Canadian National Ski TeamContinental CupNewsRacingUS Ski TeamWorld CupSaturday Rundown: Ruka, West Yellowstone & (Not) Beitostølen (Updated x4)

FasterSkier FasterSkierNovember 26, 2016
The Ruka stadium from above in Kuusamo, Finland. (Photo: Toko)
The Ruka stadium from above in Kuusamo, Finland. (Photo: Toko)

Welcome to The Rundown, your quick primer of need-to-know information about the day’s racing. We’ll be updating this digest as the day goes on with additional results, photos and quotes. The Rundown is NOT a race report; stay tuned for complete race reports later today with interviews from the day’s top racers.

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West Yellowstone FIS Races: 5/10 k classic 

Scott Patterson (APU) double poling to the win in the men's 10 k classic FIS race on Saturday in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: Ian Harvey/Toko)
Scott Patterson (APU) double poling to the win in the men’s 10 k classic FIS race on Saturday in West Yellowstone, Mont. (Photo: Ian Harvey/Toko)

Scott Patterson of Alaska Pacific University (APU) continued his winning streak on Saturday, topping the 10-kilometer classic FIS race at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone, Mont. (In the two FIS races he’s competed in — the other being a 7.5 k freestyle last weekend in Fairbanks, Alaska — Patterson is undefeated.) He won Saturday’s classic race in 22:12.2 minutes, more than 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Matt Gelso, of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF), who placed second (+20.8). Ben Lustgarten, of the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP), improved on his fifth-place finish in Friday’s 10 k freestyle, reaching the podium in third (+23.4).

David Norris (APU) placed fourth (+30.0), Kevin Bolger (University of Utah) was fifth (+33.1), and Ben Saxton, of the Stratton Mountain School (SMS) T2 Team, was sixth (+38.9). Petter Reistad, of the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU), finished seventh (+45.7), Daniel Streinz (Mountain Endurance Sports) took eighth (+49.9), Friday’s winner Paddy Caldwell, of SMS, Dartmouth College and the U.S. Ski Team (USST), was ninth (+56.0), and Martin Mikkelsen (Utah) placed 10th (+1:00.8) out of 70 male finishers.

In the women’s 5 k classic, Craftsbury’s Liz Guiney took the win in 13:06, edging Utah freshman Merete Myrseth by just 0.3 seconds. Friday’s 5 k freestyle winner, Katharine Ogden (SMS/USST) reached the podium again in third (+11.1), Jesse Knori (CU) was fourth (+13.5), and Erika Flowers (SMST2) fifth (+18.2) on her 27th birthday.

Kaitlynn Miller (CGRP) took sixth (+21.8), Christina Rolandsen (CU) was seventh (+21.9), Petra Hyncicova (CU) eighth (+24.1), Guro Jordheim (Utah) ninth (+28.9), and Jennie Bender, of the Bridger Ski Foundation, 10th (+31.2), out of 74 female finishers.

While this weekend’s FIS races are over, West Yellowstone will host again next weekend, as Bozeman SuperTour organizers announced Friday afternoon that it was moving its races to West, its southern neighbor, because of a lack of snow. Next weekend’s SuperTour races will be the first of the season, featuring the originally planned freestyle sprints on Saturday, Dec. 3, and 10/15 classic races on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Results

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FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Ruka: Classic sprint:

Women’s report | Men’s report | Kikkan Randall interview

Sweden's Stina Nilsson (top and bottom center) won her first World Cup classic sprint on Saturday in the first race of the 2016/2017 World Cup season. Norway's Maiken Caspersen Falla (bottom right) placed second and Heidi Weng (bottom left) was third. (Photo: FIS Cross Country Twitter)
Sweden’s Stina Nilsson (top and bottom center) won her first World Cup classic sprint on Saturday in the first race of the 2016/2017 World Cup season. Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla (bottom right) placed second and Heidi Weng (bottom left) was third. (Photo: FIS Cross Country Twitter)

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson and Norway’s Pål Golberg emerged as the big winners on Saturday in the first race of the 2016/2017 FIS Cross-Country World Cup season, winning the women’s and men’s 1.4-kilometer classic sprint finals, respectively, in Kuusamo, Finland.

After qualifying second, Nilsson won both her quarterfinal and semifinal before dethroning Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla in the final. Falla had not lost a World Cup classic sprint since February 2015 (two seasons ago in Östersund, Sweden). Falla won her quarterfinal and placed third in her semifinal, advancing to the final as a lucky loser with Finland’s Krista Parmakoski. There, Nilsson held off Falla by 0.17 seconds and won the final in 3:21.61. Heidi Weng was the second Norwegian on the podium in third (+0.69), finishing ahead of two Russians, Natalia Matveeva (4th, +3.18) and Yulia Belorukova (6th, +8.94) and Parmakoski (5th, +5.12).

“This is also my first victory in classic so I’m very, very happy,” Nilsson told FIS in an on-air, post-race interview.

Norway's Pål Golberg crossing the finish line a few ski lengths ahead of his competition in the men's classic sprint final on Saturday at the World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland. Sweden's Calle Halfvarsson placed second, and Norway's Johannes Klæbo edged Sweden's Teodor Peterson for the final podium spot in third. (Photo: NRK screenshot)
Norway’s Pål Golberg (r) crossing the finish line a few ski lengths ahead of his competition in the men’s classic sprint final on Saturday at the World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland. Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson placed second, and Norway’s Johannes Klæbo edged Sweden’s Teodor Peterson (l) for the final podium spot in third. (Photo: NRK screenshot)

In the men’s final, Golberg surged past his competitors on Ruka’s infamous final climb and held off Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson by 0.75 seconds for the win. Golberg found out on Wednesday of this week that he had been tapped for the sprint, after fellow Norwegian Petter Northug opted out of this weekend.

“I knew my shape was good, but the skiers from the national team are good skiers so that’s why I wasn’t supposed to be here but Petter got sick so that’s why I’m here,” Golberg told FIS in a post-race interview. “In the quarterfinals, I had a pretty bad climb [on the final hill]. I lost a few spots so I decided to stay more in the back in the semifinals and that worked out.”

The men's classic sprint podium in the first World Cup race of the season on Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland: Norway's Pål Golberg (c) placed first, Sweden's Calle Halfvarsson (l) was second, and Norway's 20-year-old Johannes Klaebo (r) was third. (Photo: FIS Cross Country Twitter)
The men’s classic sprint podium in the first World Cup race of the season on Saturday in Kuusamo, Finland: Norway’s Pål Golberg (c) placed first, Sweden’s Calle Halfvarsson (l) was second, and Norway’s 20-year-old Johannes Klaebo (r) was third. (Photo: FIS Cross Country Twitter)

After placing fourth in his quarterfinal, Golberg advanced as a lucky loser. In the semifinals, he placed second to ensure his spot in the final. He won the final in 2:54.12, Halfvarsson was second (+0.75) and Norway’s 20-year-old Johannes Klæbo captured his first World Cup podium in his second-ever World Cup in third (+0.87). Sweden’s Teodor Peterson narrowly missed the podium in fourth (+1.06), Russia’s Alexander Panzhinskiy was fifth (+8.22), and Norway’s Finn Hågen Krogh finished more than a minute later in sixth (+1:12.58).

In her comeback season after having a baby last December, Norway’s Marit Bjørgen placed 10th after finishing fifth in her semifinal (she qualified in 10th and was second in her quarterfinal). Another top Norwegian, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg placed seventh on the day after placing third in the Bjørgen’s semifinal.

The top American, Sadie Bjornsen posted the seventh-fastest qualifying time then finished the day in 17th overall. She placed fourth in her quarterfinal. Also for the U.S. Ski Team, Sophie Caldwell placed 20th (after qualifying in 30th then placing fourth in her quarterfinal), Ida Sargent was 23rd (qualified 23rd and was fifth in her quarterfinal), and Jessie Diggins 26th (13th in the qualifier, sixth in her quarterfinal).

The lone North American man in the heats, Alex Harvey of Canada placed 25th overall after qualifying in 28th then placing fifth in his quarterfinal. The two men directly ahead of him in his quarterfinal, Russia’s Anton Gafarov and Golberg, placed third and fourth respectively, and advanced to the semifinals as lucky losers.

In the morning’s sprint qualifier, Parmakoski and Klæbo posted the top times.

Parmakoski notched a 1.14-second qualifying win, ahead of three Swedish sprinters. Nilsson and Ida Ingemarsdotter finished second and third, +1.14 and +2.40 respectively. Their teammate Hanna Falk qualified in fourth (+3.70) ahead of Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland (+3.93). Østberg was the top Norwegian, qualifying in sixth (+4.05).

Sadie Bjornsen led the U.S. team by qualifying in seventh (+4.41). Three teammates joined her in the quarterfinals: Diggins (13th, +6.27), Sargent (23rd, +10.28), and Caldwell (30th, +11.84).

A fifth U.S. Ski Team (USST) member, Rosie Brennan missed the heats in 44th (+15.28), and in her return to the World Cup after a year of maternity leave, Kikkan Randall (USST) finished 52nd, tied with Craftsbury’s Caitlin Patterson (+19.75). For Canada, U25 Team skiers Dahria Beatty raced to 50th (+18.80), followed by Cendrine Browne in 62nd (+26.05).

Klæbo eked out a narrower victory in the qualifier, edging Russia’s Panzhinsky by just 0.81 seconds. Marko Kilp of Estonia qualified third, +2.01, followed by two Finns: Ari Luusua (+2.18) and Anssi Pentsinen (+2.22). Peterson of Sweden rounded out the top six (+2.31).

The lone North American qualifier was Harvey in 28th (+6.94). His Canadian teammates were left out of the heats: Len Valjas 54th (+11.28), Devon Kershaw 63rd (+12.28), Knute Johnsgaard 69th (+13.46), Bob Thompson 80th (+17.64), Jesse Cockney 83rd (+19.52), and Andy Shields 91st (+25.07).

Simi Hamilton did not start for the U.S., and according to U.S. coach Matt Whitcomb, he is fighting a small cold. Andy Newell led the team in 40th (+7.74), shortly followed by Erik Bjornsen in 42nd (+7.81). SuperTour leader Eric Packer of Alaska Pacific University finished 78th (+17.30).

The World Cup continues Sunday with the 10/15 k classic individual starts in Ruka.

Qualifier results: men | women

Final results: men | women

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FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Ruka: Individual Large Hill/10 k

In the first Nordic Combined World Cup competition of the season, also in Kuusamo, Akito Watabe of Japan won the jumping round with a total of 145 points. Johannes Rydzek of Germany jumped into second. After jumping Bryan Fletcher was sitting in 32nd place for the U.S. and Ben Berend in 38th. The Americans started the cross-country race 3:54 and 4:08 behind Watabe.

In the 10 k Gundersen start, Fletcher improved to 23rd and Berend did not start. Fletcher finished 4:06.5 behind the winner of the day, Rydzek, who won in 27:31.7. Germany took the top two spots on the podium with Eric Frenzel in second (+34.1). Frenzel skied the fastest course time in 26:52.8, moving up six spots after ranking eighth in the jump.

Norway’s Jørgen Graabak placed third (+45.6) and Watabe ultimately finished seventh (+1:23.5). The World Cup continues Sunday in Kuusamo with another large hill/10 k individual competition.

Final results

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IBU Cup Beitostølen: 7.5/10 k sprint

The IBU Cup in Beitostølen, Norway, has been canceled for the day due to strong winds. The men’s and women’s sprints are rescheduled for Sunday.

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