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Italy’s Federico Pellegrino (30) loves the skate sprint. Before his win in the Davos, Switzerland, freestyle sprint on Saturday, Pellegrino had won 13 World Cup sprints. All of those wins, beyond a 2016 classic sprint win in Canmore, were skate. The Italian powerhouse did not disappoint. In a field diminished by the withdrawal of Norway, Finland, and Sweden due to Covid-19 precautions, the podium was free for the taking. Pellegrino took the win by 2.13 seconds over Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov in second, and Britain’s Andrew Young third.
With today’s result, Pellegrino solidifies a third sprint win in Davos, tying the absent Johannes Høsflot Klæbo for the most at the venue. For the powerhouse that is Pellegrino, he seemed like a sure bet for the win early on. He qualified in second, 1.70 seconds behind top qualifier Lucas Chanavat of France. He advanced to the finals with a win-win through the semis.
Post-race audio interview with Great Britain’s Andrew Young.
Young’s third place in Davos matched his third place in the 2015 Toblach, Italy skate sprint – a career-best mark for the 28-year-old skier based out of Trondheim, Norway. In a post-race interview, Young explained that he had dedicated himself this year to becoming a more all-around skier. In the past, he has been known as a sprinter, and most proficient in skate. However, in the opening weekend in Ruka, Finland, he placed 14th overall in the three-race series with a 19th in the classic sprint, 16th in the 15 k classic, and 14th overall and fifth-best time of day in the 15 k skate pursuit.
Today’s third place marks an athlete on a clear upward trajectory in the early parts of the race season. By his own admission, Young said he “lucked” out in his semifinal, as several skiers were taken out in a fall, including Gus Schumacher of the U.S. and Chanavat. Young placed second in the quarterfinal, 0.4 seconds behind Pellegrino. In his semi, luck played no hand as he matched up with Pellegrino and Bolshunov, who went 1–2, to place third (+0.88) and advance as a lucky loser.
Letting the data speak, the final, even in the absence of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, was for real. Gleb Retivykh of Russia, who placed fourth Saturday, is a bronze medalist from the 2019 World Championships in the skate sprint. Richard Jouve, who finished fifth today, also placed fifth in the same Davos event in 2017.
Valerio Grond of Switzerland, age 20, in his first World Cup appearance, placed sixth.
Stepping back to the qualification round, fellow 20-year-old JC Schoonmaker clocked the fastest American time today in 2:22.66 (+4.21) for a 5th-place finish. Kevin Bolger in 7th and Simi Hamilton in 9th rounded out the top ten, while Logan Hanneman placed 15th and Gus Schumacher 29th to put all five U.S. men inside the points.
Racing in the first heat with the eventual podium members, Pellegrino and Young, Bolger and Schumacher were eliminated in the quarterfinals after finishing 3rd and 5th, respectively. Bolger was just 0.3 seconds off the time needed for a lucky loser spot. Hamilton took 3rd in his heat, and Schoonmaker 5th, finishing their day after the quarters.
The final U.S. results, outside of Logan Hanneman, played out this way: Tyler Kornfield in 62nd, Schumacher 25th, Schoonmaker 18th, Hamilton 14th, and Bolger 13th.
“Super fun to be back in the heats,” wrote Bolger in a post-race email. “I always love racing here in Davos — perfect conditions and some sun is hard to beat for a World Cup weekend!! Happy with qualifying 7th it’s the best qualifier ever. I wish I would have had a little more spice in the heats but today was all around just really great!! I thought the men’s team showed up in a huge way — qualifying 5 guys and Logan hitting one out of the park with a top 10! Excited to see where my season goes as well as this men’s team!”
In the fourth and fastest heat, Hanneman held on to the lead group, finishing fourth in a photo finish with Switzerland’s Valerio Grond to advance to the semis. For the 27-year-old Hanneman, who hails from Fairbanks and trains in Anchorage, this was a career-best result. This was Hanneman’s seventh World Cup top-30. Previously, his best result was an 18th in the Tour de Ski’s classic sprint in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
“I think it would have been a pretty good day had [the Scandinavians and Finns] been here and I’m happy to take advantage of it,” said Hanneman. “Really really satisfied. Now I know how much more fit I have to be to compete in a semi-final.”
Full post-race interview with Logan Hanneman.
Typing “Davos” into the FIS-Ski data filter for Simi Hamilton was a bit startling. Results data going back a decade populated the screen. All things considered, the loveliness of Davos and its relatively high altitude have been kind to the super-lung from Aspen, Colorado. Rather than focus on a single result or moment, what is clear is that Hamilton brings knowledge and experience to a group thirsty for their own success benchmarks. His 14th today is solid, but his willingness to celebrate others speaks for itself.
“I’m super proud of what our entire team accomplished today,” Hamilton emailed. “Obviously, Rosie’s win and Soph’s 5th place were the true highlights, but to witness 10 men and women qualify for the heats was pretty incredible. This is still World Cup racing no matter who is on the start list or not, and for that many people to score points is still a pretty historic achievement. I am especially proud of what the guys were able to do today. Just being a part of this men’s team is incredible and I’m humbled that I get to be a part of a group that has such good energy right now, especially as it relates to those young boys. I wasn’t satisfied with my result and how my day ended, but I felt really encouraged by a few things that went well for me today, so I am going to build off of those for next weekend. I know I am fit this season, and my pure speed needs a bit of work, but that’s kind of right where I want to be right now. So I’m looking forward (hopefully) to lots more racing to come.”
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.