After winning Saturday's 5 k freestyle World Cup race, U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins (l) high fives Minnesota youngster Greta Stange, atop the shoulders of Diggins's teammate Liz Stephen, on Dec. 3 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Aleks Tangen)
After winning Saturday’s 5 k freestyle World Cup race, U.S. Ski Team member Jessie Diggins (l) high fives Minnesota youngster Greta Stange, atop the shoulders of Diggins’s teammate Liz Stephen, on Dec. 3 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Aleks Tangen)

Three days of racing, more than a dozen North American skiers, and one FasterSkier on-site reporter was there to witness it all — including Jessie Diggins’s second-career win — in Lillehammer, Norway. We were also trailside at the first U.S. SuperTour races of the season in West Yellowstone, Mont., and provided remote coverage of the biathlon World Cup opener in Östersund, Sweden.

Here’s what we came out of last weekend with, in terms of what didn’t make it into the race reports.

XC World Cup/Lillehammer mini tour:

  • Day 1 race reports (classic sprint): Women | Men
  • Day 2 (5/10 k freestyle): Women | Men
  • Day 3 (10/15 k classic pursuit): Women | Men

On Diggins:

Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) celebrating her second career World Cup victory after winning the women's 5 k freestyle on Dec. 3 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Aleks Tangen)
Jessie Diggins (U.S. Ski Team) celebrating her second career World Cup victory after winning the women’s 5 k freestyle on Dec. 3 in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: Aleks Tangen)

[Asked whether she might consider targeting a top finish in the Overall World Cup, in addition to World Championships]

“She has obviously doesn’t talk about that and we’re not really talking about that either, but I think it’s for sure a possibility. She is really rounding out her ability, whether it’s sprint, distance, classic, or skate, and I think with her we will see continued improvements as we get into the season, in every discipline. She is the kind of skier that can and will be, in the future, an all-around threat for an Overall World Cup title, and she’s been kind of chipping away at it for some time now obviously, with a big step forward last season. … Right now she is planning on being at most World Cups, she is planning on skipping the World Cup weekend that is after the Tour de Ski the sprint, the sprint weekend, which has been a real smart strategy for her in the past. Right now she is not planning on being in Korea for that World Cup.  We will kind of just take it race by race and see, and see what happens and see where we are.”

“Jessica can be either in the front or in the back when it comes to classic. I thought that if she has a good day, then we and Marit can try to chase Heidi, and that would be a really nice group. Or that she would be like the performance she delivered today and the she kind of falls through. But I was prepared to do most of the work myself, and it also turned out to be more than I was prepared for since Marit did not have her best day on the job.”

  • Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (Norway) after placing second in 10 k classic [Diggins placed eighth]

On progress:

“Today for me, I was maybe a little bit tired, and I was trying to ski with Ingvild [Flugstad Østberg] at the start… . So I know that there were a lot of things to improve on from today, but also some things to be proud of, like not totally losing it, because it was pretty stressful at the start.”

  • Jessie Diggins (USST) after placing eighth in 10 k classic pursuit

“There’s a certain time of the year where you feel just absolutely reckless, like you can push above and beyond, I haven’t yet found that place yet, but I am definitely really stoked with how things are going. I feel like each race I start, I am feeling better and better so it was definitely an encouraging thing on skate skis today, skiing like that on such a hilly course.”

  • Sadie Bjornsen (USST) after placing 14th in 5 k skate

“Today was better, it was a step in the right direction for sure. I got sick at the end of October and was sick for about 2 1/2 weeks, so I missed some of the hard intensity in preparation to get ready for the season and fortunately got healthy in time to come over here, but it’s just taking a couple of races for my body to come around. Today was the first time I felt like I was able to race and push hard, and it wasn’t perfect yet, but today was much better than I’ve felt so far.”

  • Eric Packer (Alaska Pacific University) after placing 78th in 10 k skate

“I’m still getting used to being on snow. I didn’t get enough opportunity to be on snow before starting racing, so arches on my feet and quads are pretty blown out. Yeah, it was pretty rough out there…

“I was able to dig pretty deep, and I extracted as much as I could out of the body, but again it wasn’t much, so it’s pretty disappointing that the season is off to such a rough start so far.”

  • Andy Shields (NTDC Thunder Bay) after placing 89th in 10 k skate

“A lot of lessons learned, but none of the races were quite what I wanted. But it was OK. It was a good first experience of a mini-tour.”

  • Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) after placing 42nd in 10 k classic pursuit 

On placing 17th in three-straight races: 

“I know the 17th curse, holy cow.  That’s what I was like, I was on the phone with [my coach Erik] Flora yesterday I was like, ‘What? No, 17th again. Well, I mean, that’s not bad, I would like to get a little better than 17th at some point that would be nice.’ ”

  • Sadie Bjornsen, after placing 14th in 5 k skate

On races beyond the race:

“I’ve been working on 5 k skate for the relay a lot this summer and the past years, so it was really nice to have a really hard and fun course to ski today and focus on the relay.”

  • Liz Stephen (USST) after placing 26th in 5 k skate

On Lillhammer’s big climb:

“I live for the long climb. That’s my favorite part on any course, I think, so for me, I love the uphills. This one out of the stadium, it just doesn’t ski great. Everybody does their testing there so it’s always the most chewed up…”

  • Stephen, after placing 26th in 5 k skate

On the conditions:

“The conditions were awesome, the corners were a little bit — you know, after all the boys went and stuff — they were a little icy, but nothing scary. Just had to have your feet under you.”

  • Liz Stephen (U.S. Ski Team) after placing 26th in 5 k skate

“They’re good. I really like the rolling hills and over the bridges here. It’s kind of a cool venue, the hills just feel really big racing, but they’re over pretty quickly. The trail was getting a bit churned up in places and little bit deeper and sugar than maybe I like … but overall I think it was really great skiing.”

  • Patterson, after placing 38th in 5 k skate

On having family there:

“Kristen came down on the last day to watch and her mom and her sister were there, too. It was fun to have some family cheering me on. Even the family dog came out. I didn’t hear her bark, she is really well trained, so it’s nice that that she could come watch, too.”

  • Devon Kershaw (Canadian World Cup Team) after placing 27th in 15 k classic pursuit

Nordic Combined World Cup in Lillehammer

On attacking the course:

“On this course, the work is done on the transitions. It’s a very tough course with lots of climbing and minimal rest so it really takes a lot of strong skiing to have a fast time. That is what allowed me to slowly move up through the race.”

  • Bryan Fletcher (U.S. Nordic Combined) after placing ninth in the large hill/10 k individual

On the challenges of being a new working dad: 

“With the wife and kid at home it’s a bit of a challenge. However I am managing by visiting when I can and with the help of family and friends we are able to make it work. She is working full time and caring for the baby so as you can imagine it’s challenging when I am not home. So it’s really helpful for me when I am performing well as it makes the trips more worthwhile in my mind. Certainly it would be easier if they could travel with me but that is not a realistic option. So as long as I have balance between training and family life, I am happy and the results will come.”

  • Bryan Fletcher

IBU World Cup in Östersund:

  • Saturday’s sprint reports: Men | Women
  • Sunday’s pursuit reports: Men | Women

On the challenges of being a new working dad:

“It’s been hard to be away from them for these last two weeks, but I will meet them in Munich tomorrow [Monday] morning and drive down to Slovenia with them.  They will be with me on the road for the next two world cups before we fly back to the States.”
  • Lowell Bailey (US Biathlon) after placing 15th in Sunday’s 12.5 k pursuit

U.S. SuperTour opener in West Yellowstone

  • Saturday’s freestyle sprints: Report
  • Sunday’s 10/15 k classic: Report

On the races being moved from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, Mont.:

“I definitely have raced well in the past at Bohart, so I was kind of a little bummed [when the races were moved], but I was also excited to race [in West Yellowstone]… It’s definitely the best I’ve ever felt at west Yellowstone, usually it’s a bit of a struggle here.”

  • Kaitlynn Miller (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) after placing 3rd in Sunday’s 15 k classic

“I typically don’t do very well in West Yellowstone and so this year was by far the best first race I have had…the curse is broken!”

  • Annie Hart (Stratton Mountain School) after placing 3rd in Saturday’s 1.3 k freestyle sprint

On goals for the next month of racing: 

“I am hoping for another few podiums in the next 2 races. It would be great to win if I feel good and have solid skis, but its a tough field with a lot of strong guys. We will see how it goes.”

  • Ben Lustgarten (Craftsbury Green Racing Project) after placing 2nd in Sunday’s 15 k classic



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