Exciting new developments have been announced for this winter’s Swix Ski Classics. The marathon series has expanded from six races to nine and includes a new race format called the ProTeam Tempo, which is modeled after team events in cycling.
This FasterSkier series will examine the growing challenge to the national team model by privately funded ski teams and independent sponsorship agreements. Will national teams be able to support themselves in the future, or will corporate teams take over cross country skiing? This first article in the series will look at Petter Northug’s record deal with Coop and the implications it has for the Norwegian National Team and the sport as a whole.
Gustavus Adolphus College shocked current skiers and alumni alike, announcing the end of cross-country skiing as a varsity sport. The team will compete as a club for the 2015 season.
Daniel Richardsson of Sweden carefully waited until the last 800 meters to make his attack, winning the Holmenkollen 50 k. Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway led for much of the race, keeping the pace sky high. "I’ve never seen anything like that, where the best skier in the world decides to go not even 10 k into the race," said Noah Hoffman.
How much skate skiing should be allowed in a classic sprint race? Quite a bit, if Wednesday’s race in Drammen, Norway was any indication. "I think classic skiing took a step backwards," said USST Coach Matt Whitcomb. "I don’t think the line between what’s legitimate for classic technique was respected yesterday, and I think it opens a can of worms that makes the line very fuzzy now.”
Closing in on the finish it was Falla and Bjørgen neck and neck, with Nilsson gaining ground. At the line it was Falla’s foot that crossed before Bjørgen’s. Falla said after the race, "Marit [Bjørgen] and I train a lot together and Marit usually wins when we practice the finish. It is nice to beat her.”
John Kristian Dahl waited to the last minute to make his move, chasing down fellow Norwegian Laugaland to win his first Vasaloppet. The secret he said is training, "five or six hours a day." Laila Kveli again won the women's race in an impressive of display of double poling strength to become the first women to win the race without kick wax.
Alex Harvey took 8th place in Sunday’s 15 k individual freestyle race in Lahti, Finland, proving that he’s still on form and hungry for results in the final weeks of the World Cup season. “Effort wise and everything it’s the race I’m the most proud of this year, it’s the race I get the most satisfaction out of, I was really happy with it," said Harvey.
Late in the race as the pace accelerated, Tom Reichelt took the lead as the course began to open up in the wide fields approaching Lake Hayward. Behind him were Bonaldi and Paredi, hanging on and looking for an opportunity to make a move in the final two agonizing kilometers across the lake. “I was waiting for the others to catch me,” he said, “but nobody did. I thought in the sprint I had no chance.”
The women’s race was destined to be a showdown between the two time Birkie winner and local favorite Caitlin Gregg of Minneapolis and the current leader of the FIS Marathon Cup, Antonella Confortola Wyatt, of Italy. Gregg broke the race apart at 25 k when she skied with the leaders of the men's race. "I watched the men crest the hill, and then thought to myself, 'wait a second, that's an opportunity.' So I just put the hammer down like I never have before, and jumped on that train.”
Sunday's 10 k classic mass start in Szklarska Poreba, Poland was another great day for the US women. Liz Stephen had a breakthrough performance, finishing sixth, a career best for her and a major milestone in her development as a classic skier. Ida Sargent too had an excellent day, placing ninth, her career best distance rac
Martin Johnsrud Sundby led the final stage of the Tour de Ski and never looked back as he skied to his, and Norway's, first victory in the event's history. Sundby, who has skied in every Tour de Ski, called his feat a "dream come true" and, overcome, said, "I have a great feeling, deep into the soul." Chris Jespersen of Norway, skiing in his first Tour de Ski, captured second place. Of his effort on the big climb, he said, "towards the end I thought, 'Now I die.'”