InterviewsRacingWorld CupCanmore Quotes: ‘A to Z’ with the North Americans at STC

Brainspiral BrainspiralMarch 11, 2016
Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) and former Canadian national team member Chandra Crawford  leading the Fast and Female forerunners before the Tuesday's classic sprint at Stage 5 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) at left, bib 33, and former Canadian national team member Chandra Crawford (front, bib 32) leading the Fast and Female forerunners before the Tuesday’s classic sprint at Stage 5 of the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

CANMORE, Alberta — Throughout the first two days of racing in Canmore at the Ski Tour Canada, FasterSkier caught up most everyone competing for the U.S. and Canada. Here is what you haven’t read — quotes from the Stage 5 classic sprint and Stage 6 skiathlon earlier this week — listed in alphabetical order (of athlete last names).

Dahria Beatty (AWCA/Canadian U23 Development Team)

On her skiathlon (41st place)

“I’ll start with the positives: the second half of the race, the skating felt really good. I was able to get a second wind and be revived in the skate leg and really push hard and pick up some people.

“The classic leg unfortunately, the back didn’t hold up the entire 7.5 k, at about 3 k, it started to seize again so the second lap I was limited very much by my body and wasn’t able to reach my aerobic capacity so that was frustrating. I lost a lot of time there just not being able to move fully, but once I got to the skate I made up some time so I think it bodes well for the skate race in two days time.”

Jennie Bender (Bridger Ski Foundation)

On her sprint qualifier (51st place):

“I actually felt good. Flipped up onto my knee at the very top, but I felt good.”

On her skiathlon (54th):

“I haven’t done a pursuit in a really long time. The classic I knew would definitely be my initial struggle and then I was just kind of hanging on. I hung on. I’m feeling it but you know, it’s done.”

On how she’s feeling:

“My back is really tight, especially going from a really hilly hard classic to a skate. It’s something I’ve been dealing with all year.”

On her goals:

“My goal is to finish up the Tour. I knew that these last few days would be rough for me, but I’m in a better position than I was this time last year, so at the moment I’m in it for the long haul.”

Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess (Bend Endurance Academy)

On his sprint qualifier (78th place): 

“Felt good. Broke a pole in the start gate, so that was a huge bummer, but that’s how that goes sometimes.”

On his focus at this point in the Tour:

“Ski smooth. It’s easy to get to get punished out here with the altitude and the climb. When you watch the best skiers ski, they always ski beautifully and that was my mantra.”

On his results so far:

“I’ve had better distance results than I expected and it came a lot easier because I was just skiing smooth. I wasn’t trying to woodchuck my way to the front, you know? In the sprints I kind of over-skied the courses a little bit and it hasn’t worked out. I was really hoping today for something different. I felt great, I skied really hard, but there’s not much you can do at that point.”

Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (Canadian U23+ Development Team)

Canadians Dahria Beatty (l) and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt   (r) during the women's 15 k skiathlon on Wednesday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Canadian National Development Team skiers Dahria Beatty (l) and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt (r) during the women’s 15 k skiathlon on Wednesday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

On her skiathlon (42nd place):

“It was a lot of fun. It was really hard as skiathlons always are and I tried really hard.”

On pacing the classic portion:

“I actually thought I paced it well, I was tempted to go harder, but I tried to keep it a race pace I could sustain so I could push it in the skate. But I thought that even though I had somebody to work with and my body was feeling good, my body wouldn’t follow what my mind wanted to do in the skate leg… Definitely a Day 6.”

Cendrine Browne (CNEPH/Canadian U23 Development Team)

On her skiathlon (38th place):

“It was so, so hard. The classic course is so hard, but I managed to stay with Emily and we skied together the whole race and I am happy with the result. It is my best World Cup result. I am getting closer to 30th place so that is nice.”

On mental preparation during a Tour:

“I just tell myself I will try and follow today, when it is a mass start it is easier mentally to follow. So I had Emily in front of me to follow and that really helped. Also I just tell myself, everyone is tired today so don’t discourage myself, I just try my best.”

Tad Elliott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail)

On his skiathlon (58th place):

“Things are starting to turn around here during the Tour. I got to [return] to altitude. That was the best I’ve felt the whole Tour.”

On looking back at eventual winner, Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, closing in on the second skate lap:

“I actually hit Patrick’s [Stewart-Jones’] pole. We knew they were coming, I was waiting for it, but I went as hard as I can to try to stay on that lap.”

On finishing out the race:

“I was getting splits and knew they were coming so I went pretty deep on that third lap.  I’m a skate skier so I’m looking forward to a 15 k skate at altitude. That’s the race I circled all Tour. The goal was to survive today so goal accomplished.”

Brian Gregg (Team Gregg)

On his skiathlon (lapped; 68th place):

“It’s a hard course here. The slow conditions, it’s good to have a hard course for the race at this point, but I’d say the Tour sort of caught up with me. I didn’t feel it for today.”

On the freestyle half of the race:

“Normally I do [like the skate leg]. I didn’t quite make it to the skate exchange, but certainly I was looking forward to that because that’s where I can usually move up a little bit. The classic section was hard. Body wasn’t feeling good, the skis and our service crew did a really good job though.”

Caitlin Gregg (Team Gregg/U.S. Ski Team)

On her skiathlon (31st place and 0.1 seconds out of 30th):

I felt really good. I like these hard hills for sure. I kind of wish the skate course was on slightly steeper hills, I’m really looking forward to the 10 k skate. I had a 14th here in 2010 and that was kind of out of nowhere. I think it was one of [my] better distance results up until that point so I’m looking forward to getting back on those tough, hard climbs, kind of similar to Falun to some extent. My skis, wow, my skis felt amazing today. Just phenomenal. I have nothing I would’ve changed with the skis, that’s for sure.

On finishing one-tenth of a second outside the points:

“I have a broken toe right now so I’m a little apprehensive on some of the [downhill] turns. It’s just painful and I know it’s not as stable. I tried to get away on that last climb today, right before the final downhill under the bridge. I just wanted to be safe and I didn’t realize how close the girls were behind me so I think I maybe started my sprint a little too late and just didn’t anticipate there being that many girls right there. … I didn’t know [how close it was] until actually we were going at the line. I had to lunge at that point.

On her plan for Friday’s 10 k skate:

“Going forward, perhaps giving myself even a little bit more of a cushion on some of the uphills and having a little bit more stability in my skate boots will help with the toe issue. … The next race, I think it really comes down to the uphills on this course, and I’m looking forward to that so much.”

On her sprint qualifier (47th place): 

“I felt pretty good on the climbs. That last little pitch though, I had to get out of the tracks and herringbone a bit. That definitely lost me some time. I’m definitely glad that my sprinting is over for this Tour, looking forward to some distance races now and the big hills at altitude.”

On racing in Canmore:

“I’ve had some awesome races here in the past. The last time I got to race here we had the same format with a 10 k skate. And I’m looking forward to some… I dunno… suffering I guess.”

Reese Hanneman (APU)

On his sprint qualifier (62nd place):

“I was not feeling too bad for so many races in such a tight amount of time and a lot of travel between almost every one of those. I was pretty optimistic this morning and did everything I could do.”

On his goals at this point in the Tour:

“Survive. I don’t know, I mean I was kind of focusing on today and from this point I’ll play it by ear, see if I can gut it out.”

On excelling in a World Cup Tour:

“The guys who are doing well are really just all around good skiers. … It just shows you that if you can do that, you be good at anything.”

Annie Hart (SMST2)

On her sprint qualifier (36th place):

“Damn, I really wanted to be in the top 30. … So close! I felt awesome. It’s a great course. Hard! Really hard. No rest. And every day is a new experience, new learning. I mean, if you hated it today, you girls should just quit the sport. It is so glorious outside. Almost just played hockey and went for a six-hour ski, but figured that would have made them a little mad.”

On her motto for the Tour:

“Just to leave it all out there and treat these as they are my first World Cups and just kind of figure out what I need to work on. Basically I have come away with a lot of confidence. I am close, it’s not like I am leagues away and going into the summer training like, ‘Oh crap, I don’t even know where to begin.’ It’s been really great learning. Take it each day at a time and keep on going.”

“If you hated it today, you girls should just quit the sport. It is so glorious outside.” — Annie Hart

Annika Hicks (Canmore Nordic)

On her skiathlon (49th place):

“I think it’s the first day I’m starting to feel the residual fatigue of the whole Tour. … I did the best that I could do today. I’m looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and starting again without a sprint race first so that could be good for me.”

On the course:

“The classic part was quite tough. I know the hills here pretty well and I knew the classic was going to be harder than the skate and it definitely was.”

On the advantage of racing on a home course:

“Coming down the corners I feel super confident, I could do them with my eyes closed. So that was good.”

Chelsea Holmes (APU)

On her skiathlon (33rd place; career best): 

“Today was rough. I guess I was tired. Some days are better than others. It was fun. I’m glad to be here.”

On her biggest takeaway from the Tour so far:

“Just learning tons. It’s great all around.”

Jenn Jackson (NDC Thunder Bay)

On her skiathlon (52nd place):

“It was good. I hung in there. I definitely felt like I had more fight today compared to earlier in the week. The classic felt pretty good — I hit a rough patch going up the wall the second time, but turning over to the skate leg, my legs felt like jelly so I really struggled up those hills.”

On how she’s feeling after six races in the last week:

“My energy is actually pretty good. Without having to do heats, the sprint days are just one hard four-minute effort.”

Knute Johnsgaard (AWCA/Canadian U23+ Development Team)

On his sprint qualifier (48th place): 

“I felt pretty good. The course held up pretty well. Up the hills it started to break down a little bit. So I tried to keep it smooth on the steep section and keep a narrow herringbone. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite fast enough to make the heats, but it was all right. Still a solid day.”

On racing at altitude: 

“I think I did some good preparation at altitude, so now that we are in Canmore at 1400 meters, hoping to maybe have a little bit advantage there. But I am definitely feeling the effects of the last weeks of racing, but did what I could today.”

Russell Kennedy (Canmore Nordic)

On his skiathlon (52nd):

“It was a lot of work; the conditions were hard. I’m pretty pleased with it. I think definitely one of my better classic legs. I had to push myself a little harder than I wanted to but the skate was awesome, I love skating.”

On concerns about being caught on Lap 7:

“I was definitely relieved when we got into the exchange. I think that following [American Erik] Bjornsen and being right next to [inaudible] … I knew they weren’t going to let that happen so I just tried to hang on for dear life. It was tough knowing those guys were coming so we were pushing. In the end, Bjornsen skied a nice race. I’m sure Bjornsen wasn’t super stoked with it but I’m happy.”

On tactics: pacing or simply survival?

“In the classic I just tried to hang on for dear life, that was my tactic. I didn’t have the fastest skis on the downhill, but I had plenty of kick so tried to kick smooth on the long uphills and try to save energy for the skate leg, but by the time I got to the skate leg, I didn’t have much left anyway.”

Simon Lapointe (Skinouk)

On his sprint qualifier (70th place): 

“Today was a tough course, but it was better today. Not quite the result I want.”

On Canmore’s elevation:

“You don’t feel it in the warmup, but in the race you feel it.”

On the Tour in general:

“I don’t think my shape is there anymore so I am a little disappointed with that, but that’s life.”

Matt Liebsch (Gear West)

On his sprint qualifier (83rd):

“I felt good which is probably a bad thing. I just was not moving very well. Skis were a little slippery.”

On his goal at this point in the Tour: 

“Just try to stay relaxed and have fun, take it all in. I’m looking forward to that 15 k skate on Friday.”

On how he would describe the Tour:

“This is like a traveling circus. It’s awesome though.”

“I felt good which is probably a bad thing. I just was not moving very well.” — Matt Liebsch 

Maya MacIsaac-Jones (Rocky Mountain Racers)

On her skiathlon (51st place):

“It was mostly challenging in the sense that I am pretty tired by this point in the Tour. This is the sixth race so I’m definitely starting to feel the fatigue, but on the bright side, it was so much fun and the skis were outstanding out there.”

On racing at home in Canmore:

“It has really been great to race here so far, to be able to race in my club suit and have the support everyone in town and especially from all my teammates from Rocky Mountain Racers, that has really been amazing for me.”

Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project)

On her sprint qualifier (38th place):

“It’s definitely a really hard course.”

On her goals:

“Just to ski as hard as I could and really learn from all the new experiences.”

On her experience at the Tour so far:

“It’s been amazing to race against the fastest women in the world and see how you stack up. It’s really amazing.”

Emily Nishikawa (Canadian Senior Development Team)

On her skiathlon (37th place):

“It was tough. I’m feeling pretty tired.

“It is a long season and this is the sixth race in a short number of days, but everyone is in the same boat. I’m just a bit flat today, but there are still two great races for me so it is not over yet.”

Katharine Ogden (Stratton Mountain School/USST)

Americans Katharine Ogden (front) and Annie Hart (l) during the women's 15 k skiathlon on Wednesday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Katharine Ogden (50) leads fellow American and Stratton teammate Annie Hart (48) during the women’s 15 k skiathlon on Wednesday in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

On her skiathlon (32nd place):

“It was so awesome. It was kind of annoying to be that close to the points … but I do need to work on finishing speed. But I’m still so excited. It was awesome to be able to ski with Caitlin [Gregg].”

On the skiathlon transition and skate leg:

“My exchange went really smoothly, surprisingly, because I haven’t done it in a year. But that went well and I got out with a group of a couple Americans. I think maybe Chelsea [Holmes] was there and then Caitlin caught up to us and I just was like, ‘You know what? I’m just going to stick right on her and see what happens,’ and it worked out really well.”

On her biggest takeaway from the Tour:

“All those little things that you try and work on, like the little weaknesses, they can definitely get magnified when you come [to the World Cup]. It’s good motivation.”

“All those little things that you try and work on, like the little weaknesses, they can definitely get magnified when you come [to the World Cup]. It’s good motivation.” — Katharine Ogden

Eric Packer (APU)

On his sprint qualifier (73rd place): 

“Today was tough, for sure. The track condition really changed during the qualifier. We were on a bit icier snow in the morning and it kind of turned to slush and broke right when we were qualifying.”

On his motto for the Tour:

“Just try to take each day as it comes.”

Scott Patterson (APU)

On his skiathlon (55th place):

“I didn’t get lapped so that was good. First lap of the classic was pretty good, I think I was in the top 20 or at least top 30, but then second lap, it just kind of blew up on me. I struggled for a couple laps and then skis ended up slowing way down so classic was rough. Once I got to skate, things felt a little better. I was skiing with Michael Somppi and a few other Canadians around me, which was fun and we managed to hold off getting lapped.”

On race plan:

“I’ve kind of been going for the gamble-and-hope for a big one. You get a good day and things can go awesome.”

Kevin Sandau (AWCA)

On his skiathlon (40th place):

“It was a long day out there. I thought I had a good start, but then I figured out those guys were just chilling at the start. I was able to ski pretty close to the front, but then a few speed changes and I just didn’t have it, I was red-lining pretty early and I had to pull back if I wanted to survive.”

On how long he stuck with the pack:

“I’d say about the third lap and then gaps opened up. I was skiing in no-man’s land for way too long so burned energy like that, but once I got back with people I felt better.”

Ida Sargent (CGRP/U.S. Ski Team)

On her skiathlon (35th place):

“I felt like it was Stage 6 in the tour. I was really excited, because I’ve been feeling great all the way through qualifier yesterday. And then the past two days, the quarterfinal and then the race today, my body was really really tired. It was so nice to have my teammates out there; skiing with Caitlin [Gregg], Katherine [Ogden], Chelsea [Holmes] and Anne [Hart] at the end to keep me going. But the altitude and the hills and everything, I was just struggling out there. But my skis were great, so that really pulled me back in quite a few times.

“My classic legs were really tired out there, so when I switched to skate it was a nice reprieve where normally it’s kind of a struggle. I was like, ‘OK, I can do this for a little bit longer.’ I really lucked out with fast skis. And I am looking forward to an off day, and coming back and finishing strong for the last two.”

On the Tour in general:

“I’ve noticed before in the Tour de Ski, you have lows and highs. There is a lot of ups and downs for how your body feels. Each day can be totally different. I’m hoping that that’s what it is, and that I can come back strong on Friday.”

Andy Shields (NDC Thunder Bay)

On the sprint qualifier (64th place):

“I pushed pretty hard on the first lap and kind of held it together on the second lap. The top of the hill was pretty hard. Very, very hard course … I had a little bit of a race cough after that.“

On how he’s feeling so far:

“It’s a tough set of races in five days. Just take each race and trying to digest it as quick as I can and recover for the next one.”

On World Cup racing at the Tour in general:

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s pretty sweet to have all these awesome athletes to see what they are doing. We don’t have a chance to race them very often.”

Michael Somppi (NDC Thunder Bay)

On his skiathlon (54th place):

“Honestly, the pace didn’t feel that crazy at the start. I was able to stay in the lead group the first lap and I had to push a little bit extra to stay in there, but that was my plan to go for it. It didn’t actually feel that bad and then the second time, the wall, it just hit me and I was going back pretty fast and losing positions. It took me about a lap to start to come around again and could ski hard again.

“I gave myself a chance to be top 30 and it just didn’t happen. I didn’t really think about the guys lapping us until I was going out on my last lap and I saw them finishing and I thought, ‘Holy …. that was a lot closer than I thought.’ The rest of the race I skied a solid pace and that was all I could do.

“I’m happy. It was probably the longest I’ve stayed comfortably in the lead group in a World Cup.

It was fun, I was right behind Northug for a bit, but it went backwards pretty quick after that.”

On pacing:

“If you are trying to get your best result, it is better to ski within yourself and pace better. That was Knute’s [Johnsgaard’s] plan and he dusted me today. But if you are going for a top 30, the spread isn’t that big so you have to go for it. You are going so much faster when you are skiing behind someone in the draft with less effort so you have to go for it.”

Katherine Stewart Jones (NDC Thunder Bay/Canadian U23 Development Team)

On her skiathlon (48th place):

“It was pretty rough, I’m starting to feel pretty tired today after so many races. Especially on the classic leg, the second lap, my legs and arms just felt so full of lactate I didn’t know if I was able to finish the race. I felt better after switching to skating and it was a lot of fun when I was able to ski with other people because it is very mentally tiring to ski alone.”

On the course:

“The skate course is super-fun actually. I like how there is not a lot of flats because it is hard to ski flats when you are tired but on uphills you can get into a rhythm and just keep going.”

Bob Thompson (NDC Thunder Bay)

On his skiathlon (lapped; 62nd place):

“It was definitely tough. I’m happy with the classic section. … Just didn’t quite have enough today. I got two laps in and was starting the third, when they came running at me to stop. I was kind of like, ‘No, I don’t want to’ but I skied up to Justin [Wadsworth] and he confirmed that, yes, I would have to stop … so it’s a little frustrating, but you got to just accept getting upset about it and you can’t change anything you just got to move on. I’ll focus on [Canadian] nationals now and recover a bit.”

On his first World Cup experiences:

“I’ve definitely learned a lot and know what I need to do to get to that next level now that I’ve seen it.”

Lenny Valjas (Canadian World Cup Team)

On his skiathlon (46th place):

“It was tough. In the classic I felt OK and starting the skate I felt really good and I tried to catch the Austrian skier, but as soon as I did he just blew my wheels off and I ended up bonking at the end.”

On trying not to get caught on the seventh lap:

“I was trying to salvage my position. I was sitting 41st for a while so I was trying to not lose too many spots. I was just trying to hold on and not let too many guys catch me.”

Jessica Yeaton (APU/Australian National Team)

On her skiathlon (47th place):

“It wasn’t my greatest. My hair tie fell out, so that was unfortunate. Comb it like a big ’fro. Coming in in style at least.”

On her biggest takeaway from the Tour so far:

“The biggest takeaway from this experience would be how awesome it is to have all the national group here. … To have the group in the end, it’s been really fun to see that kind of racing, and have way more World Cups in North America. Basically, that is way better!”

“My hair tie fell out, so that was unfortunate. Comb it like a big ’fro. Coming in in style at least.” — Jessica Yeaton

Bonus Round

Andrew Musgrave (Great Britain)

On his skiathlon (42nd place):

“Terrible… I broke a pole in the classic and then I was in the back of the pack. I felt OK in the skate, but I lost so much time in the classic that there wasn’t much else I could do.”

On looking ahead to the final two stages:

“I’m going to have to go dead fast both days to make up for all the lost time from today. It was absolutely awful, so disappointed.”

Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team)

Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) watching the Wednesday's skiathlon races at the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)
Kikkan Randall (U.S. Ski Team) watching the Wednesday’s skiathlon races at the Ski Tour Canada in Canmore, Alberta. (Photo: Fischer/NordicFocus)

After forerunning the Canmore sprint:

“I’m feeling really good. Happy to be back, it’s like coming to a reunion. Seeing everybody, and the sun’s out. We just got our cool Fast and Female suits. So I’m just psyched to be here.”

Her take on the sprint course: 

“That’s one heck of a hill so I think it’s gonna be [about] carrying momentum over the top, and then having a good burst for that second time up, and still having good power for the finish. It’s gonna be a challenging course today. But that’s good, that’s what the end of the season is all about!”

See more: Notes & Quotes from Stages 1 & 2 | Quotes & Photos from Stages 3 & 4

Photos (from first three Eastern stages, by John Lazenby): Highlights | Athletes, coaches, volunteers

*Guide to North American teams:

Canada:

– AWCA: Alberta World Cup Academy

– CNEPH: Pierre-Harvey National Training Centre (Centre National D’entraînement Pierre Harvey)

– CNST: Canadian National Senior Team

– NDC Thunder Bay: Thunder Bay National Development Centre

– RMR: Rocky Mountain Racers

USA:

– APU: Alaska Pacific University

– BSF: Bridger Ski Foundation

– CGRP: Craftsbury Green Racing Project

– SMS: Stratton Mountain School

– SMST2: Stratton Mountain School T2 Team (elite team)

– SSCV: Ski & Snowboard Club Vail

– USST: U.S. Ski Team

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