Comp In­ter­na­tional

FIS XC Ski World Cup Un­der­way

SkiTrax - - Contents - by Julie Me­lan­son

The World Cup is un­der­way, and North Amer­i­can skiers have come out of the gate with strong early re­sults that could fore­tell their for­tunes at the Tour de Ski and Lahti 2017, the big­gest events this sea­son.

Nov. 26-27 - Ruka, Fin­land

Snow fell through­out the com­pe­ti­tion of the open­ing round of the Viess­mann FIS XC Ski World Cup in Ruka, Fin­land, as Sadie Bjornsen (USA) led the North Amer­i­can women of the four who qual­i­fied, end­ing up 17th in the women's 1.4km CL sprint. Stina Nils­son (SWE) took her first-ever win in Clas­sic tech­nique.

Jessie Dig­gins (13th), Ida Sar­gent (23rd) and So­phie Cald­well (30th) also advanced, along with Sadie Bjornsen (sev­enth), while Kikkan Ran­dall, who was off last year giv­ing birth to new son, Breck, set­tled for 52nd in a tie with team­mate Caitlin Pat­ter­son. Both were just be­hind Dahria Beatty (CAN) in 50th and Rosie Bren­nan (USA) in 44th.

In the men's race, Paal Gol­berg (NOR) took the men's first win of the sea­son, as Alex Har­vey (CAN) was the lone North Amer­i­can to make the heats, end­ing up 25th on the day, just miss­ing out on a Lucky Loser spot to ad­vance to the semi­fi­nals. Calle Half­vars­son (SWE) was sec­ond, grab­bing his first-ever World Cup podium in a Clas­sic sprint. Mean­while, ris­ing young star Jo­hannes Klaebo (NOR) cap­tured his first-ever World Cup podium.

Speed king Andy Newell (USA) was a sur­prise miss, qual­i­fy­ing 40th. Fel­low Amer­i­can Erik Bjornsen was just be­hind in 42nd, while Len Val­jas (CAN) was 54th.

Marit Bjo­er­gen (NOR) was in charge of the women's 10km CL In­ter­val Start on Day Two in Ruka. Miss­ing last sea­son's World Cup with the birth of her first child, she clearly did not for­get how to win. In just her sec­ond com­pe­ti­tion of this new FIS cross-coun­try sea­son, she was back again on top of the World Cup podium.

Close be­hind her was Krista Par­makoski (FIN) at 4.6 sec­onds back, and in third for the sec­ond day in a row was Heidi Weng (NOR) at 12.7 sec­onds off the lead. Dig­gins had a strong show­ing, fin­ish­ing 13th as the top North Amer­i­can. Fol­low­ing in 17th was her team­mate Sadie Bjornsen, who had the best re­sult in Satur­day's CL sprint and was look­ing for a big­ger hit in the 10km.

Cen­drine Browne, 21, from St-jérôme, Que., led the way for the Canucks in 58th. Emily Nishikawa of White­horse fin­ished 59th, while Beatty, also of White­horse, was 74th.

Har­vey put in a solid day at the of­fice, claim­ing 11th in the men's 15km CL In­di­vid­ual Start, as Iivo Niska­nen (FIN) proved he is in top form in tak­ing a thrilling vic­tory at home. Emil Iversen (NOR) was sec­ond at 10.2 sec­onds be­hind, while team­mate Martin John­srud Sundby fin­ished in third at 11 sec­onds off the lead pace.

Canada's Devon Ker­shaw, who has been show­ing strong form in his World Cup tune-up races, also put down a solid per­for­mance on Sun­day, fin­ish­ing just out­side the points in 33rd place. The U.S.A.'S Erik Bjornsen fin­ished in 41st, but was not ex­pect­ing great re­sults at Ruka, hav­ing suf­fered a bad roller­ski crash at Sol­dier Hol­low.

Dec. 2-4 - Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way

Sadie Bjornsen lit up the score­board, top­ping the women's qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the CL sprint in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way in Round Two of the FIS World Cup.

When the dust set­tled, it was Weng of Nor­way tak­ing her first-ever World Cup vic­tory in a sprint com­pe­ti­tion af­ter record­ing 10 sprint podi­ums in pre­vi­ous World Cups. In sec­ond place for the sec­ond week­end in a row was team­mate Maiken Caspersen Falla, with Hanna Falk of Swe­den in third.

Dig­gins and Sadie Bjornsen drew the same quar­ter­fi­nal and were elim­i­nated, fin­ish­ing third and fourth re­spec­tively and end­ing up 14th and 17th on the day. Cald­well was fifth in her heat, while Sar­gent did not ad­vance ei­ther. None of the Cana­dian women advanced, as Nishikawa was the top Canuck in 62nd.

Har­vey placed a strong 10th in the men's 1.6km CL sprint, with team­mate Val­jas in 13th as the three-day mini-tour got un­der­way. Half­vars­son claimed the win, ex­tend­ing his over­all se­ries lead, Nor­way's Iversen was sec­ond, while Swe­den's Teodor Peter­son cap­tured the fi­nal podium spot.

Har­vey qual­i­fied 23rd and went on to win his quar­ter­fi­nal heat, but in his semi­fi­nal, he was cut off by Half­vars­son, for which the Swede was yel- low-carded. Har­vey's mo­men­tum was ef­fec­tively killed at that mo­ment, and he fell to the back of the pack.

Val­jas was the top North Amer­i­can qual­i­fier in 19th; af­ter bat­tling a sore knee fol­low­ing surgery nearly three years ago, it was one of his best re­sults in two years.

The U.S.A.'S Erik Bjornsen qual­i­fied in 30th, also ad­vanc­ing to the heats, but his day ended with a fifth place in his quar­ter­fi­nal heat. Canada's Ker­shaw was 42nd, the U.S.A.'S Newell was 47th, with team­mate Simi Hamil­ton in 48th. Har­vey de­liv­ered an­other strong re­sult the fol­low­ing day, fin­ish­ing 10th in the men's 10km FR In­ter­val Start, as Half­vars­son made it two for two. Team­mate Mar­cus Hell­ner was sec­ond, with Rus­sia's Sergey Ustiu­gov in third. Sur­pris­ingly, Nor­way was shut out at home.

Noah Hoff­man was the top Amer­i­can in 33rd. Canucks Ker­shaw skied to 40th and Val­jas was 42nd.

On the women's side, Dig­gins claimed her sec­ond-ever In­di­vid­ual World Cup vic­tory, win­ning the 5km FR In­di­vid­ual Start in Stage Two of the mini-tour. Dig­gins put 4.8 sec­onds on sec­ond-place fin­isher and tour leader Weng of Nor­way, while leg­endary Bjo­er­gen fin­ished third.

Amer­i­can Sadie Bjornsen con­tin­ued her strong early sea­son, fin­ish­ing 14th – her fourth-straight top-20 fin­ish. The top Cana­dian fin­isher was Browne. Fin­ish­ing 50th, she was at 24 sec­onds of the top 30.

The next day, Dig­gins led the North Amer­i­can women, fin­ish­ing eighth in the women's 10km Clas­sic Pursuit fi­nale. Weng (NOR) won the Pursuit and her first FIS World Cup mini-tour, with team­mate Ingvild Flugstad Oest­berg in sec­ond and Par­makoski (FIN), who started the day in fifth, tak­ing the fi­nal podium spot.

Sadie Bjornsen was 11th, while the top Cana­dian was Emily Nishikawa in 46th, with Browne fin­ish­ing 52nd and Beatty in 59th.

Wrap­ping up the three-day mini-tour in the men's 15km CL Pursuit, it was an­other solid day for Canada's Har­vey, who con­tin­ued to im­press by fin­ish­ing ninth over­all with the sixth-fastest time of the day.

The pace was driven by John­srud Sundby (NOR) as a group of 12 chasers caught lead skier Half­vars­son, with ap­prox­i­mately five kilo­me­tres to go. John­srud Sundby made his move on the last lap on the long­est climb of the course and scat­tered the lead pack to cruise home for the win by 2.3 sec­onds.

2017 FIS XC Ski World Cup

Over­all Stand­ings af­ter Round Two in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way Women 1. Heidi Weng (NOR) 459; 2. Ingvild Flugstad Oest­berg (NOR) 369; 3. Krista Par­makoski (FIN) 357; 4. Marit Bjo­er­gen (NOR) 333; 5. Stina Nils­son (SWE) 286; CAN/ US 9. Jessie Dig­gins (USA) 168; 10. Sadie Bjornsen (USA) 130; 37. So­phie Cald­well (USA) 21; 47. Ida Sar­gent (USA) 11; 53. Liz Stephen (USA) 5; 56. Caitlin Pat­ter­son (USA) 3; Men 1. Martin John­srud Sundby (NOR) 350; 2. Calle Half­vars­son (SWE) 316; 3. Jo­hannes Klaebo (NOR) 304; 4. Emil Iversen (NOR) 281; 5. Paal Gol­berg (NOR) 260; CAN/US 10. Alex Har­vey (CAN) 174; 47. Len Val­jas (CAN) 20; 52. Devon Ker­shaw (CAN) 16; 64. Erik Bjornsen (USA) 7; 73. Noah Hoff­man (USA) 2.

(clock­wise from top) Jessie Dig­gins (USA) claimed her sec­ond-ever in­di­vid­ual World Cup vic­tory in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way; Sadie Bjornsen (USA) topped the women's qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the CL sprint in Lille­ham­mer, Nor­way; Alex Har­vey (CAN) had one of his...

(fac­ing from top left) Canada's Emily Nishikawa and Cen­drine Browne in the mix; Marit Bjo­er­gen (NOR) was in charge again at only her sec­ond com­pe­ti­tion af­ter tak­ing a year off to give birth to her son; Martin John­srud Sundby (NOR) won the mini-tour at...


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