Comp International: Americans Shine
by Lex Treinen
Feb. 3 - Drammen, Norway
Petter Northug used his signature double-pole to win the 1.2km Classic sprint in downtown Drammen, Norway, besting two teammates, Ola Vigen Hattestad, who also skied without grip wax in second and Erik Brandsdal on Classic skis in third. It was Northug's first Individual World Cup victory since 2014. Simi Hamilton was satisfied with an 11th place in his traditionally weaker Classic technique. Canada's Alex Harvey, a Worlds silver medalist in the Classic sprint, was 20th and Len Valjas was 28th.
In the women's race, it was Norway again taking gold and silver with Maiken Caspersen Falla in first and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg in second. Russia's Natalia Matveeva surprised in third. Jessie Diggins of Team U.S.A. finished 13th after qualifying for the first time in Drammen, placing a strong seventh while Sadie Bjornsen ended up 18th with Sophie Caldwell in 19th. Andrea Dupont was the lone Canuck in 59th.
Feb. 6-7 - Oslo, Norway
Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby charged from the gun to ski away from all of his opponents and take a huge victory in the 50km Classic at the legendary Holmenkollen Stadium, his fifth consecutive victory there. He beat his compatriot Niklas Dyrhaug and Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin. Harvey was 20th for Canada, just ahead of his teammate Devon Kershaw, who finished in 23rd. U.S.A.'S Noah Hoffman was 24th, and Graeme Killick squeaked into the points with a 30th-place finish.
The next day in the women's 30km Classic, Therese Johaug allowed for no surprises and smoked the rest of the field, finishing 3:46 ahead of fellow Norwegian Oestberg for the largest time-spread victory ever at the Holmenkollen. Finland's Anne Kylloenen delivered her best-ever performance to finish third. Sadie Bjornsen was the top American in 22nd, just ahead of Liz Stephen in 23rd and Diggins in 25th.
Feb. 11 - Stockholm, Sweden
Russia claimed the top step of the podium after a long stretch of Norwegian winners, as Nikita Kriukov blasted by Hattestad and Northug on the final straightaway to win his first World Cup of the season. Kriukov was the 27th qualifier, but was able to best the top double-polers in the world in the final stretch of the downtown sprint. Harvey of Canada just missed the finals, finishing in seventh, while Hamilton ended up 21st and Andy Newell was 26th.
In the women's race, Falla won her fourth consecutive World Cup sprint, beating teammate Oestberg and local Swede Stina Nilsson, who settled for third. Caldwell was the top North American, finishing 11th after winning her quarterfinal for a strong debut in Stockholm. Diggins was 21st, while the other American women uncharacteristically didn't qualify for the rounds.
Feb. 13-15 - Falun, Sweden
The U.S.A.'S Diggins raced to a fifth-place result in the women's 5km Classic
Individual, just ahead of her teammate Sadie Bjornsen, who was seventh. Johaug claimed her 13th victory of the season, leading a Norwegian clean sweep with teammates Heidi Weng in second and Oestberg in third. In the men's 10km Classic Individual Start, Erik Bjornsen led the North Americans with a 21st-place finish in a race won by Russian Vylegzhanin. Second place went to another Russian, Alexander Bessmertnykh, who finished 0.1 seconds ahead of third-place Maurice Magnificat of France. Johnsrud Sundby was fifth at 9.5 seconds back.
In the women's 10km Mass-start Freestyle, World silver medalist Diggins finished fourth behind another Norwegian clean sweep. Johaug again won, ahead of Weng and Astrid Jacobsen, securing her 14th victory of the season. Stephen finished 15th, while World Cup newbie Caitlin Patterson earned her first points in 25th. In the men's 15km Mass Start, Sergey Ustiugov finally got a victory, narrowly beating Italy's Francesco De Fabiani in second, with Johnsrud Sundby in third. Kershaw was the top North American in 28th.
Feb. 20-21 - Lahti, Finland
Diggins continued her recent climb in the results, nabbing a second-place podium spot in the women's 1.6km Freestyle sprint behind Norwegian star Falla, with Weng in third. “It's really exciting to be on the podium,” said Diggins. “The stadium was great and very loud with lots of fans. It was a lot of fun to compete here.” U.S.A.'S Sadie Bjornsen finished a solid 10th, while Caldwell was 13th. In the men's race, the U.S.A.'S Hamilton was the top North American in 17th in a race won by Emil Iverson, leading a Norwegian sweep with Finn Hagen Krogh in second and Northug in third.
In the women's 15km Skiathlon, Sadie Bjornsen was the top North American, finishing in 15th ahead of Diggins in 17th and Patterson in the points again in 29th. Johaug won by more than a minute ahead of Weng and Oestberg. It was another Bjornsen to lead the American men, as Erik finished 27th in the 30km, while Johnsrud Sundby won with a 4.9-second margin over Krogh and third-placed Hans Christer Holund.
For the final rounds of the FIS World Cup, see pages 22-27.
Biathlon #6 - Antholz-anterselva, Italy - Jan. 21-24
Russia's Olga Podchufarova won the 7.5km sprint in Italy for the women by shooting clean. Italy's Dorothea Wierer was second and Russia's Ekaterina Yurlova was third. No North Americans made the top 30.
In the men's 10km sprint, Germany's Simon Schempp beat Russia's Maxim Tsvetkov and Norwegian Tarjei Boe. Tim Burke led the North Americans, finishing 17th with one miss.
Russia's Yurlova took the victory in the Pursuit ahead of Switzerland's Selina Gasparin, with Wierer in third. Russia continued its strong showing with a win in the men's 12.5km Pursuit, as Anton Shipulin missed twice, but still overtook Schempp to win by 10.3 seconds. Johannes Thingnes Boe (NOR) skied into third place despite three misses. Burke dropped to 22nd, and Lowell Bailey moved from 32nd to 28th.
France's star-studded team won the women's 4x6km relay, using eight spare rounds and no penalties. The Czech Republic skied into second and Russia raced to third. Team Canada skied into 14th place, while the U.S.A. was lapped.
In the men's relay, Russia got the better of Germany, winning by a second. Norway was third at 23 seconds behind the leaders. The U.S.A. finished a solid sixth, led by Leif Nordgren's third leg, which was the fourth fastest on the day. Canada was 11th.
#7 - Canmore, Alta. - Feb. 4-7
The World Cup moved to North America for its once-every-five-year tour, and the opening day's men's 10km sprint featured no surprises as Martin Fourcade (FRA) shot clean to beat Shipulin of Russia and Schempp of Germany. The U.S.A.'S Burke and Bailey were 23rd and 24th, while Canada's Macx Davies was 25th. In the women's 7.5km race, Olena Podhrushna of Ukraine shot clean to win by 7.5 seconds over Krystyna Guzik of Poland. Wierer of Italy was third. Julia Ransom of Canada finished 19th and American Hannah Dreissigacker was 28th.
Italy's Dominik Windisch was the surprise winner of the next day's 15km Mass Start, besting Germany's Benedikt Doll and France's Quentin Fillon Maillet. Burke finished in seventh with three misses, while Canada's Nathan Smith was 16th and Lowell Bailey (USA) was 20th. In the women's 12.5km, Wierer of Italy won with just one miss ahead of Marie Dorin-habert of France and Gabriela Soukalova of the Czech Republic.
In the next day's Single Mixed Relay, France's star duo of Dorin-habert and Fourcade dominated by more than 45 seconds over Austria, with Norway third, another 10 seconds back. Canada was 12th and the U.S.A. team was 16th. Germany won the Mixed Relay by a margin of 72 seconds, with Italy second and Norway third. The U.S.A. had a stellar day, just missing out on the podium, finishing two seconds behind the Norwegians. Dunklee skied the fifth-fastest opening leg, while Bailey delivered the fourth-fastest anchor. Canada was sixth, less than 10 seconds behind the Americans.
#8 - Presque Isle, Me. - Feb. 11-13
Johannes Thingnes Boe won the 10km sprint, shooting clean to beat Shipulin by almost 30 seconds. Fourcade was third with one miss. The U.S.A. showed depth with three top-20's: Doherty in 13th, Bailey in 15th and Burke in 20th. The women's 7.5km race was won by yellow-bibbed Soukalova, who shot clean. In second was home-course favourite U.S.A.'S Dunklee, who also shot clean. “My family is here; so many friends and supporters are here,” said the Vermont na- tive. “It's just a wonderful, wonderful feeling.” The finish was the best ever for an American woman on the World Cup. Poland's Guzik was third, 1.3 seconds behind Dunklee.
Fourcade bested his competitors by 24 seconds to take the win in the 12.5km Pursuit. Johannes Thingnes Boe was second and Russia's Shipulin was third. Burke moved up from 20th to seventh, while Bailey also advanced to 14th, but Doherty dropped to 20th. In the women's race, Soukalova held her start position to win by 34 seconds ahead of Kaisa Makarainen and Dorin-habert. Dunklee dropped from second to fifth with four misses, while her teammate Clare Egan had a strong day, moving up from 32nd to 23rd. Dreissigacker also made gains from 27th to 24th.
Norway won the men's 4x7.5km relay by more than 30 seconds, beating France, who skied without its star, Fourcade. Germany was third. The U.S.A.'S team narrowly missed the podium by six seconds, taking fifth in a photo finish with Russia. The Czech Republic won the women's 4x6km relay, overcoming 14 misses to win by 25.2 seconds. Ukraine's team was second with 12 misses but no penalties, and Germany finished third. The U.S.A. placed 10th, while the Canadians were lapped.
#9 - Khanty Mansiysk, Russia - March 17-20
The final races of the 2015-16 season started with a surprise win for Julian Eberhard of Austria, who shot clean in the 10km sprint to take his first-ever World Cup win.
Germany's Schempp was second, and his teammate Arnd Peiffer was third. Burke finished in sixth place with one miss. Finland's Makarainen missed once, but won the women's competition by three seconds over clean-shooting Soukalova. Norway's Marte Olsbu finished in third and U.S.A.'S Dunklee was 25th.
In the 10km Pursuit, Makarainen held off France's Dorin-habert, who finished 1.5 seconds behind the Finn. Italy's Wierer was third at 5.7 seconds back. Dunklee moved up to 22nd, while Canada's Ransom moved up to 34th. In the men's 12.5km Pursuit, Schempp took an 8.5-second win, while Johannes Thingnes Boe of Norway made up almost a minute to move into second. Germany's Erik Lesser was third. American Burke kept his start position to finish in sixth, while his teammate Bailey moved from 31st to 22nd. The Pursuit races ended up being the last races of the season, as the next day's Mass-start competitions were canceled after strong Siberian winds knocked over a light pole at the venue.
Nordic-combined Seefeld, Austria - Jan. 29-31
Eric Frenzel struck in Seefeld, Austria on Day One of the Triple, winning his ninth consecutive race at the site of the 2019 World Championships. The German crossed the line 6.2 seconds ahead of Akito Watabe of Japan, who won the jumping portion, and German Fabian Riessle was third following Norwegian Jarl Riiber's disqualification (due to a missing transponder). Bryan Fletcher of U.S.A. finished 20th with the third-fastest cross-country time.
On Day Two, Frenzel set a record with his 10th-straight win at a venue as he eclipsed teammate Riessle in the overall World Cup standings. Watabe and Riessle held their spots from Day One. Bryan Fletcher moved up to ninth by the end of the day with the sixth-fastest ski time.
On Day Three, Frenzel did the unthinkable, winning the “triple-triple” – his third Triple victory in the three years it has taken place – and setting a record of 11 straight victories at a venue. Frenzel overcame a landing mishap that gave him a 56-second deficit to eventual second-place finisher Watabe going into the cross-country race. Frenzel caught and passed Watabe just before the finish, while Riessle held on to third. American Bryan Fletcher had the fastest cross-country time of the day to finish seventh.
Oslo, Norway - Feb. 6
Eighteen-year-old Riiber of Norway ended Frenzel's winning streak, winning by 16 seconds. Veteran Watabe finished second and Frenzel was third in Oslo with the third-best jump. Bryan Fletcher again led the Americans with a 20th-place finish.
Trondheim, Norway - Feb. 9-10
Joergen Graabak took his first win of the season in front of his home crowd in Trondheim, Norway, beating Frenzel by 5.1 seconds. Riiber finished third with the longest jump and the 26th-fastest ski time. Bryan Fletcher moved up 12 spots from his jump with the fifth-fastest cross-country time of the day, while Taylor Fletcher finished 28th.
Frenzel returned to the top the next day to beat rival Watabe of Japan. Third went to Graabak, who finished almost a minute behind the leader. Aside from extending his overall World Cup lead, Frenzel's 29th victory overtook his jumping coach Ronny Ackermann and moved him into second place on the list of all-time most victories held by Finland's Hannu Manninen with 48. Bryan Fletcher finished 17th.
Lahti, Finland - Feb. 19-21
World Cup leader Frenzel profited from the young Norwegian Riiber's wrong turn at the very finish in Lahti, Finland, which left the 18-year-old disqualified for the third time this season. Frenzel ended 1.7 seconds ahead of Watabe, with whom he skied most of the race. Norway's Jan Schmid was third, 32 seconds behind. Taylor Fletcher was the top American in 24th.
In the Team Sprint, Germany's duo of Johannes Rydzek and Riessle took the win beating two Austrian teams, who out-sprinted Germany's second team. Norway's Riiber had another unlucky break and suffered a dislocated shoulder on one of the last laps and was forced to stop for help from his physiotherapist, while neither of U.S.A.'S two teams started in the cross-country portion.
Riessle took another victory on the third day, this time in the Individual Gunderson, beating his teammate Frenzel by 5.1 seconds. Watabe was again on the podium another six seconds back. Bryan Fletcher was 25th and Taylor Fletcher was 28th.
Kuopio, Finland - Feb. 23
In Kuopio, Finland, Rydzek took back 34 seconds after the jump to beat Watabe by 6.2 seconds, while Austrian veteran Willi Denifl surprised with his first podium appearance since 2014 to finish third. Bryan Fletcher had the second-best ski time to finish 12th.
Schonach, Germany - March 4-6 Val di Fiemme, Italy - Feb. 26-28
The second Team Sprint of the season saw the Norwegian duo of Magnus Krog and Graabak take the top spot, 6.7 seconds ahead of Germany 1 and France 1. The Norwegians led after the jumping by just one second over France and skied from the front. Germany's Tobias Haug broke a ski pole during the race, but his partner Tino Edelmann managed to ski the team back up to second place by the finish. U.S.A.'S duo of the Fletcher brothers finished in sixth after starting the cross-country race in ninth.
Gruber of Austria won the Individual Gunderson 37 seconds ahead of Frenzel, while Graabak finished third. American Taylor Fletcher was 24th, and Bryan Fletcher 26th. The final day at Val di Fiemme was won by Norway's Krog, who overtook the best jumper, Frenzel, to win by 5.8 seconds over his teammate Graabak. Riessle finished in third, but Frenzel's fourth-place finish was enough to secure his fourth-straight World Cup title. Bryan and Taylor Fletcher finished in 25th and 26th respectively.
The final relay of the season saw Norway steal the show when Riessle crashed in the finish lane after tangling with Graabak. Austria ended up third at 22 seconds back. Germany's team started the ski 24 seconds ahead of Norway, but were caught by the end of the first leg. Team U.S.A. finished in ninth out of nine starters.
Day Two offered another exciting sprint finish, this time with a twist: Krog crossed the line first by a mere boot-length, but was disqualified for obstruction, giving Frenzel the win. Schmid ended up second and Watabe in third. Taylor Fletcher was 27th.
The final World Cup of the 2015-16 season went to Norwegian Graabak, who bested Germany's Riessle at the line. Lukas Klapfer of Austria was third, just 3.1 seconds back. Local Faißt had the best jump of the day and led Watabe going into the cross-country race by 27 seconds. Watabe faded in the long 15km ski, but held on to his second-place overall ranking. Taylor Fletcher was 23rd with the fastest cross-country time of the day.
Ski Jumping Sapporo, Japan - Jan. 30-31
Slovenia swept the podium in Japan with Peter Prevc on top with a combined total of 299 points, Peter's brother Domen in second, and Robert Kranjec in third for his first podium in two years. Japan's Noriaki Kasai almost snuck on the podium, but ended in fourth. Kevin Bickner was the only American, and finished in 39th, while Mackenzie Boyd-clowes of Canada was disqualified. The next day was a different story, with Norwegian world-record holder Anders Fannemel winning with jumps of 143.5 and 136.5 metres for a total of 265 points. Norway's Andre Forfang was second, followed by Kasai, who gave home fans something to cheer about. Prevc, the World Cup leader, missed the podium for just the second time this season. Boyd-clowes and William Rhoads of U.S.A. did not qualify for the final competition, finishing in 46th and 47th respectively.
Oberstdorf, Germany - Jan. 30-31
Sara Takanashi won in Oberstdorf, getting her sixth straight win and setting Hill records in both rounds. Her jumps were 104.0 and 107.0 metres. Austrian Daniela Iraschko-stolz and Slovenian Ema Klinec rounded the podium, more than 25 points behind Takanashi. Nita Englund had a fantastic eighth place for U.S.A. and Canada's Taylor Heinrich was 23rd. Takanashi won again on the second day of competition, though with slightly shorter jumps of 102.5 and 97.0 metres. Iraschko-stolz again jumped into second, 14 points back, and Maren Lundby, whose 104-metre jump was the longest of the day, finished third. Englund had another solid ninth-place finish, and Heinrich was 20th.
Oslo, Norway - Feb. 4
Takanashi was again the winner in Norway, this time with jumps of 137.5 and 136.0 metres to beat home-country hero Lundby by 20 points overall. Russia's Irina Avvakumova was third. Canada's Heinrich was 16th and U.S.A.'S Englund was 18th.
Hinzenbach, Austria - Feb. 6
Takanashi won her 40th World Cup victory to set the record for the most ski-jumping victories in all World Cup skiing. Her jumps of 93.5 and 93.0 metres beat hometown-hero Iraschko-stolz and Lundby of Norway. It was also her ninth straight World Cup win. The North Americans were solid, with Englund in 10th and Heinrich in 16th. Takanashi continued the next day, winning her 10th straight World Cup with jumps of 98.0 and 90.0 metres. Austrians Iraschko-stolz was second and Jacqueline Seifriedsberger was third for her second podium of the season. Englund finished ninth and Heinrich was 13th.
Oslo, Norway - Feb. 6-7
Slovenia didn't disappoint in the Team competition in Oslo, beating the home-country Norwegians. All four Slovenians had jumps of more than 126 metres. The Norwegians were pulled by Kenneth Gangnes and Andre Tande, who landed jumps of 130 metres in the final round. Japan finished a surprise third, just 12 points ahead of the German team.
Trondheim, Norway - Feb. 10
Prevc battled difficult winds to win again in Trondheim, jumping 135 and 132 metres, while his main opponents for the overall World Cup struggled. Stefan Kraft of Austria was second and Kasai had a monster final jump of 143 metres to finish third. Boyd-clowes was 46th and Nicholas Alexander of U.S.A. was 47th.
Vikersund, Norway - Feb. 12-14
Kranjec beat local Gangnes and Kasai to take a surprise win with huge jumps of 236 and 239.5 metres. Peter Prevc settled for fourth, missing the podium for just the third time. Canadian Boyd-clowes snuck into the finals with a 29th place. American Alexander was 50th and teammate Bickner was 53rd. Prevc got his revenge the next day with the two longest flights of the day for his 10th win this season. He jumped 238.5 and 230 metres to beat second-place Forfang by almost 20 points. Kranjec of Slovenia was third. Boyd-clowes was 38th. Prevc won again with massive jumps of 237 and 249 metres, despite sitting down at the landing of his second jump. Kraft of Austria was second and Andreas Stjernen of Norway was third. North Americans had a strong day, with Boyd-clowes finishing 22nd and U.S.A.'S Bickner making the finals in 30th.
Ljubno, Slovenia - Feb. 13
Maja Vtic of Slovenia finally found a way to beat Takanashi, winning by a narrow margin of 4.5 points. She had two jumps of 91.0 metres to unseat the Japanese star for just the second time this season. Spela Rogelj of Slovenia gave the home fans something to cheer about with a third-place finish, while U.S.A.'S Englund had a great seventh place. The next day, Iraschko-stolz again bested Takanashi, who finished fourth. Iraschko-stolz finished with jumps of 91 and 95 metres, ahead of Slovenians Vtic and Chiara Hoelzl. Englund was 20th for the top North American result.
Lahti, Finland - Feb. 19-21
Takanashi wrapped up the overall World Cup title early by winning with 251.3 points. She finished ahead of Vtic and Yuki Ito, also of Japan. Vtic finished 12 points behind Takanashi. Englund jumped to 12th place, while her teammate Tara Geraghty-moats had a solid 15th. Michael Hayboeck of Austria won the first day's men's competition with 128- and 129-metre jumps. Norway's Tande was second and German star Severin Freund found his way back to the podium after a seven-competition-long hiatus. Boyd-clowes just missed the finals in 31st. After the Team competition was canceled the next day due to high winds, Hayboeck won again with 98.5- and 100-metre jumps. This time,
he beat Germany's Karl Geiger, who scored his first-ever podium, and Taku Takeuchi, on the podium for the first time since 2013. Boyd-clowes was 41st.
Kuopio, Finland - Feb. 22-23
Norway's team handily won the Team competition in Kuopio, with Tande, Forfang, Fannemel and Gangnes all jumping more than 126 metres. Tande set a Hill record with a 136-metre jump. Germany ended in second, 54.4 points back, while Japan settled for third, just ahead of Slovenia. The next day, Hayboeck of Austria completed his hat trick by winning his third straight race in Finland, this time with jumps of 131 and 129 metres. Tande of Norway and Kraft of Austria finished in second and third. Boyd-clowes was 33rd.
Almaty, Kazakhstan - Feb. 27-28
Takanashi won the maiden competition of the ski-jumping women's World Cup in Almaty, jumping 101 and 103 metres for 252.6 points. Austrians Iraschko-stolz and Seifriedsberger were second and third, seven and 13 points back respectively. Englund was eighth and Geraghty-moats just missed the top 10 in 12th. Prevc again won the men's with jumps of 141 and 137.5 metres. He beat Hayboeck and Freund. U.S.A.'S Rhoads was 45th. Takanashi took an incredible 14th win this season the next day, jumping 96.5 and 102.0 metres and grabbing 236.9 points. Iraschko-stolz again was second for her eighth time this season, while Vtic was third. Englund was seventh in the final women's competition, Geraghty-moats was 15th and Heinrich finished in 17th. Prevc won the second day as well, with jumps of 139.5 and 139, his 13th win of the season. That number tied the all-time record for men and secured him his overall World Cup title. Freund set a Hill record, but settled for second, ahead of Tande of Germany. Michael Glasder of U.S.A. was 48th.
Wisla, Poland - March 4-5
Czech Roman Koudelka won the first competition in Poland – his first of the season – jumping 127.5 and 133 metres to beat first-round leader Gangnes. Third place went Kasai of Japan. Boyd-clowes was 30th and U.S.A.'S Bickner was 46th. The second day in Wisla was canceled due to winds.
Titisee-neustadt, Germany - March 12-13
Forfang won his first World Cup in the first day at Titisee-neustadt. World Cup leader Prevc was second, just four points back, while Gangnes jumped up from 11th in the first round to finish third with a 140-metre jump. Boyd-clowes was 34th for Canada, Glasder was 35th for U.S.A. and his teammate Alexander was 47th. As in the previous weekend, the second day of competition was canceled due to winds.
Planica, Slovenia - March 17-20
Prevc won in front of a home crowd at the final round for his 14th victory this season. His jumps of 223 metres and 232 metres put him seven points ahead of Forfang and gave the 23-year-old the all-time record for wins in a season, as well as World Cup points scored. Prevc's teammate Kranjec was third. Boyd-clowes finished a solid 18th and U.S.A.'S Bickner was 32nd. Prevc settled for second the next day behind Kranjec, who jumped 223.5 and 236 metres. Prevc was sitting back in sixth after the first round, but his second jump was the longest of the day. Forfang was third. Boyd-clowes continued his streak with a 19th place. The last day's Team competition finally saw the Slovenians unseated, as Norway took a win with Fannemel, Tande, Gangnes and Forfang posting 1,627.4 points, almost 80 points ahead of the second-place Slovenians. Fans still had something to cheer about though, as Prevc posted the longest jump of the day in 246 metres, but held their breaths as Austria finished only 0.1 points back of Slovenia.
The U.S.A.'S Bryan Fletcher secured 20th overall for a top-20 finish to his World Cup season.