FIS and Collegiate Racing UpdateNovember 19, 2017
Racing has begun in Europe! With less than one week before the first World Cup race, a few U.S. skiers took the opportunity to shake out the early season race jitters and competed in several races in Beitostolen, Norway and Gallivare, Sweden November 17 -19, 2017.
BEITOSTOLEN, Norway (November 17-19)
U.S. Ski Team member, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) and Minnesota native, Anne Hart (Stillwater, MN) who skis for the SMS T2 Team, jumped into racing after spending two weeks training in Norway. Noah Hoffman (Vail, CO) and Wisconsin native Nichole Bathe (Madison, WI) who now skis for Great Britain, also started off their seasons at the Federation of International Ski (FIS) races at Beitostolen. They competed in a 15/10k classic, 1.5k classic sprint and a 10/15k freestyle race this weekend.
Competition kicked off Friday and the racers were greeted with snow for the 15/10k classic. In the men’s competition, Norway monopolized the top field. Defending World Champion Martin Sundby, walked away with the win by 18.2 seconds over fellow Norwegians Johannes Klaebo and Hans Holund who was third. Hoffman was able to snag a spot in the top 30 finishing 29th overall.
In the women’s 10k, they raced two 5k loops. The course required a lot of double pole and also included one big climb.
“It was a pretty fun course to start the season on but it began snowing which made it a bit slow and harder than the days before,” explained Nichole.
Norway’s Marit Bjoergen dominated the race by 29.4 seconds over teammates Heidi Wang and Ingvild Oestberg who finished third. Anne Hart and Nichole Bathe were neck and neck for a spot in the top thirty, but it was Bathe who had a final push of energy at the end to snag 30th, just 0.1 seconds ahead of Hart who finished 31st overall.
“I started the race pretty fast and felt it a bit later on, it was hard to remember what 10k pace should feel like,” said Bathe. “When I was coming into the stadium to lap Marit who was the last started was going out and i got to see her ski from across the stadium and it was such a cool moment of holy crap we are in the same race!!! But overall the 10k was a good starting point or me.”
Saturday brought the excitement of sprint races. Norway swept the top six for both the men’s and women’s competition. In the men’s 1.5k sprint, Norway’s Johannes Klaebo qualified first and continued the winning streak through the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Klaebo won first by a toe, just 1.1 seconds from fellow Norwegian Kasper Stadaas and Eirik Brandsdal who finished third. U.S. Ski Team member, Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), had a solid sprint day to start off his racing season. Newell qualified 11th which landed him in a speedy quarterfinal heat with Norway’s Johannes Klaebo, Emil Nyeng and Gjøra Tefre. Newell hung on as long as he could but was unable to move on to the semifinals, as he finished fourth in the heat which landed him 16th overall.
In the women’s sprints, Norway’s Maiken Falla Caspersen who is the reigning queen of sprinting, lead the qualifiers through to the heats. In the finals, Caspersen didn't let up on the momentum as she skied to a first place finish 3.7 seconds ahead of fellow Norwegian Mari Eide, while teammate Astrid Jacobsen finished third. Hart narrowly missed the quarter finals, qualifying 31st, just 0.28 seconds behind Norway’s Amali Olsen. Bathe wasn’t too far behind Hart, qualifying 33rd.
“I just missed getting into the rounds being 33rd but didn't have the best race”, said Bathe. “Looking back I made a lot of tactical errors and was just not as springy as I would have liked, but it was still a good start for the season in sprinting. This race makes me excited for the next one which will be next weekend at the Kuusamo World Cup!!”
The weekend concluded with a 10/15k individual freestyle race. Norway’s Simen Kruger finished first for the men while Marit Bjoergen stole her second win of the weekend by 12.8 over Ragnhild Haga. In a sea of Norwegians, Hart remained fierce and determined in the final race of the weekend grabbing a spot in the top 20, finishing 19th overall. For the U.S. men, Noah Hoffman finished 25th overall and Andy Newell was 52nd. Bathe did not race on Sunday, but is headed to the Kuusamo World Cup next weekend and then plans to join the Scando and Opa Cup races around Europe before U23's.
GALLIVARE, Sweden (November 17 - 19)
U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK) was the lone American, competing in the FIS Gallivare 5k freestyle and 10k classic races over the weekend. Races kicked off Friday with a 5k freestyle for the women. Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla snagged first from teammate Hanna Falk by just 8.8 seconds. Randall was only 27.2 seconds back which landed her in eighth overall. Randall finished up her weekend with a 10k classic race on Saturday finishing 15th overall, while Kalla took her second win of the weekend.
Alaska Collegiate Racing
Our Alaskan neighbors kicked off their collegiate racing season with their traditional Alaska Cup Races, Saturday and Sunday with Univ of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA), Univ of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF), and Alaska Pacific Univ (APU) competing. On Saturday the women raced in a 7.5K classical event while the men raced 10k, held at Hatcher's Pass. Midwest standouts on the day were Hannah Rudd, UAA, finishing 4th, Michaela Keller-Miller, UAA, 8th, and freshman Anja Maijala, UAF, taking 12th.
On Sunday they held a mix gender relay, 4x5K skate format. While APU posted the top relay time with Twin Cities native Rosie Frankowski part of that squad, UAA ended up winning the Alaska Cup based on overall time -- the first time in a number of years for UAA.
About the author...
Mary Kozloski is from Green Bay, WI and is a UW Green Bay Ski Team Alumni, where she skied and studied Communications and Business Administration for four years. Mary continues to love and stay connected to the sport through writing. She is a travel and outdoor enthusiast and enjoys exploring everything Colorado has to offer, which she has called her new home state since fall of 2016.