Multiple American Women Held Out of World Juniors Races After Positive Covid Test or Contacts

Gavin KentchFebruary 12, 2021
Sydney Palmer-Leger (front left) skis during the scramble leg of the relay at 2020 World Juniors. It is unconfirmed whether Palmer-Leger has tested positive for Covid at this year’s races or is simply a contact of someone who has. (Photo: Doug Stephen)

Three American junior women have been held out of competing at 2021 Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Vuokatti, Finland, following a positive Covid test or potential exposure to a positive case, has reported.

Yesterday, American skier Michaela Keller-Miller wrote on SkinnySki, “Unfortunately, three members of the women’s US Junior team are in quarantine after one positive Covid-19 test and two possible exposures after contact tracing. As a result, American medal contenders Novie McCabe, Sydney Palmer-Leger, and Haley Brewster are unable to compete this week.”

The US Ski Team has not made a formal announcement regarding any athletes in Vuokatti. It is unknown which athlete or athletes may have tested positive, and which athlete or athletes was quarantined following potential exposure.

All American athletes competing at World Juniors were required to obtain a negative Covid PCR test within 72 hours prior to entering Finland, to take another PCR test upon arrival, and to quarantine at their hotel for up to 24 hours until results from the arrival PCR test were available. The three athletes mentioned above, and all their teammates, were presumably therefore negative when they began their travel to Finland.

Roughly a week ago, on February 4, Finland national public broadcasting station YLE published an article with the auto-translated headline, “Two corona infections detected in the US youth ski team before the Vuokatti World Championships.” The article stated, per Google Translate, “Two patients on the U.S. race team have been isolated. Four people in close contact in this context have also been quarantined. The international ski federation FIS informs about it. The tests were the first to be taken before the competitions.”

FIS also displays a statement dated February 4 that remains linked on their website, reading, “As part of the first period of pre-event testing of the FIS Junior and U23 World Ski Championships in Cross Country at Vuokatti (FIN), two Covid-19 positive test results were reported from the US delegation. The individuals who tested positive were put into isolation and four identified close contacts were put into quarantine. The tests were administered before the individuals obtained the accreditation and access to the field of play.”

Keller-Miller’s article, identifying three athletes who had registered a positive Covid test or counted as a close contact for quarantine purposes, followed a week later.

There were a total of six American women named to the World Juniors team (McCabe, Palmer-Leger, Kendall Kramer, Ava Thurston, Nina Seemann, and Brewster), and two alternates (Waverly Gebhardt and Garvie Tobin).

Through the first two races in Vuokatti, a classic sprint, and a 5-kilometer freestyle, only three athletes from this group have raced so far, Gebhardt, Seemann, and Thurston. There is no American team listed on the start list for Saturday’s women’s 4 x 3.3 km relay, which is potentially consistent with the fact that there are not four American junior women available to race.

Gavin Kentch

Gavin Kentch wrote for FasterSkier from 2016–2022. He has a cat named Marit.

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