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Lähes neljän vuoden tauko ohi - Harri Olli palaa maailmancupiin!
Suomen valmennusjohto on nimennyt joukkueensa ensi viikonlopun Rukan maailmancupin kisoihin.
As Snow Fades, California Ski Resorts Are Left High and Very Dry
A snow drought and climate change present a growing challenge to the ski industry in California, which increasingly relies on man-made snow and activities other than skiing or snowboarding.
First Cup Win for Czech
Roman Koudelka of the Czech Republic overcame blustery conditions to claim his first World Cup win at the season-opening individual ski jumping event in Klingenthal, Germany.
Russians Go 1-2 in 15 k Classic; Canadians All Land in Top 8 in Gällivare Distance Race
Alex Harvey (CAN) during men's pursuit in Kuusamo (FIN).  Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus.

Canadian World Cup Team member Alex Harvey kick-double poling in the 2012 men’s pursuit in Kuusamo, Finland, where he placed 23rd. Last year, Harvey was 42nd in the Kuusamo freestyle pursuit, one of the first races of the season. (Photo: Fischer/Nordic Focus)

Kick-double pole was the name of the game on Sunday in Gällivare, Sweden; if you did that well, you were basically golden on the four-lap course. Easier said than done, but the Russians managed to power through, with Evgeniy Belov pulling out the 20-second win in the International Ski Federation (FIS) men’s 15-kilometer classic race.

Russia went 1-2 in the men's 15 k classic FIS race in Gallivare on Sunday with Evgeniy Belov (pictured) taking the win by more than 20 seconds. (Photo: SportEventGallivare) http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sporteventgellivare.com%2Fryssland-regerade%2F&hl=en&langpair=auto|en&tbb=1&ie=UTF-8

Russia went 1-2 in the men’s 15 k classic FIS race in Gallivare on Sunday with Evgeniy Belov (pictured) taking the win by more than 20 seconds. (Photo: SportEventGallivare)

The 24 year old finished with the top time of 35:04.3 minutes, 20.67 seconds faster than Saturday’s classic-sprint winner, teammate Sergey Ustiugov. And while the Canadians fared similarly well on Sunday with all four men in the top eight (and their lone woman, Emily Nishikawa, in fourth), most of them will be happy to race on a harder, hillier course next weekend at the first World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland.

“[Gällivare] is quite opposite from the race course there because here, there’s lots of kick-double pole, double pole — that’s what the Russians were really strong at,” Ivan Babikov, of the Canadian World Cup Team, said on the phone Sunday. “Talking to Devon, it sounds like Belov was like a beast on those sections. That’s where he made all the time.”

For Babikov, as well as several other Canadians, bigger climbs in next weekend’s classic sprint and 15 k classic — the same race formats as Gällivare — should be a good thing.

Babikov placed sixth in his first FIS race of the season, about a minute and 38 seconds behind Belov and 13.34 seconds behind teammate Devon Kershaw in fifth. Alex Harvey, who was second in Saturday’s sprint, took third, 27.51 seconds behind the winner and 0.8 seconds from Ustiugov.

Harvey started second-to-last, just in front of Gällivare’s hometown hero, Marcus Hellner, with the advantage of knowing where he stood for most of the race. In fourth at the end of the first 3.75-k lap after three Russians — Ustiugov, Belov and Stanislav Volzhentsev, respectively — Harvey moved to third ahead of Volzhentsev by the halfway point.

“I felt good today. A bit sore from yesterday’s classic sprint but everyone was in the same boat there!” Harvey wrote in an email. “It’s nice to do a distance race for sure, but it was a reminder of how hard ski racing is, especially individual start!

“The course was work the whole time,” he added. “I feel like I was strong in the kick double pole section, I think I could push it a bit further up the hill compare to the others.”

On his last lap, he caught Babikov, whom he started a minute behind, with about three kilometers to go.

Ivan Babikov posted Canada's top result in the 15 k classic in La Clusaz, France, on Saturday in finicky wax conditions.

Ivan Babikov racing two seasons ago the 15 k classic in La Clusaz, France, where he posted Canada’s best result of 39th in January 2013.

“I wasn’t feeling like I was racing, it was kind of like a bit harder than Zone 3 or Zone 4, but I couldn’t get in my hurt locker, you know?” Babikov said. “I couldn’t go all-out for some reason.”

When he saw Harvey, he knew he had something left.

“That’s where I could feel that I can go faster and last lap was much better, more like racing,” Babikov said.

Before then, he had been waiting for Volzhentsev, who started 30 seconds behind him, to catch him on the last lap. Babikov said the Russian came within 10 seconds of him on the third loop around.

“For some reason, he died a bit on the last lap and next thing I know, it’s not him passing me but Alex,” he said. “I did not see him coming at all so I kind of got a bit surprised there.”

But it wasn’t a bad thing. Babikov pushed even harder and estimated he made up about 17 seconds on Volzhentsev, who ended up fourth (+1:24.8). Babikov stayed with Harvey for as long as he could, before Harvey took off with about two kilometers to go.

“After I caught him I yelled at him ‘stay with me,’ so he did for a while,” Harvey recalled.

“I think it was a good weekend for me,” Harvey summed up. “Of course, nobody is at 100%. Personally I’m coming off 2 weeks of 20+ hours of training so I’m not super fresh but again, I think everyone is in the same boat here.”

He was looking forward to Monday — his first rest day in almost two weeks.

“I’m gonna take a normal week of training next week and do some high quality intensity on Wednesday before travelling to Kuusamo,” he wrote.

The Canadians leave Gällivare for Finland on Wednesday.

“Good racing and training this weekend for everybody,” Canadian World Cup Head Coach Tor-Arne Hetland wrote in an email. “We needed this weekend and will be better prepared next weekend and later in the season. The races had ok race quality.”

According to the event website, Belov called it a “good race on fine courses and a lovely start to the season with two podiums the first race weekend,” he said, after placing third on Saturday. “I’m very happy with this shape before the World Cup premiere next weekend.”

Hellner, who finished seventh, 1:41 behind Belov, said the Russians were impressive.

“They skied really hard today; it would’ve been enough for a World Cup,” he said, according to a translation. “I didn’t have a good race, but it’s still nice to be competing again. It always takes a few races to get started with both the technique and feel. I’m still training hard and it’s the World Championship in Falun, which is the big goal. I don’t expect top results at the start of the World Cup.”

Out of the top seven, Ustiugov was the earliest starter and posted the times to beat at each 3.75 k checkpoint. Kershaw consistently clocked the second-fastest times after him, and Harvey started two minutes after Kershaw and came through 3.75 k just one place and 11 seconds faster.

Kershaw wrote in an email that his goal was to start hard.

“It’s the last chance to try some stuff before the big leagues start again next weekend,” he explained. “That didn’t really work that well for me today. I started what I thought was hard, but felt like I was just stuck in the pace I could go. Not feeling much lactate, but not able to really push it any harder. I guess that’s a bit of fatigue I’m carrying.”

“It’s the last chance to try some stuff before the big leagues start again next weekend.” — Devon Kershaw, fifth in first FIS race of 2014/2015 season in Gällivare

Belov caught him at 7.5 k, where Kershaw recalled feeling so good, he thought, “OK, here’s the race — stay with him!”

(Photo: Angus Cockney)

Devon Kershaw in the Frozen Thunder classic sprint in late October in Canmore, Alberta, where he won the following freestyle distance race on Oct. 27. (Photo: Angus Cockney)

“And I did for 3km before exploding big-time,” he added. “The last 3.75km was a rough outing. I was on fumes. I lost a lot of time to Alex, Ustiugov, and Belov but compared to the other dudes, I guess I didn’t lose that much. I felt like I was giving away minutes actually. So it was a race with two very different, very distinct feelings in it.”

At the finish, Kershaw described feeling “pretty bummed. … I was frustrated that I got owned so hard by Belov. He really crushed me.”

What he didn’t know was that Belov crushed most of the field.

“Of course I was completely outclassed by the top 3 — but compared to last season’s opening race, the feelings were better for sure, as was the result (even though this wasn’t a world cup),” Kershaw wrote. “It was a good, hard workout at least — which is needed at this time of year with the World Cup on the horizon.”

Next weekend, “the big show starts,” Kershaw explained. His goal is to finish in the points (top 30) at least once. “That’s easier said than done sometimes. We’ll just have to see,” he wrote. “I’m excited and nervous.”

Canada’s fourth man, Graeme Killick (Development B Team) placed eighth out of 16 men, 1:57 behind Belov and 3 seconds behind Hellner in seventh.

Three Czechs and Nishikawa

Petra Novakova of the Czech Republic racing to a 39-second win in the women's 10 k classic FIS race on Sunday in Gallivare, Sweden. (Photo: SportEventGallivare)

Petra Novakova of the Czech Republic racing to a 39-second win in the women’s 10 k classic FIS race on Sunday in Gallivare, Sweden. (Photo: SportEventGallivare)

Another Canadian national-team member, Emily Nishikawa placed fourth out of 10 women. She finished 1:22.8 behind Petra Novakova of the Czech Republic, who won in 25:44 and was second in Saturday’s sprint to Canada’s Perianne Jones.

The Czechs swept the podium with Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova in second (+39.0) and Karolina Grohova in third (+50.9). Their team has been in Gällivare since early November.

“It was good to get the first race of the season done!” Nishikawa wrote in an email. “I felt good for the first half of the race, then started to fade towards the end.  Definitely room for improvement!”

The third-to-last starter, she came through each checkpoint with the second-fastest times after Grohova, who started 1:30 in front of her. Ultimately, all four of her lap times ranked fourth.

“The conditions were really good today and we had great skis,” Nishikawa added. “I just wanted to focus on the process for my race today and get back into the routine of racing again.”

Now done with her first race, she plans to compete in distance races at every World Cup before Christmas.

“Looking forward to lots more racing to come!” she wrote.

Results: Men (with splits) | Women (with splits)

Kalla Completes Bruks Sweep Despite ‘Early Midlife Crisis’; Halfvarsson Tops for Men
Charlotte Kalla didn't elaborate on what her midlife crisis might be, but if it includes being totally dominant at ski racing, sign us up.

Charlotte Kalla didn’t elaborate on what her midlife crisis might be, but if it includes being totally dominant at ski racing, sign us up.

Nobody has had a better start to the season so far than Charlotte Kalla. The Swedish star finished off a three-race sweep of opening races in Bruksvallarna today with a victory in the classic sprint.

“I’m glad that it worked this weekend, and I hope I’ll feel just as good next weekend,” she told the Aftonbladet newspaper, referring to the opening World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland.

Before the weekend startd, she had a strained shoulder; now she has three more wins to add to her list.

In the qualifier it was Magdalena Pajala who turned heads, posting a 0.92-second win over Evelina Settlin; Kalla was 3.55 seconds back, followed by Hanna Falk. But by the time the final rolled around, Sweden’s biggest stars were back on the podium: Kalla, by more than two seconds over her usual sprint relay teammate Ida Ingemarsdotter, then Falk. Pajala was knocked out in the semifinals.

“How fast you have to go to be with the very best next weekend, it’s difficult to say,” Kalla told Aftonbladet. “After the past week, it feels like my old body is beginning to move. It hasn’t been the best week of my life – maybe I’m having an early midlife crisis.”

In preparation for Kuusamo, Kalla said she would go home and eat some of the smoked salmon she received as prizes.

In the men’s sprint, Calle Halfvarsson finally got his first win of the weekend after finishing a close second in both the 10 k classic and the 15 k skate. He bested Maciej Starega of Poland by 0.51 seconds, with Swedes filling the rest of the final; Teodor Peterson was third, +0.51.

It nearly didn’t turn out that way. Halfvarsson broke a pole in the qualifier and just managed to sneak into the heats, qualifying 23rd more than eight seconds behind Johan Edin.

“It just went bang,” he told Swedish tabloid Expressen, adding that he raced the rest of the qualifier with two differently-lengthed poles.

Another second back, and his day would have been over. But Halfvarsson muscled through, then won each of his heats en route to the final.

“I decided already yesterday that I had to win today,” he told Aftonbladet.

Peterson, the 2012 World Cup sprint champion, was impressed but not surprised by Halfvarsson’s performance.

“Calle is strong,” he told Aftonbladet. “For my part today, it felt good but he got me in the end.”

The surprise was perhaps Starega. The 24-year-old Pole has a few seasons of World Cup starts to his name, and one strong result: a seventh-place finish in the sprint in Asiago, Italy, last season.

“Thanks to all for the emotions, and I’m happy with this result, but have a calm head – the season is still in front of us,” he posted on his facebook wall.

The Swedes had a few messages for their Norwegian counterparts, including Petter Northug, who finally won a race in Beitostolen today after much doubt about his fitness.

“I don’t doubt for a minute that he will return to the level he was at before,” Halfvarsson told Aftonbladet. “He will be in the best shape of his life when he comes to Falun… It’s not fun to beat up on a shitty Petter.”

Results: men & women

Northug Double Poles His Way to First Win of Season in Beito Classic Sprint
Petter Northug racing to 23rd in Saturday's 15 k freestyle FIS race in Beitostølen, Norway. He was more than a minute behind winner Martin Sundby, then came back to win Sunday's classic sprint by 0.4 seconds. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

Petter Northug racing to 23rd in Saturday’s 15 k freestyle FIS race in Beitostølen, Norway. He was more than a minute behind winner Martin Sundby, then came back to win Sunday’s classic sprint by 0.4 seconds. (Photo: Inge Scheve)

With about 50 meters to go in the men’s 1.5-kilometer classic sprint on Sunday in Beitostøelen, Norway, Petter Northug engaged the turbo and overtook fellow Norwegian Sondre Turvoll Fossli right at the finish line — exactly the way we are used to seeing him: relentless.

“This was OK. I wanted to get a day with four tough sprint efforts and that’s what I got,” Northug, 28, told the Norwegian TV station NRK after the race.

“It’s useful to practice have a chance to practice how to race heats, how to keep your body going between heats and best prepare for the next effort before we’re headed into the World Cup season,” he added. “You don’t really get a chance to practice that off the snow.”

For him, this was simply a drill and part of the prep for the World Cup opener next weekend in Kuusamo, Finland.

Got to let them win sometimes

Fossli, 21, won the qualifier in 3:25.76 minutes, 1.69 seconds ahead of Norway’s Pål Golberg. Northug qualified ninth, 3.38 seconds back from Fossli. And while Northug took the cake at the end of the day, up-and-coming Fossli raced an impressive final, leading much of the way and had a small gap on the field coming into the stadium.

Fossli finished second in his quarterfinal and won his semifinal, and thought he might be able to pull off the victory.

“I had a faint hope that maybe I would be able to keep [Northug] behind me and win the race, but when he was that close on the final stretch and he had skate skis while I had kick wax,” Fossli said. “I expected him to pass me.”

Northug won the final in 3:32.3, four-tenths of a second ahead of Fossli, and Norway’s Johan Kjølstad was another 0.7 seconds back in third. Golberg placed fourth (+4.1), and two more Norwegians Timo Bakken and Ola Vigen Hattestad were fifth (+6.4) and sixth (+6.6), respectively. Norway swept the top nine.

“You just need to let an old veteran win once in a while,” Fossli said jokingly of Northug, noting that he feels like he has more to offer.

His goal for the season is to establish himself on the top 50 percent of the World Cup standings.

Tough conditions

The conditions in Beitostølen on Sunday gave the wax crews plenty to work on: falling precipitation and lots of it in form of wet, sticky and slow snow at minus 9 degrees Celsius (about 16 Fahrenheit).

Northug was one of only two racers in the final who double poled all of the heats. Many of the racers started out with skate skis and no wax, but most of them chose to ski on kick wax as the heats progressed and the conditions got slower.

Results | Complete results

Wir verlosen eine Skihose von Schöffel!
In unserem atuellen Skihosentest zum Winter 2014/2015 war auch die Schöffel Rich Dynamic III mit dabei. Jetzt habt ihr die Chance, ein Exemplar dieser Hose in der Größe M zu gewinnen ...
Barbro Kvåle, 22, Breaks Through in Beitostølen Classic Sprint
A stunned Barbro Kvåle after winning Sunday's FIS classic sprint by 0.3 seconds in Beitostølen, Norway.  (Photo: Photo NTG Lillehammer)

A stunned Barbro Kvåle after winning Sunday’s FIS classic sprint by 0.3 seconds in Beitostølen, Norway. (Photo: Photo NTG Lillehammer)

Barbro Kvåle, a 22-year-old Norwegian junior world champion in ski orienteering, joined the ranks of national-team stars Therese Johaug and Marit Bjørgen, who won the Beitostølen distances races this weekend. On Sunday, Kvåle, now on Norway’s U23 cross-country team, came from behind to win the women’s 1.2-kilometer classic sprint by three-tenths of a second.

With meters to go in the final, she passed Norway’s Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes to seize the early season International Ski Federation (FIS) victory in 2:56.8. Gjeitnes, 29, took second and Kvåle’s best friend Kathrine Harsem was third just 0.2 seconds later.

She’s a really laid-back personality,” Harsem said of Kvåle to NRK. “She’s a really good friend, and we can talk about everything, or nothing at all. As a skier, she’s just amazing on the mental level.”

Norwegian Olympic gold-and-silver medalist Ingvild Flugstad Østberg finished fourth, 0.9 seconds after Kvåle. A previous winner of Beitostølen’s classic sprint (in treacherous conditions), Slovenia’s World Cup sprinter Katja Visnar placed fifth (+4.9), 1 second ahead of Germany’s Victoria Carl.

Kvåle, who qualified 15th out of 42 women — nearly 6 seconds behind Visnar as the qualifier winner (in  2:48.91) — had never been in a sprint final before, and certainly not with an Olympic champion or World Cup favorite.

“This was insanely fun. I just wanted to go for it,” Kvåle told NRK. “I know I have a strong sprint finish, but I never imagined that I would actually win.”

When asked if she could describe the feeling, she simply said, “No.”

“I know I have a strong sprint finish, but I never imagined that I would actually win.” – Barbro Kvåle, 22-year-old Norwegian U23 team member, after winning Sunday’s classic sprint in Beitostølen

In her last season as a U23, her larger goals this season involve U23 World Championships in Kazakhstan.

A member of Norway’s rookie team, she said she’s always playing catchup with the veterans.

“In all the hard sessions, I’ve gotten beaten,” she told NRK. “But I have come closer and closer in autumn..”

Asked if this was her biggest win so far, she said: “Yes! Are you crazy?”

One of Barbro Kvåle's Instagram selfies from last week. (Photo: Instagram/barbrokvale)

One of Barbro Kvåle’s Instagram selfies from last week. (Photo: Instagram/barbrokvale)

Harsem said Kvåle likes putting herself out there on social media.

“She posts a lot of self-promoting stuff on Instagram and Twitter, which people in general thinks is really stupid. But I kind of like it, because she dares to be herself,” Harsem said. “She’s honest and loyal, not your typical girly-girl. She’s a bit tomboy-ish, and I like that.

Østberg, who dominated all the heats and looked like she had the victory in the bag leading the final six women into the stadium, was outsprinted on the final meters. She was less than a second behind Kvåle, but ended up fourth and couldn’t disguise her disappointment.

“I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed,” Østberg said. ‘The three other girls were stronger than me. I guess I’m not meant to be on the podium at Beitostølen.”

She placed fifth in Saturday’s 10 k freestyle — her first FIS race of the season.

“I haven’t usually been in perfect sprint shape early in the season, so I have to look forward,” Østberg added. “There are new races next week. I will have to try to dig deeper and find that little extra as the season progresses.”

Results | Complete results

– Alex Kochon contributed reporting

Turkey for a Ticket at Big Sky
Big Sky, MT - Encouraging people to give to the local food banks and thanking them with a free day of skiing, Big Sky Resort in Montana will host its 8th annual Turkey for a Ticket fundraiser for Gallatin Valley Food Bank, Madison Valley Food Bank, and the Big Sky Food Bank on Friday, December 12, 2014 […]
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