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Tim Burke would rather just forget about placing 61st in Friday's sprint; Annelies Cook was embarrassed to get lapped in the pursuit (to be fair, she had her work cut out for her starting last). Leif Nordgren called his results in the 40's "nothing special" and Lowell Bailey didn't even race because he had a cold. For the U.S., Susan Dunklee's finishes of 32nd and 25th were the bright spots.


Both Darya Domracheva of Belarus and Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway - last year's runners-up in the World Cup overalls standings - finally picked up their first wins of the new biathlon season, suggesting that maybe the favorites will be in shape in time for the Olympics after all. Susan Dunklee (USA) placed 32nd and Macx Davies (CAN) 42nd to lead the North Americans.


It was a disappointing day in Asiago, Italy, for the U.S. and Canadian men in Sunday's classic team sprint, with neither team making the final. Both Canada I, with Devon Kershaw and Alex Harvey, and USA I, with Simi Hamilton and Andy Newell, were in the same semifinal -- the second one, which proved disadvantageous on a balmy 41-degree day.


About halfway through the men's quarterfinal, things were looking pretty good for the Americans. Andy Newell, who qualified in fifth, was up front behind teammate Simi Hamilton in the lead, but a troublesome downhill descent took Newell out of the running. Hamilton fell behind in the slushy conditions and placed fifth in the heat for 23rd overall and Newell ended up 26th.


Marit Bjørgen might be the best skier in the world (although Justyna Kowalczyk would have something to say about that). Kikkan Randall might be the best sprinter. But after a tight photo finish in the Davos freestyle sprint today, both realized they will need to get even better if they want go into the upcoming Olympics feeling confident about gold.


Holly Brooks and Liz Stephen joined Kikkan Randall in her Tour de Ski quarterfinal, which gave the U.S. star a boost; both Stephen and Brooks had career-best sprint days, placing 18th and 25th. Jessie Diggins was 17th and Andy Newell ninth, which moved him up to fourth in the World Cup sprint standings - all in all a good day for the American team.


  After supplying U.S. Ski Team (USST) A-Team athletes with free cell phone service for the past few years, Sprint will not provide the service in the coming season. According to U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Chief Marketing Officer Michael Jaquet, the termination of the athlete phone program does not affect the rest of Sprint’s current sponsorship agreement with USSA, which extends through the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. “[Sprint] has been a great partner...

As promised from last time, here we have the detailed development plots for sprinting. First the men: And the women: As before, these are big, so click on them for the full versions. Also, remember that if you don’t see a line indicating one of the events, that’s because two or more events happened at [...] Related posts:

  1. FIS Points Development Guide
  2. Is Sprinting A Young Person’s Game?
  3. Yet Another Athlete Development Marker

I happened to be thinking about visualizations of athlete development recently, and in the process cooked up the following graph: What I’ve done here is to take the podium finishers in major international events for the past five seasons and recorded each person’s age when they received their first (individual) WC/OWG/WSC start, when they scored [...] Related posts:

  1. Post-WJC/U23 Development: Canada
  2. Post-WJC/U23 Development: Norway
  3. FIS Points Development Guide

Continuing on from last time, we’ll single out a handful of skiers who appear to do significantly better in shorter sprint courses. Same methodology as before led me to pluck out the following three skiers: In general, the effects in this direction tended to be weaker and less dramatic, even at the extreme ends of [...] Related posts:

  1. Skiing Performance and Age
  2. Trends In US Skiing Performance: Sprint
  3. Liz Stephen’s Distance Preferences

The notion of an athlete preferring distance races of a particular length is pretty familiar, but what about sprinting? The differences between a 0.8km and a 1.8km sprint course may not seem like much compared to the differences between a 15km and 30km race. But (while I’m not a physiology expert) it seems likely to [...] Related posts:

  1. New Zealand Continental Cups Sprint
  2. Sprint Qualification Pacing Analysis
  3. Quantifying Technique Speed Differences: Sprinting

Kris Freeman and Kikkan Randall have been basically the top US skiers for quite some time now. (I’m sort of brushing Andrew Newell under the rug here, mostly just due to time contraints. I’ll do a follow up on him next week.) Freeman has been more or less unquestionably the best US male distance skier [...] Related posts:Victims & Nemeses: Kris Freeman Is Qualifying In The Top Ten A Good Sign For Kikkan? Top 10 Qualification vs. Making The Final

Since the interviews on the FIS websites is one of my main sources of post topics during the off season, we’ll continue in that vein with one from a while back with Øystein Pettersen. In it, he talks about how his focus this season is (unsurprisingly) the classic sprint at World Championships. Pettersen has been [...] Related posts:

  1. Technique Preferences: Norway
  2. Sweden’s Men’s Sprinting
  3. Can Kikkan Randall Win The Sprint WC Title?

Continuing with my summer reading of XC news, I again perused an one of FIS’s short interviews, this time with Switzerland’s Laurien Van der Graaff. Unlike Masako Ishida, whom we considered earlier this week, Van der Graaff is a sprint specialist, and a freestyle sprint specialist at that. Van der Graaff really did have a [...] Related posts:

  1. Can Kikkan Randall Win The Sprint WC Title?
  2. Can Kikkan Randall Win The Sprint World Cup?
  3. Career Retrospective: Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset

Kikkan Randall, the reigning women’s World Cup sprint champion, obviously had a pretty darn good season last year. How does it stack up against some of the best sprint seasons put together since 2005-2006? The first thing that stood out to me is that if you rank the best women’s sprint seasons, Randall participated in [...] Related posts:

  1. How’d We Do? USA/CAN Season Review 4
  2. Career Retrospective: Petra Majdic
  3. Can Kikkan Randall Win The Sprint WC Title?

As Kikkan Randall rounded the last corner in the final of today’s rollerski sprint at the Blink festival in Sandnes, Norway, she was in perfect position to go for the win – and she began revving up for dash to the line. But the American, who won the Sprint Cup on last season’s World Cup circuit, was on pavement, not snow, and she was on matched rollerskis, not her own equipment. All of that added...

By request, we’re looking at how the length of World Cup sprints has changed over time. Specifically, since the length in time of the effort is really more meaningful than the length of the course in terms of distance, that’s what we’ll consider. So the following graph shows the average of the top five qualification [...] Related posts:

  1. TdS Classic Sprint: North Americans
  2. Can Kikkan Randall Win The Sprint WC Title?
  3. Sprint Qualification Pacing Analysis

Since I’m starting to accumulate a reasonable collection of heat times from World Cup sprint races, I thought it might be interesting to compare general trends between the few seasons I have data on. The biggest trends that you can typically see are the differences in tactics between the men and women. Generally what I’ve [...] Related posts:

  1. Düsseldorf Sprint Recap
  2. Flashback: Kuusamo Sprint
  3. Men’s Sprint Heats Tend To Be More Tactical