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Nathaniel Herz

Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.
Bolshunov has never tested positive. But the shadow of Sochi still hangs over his Olympic win.

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA — Russia, and its flag, are officially barred from the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, a ruling that stems from continuing doping violations following a massive, state-sponsored scandal at the 2014 Games in Sochi that included cross-country skiers. But other Russian cross-country skiers are still competing here, under the flag of their country’s Olympic committee. And on Sunday, in their first race of the Games, Russian men took the top two places. Star Alexander...

Brennan breaks out with near-medal in Olympic sprint

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA — Rosie Brennan brought two left boots to her cross-country ski race at the Olympics on Tuesday. Then, she crashed. Just speed bumps on her way to history. Brennan’s fourth place in Tuesday’s sprint, in the skating technique, was overshadowed by her teammate Jessie Diggins’ bronze — only the third Olympic cross-country skiing medal in U.S. history, and the first individual medal for women. But Brennan’s result is arguably just as big of an...

Hannah Halvorsen’s Olympic experience ended in three minutes. It was still “perfect.”

Hannah Halvorsen made her appearance at the Olympics just two years after sustaining life-threatening injuries when a car hit her in an Anchorage crosswalk. Two years ago, Hannah Halvorsen sustained life-threatening injuries when a car hit her in an Anchorage crosswalk. On Tuesday, she raced at the Olympics in China. Her Games are likely over after a single three-and-a-half-minute qualifying sprint race — her qualifying time wasn’t fast enough to earn a spot in the medal...

At the Olympics, women cross-country ski race half as far as men. But that could be changing.

Female American and Swedish cross-country skiers are pushing to race equal distances as men. But some of the sport’s star women remain unconvinced.  ZHIANGJIAKOU, CHINA — At the end of her first-ever competition at the Winter Olympics — a 15-kilometer effort that left her sprawled on the ground gasping for breath — Julia Kern contemplated the idea of racing twice as far. “I personally like the shorter distances,” said Kern, a rising American star. But,...

On the Ground Report: A Beijing Olympic Winter Games Preview

ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA — After months of headlines about coronavirus tests, travel logistics and geopolitics, Beijing’s Olympic cross-country skiing venue, on the eve of its first competition Saturday, has emphatically changed the subject. To the winds of Zhangjiakou. Icy gusts billowed athletes’ training bibs, filled the resort town’s immaculately groomed ski tracks with dry, squeaky powder and generally consumed everyone’s attention Friday — from the team members who shielded their faces with buffs and layers of...

Avoiding omicron is an Olympic-level challenge for Alaska skiers with Beijing Games, and virus tests, looming

This article originally appeared on Wednesday January 19th, 2022 in the Anchorage Daily News. Reposted with permission. The organizers of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing have imposed a rigorous regime of testing, quarantines and isolation for incoming athletes and staff. Among the casualties is Steve Patterson’s pickleball game. Patterson has two adult children, Scott and Caitlin, who grew up in Alaska and are both Olympic hopefuls in cross-country skiing. They’re planning to prepare for...

Newell Out of Team Sprint with Illness; Randall Stays in for U.S. – UPDATED

Feeling under the weather, Andy Newell is no longer part of the American duo for Wednesday's team sprint. Instead, Erik Bjornsen will join Simi Hamilton. For the women, Kikkan Randall will keep her spot despite difficult races so far this Olympics, and Sophie Caldwell, who turned in the best U.S. women's performance ever in the individual sprint, will be her partner.