Olympic Spots on Line in Toblach
The World Cup tour heads to Toblach in northern Italy for a weekend of racing before the holiday break with a bit of an unusual format. Saturday’s 15k men’s freestyle and 10k women’s will be another Olympic qualifier.
In a bit of a change from the norm, it’s a two-day pursuit weekend with the freestyle portion first – 15k/10k skate on Saturday, followed by same distances in classic on Sunday. With the distance at the Olympics being freestyle, most teams are using it as an Olympic qualifier so the skate portion was put first. It’s another opportunity for a U.S. skier to collect a top-eight finish and a likely berth on the Olympic team.
With Toblach elevation half that of Davos last weekend, and close to that of the Olympic course, look for potentially stronger performances. The Toblach course has been changed with a massive climb and resultant screaming downhill – terrain the American skiers love. It’s been fast and icy all week in Toblach, but heavy snow Friday softened the track. No snow is forecast for Saturday.
Starters for the USA include, Erik Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.), Paddy Caldwell (Lyme, N.H.), Noah Hoffman (Aspen, Colo.) and Scott Patterson (Anchorage, Alaska) for the men. The women will see Sadie Bjornsen (Winthrop, Wash.), Rosie Brennan (Park City, Utah), Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.), Chelsea Holmes (Anchorage, Alaska), and Liz Stephen (E. Montpelier, Vt.). Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, Alaska) will sit out the weekend to rest a sore foot and be ready for the Tour de Ski starting after Christmas.
Some of the team’s sprinters are in St. Ulrich, Austria for Alpen Cup races starting with a sprint on Friday including Simi Hamilton (Aspen, Colo.), Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, Vt.), Sophie Caldwell (Peru, Vt.), Julia Kern (Truckee, Calif.) and Ida Sargent (Orleans, Vt.).
In Friday’s opening Alpen Cup skate sprint, Hamilton took the win over Newell. Caldwell won for the women with Sargent third. Distance racing is up over the weekend.
Coverage of all events this weekend from Toblach can be found on OlympicChannel.com.