Canadian World Cup in Quebec City, which took place Dec. 7-8, 2012. The World Cup is returning to Quebec City and Canmore, Alberta, for the first time in four years early next month, with Ski Tour Canada stages also planned for Gatineau and Montreal.

The Ski Tour Canada starts on March 1 and we have a good idea of who will be on the start line for the two North American teams. As Canada is hosting the new World Cup tour, both Canada and the U.S. get an increased quota on top of the normal (larger) tour quota.

Canada planned to select 12 women and 14 men, and the U.S. can take up to 13 women and 11 men.  With roughly 175 international athletes expected to start the eight-stage tour on March 1 in Gatineau, Quebec, the 50 North Americans will play a big role in the event.

Canada

Alex Harvey and Ivan Babikov will have their last chances in the 50 k skate.
Canadian World Cup Team members Alex Harvey (17) and Ivan Babikov (8) racing at the last World Cup in Canmore, Alberta, in December 2012.

Canada has chosen not to use discretionary picks and is using an entirely rule-based selection system.  To oversimplify it, skiers with top-30 finishes this season on the World Cup are automatically selected, as are the Continental Cup (NorAm) leaders in overall, sprint and distance. The remaining places are chosen using a series of ranked rules using CPL (Canadian Points List) points, which are a variant of the FIS points list. World Cup races, U23 World Championships, and Continental Cup events from November to Feb. 21 all count towards the CPL rankings used. 

The provisional selections are based on results up to Feb. 17, changes are possible from Western Canadian Championships this weekend in Prince George, B.C, and U23 World Championships next week in Rasnov, Romania.

The selection rules are a bit complicated and there is a defined selection order, making it difficult to be mathematically certain how much this could change before Feb. 22. More detail is available on the Cross Country Canada (CCC) website.  The athlete order below is from CCC, but it doesn’t appear to be ranking order.

For the women, it is fairly likely that only one name will change, but there could be significant shuffling of the selection reasons, including the partially funded spot as NorAm overall leader.

Name Affiliation Selection Reason
Cendrine Browne NDST/CNEPH NorAm overall leader
Andrea Dupont Rocky Mountain Racers NorAm sprint leader
Dahria Beatty NDST/AWCA NorAm distance leader
Sophie Carrier-Laforte CNEPH 4C1
Jennifer Jackson NDC Thunder Bay CPLS2
Frederique Vezina CNEPH 4C5
Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt NDST/AWCA CPLD2
Marie Corriveau NJST/CNEPH 4C4
Maya MacIsaac-Jones Rocky Mountain Racers CPLS1
Alannah Maclean NDC Thunder Bay 4C2
Emily Nishikawa NDST/AWCA CPLD1
Katherine Stewart-Jones NDST/NDC Thunder Bay 4C3

 

*Code:

  • CPLD#: Rank on the best 5 distance CPL
  • CPLS#: Rank on the best 3 sprint CPL
  • 4C#: Best 4 distance +2 sprint CPL

 

For the men, the selection situation is more fluid, with more changes likely.  As of Feb. 18, the provisional selection was:

Name Affiliation Selection Reason
Alex Harvey NST/CNEPH WC top 30
Devon Kershaw NST WC top 30
Ivan Babikov NST WC top 30
Lenny Valjas NST WC top 30
Graeme Killick NDST WC top 30
Kevin Sandau AWCA NorAm overall leader
Andy Shields CNEPH NorAm distance leader
Julien Locke Black Jack NorAm sprint leader
Knute Johnsgaard NDST/AWCA CPLS1
Brian McKeever Para-Nordic ST CPLD2
Russell Kennedy Canmore 4C1
Colin Abbott Whitehorse 4C2
Michael Somppi NDC Thunder Bay CPLD1
Jess Cockney NDST/CNEPH CPLS2

 

It is likely that only a few names will change based on the CPL, but there are at least five athletes that could find their way in.

Most of the World Cup team and some of the development team will be doing an elevation camp in the Lake Louise area.  Ivan Babikov is doing the American Birkebeiner as final preparation.  A number of athletes will race at Westerns this weekend, either to defend their selection, gain selection, or final intensity before STC.

Daria Beatty, Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt and Kevin Sandau will race the first two days at Westerns and return to Canmore, Alberta, on Sunday. Carrier-Laforte, Jackson, Locke, Maclean, and Vezina all chose to attend U23’s in Romania, with a training stop in Austria on the way. Johnsgaard is choosing to train instead of race as his final preparation, as he did on the European B tour in January.  

“The plan is to skip the Lahti World Cups this coming weekend,” Kershaw wrote in an email earlier this week from his home in Canmore. “The plan now is to train at altitude between Lake Louise, Canmore and up at a lodge up above Canmore [Engadine Lodge] for 10 days and then have some days at home here in Canmore before flying back to Ottawa two days before the whole SkiTour Canada begins!”

None of the Canadians planned to race in Lahti this weekend.

 

USA

The American team used a combination of discretion and criteria to select athletes, with only one spot still open.

Name Affiliation Selection Reason
Jessie Diggins  USST/SMST2 Top-30 Sprint and Distance World Cup
Sadie Bjornsen  USST/APU Top-30 Sprint and Distance World Cup
Sophie Caldwell  USST/SMST2 Top-30 Sprint World Cup
Ida Sargent  USST/CGRP Top-30 Sprint World Cup
Liz Stephen  USST Top-30 Distance World Cup
Caitlin Gregg  USST/Team Gregg Discretion
Anne Hart  SMST2 Discretion
Caitlin Patterson  CGRP SuperTour Overall Leader
Chelsea Holmes  APU Distance Leader 2 after Nationals
Katharine Ogden  SMS/USST Distance Leader 3 after Nationals
Jennie Bender  BSF Sprint Leader 1 after Nationals
Kaitlynn Miller  CGRP Sprint Leader 2 after Nationals
Rosie Brennan  USST/APU Objective Crit. (WC Points Jan. 16-Feb. 21)

 

U.S. Ski Team Head Coach Chris Grover explained the selections in an email.

“Adam Martin was the 3rd man on the distance list post Nationals but has declined his start spot due to the conflict with NCAAs,” he wrote of the Northern Michigan University junior. “We have left one position open on the men’s side for an outstanding performance at the U23 Champs.  If we don’t have that, Matt Liebsch will be the next athlete named via the post-Nationals ST Distance CAN-Selection list.  We’ll make a decision on the 25th (last day in Rasnov).”

Name Affiliation Selection Reason
Simi Hamilton  USST/SMST2 Top-30 Sprint World Cup
Andy Newell  USST/SMST2 Top-30 Sprint World Cup
Erik Bjornsen  USST/APU Discretion
Noah Hoffman  USST/SSCV Discretion
 ??? Discretion
Eric Packer  APU SuperTour Overall Leader
Scott Patterson  APU Distance Leader 1 after Nationals
Brian Gregg  Team Gregg Distance Leader 2 after Nationals
Reese Hanneman APU Sprint Leader 1 after Nationals
Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess  BEA Sprint Leader 2 after Nationals
Tad Elliott  SSCV Distance Leader 4 after Nationals

 

Of the U.S. Ski Team members, Andy Newell, Liz Stephen, Rosie Brennan, and Caitlin Gregg returned to the U.S. early, skipping the Lahti World Cup, to prepare for the tour.

“Many of the sprinters will travel home on Sunday from Helsinki,” Grover explained of the rest of the team in Lahti. “Those doing the skiathlon will travel home on Monday.  For the Alaskans, most will go to New England (Craftsbury) rather than going back to AK in a short window.”

 

Cost Estimates

The Continental Cup (NorAm or SuperTour) leaders have a quota spot, with accommodation and some costs covered by the organizing committee.  Red Group members get the same cost reduction and most have additional financial support from their respective national team.

For the rest of the nation’s group skiers, at least in Canada, the costs have been estimated by CCC. Note that this information was published in November and was subject to change. U.S. dollars reflects the conversion rate.

Item Note Original currency cost $ CDN $ US
Mandatory FIS charter flight, Montreal to Calgary Athletes will be transported from Quebec City to airport. 895 euro $1362 $995
FIS food and accommodation This is 14 days, optional in Canmore only. 125 swiss francs $173/night $126/night
Waxing Canadian team price $30 CDN/race $240 $176
Shipping classic skis from Montreal to Canmore Both Quebec City races are freestyle $35 CDN $35 $26
Total for Canmore residents Only 7 nights food and accom. $2848
Total for non-Canmore residents $4059 $2961
Flight to Ottawa varies by athlete
Flight from Canmore Or location where the athlete leaves the tour. varies by athlete

 

If an athlete drops out of the tour, through elimination, illness or disqualification, they pay their own way home from the last location they raced and will not be refunded for food and accommodation.

Two weeks out from the event, there was still some uncertainty on final costs and support levels for individual Canadian skiers.

We didn’t receive any information yet,” Browne wrote in an email on Wednesday. “I think it will be pretty expensive though. But if I’m still noram leader after Westerns it’ll be less expensive for me.”

“We got a quote from the CCC administrator yesterday that the Eastern part of the Tour — including accommodation, the charter flight, and all race service fees will be just over $2000,” Jenn Jackson wrote on Friday. “Most people will be staying with friends and family in Canmore to reduce costs, but if not it’ll be about another $1000.”

“The fee does not, however, include the costs of travelling to Ottawa for the start of the Tour or back home from Canmore after – so another several hundred dollars there…” Jackson added.

In an email, Colin Abbott, of Whitehorse, explained that he will skip Westerns despite not knowing for sure whether he had qualified.

“I decided that in order to be rested for the tour I needed to take a break after Easterns,” he wrote. “I will race the tour if I qualify, hopefully I can survive the whole thing! Final costs are likely to be $3000-$4000 but haven’t been finalized yet.

My guess is between $2500 to $3000,” Alberta World Cup Academy Head Coach Chris Jeffries wrote of the total cost. “Western athletes in Canmore do not have to stay in the race hotel.”

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Gerry Furseth

Gerry Furseth

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