After a substantial weekend of racing, we often have interesting tidbits that didn’t make it into the main race report. Here are Notes and Quotes from races in Bruksvallarna, Sweden, and Muonio, Finland.
Chandra Crawford (CAN) was plenty excited about her 2nd place finish in the FIS sprint in Brusvallarna, Sweden. She told FasterSkier that she may have let her emotions get the best of her, saying “I just wanted to be Fast & Female out there, ski fast and take chances so I may have accidentally attacked a little earlier than I wanted to, so I need to be patient.”
The weekend was the start of a five week block of racing for the Canadians, a stretch Crawford is excited to have underway.
“I feel like I just need to do as much racing as I can now and that’s going to help. This is the first weekend of a pretty sweet 5-week race [period], toward the end are the most important races so I always feel the better the more I race.”
The biggest disappointment on the day for Crawford may have been losing out to Ida Ingemarsdotter (SWE) in the quest for the top prize — a reindeer pelt. Crawford took home a fish instead.
While World Cup racing starts this weekend, the first sprint doesn’t come around for another whole week. But the Canadian women will field a relay team in the 4x5km event in Gallivare, Sweden.
“First relay since I don’t know when, maybe World Championships,” Crawford’s teammate Perianne Jones said. “Its not often that we have four chicks on the World Cup, so it’s sweet.”
On the men’s side, Alex Harvey told FasterSkier that he has one goal for the season — World Championships.
“It’s a long season and the only goal for me are World Champs, so I’ll keep the [training] load fairly high during the first World Cup period.”
Crawford didn’t hesitate to heap accolades on her competition and her fellow North Americans.
She predicts sprint winner Ingemarsdotter will be a force at the Canadian World Cups in December, and is expecting big things from American Liz Stephen, who placed second to Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) in the 10km freestyle over in Muonio, Finland.
“She’s gonna be on the podium this year and I’m gonna freak out,” Crawford said. “She deserves it so much and she is such a great athlete. I’m psyched for Liz today.”
For her part, Stephen was happy to dial things up a notch after a strong result in the 5k classic.
“[Saturday’s] race was certainly a solid race for me, especially classic, but it’s early in the season and a lot of us finished yesterday [the classic race] and we were like, ‘Oh my God, I think I could’ve gone a lot harder,’ so it’s about finding that race gear this time of year,” Stephen said.
She described the Muonio course as having “a lot of flat strips and there’s one sustained hill, and then you have to work a gradual down for a couple k into the finish. I wouldn’t say it played to my strengths, but it certainly helped elements that I need to work out and elements that are in any course.”
Her teammate Holly Brooks placed 7th.
“It’s nice to have kind of a good result going into next weekend and then the Kuusamo mini tour, so yeah, I’m pumped with it,” Brooks said.
At one point during the 10k race, Brooks came through as race leader.
“When I first got to Grover [US Ski Team head coach Chris Grover] I was at the beginning of the seeded groups and he told me I was leading, and it wasn’t until later that I got a backsplit. At one point I was tied with Justyna, and that’s a pretty exhilarating split to get (laughs), pretty motivating. I heard that split after the lap.”
Brooks also found the longer race provided more head-to-head competition.
“I felt good. [Saturday] I didn’t catch anyone in front of me, and nobody behind me caught me either and it was only a one-lap race, so I kind of felt like I was out there by myself and I had no idea what was going on. But today with the two-lap race, there were a lot people out there. There were actually a couple of good traffic jams, but I caught the girl that started 20 seconds in front of me, probably within the first k at least, and I thought that was maybe a good sign that I was moving fast.”
Grover was happy to have the team in Muonio, after dealing with World Cup races being moved last year.
“It’s really nice to be here in Muonio, ton of skiing, great condition out there. So its been an excellent few days of training and start of the competition,” Grover said.
Ida Sargent, who made an appearance in the finals in the sprint competition described the course as “really crazy.”
“It started with a very steep climb then there was a rolling section and then a technical s-turn downhill and then a steep climb back up to the finish. You basically crossed the line herringboning which was really awkward and hard. I think the technical hard course was good for me though.”
Simi Hamilton overcame some tough travel to place 8th in the sprint.
“The race went pretty well I thought,” Hamilton said. “It’s been kind of an interesting week because I was delayed a day getting here (got here late Tuesday night) and my bags didn’t show up until about midnight last night (and I’m still waiting on one of my ski bags, which has all my poles in it!) But yeah, I’m pretty psyched with how everything went considering I came into the day a little tired from travel, time change, etc. and I really haven’t done any hard race-like efforts since Canmore.”
The classic distance race in Muonio featured perfect conditions, circumstances that Grover felt levels the playing field.
“I think the great thing about today is it was really nice skiing conditions, very easy hard waxing conditions, tracks were fantastic, cool clear day…Not a lot of days like that are on classic days. It becomes less of a waxing competition and the athletes can really demo where they’re current fitness is. It takes out the stress of a tough waxing situation for the athletes, they can focus on their performance. For everyone to get a feel for where they stack up.”
Brooks concurred, adding, “It [the course] skied really well, conditions were awesome, those beautiful deep hard tracks, it was really nice.
“Yesterday the weather was heinous, ice fog and windy today was just really, mid-20s and perfect. The course has a huge climb on it in the middle, which was pretty hard…When we got back we were watching the women’s race in Bruks. They had 10k skate today, they were crossing the line and collapsing at the end. Man I couldn’t do that today.
“We just did a short skate this afternoon and that was definitely in the dark, but they have a lot of lit trails out of necessity. I’m pretty used to it, night skiing. Jessie was commenting how it’s confusing to her. It’s dark and its 4 o’clock. And then we were skiing over old classic tracks too. You’re in the dark and can’t see them well. I think I took out the speed trap from Kazakhstan. It was in the middle of the trail, I clipped it with my ski.”