FIS World Cup Beitostolen, Norway 15 k/30k Freestyle Individual Start
With snow falling and trees covered with fresh snow, Beitostølen, Norway’s wintery essence was on full display during the women’s 15-kilometer freestyle individual start on Saturday.
Keeping her distance win-streak alive was Norway’s Therese Johaug who won her fourth World Cup distance race of the season making it four for four in 2018/2019.
Johaug won in a time of 38:39.8 minutes. The only blip of egalitarianism on the tracks was at the first time check at 1 k, where Johaug was tied for the best time with Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva. Otherwise, Johaug gradually pulled away from the fifty-eight finishers by the time she crossed the finish line.
Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla placed second (+1:05.9), and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway was third (+1:06.1).
U.S. Ski Team (USST) athlete Jessie Diggins finished in eighth (+1:29.6) for her first top-10 result of the season. Sadie Bjornsen (USST) placed 13th (+2:22.9), Rosie Brennan 15th (+2:33.9), Caitlin Patterson (CGRP) 32nd (+3:46.0), and Kaitlynn Miller 50th (+5:02.8).
Canada entered a women’s team for the first time this season. Emily Nishikawa of the Canadian National Team (CNT) was the best placed Canadian in 34th (+4:01.6). Cendrine Brown (CNST) was 38th (+4:16.4).
Sitting atop the men’s overall World Cup this season after Saturday’s racing is Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov. The young skier is a killer in the sprints and distance events. But it is perhaps Norway’s Sjur Røthe who has impressed the most this season in the distance events. Røthe has a slight seven-point lead in the distance overall.
Røthe won Saturday’s 30 k skate individual start in a time of 1:09:53.5. It was his second World Cup victory this year. Teammate Martin Johnsrud Sundby, with his first podium of the season, placed second (+35.2), Russia’s Andrey Melnichenko was third (+49.2). For the twenty-six-year-old Melnichenko, it was his first career World Cup podium.
Canada’s Alex Harvey was the best placed North American in 13th (+1:49.8). Also skiing for Canada, Andy Shields finished in 63rd (+7:05.6).
Scott Patterson (USST) was the best-positioned skier for the U.S., placing 47th (+4:32.7). David Norris (APU) skied to 51st (+5:13.3.) Erik Bjornsen (USST) was 52nd (+5:14.9), Adam Martin (CGRP) 59th (+6:14.8).
IBU World Cup, Pokljuka, Slovenia
Egan Leads North Americans in 15th Place in Pokljuka Sprint.
Just before her race on Saturday, US Biathlon’s Clare Egan seemed to be in a relaxed mood and could be seen on the broadcast joking with other athletes and posing for pictures in the warm-up zone. Starting into the women’s 7.5-kilometer sprint in an early group in bib 26, Egan began the race fast and still managed to shoot clean in her prone stage.
She kept near the top at the split times during this early phase of the race.
“I am skiing way faster than I have in past years,” Egan commented on her improved course time in an email to FasterSkier, which in past seasons occasionally had prevented her from achieving positions in the points or qualifying for pursuit and mass start races. “I think my previous best ski time was in the 20’s, but my average was probably in the 50’s. So to have 11th ski time in the Individual [on Thursday] and the 6th today is a very significant improvement for me. It means that I can now aim for the flower ceremony, and even the top of the podium.”
In the standing shooting stage she then missed her very last shot of the race, having to ski once through the 150-meter penalty lap. After another fast final loop she came to the finish in fourth place. But after several athletes who began the race later finished ahead, she was pushed down in the standings, ultimately ending her day in 15th position (+1:08.8, 0+1). According to Egan she only narrowly missed a career-best result, having finished in 13th place in the sprint in Kontiolahti, Finland, during the last season.
“Today I would have been 4th or 5th if I had hit my last shot,” Egan wrote. “Overall my shooting is there, and now my skiing is too, so I just need some more races to get comfortable in this position. I really fought for my last two shots today and I got the 9th one and I’m very happy about that. Also my prone was perfect and I don’t take that for granted. I am focusing on the positive things and learning what I can to do better next time… which is tomorrow!”
Behind Egan, her teammate Susan Dunklee also had drawn a spot in the first start group starting early in bib 2, and remained clean in the prone stage as well. But in her second shooting she incurred two penalty laps, and ultimately ended her race day finishing in 45th place (+1:50.4, 0+2). The third U.S. starter, Joanne Reid, finished 57th with two penalties (+2:06.8, 1+1).
“Our whole women’s team did excellent training and it is paying off: last year at World Cup 1, zero American women qualified for the pursuit, whereas all three of us did today,” Egan commented.
She also credited their revamped coaching staff around which centers around Armin Auchentaller. Auchentaller spent the last few seasons coaching the Swiss women’s team.
“And it’s worth noting that with Susan’s 11th place in the Individual, we’ve now had two women go in the top-15 already in the first two races of the year (which is likely a first for US Biathlon). We are proud of ourselves and motivated to keep climbing. As usual, our ski service team is on fire. Tomorrow we’ll go for it again in the pursuit!”
For Biathlon Canada it was a difficult day on the shooting range overall, with Megan Tandy posting the best result in 73rd place (+2:46.6, 0+2). Her teammates Rosanna Crawford finished 77th with four penalties (+2:52.1, 2+2), Nadia Moser was 88th (+3:42.1, 2+2) and Megan Bankes was 99th (+4:39.6, 1+4). All missed qualifying for the pursuit on Sunday.
About a minute ahead of Egan, the race was won by Finland’s Kaisa Mäkäräinen in a time of 20:08.1 minutes, with no penalties.
“I enjoyed today,” last season’s Overall World Cup winner Mäkäräinen commented in the press conference. “I really tried to be confident. … Of course it gives you a lot more energy when you shoot clean. I know if I shoot clean that I can fight for the top positions. … But I still had to work hard and had a good last loop.”
In the finish she was 14.8 seconds ahead of Italy’s Dorothea Wierer, who also had no miss and recorded the fastest shooting time on the range on Saturday, but couldn’t match her Finnish rival on the course. Hitting all targets as well, Justine Braisaz of France finished third (+42.1, just two days after ending the individual race only in 82nd place with seven penalties. That’s the ups and downs of biathlon. Also shooting clean and just off the podium was Braisaz’s teammate Julia Simon in fourth place (+44.6), for her first top-ten result in a World Cup. Wierer’s teammate Lisa Vittozzi was fifth with one penalty (+46.9, 0+1).
Sovereign Lake Noram/SuperTour, Vernon, BC
North American racing resumed with free technique sprints at Sovereign Lake. The first weekend of the NorAm series was also the second weekend in the SuperTour.
SMS’s first year senior Julia Kern continued her strong start to the season, winning the qualifier and the A final and looking dominant throughout. National team member Dahria Beatty kicked off her season with a crash in the qualifier, but got up to finish 7th. Dartmouth and AWCA’s Laura Jortberg was in third, followed by national team member Maya MacIsaac-Jones. APU’s Hannah Halvorsen was fifth and Stratton Mountain School’s (SMS) Erika Flowers trailed in last after breaking a pole on the final downhill corner.
On the men’s side, Andy Newell (SMS) continued the American domination, winning the qualifier in 2:15.180, 4.050 seconds ahead of APU’s Logan Hanneman, before winning all of his heats comfortably. Antoine Briand represented for Canada and the Centre National d’Entrainment Pierre Harvey (CNEPH), placing second to Newell in every heat. Ben Saxton (SMS) completed the podium, edging out APU’s Logan Hanneman in a four way battle for third. Antoine Cyr (CNST) and Ben Lustgarten (Craftsbury Green Racing) trailed in two ski lengths behind.
“It was a cascade of issues,” jury member Dave Dyer told FasterSkier.
The short, short version is that the timing system has a number of redundant systems to detect errors. While the timing team was working on an unrelated issue, two athletes tied exactly. There are two sets of results zone4: the provisional (timed to 1/1000ths of a second) and the official (timed to 1/100th of a second). The bib list was generated from one list and the zone4 live timing database was populated from the other, with the two skiers who were tied shown in different order. From this point on, all the backup systems indicated errors and everything had to be hand checked. The results were right, the right athletes advanced, but live timing was switched off and delays ensued.
Full details and video interviews will be in Monday’s event wrap-up.
The women’s A final.
The men’s A final.