Tour de Ski 2018

The 2018 Tour de Ski proved to be one of the most dy­namic and his­toric edi­tions of the pres­ti­gious stage race. The U.S.A.'S Jessie Dig­gins be­came the first Amer­i­can to land on the fi­nal over­all podium, tak­ing third in the women's race, while Alex Har­vey c

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Noah Simms

Stage One – Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land – 1.5km Freestyle Sprint

The 2017-18 Tour de Ski be­gan with a top re­sult from Amer­i­can So­phie Cald­well, land­ing a ca­reer-best sec­ond on the fi­nal podium in the women’s sprint freestyle, as lo­cal star Lau­rien Van Der Graaf thrilled the home crowd, se­cur­ing the open­ing stage.

In­clud­ing Cald­well, five U.S. skiers qual­i­fied for the heats. Jessie Dig­gins, the sec­ond-fastest qual­i­fier, fin­ished fifth, Sadie Bjornsen ended up 14th, Rosie Bren­nan raced to 15th and Ida Sar­gent was 20th. No Cana­dian women were rac­ing.

Cald­well won her quar­ter­fi­nal and was sec­ond in her semi­fi­nal. In the fi­nal, she was in the mix from the start, tak­ing sec­ond be­hind Van Der Graaf, who dom­i­nated for the win. “I was re­ally happy with my race to­day. I love this course, and I was psyched to have some good feel­ings to­day,” said Cald­well, who qual­i­fied third just be­hind Dig­gins.

Cana­dian star Alex Har­vey was sev­enth on the day, just miss­ing the fi­nal by a boot toe in the men’s 1.5km sprint freestyle, as de­fend­ing cham­pion Sergey Ustiu­gov (RUS), also the top qual­i­fier, won the open­ing men’s stage.

Amer­i­cans Simi Hamil­ton (15th), Andy Newell (20th) and Erik Bjornsen (25th) also made the heats, but were elim­i­nated in the quar­ter­fi­nals. Hamil­ton

was dis­ap­pointed with his per­for­mance on the open­ing stage, but happy to be healthy head­ing into the rest of the seven-stage race.

Har­vey handily won his open­ing quar­ter­fi­nal and was on pace in his semi­fi­nal. Af­ter a tight bat­tle and ex­cit­ing fin­ish, the Cana­dian nar­rowly missed out.

Stage Two – Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land – 10/15km Clas­sic In­di­vid­ual Start

The U.S.A.’S Sadie Bjornsen landed that coun­try’s sec­ond podium of the race, plac­ing third in the women’s 10km Clas­sic on Stage Two. The Amer­i­can’s ca­reer-first dis­tance podium, it also marked Sadie Bjornsen’s third podium this sea­son. Nor­way’s Ingvild Flugstad Oest­berg won the event over her team­mate Heidi Weng, lead­ing the race by 32.8 sec­onds.

Dig­gins, who placed sev­enth, com­mented on the dif­fi­culty of the track, not­ing the snow con­di­tions changed dra­mat­i­cally through­out the course. Sadly, Amer­i­can veteran Kikkan Ran­dall did not start the sec­ond stage, suf­fer­ing from a foot in­jury. Dig­gins held onto fourth, Sadie Bjornsen moved up to fifth and Cald­well sat sev­enth over­all.

Canada’s Har­vey fin­ished 20th in the men’s 15km In­di­vid­ual-start Clas­sic, as lo­cal Swiss hero Dario Cologna won on home soil for his 23rd World Cup vic­tory in no­tably chal­leng­ing con­di­tions with the warm weather and chang­ing pre­cip­i­ta­tion.

The U.S.A.’S Erik Bjornsen fin­ished 27th, while the Cana­dian Devon Ker­shaw was forced to with­draw af­ter com­ing down with an ill­ness. Har­vey dropped two spots in the stand­ings and sat ninth over­all be­hind Sergey Ustiu­gov, who fin­ished 10th on the stage, but con­tin­ued to lead the Tour.

Stage Three – Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land – 10/15km Freestyle Pur­suit

The U.S.A.’S Dig­gins skied to her first podium this sea­son in the women’s 10km freestyle Pur­suit race at Round Three, mak­ing it three con­sec­u­tive podi­ums for Team USA at the Tour.

Nor­way’s Oest­berg won again over team­mate Weng in sec­ond and headed into the first rest day of the Tour with a 32-sec­ond mar­gin in the over­all stand­ings. Dig­gins now sat third over­all af­ter a strong in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance. Fel­low Amer­i­can Sadie Bjornsen dropped one spot to fifth as Krista Par­makoski (FIN) took over fourth.

Canada’s Har­vey stormed to a strong fourth-place fin­ish in the men’s 15km freestyle Pur­suit, and sat fourth over­all. Har­vey pushed the pace, catch­ing Martin John­srud Sundby (NOR), but just missed the podium, as Cologna (SUI) took the stage win and the race lead. Amer­i­can Erik Bjornsen had a strong day as well, fin­ish­ing 22nd and hav­ing the best Tour of his ca­reer. The Tour then took a short one-day break, with ath­letes trav­el­ing to Ober­st­dorf, Ger­many.

Stage Four – Ober­st­dorf, Ger­many – Can­celled

The fourth stage of the FIS Tour de Ski was can­celled due to se­vere weather as ex­treme rain and strong winds made the com­pe­ti­tion un­safe for the ath­letes. The race was stopped af­ter the women’s Clas­sic Pro­logue, which will not count to­ward the Tour de Ski, but will for FIS points.

Stage Five – Ober­st­dorf, Ger­many – 10/15km Freestyle Mass Start

Both men’s and women’s races were held on a mod­i­fied course due to the pre­vi­ous day’s weather, as Nor­way’s Oest­berg took an­other vic­tory, win­ning the women’s 10km mass start and ex­tended her lead over team­mate Weng.

The U.S.A.’S Dig­gins po­si­tioned her­self well for the fi­nal sprint, but fell on the fi­nal down­hill into the sta­dium, plac­ing 24th, yet re­mained third over­all. Sadie Bjornsen dropped two more spots to sev­enth over­all.

In the men’s 15km freestyle mass-start race, Canada’s Har­vey raced to a strong fifth-place fin­ish even af­ter suf­fer­ing a bro­ken pole, and held onto his fourth place over­all. Nor­way’s Emil Iversen claimed the stage win, tak­ing charge on the fi­nal hill to pass his team­mate Sin­dre Bjo­ernes­tad Skar for his first vic­tory of the sea­son.

Tour leader Cologna was fourth on the stage, and with bonus sec­onds gained dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, had a 53-sec­ond mar­gin with two stages re­main­ing.

The U.S.A.’S Erik Bjornsen fin­ished 32nd on the day and ranked 20th over­all, but did not start Stage Six in or­der to pre­pare for up­com­ing races.

Stage Six – Val di Fiemme, Italy – 10/15km Clas­sic Mass Start

Amer­i­can Dig­gins claimed a valiant fourth in the women’s 10km Clas­sic mass start, but was fourth over­all, as Nor­way’s Weng put in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance to close the gap on Tour leader Oest­berg to a mere 1.8 sec­onds, with one stage re­main­ing.

It was Dig­gins sec­ond-best Clas­sic race, and she cred­ited her wax-tech team for her fan­tas­tic re­sult. Her team­mate Sadie Bjornsen strug­gled with some tac­ti­cal er­rors that left her poorly po­si­tioned on the first lap. She was then in­volved in a crash and burnt too many matches bat­tling to make it to the front, yet she was still fight­ing for a top 10 in the over­all.

Canada’s Har­vey, 29, stormed to his first podium of the sea­son, claim­ing a bril­liant bronze in the men’s 15km Clas­sic mass-start race, which was won by Alexey Poltoranin with one stage re­main­ing in the Tour.

It was Har­vey’s first podium in a Clas­sic event since the 2015 Nordic Worlds. The Canuck was at the front of a large pack for the first 10 kilo­me­tres and then broke away with a group of five on the penul­ti­mate lap, and re­mained in fourth over­all head­ing into the fi­nal stage.

Stage Seven – Val di Fiemme, Italy – 9/9km Freestyle Pur­suit

The U.S.A.’S Dig­gins cap­tured his­toric bronze on the slopes of the alpine ski hill Alpe Cer­mis, be­com­ing the first Amer­i­can to fin­ish on the fi­nal podium at the Tour de Ski. Sadie Bjornsen placed ninth – the first time two Amer­i­cans have cracked the top 10.

Weng of Nor­way over­took her team­mate Oest­berg on the steep up­per sec­tion of Alpe Cer­mis to claim her sec­ond-straight Tour de Ski ti­tle by 48.5 sec­onds.

Dig­gins started the race 10 sec­onds back from Par­makoski, and as they neared the start of the climb, she be­gan to close the gap, at­tack­ing on the steep­est part of the Alpe Cer­mis to so­lid­ify her podium po­si­tion. Amer­i­can ath­letes Liz Stephen and Bren­nan also had a strong race, and wrapped up the Tour with the fifth- and 16th-fastest stage times.

Har­vey be­came the first Cana­dian to fin­ish on the fi­nal podium at cross-coun­try-ski­ing’s famed Tour de Ski, ful­fill­ing a long-term goal of the Cana­dian team. The 29-year-old fin­ished third over­all be­hind Tour win­ner Cologna, who claimed his fourth over­all ti­tle.

Har­vey tack­led the nine-kilo­me­tre stage with the fi­nal three-kilo­me­tre climb up Alpe Cer­mis that maxes out at 28%, bat­tling with Nor­way’s John­srud Sundby for the sil­ver medal. The Canuck was ec­static to land on the podium af­ter sev­eral years of com­ing up short, earn­ing the 26th World Cup podium of his ca­reer.

The U.S.A.'S Erik Bjornsen was a record 20th over­all be­fore de­part­ing the Tour af­ter Stage Five to pre­pare for up­com­ing races.

The U.S.A.'S Pa­trick Cald­well com­pleted his first Tour, fin­ish­ing 38th. Canada's Har­vey (r) claimed bronze in the men's 15km Clas­sic mass-start for his first podium of the sea­son.

Amer­i­can Rosie Bren­nan wrapped up her Tour, fin­ish­ing 24th over­all.

The U.S.A.'S Sadie Bjornsen skied to a ca­reer-first dis­tance podium, plac­ing third in the women's 10km Clas­sic.

Amer­i­can So­phie Cald­well took home a ca­reer-best sec­ond in the women's freestyle sprint on Stage One.

Switzer­land's Dario Cologna won a record fourth TDS ti­tle.

Alex Har­vey claimed Canada's first-ever fi­nal TDS podium, fin­ish­ing third over­all in the men's race.

Jessie Dig­gins be­came the first Amer­i­can to land on the TDS fi­nal podium, tak­ing third over­all in the women's race.

Amer­i­can Liz Stephen com­pleted her fi­nal Tour ranked 16th, hav­ing held the pre­vi­ous U.S. record of 5th over­all.

His­toric fi­nal women's over­all TDS podium (l-r) Ingvild Flugstad Oest­berg 2nd, Heidi Weng 1st, Jessie Dig­gins 3rd

Men's his­toric fi­nal over­all TDS podium (l-r) Martin John­srud Sundby 2nd, Dario Cologna 1st, Alex Har­vey 3rd.

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