Out In Front
World champion cross-country-ski racer Kikkan Randall from Anchorage, Alaska and her husband, Jeff Ellis, announced they are expecting their first child in April. The talented star will skip the upcoming season, but plans to come back strong for the Nordic World Championships in 2016-17, with a focus on the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Randall, 32, who won three World Cup Sprint Globe titles, including Team Sprint gold with Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.) at the 2013 Nordic Worlds, was all smiles when she broke the news to teammates at their final pre-season conditioning camp in Park City in October.
“After Sochi, I thought a lot about my future and the goals I still want to achieve,” said Randall. “I was always committed to continue racing, but Jeff and I also wanted to start a family. We felt this was a good time. I'm excited about becoming a mother, but am also looking forward to coming back to race in 2017.”
Randall, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. cross-country-ski team, is one of its most-decorated stars in the history of the sport and has helped pioneer the current strong U.S. women's team. She plans to spend some time at selective World Cups this season as a spectator to maintain contact with the sport. Her husband, who serves as a marketing support manager on the FIS Cross-country World Cup tour, will continue to travel on the circuit this winter.
“Finding a way to balance an athletic career and being a mother has been a goal of hers for some time, so it's rewarding to see it come together for her,” said Head Coach Chris Grover. “As much as we will miss Kikkan's leadership on the World Cup tour, we know that she will be back in 2016-17. The team is very excited for Kikkan and Jeff.”
“I plan to maintain my same athletic direction when I come back, skiing both sprint and distance,” Randall said. “I'm especially looking forward to the freestyle sprint at World Championships in Lahti, where I've won before, and the team events in Pyeongchang.”
“If anyone has the tenacity and the drive to return to world-class form after starting a family, it is Kikkan,” added Grover. “She understands the hard work and the form that are necessary to be a champion, and she is already showing the determination to return to the sport and to win. The team is already looking forward to having her back in training camps next summer, and we'll be looking to her for big results in 2017 and 2018.”
Utah to Host 2017 Nordic Junior Worlds
Utah's Olympic venues in Park City and Midway have been awarded the 2017 FIS Nordic Junior World Championships and FIS U23 World Cross-country Championships by the International Ski Federation (FIS). The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) put forward the joint bid with Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow, both of which will host events throughout the Championships.
“Bringing the Nordic Junior Worlds to the United States for the first time since 1986 is a great opportunity to showcase the sport and watch our American athletes compete on the global stage,” said the USSA Vice-president of Events, Calum Clark.
The Junior Worlds is traditionally run over a week period, with events in cross-country, ski jumping and Nordic-combined. Some 400 athletes aged 16-20 years from 30 countries are expected to compete in 17 events. The U23 World Cross-country Championships include three additional cross-country events for both men and women aged 21-23.
The Utah Olympic Park in Park City and Soldier Hollow in Midway hosted Nordic events for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The Junior Worlds has been held only once before in the U.S. at Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1986, and this will mark the first time that the U23 Championships will be held in the U.S.
“The opportunity to watch our Nordic athletes compete at a World Championship event inside the United States should not be missed,” said Richard Hodges, executive director at Soldier Hollow Legacy Foundation.
Minneapolis Awarded 2018 Masters World Cup
Minneapolis, Minn. will host the Masters World Cup (MWC) in 2018. The World Masters Cross-country Ski Association (WMA) awarded the bid at its annual meeting in Switzerland on Sept. 25.
“Athletes can fly into the Minneapolis airport, take light rail downtown, enjoy great skiing by day and fine dining and culture in the evening. I think the athletes and their families will love this experience!” said John Downing, national director of the U.S. branch of the WMA.
In Minneapolis, Loppet Founda-
tion CEO John Munger, Race Director Mike Erickson and Special-event Coordinator Michael Bono pitched the bid via live-video conference to an audience of some 30 delegates representing 24 ski nations gathered in Switzerland. Delegates voted unanimously for Minneapolis.
The 2018 MWC, considered the unofficial World Championships for skiers over thirty, is expected to draw more than 1,000 cross-country skiers from around the world, as well as their entourage.
Competitions will take place in Theodore Wirth Park, five kilometres from downtown. The 300-hectare park features 29 kilometres of trails and another eight kilometres on the Chain of Lakes; it is one of the longest urban ski-trail networks in North America.
The MWC will be held over eight days in late January and early February 2018, but dates are not yet finalized. For more information, visit www.world-masters-xc-skiing.com.
Rossignol Hires Evan Pengelly as Nordic Racing Manager
The Group Rossignol of Park City, Utah is pleased to announce longtime Rossignol Nordic tech rep Evan Pengelly as its new Nordic racing manager. Pengelly will be responsible for overseeing the Nordic-race department, including elite program management and technical support for athletes and coaches, and supporting Rossignol's retail partners.
Pengelly has worked with Rossignol in various capacities for the past nine years. In addition to working with Rossignol, he most recently worked as product manager for Start and Swenor. Pengelly also has a strong athletic background as a Rossignol athlete, which includes winning some of the biggest races in the country.
“Pengelly brings a strong skill set to Rossignol, given his history with the brand combined with his experience as a product manager,” said Ryan Green, Rossignol Nordic division manager.
Sean Crooks Inducted into NW Ontario Sports Hall of Fame
Sean Crooks was inducted into Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 26, along with four other honourees. Crooks, of Thunder Bay,
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