Kern Fourth in Falun World Cup Classic Sprint
Julia Kern doesn’t want the FIS Cross Country World Cup season to end. Especially after nearly missing her second career podium, finishing fourth, in Friday’s classic sprint in Falun, Sweden.
“I don’t want the season to end now!” Kern said. “We have been on the road for a long time, but I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride, and the pieces are coming together, so my overall feeling is a bit bittersweet right now. I am really happy with the way I skied today and all of the hard work from the whole staff!”
Racing on soft, spring snow, Kern qualified in 17th following a solid week of training and honing in on race tactics with her coaching staff. She won her opening quarterfinal heat, then took another victory in the semifinal heat to advance to the finals for the second time this season. In the semifinals, Kern edged World Cup leader Maja Dahlqvist at the line for the victory. However, in the finals, Dahlqvist got the better of Kern.
“I gave it all I had today in every round and charged hard to break away at the top of the downhill in the final,” Kern said. “It was bittersweet to have the podium slip through my fingers, but it keeps the hunger alive and gives me the confidence that I am right there. I don’t think I would have changed anything and am psyched to execute a day I am proud of on one of the trickiest courses on the World Cup. It was extra special to have my parents here in person to cheer me on; it seems they bring me good luck and energy!”
Olympic gold medalist Jonna Sundling of Sweden, who sat out the first part of the season due to injury, took her second-straight World Cup sprint win in commanding style, finishing more than eight seconds ahead of Slovenia’s Anamarija Lampic in second and nine seconds ahead of Dalhqvist in third. Kern’s fourth-place result matched her season-best, a fourth-place finish in the freestyle sprint from stage 1 of the FIS Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Rosie Brennan, who qualified seventh, finished 16th. And Jessie Diggins, who qualified 18th, finished 19th.
“I had a good qualifier, and that gave me some confidence for the heats,” Brennan said, adding that the Falun course is quite challenging with some technical downhill sections. “I struggled to find space to move on the uphills, which is my strength, and that ultimately cost me moving on to the semifinals by less than a second.”
The women race a 10k freestyle Saturday, where Caitlin Patterson and Rosie Frankowski will join Kern, Brennan, and Diggins. The U.S. men who will compete in Saturday's 15k freestyle are Scott Patterson, Logan Hanneman, Zak Ketterson, Peter Holmes, and Adam Martin.
The World Cup season concludes Sunday with the first-ever mixed team relay and mixed team sprint. The mixed team relay will consist of four 5k freestyle technique laps in the following order: woman/man/man/woman. Each nation will be allowed to enter two teams, and participating athletes will each ski a one-lap qualifier (in interval start). The times of all skiers will be cumulated, and the 20 best teams are qualified for the finals.
Sunday’s mixed team sprint and relay lineups for the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team will be determined Saturday afternoon. All events will stream live on NBC’s Peacock platform.
HOW TO WATCH
Saturday, March 12, 2022
5:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Men’s 15k Freestyle - LIVE, Falun, SWE, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock
8:15 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Women’s 10k Freestyle - LIVE, Falun, SWE,
Sunday, March 13, 2022
5:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Mixed Team Relay - LIVE, Falun, SWE, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock
7:30 a.m. FIS Cross Country World Cup Mixed Team Sprint - LIVE, Falun, SWE, Streaming Ski and Snowboard Live, Streaming Peacock