FIS Cross Coun­try Ski World Cup 2017/18

Nor­way’s Klaebo Record Seven Wins

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Noah Simms

The U.S.A. got onto the score­board quickly as the FIS World Cup 2018 se­ries opened in Ruka, Fin­land. Canada soon fol­lowed, but the real talk of the early sea­son in this Olympic year was Nor­we­gian Jo­hannes Hoes­flot Klaebo, who notched a record seven wins be­fore the New Year.

Nov. 24-26 – Ruka, Fin­land

Ris­ing U.S. star Sadie Bjornsen claimed her first Clas­sic sprint podium, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the FIS World Cup opener in Ruka, Fin­land, bat­tling with vic­tor Stina Nils­son of Swe­den. Yu­lia Belorukova of Rus­sia was third. Bjornsen’s team­mate So­phie Cald­well fin­ished eighth, while Ida Sar­gent was 15th. Dahria Beatty was the top Canuck in 64th.

On the men’s side, Cana­dian Alex Har­vey started out his World Cup sea­son with a 21st-place re­sult, post­ing the 13th-fastest qual­i­fi­ca­tion time. Six other Cana­di­ans and five Amer­i­cans hit the start line, but fell short. Nor­we­gians Klaebo and Paal Gol­berg sprinted to the top two spots. Swe­den’s Calle Half­vars­son rounded out the podium in third.

U.S.A.’S Dig­gins de­liv­ered a top-10 fin­ish in the women’s 10km Clas­sic in­ter­val-start race, as Marit Bjo­er­gen of Nor­way was in charge, with Char­lotte Kalla of Swe­den in sec­ond, edg­ing out third-place Ingvild Flugstad Oest­berg of Nor­way. Sar­gent fin­ished 22nd with Sadie Bjornsen in 23rd, fol­lowed by Cald­well in 36th. The top Cana­dian was Emily Nishikawa in 53rd.

Cana­dian Har­vey fin­ished 13th in the men’s 15km Clas­sic In­di­vid­ual-start race, as Nor­way went 1-2 with Klaebo set­ting the pace, fol­lowed by Didrik Toenseth in sec­ond, with Livo Niska­nen of Fin­land in third. Amer­i­can Erik Bjornsen raced into the points, claim­ing 26th, with Cana­dian Devon Ker­shaw earn­ing the same time.

U.S.A.’S Sadie Bjornsen raced to 10th in the women’s 10km freestyle Pur­suit, as Kalla of Swe­den claimed the fi­nal stage win and took the over­all mini-tour vic­tory, best­ing Bjo­er­gen of Nor­way. In third, Ragn­hild Haga of Nor­way recorded the fastest time of the day. Amer­i­can Dig­gins fin­ished 12th, with team­mates Kikkan Ran­dall mov­ing up to 25th over­all and Rosie Bren­nan also fin­ish­ing in the points at 28th over­all.

In the men’s race, Canada’s Har­vey fin­ished a fab­u­lous fourth, 0.6 sec­onds off the podium, as Nor­way’s Klaebo claimed the mini-tour vic­tory. Fel­low Nor­we­gian Martin John­srud Sundby set­tled for sec­ond, with Alexan­der Bol­shunov of Rus­sia tak­ing third. Amer­i­can Erik Bjornsen landed in 26th, while Cana­dian Ker­shaw was 29th. The U.S.A.’S Noah Hoffman fol­lowed in 39th, with Len Val­jas in 44th for Canada.

Dec. 1-3 – Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way

Amer­i­can Sadie Bjornsen claimed her sec­ond sprint Clas­sic podium this sea­son in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way, top­ping the qual­i­fi­ca­tions and land­ing third in the 1.3km Clas­sic sprint. Maiken Caspersen Falla of Nor­way pow­ered away on the fi­nal climb for the win over sec­ond-placed Krista Par­makoski of Fin­land. Amer­i­can Dig­gins fin­ished a strong sixth, while team­mate Cald­well was ninth. Top Cana­di­ans were Nishikawa in 58th and Beatty in 59th.

“To­day was an­other re­ally awe­some day of ski rac­ing here in Lille­ham­mer. Af­ter last week­end’s podium, I tried to keep the mo­men­tum and con­fi­dence go­ing,” shared Sadie Bjornsen.

On the men’s side, Canada’s Har­vey fin­ished 28th as Nor­way’s Klaebo con­tin­ued his streak, win­ning the men’s 1.3km Clas­sic sprint. Sergey Ustiu­gov of Rus­sian was sec­ond, with team­mate Bol­shunov in third. Har­vey was the lone North Amer­i­can to qual­ify, with Erik Bjornsen the top Amer­i­can in 35th, fol­lowed by team­mate Andy Newell in 38th.

On Day Two, U.S.A.’S Dig­gins claimed a stel­lar fifth in the women’s 15km Skiathlon, show­ing her fine form, while Swe­den’s Kalla took home her first-ever World Cup Skiathlon vic­tory. Nor­way’s Heidi Weng was sec­ond, with team­mate Haga in third. Amer­i­cans Sadie Bjornsen fin­ished a strong 10th, while Ran­dall was solid in 16th, fol­lowed by Bren­nan, also in the points, plac­ing 29th, and Liz Stephen 36th, with Chelsea Holmes plac­ing 38th. The top Cana­dian was Cen­drine Browne in 45th.

On the men’s side, Canada’s Har­vey earned a strong sixth-place fin­ish against a stacked field in the men’s 30km Skiathlon, as Klaebo cap­tured gold again, best­ing team­mate Sundby, who set­tled for sec­ond with Hans Chris­ter Hol­und, com­plet­ing the Nor­we­gian podium

sweep. Canada’s Ker­shaw bat­tled to a solid 19th-place fin­ish, while the U.S.A.’S Erik Bjornsen claimed 20th, show­ing great form for his best Skiathlon re­sult.

Dec. 9-10 – Davos, Switzer­land

The U.S.A.’S Ran­dall earned her first World Cup podium of the 2018 sea­son since hav­ing her child, fin­ish­ing third in Davos, Switzer­land. Swe­den’s Nils­son bat­tled to vic­tory in a close race, best­ing Nor­way’s Falla at the line. There were three Amer­i­cans in fi­nal, with Dig­gins in fourth and Sar­gent fin­ish­ing sixth.

In the men’s race, U.S.A.’S Simi Hamil­ton led the North Amer­i­cans, fin­ish­ing ninth af­ter ad­vanc­ing to the semi­fi­nals in the men’s 1.5km freestyle sprint. Nor­way’s Klaebo recorded his sixth-straight vic­tory, ty­ing fel­low Nor­we­gians Sundby and Pet­ter Northug, Italy’s Fed­erico Pel­le­grino was the only skier to go with Klaebo into the fi­nal, but he was out­matched, fin­ish­ing 1.8 sec­onds back. In third place for the sec­ond week­end in a row was Rus­sia’s Bol­shunov. Amer­i­can Newell also made the quar­ter­fi­nals, but did not ad­vance, fin­ish­ing 21st. Har­vey was the lone Cana­dian to qual­ify, but placed fifth in his quar­ter­fi­nal round and his day ended early.

Sadie Bjornsen led four Amer­i­cans into the top 20 on Day Two with a solid 12th-place fin­ish in the women’s 10km in­ter­val start, as Nor­way’s Oest­berg topped the field once again in Davos. Her team­mate Haga was sec­ond at 5.9 sec­onds be­hind the win­ner, while Fin­land’s Par­makoski took the fi­nal podium spot at 7.9 sec­onds back. Ran­dall fin­ished 14th, fol­lowed by a dis­ap­pointed Dig­gins in 15th and Bren­nan in 17th. The U.S.A.’S Holmes made the points in 29th, fol­lowed by Stephen in 40th. Brown led the Cana­dian women in 45th, fol­lowed by Nishikawa in 50th.

Canada’s Har­vey posted his best re­sult at high al­ti­tude in Davos, fin­ish­ing 10th in the men’s 15km In­di­vid­ual start won by Mau­rice Man­i­fi­cat of France. Rus­sia’s Ustiu­gov fin­ished sec­ond at four sec­onds back, while team­mate Bol­shunov landed on the podium for the sec­ond time in Davos, claim­ing third. Har­vey fol­lowed his race plan to near per­fec­tion, start­ing con­ser­va­tively and pick­ing his way through the field un­til the fi­nal loop, pow­er­ing up to the top-10 re­sult. Cald­well was the top Amer­i­can in 41st, fol­lowed by Canada’s Ker­shaw in 44th, Amer­i­can Hoffman in 48th and Cana­di­ans Graeme Kil­lick in 59th and Rus­sell Kennedy in 68th.

Dec. 16-17 – Toblach, Italy

Dig­gins led the U.S. Ski Team with a sev­enth-place fin­ish in the women’s 10km freestyle in Toblach, Italy. Team­mate Sadie Bjornsen placed a ca­reer-best ninth, as Swe­den’s Kalla took the vic­tory. Haga of Nor­way took sec­ond place, with her team­mate Weng set­tling for third. Amer­i­can Bren­nan fin­ished 17th.

Canada’s Har­vey was just off the podium in fourth in the men’s 15km In­di­vid­ual-start skate race as Nor­way’s Si­men Hegstad Krueger won his ca­reer-first In­di­vid­ual World Cup. Man­i­fi­cat of France, the cur­rent red-bib over­all World Cup dis­tance leader, was in sec­ond, while Bri­tain’s An­drew Mus­grave fin­ished third. Erik Bjornsen was the top Amer­i­can, fin­ish­ing 29th. Ker­shaw was the next best Canuck in 38th, fol­lowed by the U.S.A.’S Hoffman in 40th and Scott Pat­ter­son in 42nd, with Cana­dian Kil­lick in 49th.

The U.S.A.’S Dig­gins claimed an­other strong re­sult, fin­ish­ing sev­enth in the women’s 10km Clas­sic Pur­suit, fol­lowed closely by her team­mate Sadie Bjornsen in ninth. Bjo­er­gen edged out her team­mate Oest­berg, as Weng made it a su­per-close all-nor­we­gian podium in third at 0.8 sec­onds be­hind. The Amer­i­cans also landed in the points, with Bren­nan fin­ish­ing 25th, fol­lowed by Holmes in 39th, Stephen in 48th, while Nishikawa of Canada in 53rd.

Canada’s Har­vey took home a strong ninth in the men’s 15km Clas­sic Pur­suit, while Nor­way’s Klaebo blasted to a record sev­enth World Cup vic­tory be­fore the New Year. Rus­sia’s Ustiu­gov fin­ished in sec­ond place at 1.9 sec­onds back, with Kaza­khstan’s Alexey Poltoranin tak­ing the fi­nal podium spot in third at 4.5 sec­onds be­hind. Klaebo leads the over­all World Cup stand­ings, eclips­ing fel­low Nor­we­gians Northug and Sundby, who both had at­tained six vic­to­ries prior to the New Year. The top Amer­i­can was Erik Bjornsen in 26th, with Canada’s Ker­shaw in 33rd, Amer­i­cans Pat­ter­son in 39th, Cald­well in 44th and Hoffman in 49th, while Canada’s Kil­lick was 50th.

Canada's Alex Har­vey had a strong start to the sea­son. Amer­i­cans So­phie Cald­well and Jessie Dig­gins at Davos, Switzer­land.

U.S.A.'S Sadie Bjornsen (r) claimed her first Clas­sic sprint podium, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the World Cup opener in Fin­land.

Swe­den's Char­lotte Kalla wins first-ever fi­fi­fi­fi­first- ever 30km Skiathlon in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way.

Nor­way's Jo­hannes Hoes­flot Klaebo grabbed a record sev­enth World Cup vic­tory be­fore the New Year.

The U.S.A.'S Kikkan Ran­dall earned her first World Cup podium of the 2018 sea­son since hav­ing her child.

Amer­i­can Simi Hamil­ton was ninth in the men's freestyle sprint at Davos, Switzer­land.

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