FIS Nordic World Championships (Lahti, Finland): Freestyle sprints
[UPDATED] Two medals for the U.S. on Day 1. That’s exactly what happened Thursday in the first medals race of 2017 Nordic World Championships in Lahti, Finland, where American Jessie Diggins raced to second and her U.S. teammate Kikkan Randall third in the women’s 1.4-kilometer freestyle sprint final, right behind Norway’s Maiken Caspersen Falla, who took gold.
While Falla crossed the finish line first in in 3:02.34 minutes, Diggins finished 1.66 seconds back in second and Randall 3.76 seconds behind in third. Three U.S. Ski Team members reached the six-woman final, with Sophie Caldwell placing sixth (+5.37), behind Sweden’s Hanna Falk (fourth) and Ida Ingemarsdotter (fifth).
Race favorite Stina Nilsson of Sweden ended the day in 12th overall after being relegated to last in her semifinal.
Diggins won her quarterfinal and semifinal before finishing second for her second individual World Championships silver medal (she previously earned silver in the 10 k freestyle at the 2015 World Championships in Falun, Sweden, and before that, gold in the freestyle team sprint with Randall at 2013 World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy).
It’s the second-straight championships that the U.S. has had individual medalists in the same race. Caitlin Gregg captured bronze in the 10 k freestyle, just behind Diggins. Four U.S. women qualified for the heats, with Ida Sargent finishing fifth in her quarterfinal for 24th overall.
U.S. Ski Team head coach Chris Grover was universal in his praise when asked about the personal significance of Thursday’s two-medal night. “I am just really proud of the athletes — all of the athletes that were competing today,” Grover said after the women’s final. “All the athletes in the US program that were not competing today that were cheering in front of the television I’m sure this evening and are getting ready for races coming up. I am really proud of the team that we have collected here in terms of service team, and coaching team, and medical and support team … And everybody that is surrounding the event for the U.S.A. It’s just been a team over the last few World Championships that yes there has been a few people that have come off and come on, but there has really been a core group that provide this kind of stability on which we can have these kind of results.”
In the men’s 1.6 k freestyle sprint final, Italy’s Federico Pellegrino outlasted three others within 0.7 seconds of the win, crossing the finish line first in 3:13.76.
Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov missed out on the gold by 0.15 seconds and Norway’s Johannes Høsflot Klæbo took bronze (+0.44). Three Norwegians reached the final, with Finn Hågen Krogh placing fourth (+0.67), Petter Northug fifth (+12.13), ahead of Finland’s Ristomatti Hakola in sixth (+12.28).
Canada’s Alex Harvey was the lone North American to reach the semifinals, where he was relegated to last in his heat for 12th overall.
For the U.S., Andy Newell placed 21st on the day after finishing fifth in his quarterfinal and Simi Hamilton was 28th after taking sixth in his quarterfinal.
All four of the U.S. women’s starters qualified for the heats to start the day, with Randall leading them in 10th, followed by Caldwell in 13th, Diggins in 19th, and Sargent in 27th.
Norway’s Falla put down the fastest time in the women’s sprint qualifier in 3:03.14, Finland’s Mari Laukkanen was 2.37 seconds back in second, and Slovenia’s Katja Visnar 2.42 behind in third.
Randall’s time was 4.45 seconds off Falla’s mark, Caldwell +5.66, Diggins +7.97, and Sargent +9.37.
Canada’s Dahria Beatty missed the top 30 necessary to qualify by 3.67 seconds in 37th, 13.66 seconds behind Falla. Canada started three women with Cendrine Browne finishing 48th (+20.42) and Katherine Stewart-Jones 58th (+26.29) out of 107 women.
In the men’s 1.6 k freestyle sprint qualifier that followed, Hamilton qualified 11th and Newell 20th for the U.S., and Canada’s Harvey qualified 13th.
Russia’s Ustiugov topped the men’s qualifier in 3:11.72, while Norway qualified second and third with Norway’s Krogh (+2.71) and Sindre Bjørnestad Skar (+3.39), respectively.
Hamilton clocked in 7.6 seconds back in 11th, Harvey +7.85, and Newell +8.9.
Also for the U.S., Erik Bjornsen missed qualifying by 2.22 seconds in 36th (+12.59), and Cole Morgan, in his first World Championships race, placed 54th (+18.41).
Canada’s three other men entered in the sprint, Jess Cockney, Len Valjas and Knute Johnsgaard finished 47th (+16.82), 48th (+17.16) and 53rd (+18.39), respectively, to miss advancing to the heats.
IBU Youth/Junior World Championships (Osrblie, Slovakia): Junior individual races
[UPDATED] To say Canada is on a roll at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Youth/Junior World Championships would be a massive understatement. On Thursday in Osrblie, Slovakia, Megan Bankes raced to a world title in the junior women’s 12.5-kilometer individual, hitting all 20 targets and finishing first in 37:22.0 minutes. After starting 19th, her time held up through 67 finishers, with Austria’s Julia Schwaiger coming closest for second place, 47.9 seconds back.
Bankes was one of five women to clean the four-stage race on Thursday. Her teammate Leo Grandbois did the same in the youth men’s 12.5 k individual race the day before and won by nearly a minute and 15 seconds to become the third Canadian to win at Youth/Junior Worlds. Bankes is the fourth (second at Junior Worlds).
Joining Bankes and Schwaiger on the podium was Germany’s Anna Weidel in third (+1:20.0). Like Schwaiger, Weidel shot 19-for-20. Schwaiger’s miss came in the last standing stage; Weidel’s in the first standing.
Also for Canada, Emily Dickson placed 28th (+4:21.3) with one miss (0+1+0+0), and Nadia Moser was just outside the points (top 40) in 41st (+5:55.8) with four penalties (2+0+0+2). Charlotte Hamel did not finish.
Americans Siena Ellingson placed 50th (+7:11.5) with four penalties (0+1+2+1) and Nina Armstrong 65th (+14:15.3) with eight misses (4+1+2+1).
In the junior men’s 15 k individual earlier in the day, Norway’s Sindre Pettersen won by 51.2 seconds, after cleaning the first three stages then missing two on his final standing stage (0+0+0+2). After starting 68th, he finished in 40:17.2 minutes, knocking Germany’s David Zobel out of the lead. Zobel had started 26th and shot three penalties (0+2+1+0) but held the fastest time until Pettersen crossed the line. Zobel’s time held up for silver despite a challenge from Russia’s late starter Nikita Lobastov (bib 84), who shot 19-for-20 (0+1+0+0) and finished just four seconds short of Zobel for third place (+55.2).
Canada’s Zachari Bolduc led the North Americans in 34th (+3:44.7) with two penalties (1+0+0+1).
Cody Johnson finished 50th for the U.S. (+5:08.3) with two misses, both of which came in the last stage (0+0+0+2).
Canada’s Trevor Kiers and Jules Brunette placed 54th (+5:21.6) and 55th (+5:27.4), respectively, each with five penalties. The fourth Canadian, Pearce Hanna finished 65th (+6:38) with seven misses.
For the U.S., Cameron Christiansen placed 72nd (+8:10.6) with six penalties, and Peter Carroll was 79th (+10:36.4) with four misses. Travis Cooper did not start.
- 2017 IBU Youth/Junior World Championships
- 2017 World Championships
- Alex Harvey
- Anna Weidel
- Cameron Christiansen
- cendrine browne
- Cody Johnson
- Cole Morgan
- Dahria Beatty
- David Zobel
- Emily Dickson
- Erik Bjornsen
- Federico Pellegrino
- Finn Hagen Krogh
- Ida Sargent
- Jess Cockney
- Jessie Diggins
- Johannes Høsflot Klæbo
- Jules Brunette
- Julia Schwaiger
- Katherine Stewart-Jones
- Katja Visnar
- knute johnsgaard
- Lahti freestyle sprint
- Lahti World Championships
- Len Valjas
- Maiken Caspersen Falla
- Mari Laukkanen
- Nadia Moser
- Nikita Lobastov
- Nina Armstrong
- Pearce Hanna
- Peter Carroll
- Petter Northug
- Ristomatti Hakola
- Sergey Ustiugov
- Siena Ellingson
- Simi Hamilton
- Sindre Bjornestad Skar
- Sindre Pettersen
- Sophie Caldwell
- Trevor Kiers
- Zachari Bolduc